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Monday, February 29, 2016

Desperately Seeking Rimbaud

The Civilians’ production of Rimbaud in New York, written and directed by Steve Cosson, with poems by Arthur Rimbaud translated by John Ashbery and produced by BAM with major support from the Poetry Foundation, runs at the BAM Fisher from March 1—6.

By Steve Cosson

Last season I had the good fortune to direct Joely Richardson in the one-woman show about Emily Dickinson by William Luce, The Belle of Amherst. That show, originally created for Julie Harris in the 70s, invented a kind of theatrical language for making theater about a writer and a writer’s work. I learned much from this form, and learned even more in the rehearsal room with Joely as I followed her emotional and mental intelligence into a deep excavation of the poems.

Friday, February 26, 2016

In Context: Rimbaud in New York

In this prismatic collage of song and story, theater company The Civilians (Paris Commune, 2012 Next Wave Festival) use music-theater to consider the life and lasting influence of modernism’s most elusive enfant terrible: Arthur Rimbaud. Context is everything, so get even closer to Rimbaud in New York with this curated selection of content related to the show. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought below and by posting on social media using #RimbaudNY.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

In Context: A Tribute to Maya Plisetskaya

For decades, the legendary Maya Plisetskaya—muse to choreographers Yuri Grigorovich, Alberto Alonso, and Maurice Béjart—was synonymous with Russian ballet. Now, prima ballerinas Diana Vishneva and Uliana Lopatkina pay tribute to Plisetskaya in four distinctive ballet programs Feb 25—28, part of year two of the Mariinsky’s residency at BAM. Context is everything, so get even closer to the program 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 #MariinskyBAM.

Monday, February 22, 2016

In Context: Folk, Form, and Fire: The Prokofiev Piano Concertos

Conductor Valery Gergiev, the Mariinsky Orchestra, and five renowned soloists perform Sergei Prokofiev's piano concertos in this marriage of virtuosic repertoire and pianistic might—part of year two of the Mariinsky’s residency at BAM. Context is everything, so get even closer to the program 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 #MariinskyBAM.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

BAM Blog Questionnaire: The Cherry Orchard's Danila Kozlovsky

The Maly Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg is famous for its imaginative productions and Artistic Director Lev Dodin is renowned for his commitment to training and ensemble work. We spoke with Danila Kozlovsky, who plays Lopakhin in The Cherry Orchard (coming to the BAM Harvey Feb 17—27), about the company’s rehearsal process and how theater is a lot like professional sports. 

Danila Kozlovsky and Elizaveta BoIarskaya in The Cherry Orchard. Photo: Viktor Vasiliev

1. How does Maly Drama Theatre training differ from other theater schools or companies?

I studied for five years in Lev Dodin’s acting course at the St. Petersburg Theatre Academy, and had the immense luck to perform as Edgar in Dodin’s production of King Lear during my third year. I joined the Maly Drama Company when I graduated in 2008. Most theater companies in Russia, like ours, have a full-time roster of actors and a permanent repertoire. But in a majority of theater companies, training and professional acting are clearly divided. A few years after joining a company, some actors consider themselves professionals—they think they know everything they need to know. It could be viewed as complacency or as self-assuredness, depending on your point of view.

I’m biased but I think Dodin’s way of training is the best: the training process continues seamlessly from the Theatre Academy into the Maly Drama Theatre. For five years we had daily training in classical dance, acrobatics, singing, instrumental music, voice, and speech. Before every show we do extensive warm-ups targeted at what the actors need for that particular performance—voice and speech (always), singing (always), classical dance, acrobatics, orchestra—whatever is needed. Spending an hour or two warming up together before the show allows us not only to hone the practical disciplines, but also to reestablish our connection as a company, which is essential for acting together onstage.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

In Context: The Cherry Orchard

The Maly Drama Theatre comes to BAM February 17–27 with Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece The Cherry Orchard. 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 #TheCherryOrchard.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Graphic Details: Designing Migrating Forms

At BAM, it isn't uncommon for the seed of a design idea to originate with a print designer and only later make its way to the video team for adaption there. This makes sense when a campaign calls for more postcards and brochures, say, than video trailers. But for Migrating Forms, a boundary-pushing film and video festival now in its third year at BAM, we turned that model on its head. Apropos of the festival’s name and cinematic bent, ideas were passed back and forth between print and video, each informing the other, to create an identity that honors its shape-shifting subject in a multitude of ways.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Be my adventurous artist, audience, and idea!

We’d like to think that we’re no softies here at the BAM blog and that we’re immune to Valentine’s Day sentiment. But for the second year in a row, we're really feeling the love. To express our amour, we looked to some of our favorite moments from the last year (and a few of our upcoming programs!) for new ways to play cupid.

Send the images below to your paramours via Twitter or Facebook. Or click for larger versions to print or save to your desktop. Happy Valentine's Day!

Hocus Pocus (Part of BAMcinématek series Witches' Brew)

BAM Illustrated: Eileen Myles for President!

Celebrated poet and essayist Eileen Myles comes to BAM on March 1 as part of our Eat, Drink & Be Literary series. Illustrator Nathan Gelgud revisits Myles' participation in the 1992 presidential election, when she ran as an "openly female" write-in candidate.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Akram Khan's Stolen Memories

The following is an essay from 2011 that was included in BAM: The Complete Works, an overview of BAM's history. Akram Khan is a dancer and choreographer who returns to BAM March 2—5 with Torobaka, a collaboration with flamenco dancer Israel Galván.

BAM Majestic/Harvey Theater, 2003. Photo: Ned Witrogen
By Akram Khan

Winter, 27 years ago, I entered through the front door of the Majestic Theater—renamed the Harvey in 1999 in honor of Harvey Lichtenstein—then a young actor in Peter Brook’s production of  The Mahabharata. I was 14 years old and immediately quite disorientated by the unfinished demeanor of the building. Of course, my naiveté lead me to believe that maybe the builders, decorators, and electricians had not finished refurbishing the interior and exterior for our big opening night. But then I asked one of the actors, who impatiently told me: “This is it.” From then on, I decided to make the place my friend. If I was going to spend three months here, then I would make it my home. So all throughout the rehearsal period, I started to explore every corner, passageway, closet, and even the overhead walkways, which had access to the lighting rig high above the stage. I probably knew the layout better than the caretakers. And for the next few months, this place became my imagined, magical world.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Chekhov, Consumptive and Laughing

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.