SHAME! takes the audience on a fantastic trip exploring the state of corrupt politics, capitalism, racism and gun violence wrapped in satire, song and slapstick.

Theater for the New City (TNC) is bringing “SHAME! Or The Doomsday Machine,” a roaring musical using the theory of relativity to explain current political affairs and social issues, to the streets and parks of Brooklyn for three free performances on Friday, August 17, Saturday, August 18 and Saturday, August 25.

Written and directed by TNC’s co-founder, artistic director and OBIE award-winning actress Crystal Field, SHAME! takes the audience on a fantastic trip exploring the shameful state of corrupt politics, capitalism, racism and gun violence wrapped in satire, song and slapstick.

“The destruction of our social safety net, the ruining of the climate and the subversion of decency in leadership have made it seem like there is a doomsday machine running amok,” Jonathan Slaff, a representative for TNC, explained what inspired the musical. “And the people who are causing this are shameful.”

The plot: A high school teacher, attempting to hold a lecture on the theory of relativity, is confronted with tough questions when his students apply his teachings to fears of their own lives. The kids stump him with questions like “What’s the relative speed of your own blood — does it run faster when a cop shoots you in the back, or when you are hiding under a desk from a high school shooter?” And “What’s your relative speed to prison if you are an American criminal or a Guatemalan immigrant?”

The TV host for the “Apprentice.” Photo credit: Jonathan Slaff.

Overwhelmed by their questions, the teacher goes on a quest for truth. On his journey, he is sucked into a local black hole and finds himself on a fantastic trip into parallel worlds: The world of his students versus the world of “The Apprentice,” in which a TV host sets a mighty economic empire before his applicants and urges them to fight and undercut each other to win their version of the American dream. Then, the teacher even encounters a third world: An underground cabaret run by spiritual guardians that act as a moral cleanup crew and who have the magical power to change the TV Host into a Black man, a woman, a middle eastern immigrant and a welfare recipient. And what can the students learn from their teacher’s journey?

“Not all is hopeless, nothing is permanent,” said Slaff. “And if we take responsibility for the world, we can make it a better place.”

The story is brought to life with trap doors, giant puppets, smoke machines, masks, original choreography and a score consisting of jazz, bossa nova and hip-hop composed and arranged by Joseph-Vernon Banks.

Now in its 48th year, Theater for the New City is a Pulitzer Prize-winning community cultural center known for radical political plays and with a strong commitment to artist and community development. All TNC’s street theater productions are  free and suited for family audiences, since complex social issues are often presented through children’s allegories, with children and neighborhood people as the heroes.

SHAME! The Doomsday Machine at Coney Island Boardwalk

When: Friday, August 17. 6:30pm

Where: Coney Island Boardwalk at W. 10th Street, 11224 Brooklyn, NY

SHAME! The Doomsday Machine at Herbert Von King Park

When: Saturday, August 18, 2:00pm

Where:  Herbert Von King Park (at Marcy and Tompkins Avenues), 11216 Brooklyn, NY

SHAME! The Doomsday Machine Sunset Park

When: Saturday, August 25, 2:00pm

Where: 6th Avenue and 44th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11220

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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