Park Avenue Armory Announces 2022 Season

Highlights include Rashaad Newsome's site-specific commission, The North American premiere of Upload, Robert Icke's stagings of Hamlet and Oresteia and more.

By: Nov. 17, 2021
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Park Avenue Armory Announces 2022 Season

Park Avenue Armory announced today its programming for the coming year, returning with a robust 2022 season of multidisciplinary productions and installations--including new commissions, and world and North American premieres--that offer bold visions for our future and timely reexaminations of our past. The artists featured in the 2022 season, many of whom have had sustained relationships with the Armory, are at the vanguard of their practices, creating works that defy genre, bridge traditional and new media, and offer a sharp lens into contemporary life and society. In addition to large-scale, multidisciplinary productions that harness the full magnitude of the Armory's 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall, the season also includes more intimate performances by virtuoso singers, musicians, and artists in its historic period rooms, as well as a newly conceived slate of talks, salons, and symposia exploring critical issues and ideas of the present day.

"As we reemerge from two years of isolation, political upheaval, and social reckoning, we turn to artists to recontextualize the past and look to the future," said Rebecca Robertson, Park Avenue Armory's Founding President and Executive Producer. "In building our 2022 season, we turned to a number of artists with whom we have worked before and artists with whom we are working for the first time. The range of disciplines is wide: film, music, visual art, theater, dance, and more, with each artist bringing a unique vision to the space and to this moment, realizing a set of innovative and complex multi-disciplinary works freed by the unconventional setting."

"During the past 18 months, our physical and virtual worlds have merged in ways we never before imagined. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the artists in this season's program have created works that foster fluidity between traditional analogue and new digital media," added Pierre Audi, Marina Kellen French Artistic Director at Park Avenue Armory. "Through both the new work we have commissioned and the reimagining of the canonical ones, the season will generate new perspectives on a range of pressing ideas and issues, especially those that have been brought into sharper focus by recent events."

The Armory's 2022 Wade Thompson Drill Hall programming begins in February with Assembly, a multifaceted commission by interdisciplinary artist Rashaad Newsome. As the title implies, the exhibition is a communion of multiple art forms spanning the artist's work for over a decade, including artificial intelligence, sculpture, CGI, assemblage, and holography. Through the artist's creative exhibition design, the iconic drill hall, once used as a site for soldiers to practice, is converted into Newsome's mothership, which concurrently acts as an installation, performance space, and classroom. As visitors enter, they are confronted with video-mapped walls pulsing with computer-generated imagery surrounding a 40-foot-tall hologram sculpture and a 350-seat theater. At the center of all of this is Being, the second generation of Newsome's AI progeny whose voice acts as the exhibition's soundscape. When not reading their poetry, Being invites visitors to take workshops that combine lecture, critical pedagogy, dance, storytelling, and mindfulness meditation, bringing new possibilities for reflection and an enhanced academic experience for all people. For seven evenings, the theater will come alive with the premiere of Newsome's new performance featuring live poetry, music, vocalists, and dancers from across the globe--presenting contemporary movements that synthesize vogue fem with the traditional dance from their territories.

The season continues in March with the North American premiere of Upload, a groundbreaking new opera by eminent Dutch composer, film and stage director, and librettist Michel van der Aa, who returns to the Armory after following the success of his technologically ambitious Blank Out in 2017. With Upload, van der Aa ventures again to the frontiers of technological innovation with an engrossing tale conveyed by live performance, motion capture, and film. Following a critically acclaimed run at the Dutch National Opera in October 2021, Upload tells the story of a daughter (soprano Julia Bullock) and her father (baritone Roderick Williams) who, when confronted by his inevitable death, has his thoughts and memories "uploaded," in order to achieve a "virtual resurrection." The deeply emotional work poses age-old questions-about fate, identity, and the cost of immortality-that take on new significance against a backdrop of present-day and near-future technologies.

From May and June through mid-August, British director and playwright Robert Icke--whose Armory-commissioned work Enemy of the People, starring Emmy Award winner Ann Dowd, animated the Drill Hall in summer 2021--reconceives the space with his award-winning modern interpretations of William Shakespeare's Hamlet and his own adaptation of Aeschylus's Oresteia, performed in repertory. Young talent Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game, The End of the F***ing World) stars as the brooding protagonist of Hamlet and Lia Williams returns to Oresteia in her Olivier-nominated role as Klytemnestra. Icke is recognized as one of the greatest theater directors working today, and is widely lauded for his fresh, accessible takes on classic texts. With Hamlet, Icke emphasizes themes of madness, sanity, and family in the tragedy of the Danish prince, amplifying the text's obsessive scrutiny through the use of cameras and screens. Digital media is similarly employed in Icke's original adaptation of Oresteia, Aeschylus's epic ancient Greek trilogy that follows a succession of brutal family murders and asks whether justice can be achieved through revenge. Icke has condensed and modernized the Greek masterpiece into a single three-hour performance that presents the play as a bold family drama. Both productions originated at the internationally acclaimed Almeida Theatre, which was founded in 1979 by Armory Artistic Director Pierre Audi.

Fall 2022 at the Armory begins in September with Rothko Chapel, a new musical commission by MacArthur "Genius," multi-instrument virtuoso, and genre-defying composer Tyshawn Sorey based on the iconic work written by Morton Feldman as a tribute to Mark Rothko and Houston's Rothko Chapel on the occasion of its dedication in 1971. Fifty years later, Sorey's work pays homage to both Feldman--whom Sorey cites as a major influence on his compositional style--and the Chapel, resonating with the minimalism of its 14 black Rothko paintings and its symbolism as a non-denominational spiritual space dedicated to the pursuit of human rights. Sorey, who performed in an Artists Studio program in the Armory's Veterans Room in 2016, now escalates his practice to the magnitude of the Drill Hall, enlisting director Peter Sellars to realize a staged work of the composition designed specifically for the space. Sellars also directed the celebrated Armory productions of St. Matthew Passion in 2014, FLEXN in 2015, and FLEXN Evolution in 2017. Joining Sorey and Sellars to create a meditative space within the Drill Hall is visual artist Julie Mehretu. Mehretu's abstract and experiential practice will manifest in a series of large-scale canvases that will encompass the audience and performers in a concentrated memorial environment.

Returning to the Armory after the 2016 presentation of his film installation Manifesto, which captivated audiences worldwide, Julian Rosefeldt caps off the 2022 season with Euphoria, a new, Armory-commissioned multi-channel film and musical installation exploring the concepts of capital, money, greed, and what Rosefeldt describes as "the destructive potential of unlimited economic growth." Projected on screens that surround the audience, the installation follows in the style of Manifesto by reframing existing texts and quotations-from Donna Haraway, Warren Buffet, Socrates, John Steinbeck, Ayn Rand, Ursula K. Le Guin, Milton Friedman, and others-in the context of real and imagined scenes of "euphoric production and consumption," among them, a bank lobby that fills with surreal magic tricks, dance choreographies and acrobatics, an absurdist assembly line, and an empty supermarket with a prowling singing tiger. Euphoria is scored with original music composed by Samy Moussa and with additional music by Cassie Kinoshi, performed by 140 singers from the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and five acclaimed jazz drummers: Terri Lyne Carrington, Steve Gadd, Yissy García, Eric Harland, and Antonio Sanchez.

Throughout the year, the Armory will also present a roster of intimate performances, salons, artist talks, and educational programs in its historic period rooms. The Armory's longstanding Recital Series, presented in the Board of Officers Room, in 2022 features classical and contemporary works performed by chamber ensembles Alarm Will Sound and Ensemble Correspondances, baritone Justin Austin, tenor Michael Spyres, mezzo-soprano Emily D'Angelo, and soprano Ying Fang. The Veterans Room hosts the Artists Studio, a series of eclectic, cross-disciplinary performances curated by jazz pianist, composer, and MacArthur fellow Jason Moran. In 2022, Moran himself will take the stage to perform two nights of solo piano-his first solo performances at the Armory since the series' inception in 2016. Other Artists Studio programs for the year will feature pioneering performance and video artist Joan Jonas, conceptual artist Rodney McMillian, and a collaboration between multimedia artist Camille Norment and pianist, composer, and electronic musician Craig Taborn.

Additionally, under the curation of newly appointed Curator of Public Programming Tavia Nyong'o, the Armory will present a series of talks, salons, symposia, performances, and other activations that bring artists, activists, cultural leaders, scholars, and audiences into dialogue about contemporary issues through an artistic lens. Formerly known as Interrogations of Form, the new Making Space series launches in 2022 with a slate of programming that addresses the fault lines in our racial and social order laid bare by the events of the past two years, tackling topics as varied as climate change, rebellion against technological algorithms, queerness in hip hop, and the legacies of Juneteenth.

Single tickets and subscriptions for the 2022 season go on sale on Wednesday, November 17 at / (212) 933-5812.