Often, the dreams I remember best are the ordinary ones. Entirely too often, my unconscious entertains my sleeping self with images of commuting, so that when I wake in the morning, I feel like I just got off an eight hour subway ride. (That's where Bronx Bound came from, I think.) Sometimes this is stressful, sometimes its fun. Last night it was a blast, as I dreamt I was riding the subway all over town to meet a buddy of mine, and kept bumping into fun people from high school. The transit details were accurate in a way they usually aren't—no dragons in the conductor's booth here—right down to a dramatic moment as we rode the F train around the bend at the Smith Ave/9th Street stop.
I looked out the window and saw an amphitheater in Gowanus—a slightly run down, wood-and-steel bandshell, with seats for maybe eighty people and a stage appropriate for theater and film. It was a grey night, and the crowd was mostly empty—that the place was located underneath the train tracks probably didn't help—but I defended the theater to my friends. "Go there on a hot summer night," I said, "and it's the best place to watch theater in New York."
I woke up sorry it wasn't real. There are a few excellent performance spaces in the area around the Gowanus canal, but because the neighborhood was until quite recently a fetid stinkpot, there are few places to be entertained outdoors. (Gowanus Grove is a notable exception. I've thought about going a few times, but have never seen the point of paying a $10 cover to stand around outside. You can do that for free in parks.) And aside from the beleaguered Brooklyn Lyceum, there are no grand stages anywhere in the neighborhood. This imaginary amphitheater solves all those problems.
Programming would be confined to summer months. If we had heat lamps, maybe we could stretch it into the fall. In a typical week, we'd have one or two plays running in rep, with film screenings on weekend nights and matinees during the day. We could have concerts, late night dance parties—anything and everything to piss off the neighbors and draw tourists from North Brooklyn. There would be a bar in the front, obviously, and enough artisan lightbulbs and distressed iron to earn us two or three Times style section gushes—"Hipster Theater, Under The Summer Sky"—in the first month of programming. It wouldn't take long for this to become a warm-weather institution, where people come for the party, stay for the theater, and never even notice that they're enjoying a marginal art form.
All I need to make this work is a lot of money and a decade or two experience running a performing arts space. Until the Brooklyn gods smile down on this project, I'll have to content myself by hoping to return to my amphitheater in my dreams. Tonight I hope I visit it on a rainy night, when the canvas tarp has been run out, and the audience is huddled together, intent on the performance, rain in the background and the Gowanus Canal oozing along just a few blocks away.