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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The 40 Most Unforgettable BAM Moments of 2019, According to BAM Staff

Photo: Julieta Cervantes

Before the curtain falls on a truly remarkable year of heartwarming, surprising, shocking, breathtaking, hilarious, or otherwise unforgettable moments and milestones here at BAM, we asked our fellow staff members to take a look back and share some of their favorites. Were you here for any of these, or do you have your own? Share them with us, and please join or support us in making BAM a home for adventurous art, audiences, and ideas in 2020!

Monday, December 30, 2019

24 Hours with Alia Shawkat

Photo: NayMarie
By Alexandra Biss

“The walls feel a little tight today,” remarked Alia Shawkat’s 62nd scene partner in The Second Woman. “Tell me about it,” she replies without missing a beat. This was about hour 17 of the 24 Alia (and I) spent in the Fishman Space of the BAM Fisher. For all but 15 minutes every two hours, Alia was in a small mesh room set with a table, chairs, stereo, and bar cart. While we could see in, she couldn’t really see out. The walls of her world were defined by the repetition of a short scene with different, mostly male-presenting non-actor scene partners. They have a drink, she asks for reassurance, she throws noodles at him, they dance, she asks him to leave. In between each scene, Alia would get down on her hands and knees to clean up the just-thrown noodles, and reset. Set and reset. Nearly 100 times. The walls of my world from 5pm Friday to 5pm Saturday—watching the world in the box—felt more than a little tight, until they suddenly expanded in new ways.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Holidays at BAM: Cabaret and Beyond

Note: BAM's new Artistic Director David Binder chose A Very Meow Meow Holiday Show to kick off an annual holiday block. Check out the seasonal photos after the jump from the BAM Hamm Archives.

Meow Meow. Photo: Magnus Hastings
By Sally Ollove
with contributions by John Jarboe

“What is cabaret?”

Thank you for asking! Cabaret is a musical by Kander and Ebb that once starred Liza Minnelli. It’s a kind of table. It’s a brand of cracker that 70s suburbanites served at key parties. It’s an indulgence, a secret, a cult, a radical experiment in community building, a trust exercise between performer and audience. An ephemeral queering of traditional performance modes. It’s an artform whose audience is living and getting younger.

Even as audiences get younger, the world around them seems to be collapsing. I used to think of cabaret as a place of beginnings, but more and more I see it as a place of endings or, really, of post-endings. Post-narrative, post-theatrical, post-pretension, post-perfection. At its most basic level, cabaret is a performer sitting metaphorically (or literally) in your lap sharing their virtuosity, vulnerability, and some laughs. Cabaret began on the site of the failed Paris Commune uprising and has a history of flourishing as people who don’t fit into the mainstream struggle: in post WWI Germany, in Harlem during the Renaissance, in Midtown during McCarthyism, and downtown post 9/11. As Brecht, a hanger-on of the Weimar cabaret scene, said: “In the dark times. Will there also be singing? Yes, there will also be singing. About the dark times.” When everything else has fallen away, we’ll still be huddling around a piano with someone to help us laugh through tears and sing songs that touch us in deep and unknowable ways.