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St. Ann's Warehouse to Reopen for Indoor Performances With Concerts by The Bengsons

The public is invited to participate in a hybrid “congregation” of in-person & virtual audiences, to share in songs, parables, and incantations of loss, healing & faith.

St. Ann's Warehouse to Reopen for Indoor Performances With Concerts by The Bengsons

St. Ann's Warehouse, capping a year in which they have activated their flexible Brooklyn waterfront theater by bringing art outdoors, will finally welcome artists and audiences back inside with two socially distanced concert presentations by The Bengsons, produced in partnership with longtime St. Ann's collaborator piece by piece productions. Over the past few weeks, the acclaimed folk-rock/theater-making duo and a team of collaborators including directors Anne Kauffman and Caitlin Sullivan have been experimenting at St. Ann's Warehouse on the development of a new musical work (not yet complete and open for review) for a newly reopening world. They now invite the public to participate in a hybrid "congregation" of in-person and virtual audiences, to share in an evening of songs, parables, and incantations of loss, healing, and faith.

In November 2001, St. Ann's for the first time opened its doors at 38 Water Street in DUMBO, in the wounded, isolated aftermath of 9/11. They gave New Yorkers a welcoming, open space to reconvene, heal, and make sense of a new reality with performances by some of the world's most exciting avant-garde theater-makers and legendary blues musicians. After Sandy devastated the East Coast in October 2012, St. Ann's opened its second DUMBO warehouse, at 29 Jay Street, offering neighbors a new place for recovery and sustenance. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as the institution turned 40, St. Ann's conceived innovative ways to connect art and artists with our city. While indoor gathering remained elusive, they created the Urban Canvas public art platform on their facade last summer, with installations such as the current Supremacy Project series Supremacy: Who Protects Me From You?, by Julian Alexander & Steven "Sweatpants" Irby, and Michael T. Boyd's Lost Ones. Culture Found., with poetry by Mahogany L. Browne, Cyrus Aaron, and justin el. The organization also presented Get Back!, a series of pop-up concerts on their building's roof with musicians who at the time had not performed for months; and maintained their international connections, streaming works by Complicité, Emma Rice and Wise Children, and Landmark Productions.

Relaunching live, in-person performance with concerts by The Bengsons, St. Ann's continues its legacy of responding to the moment. As one of New York's flexible cultural spaces, St. Ann's, along with the Armory, BRIC, Harlem Stage, National Black Theater, and The Shed, forges a pathway for reopening the performing arts industry. With its ability to drastically reconfigure space from production to production to suit diverse artistic visions, St. Ann's now amplifies its innovation and versatility with rigorous attention to public health. In order to welcome audiences back into a low-risk environment that can accommodate social distancing with reduced capacity in its vast open space, St. Ann's has made improvements to its building's robust ventilation system. They have added MERV 13 filters and procedures for regularly purging and exchanging air. Audiences will be limited to 50 people, amply socially-distanced, in-person, with more attending virtually on Zoom. The organization has developed a detailed Site Safety plan adhering to NYS and NYC Department of Health guidelines. In-person audience members will be health-screened, temperature-checked, and registered for tracking and tracing prior to entry.

St. Ann's Warehouse Artistic Director Susan Feldman says, "These concerts are the perfect way for audiences to tiptoe back into the theater gradually, and for The Bengsons and their collaborators to maintain both in-person social distancing and the intimate communication they have been sharing with their virtual audiences throughout the pandemic. We are thrilled to be opening our doors again with these special artists and this timely event. To hear The Bengsons sing is to fly."

piece by piece productions previously worked with The Bengsons as a producer, with Z Space, of Hundred Days in San Francisco, and, with Ars Nova and Z Space, of The Lucky Ones in New York City. "The Bengsons always bring joy, exuberance, and community healing into the room. Their care and intimacy is exactly what we need as we emerge from this pandemic, and the exquisite architecture and grace of St. Ann's Warehouse make it the perfect place for this concert," says Wendy Vanden Heuvel, director of piece by piece. "St. Ann's space elevates everybody and everything that enters it. We are overjoyed to be working with The Bengsons at St. Ann's Warehouse, and to be joining the inspiring, visionary work that Susan Feldman has brought to our city."

Shaun Bengson says of The Broken Ear Setlist: Songs from Ohio, "Through music and technology and vocal audience participation, we are trying to create the feeling of a community service: welcoming people in, welcoming us back together. We start off with the notion that we will be a congregation here today, and congregations can be beautiful and places of healing but also can do great harm."

Abigail Bengson adds, "In our show The Lucky Ones, we sing that God is the space between people. And in our new work, the idea is that loss is the mechanism by which God comes close. We're interested in this great loss that we've all been moving through that has many names and is communal, but is also specific and particular to each person. We're interested in seeing if we can look at that loss as an opportunity to see the divinity in one another."

The Broken Ear Setlist: Songs from Ohio features performances by artists including Barrie Lobo McLain, Vuyo Sotashe, and Allan K. Washington. The creative team is: Abigail and Shaun Bengson (Creators), Anne Kauffman and Caitlin Sullivan (Directors), Keenan Tyler Oliphant (Assistant Director), Alejandro Fajardo (Lighting Designer), Jeff Sugg (Projection Designer), Sonya Tayeh (Movement Director), DOTS (Scenic & Costume Designer), Simon Harding (Associate Projection Designer), Wendy Vanden Heuvel (Producer), Kendra Bator and Tom Casserly (Executive Producers). The stage managers are Amanda Spooner and Christopher Kee Anaya-Gorman.

Tickets

Tickets to attend The Broken Ear Setlist: Songs from Ohio in-person are $40, and to attend virtually are $10 or donate-what-you-want and can be purchased at stannswarehouse.org or 718.254.8779.

St. Ann's Warehouse is located in Brooklyn Bridge Park at 45 Water Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.


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