Exciting new show turns a furniture store into a stage
By Ben Verde This show has a lot in store!
A bizarre and exciting
new immersive theater
show sent me creeping through a
waterfront furniture store early this
week, seeking drama and romantic
tension somewhere between the
curtains and the bookshelves.
The experience transformed the
familiar space of the home goods
retailer — a space where I had
every right to be — into a secret
stage for an epic exploration of
“Assemble,” running as part
of the Exponential Festival, is a
“choose your own adventure” style
experience delivered through a
smartphone app. After buying a
ticket for Monday night at 6:45 pm,
I was given a secret address in Red
Hook. There I was given an app
access code, put on my headphones,
and was ushered, along with a pair
of other participants, to the store
The app delivers instructions
and a story directly to your ears,
telling you where to go inside the
store. As you travel through the
maze-like furniture retailer, you
hear the story of Jane, a woman
who has just turned 40, as she
reflects on her life. Stop in a
particular room, and the app urges
you to choose an item there. Do
you step into the bathtub? Sit on the
rug? Turn on a lamp? Each choice
triggers a different scenario in
Jane’s memory or her imagination,
along with — literally — a new
path for the narrative.
Wandering through the fauxdomestic
showrooms, I heard
Jane’s memories of parties,
hookups, and breakups. Other
rooms acted as portals to her
fantasies, where I could eavesdrop
on intimate, imaginary moments.
And at every turn, I was forced to
Fur ’n’ films
COURIER L 42 IFE, JANUARY 24-30, 2020
Crown Heights shop hosts 24-hour comic book marathon
TBy Bill Roundy hey’ve got comics with
A Crown Heights comic
book store will host an all-night
comic-making marathon next
weekend. Anyone Comics will
offer aspiring artists a chance to
spend 24 hours drawing a 24-page
comic book, starting at noon on
Feb. 1 and ending at noon the
following day. The 24-hour
Comics Superbowl is a chance for
would-be cartoonists to challenge
themselves while working together,
said the store’s founder.
“It’s a marathon for arts
and creativity,” said Dimitrios
Fragiskatos. “And it gives artists a
The name of the event is a nod to
the big football contest happening
on Feb. 2, which is rarely a priority
for fans of superhero comics, said
“I’ve hijacked Super Bowl
weekend, since a lot of geeks aren’t
into sports, so it gives them an
excuse to sleep through the Super
Bowl,” he said.
This is the third year of the
event, which draws about a dozen
participants each year from
all over New York City, said
Participants must buy a $10
ticket — all of which will go to
buying snacks, soda, and coffee
for the nocturnal graphic novelists,
The store will stay open during
the marathon comics-making
sessions, so people can wander
in, shop, and check on the artists’
“We get a lot of customers,
a lot of energy,” he said. “We
leave the doors open, and we’ve
definitely had a couple of drunk
people coming in at 2 am.
24-Hour Comics Superbowl at
Anyone Comics (1216 Union St.
between Nostrand and Rogers
avenues in Crown Heights, www.
anyonecomics.com). Feb. 1 at noon
to Feb. 2 an noon. $10.
EBy Bill Roundy verybody wants to see a
A pair of movies
devoted to the tiny panthers that
live in our homes will pounce into
Brooklyn theaters this month.
Up first is “Cat-tastic Tales!,” a
collection of nine animated short
films from all over the world.
Each features kitties rendered
in a different animation style,
including stop-motion, handmade
drawings, painted cels, and
computer generated images.
Later in the month is “Cat
Video Fest 2020,” which will
feature music videos, animation,
and dozens of video clips of
kitty antics submitted by fans.
Proceeds will go to a cat-related
charity in Brooklyn.
“Cat-tastic Tales” at BAM
Rose Cinemas (30 Lafayette Ave.
at Ashland Place in Fort Greene,
www.bam.org). Feb. 1 at 12:20 pm
and Feb. 2 at 1:40 pm. $15.
“Cat Video Fest 2020” at
Nitehawk Prospect Park (188
Prospect Park West at 14th Street
in Park Slope, nitehawkcinema.
com). Feb. 22–23 at 11:30 am.
$15. And at Alamo Drafthouse
Cinema 445 Albee Square West
between Fulton and Willoughby
streets Downtown, www.
drafthouse.com/nyc. Feb. 22–23
at 1 pm. $15.
Anyone can do it: Dimitrios Fragiskatos, the owner of Anyone Comics,
holds a collection of comics made at last year’s 24-hour art marathon.
Photo by Derrick Watterson
Kitty corner: “Cat Lake City” is part of a block of feline-focused short films
screening during the BAMKids’ Film Festival on Feb. 1 and 2.
make choices, without knowing
how it could affect the story — just
as in life, when we have no idea the
impact our responses will have on
The audio turns the otherwise
sterile location into an impressive
storytelling device, and Jane’s
story of middle-aged aimlessness
will sound familiar to anyone
who has ever felt like their life is
going nowhere. Her nervousness
was echoed by my own — I felt
conspicuous, wandering around
the store with my headphones on,
the only person there not picking
out a bedroom set with a partner.
Store employees have no idea the
performance is taking place, and
they likely do not care, but I still
felt like an outsider, sneaking
around the store like a freak.
The entire experience takes
around 75 minutes, most of it
spent walking around a cavernous
box store. “Assemble” can be
exhausting for the legs, but it
thrills the ears with a convincing
and absorbing narrative.
“Assemble” at an undisclosed
location in Red Hook (revealed
after ticket purchase at www.
through Feb. 2; every 15 minutes
from 5–7 pm. $20.
Man in the mirror: An “Assemble”
participant reflects on the past.
Photo by Talya Chalef
Active sitting: “Assemble” requires its participants to interact with some of the
objects in the furniture store. Photo by Talya Chalef