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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Love Letter to BAM

This January, playwright, collagist, and Richard B. Fisher Next Wave Award recipient Charles Mee returns to BAM for a fourth time with The Glory of the World. Here—in an excerpt from 2011's BAM: The Complete Works—Mee shares dynamic memories of America's oldest performing arts center:

Mee's The Glory of the World comes to BAM Jan 16—Feb 6. Photo: Bill Brymer

By Charles Mee

We live in a world these days where it’s taken for granted that BAM is one of the greatest cultural institutions on the planet. And yet, not long ago—certainly within my own lifetime—it was a big old dark neglected pile of stones right off Flatbush Avenue where no one I knew ever thought to go.

The first time I ever walked into the theater at BAM it was completely inadvertent. A friend had invited me to see a theater piece called The Photographer/Far from the Truth, inspired by the work of the 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge, whose obsession with animal and human locomotion led to developing a photographic means to project a series of images that had been captured by a set of still cameras: galloping horses, running bison, nude women descending staircases. I knew Muybridge’s work, and I thought it was great, but, of course, I knew no one could make a good theater piece out of it. Still, I went anyway, because I had nothing else to do, and I thought it might be kind of exciting to venture out into the unknown wilderness—and stop for some cheesecake at Junior’s.

BAMcinématek’s Best of 2015

Once again, the BAMcinématek staff indulges in its annual bout of list-making. And there's much to love: 2015 was an embarrassment of riches, both in the wealth of stellar new releases (several of which played on our screens) and the city's endless font of repertory discoveries. Here's the cream of our crop:

OUT 1: Noli me Tangere, Jacques Rivette

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 End-of-Year Reading List

Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom. Photo: Focus Features
Don't think of it as homework; think of it as getting a leg up on the upcoming BAM season while putting all those gift cards to good use.

Get lost in Arthur Rimbaud's labyrinthine Illuminations in advance of The Civilians' Rimbaud in New York, read Frank Rich's theater criticism to prepare for his appearance with Fran Lebowitz, get to know the legendary dancer behind the Mariinsky Theatre's upcoming tributes, and much more with this reading list related to BAM in 2016.

Monday, December 14, 2015

In Context: Sancho: An Act of Remembrance

Sancho: An Act of Remembrance, featuring actor Paterson Joseph, comes to BAM on December 16. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of articles and videos related to the show. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought below and by posting on social media using #RememberSancho.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

In Context: The Hard Nut

Mark Morris Dance Group’s The Hard Nut comes to BAM on December 12. Context is everything, so get even closer to the holiday production with this curated selection of articles and videos related to the show. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought below and by posting on social media using #TheHardNut.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Highly Anticipated Return to BAM

Next week, Paterson Joseph returns to BAM in Sancho: An Act of Remembrance—playing the BAM Fisher December 16—20. First seen on our stage as Brutus in the Royal Shakesespeare Company's 2013 production of Julius Caesar, Joseph reflects on his past BAM experiences and the joy of bringing African stories to Brooklyn stages.

Paterson Joseph in Sancho. Photo: Robert Day
by Paterson Joseph

After a month’s break, Sancho: An Act of Remembrance is about to have another outing in the United States. This time we’re playing two venues in Pennsylvania (August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh and Williams Center in Easton) and then a week-long run for our New York premiere at BAM.

I’m in need of a refreshment of my lines for Sancho, I realise, to my dismay. I certainly hope the feeling that I have the play sitting, intact, in the back of my head is not a false one. I’ll have to do a run in my head on the plane to the US from London . Hopefully, I’ll be sitting next to a sympathetic fellow passenger!

I feel very privileged to be able to play BAM again, as it is a well sought-after venue for any international theatre company. In 2013 I was part of the cast that took Julius Caesar there with the Royal Shakespeare Company. We were in the Harvey, a beautiful theatre built on the model of Peter Brook’s Parisian venue, Le Théâtre des Bouffe du Nord. All distressed walls and pillars, it gave our production, set in a fictional African country, a broken-down but holistic feel. As if the set, a copy of a rundown, African stadium, had always been a part of that space. Michael Vale, who is also Sancho’s designer, at his absolute best once again.

The audience came from all over New York and beyond; our talented company loved the time there. We were treated with such respect and support that I longed then to come back one day. I little dreamt that it would be so soon, and in a play of my own creation.

Finishing RSC’s Julius Caesar tour at BAM after playing the mecca of acting—Constantin Stanislavski’s Moscow Art Theatre in Russia’s capital—couldn’t have been a better way to end our fairy tale year exploring what the actor, John Kani of the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, described with reverence as, “Shakespeare’s African play...” Taking Sancho, the story of one of Africa’s greatest sons, to BAM will be a full-circle that I will be proud to complete.

Cyril Nri and Paterson Joseph in Julius Caesar. Photo: Richard Termine
The other great advantage of playing BAM, of course, is the fact that Brooklyn is such a vibrant, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic borough of New York City. Walking down Fulton Street which leads to the Harvey was like walking down Atlantic Road in London’s Brixton, proving that Brooklyn is one of NYC’s biggest, most vibrant, Afro-Caribbean communities. I’ll be playing the BAM Fisher, where we held an electrifying symposium on Julius Caesar in 2013. What better place to end this year of Sancho than in America?

BAM Illustrated: A Love Supreme

Urban Bush Women's Walking with 'Trane (Dec 9—12) draws inspiration from John Coltrane's 1965 album A Love Supreme, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Illustrator Nathan Gelgud explores the history and legacy of the album.

Monday, December 7, 2015

In Context: Walking with 'Trane

Urban Bush Women’s Walking with ’Trane comes to the BAM Harvey Theater December 9—12. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of articles and videos related to the show. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought below and by posting on social media using #UrbanBushWomen.

In Context: Alas, The Nymphs...

Alas, The Nymphs comes to BAM on December 9. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of articles and videos related to the show. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought below and by posting on social media using #AlasTheNymphs.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Meet Katy Clark

Katy Clark, BAM’s new president, answered some questions posed by Robert Wood about issues small and large.

Photo: Jesse Winter
First of all, welcome to BAM. All moved in? Favorite neighborhood lunch spots picked? 

All moved in at BAM, and soon to be moved into a new home in Brooklyn with my family. As for lunch, favorites so far would be soup and sushi from The Greene Grape and noodles from National! I also love Romans, Walters, and Madiba, all on DeKalb.

What were the first things you hung or unpacked in your new office?

Pictures of my family and pieces from the BAM Visual Art collection, including a Richard Avedon photo of former BAM leader Harvey Lichtenstein and a piece by the brilliant Shinique Smith. I also couldn’t forget a paperweight my son gave me and some of his art work. Or my little figurines of the band Wilco—Jeff Tweedy et al.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Hard Nut Nuggets

L-R: Julie Worden, June Omura, Mark Morris, Lauren Grant. Photo: Susana Millman
Mark Morris Dance Group returns to BAM with The Hard Nut (December 12—20) choreographed by Mark Morris in 1991 to Tchaikovsky’s beloved Nutcracker, op. 71, with sets by Adrianne Lobel (after Charles Burns) and costumes by Martin Pakledinaz. Some members of the company shared anecdotes from the ballet’s history.

JUNE OMURA (MMDG company member 1988—2008; “Fritz” in The Hard Nut 1994—2015) Once, when the inimitable Peter Wing Healey was injured and the character of Mrs. Stahlbaum had not yet been thrillingly re-created by John Heginbotham, there were two memorable performances of The Hard Nut in Edinburgh when Mark Morris stepped into the role of my mom, uncomfortable high heels and all. Every character in the party scene has a different “track,” and Mark was already in it as a hilariously drunken party guest, so re-learning the scene from such a different perspective had to have been stressful, even for Mark. But after running through it a few times (I remember his directions to “Keep talking!” and “Tell me what to do!”), he was ready to go. I was naughty Fritz, and Mark was now my mother. Scary—for both of us!