‘Stoopdreamer’ is a story about the old neighborhood: Windsor Terrace
Original Play is Park Slope Filmmaker Jay Cusato’s Newest Production
“Stoopdreamer,” a new drama by Patrick Fenton, deals with the lingering effects of gentrification in Brooklyn. The story takes place 70 years after Robert Moses began a massive roads project that displaced 1,252 families from Windsor Terrace in 1945. Moses, a well-known public figure, was known as the “master builder” of roads and bridges during the mid-20th century in New York City.
The play deals with the aftermath as three of those displaced local residents gather to recall their vivid memories of the past at the iconic Farrell’s Bar & Grill, the last remaining Irish saloon from that era.
In “Stoopdreamer,” drinks are poured, stories are shared and secrets are revealed as the trio of Brooklynites imagine a future that might have been.
Fenton calls this production of “Stoopdreamer” a dream come true. After a successful run in 2015 at Cell Theater in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood, Fenton dreamed about a performance in the neighborhood where the play takes place.
Around that time filmmaker Jay Cusato had started pre-production on a documentary about Farrell’s, which has been described as the quintessential American bar. Cusato’s film will seek to answer why this bar has stayed open and in almost the same condition since 1933. Because Cusato would need assistance from area residents and frequent visitors of Windsor Terrace to tell an accurate story of this neighborhood staple and its owner Eddie Farrell, it became the hope of Fenton and Cusato that bringing “Stoopdreamer” to Windsor Terrace would raise awareness for the documentary.”
Cusato, an award-winning independent filmmaker, was born and raised in Brooklyn. He is the executive producer and one of the creators of Park Slope Films and has more than 60 film projects to his credit, ranging from feature films to short films, sketch comedy, commercial work, live shows, music videos and documentaries including “When Broomsticks Were King” about the history of stickball on the streets of Brooklyn.
Cusato told the Brooklyn Eagle, “I have been working on this Farrell’s project for sometime and one of the people helping me with research for the bar is playwright Pat Fenton. Pat grew up in Windsor Terrance, grew up drinking in Farrell’s and wrote ‘Stoopdreamer.’”
Cusato and Fenton’s goal was to present the play in Windsor Terrace. “Pat and I thought if we put the play on in Windsor Terrance a lot of people who know about Farrell’s, the owner Eddie Farrell and the history of the neighborhood would come out to see ‘Stoopdreamer,’” Cusato said.
“We also thought that if we made it part of a fundraiser for Holy Name Church it be an added bonus to the neighborhood.”
Cusato next brought director Aimee Todoroff on board to develop the live stage readings of “Stoopdreamer.” Todoroff has been a part of several Obie Award-winning productions, performing in the Peculiar Works Project’s “Off Stage-the East Village Fragments” and directing “Green” for the Metropolitan Playhouse’s 2010-2011 Season.
“Working on ‘Stoopdreamer’ has been a revelation,” Todoroff said. “Discovering the history of this vibrant neighborhood, and how the people here were divided by the expressway in 1953, brings to light how much character and resilience exists in special communities like Windsor Terrace.
Fenton was born in Windsor Terrace on St Patrick’s Day. After working eight years as a cargo loader at New York’s Kennedy Airport, Fenton quit to take a civil service job as a Court Officer in Manhattan’s courts, and to continue a freelance writing career as a journalist. This led to his work being published in magazines and books, including The New York Times, Newsday, the Daily News, New York magazine and the Irish Echo.
His writings have also appeared in numerous literary anthologies including, “The Irish, a Treasury of Art and Literature” and the “Book of Irish Americans.” In addition, he has also worked as a New York City taxi cab driver, bartender and radio host.
“Stoopdreamer” showtimes are Saturday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 14, at 3 p.m. at Shepherds Hall at 245 Prospect Park West in Windsor Terrace.
A majority of the proceeds from the ticket sales will go to Holy Name Church. Cusato said that the production would not be possible without the help of Jimmy Houlihan owner of Farrell’s Bar & Grill, Holy Name Fundraising Committee and Mike Coyne, who were all instrumental.
“This play is about memory and loss,” said Todoroff. “But it’s also about hope; hope that dreams come true, hope that you can become who you want to be, hope that you can go home again and there will still be a place for you at the bar.”