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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Maly's Cherry

Photo: Viktor Vasiliev

By Carol Rocamora
“My darling, how hard it was for me to write that play.”
So wrote an ailing 43-year-old playwright named Anton Chekhov, when he sent The Cherry Orchard (coming to the BAM Harvey Theater Feb 17—27) to his wife at the Moscow Art Theatre in October 1903. Whereas each of his previous plays had taken him only weeks to write, this one took him almost two years. It would be his last.

Chekhov’s first symptoms of consumption came in 1884, the year he graduated from medical school. He ignored the warnings. “It’s probably just a burst blood vessel,” he wrote dismissively, plunging into work. During the next year he would practice medicine, write 100 short stories, and experiment with vaudeville.

But the symptoms persisted, with hemorrhages in 1886, 1889, and 1897—when the official diagnosis came. His doctors banished him to Yalta, “my hot Siberia,” as he called it, far from Moscow and the Russian countryside that he loved. Even in decline, he managed to write three of his four masterworks: The Seagull (1896), Uncle Vanya (1897), and The Three Sisters (1901).

Monday, February 1, 2016

Honoring Maya Plisetskaya

Maya Plisetskaya. Photo: ITAR-TASS Photo Agency
By Susan Yung

Dance may be the most viscerally affecting of art forms, but its evanescence is painfully apparent when considering the bygone stars of, for example, ballet—in this case, Russian prima ballerina assoluta Maya Plisetskaya (1925—2015), whose career reached its height mid-20th century. Most people, even ballet fans, have little first-hand knowledge of this famous dancer. And yet she has exerted a profound influence on the genre and its current standard-bearers, such as the Mariinsky Theatre’s Diana Vishneva and Uliana Lopatkina, who bring four Maya-inspired programs to BAM this month, with the Mariinsky’s magnificent orchestra led by Maestro Valery Gergiev, who was a friend of Plisetskaya’s. With the help of archival troves and the ubiquity of video, we can glean why she made such an impression on our era’s artists.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

In Context: Trisha Brown Dance Company

The Trisha Brown Dance Company comes to BAM January 28—30 with Set and Reset, PRESENT TENSE and Newark (Niweweorce). 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 #TrishaBrown.

Friday, January 22, 2016

BAM Blog Questionnaire: Will Oldham of The Glory of the World

Tonight, Will Oldham (better known by the stage name Bonnie 'Prince' Billy) takes over the role of "The Man" in Charles Mee's new play The Glory of the Worldplaying the BAM Harvey Theater through February 6. We spoke with Oldham about posture, persona, and the public domain in anticipation of his BAM debut.

Will Oldham (Bonnie 'Prince' Billy).

How did you connect with Les Waters (artistic director of Actors Theatre of Louisville)? Have you worked on any other projects together in your hometown of Louisville?

It’s been a couple of years. Around when Waters came to town, somebody or some force allowed us to get together, and we have met and spoken about this or that. I go to see the work he directs, which is stronger and more satisfying with each successive production.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Dance, Valiant & Molecular

Newark (Niweweorce). Photo: Stephanie Berger

By Susan Yung

On the surface, Trisha Brown’s proscenium dances are kinetically intriguing and relatable, formed of waves of roiling, fluid phrases. But dig down, and the intellectual rigor and self-imposed rules factoring into their creation reveal Brown’s fascinating thought processes, and connect them to her early task-based or site-specific works such as Walking on the Wall or Roof Piece. Three major proscenium works will be performed by the Trisha Brown Dance Company at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House from January 28—30, celebrating a relationship that dates from 1976.

Monday, January 11, 2016

In Context: The Glory of the World

Charles Mee's The Glory of the World, directed by Les Waters, comes to BAM January 16—February 6. 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 #GloryoftheWorld.

Friday, January 8, 2016

BAM Illustrated: Thomas Merton

Charles Mee and Les Waters' The Glory of the World (Jan 16—Feb 6 at the BAM Harvey Theater) celebrates the legacy and centennial birthday of Thomas Merton. In anticipation of the production, illustrator Nathan Gelgud breaks down ten things you should know about this renowned mystic and Catholic monk.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Michael Mann: To the Limit

James Caan in Thief. Photo courtesy MGM/Photofest
By Nick Pinkerton

BAMcinĂ©matek presents Heat & Vice: The Films of Michael Mann, Feb 5—16. Michael Mann’s films combine a verbal taciturnity with a baroque visual style. They aren’t much for talking, but they’re something to see. His protagonists, the loquacious title character of Ali (2001) being an outlier, don’t have time to dilly-dally or mince words. Instead they fall back on a few tried-and-true pragmatic personal codes that Mann’s aficionados can recite, mantra-like: “Life is short. Time is luck,” or, “There hasn’t been a hard time invented that we can’t handle.”

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Rest in Peace, Elizabeth Swados

Swados in 1987. Photo: Tom Arma

Elizabeth Swados, born in Buffalo, NY in 1954, passed away on January 4, 2016. While best known for her Tony-nominated Broadway success, Runaways (1978), she had a long and rich history at BAM.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Glory Be

The Glory of the World. Photo: Bill Brymer

When it premiered last spring at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Charles Mee's The Glory of the Worldcoming to the BAM Harvey Theater from January 16 through February 6—quickly became one of the most debated productions in the decades-long history of the Humana Festival of New American plays. The play had been commissioned to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, who spent most of his career writing and meditating in the secluded confines of the Abbey at Gethsemani just south of Louisville. At the heart of heated discussions: How accurately had Merton’s legacy been portrayed?

Merton, author of some 70 volumes of poetry and essays (and the best-selling autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain) is revered around the world—just a few months ago, in a speech to the US Congress, Pope Francis singled Merton out as a “great American.” But he’s especially beloved in Kentucky, where the Thomas Merton Center is housed at Bellarmine University (and where a recent campaign has emerged to name a new Ohio River bridge after him).