BAM’s Next Wave Festival has permanently changed the artistic landscape, featuring breakout performances and landmark productions. Using a name that plays on the New Wave in French cinema, BAM President and Executive Producer Lichtenstein launched a series entitled “The Next Wave/New Masters” in November 1981 with four productions: three dance works, plus Philip Glass’ new opera Satyagraha. A more ambitious program followed in 1982, including a two-evening performance work by Laurie Anderson entitled United States: Parts I-IV.
The success of these first two years helped propel a bolder and riskier program in the years to come—one that has defined BAM and an entire generation of artists. In October 1983, the Next Wave Festival was launched, which spotlighted exciting new works and cross-disciplinary collaborations by promising young artists. The Next Wave was groundbreaking for taking works that had previously been shown in downtown lofts and small “black box” theaters and presenting them in the exquisite 2,100-seat BAM Opera House (now the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House), a renovated 1,000-seat playhouse (the Helen Carey Playhouse, later converted into BAM Rose Cinemas), and the flexible 300-seat Lepercq Space. In 1987, BAM opened another large stage-the 874-seat Majestic Theater (since renamed the BAM Harvey Theater in honor of Harvey Lichtenstein)-with a landmark production of Peter Brook’s The Mahabharata. Current Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo was the producing director of the Next Wave in its inception and continues to spearhead BAM’s adventurous programming roster with emerging and established artists, including Steve Reich, Meredith Monk, Robert Wilson, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane, and Lev Dodin.
Its controversy precedes it: Ayn Rand’s notorious 700-page paean to radical individualism, wrapped in a saga of sex, architecture, and skybound ambition. In this brutal reexamination, Belgian director Ivo van Hove updates the action to a buzzing co-working loft, where egos collide over mobile drafting tables and stiff drinks. Toneelgroep Amsterdam / Directed by Ivo van Hove. Based on the book by Ayn Rand. November 28 — December 2, 2017.
Haruki Murakami’s Sleep
“This is my 17th straight day without sleep.” A Japanese housewife’s mundane existence of chores and grocery shopping explodes when a haunting dream leads her to cast sleep aside, releasing her into a world of danger and the thrill of the unknown. Based on the 1994 short story by the beloved Japanese author Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Adapted by Naomi Iizuka, Directed and devised by Rachel Dickstein and Ripe Time. November 29 – December 2, 2017.
8980: Book of Travelers
Singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane (The Ambassador, 2014 Next Wave) took a two-week train trip across the US with no phone or internet, embracing 8,980 miles of monkish Amtrak existence. The result is this hymn to the analog intimacy of American rail culture as antidote to the fragmentation and efficiency of modern life. Directed by Daniel Fish. November 30 – December 2, 2017.
Physical theater artist Geoff Sobelle (The Object Lesson, 2014 Next Wave) leads an ensemble of dancers and designers in a feat of impossible carpentry: raising a house onstage and making a home within it. Residents tumble through kitchens, beds, and baths in a spontaneous choreography of everyday life, as they move in, move out, clean up, burn down, sweep under, paint over, fence off, and move on. Directed by Lee Sunday Evans. December 6-10, 2017.
Choreographic duo Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener present the fruit of their years-long collaboration with pioneering video artist (and fellow Merce Cunningham Dance Company alumnus) Charles Atlas, a fearlessly inventive exploration of the body’s three dimensions, in two parts. Charles Atlas / Rashaun Mitchell / Silas Riener. December 13-16, 2017.