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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Problem-Solving Production Managers Working Behind the Scenes at the BAM Fisher

Everybooty, 2018. Photo: Santiago Felipe

By David Hsieh

The black box Fishman Space in the BAM Fisher was built to be flexible, and since it opened in 2012, artists have come up with unexpected ways to test that flexibility. There have been shows in the round, on three sides, with the audience sitting on stage, with rocking chairs as seats, and with no seats at all. In the most recent Next Wave, for instance, there were productions that made audiences see the theater in completely new ways: Michelle Dorrance’s Elemental went above audience’s heads to dance on the lighting grids; Andrew Schneider’s NERVOUS/SYSTEM turned the theater into a magic lantern with each blackout revealing a new tableau; Jesper Just’s Interpassivities made audience walk on “terra infirma” the whole time. And this Pride Weekend, it will become a nightclub with Everybooty.

So how do we bring these artists’ ceaseless creative ideas to the stage? The secret lies with our ingenious production managers/supervisors, Collins Costa and Courtney Wrenn. Here, they reveal their magic.

Beyond the Canon: Touki Bouki + Breathless

Touki Bouki (1973) + Breathless (1960)

It is no secret that the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white, male auteur. Beyond the Canon is a monthly series that 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 Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Touki Bouki (1973) with Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1960).

By Devika Girish

Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty is often described as an “African Godard.” His debut feature, Touki Bouki (1973), bears striking similarities to Jean-Luc Godard’s own firecracker first feature Breathless (1960). Both films center on a young couple as they swindle their way through the city with impossible, punk-ish cool; both are shot in a handheld, improvisatory style replete with jump-cuts.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Go Behind the Scenes with Two of BAM’s Most Dynamic Staff Members

Daisy Desnuda (photo by Doug Ross) and Flower Tortilla (photo by Michael Avance)

By David Hsieh

They have double identities. To BAM staff and patrons, they are Leo Paredes and Hector Rios, with the totally normal job titles of, respectively, Operations Coordinator for Education and Community Engagement and Special Events Coordinator. But to New York’s night crawlers, they are known as Daisy Desnuda, burlesque thespian, and Flower Tortilla, drag queen. But once in a while, the two lives converge. Such is the case when Flower Tortilla performs at Everybooty, BAM’s annual Pride party, joining many other New York night life glitterati in celebration of diversity and creativity. We talked to them about what it’s like pursuing two parallel career paths.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Meet the Projection Team That Keeps BAMcinemaFest Rolling

Mike Katz, Head Projectionist

By Sam Polcer

The film festival The New Yorker called “The city’s best independent showcase” is in full swing, which makes Mike Katz, who has been the Head Projectionist here at BAM since the cinemas opened in 1998, along with Jesse Green, our Cinema Technical Manager, currently two of the busiest men in show business. We thought we’d make their day even more complicated by sneaking into their submarine-like lair to ask them a couple questions about the unique challenges posed by such a unique cinema experience. (You’re welcome, guys.)

Thursday, June 13, 2019

In Context: Espæce

Photo: Christophe Raynaud de Lage

An enormous moveable wall splits and folds like a book. Five performers—three dancers, a soprano, and an actor—navigate this stunning monolith to create a shape-shifting tableau. Aurélien Bory’s playful, poetic work of physical theater is inspired by the life and work of writer-trickster Georges Perec, best known for his wordplay and droll wit. Using Perec’s Species of Spaces as a jumping-off point and diving into a physical riddle of arrivals and departures, presence and absence, Espæce destabilizes our expectations to moody and mischievous effect.

After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #espaece.

Program Notes

Espæce (PDF)

When the Wall is On Stage

Photo: Michael Slobodian

By David Hsieh

In the conventional sense, the stage is defined by the space between the three visible walls and the fourth invisible wall. The three visible walls separate the theater from the real world, and the fourth wall separates the audience from the performers. A wall is a divider. It blocks the audience’s view; it reduces performing space. So setting up additional walls on stage is tricky. But when it’s done right, the effect can be quite, shall we say, theatrical.

Monday, June 10, 2019

In Context: Ballet BC

Photo: Michael Slobodian

Canada’s beloved contemporary ballet company celebrates 10 years of excellence under the leadership of artistic director Emily Molnar, a former soloist with Ballett Frankfurt. In a kind of career-spanning reunion, this evening-length trio sets a new piece (To This Day) by Molnar alongside Enemy in the Figure, a masterwork by her former mentor William Forsythe, as well as Solo Echo, choreographed by fellow Frankfurt alum Crystal Pite. Emotive, expansive, and supremely theatrical, these three daring works embody the innovative spirit and tenacious artistry for which Ballet British Columbia has become known.

After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BalletBC.

Program Notes

Ballet BC (PDF)

Friday, June 7, 2019

Katy Clark & David Binder: A Conversation

Photo: Jesse Winter
In January 2019, David Binder assumed the role of BAM’s Artistic Director, succeeding Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo. BAM President Katy Clark recently spoke to David on the brink of the announcement of his first Next Wave.

Katy Clark: You once told me that while you didn’t know it at the time, your career, as varied and winding as it has been, has been preparing you to come to BAM the whole time. What did you mean by that?

David Binder: When you’re moving through life, it’s impossible to see how the dots will connect, but looking back, you can see how perfectly they align. That’s the case for BAM and me.

See, I grew up in Los Angeles, where I was mostly exposed to musicals—you know, the barricade-busting, chandelier-dropping kind. Once in a while, a great play would come to town; I remember seeing the Royal Shakespeare Company’s epic Nicholas Nickleby in 1986, or the Broadway company version of Fences, but mostly it was about big touring shows. When I went to UC Berkeley, I spent a lot of time at Cal Performances. Everybody performed there. We had Bill T. Jones with Arnie! I feel so lucky to have seen that. I also remember seeing Mark Morris in a long wig, dancing with a remote-controlled Tonka truck! After college I moved to New York to work on Broadway, not knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I had so many jobs. I was in the costume shop running errands for the legendary designer William Ivey Long on Assassins—even though I couldn’t sew. I worked as a PA on a play called The Sum of Us at the Cherry Lane; it starred Tony Goldwyn, who is now starring in Ivo van Hove’s Network, which I’m producing. I was a PA on The Secret Garden. That’s where I met John Cameron Mitchell, who I ended up spending the next 20 years with, working on a show that became Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Twenty-Five Years of Legendary Performances at MetroTech

Danny Kapilian has brought some of the biggest and most exciting names in music to the BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech, our free Thursday-afternoon summer concert series, since 1995. Burning Spear, Percy Sledge, Sharon Jones, Ashford & Simpson … the list of all-stars who have transformed MetroTech Commons into a musical hotspot over the years is endless. We asked Danny about his original vision for the festival, some of the most memorable performances, and what he’s looking forward to this year.