Shopping Books to Release THE REVEREND BILLY PROJECT This Week
This week, Shopping Books publishes The Reverend Billy Project, the most extensive account of the eco-televangelists and his collaborators' years of activism. The book, released here as an e-book, is written by the director of the troupe's performances, Savitri D, and Bill Talen, the writer/actor who inhabits the title character Reverend Billy, and features an introduction by Alisa Solomon. A chapter on the fight to stop the clear-cutting of Boreal forests by paper suppliers of Victoria's Secret catalogues anticipates the Stop Shopping Choir's current earth activism-their HoneyBeeLujah! campaign and The HoneyBeeLujah Show, which they are performing each Sunday through June 22 at Joe's Pub at The Public (425 Lafayette St, NYC).
The Reverend Billy Project is an inside look at the process of creating small-but-explosive spectacles that stop people in their tracks and make them think, even in today's over-stocked mental environment. The book is a firsthand account of the Reverend's work, from his early Starbucks "casting out of demons from cash registers" continuing across several continents, up to his run for Mayor of New York City in 2009.
The publication comes in the midst of the HoneyBeeLujah campaign, which has garnered the attention of The New Yorker, The Village Voice and others. As part of the campaign, The Choir has twice visited the Harvard Microrobotics Lab, where scientists are developing the "Robobee," a drone-like pollinator device that is designed to replace Honey Bees and is exemplary of the "Big Ag" complex. In these actions, as in the show at Joe's Pub, the Choir performs adorned and accompanied by hundreds of Honey Bees handmade by Savitri D and the rest of the Choir's 40 singer-activists. In the coming weeks, over the course of the run at Joe's Pub, they will perform more of these "swarmings" in and around the property of Monsanto and Bayer, Home Depot and Lowes-the corporations that drench the land with bee-killing pesticides and GMO crops.
The HoneyBeeLujah Show, which began May 4, runs each Sunday at 2pm at Joe's Pub. Directed by Savitri D., with Music Director Nehemiah Luckett, the performances feature the 40-member Stop Shopping Choir, fronted by their eco-televangelist, Reverend Billy, and the five-piece Not Buying It Band. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at www.joespub.com or 212.967.7555.
The current Joe's Pub engagement follows the Choir's sold-out 2013 holiday season run at the prestigious venue, which, along with performances in bank lobbies and New York courts, decried lending institutions that are financing resource-extraction and are, by extension, responsible for climate destruction. In the shows last November and December, and in non-violent bank lobby actions leading up to those performances, the singers inhabited the character of the Golden Toad, a small amphibian forced into extinction by extreme climate change in Central America in the late 80s. For one of these performances, at a JPMorgan Chase location on September 12, 2013, prosecutors demanded a year in prison and $30k bail for William Talen (aka Reverend Billy) and Nehemiah Luckett. The 15-minute performance earned criminal charges of "Riot," "Menacing" and "Unlawful Assembly." Those charges have been dropped, but the trial continues. The defendants are pleading innocent of all charges, including trespassing and unlawful assembly.
About Savitri D: Savitri D has directed the Church of Stop Shopping since 2000, when she took the reigns from Tony Torn. She has developed the church's interactive show-featuring 40 singer-activists in post-religious prayers, miracles, slap-dancing and flights through the audience-over the course of performances on four continents. She has guided the troupe in shows at Haus der Kulturen der Wert in Berlin, the Center of Contemporary Culture in Barcelona, REDCAT in Los Angeles, the Yale School of Divinity and the Burning Man festival in Nevada, among many other venues. Savitri produced What Would Jesus Buy? with Morgan Spurlock and produced The Last Televangelist with DeeDee Halleck and Glenn Gabel for Free Speech Television.
About Reverend Billy: Reverend Billy has won an OBIE Award, the Alpert Award, The Dramalogue Award and The Historic Districts Council's Preservation Award (for leading demonstrations to save Manhattan's Poe House), and has been jailed more than 50 times. He was a central figure of Occupy Wall Street and toured 25 OWS tent communities from Zurich to Oakland, CA with the Stop Shopping Choir. He has run for New York City mayor on the Green Party ticket. Reverend Billy has released three CDs, three documentary films, published two books, and produced eight 28-minute television shows as part of the The Last Televangelist, broadcast on the cable channel Free Speech Television.
Savitri D and the Reverend are frequent guests of news media, having appeared on The Today Show, CBS Evening News, Nightline, Fox News, Al-Jazeera, Glenn Beck, Hannity & Colmes, Democracy Now, NPR's "All Things Considered" and "Marketplace," Geraldo Rivera, CNN, The Tavis Smiley Show, The BBC World Service, BBC 1 and numerous other local and regional affiliates and International print outlets.
About the Stop Shopping Choir: The Stop Shopping Choir is an all-ages, 40-member singing group, under the direction of Savitri D, with musical director Nehemiah Luckett and lead singer Laura Newman. The choir represents a diverse array of economic, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds and has members from every continent except Antarctica, which they're working on. Among them are scientists, teachers, artists, therapists, welders, cyclists, builders, developers, hairdressers, dog walkers, actors, truck drivers, tech geeks, scholars and executives. The Choir has toured in Europe, Africa, South America and throughout North America. They are the subject of Morgan Spurlock's second feature film, What Would Jesus Buy?
About The Church of Stop Shopping: The Church of Stop Shopping is a New York City based radical performance community, with 50 performing members and a congregation in the thousands. They are wild anti-consumerist gospel shouters and earth loving urban activists who have worked with communities on four continents defending land, life and imagination from reckless development and the extractive imperatives of global capital. They employ multiple tactics and creative strategies, including cash register exorcisms, retail interventions, and cell phone operas. They are entertainers and artists, performing regularly throughout the US and Europe. Over the years of church service-like shows - Reverend Billy has canonized Joan Baez, Kurt Vonnegut, Justin Vivian Bond, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Tim DeChristopher, Bertha Lewis, the Yes Men, Dr. Benjamin Barber and Jennifer Miller the Bearded Lady into "Fabulous Sainthood" in the Church of Stop Shopping.
About Joe's Pub at The Public: Joe's Pub at The Public is one of New York City's most celebrated venues for emerging and established performance artists. Named for Public Theater founder Joe Papp, Joe's Pub debuted in 1998 and plays a vital role in The Public's mission of supporting young artists while providing established artists with an intimate space to perform and develop new work. Joe's Pub presents talent from all over the world as part of The Public's programming downtown at its Astor Place home, hosting approximately 800 shows and serving over 100,000 audience members annually. The diverse roster of programming featured at Joe's Pub includes top performers from Broadway, cabaret, dance, world, jazz, country, and indie genres, as well as New York Voices, its commissioning initiative. Joe's Pub also collaborates with other Public Theater programs to present events such as the Under the Radar Incoming series and the Public Forum lecture and debate series. The New York Times has praised Joe's Pub as at the "nexus" of "a downtown axis of clubs whose performers gleefully fuzz the boundaries between old and new, and between pop, rock, jazz, rhythm-and-blues, swing, country, world music and performance art."