Tragically hip: Play looks at the ‘Last Hipster in Brooklyn’

Tragically hip: Play looks at the ‘Last Hipster in Brooklyn’
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

What is a hipster, anyway?

A newly-arrived Bushwick actor questions whether he counts as a member of that reviled group in the new one-man show “Last Hipster in Brooklyn,” opening on Jan. 28. The show comes out of the writer’s confusion at the many different descriptions of the hipster set.

“There’s a lot of talk of course about Brooklyn and hipsters but everyone kind of struggles to pin down what a hipster is,” said Nick E. Finn, who wrote and stars in the show.

Finn began interviewing people about how they defined hipsters, but the descriptions he got agreed on only one thing — hipsters are bad.

“Everyone seemed to agree on the idea that hipsters are bad and no one liked them,” he said.

During the 70-minute show, which combines spoken word poetry, hip-hop and multimedia elements, Finn plays 13 characters, including Brooklyn natives, recent transplants, a police officer, and “the leader of the hipster revolution.” Together the stories reveal how different people view hipsters, and the evolution of Brooklyn neighborhoods.

“I’m trying to explore what is going on by getting different perspectives about the forces that have changed Brooklyn culture today,” said Finn.

Finn came to Brooklyn from Seattle five years ago and fell in love with the borough, but he also saw that his arrival was part of the changes affecting his Bushwick neighborhood.

“I had to bear witness to that and also take my responsibility for that change and own my experience,” he said.

Finn got input on the changes in Brooklyn from his wife, a Brooklyn native (and a character in the play), and from the show’s director, Modesto Flako Jimenez, who is Dominican-born but Bushwick-raised. Jimenez signed on to produce and direct the show once he realized that Finn was willing to confront his own role in gentrifying the area. Having people consider the effect they have on a community is an important step, said Jimenez.

“This is how we can help each other,” he said.

“Last Hipster in Brooklyn” at Jack (505 Waverly Ave. between Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue in Clinton Hill, www.jackny.org). Jan. 28 at 8:30 pm, Jan. 29 at 7 pm, and Jan. 30 at 10 pm. $15.