The Brooklyn Academy of Music raises the
curtain on its "2005 Next Wave Festival" on Oct. 4,
with a play by the Handspring and Sogolon puppet companies, "Tall
Horse," at the BAM Harvey Theater and Philip Glass’ composition
"Orion" at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House.
BAM Executive Producer Joseph Melillo says the two productions exemplify what the 2005 Next Wave Festival is all about - collaboration.
"’Tall Horse’ is an intra-Africa collaboration with Handspring from Capetown, South Africa, and Sogolon Puppet Company, which is based in Mali. That’s a rarity and a distinction," said Melillo, about the play, which continues Oct. 8-9.
"It’s not puppetry solely; it’s theater that happens to use puppetry in the course of telling this true story of how the Pasha of Egypt gives King Charles X of France a giraffe," said Melillo.
Even the operation of the 16-foot giraffe is a collaborative effort, as two men on stilts work the puppet’s twitching ears and tail and swooping 6-foot-long neck.
In "Orion," created for the 2004 Summer Olympics, the Philip Glass Ensemble performs with "virtuosic musicians from the four corners of the world," said Melillo, who attended the world premiere in Athens.
"What it was teaching me is that artists of all cultures can communicate with each other, and I wanted New York City to have that particular experience, because it’s thrilling to see what happens when all of the artists come together," said Melillo.
"Orion," conducted by Michael Riesman, will be performed again Oct. 6-8.
More works by Glass will be performed in November. Former Brooklyn Philharmonic music director Dennis Russell Davies returns to BAM to conduct the world premiere of Glass’ Symphony No. 8 and Symphony No. 6 ("Plutonian Ode"), with text by Allen Ginsberg, on Nov. 2, Nov. 4 and Nov. 5 at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House.
"Among conductors and American composers [Davies and Glass] have a very special relationship," explained Melillo. "[Davies] has conducted most of the premieres of Philip’s symphonic scores. That’s a very special collaboration."
French movie star Isabelle Huppert (Jean-Luc Godard’s "Every Man for Himself" and "Passion" and Claude Chabrol’s "Violette Noziere," "The Story of Women" and "Madame Bovary") stars in the late Sarah Kane’s last play, "Psychose 4:48," directed by Claude Regy. Performed in French with English supertitles, Melillo promises that this collaboration between director and actor is a marked departure from The Royal Court Theatre’s production of "4:48 Psychosis," which was performed at St. Ann’s Warehouse in DUMBO last October.
"Psychose 4:48," which will be performed Oct. 19-23 and Oct. 25-30 at the BAM Harvey Theater, features the lone Huppert as the character experiencing psychological despair and collapse.
"Isabelle is a monumental film star and what New York doesn’t know is that she is an equally monumental stage actress," explained Melillo. "[At St. Ann’s], it was a group of actors who interpreted the text. Here you have one actress, so I think you feel closer to Sarah Kane the person. With Isabelle interpreting the work, there’s a different kind of intensity."
Film buffs and balletomanes alike will be intrigued by the collaboration between the National Ballet of China and filmmaker Zhang Yimou for an adaptation of Yimou’s movie, "Raise the Red Lantern," for a ballet. Directed by Yimou ("Hero," "House of Flying Daggers," "Ju Dou"), this lavish production, which includes dancers bursting through paper screens in each performance, will hit the stage of the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House Oct. 11-15.
Choreographer Wally Cardona, of Windsor Terrace, created his dance "Everywhere" in collaboration with Joanna Kotze, Kathryn Sanders and Matthew Winheld. "Everywhere" will be performed Dec. 13 and Dec. 15-17 at the BAM Harvey Theater against music composed by Phil Kline - which will play from 100 boom boxes on the stage and by the live string quartet Ethel.
Additional productions in the "Next Wave Festival" include: Michael Thalheimer’s abridged version of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s play "Emilia Galotti" at the BAM Harvey Theater Oct. 12-15; Brazilian techno-samba-pop diva Daniela Mercury performing songs from her Latin Grammy-nominated CD "Carnaval Eletronico" at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House on Oct. 22; "Lecuona" and "Onqoto," performed by contemporary dance troupe Grupo Corpo at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House Oct. 25 and Oct. 27-29; Propeller’s all-male production of William Shakespeare’s play "The Winter’s Tale," directed by Edward Hall at the BAM Harvey Theater Nov. 2-6; "Les Noces" and "Petrushka" danced by the Italian troupe, Compagnia Aterballetto Nov. 8 and Nov. 10-12 at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House; James Thierree’s nouveau cirque show, "Bright Abyss," performed by La Compagnie du Hanneton Nov. 9-13 at the BAM Harvey Theater; Batsheva Dance Company’s "Mamootot" at the Mark Morris Dance Center Nov. 15-20, Nov. 22-23 and Nov. 25-27; The Builders Association and dbox’s multi-media theatrical collaboration, "Super Vision" Nov. 29-Dec. 3 at the BAM Harvey Theater; and choreographer Sasha Waltz’s "Impromptus," which will be performed Dec. 6, Dec. 8-10 at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House.
At the "Next Wave" festival there are also opportunities to get behind-the-scenes glimpses of the productions with BAMdialogues with some of the artists and even a master class with Batsheva Dance Company on Nov. 19.
Melillo says that "one of the great discoveries of the ’Next Wave’ festival" is the U.S. premiere of "Shelter." At the BAM Harvey Theater from Nov. 16-19, this grand collaboration incorporates music composed by Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe with Deborah Artman’s libretto, Bill Morrison’s film and Laurie Olinder’s projections, and performances by trio mediaeval’s vocalists and contemporary music ensemble musikFabrik.
"Bill Morrison’s film footage is of a flood and Deborah Artman’s libretto is of man’s need for shelter," said Melillo of the piece that had been in the making long before the New Orleans tragedy. "It is so topical. It is the issue we’re all grappling with now, reading it in the newspapers and seeing it on television. It’s amazing that this is happening on our stage."
The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s "2005 Next Wave Festival" runs Oct. 4-Dec. 17 in several theaters. Single tickets are on sale now. For more information about the festival, which also includes film series at BAM Rose Cinemas, live music at the BAMcafe and art on display throughout BAM, visit the Web site at www.bam.org. To order tickets, call (718) 636-4100.