St. Ann's Warehouse Opens New Waterfront Theater Under Brooklyn Bridge
The new St. Ann's Warehouse was unveiled in a ceremony this morning! The $31.6 million, 25,000 sf. theater, at the breathtaking site of the pre-Civil War Tobacco Warehouse under the Brooklyn Bridge, will make Brooklyn Bridge Park a home for culture for future generations.
In attendance at the ribbon-cutting were St. Ann's Warehouse Founder and Artistic Director Susan Feldman; St. Ann's Warehouse Board Chair Joseph S. Steinberg; St. Ann's Warehouse Executive Director Andrew D. Hamingson; Brooklyn Bridge Park President Regina Myer; architect Jonathan Marvel; Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen; NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams; NYC Council Majority Leader and Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee Jimmy Van Bramer; NYC Council Member Stephen Levin; Deputy Commissioner, Department of Cultural Affairs, Tracey Knuckles; New York State Senator Daniel Squadron; and New York State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon.
With the guiding vision of St. Ann's founder and Artistic Director Susan Feldman, Marvel Architects PLLC, development manager DBI Projects, British theater consultants Charcoalblue, landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, and a team of designers, expert engineers and preservation consultants have designed a building that offers St. Ann's signature versatility and grandeur on an amplified scale while preserving the walls of the original 1860 structure.
The new theater represents the triumph of attaining a permanent home for the organization that, since 1980, has activated multiple found spaces for cultural use in downtown Brooklyn. Founded to stimulate the adaptive reuse of the landmark Church of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity, and subsequently two warehouses in the burgeoning neighborhood of DUMBO since 2001, St. Ann's has become a compelling destination for live performance worldwide. St. Ann's Warehouse now stands poised to bring theater to Brooklyn Bridge Park.
St. Ann's Warehouse Board Chair Joseph S. Steinberg helmed the project, helping Feldman and Executive Director Andrew D. Hamingson realize the vision that has evolved so successfully over the past thirty-six years. The City and State of New York, the St. Ann's Warehouse Board of Directors, and numerous individuals and foundations have led the way with generous gifts.
Susan Feldman said, "It's a dream come true and a blessing to know that culture will play a leading role in perpetuity as part of Brooklyn Bridge Park and the New York waterfront. We won't be trading in goods, as in the Tobacco Warehouse's industrial past, but thanks to our board, the City, the Park, and the many friends who shared this dream, we will be trading in arts and performances for years to come."
"We are overjoyed that St. Ann's Warehouse has made its permanent home in Brooklyn Bridge Park," said Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park. "Susan Feldman and her team have done a brilliant job of bringing new life to the cherished Tobacco Warehouse, and her unique vision is a worthy complement to the Park."
"We are so proud to welcome one of Brooklyn's flagship cultural institutions to its new home in Brooklyn Bridge Park. This is a huge milestone for the park and for the borough," said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development and Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation Chair, Alicia Glen. "The St. Ann's Warehouse project will be a vibrant addition to the waterfront, and it will bring local and international artists and art-lovers to the incredible mix of people enjoying this public space. We cannot wait to enjoy the inaugural season!"
"By transforming this historic warehouse into a new theater, St. Ann's is both preserving history and adapting to the changing needs of New York," said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "The Council is proud to provide funding to organizations such as St. Ann's in order to invest in culture and community while honoring the historical landscape of our city."
"St. Ann's Warehouse has done more than transform a warehouse with almost 150 years of history into a one-of-a-kind space for the arts; they have transformed the way that our borough and city look at theater and what it can do to foster a true sense of community," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. "I am proud that my capital budget has been able to support this important project, and I look forward to enjoying many years of groundbreaking performances with residents of DUMBO, Brooklyn, and beyond."
"The beautiful construction at St. Ann's Warehouse is a reminder of culture's importance not just for the economy of our City, but for enriching our souls," said New York City Council Majority Leader and Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee Jimmy Van Bramer. "The City's investment of millions in capital dollars for the building means that the daring and compelling productions of off off Broadway theater have a permanent home in the heart of the Brooklyn Waterfront."
NYC Council Member Stephen Levin said, "The new St. Ann's Warehouse is an innovative revitalization of an important part of our borough's industrial history and a symbol of the vibrant cultural community that has taken root here. I am proud to have had the opportunity to support this project, and I thank everyone who helped to make it possible. I look forward to New Yorkers experiencing the first season of world-class theater and music in this wonderful addition to our waterfront."
"St. Ann's has earned its reputation as one of the premier venues for cutting-edge theater, attracting artists and audiences from around the world to the Brooklyn warehouses they've called home," said Cultural Affairs Deputy Commissioner Tracey Knuckles. "We are proud to support this project, which ensures that St. Ann's will continue to produce exciting theatrical work in a historic facility that's been preserved as an incredible asset for all New Yorkers."
"I'm thrilled we were able to work together with the community to preserve the Tobacco Warehouse, grow Brooklyn Bridge Park, find St. Ann's Warehouse a home, and ensure community access," said State Senator Daniel Squadron. "Thank you to St. Ann's Warehouse, Councilmember Levin, former Assemblymember Millman, Brooklyn Bridge Park, my colleagues in government, and community members including Hank Gutman, who dedicated countless hours to make this possible."
New York State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon said, "St. Ann's Warehouse has been a staple in Brooklyn for music and theater for many years, and I'm happy to know that its new home will be in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Susan Feldman's team did an outstanding job of preserving the Tobacco Warehouse to make sure the new St. Ann's respects its history and iconic status and complements the character of the neighborhood."
LAUNCH OF THE INAUGURAL SEASON:
Following an invitational ribbon-cutting October 6 at 10am and a homecoming party that night for returning staff, artists, and artisans who have built the new building, St. Ann's Warehouse will welcome the public into the space for two weekends of cultural and community celebratory events, beginning with an all-day Open House on October 17, which includes a free concert at noon and a second ticketed performance at 8pm by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus & the Kronos Quartet; Songs from Home, a concert of American and Irish roots music, featuring Aoife O'Donovan, Sam Amidon and Thomas Bartlett plus surprise Irish guest musicians, October 18 at 5pm; The Nation Live! at St. Ann's Warehouse: Celebrating 150 Years of Resistance and Dissent, October 24 at 7:30pm; and the St. Ann's debut of In Your Face -- New York, a live podcast, hosted by Sarah Jones, presenting New York City's highs and lows through sketches, songs and monologues, on October 25 at 5pm.
St. Ann's Warehouse welcomes back the Donmar Warehouse to launch the inaugural theater season with the American Premiere of the Donmar's celebrated Henry IV, the second installment in director Phyllida Lloyd's trilogy of all-female Shakespeares. Like the Donmar's Julius Caesar, whose American Premiere was a major hit of St. Ann's 2013-14 season, Lloyd's "fresh, bracingly persuasive staging" (The Independent) of Henry IV is set against the backdrop of women in prison and is led by the great Harriet Walter. Performances will take place November 6 - December 6.
After Henry IV, St. Ann's Warehouse will present the American Premiere of frequent St. Ann's collaborator Enda Walsh's first opera, The Last Hotel, created with the celebrated Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy. In its World Premiere in August at the Edinburgh International Festival, this Landmark Productions / Wide Open Opera Company production won immense critical praise. The Guardian called it "a searingly powerful new chamber work by two of Ireland's foremost creative voices," adding, "Walsh's libretto (he also directs) is devastating in its indictment of societal preoccupations, heartbreaking in its portrayal of loneliness and loveless relationships." The Scotsman wrote, "Walsh's libretto is unnerving and funny...Dennehy's score is red-hot," and The Times praised the opera for its "feral force, spineshuddering bass beats, black humour and stonking energy...stunningly delivered." St. Ann's Warehouse presents the American Premiere January 8 - 17, 2016, with PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now and Irish Arts Center. The Last Hotel marks the fifth American Premiere by Enda Walsh at St. Ann's Warehouse.
THE NEW ST. ANN'S WAREHOUSE:
Rising on the East River in the heart of Brooklyn Bridge Park, the new St. Ann's Warehouse preserves the simple, honest and utilitarian materials of the original Tobacco Warehouse relic. As a response to the historic brick walls, Marvel Architects used the natural patinas of plywood, steel and concrete-materials that will improve with age-as a palette.
"Putting a roof on a beloved open-air 19th century set of brick walls was the big challenge, so we honored those walls by extending them with a sculptural glass brick clerestory," said Jonathan Marvel. "This became the defining moment for the new St Ann's Warehouse, providing natural light to the entire building and a glowing ribbon that in the evening hours celebrates the performers and audience within."
Marvel added, "Everything about this project is flexible and floats: the roof hovers over the glass brick, the structural steel never touches the historic walls, the theater gives artists the ability to play in multiple arrangements and provides the community with an all-hours gathering space."
The success of this project is due to a highly collaborative design effort. Susan Feldman and David Belt (DBI Projects) orchestrated an array of talent from DUMBO to London: including Executive Director Andy Hamingson, Marvel Architects PLLC, Charcoalblue, engineers BuroHappold and Silman Associates, Yorke Construction, marquee designer Tom Fruin, graphic designers Flyleaf Creative and lighting fixture designer David Weeks Studio who have all worked closely with them to plan and complete the building.
David Belt said, "St. Ann's Warehouse is my favorite theater in NYC, and working with Susan, her staff and the Board to bring Susan's vision to a permanent home was a fantastic experience."
The centerpiece of the new St. Ann's Warehouse is the Joseph S. & Diane H. Steinberg Theater, which comprises 10,000 sf. of St. Ann's signature open performance space, with seating for over 700. The complex also includes a 1,000 sf. Studio, with a capacity of 180, that will provide support and developmental programming space for St. Ann's, including its 18-year old Puppet Lab, as well as rental opportunities for local artists, community organizations and activities. (The Studio opens in January 2016.)
In addition to bringing its holistic approach to theatre consultancy and inspiring St. Ann's Warehouse Artistic Director Susan Feldman with a number of its UK projects (especially the temporary Courtyard Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon and London's Young Vic), Charcoalblue planned and outfitted the performance spaces and provided acoustic and architectural lighting design services to the project, which posed extraordinary challenges due to the noise of traffic on the bridge overheard, helicopters over the East River, and the acoustical porousness of the building's existing walls and open archways.
"In 2012, the Tobacco Warehouse was a relic. Converting it into a theatre has been a complete joy, and a particularly tricky thing to do," says Charcoalblue's Managing Partner, Andy Hayles. "Because so little of the original building was left when we began-really just a 24'-high perimeter wall-every column, beam and interior wall had to be perfectly placed and carefully considered, not only for its immediate structural impact, but also for its impact on the next production, which might turn the playing area and the audience by a full 90 degrees!"
Perhaps the crowning jewel of the new building is a 7,800 sf. open-air, public garden designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, landscape architects of Brooklyn Bridge Park, forged and planted within the original brick walls of the Tobacco Warehouse. The garden will be open to the public during Park hours, and accessible to the theater through a stately, glass-enclosed vestibule with unmatched, photogenic views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline.
Michael Van Valkenburgh said, "As designers of Brooklyn Bridge Park, we could not have helped being drawn to the Tobacco Warehouse from our very first days in the neighborhood. The history and idiosyncrasy of the site is everything that we love about doing work here. It has also become an opportunity for us to do something different than the rest of the park, and in St. Ann's we have had a partner who is as committed as we are to making the space special."
Susan Feldman founded Arts at St. Ann's (now St. Ann's Warehouse) in 1980, at the National Historic Landmark Church of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. For twenty-one years, St. Ann's presented a decidedly eclectic array of multi-artist concert and theater performances in the church's sanctuary.
From Fall 2001 through the 2014-15 season, the organization has brought to DUMBO the world's most imaginative theater- and music-makers, and helped to make the neighborhood a destination for New Yorkers and tourists alike. After twelve years (2001-2012) in a warehouse that was located at 38 Water Street, St. Ann's activated another raw space at 29 Jay Street, turning it into an interim home for three years (2012-2015) while the organization transformed the then-roofless Tobacco Warehouse at 45 Water Street in Brooklyn Bridge Park into the new St. Ann's Warehouse opening this fall.
The new St. Ann's Warehouse retains the best of its past homes: the sense of sacred space of the organization's original home in the Church, and the vastness and endless capacity for reconfiguration artists have harnessed in St. Ann's temporary warehouses in DUMBO. For generations to come, the building will continue to provide a place to experience groundbreaking work by international artists of distinction, American avant-garde masters and emerging artists ready to work on a grand scale.
ST. ANN'S WAREHOUSE OPENING CELEBRATIONS:
Saturday, October 17
12 - 6pm: Free
Brooklyn Youth Chorus & Kronos Quartet performances at 12pm (free) and 8pm ($25)
Experience the open, flexible space of the new St. Ann's Warehouse through music, puppetry, food trucks, and tours, starting with a free concert at noon and culminating in a ticketed concert at 8pm-both featuring Brooklyn Youth Chorus & the Kronos Quartet. Full schedule to follow.
Songs from Home
Sunday, October 18, 5pm
Tickets start at $30
Irish and American folk roots collide in this concert featuring old friends Sam Amidon (vocals, fiddle, guitar) and Thomas Bartlett (keyboards), along with Aoife O'Donovan (vocals) and special guests on fiddle and guitar.
St. Ann's Warehouse and The Nation. Present
The Nation. LIVE! at St. Ann's
Celebrating 150 Years of Dissent and Resistance
Saturday, October 24, 7:30pm
All Tickets: $25
This year marks the 150th anniversary of The Nation, one of the oldest magazines in America. Since 1865, The Nation has been shifting paradigms, broadening discourse and instigating progress as an outspoken voice on politics and culture.
In celebration of this historic anniversary, St. Ann's Warehouse is proud to present a live magazine experience featuring a tour through America's hidden history of resistance and a look ahead at what the promise of today's social movements may hold.
Speakers, readers and story-tellers include Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel, playwright Tony Kushner, filmmaker Michael Moore, humorist Calvin Trillin, MSNBC commentator and professor Melissa Harris-Perry, author and activist Bill McKibben, playwright Eve Ensler, law professor Zephyr Teachout, Nation publisher emeritus Victor Navasky, author Walter Mosley, broadcast journalist Laura Flanders, writer Mychal Denzel Smith and MSNBC host Chris Hayes-plus curated video from award-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple's Hot Type and music by Brooklyn Youth Chorus.
This event is a singular opportunity to experience the magazine that Harry Belafonte says "has brought to the table of human need a menu of truth." All audience members receive a free copy of The Nation's 268-page commemorative anniversary issue.
In Your Face -- New York
Sunday, October 25
Tickets start at $25
No matter where you live -- Honolulu, Beijing or Bushwick -- New York is in your face. That's what this live performance and podcast is all about: presenting New York City's highs and lows through sketches, songs and monologues, performed by the city's wealth of world-class artists, revealing exactly why this is the cultural capital of the world.
At St. Ann's Warehouse, Tony- and OBIE-winning playwright and performer Sarah Jones will host the show's St. Ann's debut, with a stellar and wide-ranging lineup including Patricia Marx (The New Yorker), Bruce Weber (The New York Times), Jon Wertheim (Sports Illustrated), writer Dr. Josh Bazell, music director Jay Leonhart, Latin Jazz bandleader, composer and singer Gregorio Uribe, the bands The Chalks and Invisible Familiars, and more.
INAUGURAL SEASON BEGINS WITH DONMAR WAREHOUSE HENRY IV:
The Howard Gilman Foundation is the Lead Sponsor of The New St. Ann's Warehouse Inaugural Season.
On the heels of the Donmar's revelatory production of Julius Caesar, which empowered women to play Shakespearean roles normally reserved for men, director Phyllida Lloyd has set a second play, Henry IV, against the backdrop of women in prison. Harriet Walter, "one of the best Shakespeareans alive" (The Guardian), will once again lead a diverse and exciting all-female cast in Shakespeare's monumental history play which travels to the heart of family, duty and country.
St. Ann's Warehouse is proud to open the Inaugural Season in its new home with this major event, which, with its in-depth outreach and engagement programs, has ignited a cultural and social conversation about gender, equality and aspiration on both sides of the Atlantic.
THE LAST HOTEL:
St. Ann's Warehouse presents
Landmark Productions/Wide Open Opera
The Last Hotel
A New Opera by Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh
Jan 8 - 17, 2016
Co-presented with PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now
and Irish Arts Center
The Last Hotel is supported by piece by piece productions, by the Arts Council and by Culture Ireland.
A woman meets a couple in a hotel parking lot. All three are nervous. They have come to seal a pact.
Walsh's fifth American Premiere at St. Ann's, The Last Hotel reunites the creators of Misterman (with Cillian Murphy) and arrives after engagements at the Edinburgh International Festival (August 8-12, 2015), the Dublin Theatre Festival (September 27-October 3) and the Royal Opera House in London (October 9-17).
Reviewing the World Premiere of the opera in Edinburgh, The Scotsman said, "Walsh's libretto is unnerving and funny" and "Dennehy's score is red-hot." The Times praised The Last Hotel for its "feral force, spineshuddering bass beats, black humour and stonking energy...stunningly delivered."
Conducted at St. Ann's Warehouse by André de Ridder (January 8, 9, 10)and Alan Pierson (January 12, 15, 16, 17), The Last Hotel features singers Claudia Boyle, Robin Adams, Katherine Manley and actor Mikel Murfi.
INAUGURAL SEASON CONTINUES IN WINTER-SPRING 2016:
The weekend of January 28 - 31, 2016, St. Ann's will transform its new theater yet again for the LABAPALOOZA! festival of works-in-progress from the Puppet Lab, ayear-long, experimental haven St. Ann's provides for artists developing new projects for puppet theater. The Jim Henson Foundation has been supporting the Lab since shortly after its inception in 1998.
In February, St. Ann's will welcome back the esteemed Mark Rylance with the New York Premiere of Nice Fish, a new play conceived and written by the Tony- and Olivier Award-winning Rylance and poet Louis Jenkins, adapted from Jenkins' book of poems about ice fishingin Minnesota. They began the project at the Guthrie Theater two years ago. St. Ann's will present the new American Repertory Theater production from February 14 - March 13, 2016. Starring Mark Rylance on stage and directed by composer Claire van Kampen, Nice Fish marks the first return of these lovely artists to St. Ann's since Shakespeare's Globe Theatre production of Measure for Measure in 2005.
St. Ann's Warehouse will further showcase the new theater's versatility with the American Premiere presentation of the Young Vic's immensely acclaimed, modern-day production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire. Arguably, St. Ann's Warehouse is the only New York theater capable of staging this inspired production,directed by Benedict Andrews, with an explosive cast led by Gillian Anderson, Ben Foster, Corey Johnson and Vanessa Kirby. With its transparent, revolving set, surrounded by audiences on all four sides, all conversations are overheard, there's nowhere to hide, and the ensuing tragedy purposefully spins toward its inevitable last line. In one of many stellar reviews, St. Ann's, in its first collaboration with the Young Vic, presents the American Premiere April 23 - May 22, 2016.
One of the exciting aspects of having the new St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park is the organization's ability to operate year round and out of doors. To complete this "sampler" first season, St. Ann's has invited the international contemporary circus NoFitState to construct its spaceship-shaped tent under the Brooklyn Bridge. The company will make its North American debut with Bianco, a gorgeous spectacle that weaves live music, dance, design and theater to create poetic and poignant images of prowess and daring. NoFit State brings their signature style of human balance and counter balance in an ever evolving and constantly changing landscape of ensemble action, moving trusses, steel towers and audiences. St. Ann's will present Bianco in residence from May 3 - 29, 2016.
MORE ABOUT ST. ANN'S WAREHOUSE:
For over three decades, St. Ann's has commissioned, produced and presented an eclectic body of innovative cultural presentations that meet at the intersection of theater and rock and roll.
Through its signature multi-artist concerts and groundbreaking music/theater collaborations, St. Ann's Warehouse has become the artistic home for the American avant-garde, international companies of stature and award-winning emerging artists. Three decades of consistently acclaimed landmark productions that found their American home at St. Ann's include Lou Reed's and John Cale's Songs for 'Drella; Marianne Faithfull's Seven Deadly Sins; Artistic Director Susan Feldman's Band in Berlin; Charlie Kaufman and the Coen Brothers' Theater of the New Ear; The Royal Court and TR Warszawa productions of Sarah Kane's 4:48 Psychosis; The Globe Theatre of London's Measure for Measure; Druid Company's The Walworth Farce, The New Electric Ballroom and Penelope; Enda Walsh's Misterman, featuring Cillian Murphy; Lou Reed's Berlin; the National Theater of Scotland's acclaimed Black Watch; Kneehigh Theatre's Brief Encounter and Tristan & Yseult; Yael Farber's Mies Julie; Dmitry Krymov Lab's Opus No. 7; the Donmar Warehouse all-female Julius Caesar; Kate Tempest's Brand New Ancients; Tricycle Theatre's Red Velvet and, most recently, the National Theatre of Scotland's Let the Right One In. St. Ann's has championed such artists as The Wooster Group, Mabou Mines, Jeff Buckley, Cynthia Hopkins, Emma Rice and Daniel Kitson.
Early on in DUMBO, St. Ann's Warehouse was awarded the Ross Wetzsteon OBIE Award for the development of new work, for "inviting artists to treat their cavernous DUMBO space as both an inspiring laboratory and a sleek venue where its super-informed audience charges the atmosphere with hip vitality."
Photo via Twitter.