Emerging artists take the Brooklyn stage this week

New York City’s 19-year-old Youth Poet Laureate, Ishmael “Ish” Islam, keeps it real the Brooklyn way: with real talk about gentrification combined with hope for his community.

Brooklyn is getting so good at doing for itself that Manhattan might as well be a skyline on a postcard. This year, the BK can add an 11-day performing arts festival to the long list of things to do in the borough. The first-ever Brooklyn Emerging Artists in Theater festival is a chance for artists and performers who live and work in Brooklyn to take the stage.

Theater, dance and spoken word performances will fill theaters in eight venues across Brooklyn, including the Irondale Center in Fort Greene, the Waterfront Museum in Red Hook and the Coney Island Sideshow Theater (with a night of comedy, tap dancing, opera  and acrobatics on Sept. 19).

The distinction of what makes an “emerging” artist isn’t entirely clear — especially in a place teeming with young artists who dream of making a name for themselves. What it most likely means is this: These are artists who are hungry and eager to take the stage. They haven’t quit their day jobs, they rehearse at odd hours between work shifts and won’t apologize for working too hard.

Courtney Giannone, who performs in the dance piece “Protean Acts” next Tuesday, puts it bluntly in her personal mission statement: “Art is my portal to reality. This is unavoidable.”

This particular blend of moxie and ingenuity seems to be an essential piece of the BEAT festival. Ishmael “Ish” Islam is New York City’s 19-year-old Youth Poet Laureate, whose playful, rhythmic spoken word is wise beyond its years. His pieces about growing up in Clinton Hill/Bedford-Stuyvesant give audiences a rhythmic journey through the prides and pitfalls of gentrification. Islam performs on Sept. 17 and 19.

As with many things about Brooklyn, performances at the BEAT festival are a bargain. No one will be turned away due to cost, and all performances will have a block of tickets reserved for a $20 suggested donation.

Festival organizers hope that the 11 days of performance create a community around Brooklyn’s performers. The BEAT festival’s inaugural year seems to have everything in place for that to happen — with Brooklyn pride all over it.

If you go

Through Sept. 23
Various locations
347-762-3281
www.beatbrooklyn.com



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