I met Nick E. Finn about four years ago when I attended a Capicu Open Mic and later on when he attended a performance workshop facilitated by Advocate of Wordz, the first poet I managed. Since then I’ve seen Nick’s artistic growth, his contact hunger and passion for writing and performance and this year after a call he made looking for a producer for his one-man show we are working together for the return of his show The Last Hipster in Brooklyn, together with multifaceted Director and friend Modesto Flako Jimenez and his organization Oye Group.
Today, we sit and chat about the play, why is so important for him to share his story and the challenges of his artistry.
WA: Tell us about Nick, where were you born, what do you do?
NF: I grew up in Seattle, Washington during the 90’s when Grunge Rock ruled supreme, Shawn Kemp played for the Supersonics, and Starbucks was still a local coffee chain. I was a real oddball kid who hung out with the weirdos. I loved acting in plays and wrote raps/poems in a notebook wherever I’d go. In those respects, I suppose not that much has changed.
After a life in Seattle, I moved to Brooklyn in 2011 when I graduated school. The economy was in the toilet, and I got suckered into doing one of those “come-teach-in-the-hood” programs where they recruit overachieving college kids to teach in underserved communities they know nothing about. I took the teaching job because I wanted to make a difference, but to tell you the truth, I had no idea what I was getting into. The only experience would teach me.
Brooklyn became my second mother. Taught me who I am, what I care about, and what matters in this world. The families, communities, and amazing humans I have worked with made me the person I am today. I met my wife in Brooklyn. I found my voice and identity in Brooklyn. The Last Hipster in Brooklyn: A Gentrification Love Story is my poetic retelling of that discovery.
Today, I still work in education. I have a passion for ideas, words, and community. Teaching goes hand-in-hand with writing and performance. On stage, my style is a funky blend of spoken word poetry, hip-hop storytelling, and theatre. Bits and piece of everything I’ve picked up on the journey so far. I am still a work in progress.
WA: What prompt you to write The Last Hipster in Brooklyn? and why is it important to you personally to share this story?
NF: Gentrification is a phenomenon occurring throughout the country. It’s the backdrop or context behind the story The Last Hipster in Brooklyn. In addition, as the country becomes more diverse and culturally mixed, interracial love and intercultural relationships are also really important themes that deserve airspace and discussion. These discussions live within the play.
As a person of privilege, as a white writer and actor, I understand that I cannot own these issues or the voices of those affected. My job as an artist is to merely ask the tough questions, embrace the unknown, and be open-minded.
The Last Hipster in Brooklyn is only my story. I don’t claim to represent any other perspectives. It’s 100% my truth. My real life – retold through the lenses of poetry and theatre. It’s the one story I can unapologetically be truthful to because I cannot speak for others. Only my experience. I can only share it honesty and hope that the story connects with others.
WA: What has been the most challenging part of bringing this story to the theater?
NF: The Last Hipster in Brooklyn addresses controversial and difficult subjects – but on the other hand, it doesn’t preach to the choir. I’m not interested in art that panders to an audience. The show doesn’t play for cheap applause or cheer. This play is not a massive anti-hipster, anti-gentrification teardown NOR is it a gentrifier, white privilege sympathy piece — far from it. I hold no punches. I ask the tough questions of people like myself and others but I provide no answers. I don’t have any. Any artist that claims they do is full of shit. The job of art is to make you think! Examine your place in the world. That’s why I wrote The Last Hipster in Brooklyn. Art that doesn’t fit into a tiny little box is hard to market, hard to create, hard to produce. But in the long hall, I think it’s worth it.
WA: The play returns for one-night-only, what prompted you to bring it back this time and what can the audience expect which is different from the first show?
NF: It’s been two years since the last run in 2016… In those two years, I went through a lot. Hospital stays, dead-brokeness, unemployment, family mental-health issues, marital struggle, depression… you name it. I went THROUGH IT. But through it, I’ve grown. And I’ve become a better artist.
The show continues to grow along with me. We are adding never before heard poems and scenes that reflect the growth my team has put in. Folks who saw the show back in 2016, I think will be really impressed to see the evolution.
The story is more rounded. The characters more real. The poems more finessed. The Last Hipster in Brooklyn will always evolve along with the amazing people involved with it.
The time is right to bring The Last Hipster in Brooklyn back. The story is more relevant than ever. And I’m thrilled to be bringing the show to The Bushwick Starr, a wonderful theatre in the neighborhood both myself and our director Modesto “Flako” Jimenez call home. We are blessed to share this with our community.
WA: Let’s talk about the team, who is involved and tell us about their role in this production
NF: Modesto “Flako” Jimenez and his badass theatre squad over at Oye Group have been rocking with my one-man-show from the beginning. They helped me develop the concept, workshopped the pieces, and have been present every step of the way. Great company and awesome partners. Huge shout out to Flako for his belief in this piece and help make it what it is today.
For this show, we added Wendy Angulo (!) as producer. She was the missing piece the project needed. Not only is her eye for art spot-on, but her deep roots in the community and her production resume in NYC poetry are no joke! So grateful for Wendy and her team joining us.
I believe I’m only as good as the people I’m surrounded by… and I’m surrounded by some seriously good people.
WA: If you weren’t a storyteller, what would you be?
WA: What/Who inspires you?
NF: Human Beings. Life. Nature. Music. Books. Movies. Brooklyn. Love.
WA: What’s next for Nick?
NF: The production house I co-founded with director A. Cody Osborne is named, simply, the Last Hipster. Originally inspired by the one-man-show, we’ve been cranking out short-films of similar thematic content ever since. This year, we plan on developing our first feature film. Stay tuned and check out the work at lasthipster.com.
Mi Gente, we have been working day in and out to bring Nick’s story to the stage for one more night: November 24, 2018, at the Bushwick Starr, 207 Starr Street, Brooklyn, NY, mark your calendars, come to watch the show and support your local artists. Tickets are $25 and $30 which includes access to the after-party. Get your tickets today at www.oyegroup.org
Nick E Finn is a poet, performer, and playwright from Seattle, Washington. After moving to New York in 2011, Nick trained as an actor at the legendary Wynn Handman Studios in Manhattan. He has performed his spoken word at poetry venues including The National Black Theatre in Harlem and The Nuyorican Poets Cafe in the Lower East Side. In 2016, Nick debuted his poetic solo-show “The Last Hipster in Brooklyn: A Gentrification Love Story. It has appeared at various venues in New Jersey and New York since. Last year, Nick co-founded the production house Last Hipster with frequent collaborator, director A. Cody Osborne. Keep up with their work and Nick at lasthipster.com