BAM and Onassis Cultural Center New York Present Speaking Truth to Power

The Scottish Opera presented Greek at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, in 2017. Susan Bullock, Allison Cook and Andrew Shore perform alongside name-to-watch Alex Otterburn, winner of an International Opera Award bursary and one of Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artists for 2017/18. Photo: by Jane Hobson, Courtesy of Scottish Opera

NEW YORK – BAM and Onassis Cultural Center New York present Speaking Truth to Power- a series of theater productions, talks, and film screenings that examine the power of speech and the role of resistance. The Speaking Truth to Power series is part of the 2018 Next Wave Festival, BAM and Onassis Cultural Center New York and examines the challenges facing individuals, societies, and movements that seek to employ it. While freedom of speech is considered a cornerstone of our democratic freedoms, ancient Greeks wrestled with the extent to which the power to speak freely could degrade the very institutions designed to protect that right. The debate about the role of truth––who is able to speak it and the potential dangers posed to our society when it is either permitted or restricted––rages on.

Anthony S. Papadimitriou, President and Treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Onassis Foundation, said, “It is the duty of every citizen, as it is ours at the Onassis Foundation– which exists for the benefit of the public and, beyond Greek art and ideas, promotes social welfare in all its forms– to defend truth and keep it alive through dialogue and culture. It may prove the best defense we have against letting our societies sink into oblivion. We hope that our collaboration with BAM in Speaking Truth to Power highlights this responsibility and its urgency today more than ever before.”

This robust series comprises two theater productions; four humanities programs; a four-part film series; a conversation and film event; a visual art installation; and an exhibition of materials from the BAM Hamm Archives.

The Bacchae by Euripides, Translation by Aaron Poochigian, directed by Anne Bogart, created and performed by SITI Company, set and lighting design by Brian H Scott, costume design by Eleni Kyriacou, sound design by Darron L West, and composed by Erik Sanko will be presented at the BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street in Brooklyn, October 3-6 at 7:30 PM, and October 7 at 3 PM. Tickets start at $30.

Packed with striking scenes, frenzied emotion, and choral songs of great power and beauty, The Bacchae is considered to be one of Euripides’ greatest surviving works. Dionysus, the god of wine, ritual madness, fertility, and theater, returns in disguise to his birthplace in Greece. As revenge for a personal slight, Dionysus plans to spread his cult among the people of Thebes. His adversary, King Pentheus, imprisons Dionysus in order to suppress his influence and the spreading disorder of his followers. This misguided attempt to thwart the will of a god leads to catastrophe for Pentheus and his entire family. With a new translation by Aaron Poochigian, Anne Bogart and her groundbreaking SITI Company present the play as a modern reminder: if we don’t respect the inherent wildness of humanity, we may fall prey to the tyranny of excessive order or to the frenzy of collective passion.

Mark-Anthony Turnage’s groundbreaking and profane 1988 two-act opera, Greek, is now a cult classic in the modern chamber opera repertoire. Composed and set in Britain’s Thatcher era, and based on the in-your-face stage play by Steven Berkoff, Greek’s bleak humor and exploration of social and political unrest continue to resonate. Scottish Opera/Opera Ventures’ acclaimed new production is presented in its New York premiere, and the engagement also marks the New York premiere of the opera.

Greek is a retelling of Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus Rex, set in cockney-accented north London. An aimless young man, Eddy, longs for a better life away from his family. His father tells him of a fortune teller’s prophecy years earlier that Eddy would sleep with his mother and murder his father. Eddy storms off, disgusted, brawling his way across a turbulent city rife with strikes, gas rationing, violence, and plague. Following a row with police, Eddy escapes into a café, where he argues with the café manager and kills him. The distraught café manager’s wife falls in love with Eddy and they make a life together. She tells him of her young son who was lost in the Thames River years ago. Years later, Eddy’s parents find him and finally tell him how they rescued him from the river. Horrified, Eddy realizes the fortune teller’s prophecy has come true.

Greek is presented by Scottish Opera/Opera Ventures with libretto by Steven Berkoff from his play Greek, adapted by Mark-Anthony Turnage and Jonathan Moore, composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage, conducted by Stuart Stratford, directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins with associate director Daisy Evans, set design by Johannes Schűtz, costume design by Alex Lowde, lighting design by Matthew Richardson, video design by Dick Straker, movement by Jenny Ogilvie, dramaturgy by Caroline Steinbeis, and soloists from The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, in English with English titles, Co-produced by Opera Ventures and Scottish Opera, at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Ave in Brooklyn, December 5, 6 and 8, 7:30 PM; December 9 at 3 PM. Tickets start at $35.

Co-presented by BAM and the Onassis Cultural Center New York, the Humanities Programming includes On Fear and Governance with Anne Bogart and Monica Youn in conversation with Corey Robin on October 5; On Confronting Silence with Masha Gessen and Aja Monet in conversation with Amanda Foreman October 20; On the Force of Truth with asha bandele, Tilde Björfors, and Anand Giridharadas in conversation with Charles W. Mills, November 1; and On the Economics of Fatalism with Sarah Jaffe and Sanjay G. Reddy in conversation with Simon Critchley, December 8. All four discussions take place at 6 PM at BAM Fisher Hillman Studio, 321 Ashland Place in Brooklyn. Ticket price for each discussion: $15, $7.50 for BAM members

BAMcinématek Screenings take place at 7 PM at the BAM Rose Cinemas, in Brooklyn.

Ran (1985) Dir. Akira Kurosawa, October 1- The legendary Japanese director’s final film is a blistering, visually spectacular re-imagining of one of the greatest theatrical investigations of political power dynamics, Shakespeare’s King Lear.

The Arbor (2011), Dir. Clio Barnard, October 15- This mesmerizing, endlessly inventive hybrid of documentary and fiction breathes life into the tragic story of Andrea Dunbar, the Bradford-born playwright who shot to fame with her raunchy, Thatcher-era satire Rita, Sue and Bob Too.

Whose Streets? (2017) Dirs. Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis October 29- Plunging the viewer onto the front lines of protest in Ferguson, Missouri in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s killing, this electrifying dispatch offers an urgent documentary portrait of contemporary activism in action.

Taxi (2005), Dir. Jafar Panahi December 3- Banned from making films by the Iranian government, director Jafar Panahi posed as a taxi driver to craft this resourceful, exceptionally moving, and quietly thrilling treatise on the myriad social challenges in his home country.

Conversation and Film Then and Now: The Gospel at Colonus conversation + screening of Book of Clarence

With Lee Breuer, Sam Butler, and Bob Telson

In conversation with Joseph V. Melillo

September 12 at 7pm, BAM Rose Cinemas

Tickets: $15; $7.50 for BAM members

Theater director Lee Breuer; original cast member, musician and former member of the Blind Boys of Alabama, Sam Butler; and composer Bob Telson join BAM Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo in conversation about The Gospel at Colonus, originally performed in the BAM Harvey Theater during the first Next Wave Festival in 1983. Slated for a revival by the Public Theater at the Delacorte this September, the production tells the story of Oedipus at Colonus in the context of an African-American Pentecostal church service, with Oedipus performed by the current line-up of the Blind Boys of Alabama. The discussion will be followed by a screening of Book of Clarence , a feature-length documentary essay that follows the life of legendary, blind gospel singer and founding member of the Grammy award-winning Blind Boys of Alabama, Clarence Fountain. Fountain led the Blind Boys of Alabama for 60 years and together they originated the role as the musical manifestation of Oedipus in the original production of The Gospel at Colonus.

Visual Art

A.M.T.P. (A Mad Tea Party), 2018 by Ioanna Pantazopoulou

Wood, stainless steel teapots, artificial palm tree, Rainbow static dusters, crystals, mixed media. Dimensions Variable.

BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street in Brooklyn is on view from September 13, 2018 – January 6, 2019.

The Onassis Cultural Center New York and BAM are pleased to present a new co-commissioned artwork by Brooklyn-based Greek artist Ioanna Pantazopoulou. Titled A.M.T.P. (A Mad Tea Party), this sprawling hanging sculpture suspends from the ceiling as a topsy-turvy, upside-down tea party with cups and saucers on chairs, architectural teapot mountains, and colorful dusters and crystals under a life-size fake palm tree. Dining accouterments become undomesticated, while furniture is sliced like food. Dissected and reconfigured, very practical objects transform into the unworkable. Such deconstruction guards against the belief that the world is simple and can be known with certainty. In deconstructing material culture—a manifestation of capitalistic power—and embracing disorder, Ioanna’s work criticizes our often-tacit acceptance of excess and invites audiences to reinterpret our relationship to materialistic consumption that has become endemic in contemporary society.

BAM Hamm Archives Exhibition

Speaking Truth to Power at the Academy: In Their Own Words

This exhibit explores the Academy as a forum for public discourse featuring remarkable thinkers and activists such as Frederick Douglass, Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Paul Robeson, Angela Davis and many others. On view at the BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street in Brooklyn from September 13, 2018- January 6, 2019.

More information is available online: onassisusa.org.