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Thursday, December 27, 2012

BAM Winter Reading List

Martin and Kingsley Amis; photo by Dmitri Kasterine

Lo, the holidays are upon us. And with the holidays comes a little down-time at BAM, that rare period during which there’s nary an innovative Caesar, adventurous Faust, or aspiring Pina protégé anywhere in sight. Hopefully, you’re with some variant of kith and kin or warm-winter napping and missing BAM only a little bit. But in case you find yourself in need of some sort of BAM fix, we've put together a little winter reading list that might do something to ease the pain. Enjoy these readings, each related to an upcoming event in our Winter/Spring season.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012's Most Memorable Movie Moments

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Thank You and a 150th Anniversary Wrap-Up

Photo: Merce Cunningham Dance Company, by Stephanie Berger

By Robert Jackson Wood

Wardrobe choices aside, let's focus on the "thanks" part, the part where we express our utmost gratitude to
you for making our soon-to-end 150th anniversary celebrations such a resounding success. Enjoy this post-party recap of some of the more memorable things that transpired over the past 16 months. And know that none of them would have been possible without you.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

We Can Start The Fire in Where (we) Live

by David Hsieh

The ethos of collaborative art is interesting—let’s just mix different genres and disciplines and see what comes out! But it can be challenge too, especially for the people who have to make it happen—the production team.

For the second of their four performances of Where (we) Live at BAM, Sō Percussion put a blacksmith on stage to add the banging on anvil to their percussive chorus (Yes, the invocation of the Anvil Chorus in Il Trovatore is deliberate.) Their collaborator is Marsha Trattner, a female blacksmith based in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Both sides are willing and game. But how does our production team create working conditions that will be able to melt down hard metal on stage but not burn down everything around it? That job falls to our Production Supervisor Paul Bartlett and pyrotechnician Bill Horton.

Before he could give it a go-ahead, Paul visited Marsha’s welding studio to see her forge. The main concerns for Paul were 1) If the fire was contained, and 2) If there would be smoke (if there is the risk of monoxide, ventilation would be called for.) Once he was satisfied, the question became logistics: How to get the forge on stage and how to get the fire going? That’s where Bill came in.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

From the Astrology Dept: Finding Love in Beckett and BAM

Illustration by Nathan Gelgud

Welcome to the first installment of “From the Astrology Dept,” a new advice column written by the BAMystic, the only known employee in the Department of Astrology at BAM. In “From the Astrology Dept” the BAMystic uses the divinatory tools of his trade—including Tarot, numerology, astrological chart readings, bibliomancy—whatever suits his whim—to address readers’ questions about romance, career, the artistic pulse of our abstruse and bewildering borough, and future events that may occur within the Academy’s walls. Have a question about where you should sit to attract the best fortune next time you see a movie at BAMcinématek? The BAMystic’s got you covered. Are you curious about how the stars will align during an upcoming BAM performance? The BAMystic will tell you. Please email the BAMystic at jbradshaw[at]bam[dot]org, or leave your question in the comments. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Dignity of Craft: Sō Percussion's artisanal collaborators for Where (we) Live

by Adam Sliwinski of Sō Percussion

When Sō Percussion conceives big projects of our own work, we always start with a source of inspiration outside of purely musical ideas. We look for a kind of libretto, but being rather non-linear guys, we quickly abandon the source and allow its discourse to inform our process. 

For Where (we) Live, that source was Jane Jacobs' manifesto of urban planning, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. We found in it an analogue to something that we had been thinking about for awhile: what about attempting a unified creation with multiple and sometimes chaotic inputs? In Jacobs' book, she rails against the well-meaning but (in her mind) hopelessly short-sighted urban planning of the 50s and 60s by the likes of Robert Moses, where whole communities and use areas were conceived together as one design. She claims that a truly vibrant city must have stages of growth, unplanned diversity, and mixed uses on every block.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Sensuous Rocker: An Irishman and Master Furniture Maker Provides Seating Commentary

The year at BAM draws to an aptly titled close this week with All That Fall, a darkly comic radio piece from legendary Irish playwright Samuel Beckett. This production from Dublin group Pan Pan Theatre Company seats audience members in their own personal rocking chairs—a staging that seemed to call for some context. And lucky for you, dear blogophiles, we traipsed the rolling hills of eastern Ireland to find you just the man for the job.

Charles Shackleton hails from Dublin, and is a master craftsman of handmade furniture—not to mention a champion crumpeteer, a devotee of Irish oats, a fountain pen enthusiast, and a descendant of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton. He currently resides in Woodstock, Vermont, where he and his master-potter wife Miranda Thomas own and operate ShackletonThomas fine handmade furniture and pottery (visit their website here for more info and to ogle some gorgeous goods). We managed to pin Charlie down in between crumpet competitions to ask his expert opinion on the significance of the rocking chair. Here, for your enjoyment and erudition, his musings.


In Ireland, the rocking chair is most often associated with babies and grandparents—often the latter knitting for the former, keeping an eye out whilst the parents were out working and doing chores. The rocking chair makes one think of the settle* and the open fire, perhaps with bread in the bastible* in the background.

Perhaps the rocking chair itself was the soothing device that allowed the young and old, at the entrance and exit doors of life, to feel some sense of peace and comfort—an ease that was not afforded to the younger and middle hard-working stages of life.

The slow rocking beat resonating with the pulse of the human heart makes the rocking chair one of the most anthropomorphic of objects. There is always a sense of timelessness and serenity associated with it, a feeling which belies the hard life and strife of the beautiful but raw Irish west, and the harsh economic and physical conditions associated with that region in particular.

The Suit: A Storybook Introduction

The Suit is opening the 2013 Winter/Spring season at BAM. The play, directed by the renowned Peter Brook, is adapted from South African writer Can Themba's witty, unsettling short story of the same name. Themba was a journalist, writing investigative pieces for Drum Magazine in addition to fiction in the 1950s and sixties. He was also a pretty cool-looking dude.

I haven't seen The Suit adapted for the stage yet, but I read the story and offer below a "storybook introduction." Don't worry, I don't spoil the end. We'll post the rest of the story after the run.

The story continues after the jump.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cooking in Alien Kitchens: Six Questions for Grey Mcmurray

Guitarist and songwriter Grey Mcmurray joins So Percussion for its upcoming show Where (we) Live, an exploration of home and creative community, playing at BAM from December 19—22. 

Photo: Grey Mcmurray, by Nathan West
On the Where (we) Live track “Strangers All Along,” you sing: “Who is this and is it time? What is this and is it mine?” Have you ever found yourself saying that on a gig or in the context of any other artistic experience?

I promise this gets to your question. Where (we) Live has a different guest performer / improviser / person-doing-what-they-do at every performance. Most of the time they are crafting their craft while we are ours, independently of one another, alongside one another. The resulting togetherness through not-togetherness gives an audience a picture of two actions—one group and one singular—happening together. Hopefully, if we gain the audience's trust and commit completely, a true inclusive moment could happen for everybody in the room.

At an early rehearsal we had a guest writer, and during an early version of one of her songs, she put those words in front of me. The rest of that track's words grew out of those lines. Those questions ["Who is this and is it time? What is this and is it mine?"], in different words, haunt every insecure interaction I have. I imagine that's a little true for everyone part of the time. So, yes, I feel that at every gig. And the amount of time I spend thinking about those questions is most of the time inversely proportional to how well things go.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Brooklyn Close-Up: The Wiz

Just a cursory glance at the roster of legendary talent behind The Wiz is enough to clue you into its prestigious position in black film history. Despite the enduring popularity of Cabin in the Sky, the original Sparkle, and recent big-budget successes like Dreamgirls, the African-American musical remains a small field of largely untapped potential. This ambitious, distinctly urban take on L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz—which had its first incarnation as a Tony Award-winning, Motown-bankrolled “Super Soul” Broadway production—remains one of the few black musicals to win a permanent spot in pop culture consciousness.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Post-Pina Pick-Me-Up: A Transcript of Our Twitter Q&A with Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch

If you’re suffering from Pina withdrawal like we are, we have a little treat to tide you over—well, at least until Pina (the movie) comes out on DVD. (Thank you, Criterion!) In conjunction with the Pina Bausch Legacy Iconic Artist Talk in October, we conducted a Twitter Q&A with three of the dancers—Eddie Martinez, Fernando Suels Mendoza, and Thusnelda Mercy. Below is a transcript of the talk, with expanded, more robust answers that didn't quite fit within the confines of 140 characters, along with some archival photos and video screened during the talk from the BAM Hamm Archives. Enjoy! And thanks to everyone who participated on Twitter; it was so much fun to relay your questions to the dancers in real time.

Eddie Martinez in Bamboo Blues. Photo courtesy of the BAM Hamm Archives.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Faust: A Love Story Opening Night Reception

Company Members and some BAMmies at the Opening Night Reception (Photo: Elena Olivo)
Last night, Vesturport Theatre and Reykjavik City Theatre returned to BAM with Faust: A Love Story,  an acrobatic and aerial re-imagining of Goethe's classic tale that takes the meaning of "daredevil" to new heights. BAM members from the Sustainer level and above were invited to celebrate the opening with the artists in the Campbell Lobby of the BAM Harvey Theater where the revelry continued into the night.

Read on for more about the reception!

Taking Notes: Sō Percussion's creative process for Where (we) Live

by Adam Sliwinski of Sō Percussion

Although just under an hour long, Sō's newest project Where (we) Live is dense, enigmatic, and chaotic. Some elements—such as the music—are straightforward, at least in the sense that they resemble work that we've been doing for years.

But a few other elements are very new to us. We purposefully set it up that way, bringing people whom we admire into the room without steering them too strongly towards a specific purpose. Each of our core collaborators was given the power to influence the outcome of the project.

Choreographer and performance artist Emily Johnson (who was honored with a Bessie Award for Oustanding Production this year) is our "note giver." She sits quietly at a desk stage left, listening and watching. When it strikes her, she writes notes down on little scraps of paper and hands them out to any of the other performers during the show. We offered her complete latitude with regard to what instruction she might pass, and when.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Simple Instruments, Complex Listening: Michael Gordon's Timber

Mantra  Percussion rehearsing Timber

I begin by disclosing that my percussion career ended somewhere after eighth grade when I ceased playing the marimba, timpani, and (sometimes) snare drum under the tutelage of my amiable band teacher, Mr. Hasler. (He was awesome and let us form a “jazz” band which played a bangin’ version of "Satin Doll" at our school’s spring arts festival in 1990.)

Yet Timber had all of the right elements to pique my attention: Michael Gordon, an avant drum circle, 2 x 4s, ancient lore, Michael Gordon, a clever pun title, Michael Gordon, and Mantra, a young, fearless, experimental percussion ensemble that I’d seen and loved at ISSUE Project Room.

After watching a couple of rehearsals, it is clear that these elements combine for a completely fresh, deep listening experience. As the piece progresses, the swelling and ebbing volume is warm and dense, filling the room to the ceiling with wood-induced overtones that emit a surprising electronic sound, reminiscent of William Basinski’s “The Disintegration Loop.” It begins to feel like meditative breathing, rooted in cyclical poly-rhythms under a metered ritardando that go in and out of sync, challenging the ears to decipher when the time signatures change among the players.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December Staff Pick: Meet Me In St. Louis

This Month's Pick: Meet Me In St. Louis 
Picked By: Matt Bregman, Vice President for Development

1. Why Meet Me in St. Louis?

First, let me claim some straight ally cred by telling you that Judy Garland is in it, and that should be reason enough! She is fabulous here—at the height of her brilliant genius powers. Second, Margaret O’Brien plays an adorable little girl who loves nothing more than talking about death. Third, if you aren’t moved when Judy sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” you should put down your popcorn in shame and leave the theater immediately. (Or give the popcorn to me. I love that song and I’m usually a little hungry.)  But wait, there’s more! “The Trolley Song” at no additional cost!

2. What makes it unique?

Does it have to be unique? Is it okay if it’s just great? It was made in 1944 and doesn't seem even slightly dated. It is beautiful and funny without being silly or sentimental.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Faust: Ideas For a Daring Date

Vesturport Theatre's Faust: A Love Story. Photo: Eddi

BAM dares you to partake in a curated day centered on Vesturport Theatre’s production of Faust: A Love Story. In the spirit of this thrilling, aerialist production in which our protagonist makes a pact with the devil, we selected a few bold ideas that will take you to new heights—literally and figuratively.

    • You’ll start at STREB S.L.A.M. (the STREB Lab for Action Mechanics) in Williamsburg, where you can take group or private classes in PopAction, tumbling, trapeze, tightrope, and a variety of other daredevil techniques.
    • Next, dash over to nearby Gwynnett St. for adventurous modern American cuisine, with a menu that includes whiskey bread, main courses that fuse interesting and rare ingredients, as well as damningly delicious drinks and desserts.
    • Your adventure continues as you attempt to make it to BAM via the infamously unreliable G (for "gamble") train.
    • Assuming you make it to BAM (via the G or a desperately hailed cab), you’ll catch Faust: A Love Story, the Vesturport Theatre’s visceral, high-flying reimagining of Goethe’s classic story, featuring horror-film imagery and Nick Cave’s dark, moody score.
    • We hope we don’t have to bargain with you to try Cocoa Bar’s chocolatini after the show—it’s sinfully delicious and a soothing nightcap to a day of daredevilry.
    Can you think of other adventurous activities and restaurants? Please comment below!

    STREB S.L.A.M. is located at 51 North 1st Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211
    (718) 384-6491,

    Gwynnett St. is located at 312 Graham Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211
    (347) 889-7004,

    Faust: A Love Story, plays at the BAM Harvey Theater, located at 651 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11217,

    Cocoa Bar is located at 228 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215
    (718) 499-4080,

    Friday, December 7, 2012

    Who ignited the promise of art in you? BAM staff weighs in.

    We spend a lot of time here at BAM focusing on the power of art—how it broadens perceptions, changes minds, opens hearts. But it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how and when that power becomes a part of someone’s worldview, changes the way they think and live.

    So we decided to ask BAM friends and fans about the first time the world of creativity opened up for them. To kick things off, we posed this question to a few BAM staffers: Who ignited the promise of art in you? The responses we received were thoughtful and passionate, and we’re thrilled to share them with you here.

    Want to join the conversation? Share your story with us! You’ll even be entered to win some stellar BAM prizes: season tickets, gala invites, free movies, the works.

    Hope you enjoy our stories, and looking forward to reading yours!

    Wednesday, December 5, 2012

    Fresh Hamm: Glenn Branca and Thurston Moore at BAM, 1983

    While digging through the archives recently, we stumbled upon an exciting document: a photo of Glenn Branca’s ensemble performing his Symphony No. 3 (Gloria) at BAM in January 1983. In the late 70s and early 80s, Branca, one of the spearheads of the noisy (and often confrontational) No Wave scene, was developing his signature sound, characterized by the assaultive force of overdriven electric guitars. His ensembles played in all the hippest downtown venues of the day: the Mudd Club, the Kitchen, the Performing Garage, and Danceteria, among others.

    In ‘83 it seems that Branca brought all his friends out to Brooklyn. In the photo Branca is conducting (we imagine him flailing about in his trademarked convulsions), and you can clearly spot a young Thurston Moore seated at a keyboard. While it’s hard to identify the others precisely, we do know that the ensemble also included such No Wave steadies as Michael Gira of Swans, Barbara Ess of Y Pants, Margaret DeWys of the Theoretical Girls, and Moore’s Sonic Youth band-mate Lee Ranaldo.

    Photo: Tom Caravaglia

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012

    Celebrating the BAM Producers Council

    This year's annual Producers Council Celebration took place Friday, November 30, 2012
    (Photo: Etienne Frossard)
    Last Friday we hosted the Producers Council Celebration, an annual event to honor the support of this group of committed BAM patrons. The evening began with cocktails in the Dorothy W. Levitt Lobby in the Peter Jay Sharp Building, followed by a Caribbean themed banquet dinner in the BAM Lepercq Space. After dinner, guests moved into the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House for the first night of Red Hot + Cuba, an all-star tribute to the music of our island neighbor.

    During the Celebration, Producers Council Co-Chair Adam Wolfensohn warmly greeted his fellow Producers Council members and introduced BAM President, Karen Brooks Hopkins, and BAM Executive Producer, Joseph V. Melillo. The two BAM leaders personally expressed their thanks to the Producers Council members for their generosity and continued support of BAM, emphasizing that "You help make it all possible."

    Keep reading for more photo highlights and check out the full event album here. For more on the benefits of joining the Producers Council, click here.

    Monday, December 3, 2012

    Trojan Women (After Euripides) Opening Night Reception

     Trojan Women cast members Katherine Crockett, Brent Werzner, and Ellen Lauren (Photo: Elena Olivo)
    Last week, SITI Company, under the direction of Anne Bogart, proudly returned to the BAM stage with its thrilling production of Trojan Women (After Euripides). The magnificent actors mingled with BAM Producers Council members in the Campbell Lobby of the BAM Harvey Theater to celebrate opening night.

    Read on for more about the event and check out the full web album here!

    John Cage at BAM

    by Cory Bracken

    BAM's Joseph V. Melillo and John Cage, 1980 (Photo: Robert Boyd)

    John Cage was a musical and cultural powerhouse, having forever changed our perception of art through creations that urged us to reflect on what we think music is, and what we think it can be. A California native, Cage moved to New York in 1942 where he lived and worked for much of his life. His arrival reunited him with modern-dance luminary Merce Cunningham, whom he met in 1938 at the Cornish School in Seattle. Much of Cage’s creative output was a result of collaborations with Cunningham, his life partner and a choreographer whose appearances at BAM were legendary, so it is no surprise that Cage graced the BAM stage several times in his career. To celebrate his centennial and acknowledge his ever-present pioneering spirit in Brooklyn’s creative community, here is a look back at Cage’s rich history with BAM.

    Saturday, December 1, 2012

    The Making of Trojan Women: Part 4

    At the Getty Villa. Photo: Craig Schwartz
    The fourth part of a blog series about the creation of SITI Company's Trojan Women.

    Day 24 – Brent Werzner (Poseidon)

    We started rehearsing the play inside, from the top, before we moved outside to try our first run-through. As always it is a challenge to find myself back in the theater and working Poseidon’s prologue after last working in the amphitheater. It takes some winding up before hitting a stride today. I enjoy what Anne [Bogart] brings to my attention, examining the “knitting” of the moments. She challenges me to be more aware of my breath, my choices. During this first portion of rehearsal we really examine the moments when the Trojan Women learn their fate as decided by the Generals of the Armies of Greece­—what was decided by the drawing of the lots, and also Kassandra’s vision.

    Now we’re outside. (I understand one of the final conversations at the pool yesterday was a discussion on how it had been a great day and how we should really do a run-through tomorrow.)

    Cue dramatic drums.

    Friday, November 30, 2012

    The Making of Trojan Women: Part 3

    J. Ed Araiza, Katherine Crockett, and Ellen Lauren. Photo: Craig Schwartz

    The third part of a blog series about the creation of SITI Company's Trojan Women.

    Day 20 – J. Ed Araiza (Menelaus)

    Today we did not Za’ar, or even work on the music/singing/dance, but after more discussion we went straight outside after a short break and AGAIN looked at the beginning of the play, the very important entrance of Poseidon and then the “SETing” of the chairs by the Chorus. This has been a long discussion—a real investigation into what the rules are, what is the world we are setting up, and WHO is setting it up. It began perhaps as a simple question of where does Poseidon enter from and how does the stage get set, and by whom and why?

    Then, where does the Chorus enter, what is he doing, and does Poseidon see him or enable him or control him?

    Then, where and why does Hecuba enter and is it more “FORMAL” or character driven?

    Then, how do the Women enter—from where and why and how?

    But now… I really do believe we have a real and “true” beginning and it is a beautiful yet simple image.

    Thursday, November 29, 2012

    Fail To Your Heart's Content:
    Courtly Love and David Lang's love fail

    By Robert Jackson Wood

    Modified Manesse Codex Image by Al Cofrin
    referencing a 12th-century telling of the Tristan story.
    Few things are more universal than songs about frustrated love, be it unfulfilled, unconsummated, or unrequited. Yet there was a time, believe it or not, when those songs would have been puzzling at best—and been downright heretical at worst.

    Before the late 12th century, to speak publically of love was usually to speak of religious or political matters having little to do with the cravings of worldly desire. In the Christian world, love meant either the greater love of God binding together all things (as in "I love you, but my love for you is really an extension of God's love for the whole universe") or the related agape love shared between devout brothers and sisters in platonic union. In the political realm, love often meant something purely utilitarian—marriages entered into to produce would-be kings and political heirs or to maintain control of property. Love was largely a duty, not an indulgence.

    Leave it to vagabond poet-musicians wandering the medieval French countryside to change all of that. In a fascinating instance of life imitating art, the songs of the troubadours, rife with accounts of indecent proposals and adulterous passions, helped to introduce a new, largely secular (and delightfully manic-depressive) way of talking about love into society as a whole. For the church, it was heresy. But for women, it meant having a newfound social power unheard of in the centuries before.

    The Making of Trojan Women: Part 2

    Leon Ingulsrud, Ellen Lauren, and Makela Spielman. Photo: Craig Schwartz
    The second part of a blog series about the creation of SITI Company's Trojan Women.

    Day 8 – Katherine Crockett (Helen of Troy)

    In Viewpoints today, Anne [Bogart] asked us to add vocal articulation. I found this particularly interesting as it allowed for the experience of finding a new relationship with the text without a predetermined one associated with word meaning. Am curious to explore and experience this again.

    Next, we continued our Za'ar dance training [ensembles led by women], which I lead. It is challenging to find ways of teaching such an intense and particular art form when it is something that I too am just learning how to do. Also, since it is fundamentally an individual and improvisational expression where the participant is moved by the inner spirit and the rhythm of the music, there are many variations to explore. They all seems to revolve around the spiral and circular movement of the body and head in particular, and today we added this circular head movement to a spinning of the body. I still feel disoriented and “high” for quite a while after this, as I think several people felt. Maybe practice will make it easier, or maybe it is just about succumbing to this disoriented state and letting oneself lose control for a bit. Also, this dance is very demanding on the back muscles and we are all feeling a bit sore.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    Play Our Max von Sydow Game!

    Max von Sydow poster, illustrated by Nathan Gelgud

    In celebration of our Max von Sydow retrospective (playing through December 14), we've got a little game for you. Our favorite BAM illustrator Nathan Gelgud—who also designed the poster for this series—has created drawings of defining objects and details from all 22 films in the line-up. Match up the letter on each illustration to its corresponding film title (line-up is listed below) and whoever gets the most answers will win a very special prize package. To enter, just submit your answers in the comments section of this post by Friday, December 14 at 5pm!

    Prize packages will include:

    1st Place:
    Movie Buff II BAM Cinema Club membership good for discounted movie tickets for winner + guest for 1 year.
    Blu-rays for The Seventh Seal, The Virgin Spring, and The Magician courtesy of The Criterion Collection
    27 x 40” Max von Sydow poster
    BAMcinématek Brooklyn film poster illustrated by Nathan Gelgud
    2 coupons for free small popcorn & soda

    2nd Place:
    Blu-rays for The Seventh Seal, The Virgin Spring, and The Magician courtesy of The Criterion Collection
    BAMcinématek Brooklyn film poster illustrated by Nathan Gelgud

    3rd Place:
    Blu-rays for The Seventh Seal, The Virgin Spring, and The Magician courtesy of The Criterion Collection

    The comments section of this post will not appear until the contest has ended.

    The Making of Trojan Women: Part 1

    Katherine Crockett and Ellen Lauren. Photo: Craig Schwartz
    During the 10-week residency at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles where Trojan Women (SITI Company, directed by Anne Bogart, BAM Harvey Theater, Nov 28—30) originally premiered, the cast took turns emailing diaries to each other, to the company members not directly involved, and to the board and staff. Here and in subsequent blog posts, excerpts from these entries about the process of making Trojan Women.

    Day 1 – Ellen Lauren (Hecuba)

    How extraordinary to have on day one around the table the expertise of the Getty’s staff, classicists, ands scholars. Ken [Lapatin, associate curator of antiquities at J. Paul Getty Museum] speaks of the layers of Troy excavated, and he's so breezy and engaging, with the modern irreverence that can only come with a deep knowledge of his subject. Anne brings up that it seems from her reading she is finding that a central metaphor is the idea of an earthquake having leveled Troy, not fire. And that the play is a series of aftershocks so that finding where those all are in the text is key. It’s not lost on anyone that "earthquake" here in LA is a particularly potent image.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    A Red Hot Travelogue: Two Nights in Havana

    By Nick Schwartz-Hall

    Last July, in preparation for the Red Hot + Cuba shows, I flew to Havana to do some advance work and meet the artists. Because of the embargo the US maintains against Cuba, even making phone calls and sending emails between Cuba and the US are tricky, much less negotiating a contract with an artist or even spending money. Still, it was an amazing and productive trip. We’re fortunate that our co-music directors, Andres Levin and CuCu Diamantes (who is originally Cuban), have visited Cuba over the last few years while making a movie, Amor Crónico, and they know many of the artists we are working with.

    Monday, November 19, 2012

    November Staff Pick: Gary Shteyngart Roast

    This Month's Pick: Gary Shteyngart Roast
    Picked By: Adam Sachs, Fiscal Manager

    1. Why the Gary Shteyngart Roast?
    Why the November 20th celebration of the 10th anniversary of Gary Shteyngart's debut novel, The Russian Debutante's Handbook, where Shteyngart's friends and colleagues take shots at the beloved and critically acclaimed author of Absurdistan and Super Sad True Love Story, with Kurt Andersen, Edmund White, and Sloane Crosley, hosted by John Wesley Harding? It’s just $20. Plus, Thanksgiving is two days later and this is the perfect event with which to confound your Midwestern relatives when describing it around the dinner table.

    Thursday, November 15, 2012

    Elliott Stein, 1928—2012

    Elliott Stein, New York, 1976 (Courtesy of Photofest)
    BAMcinématek’s beloved friend Elliott Stein passed away Wednesday, November 7, at the age of 83.

    Elliott Stein was a film critic, historian, programmer, and script writer—a true cinematic multihyphenate. He wrote for The Village Voice, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Sight and Sound, Film Comment, the Financial Times, Opera, and many other publications.

    Born December 5, 1928 in Bensonhurst, Elliott saw the original King Kong in first run in 1933 at Radio City Music Hall. He saw the film more than any other in his life, way into the many hundreds of times, and decades later on the eve of the 1976 remake—to this day referred to as the definitive story on the original film—he wrote “My Life with Kong,” an article for Rolling Stone. Falling in love with the movies at a very young age, he ended up at NYU at age 15 in the 1940s where he was one of the first students to study film, before cinema studies was an established course of study. Elliott moved to Paris in 1948 and lived there for more than two decades, an experience that shaped a sensitivity and knowledge of film that was then original for an American writer and critic.

    Donka Opening Night Party at Building 92

    At the opening night of Donka: A Letter to Chekhov, BAM's young donors, and the company, were celebrated (Photo: Elena Olivo)
    Last night BAM celebrated BAMfans and Generation Advance, our two donor groups in their 20s and 30s at the Opening Night Party for Donka: A Letter to Chekhov. BAM patrons at the Producers Council Level were also invited to join the fun. The party took place at Building 92, a new arts center and event space just north of BAM in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

    Click here to see more pictures from the evening on the event's Web Album!

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    When in Idaho, eat the kimchi

    by Sophie Shackleton

    My first encounter with the American West started in ways I expected. The trip to Boise gives you a profound sense of wide, humbling American land—the Rockies stretching beneath you as you fly over Salt Lake City, the barren hills hugging a clean, organized city, the expansive streets lined with golden trees—it's breathtaking. And when the rental car guy grinned at me like a next door neighbor and handed me the keys to a bright white Jeep Patriot, I knew for damn certain I wasn't on the East Coast anymore.

    But the land of potatoes is full of surprises. In a bright yellow studio in the Idaho foothills, three Korean women, a Korean-American hospital chaplain, and a group of nationally acclaimed American dancers are collaborating in four different languages: Korean, English, Spanish (well, a little anyway), and dance.

    This is the work of DanceMotion USA, a State Department program produced by BAM, which uses dance as a vehicle for cross-cultural exchange. This spring, Trey McIntyre Project toured to China, the Philippines, Vietnam, and South Korea. Three weeks ago, dancers from Korea National Contemporary Dance Company (KNCDC) joined TMP in Boise, ID for a collaborative residency in the USA.

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Untrained—Naked Onstage (so to speak)

    We're so used to seeing highly trained dancers in New York that we forget how very different they are from your average plebe—how much they've learned, and how much they've forgotten, for better or worse.

    In Lucy Guerin's Untrained (BAM Fisher, Nov 27—Dec 1), trained dancers, alongside untrained performers, translate into movement instructions written on cards. The results are charming, poignant, and at times hilarious. That's not to say the untrained guys are without gifts. Guerin explains a bit:

    Friday, November 9, 2012

    A note from Gary Shteyngart's dog

    Dear BAM,

    Last night, while my favorite human Gary Shteyngart was dripping gherkin juice and pickled cod balls onto his green polyester shirt, I noticed a tear trickling down his face. I peered over his slumped shoulder and saw on the interwebs that in a couple weeks, some famous people are gathering at BAM to make fun of him. Not only that, you monsters are actually selling tickets to the public for this public humiliation of my friend. BAM staffers, I say to you: this small, furry excuse of a human being already suffers terrible asthma, an overabundance of gnarled body hair, and bouts of midnight gas. He has trouble buttoning his own shirts, doesn’t own a comb, and bribes his own MFA students to write his books. His hardship started years ago, first as a young Russian émigré tortured at Hebrew School, when he arrived in America speaking no English with a mere two shirts and a bear coat, and then again at New York City’s Stuyvesant High School, when his fellow immigrant teens would sabotage his Bunsen burner to get ahead. He struggled to make money in his 20s by writing grants for programs like “Torah Tots,” attempting to secure foundation money for the important purpose of introducing 3-year-olds to the murders and rapes of the Old Testament. In short I say to you, hasn’t Gary suffered enough? Why must you persecute him more? And also will this be live streamed on the web, so I can watch from the comforts of my luxury dog crate?

    Felix the Dachshund

    Thursday, November 8, 2012

    A BAM Platform for 2013

    By Robert Wood

    In the Winter/Spring of 2013, and as a performing arts organization in which you have placed your utmost trust, BAM promises to do the following (aka the BAM 2013 Winter/Spring Season has been announced!):

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

    This Week in BAM History: The Trapp Family Choir, 1939

    If you’ve seen The Sound of Music, then you’ve heard of the Trapp Family Singers (sometimes billed as the Trapp Family Choir). This large Austrian family of musicians rose to prominence during the Second World War, and their story became emblematic of the struggle for life meaningfully lived under fascism. On the evening of November 6, 1939, the Trapp Family Choir performed their unique repertoire of sacred, secular, and folk songs at BAM. 

    The Trapp family had been on tour for nearly a year, after permanently leaving the Austrian Anschluss. Alas, contrary to the final scene of The Sound of Music, they did not “climb ev’ry mountain” and flee the Nazis by night, singing all the while. Instead they boarded a train in the middle of the day, after having signed all the requisite papers. With tour dates booked, contracts signed, and benefactors waiting in cities across Europe and the US, they landed in Ellis Island in late October and within days were filling BAM’s Music Hall with songs like “Innsbruck, Ich Muss Dich Lassen,” and madrigals such as “Now Is the Month of Maying.”

    Saturday, November 3, 2012

    This Week in BAM History: The Shocking World of the Novel

    William Lyon Phelps. Photo: William Vandivert
    In 1892, a 31-year-old Yale instructor shocked the academic community when he offered a course on the modern novel. As the news of the course taught by the young William Lyon Phelps rippled beyond the ivory tower, The New York Times (according to a BAM program from 1940) published an editorial denouncing Yale for offering “instruction of such a frivolous and vulgar character.” Though Phelps’ course, which examined novels by the likes of Rudyard Kipling and Leo Tolstoy, was one of the most popular at Yale, the college pulled the plug. After receiving a rush of publicity, Phelps was inundated with requests from around the country to lecture on the modern novel. A few years later, Yale, seeing a rising star in its midst, asked Phelps to resume his course under its auspices, and he was offered a full professorship. It was one of the first steps taken toward the development of the modern English department.

    Ímã & Sem Mim Opening Night Party

    Grupo Corpo (and Pina Bausch) company members enjoying their Opening Night at BAM (Photo: Elena Olivo)
    After much wind, rain, and through a swath of transportation complications, the lauded Brazilian dance company Grupo Corpo opened their weekend of performances of  Ímã & Sem Mim Thursday night to a rightly enthused audience. Following the performance BAM patrons at the Producers Council level and above, along with Grupo Corpo company members, celebrated the accomplishment at an Opening Night Reception. We were particularly proud to partner with The Brooklyn Hospital Center on this event, in light of all they have done in this hectic and emotional week in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The local hospital was well represented by Richard Becker, the president and CEO of The Brooklyn Hospital, and Carlos Naudon, chairman of The Brooklyn Hospital Center Board of Trustees. A special acknowledgement of our other guests, the Pina Bausch company who, due to the weather, are still here in New York!

    Read on for more on the event and check out the full Event Album click here.

    Friday, November 2, 2012

    The Who in Film

    Forget about their immeasurable contributions to the sound of modern rock for a moment and just consider the sheer visual impact The Who had in the ’70s. The windmill strum, the Marshall stack, the guitar smash: these universally acknowledged emblems introduced big arena rock as a force of nature. And all three sprang from the minds of this restlessly inventive group of British musicians, now commonly named among the world’s greatest rock bands.

    It was only a matter of time before this flamboyant visual sensibility found its way to the big screen. At a time when their music was growing to encompass the influence of grand opera, pop, and the most cutting-edge electronic sounds, The Who brought its ambition to a small but adventurous filmography. In the pre-MTV era, fans could flock to the theaters to see rare concert and documentary footage as compiled in The Kids Are Alright; a brooding realist rendering of the double album Quadrophenia; or—in one of The Who’s audacious collaborations with enfant terrible Ken Russell—Roger Daltrey strumming a harp while riding a gigantic penis in Lisztomania.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2012

    Live Twitter Q&A with Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch dancers!

    Eddie Martinez in "...como el musguito..." (Photo credit: Stephanie Berger)

    We're so excited to announce our first ever live Twitter Q&A with the dancers from Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, in conjunction with "... como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si..." and the Pina Bausch Legacy Iconic Artist Talk. The Q&A will take place tomorrow, Thursday October 25th from 5 to 6pm.

    Company members Eddie Martinez, Fernando Suels Mendoza, and Thusnelda Mercy will be on hand to answer your questions. You might recognize them from Pina, Wim Wenders' 3D film tribute to Pina Bausch.

    This Week in BAM History: The 1979 BAMbustle

    We don’t mean to brag, but have you noticed that it’s pretty busy around BAM lately? What with the Next Wave Festival in full swing, the Young French Cinema and IFC Sneaks series in BAMcinématek, along with various talks, visual art, and literary events—the BAM campus is bustling this October. While sometimes we think we’re busier than ever, it’s an interesting (and humbling) reminder that we’ve actually been this busy for a long time.

    If we go back 33 years, to the week of October 22, 1979, we see there was plenty of activity here at BAM. The 22nd (a Monday) kicked off the opening of the two-month Musical America Festival in the Helen Carey Playhouse (now part of BAM Rose Cinemas). The festival celebrated the music of ragtime and early jazz composers, with evenings dedicated to performances of the likes of Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin, Irving Berlin, and Bert Williams.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2012

    Opening Night Party for "... como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si ..."

    Company members of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch
     at the ...como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si... Opening Night Party. (Photo: Elena Olivo)
    Last week, BAM celebrated the legacy of Pina Bausch with an opening night party surrounding "... como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si... "—the last work Pina created before her passing in 2009. This piece was inspired by Chile, its popular music, folk songs, and cultural roots which made for a festive and commemorative party!

    Keep reading for highlights from the occasion and check out the full Event Album here.

    Saturday, October 20, 2012

    October at BAMcinématek: The Soundtrack

    We hope you’ve been enjoying this month’s repertory programming, which so far has taken us from the grim Cold War-era espionage tales of John le Carré to raunchy apocalyptic confections like the X-rated Glen and Randa to some of the most radical entries in the LGBT film canon. The broad, international scope of the films we have in store in the coming weeks has inspired us to put together a playlist we hope will aurally reflect the variety of October at BAMcinématek. Among our selections are songs central (well, in some cases just incidental) to the films we’re playing, as well as some staff favorites that sum up the spirit of a particular series.

    Friday, October 19, 2012

    Schubert and Sinatra Walk Into A Bar

    By Robert Jackson Wood

    It’s quarter to three,
    There's no one in the place ‘cept you and me
    So set ‘em up Joe
    I got a little story I think you oughtta know

    —"One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)"

    Fancy yourself at a lounge bar, five stools down from Sinatra. It’s a lonely 2:45am, the velour smells like cigarettes, and Joe, bless him, has done all he can about the draft from under the door. Someone’s already started vacuuming.

    That’s the basic milieu of composer Phil Kline’s new song cycle Out Cold, at BAM with the composer’s Zippo Songs from Oct 25—27. The cycle was inspired in part by Sinatra’s collaborations with arranger Nelson Riddle in the 1950s, particularly their masterpiece (and Sinatra’s favorite album) Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely, a lushly orchestrated set of downcast ballads cataloging broken hearts and dreams.

    Artist José Parlá on "Gesture Performing Dance, Dance Performing Gesture"

    Photo: Michael Appleton

    Listen to Brooklyn artist José Parlá discuss his mural "Gesture Performing Dance, Dance Performing Gesture," commissioned by BAM for the Fisher Building.

    Thursday, October 18, 2012

    The International Necronautical Society

    Illustration by Nathan Gelgud
    “Death is a type of space, which we intend to map, enter, colonize and, eventually, inhabit.”

    The International Necronautical Society was founded in August 1999 by Tom McCarthy. Simon Critchley is the organization’s chief philosopher. Tonight they join each other in conversation as part of BAM’s On Truth (And Lies) series. They’ll be talking about literature and philosophy, mostly, but with any luck they’ll cover some of the topics they’re interested in as members of the INS.

    The mission of the INS is to explore the “space of death,” and to “construct a craft in which to be transported into this space.” (The INS is probably thinking figuratively when they talk about space and crafts, but we hope it means they’re building something that looks like a spaceship—the fact that they occasionally name-check sci-fi authors is encouraging.) According to their official literature, which you can view below, these “necronauts” patrol the “border zones” of death, which they refer to as a “combat zone.” Read all about electromagnetic waves, Tarkovsky, William S. Burroughs, Jean Cocteau, and Ernest Shackleton’s toes in The Mattering of Matter: Documents from the Archive of the International Necronautical Society.

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Brooklyn Shelf Life: Preserving Print in the Digital Age

    by Cory Bracken

    BAM has a new addition to the evolving façade of the Peter Jay Sharp Building at 30 Lafayette Ave, along with David Byrne’s typographic bike racks. Round the corner onto Ashland and you will be greeted by the latest BAMart: Outdoors installation, a series of three surreal sculptures by a coalition of street artists from Brooklyn’s DIY community.

    Be advised: these sculptures serve a purpose beyond their ornate and arresting strangeness. In response to the quotidian nature of newspaper boxes, SHOWPAPER proposed an ambitious project for the BAMart: Outdoors initiative called Brooklyn Shelf Life that would introduce a radical twist to periodical distribution in the BAM neighborhood. Throughout the coming year, these sculptural repositories will house a revolving series of independent print publications from Chelsea-based Printed Matter, a nonprofit dedicated to the creation and promotion of artist-made publications, as well as SHOWPAPER, a free biweekly print-only comprehensive listing of all-ages shows in New York that features full-color prints from young underground artists.

    Monday, October 15, 2012

    This Week in BAM History: Jerzy Grotowski, October 1969

    Old, wise Grotowski

    Forty-three years ago this week the course of American theater was permanently altered when Jerzy Grotowski landed in New York. For his first stateside visit, Grotowski and his Polish Laboratory Theatre presented under BAM’s auspices three of Grotowski’s most iconic productions: The Constant Prince, Akropolis, and Apocalypsis Cum Figuris (which in fact was the last piece Grotowski professionally directed, before he turned his attention to paratheatrical research). Many of the big players (and future big players) in New York’s avant-theatrical scene came out to see the enigmatic Polish genius at work, including members of the Living Theater, a young Robert Wilson, and Andre Gregory of My Dinner with Andre fame (which is the most widely circulated discussion of Grotowski’s work to date).

    Saturday, October 13, 2012

    Harvey—House of Pain No More!

    Demo time, with the lower part of the orchestra missing. Ashland Pl is below, through the door and past the dumpster. Photo: Carl Gillen
    BAM audiences cherish the Harvey Theater with the possible exception of the seats, which in their 80s bench-like iteration reportedly garnered the venue the nickname "Peter Brook's House of Pain." But good news: over the summer, renovations have been underway, including new seats. BAM Capital Projects Manager Carl Gillen reports on some of the changes you'll discover beginning later this month.

    After being rediscovered for Peter Brook’s Mahabharata, BAM remodeled the Harvey Theater in 1986, creating an inner lobby and reducing much of the orchestra seating by raising the stage level almost five feet and joining the leading edge of the mezzanine level to a new semicircular thrust extending out toward the audience from the proscenium. The result was the intimate and familiar space we enjoy today. The 1986 retrofit recast the space, halting much of its deterioration and recreating the rest in the likeness of the Bouffes du Nord in Paris.

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    October Staff Pick: Political Mother

    This Month's Pick: Political Mother 

    Picked By: Rebecca Dragonetti, Education & Humanities Assistant

    1. Why Political Mother?
    I love the music they use for the promotional video. It seems like Political Mother will be a loud, abrasive show. I can’t tell if it’s going to be completely terrifying or completely enthralling. It will probably be a little of both. This is one of those Next Wave Festival shows that you see to learn something about the world. After a show like this one, I find myself reminded that the world is a hugely complicated place. On the bright side, there might be a mention of human resilience?

    2. What makes it unique?
    I love the way the dancers move in tight groups around the stage, completely in unison. The movements are so perfectly in sync, they look like a school of fish (in a good way).

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    I Think Therefore I BAM: Hofesh Shechter

    We kick off Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo's "I Think Therefore I BAM" interview series with Israeli, UK-based choreographer/composer Hofesh Shechter, whose first full-length work, Political Mother, opens tonight at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House. He thinks, therefore he BAMs!

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    What’s Cooking in the Furnace?

    by William Lynch

    Martha Wilson. Photo: Nina Mouritzen
    From October 11—13, 2012, BAM will present Brooklyn Bred, a series of programs curated by Martha Wilson featuring Coco Fusco, Jennifer Miller, and Dread Scott. Wilson operates Franklin Furnace Archive, a short walk from the BAM Fisher Building, around the corner and down Hanson Place.

    Franklin Furnace, the storied former art and performance space, was created in 1976 by Wilson as a repository for artists’ books and a presentation space for other time-based media such as installation and performance art. In 1993, its artist book collection—one of the largest in the world—was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art. The loft space on Franklin Street in TriBeCa was sold in 1998 and Franklin Furnace moved to the Financial District where it remained until 2004, when it moved to Fort Greene, becoming neighbors with BAM, which is around the time I met Martha. We became instant friends.

    Martha is an artist and a smartly-dressed and coiffed woman with an asymmetrical gray hairdo that usually sports a shock of bright red; she wears the most fascinating outfits and eyeglasses, making herself a style icon of the avant-garde. I caught up with Martha electronically recently and was able to ask her about her work in preparation for the programs at the BAM Fisher Building.