SITE Unseen: Bushwick’s Performance Festival Returns

Can you throw a two-day do-it-yourself performance festival if you don’t actually have a theater space to perform in?

In East Williamsburg, the answer is yes.

On March 6 and 7, Arts in Bushwick returns its successful performance festival for two days of wall-to-wall live programming, from dance and drama to performance art, film and comedy, in over 35 spaces throughout Williamsburg and Bushwick.

“[The] purpose of the festival is to show how space is to be used for performance. As much of anything, it’s an exploration of how urban space can be used as a stage,” said AIB’s Chloe Bass, the festival’s founder.

Over 100 performing groups are involved in the festival, which will be organized primarily in three hub spaces: Chez Bushwick (304 Boerum Street) with 30 shows, 3rd Ward Brooklyn (195 Morgan Avenue) with 24 shows, and Grace Exhibition Space (840 Broadway Avenue) with six shows, as well as Goodbye Blue Monday, which will feature 45 bands in the music-themed portion of the festival called Ion Sound.

In addition, several art galleries, coffee shops and restaurants, streets, and people’s apartments will play host to a myriad of performances.

Arts in Bushwick is providing each hub space with a technical manager and a space manager. There are no stage lights, props, or other equipment. Performers will have to bring their own equipment, sets, and instruments in what would otherwise be fairly minimal stages, but that does not necessarily mean minimalist theater or dance performances.

“It’s finding simple ways of presenting different kinds of material,” said Bass. “That’s what we like best, to see the incredibly wide range of stuff in and around Bushwick.”

After reviewing the diverse lineup of artists, Bass said that she was particularly excited about choreographer Jill Sigman’s piece at her studio, a dance performance by Go Go Vertigoad, a set by musician Larkin Grimm, and a video installation at the Brooklyn Fireproof East (119 Ingraham Street).

Other highlights include an avant garde-style performance piece from Andrew Hurst at Famous Accountants gallery (1673 Gates Avenue) duration-based performance art pieces, and a panel discussion with sketch comedian troupes at English Kills Gallery (114 Forrest Street). Full disclosure: the author is moderating the panel, on March 5 at 8 pm.

“We don’t have anything that involves fire or water in larger than 20 ounce amounts, or acts with animals, except for once case where the performer is doing something in his own house,” said Bass. “The exception is David Victor Rose, who is doing something with his dog. It’s only 5 minutes long and an RSVP is required so I think it’s going to be pretty strange.”

There are also aerial performances from the circus theater performers at the House of Yes. The venue, which was recently profiled in the New York Times’ Home and Garden Section, for their set design, not for their performances, will host two shows on Saturday and will throw a free party for the festival on Saturday night. Think of it as halftime.

Bass’ advice: Start out at a hub space for 90 minutes and then go to a satellite space nearby. Also bring water and wear comfortable shoes, and definitely grab a bite at a local restaurant or deli. There will be maps included in the program for additional assistance.

“There’s no way to see everything,” said Bass. “Come prepared to stay the day. We can give you a full day and evening full of performances. It’s the only two-day festival in New York with free parties!”

SITE Fest is March 6 and 7 from 1 to 9 pm in the hub spaces. Suggested donation for hub shows is $5 per show, or $15 per weekend pass. For non-hub venues, tickets may vary and will be listed on the program, which will be available in the week of the event.

For more information, visit http://artsinbushwick.wordpress.com.