David Lan to Lead Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center as Artistic Director; Sexton, Hayles & Daldry Join Team
The Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center ("the PAC") today announces the establishment of a core team of artistic leaders: David Lan (Artistic Director of London's Young Vic) as Consulting Artistic Director; Lucy Sexton (artist, producer, and Director of the New York Dance & Performance Awards (aka The Bessies)) as Associate Artistic Director; and Andy Hayles, Managing Partner of Charcoalblue (London's National Theatre, Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, and the future home of Brooklyn's St. Ann's Warehouse), as theater design consultant. Stephen Daldry (director of the films The Hours, Billy Elliot, The Reader and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and of Billy Elliot the Musical, and former Artistic Director of London's Gate Theatre and Royal Court Theatre) has joined the PAC's Board of Directors. The artistic team is collaborating with the PAC's staff, board and numerous consultants to create a place that is unique on the cultural landscapes of New York, the United States and the world.
Maggie Boepple, the PAC's Director, describes these developments as pivotal: "We now have an A team in place and a vision for what should happen inside the building. The program we've developed will give people a reason to return to the PAC over and over."
The PAC will be a global center for the creation and exchange of art, ideas and culture. The new leadership envisions an institution that will produce and present new work, primarily by New York and U.S. artists, often in collaboration with artists, companies and institutions in other parts of the world. The PAC will premiere works of theater, dance, music and opera, including productions that span multiple disciplines.
All of this will take place in an adaptable venue with unprecedented digital connectivity. Charcoalblue, which will collaborate with the PAC's design architect, has devised a preliminary design with the flexibility to accommodate a variety of stagings and seating arrangements. The PAC will include approximately 550- 250- and 150-capacity spaces that can operate independently, or combine for larger performances. Linda Shelton, Executive Director of The Joyce Theater, who continues to participate in the development of the PAC, said, "I am enthusiastic about this new, completely flexible venue, which will offer a variety of performances, both large-scale and intimate. I look forward to continuing to work with the artistic team and Maggie Boepple as the vision is refined."
The technical capacity is important not only to expand the potential audience of performances (via high-definition simulcast), nationally and internationally, but also to facilitate the creation of distinctly 21st Century art: collaborations, in real time, between performers in New York and, say, Beijing and Sydney.
The PAC's innovation will go beyond both art and technology to accomplish a unique social function. Boepple et al are planning a cultural destination like David Lan's Young Vic, one that is widely considered one of the world's most exciting performing arts centers, and that currently has no equal in New York. The Young Vic is full of life from morning into the night, attracting a vastly diverse community of artists, performance-goers, professionals and others, sometimes just for a meal, coffee or glass of wine. Likewise, meeting a desire that the Lower Manhattan community has expressed, the PAC will have ample public space, open all day, for these purposes. Furthermore, given the World Trade Center Transportation Hub and the Fulton Street Transit Hub, both slated to open soon, the PAC will be exceedingly accessible to people from across the city and beyond.
Lan's appointment follows a yearlong search, then several months of courtship, on the part of Boepple and the Board. When she joined the PAC as Director in March 2012, Boepple had written Lan's name on the first page of her first notebook. His name kept coming up, since he met all three of her criteria for a Consulting Artistic Director: one who was an Artistic Director or producer in more than one discipline; who has run a theater that is successful in terms of programming and atmosphere, and that attracts a diverse audience; who has led an arts institution through a new build or rebuild. Lan will remain Artistic Director of the Young Vic while consulting on the PAC, to which he is deeply committed.
As an Artistic Director and producer, and as a writer of plays and opera libretti, Lan has garnered international acclaim. He has also overseen the design (in close collaboration with Charcoalblue) of a theater that is especially well regarded. The Young Vic redesign, completed in 2006, created a super-flexible performance venue that can be reconfigured easily-proscenium, thrust, traverse, in the round-to realize each director's particular vision. The Young Vic balances its books year after year, not only via creative co-producing and co-presenting arrangements, but also by achieving extraordinary attendance: an extremely rare 96% from 2011 to date. And the Young Vic's audience is widely considered the most diverse and most engaged of any theater in London.
In The Telegraph last week, Rupert Christiansen called the Young Vic "the best theatre in London." He elaborated, "The main auditorium is flexible in shape [and] allows intimacy and immediacy, as well as some room for grand scenic effect and theatrical surprise. The two smaller performance spaces are...invitations for that fundamental theatrical faculty, imagination, to get to work...There's always a healthy mix of age and ethnicity. The grooving in-crowd can swan around, but ordinary folks won't feel intimidated or excluded; it always feels as though a good party is going on...And what about Lan's artistic programme?...Look back over the last three years or so, and I defy you to find anyone in town who can match [his] record."
Stephen Daldry says, "David Lan runs the most interesting theater in London, and I have no doubt that the PAC will benefit from his extraordinary theatrical vision, intellect and community-building skills. I look forward to working with him, Maggie, Lucy and the PAC board on this exciting and vital arts center."
Lan considers the PAC an opportunity to achieve on a larger scale what he has done at the Young Vic. Perhaps the most meaningful parallel between the two venues is the hallowed ground on which they are and will be situated, respectively. The Young Vic is built on a former bombsite where scores of lives were lost in World War II-collateral damage from the targeting of nearby Waterloo Station. In Lan's words, "Where there was violence and destruction, art is now made. It's as if theater has helped to heal the wound."
Boepple met Lucy Sexton via Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, where Boepple was President and Sexton produced the annual gala. Boepple approached Sexton to join the PAC's artistic team because Sexton "knows the downtown performing arts community, and the greater New York performing arts community, as well as anyone." Sexton has worked in dance, film and theater for more than 25 years, producing live events and documentary films, and directing performance and theater, while continuing to write and perform her own work. In addition to serving as Director of the New York Dance and Performance Awards aka The Bessies, she was Board President of Performance Space 122 for ten years. For the PAC Sexton has arranged and participated in countless conversations with artists and arts administrators about what this city needs (and doesn't need) in a performing arts center.
The hiring of Charcoalblue concludes another yearlong search: for a theater design firm to work closely with the artistic team, board (especially Stephen Daldry, who led the Royal Court through its renovation in the late 1990s) and, ultimately, the design architect on the interior of the building: the size and design of the auditoria, rehearsal spaces, public spaces and back-of-house. Boepple kept encountering Charcoalblue attached to exceptional performing arts complexes, such as the National Theatre on the South Bank of London, the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, and St. Ann's Warehouse's future home, in the Tobacco Warehouse on the Brooklyn Waterfront.
"The new artistic team has given shape to our vision for this historic site and its surrounding communities: a cultural center, open from early morning until late in the evening, with a fantastically dynamic program. The eyes of the world are on Lower Manhattan, and the PAC will be one of the world's most exciting arts centers," said Julie Menin, a founding PAC Board member and former chair of Community Board 1.
ABOUT THE ARTISTIC TEAM:
David Lan (Consulting Artistic Director) was born in Cape Town, where he trained as an actor. He began to write for the theater and directed at Athol Fugard's theater The Space. He moved to London in 1972.
Lan's early plays include Painting a Wall (Almost Free Theatre, 1974), Bird Child (Theatre Upstairs, 1974), The Winter Dancers (Theatre Upstairs, 1977), Red Earth (ICA, 1978) and Sergeant Ola (Royal Court, 1979). He trained as a Social Anthropologist at the LSE. After two years of field research in the Zambezi Valley (1980 - 1982), he was awarded a PhD for a thesis on religion and politics.
In 1985 Lan published Guns and Rain: Guerrillas and Spirit Mediums in Zimbabwe, widely considered a classic of modern social anthropology. It continues to be taught widely throughout the world. He has travelled widely in Africa and written a number of films and drama documentaries, set in various African countries, for BBC TV, including The Sunday Judge (Mozambique, 1985), Dark City (South Africa, 1990) and Welcome Home Comrades (Namibia,1990). He has also produced and directed documentaries for the BBC Omnibus series, including Artist Unknown (1995), for the Africa '95 exhibition at the Royal Academy, and Royal Court Diaries (1996), about the redevelopment of the Royal Court Theatre. Later plays include Flight (RSC, 1986), A Mouthful of Birds (with Caryl Churchill, Joint Stock / Royal Court, 1986), Desire (Almeida, 1990), Charley Tango (BBC Radio, 1995) and The Ends of the Earth (National Theatre, 1996). In 1995 and 1996 he was writer-in-residence at the Royal Court Theatre, where he worked closely with a number of younger writers and directors.
He has written two opera libretti, Tobias and the Angel (music by Jonathan Dove, 1999) and Ion (music by Param Vir, 2000), which were first performed at successive Almeida Opera Festivals, and English versions of Hippoloytos and Ion by Euripides, for the Almeida and the RSC; La Lupa by Verga, for the RSC; and Joshua Sobol's Ghetto for the RNT. Lan's version of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya was produced by the RSC at the Young Vic, and his version of The Cherry Orchard by the RNT.
As a writer, Lan has worked with a wide range of directors including Max Stafford-Clark, Katie Mitchell, Stephen Pimlott, Trevor Nunn, Nicholas Wright, Stuart Laing, Andrei Serban, Simona Gonella, Nicholas Hytner, Howard Davies and Stephen Daldry. As a director, his early work included Pericles (RNT Studio), The Glass Menagerie (Watford) and 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (Young Vic).
He was appointed artistic director of the Young Vic in 2000 where he has established the Genesis Directors Project, the Jerwood Directors Award and the Young Vic Award. He won an Olivier Award for the 2004 Young Vic season. Other awards include the John Whiting award, The George Orwell award and the Zurich International Television Prize. He led the £12.5 million rebuild of the Young Vic theatre and the two-year Walkabout season while the theatre was closed.
Lan's productions at the Young Vic include Julius Caesar (2000), A Raisin in the Sun (2001, with a revival and tour in 2005), Doctor Faustus (2002), The Daughter-in-Law (2002), The Skin of Our Teeth (2004) and As You Like It at Wyndhams (2005) as part of Walkabout. In 2010, he directed August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone.
Under Lan's leadership the Young Vic has co-produced with many other companies in London, the UK and internationally, including English National Opera, the Royal Opera House, Sadler's Wells, the Royal Court, American Repertory Theatre, the Vienna Festival, Theatre de la Ville Paris, Isango of Cape Town, Vesturport of Iceland, Kaboom of Rio de Janiero, Noda Map of Tokyo, the Belarus Free Theatre and many others. He has produced over 150 shows, working with world directors including Peter Brook, Luc Bondy, Katie Mitchell, Joe Wright, Diane Paulus, Fiona Shaw and Patrice Chereau.
Lucy Sexton (Associate Artistic Director) has worked in dance, film, and theater for more than 25 years. She produces live events and documentary films, directs performance and theater, and continues to write and perform her own work.
Since 2009, Sexton has served as the Director of the New York Dance and Performance Awards (The Bessies). She leads the dance service organization year-round and produces its annual ceremony at the Apollo Theater.
Sexton produces live events including galas for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Performance Space 122, La MaMa and the MacDowell Colony. She served as Board President of Performance Space 122 for ten years, and is currently on the Performing Arts Advisory Council of BRIC, in Brooklyn; the Board of Directors of Tuesday's Children, which works with children who lost parents on 9/1; and the governing Board of the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.
Sexton produced Charles Atlas' documentary The Legend of Leigh Bowery for the BBC and Arte, and his TURNING, a documentary featuring Antony and the Johnsons. She is an Associate Producer of Madeleine Onek's independent feature Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same. Sexton developed and directed the Obie-Award winning Off-Broadway show Spalding Gray, Stories Left to Tell. She also directed The Talking Show: The Magical Ridiculous Journey of Alien Comic, a one-man show with legendary performance artist Tom Murrin, at Performance Space 122.
With Anne Iobst, Sexton created the seminal dance-performance group DANCENOISE in 1983. They began performing in the 1980s downtown club performance scene, and went on to perform at Lincoln Center, Glasgow's Mayfest, Vienna Fest Wochen, Phenomena Festival in Jerusalem, and at many other festivals and venues worldwide. They won a New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Award for their show All the Rage.
Sexton performs her own work as The Factress and has appeared in the work of Alien Comic, Charles Atlas, David Gordon, Jo Andres, Mimi Goese, Heidi Dorow, Steve Buscemi and Mark Boone Jr, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Richard Move, Sarah Shulman and Alain Buffard, among others.
Charcoalblue (Theater and Acoustic Design Consultant) was founded in 2004 by Managing Partner Andy Hayles and Senior Partners Jon Stevens and Gavin Green. Katy Winter, Charcoalblue's Practice Manager, was promoted to Partner in June 2011.
Charcoalblue strives to design innovative and striking performing arts buildings, working collaboratively with clients and design teams, providing a holistic service. In the UK, Charcoalblue's client list includes the English National Opera, the National Theatre, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Royal Opera House and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Charcoalblue opened a New York Studio in 2012, and advises numerous U.S. clients, including St Ann's Warehouse, Steppenwolf Theater Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the Pratt Institute, Boston Lyric Opera and Centre Stage Baltimore. The company also has projects in Europe (France, Belgium and Luxembourg) the Middle East and South Africa.
Charcoalblue continues to diversify its services. In 2010, the company began offering acoustics and lead consultant services. The company added business consultancy services in 2011 and architectural lighting services in 2013.
Andy Hayles (Managing Partner, Charcoalblue) has provided theater design consulting for two decades. His past and current projects include the Royal Shakespeare Theater and RSC Courtyard Theater in Stratford-upon-Avon; The National Theatre, National Theatre Studio and the NT Shed in London; The Old Vic Theatre in Bristol and The Old Vic in London; Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse; Camden Roundhouse in London; the Royal Court Theatre on Sloane Square; the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester; the Young Vic Theatre in London; St Ann's Warehouse, in Brooklyn; Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago; and Centre Stage Baltimore.
Hayles was technical editor for Theatre Buildings: A Design Guide (Routledge 2010); was a director of the Association of British Theatre Technicians (2004- 2010); and is a visiting lecturer at Cambridge University, London Met and Bath University. He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Liverpool Institute of the Performing Arts by Paul McCartney in 2013.
Hayles is an amateur pianist and trombonist. His passion for jazz inspired the company's name.
Stephen Daldry (Member, PAC Board of Directors) began his career at the Sheffield Crucible Theatre and directed extensively in Britain's regional theaters. In London, he was Artistic Director of the Gate Theatre and the Royal Court Theatre, where he headed a £26 million redevelopment.
He has also directed at the National Theatre and the Public Theater in New York, and has transferred many productions both to Broadway and the West End. His 1992 National Theatre production of An Inspector Calls recently toured the UK. He has also directed for BBC Radio and Television.
His films Billy Elliot, The Hours, The Reader and, most recently, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close together received 19 Academy Award nominations, including three for Best Picture and three for Best Director. Daldry just finished shooting his new film Trash in Brazil with Martin Sheen and Rooney Mara.
The success of the film Billy Elliot, which Daldry directed, has continued on stage with Billy Elliot the Musical, also directed by directed by him, with book and lyrics by Lee Hall and music by Elton John. The winner of nearly 80 theater awards internationally, the production is currently enjoying a highly successful run in London. It ran for over three years on Broadway, winning ten Tony Awards in 2009, including Best Musical and Best Director. The show has also played in Sydney, Melbourne, Toronto, Seoul and many American cities and has been seen by over seven million people worldwide.
Daldry was Creative Executive Producer of Ceremonies for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. His is a Trustee of the Old Vic Theatre in London and Pier 54 in New York.
Daldry's many honors include six Olivier Awards and two Tony awards. He recently received special awards from the Royal Television Society in London and the Evening Standard for his work on London 2012. He was also the Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of contemporary drama at Oxford University. He was made a Commander of the British Empire by Her Majesty the Queen in 2002.
Daldry's recent production of The Audience by Peter Morgan, starring Helen Mirren, at the Gielgud Theatre in London's West End broke all London box office records and received five Olivier Award nominations.
Pictured: David Lan. Image source.