Filmmaker’s Film: Vertigo

By Susan

“Here I was born, and there I died.”: The Vertigo Effect screens at BAM Apr 16—30.
Photo: Paramount Pictures/Photofest

By C. Mason Wells

In 1958, Alfred Hitchcock’s 45th feature Vertigo was released to largely mixed reviews. This story of acrophobic San Francisco detective Scottie (Jimmy Stewart) hired to trail mysterious blonde Madeleine (Kim Novak) was tagged “basically only a psychological murder mystery” by Variety. Writers ranging from the Young Turks of Cahiers du Cinéma to Andrew Sarris to James Wood had begun to make the case for Hitchcock as a consummate film artist during the 1960s, but critical consensus took far longer; Vertigo failed to place in Sight and Sound’s once-a-decade critics’ poll until 1982. In 2012, it climbed to the number one slot and the title of Best Film of All Time, knocking Citizen Kane (1941) from its 50-year reign atop the belltower.

But if critics have largely been slow to come to Vertigo‘s greatness, filmmakers were quick to see its many virtues. Only four years later, Chris Marker’s sci-fi short La Jetée (1962) appeared, littered with teasing, reverential nods to Hitchcock’s film. By the end of the ’60s, its influence was already becoming …read more

Source:: BAM News:

20 years of BAM Design Celebrated over 100 Days


by Clara Cornelius

The BAM look is identifiable anywhere. As the Creative Director at BAM, I find myself talking to a lot of people about our identity. A friend recently described it as “all cut off and hard to read, but, like, in good way.” Similarly, most people who I talk to about BAM’s design say they recognize it when they see it, that it’s “all chopped up” and they “like how it’s hard to read.”

Our visual identity was created in 1995 by Michael Bierut, a partner at Pentagram. He was tasked with creating a cohesive graphic identity for the Next Wave Festival, which went on to define the design for BAM as a whole. The core of the concept, from Bierut himself:

Fragments of News Gothic type obscured behind wide stripes became the basis of the Next Wave look, used on all festival posters, advertisements, invitations, and brochures. Practically, this design system allows for the use of very large type, even in cramped applications such as newspaper advertisements. More poetically, the use of type stepping from behind horizontal lines suggests the next big thing coming over the horizon.

I’ve seen the design evolve and grow beyond the benchmarks of …read more

Source:: BAM News:

In Context: Ghosts


Uncouth family relations. Malicious infections. Upended Victorian mores. Considered shockingly indecent when it premiered in 1882, Ghosts haunts the BAM Harvey Theater April 5—May 3. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you’ve seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Program Notes

Ghosts (PDF)


Haunting Ghosts (BAM blog)
Alicia Dhyana House traces Ibsen’s trajectory from radical Norwegian playwright to the “Father of Modern Drama.”

Study Guide
Ghosts (BAM Education)
With a wealth of background information, this guide created for our high school audiences will also help adults engage more deeply with the production.


Ibsen and Munch—What’s the Connection? (BAM blog)
Besides being giants of Norwegian culture, Ibsen and Munch shared a psychologically-rigorous, aesthetically-exacting artistic practice.

Lesley Manville as the Unhappy Heroine of ‘Ghosts’ (The New York Times)
Learn why the Ghosts star “is willing to embark upon paths many an actor would balk at.”

In the Spirit of Ibsen (The Guardian)
Director Richard …read more

Source:: BAM News:

A new look for “BAM This Week”


We heard you loud and clear. Your lives are busy and it’s not that you don’t want more film, theater, music, dance, and opera in your lives—it’s just hard to schedule it all.

Enter the updated BAM This Week. Our weekly newsletter has a new clean look with day-by-day selected highlights of what’s going on here over the next seven days. We hope you like the new format, and welcome your feedback in the comment section below.

Now, for the changes:

Wednesday is the new Thursday

We’ve sent out our weekly newsletter on Thursdays for over a decade now. But if you’re anything like us, you start thinking about and planning your weekend around mid-week, so we’ve pushed the send date to Wednesdays. BAM This Week now covers events taking place Thursday through the following Wednesday and will arrive in your inbox every hump day.

One day at a time

BAM is open 365 days a year, and there is always something to do here. We send you emails focusing on specific events and performances, but recognize that sometimes you just want to figure out something to do in the days ahead. So we’ve organized the newsletter by day of the week, with a suggestion …read more

Source:: BAM News:

Connecting Through Dance

By Susan

Mark Morris leads a workshop in Cambodia. Photo: Johan Henckens

By R. Michael Blanco

One pilot year and four seasons later, DanceMotion USASM (DMUSA)—the US State Department’s cultural diplomacy program produced by BAM—continues to work its magic around the globe. By the end of 2016, the program will have sent 20 dance companies to 47 countries, reaching more than 100,000 people directly in workshops and performances and over 20 million people through digital platforms and social media.

Conceived in 2009 by BAM Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo in response to a Department of State request for proposals, DMUSA brings its extensive network of national and international dance contacts to work with the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in choosing dance companies to send on missions of cultural exchange throughout the world.

Flooring, awaiting installation in Cambodia.
Photo: Johan Henckens

Late last year, Mark Morris Dance Group was sent on one such mission, to boldly go where they, in fact, had gone before. But this time, they not only immersed themselves in the fertile field of traditional Khmer dance in Cambodia, they also left behind some practical know-how.

In a four-day session of …read more

Source:: BAM News:

Richard Eyre’s Notes on Ghosts

By Chris

Lesley Manville in Ghosts. Original photo: Hugo Glendinning
Ibsen said of Ghosts (coming to the BAM Harvey Theater April 5—May 3) that “in none of my plays is the author so completely absent as in this last one.” Nine years later, when he was 61, Ibsen met an 18-year-old Viennese girl and fell in love. She asked him to live with her; he at first agreed but, crippled by guilt and fear of scandal (and perhaps impotence as well), he put an end to the relationship. Emilie became the “May sun of a September life” and the inspiration for the character of Hedda Gabler, even if Ibsen himself contributed many of her characteristics with his fear of ridicule, his apparent repulsion with the reality of sex, and his yearning for emotional freedom.

Perhaps his disavowal of authorial presence in Ghosts was a little disingenuous. When he was working on the play he wrote this to a friend:

“Everything that I have written is most minutely connected with what I have lived through, if not personally experienced…for every man shares the responsibility and the guilt of the society to which he belongs. To live is to war with trolls …read more

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Space is the Place: Afrofuturist Music Videos

By Chris

By Ashley Clark

The term “Afrofuturism” was coined by cultural theorist Mark Dery in his 1994 essay “Black to the Future.” While championing the work of pioneering African-American authors of speculative fiction including Octavia Butler and Samuel R. Delany, Dery expressed surprise at the relative lack of African-American sci-fi literature. This absence was curious, he said, because “African-Americans, in a very real sense, are the descendants of alien abductees; they inhabit a sci-fi nightmare in which unseen but no less impassable force fields of intolerance frustrate their movements; official histories undo what has been done; and technology is too often brought to bear on black bodies.”

In the time since Dery’s initial usage of the term, however, Afrofuturism has come to represent both an amorphous multimedia aesthetic, and a useful framework for critical theory applicable to creative work concerned with imagined and alternate black experiences. Encapsulating the concept’s scope, author Ytasha Womack writes: “Afrofuturism combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western beliefs.”

One of the key figures in heralding the resurgence of Afrofuturist aesthetics is the “Archandroid” Janelle Monae, though there is a strong lineage of musical Afrofuturism, including—but not limited …read more

Source:: BAM News:

Rethinking Robeson

By Susan

Daniel Beaty. Photo: Don Ipock

By Brian Scott Lipton

Tackling Paul Robeson’s tumultuous life story in one theatrical show is a monumental endeavor. Nonetheless, this Herculean undertaking has been taken on by two of America’s most gifted theater artists, writer-performer Daniel Beaty and director and Tectonic Theater Project co-founder Moisés Kaufman, in The Tallest Tree in the Forest, which receives its long-awaited New York premiere at the BAM Harvey Theater, March 22 to 28. (The show has played previous theatrical engagements in Washington, DC; Kansas City; La Jolla; and Los Angeles.)

Indeed, Robeson, who died in 1976 at age 77, can hardly be defined by any one description or any one accomplishment. This extraordinary African-American, born at the end of the 19th century, was a true groundbreaker—a son of a former slave who went from being valedictorian of his class at Rutgers University to a member of the National Football League, a Shakespearean actor on Broadway, a movie star, an internationally acclaimed singer, and a revered political figure.

Yet Robeson was as much sinner as saint. Although married, Robeson was also a bit of a womanizer, whose lovers included his Othello co-star Uta Hagen. His politics were …read more

Source:: BAM News:

Mark Morris’ Jazzy Spring

By Susan

Spring, Spring, Spring. Photo: Peg Skorpinski

By Susan Yung

Mark Morris Dance Group returns in April with two rich programs of repertory, including his vivacious interpretation of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring; Words, a lauded recent work seen briefly in New York before an international tour; and a world premiere entitled Whelm, to Debussy. Not only that, the troupe performs one of MMDG’s all-time favorites, Grand Duo; its soft-slipper rendition of Pacific, most often performed by ballet companies on pointe; and more.

Spring, Spring, Spring‘s 2013 premiere at the Ojai Music Festival (Morris served as that festival’s music director) coincided with the centennial of Stravinsky’s riot-inducing Rite of Spring, but Morris took inspiration from the jazzy arrangement by the Bad Plus. (Per usual, music is played live.) In a recent exchange, Morris described his approach, which doesn’t hew to the “chosen one” narrative. “I disagree with the premise. It is the music that gives so many people the urge to make up a dance. Perhaps because they anticipate a press-grabbing succès de scandale like the original. I was not at all lured by the centenary observations. I was thrilled by the marvelous Bad Plus arrangement.”

“The Rite is notorious …read more

Source:: BAM News:

In Context: The Tallest Tree in the Forest


Daniel Beaty celebrates legendary performer and political activist Paul Robeson in The Tallest Tree in the Forest at the BAM Harvey Theater March 22—29. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you’ve seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Program Notes

The Tallest Tree in the Forest (PDF)


BAM Illustrated: The United States vs. Paul Robeson (BAM blog)
Illustrator Nathan Gelgud looks at Robeson’s radical politics and turbulent relationship with the US government.

The Many Faces of Paul Robeson (BAM blog)
An overview of the many hats Robeson wore as a public figure and outspoken champion of peace and justice.

Daniel Beaty on Acting vs. Writing Paul Robeson (
“We don’t even have an African-American superstar to the magnitude he was. Honestly, the closest in terms of awareness in culture across the globe would be, like, Barack Obama or Michael Jackson.”

Robeson in All God’s Chillun’s Got Wings (
Robeson played the male lead in Eugene O’Neill’s controversial play about an interracial marriage.

Look & Listen