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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.