Abrons Arts Center’s Fall Season Celebrates Trailblazers

NYT Music

Abrons Arts Center’s lineup for the fall season is a salute to groundbreakers and innovators in the arts, public housing and emerging technology.

“As we emerge from isolation, we wanted to focus on work that’s still been happening and developing in different ways during the pandemic,” Craig Peterson, the center’s executive artistic director, said in an interview. “Because it deserves an audience.”

Several of the productions scheduled at the 300-seat playhouse for the coming season were booked before the pandemic and postponed because of it, said Peterson, who curated the season in collaboration with Ali Rosa-Salas, the recently appointed artistic director of the center.

“Lots of them got displaced when we stopped live performance,” he said. “But we never stopped supporting artists and always intended to present them.”

The center has scheduled a concert, “Holy Ground: Land of Two Towers,” by the jazz ensemble Onyx Collective on Sept. 11 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

“It felt like an appropriate way to think about the long-term impacts of historical moments like the ones we’re in now,” Rosa-Salas said.

A week later, the center will open a free outdoor photography exhibition, “Community Matriarchs of NYCHA” (for the New York City Housing Authority), celebrating five women who have transformed their neighborhood on the Lower East Side, where they organized food distribution, especially during the pandemic, to other residents of public housing. The exhibition, presented as part of the Photoville Festival 2021 in partnership with the digital storytelling platform My Projects Runway, will include portraits by Courtney Garvin and video interviews by Christopher Currence and remain on view through Dec. 1.

“I’m really excited to uplift women activists in our community and reflect on the role of public housing in our neighborhood and city,” Rosa-Salas said.

From there it’s on to Frankenstein, Bigfoot and Sasquatch as Abrons presents a streaming video adaptation of Sibyl Kempson’s “The Securely Conferred, Vouchsafed Keepsakes of Maery S.,” beginning Oct. 29. First performed as an experimental, four-part radio play in January, the production, presented by the 7 Daughters of Eve Thtr. & Perf. Co., is described as a visual journey through the layered universe of Mary Shelley, the author of “Frankenstein.” The new virtual video work will feature hand-cut collages, digital and analog animation and illustration and collaborations with more than a dozen artists. An in-person screening is also set for Halloween at the new Chocolate Factory Theater.

Closing the season from Dec. 10-12 is a live motion-capture piece, “Antidote,” created in collaboration with Pioneer Works. Directed by the Jamaican-born choreographer Marguerite Hemmings and the new-media artist LaJuné McMillian, it explores the relationship between physical movement and motion-capture technology and how the latter can be used as a tool of personal power and liberation. The project is a collaboration with six young artists from high schools on the Lower East Side and in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood.

“It’s an intergenerational experiment and a great way to end the season,” Rosa-Salas said.

The full season lineup is available at abronsartscenter.org.


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