333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
Friday, October 13, and Saturday, October 14, $35, 7:30
In May 2014, Italian director and choreographer Luca Veggetti brought Project IX — Pléïades to Japan Society, a graceful collaboration with Japanese percussionist Kuniko Kato and Japanese dancer Megumi Nakamura that was the finale of the sixtieth anniversary season of the institution’s performing arts program. Veggetti and Nakamura are now back for the North American premiere of Left-Right-Left, part of Japan Society’s 110th anniversary and the series “NOH-NOW,” which blends the traditional Japanese musical drama with contemporary styles. The work, commissioned by Japan Society and Yokohama Noh Theater, is conceived, directed, and choreographed by Veggetti, with the esteemed author and scholar Dr. Donald Keene of the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture serving as project advisor and text translator. The three-part piece is inspired by the ancient play Okina, a sacred ritual about peace, prosperity, and safety. It will be performed by butoh dancer Akira Kasai, contemporary dancer Nakamura, and butoh-trained dancer Yukio Suzuki, with music director Genjiro Okura on noh small hand drum and Rokurobyoe Fujita on noh fue. Child noh actor Rinzo Nagayama will recites the new English translation of passages from Okina and another popular traditional noh play, Hagoromo, about a celestial feather robe. The lighting is by Clifton Taylor, with costumes by Mitsushi Yanaihara. “Noh has very precise patterns in the space that the performers follow,” Veggetti says in a promotional interview, explaining that his goal was “to use this archaic blueprint form and infuse it with different choreographic ideas, with that to find a language that is somehow organic.” Left-Right-Left, or “sa-yu-sa” in Japanese, will be at Japan Society on October 13, followed by a Meet-the-Artists Reception, and October 14, followed by an artist Q&A. In addition, Okura, Grand Master of the Okura School of kotsuzumi, will lead a noh music workshop on October 14 at 10:30 am ($45). “NOH-NOW” continues November 3-5 with the world premiere of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Rikyu-Enoura, December 7-9 with Leon Ingulsrud’s adaptation of Yukio Mishima’s Hanjo, and January 11-14 with Satoshi Miyagi’s Mugen Noh Othello.
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
October 3-8, $35-$110
Five years ago, BAM presented “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” a three-day multimedia festival celebrating Walt Whitman’s 1856 poem of the same name from Leaves of Grass, in which the New York City native wrote, “Others will enter the gates of the ferry and cross from shore to shore, / Others will watch the run of the flood-tide, / Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east, / Others will see the islands large and small; / Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high, / A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them, / Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the falling-back to the sea of the ebb-tide.” The Brooklyn arts institution is now returning to Whitman with Crossing, Matthew Aucoin’s hundred-minute 2015 chamber opera, which takes off from Whitman’s 1861-63 Civil War diary and these lines from the poem: “What is it then between us? / What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?” The twenty-seven-year-old Aucoin wrote, composed, and conducts the work, which is directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus (Pippin, Eli’s Comin) and features the Boston-based chamber orchestra A Far Cry, with choreography by Jill Johnson, sets by Tom Pye, costumes by three-time Tony nominee David Zinn, lighting by two-time Tony winner Jennifer Tipton, and projection by Finn Ross. Baritone Rod Gilfry, who has previously appeared at BAM in David Lang’s the loser and Mark-Anthony Turnage and Richard Thomas’s Anna Nicole, plays Whitman, a Civil War nurse tending to wounded soldier John Wormley, portrayed by tenor Alexander Lewis. The work, which was produced and commissioned by the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, runs October 3-8 as part of BAM’s 2017 Next Wave Festival. “Crossing emerges out of my sense that Whitman wrote his poetry out of need,” Aucoin writes, “that his poetry is not, or is not exclusively, a vigorous assertion of what he is, but rather the expression of a yearning to be what he is not, or to reconcile opposing aspects of his identity. The person/persona/personality ‘Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs’ is the living product of this need.”
Who: David J. Goodwin
What: Book talk and signing with David J. Goodwin, author of Left Bank of the Hudson: Jersey City and the Artists of 111 1st Street (Fordham University Press, October 2017, $24.95)
Where: Book Culture, 536 West 112th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Ave., 212-865-1588
When: Tuesday, October 3, free, 7:00
Why: In his blog, Another Town on the Hudson: Jersey City and Its Culture, Fordham University School of Law librarian David J. Goodwin describes himself as “a frustrated fiction writer, aspiring historian, and budding urban homesteader.” A past commissioner and chairman of the Jersey City Historic Preservation Commission and currently a board member of the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy, Goodwin has just written Left Bank of the Hudson: Jersey City and the Artist of 111 1st Street, a detailed examination of an artist colony that took shape at an old tobacco warehouse in Jersey City in the late 1980s when a group of New York City painters, sculptors, photographers, writers, and filmmakers headed across the river in search of affordable studio space. Goodwin will be at Book Culture in Harlem on October 3 at 7:00 to discuss and sign copies of the book, which includes a foreword by D. W. Gibson, author of The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the 21st Century. At the talk, Goodwin will delve into the history of 111 First St., gentrification, geographic and architectural options for artists, interaction with government officials, and more. And you don’t even have to cross the Hudson to get there.
BAM Fisher, Fishman Space
321 Ashland Pl.
September 27-30, $25
The audience at the BAM Fisher isn’t the only one smiling throughout The Principles of Uncertainty, the lovely multimedia collaboration between choreographer John Heginbotham and author-illustrator Maira Kalman; the musicians and dancers seem to be having just as much fun, if not more. Based on Kalman’s 2006-7 online graphic diary, the hour-long dance-theater piece is infectiously gleeful from start to finish. The sixty-eight-year-old Kalman is onstage the entire show, reciting text, calmly watching from the back, and, yes, dancing with Lindsey Jones, John Eirich, Courtney Lopes, Weaver Rhodes, Amber Star Merkens, and Macy Sullivan (several of whom are from Dance Heginbotham). The baroque and carnivalesque songs are played by music director Colin Jacobsen on violin and viola, Caitlyn Sullivan on cello, Nathan Koci on accordion, and Alex Sopp on flute and vocals. The lively staging puts Kalman in a large movable box, where she’s joined by assistant director Daniel Pettrow for some literary surprises and acerbic comedy; meanwhile, Todd Bryant projects (not enough of) Kalman’s words and drawings on a back wall, and a classical framed painting lies on the floor. (Kalman also designed the set and the costumes.) Heginbotham’s choreography includes repeated pairings: dancers’ foreheads rest against each other, and gentle fists press against knuckles and palms. The set is reconfigured — nearly everything is on wheels — while Nicole Pearce has a ball with different colored lights, and the band, members of the chamber ensemble the Knights, plays works by Bach, Villa-Lobos, Schubert, Beethoven, and Mexican ranchera king José Alfredo Jiménez. “John and I are trying to make something that feels like nothing,” Kalman writes in the program. “Well, not nothing, of course, but the kind of nothing that is full of the sad sweet funny uncertain life we lead.” As an added touch, each seat is covered by a two-sided cloth printed with words from the serious to the silly, the practical to the mundane. But there is nothing mundane about The Principles of Uncertainty, which indeed is a unique look at “the sad sweet funny uncertain life we lead.”
BAM NEXT WAVE FESTIVAL
BAM Fisher, Fishman Space
321 Ashland Pl.
September 27-30, $25
“How can I tell you everything that is in my heart. Impossible to begin. Enough. No. Begin. With the hapless dodo,” Maira Kalman writes at the start of her 2006-7 online graphic diary, The Principles of Uncertainty, which ran on the New York Times website. The diary was later published in book form, with such chapters as “Sorry, the Rest Unkown,” “Celestial Harmony,” “Ich Habe Genug,” and “Completely.” Kalman, the author and/or illustrator of such other books as My Favorite Things, Looking at Lincoln, and Beloved Dog has also designed sets and costumes for the Mark Morris Dance Group, delivered a popular TED talk in 2007, and was the subject of a major retrospective at the Jewish Museum in 2011. The New York City–based Tel Aviv native will take the stage at BAM this week for the sixty-minute dance-theater piece The Principles of Uncertainty, a live staging of her blog in collaboration with choreographer John Heginbotham in which she will perform with Dance Heginbotham, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year. While Kalman sits in a box reflecting on her memories, dancers will move around the stage as members of the chamber ensemble the Knights play live music composed, curated, and arranged by Colin Jacobsen. The piece is directed and choreographed by Heginbotham, with illustrations, costumes, and set design by Kalman. In the catalog of the Jewish Museum exhibition, “Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World),” Kalman explains, “There is a strong personal narrative aspect of what I do. What happens in my life is interpreted in my work. There is very little separation. My work is my journal of my life.” This multidisciplinary collaboration at the BAM Fisher, which runs September 27-30, is merely the latest chapter of her intimate story, engaging with the public in yet another new way. (The September 28 performance will be followed by a Champagne toast and dessert reception on the Fisher Rooftop Terrace for those who purchase a $200 Celebration Ticket in conjunction with Dance Heginbotham’s fifth anniversary.)
Symphony Space, Peter Jay Sharpe Theatre
2537 Broadway at 95th St.
October 4 - June 6, $31, 7:30
Tickets are now on sale for the upcoming season of Symphony Space’s popular trademark series, “Selected Shorts,” in which actors and literary figures read from a thematic collection of stories by major writers. The series kicks off October 4 with The Best American Short Stories 2017 with Meg Wolitzer, featuring readings by Suzzy Roche, Bhavesh Patel, and others, and concludes June 6 with “A Surprising Night of Shorts,” which, unsurprisingly, consists of surprise guests reading surprise writing. More performers will be added as the show dates approach, and there are specially priced packages available if you purchase tickets to three or more presentations.
Wednesday, October 4
Selected Shorts: The Best American Short Stories 2017, with Meg Wolitzer, Suzzy Roche, and Bhavesh Patel
Wednesday, November 1
Selected Shorts: Henry Louis Gates Jr., with Gates presenting classic and contemporary stories inspired by The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers, with readings by Danielle Brooks and Crystal Dickinson
Wednesday, November 15
Selected Shorts: Behaving Badly, with Andy Borowitz and Judith Ivey
Wednesday, December 6
Selected Shorts: A Celebration of Agatha Christie, with special guest Fran Lebowitz and host Megan Abbott
Wednesday, January 24
Selected Shorts: Love, Laughter, and Vodka with Anton Chekhov, with Rainn Wilson
Wednesday, February 7
Selected Shorts: Fiction in the Kitchen with Food52, with hosts Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs
Wednesday, April 11
Selected Shorts: Crybabies, cohosted by Susan Orlean and Sarah Thyre
Wednesday, May 2
Selected Shorts: A Night with The Paris Review, hosted by Lorin Stein
Wednesday, May 23
Selected Shorts: A Surprising Night of Shorts
Wednesday, June 6
Selected Shorts: A Surprising Night of Shorts
Who: Ethan Nichtern, Dani Shapiro
What: Book release party for The Dharma of the Princess Bride: What the Coolest Fairy Tale of Our Time Can Teach us about Buddhism and Relationships (North Point Press, September 12, $25), featuring a talk and book signing
Where: Deepak HomeBase, mezzanine, ABC Carpet & Home, 888 Broadway at Seventeenth St.
When: Tuesday, September 19, $30 (includes copy of book), 7:00
Why: “Hello. My name is Ethan Nichtern. The Six-Fingered Man was my father’s best friend. Prepare to read.” So begins author and Buddhist teacher Ethan Nichtern’s fourth book, a unique exploration of one of the most beloved films of the 1980s, Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride. Based on William Goldman’s novel, the cult classic begins with a grandfather (Peter Falk) reading his grandson (Fred Savage) the best bedtime story ever. The romance fantasy adventure stars Cary Elwes as Westley, Robin Wright as Buttercup, Chris Sarandon as Prince Humperdinck, Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, Christopher Guest (a close friend of Nichtern’s father since childhood) as Count Rugen, Wallace Shawn as Vizzini, and André the Giant as Fezzik, along with appearances by Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, and Peter Cook. Although the film is not a Buddhist parable, Nichtern, a husband and new father whose previous books, including The Road Home and One City, combine serious philosophy with humor and pop-culture references, examines the Buddhist nature of life, especially his own, through the lens of his favorite film. In the book’s introduction, “Fairy Tales, the Real World, and True Love,” Nichtern writes, “As for the movie’s relation to Buddhism — it may be correlation rather than causation, but here’s the truth: almost everything I know about relationships, I learned over the past thirty years of doing two things that seem to have very little to do with each other — loving The Princess Bride and practicing Buddhism.” Among the chapters in the hardcover are “Find Your Inner Fezzik: The Practice of Friendship,” “Fred Savage Is a Jerk, and I Am Fred Savage: Gratitude for Your Lineage,” and “Have Fun Storming the Castle.” Nichtern will be at ABC Carpet & Home on September 19 to launch the book, in conversation with writer Dani Shapiro (Family History, Devotion) and signing copies of The Dharma of The Princess Bride.