St. Ann's Warehouse Announces 40th Anniversary Season Highlights
In 2020, St. Ann's Warehouse celebrates four decades of introducing some of the world's most innovative artists and productions to American audiences. First established at the National Landmark Church of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity (1980-2000), the organization has thrived since 2015 in its spectacular, infinitely reconfigurable permanent home on the Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront. Led by Founding Artistic Director Susan Feldman, St. Ann's invites an array of visionary theater directors, designers, and performers to transform its vast open space. Today St. Ann's Warehouse announces highlights of its upcoming 40th Anniversary Season, which exemplifies its enduring place on the international and New York cultural landscapes.
The highlight of the season is the American theatrical debut of Academy Award nominee Ruth Negga in a passionate, critically acclaimed portrayal of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, directed by Yaël Farber. The Gate Theatre Dublin production, in which Negga is joined by an ensemble of leading Irish actors, marks the first international tour from the Gate under the new leadership of Artistic Director Selina Cartmell. Known in the U.S. for her work in film (Loving) and television (AMC's Preacher), Negga's portrayal of Hamlet "shifts from boyish vulnerability to martial ferocity." With Farber's direction and text edit, the focus shifts from Hamlet's anguish and identity to the power of Hamlet's resistance against treachery and the raw usurpation of power.
Yaël Farber applies to Hamlet her profound understanding of the emotional and social vitality and urgency in classic texts. She made her St. Ann's Warehouse debut in 2012 with Mies Julie, an intimate, heartbreaking adaptation of August Strindberg's play about a relationship envenomed by power, gender, and class dynamics, reset 18 years after the end of South African apartheid. Hamlet is presented in association with Kate Pakenham Productions. As the former Executive Producer of The Donmar Warehouse, Pakenham shares a long and close relationship with St. Ann's Warehouse, having produced Phyllida Lloyd's all-female Shakespeare Trilogy. The Gate production of Hamletbegins a month of performances at St. Ann's on February 1, 2020.
This November, director Thomas Ostermeier and Schaubühne Berlin return to St. Ann's Warehouse with their production of Édouard Louis' stunning autobiographical memoir History of Violence. Through the fractured recall of Édouard, his sister, police, and doctors, the "brave and ambitious" (The Guardian) book and play reconstruct the trauma of a desire-filled encounter turned violent. Louis teamed with Ostermeier and Florian Borchmeyer to create a layered retelling that is both devastating and funny, that uncovers deeply rooted societal racism, homophobia, and rage unbridled under obscure, repressive power structures. What finally remains is a nuanced, closely guarded memory. Upon its premiere at the Schaubühne, The New York Times noted that the production brings the novel to "vivid, shocking life," that, "for all its political and sociological significance, is also about how storytelling and art can serve as a ballast against adversity."
History of Violence follows Ostermeier's adaptation of Returning to Reims, in which he and actress Nina Hoss (Homeland) brought Didier Eribon's self-reflexive exploration of class and sexual identity to theatrical life in an "enthralling, prodigiously smart" (New York Magazine) production that made its American Premiere at St. Ann's Warehouse last year. Now Ostermeier has turned toward Édouard Louis, an author who cites Eribon as a major inspiration, and whose writing similarly balances painfully personal stories with a fierce indictment of the ruling class. The production is part of a series of events celebrating Édouard Louis in collaboration with BAM, which will present The End of Eddy as part of the 2019 Next Wave Festival. St. Ann's Warehouse will present the American Premiere of History of Violence, in German with English supertitles, November 13-December 1, 2019.
"Consistently and enthrallingly surprising" (The New York Times), British storyteller and comedian Daniel Kitson's long shared history with St. Ann's Warehouse has included beloved performances such as The Interminable Suicide of Gregory Church (2011), It's Always Right Now, Until It's Later (2012), and Analog.Ue (2013). His most recent,Mouse: The Persistence of an Unlikely Thought (2016), was praised in Time Out NY as a "densely woven tale about a small life thick with loneliness...[a] story of literary heft and design." This season, Kitson presents his latest solo work, Keep, "about how much past the present should contain. About rigor and generosity and the value of regret and the possibility of hope, and the delusion of starting again and the inevitable sadness of ever holding on to anything. About, in short, the stuff in my house and the thoughts in my head." Keep comes to St. Ann's December 4-19, 2019.
In April / May 2020, after a completely sold out run this season, St. Ann's Warehouse restages the immensely acclaimed Good Chance Theatre production of The Jungle, a vital remembrance of a bulldozed camp in Calais, France, where thousands of refugees who had escaped drought, war, and strife-torn countries in Africa and the Middle East waited for their "good chance" passage to Britain. Written by Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson (who brought a geodesic dome tent they called the Good Chance Theatre to the camp) and directed by Stephen Daldry (The Crown, The Hours, Billy Elliot) and Justin Martin, The Jungle makes full use of St. Ann's extraordinary flexibility, inviting audiences into a faithfully replicated Afghani restaurant, where endless cycles of survival and threat, failed social contracts, creative thought and action, compassion and empathy unfold. The work is performed by an international company of actors, many of whom come from refugee backgrounds, including some who lived in the Calais Jungle, and who now reside in the UK.
The Jungle, which just had a highly successful West Coast premiere at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, has been energizing an international conversation around immigration, borders, and the lived experiences of refugees ever since its momentous first performances at the Young Vic Theatre in December 2017, co-produced by theNational Theatre, Young Vic, and Good Chance Theatre, followed by a five-month, West End engagement produced by Sonia Friedman Productions and Tom Kirdahy, Hunter Arnold. In a Critic's Pick review of the American Premiere at St. Ann's Warehouse, The New York Times called the production "vigorously engrossing" and "a work of absorbing theater that uses the immediacy of that art to conjure the paradoxes and confusions of a world dealing with an unprecedented flux of uprooted lives." In The Washington Post, Peter Marks called The Jungle an "intense and powerfully immersive play," that "every one of your political representatives should be required to experience..." The cast and creative team of The Jungle were awarded a special citation at the 2019 OBIE Awards.
Of celebrating 40 Years next season, St. Ann's Warehouse Artistic Director Susan Feldman says, "Someone asked me what comes after the 40th, and I said the 41st! We just have one interest: to keep finding and presenting work that aspires to change the world. Presenting artists Ruth Negga, Yael Farber, Thomas Ostermeier, Edouard Louis, Daniel Kitson, and the company of The Jungle exemplify that aspiration."
Tickets for History of Violence and Keep are on sale to St. Ann's Warehouse Members today. Tickets for Hamlet are on sale to St. Ann's Warehouse Members on Wednesday, July 17. All tickets can be purchased at www.stannswarehouse.org, 718.254.8779, or 866.811.4111.
St. Ann's Warehouse is located at 45 Water Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn.
Photo Credit: David Sundberg