Culture 29 November 2018
There aren’t many bars or trendy locations that generate a lively nightlife and offer comedic, academic venues, where you can both learn and drink. Caveat, differs from many speakeasies and performance spaces on the Lower East Side. Other than it’s initial cave-like appearance, you’ll find bookshelves, an intellectual atmosphere and a lot of alcohol.
The atmosphere at Caveat is unique. Co-Founder & Creative Director, Kate Downey, and her team are passionate about what they do. They want their audiences to leave a little bit smarter and a little bit drunker. “It’s intelligent nightlife,” she explains. “We are working to create new forms of entertainment that mash up science and history with comedy and music.”
Kate, Co-Founder and Creative Director. Photo Courtesy of Caveat.
Downey’s vibrant personality illuminates the conversation as she shares bits of information about her career and background in theatre and museum work. This badass Co-Founder grew up in rural Maine. She moved to Boston for college and later on, to pursue a dream she had in New York. It’s been about nine years since she’s been living in the city, and a little over one year since Caveat has been in business. “I always knew I would end up in the city doing some kind of theatre and entertainment work,” she shares. Downey works closely with her team, which is mostly composed of women, and hosts a range of productions from comedy to science talks, trivia, podcasts, and so much more.
From being an Assistant Director at Cherry Lane Theatre to a Creative Lead at Museum Hack, Downey has taken on multiple roles, perfecting her craft over time. She was and still is immersed in the industry of arts and performance.
Museum Hack has especially played a major role in her career. “ [Museum Hack] does renegade museum tours of the Metropolitan Museum and The Museum of Natural History,” she begins. “I was writing a lot of tours [and] created [one] called The Badass Bitches Tour of the Met.” They were a startup and when Downey began working there.
She reminisces a few of the happy memories she had, as the company expanded and grew over the years. “Leaving Museum Hack was a hard decision because I had loved doing those tours and working with those people,” she says. “It was through Museum Hack that I kind of discovered my love of science and figured out how I like to build events and how I like to talk about very complex, scientific ideas.”
It was time for Downey to move on to something new -- and that’s exactly what she did. After Museum Hack she joined her Co-Founder Ben Lillie, in starting Caveat. However, this was not the first time that she founded a business -- specifically, startup theatre companies. “I love starting new things and creating new ways for people to build things creatively,” she emphasizes.
CAVEATAt Caveat they have a love for science and unconventional storytelling. Downey spends a lot of her time in this cave-like, artistic space. Her days usually begin at 12 p.m. and she describes having both glamorous and unglamorous days. “The adventure varies a lot day to day,” she begins. “Around 6 p.m. we start setting up for the show and the bar staff gets in; the tech staff is there; the show-folks show up and we usually do 2-3 shows a night.”
Once a week she meets with a team of six producers including her and Ben to go over shows, discuss feedback or go over any challenges that might come up. Her motivation, determination and inspiration are apparent when she speaks about an average day at Caveat. “We all try to problem solve for each other and offer solutions [to] get through the hard parts,” she mentions. At the end of a long day, there is one thing that Downey excitedly looks forward to. “I get to grab a beer, sit, learn and watch these shows,” she exclaims.
“I always knew I would end up in the city doing some kind of theatre and entertainment work,” Downey shares.
Learning something new can be a little mysterious sometimes. Downey recognizes The Bell House, in Brooklyn for their Secret Science Club. “That’s one of the OG’s of what we’re calling intelligent nightlife now,” she says. There are few events that take on this trend of scientific conversations and intellectual nightlife nowadays. What makes Caveat different from the rest is how Downey and her team encourage people to get involved by pitching ideas in addition to the shows that they produce and put on for their audiences.
“As far as I know, we are the only theatre dedicated to this kind of educational entertainment,” she says. “We specifically curate everything that goes up on our stage to be able to teach you something.” Each show can stand on its own success. “You [have] a drink, a great time with your friends [and leave] knowing a lot more than when you [walked] in.” For those looking for an affordable and eventful night out, ticket prices range from $10-$20 for most events. The bar serves a range of alcohol from craft beers on tap to wine, and specialty sodas.
“I love starting new things and creating new ways for people to build things creatively,” Downey emphasizes.
WOMEN AT CAVEAT
Downey re-imaged the average night scene and science-based social space. She expresses how most of the venues she’s seen and heard of are run predominately by men, and have been for many years. “I’m really happy and excited to have a space that is majority women run and I think avoids a lot of issues that come up in other clubs,” she says. “We have a bunch of shows are specifically geared towards women.” They include, Yeah She Did, where “kickass women” share the stories of others within their industries that have inspired them and didn’t receive proper recognition. In October, they had a themed show called Witches Get Stuff Done. They tell the stories of women who were at one point in history accused of witchcraft for being the smartest or the most outspoken. There is a diverse range of entertainment offered.
What are they planning next?
In the years ahead, Downey and her team would like to make performances at Caveat available for everyone. “The big thing that we want is eventually [developing our] shows in to TV shows, podcasts, video specials,” she says. “ I would love to be able to [get] people access to this the same way [they] can watch TED Talks.” Whether it is on platforms like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime, she’d like to have Caveat specials. In the meantime, they are going to keep developing and experimenting with shows, gathering more talent and giving talented performers a place and platform to build their career.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."