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Thursday, April 19, 2018

What's BMAP?

Photo by Mikal Amin Lee
By Christian Barclay

BAM Education connects learning with creativity, engaging imagination by encouraging self-expression through in- and after-school programs for students and teachers; workshops; and offerings for audiences of all ages. In a continuing effort to develop arts-based, justice-oriented programs that promote engagement and empowerment for young people, BAM Education created the Black Male Achievement Program (BMAP) in 2013. The program, largely funded by the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, was inspired by classroom discussions on media literacy, black male identity, and cultural representation.

BMAP functions as a co-teaching model, with two teaching artists working collaboratively in a classroom. During these twice-weekly sessions, the students develop writing, performance, and critical media literacy skills by mining popular cultural texts. In their studies of cultural representations––and misrepresentations––they begin to develop their own view on black masculinity. “This communication is the primary vehicle for critical investigations of the world we live in,” says Marcus Small, a current BMAP teaching artist. “It’s rare that males of color are able to engage in this dialogue absent of tension, danger, and unhealthy consequences.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Manville + Irons

Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville. Photo: Hugo Glendinning
By Harry Haun

In 1941, for their 12th wedding anniversary, Eugene O’Neill gave his wife Carlotta a gift that’s kept on giving—more to the world than to the wife: a quasi-autobiographical “play of old sorrow, written in tears and blood.” When Long Day’s Journey Into Night was publicly unwrapped at last on Broadway in 1956, it won the playwright—posthumously—his fourth Pulitzer Prize (more than anyone else) and his first Tony.

Generally regarded as O’Neill’s masterpiece, the drama has been consistently performed throughout the world. Two years ago, while Gabriel Byrne and a Tony-winning Jessica Lange were charging away on all cylinders in the play’s sixth Broadway production, director Richard Eyre was jump-starting a Bristol Old Vic edition in England with Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville. The trio recently reactivated that version on the West End at London’s Wyndham’s Theater and will be bringing it to the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater May 8—27.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Abdullah Ibrahim: An Illustrated Epistle for a Jazz Apostle

This week, we celebrate the Jazz Epistles—South Africa’s near-mythic bebop band—with two electrifying evenings of music co-presented by the World Music Institute. Each night, superstar pianist Abdullah Ibrahim will be joined on stage by his band, Ekaya, and special guests to play in honor of the revolutionary group he helped form, and in memory of the late great trumpeter Hugh Masekela, who recently passed away. 

The Jazz Epistles were South Africa’s first black jazz band, pioneering a new musical form influenced by bebop and traditional South African music. Inspired by Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, the troupe formed when the Dollar Brand Trio from Cape Town––including pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (“Dollar Brand”), bassist Johnny Gertze, and drummer Makaya Ntshoko––combined talents with alto saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi, the late Masekela, and trombonist Jonas Gwangwa. Their first and only album, 1959's Jazz Epistle, Verse 1 brought them international acclaim. However, following the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre and the increasing oppression of the apartheid government (which included the prohibition of jazz music), the band was forced to disband as its members emigrated to Europe and North America. Two of them, Ibrahim and Masekela, would go on to become jazz stars in their own right.

In this series of illustrations, artist Nathan Gelgud pays homage to the Jazz Epistles pioneering bebop spirit.

In Context: The Jazz Epistles

Superstar pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, a revered figure in jazz for over six decades, comes to BAM for two nights only to commemorate the short-lived, near-mythical South African group the Jazz Epistles. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #JazzEpistles.

Friday, April 13, 2018

BAMcinématek's Beyond the Canon—One False Move + Touch of Evil

One False Move, courtesy Sony Pictures; Touch of Evil, courtesy Universal Pictures
It is no secret that the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white, male auteur. This monthly series seeks to question that history and broaden horizons by pairing one much-loved, highly regarded, canonized classic with a thematically or stylistically-related—and equally brilliant—work by a filmmaker traditionally excluded from that discussion.

This month’s double feature pairs Carl Franklin’s brilliant One False Move with Orson Welles’ classic Touch of Evil. Both films exemplify the film noir genre while also investigating interracial relationships on both an intimate and community-wide scale. Guest writer Michael Boyce Gillespie examines the genre and how it relates to, and was born out of, boundary crossing.

By Michael Boyce Gillespie

Film noir remains one of the richest and most difficult film categories to quantify. In More Than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts, James Naremore addresses the lack of a definitive consensus surrounding its origins and status as genre. He suggests that this indeterminacy represents a need to rethink noir and the idea of genre more broadly: “If we want to understand [film noir], or make sense of genres or art historical categories in general, we need to recognize that film noir belongs to the history of ideas as much as to the history of cinema; it has less to do with a group of artifacts than with a discourse—a loose, evolving system of arguments and readings, helping to shape commercial strategies and aesthetic ideologies.” To place Orson Welles’ A Touch of Evil (1958) and Carl Franklin’s One False Move (1992) together is to recognize the crucial ways that borders and crossings constitute a central concern of film noir as the history of an idea. Both screen at BAMcinématek on April 21.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Deluxe Treatment of Love and Intrigue at BAM

Elizaveta Boyarskaya and Danila Kozlovsky in Love and Intrigue. Photo: Viktor Vasiliev
By David Hsieh

Two young people, madly in love. Unfortunately unswayable disapproval from their parents would eventually lead to their tragic deaths. Is this the story of Romeo and Juliet? No. It is German playwright Friedrich Schiller’s 1787 play Kabale und Liebe (Love and Intrigue). The play is rarely seen in the United States (like almost all of Schiller’s work). But New York audiences will have the luck to see it twice this spring, although neither in its original format. St. Petersburg’s Maly Drama Theatre, which has been at BAM previously with four plays, will bring its Russian production to BAM from June 6—16. And before that, the Metropolitan Opera will mount Luisa Miller, an Italian opera by Verdi which was based on the same play. This production will be broadcast worldwide on April 14 and can be seen at BAM Rose Cinemas.

The doomed lovers in Schiller’s play are Ferdinand, son of the president of a small German duchy in the 18th century, and Luise Miller, daughter of a music teacher. For political reasons, President von Walter needs Ferdinand to marry Lady Milford, the ruling duke’s English mistress. Mr. Miller is also wary of this relationship because he does not believe a nobleman can love, let alone marry, a commoner and therefore is sympathetic to the pursuit by the president’s secretary, Wurm.

Monday, April 9, 2018

“Their own images of Africa": The cinema of Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, left, in Bye Bye Africa (1999).

By Ashley Clark

Although the cinema of Mahamat-Saleh Haroun is far less well-known in America than it should be, the Chadian filmmaker is one of the major contemporary filmmakers of the past two decades, crafting a remarkable body of absorbing, experimental, and politically resonant work. In the career-spanning series Mahamat-Saleh Haroun: Modern Griot—which opens with his latest film, the haunting, immigration-themed drama A Season in France (2017)—BAMcinématek is proud to present the first major New York retrospective of this trailblazing artist’s work in over 10 years April 20—25.

The enduring power of Haroun’s cinema is rooted in his own experiences. Having left his home country as a young man in the 1980s as it was being rent asunder by a brutal civil war, Haroun made his way to France, working as a journalist in Bordeaux before settling in Paris with only one thing in his pocket—the address of a Parisian film school. As Haroun explained to The Guardian, “My story sounds like fiction, but it's true. It was like I was a homeless person, and this school is where I belonged.” Haroun’s affinity with refugee life clearly informs A Season in France, screening for the first time in New York at BAM. This timely and understated film stars the brilliant Eriq Abouney as Abbas, a high-school teacher and father-of-two from the Central African Republic who flees his war-torn country for France, where he falls in love with a French woman (Sandrine Bonnaire) who offers a roof for him and his family.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Behind the Scenes—Coco Killingsworth

Photo: Jesse Winter
By Sandy Sawotka

In February 2017, BAM welcomed Coco Killingsworth as its new Vice President of Education and Community Engagement. A longtime Brooklyn resident, educator, parent, and dancer, she is ideally qualified to oversee two newly-merged BAM departments, education and community programs—areas of growth for the institution.

Killingsworth previously served as the deputy director/director of programs for Global Kids, Inc., managing school-based and after-school global education programs in 35 New York City public schools. She also developed a Brooklyn public high school—in concert with the Department of Education, Global Kids, teachers, and parents—featuring interactive curricula in global issues and after-school programs in arts and leadership. Coco was a principal dancer in Brooklyn-based ASE Dance Theater Collective and also a Charles H. Revson Fellow at Columbia University (2010—11). She earned a BA in history and African studies from UCLA and a master’s in education from Harvard University. Originally from Oakland, CA, she has made Brooklyn her home for 18 years.

“BAM is a special and beloved place in a fantastic borough,” Killingsworth said. “As always, but especially now, it’s important for young people, families, and community members to have opportunities to engage with and participate in the arts. I’d like to create more ways for BAM to be a welcoming institution for all.”

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

In Context: King Lear

The Royal Shakespeare Company returns to BAM Apr 7—29 with this unforgettable rendition of King Lear, starring Sir Antony Sher as the addled patriarch whose reign gives way to ruin.

Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #RSCKingLear.