The ways we are producing, purchasing, and reading books are changing at lightning speed, but when all is said and done, it’s still primarily about the written word. And that is precisely what you can celebrate at two major events this week. BookExpo America, better known as BEA, will be at the Javits Center May 27-29, the annual convention for book-buying professionals, publishing professionals, and book industry professionals and authors. In addition to hundreds of exhibitors, there is the Global Market Forum: China Pavilion, a special Translation Market, Start Up Alley, and Digital Discovery Zone. BEA is followed immediately by BookCon on May 30-31, two days of panels, signings, and celebrity guests that are open to the general public. Below are highlights, some of which require advance registration and ticketing.
Wednesday, May 27
Opening Day Spotlight: In Conversation with Jonathan Franzen, moderated by Salon.com cofounder Laura Miller, Room 1E12/1E13/1E14, 12:30
Autographing Sessions with T. J. English, Alison Weir, Amy Ewing, Mo Willems, John Quiñones, Karin Slaughter, Carol Alt, Al Roker, Rosemary Wells, Bernadette Peters, more
Thursday, May 28
Adult Book & Author Breakfast, with Lee Child, Dyana Nyad, Brandon Stanton, and MC Kunal Nayyar, Special Events Hall, 8:00 am
Autographing Sessions with Anne Ursu, Michelle Zink, Maryrose Wood, Betsy Lewin, Tama Janowitz, Erin Stead, Jon Scieszka, Jesse Eisenberg, Sarah Mlynowski, Claudia Gabel, Gregory Maguire, Carolyn Mackler, Tim Harrington, Ahmet Zappa, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Judah Freidlander, Mary Higgins Clark, Paul Morrissey, Adam Carolla, Jane O’Connor, more
Friday, May 29
Children’s Book & Author Breakfast, with Oliver Jeffers, Rainbow Rowell, James Patterson, and MC Nathan Lane, Special Events Hall, 8:00 am
Meet BEA Young Adult Editors’ Buzz Authors and Meet BEA Middle Grade Editors’ Buzz Authors, BEA Uptown Stage
Autographing Sessions with Kenneth Oppel, Kelley Armstrong, Stuart Gibbs, Jack Gantos, Hamish McKenzie, Scott Westerfeld, Katherine Applegate, Nathan Lane, Linda Fairstein, Kim Harrison, Oliver Jeffers, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Lauren Oliver, Rita Williams-Garcia, Gitty Daneshvari, David Baldacci, Patrick Ness, Meg Cabot, more
APA Author Tea, with Judy Blume, Adriana Trigiani, Jack Gantos, and MC Jacqueline Woodson, Room 1E15/1E16, 3:30
Saturday, May 30
Mindy Kaling in Conversation with BJ Novak, Special Events Hall, 11:00 am
Marvel Presents: Star Wars, with Jordan White, Charles Soule, and Alex Maleev, Room 1A21, 12:30
Mixed Me: A Discussion with Taye Diggs and Shane Evans, Room 1A10, 1:00
Holy Cow, meet David Duchovny, Macmillan Meeting Room 3139 on the show floor, 2:00
Nick Offerman’s Gumption Revival!, Special Events Hall, 2:30
Aziz Ansari / Modern Romance, Special Events Hall, 4:15
Paper Towns Film Panel, with John Green, Justice Smith, Kathleen Heaney, Michael H. Weber, Nat Wolff, and Ryan Lott, Special Events Hall, 6:00
Autographing Sessions with Paige McKenzie, Sarah Dessen & Gayle Forman, Mac Barnett & Jory John, Meg Cabot, David Baldacci, Marissa Meyer, Nick Offerman & John Hodgman, Lauren Oliver, Tavi Gevinson, Brad Meltzer, Patrick Ness, Calvin L. Reed, more
Sunday, May 31
First in Line Red Carpet Event & Author Breakfast, with E. Lockhart, James Dashner, Jennifer Niven, and Nicola Yoon, Penguin Random House Meeting Room 3205 on the show floor, 10:00 am
We Need Diverse Books Presents Luminaries of Children’s Literature, with Aisha Saeed, David Levithan, I. W. Gregorio, Jacqueline Woodson, Libba Bray, Meg Medina, and Soman Chainani, Room 1A10, 11:15
Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer – Off the Page, Room 1A23, 1:00
John Leguizamo: Ghetto Klown, Downtown Stage, 2:00
Judy Blume in Conversation with Jennifer Weiner, Special Events Hall, 2:30
A Conversation with Brandon Stanton, Creator of Humans of New York, Room 1A21, 3:30
Goosebumps Movie Panel with R.L. Stine, Dylan Minnette, and Ryan Lee, Special Events Hall, 4:15
Autographing Sessions with Charlaine Harris, Matthew Van Fleet, Jacqueline Woodson & Libba Bray, Meg Cabot, R.L. Stine, Judy Blume, Scott Westerfeld, David Levithan, E. Lockhart, Mingmei Yip, Candace Bushnell, Brandon Stanton, Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer, James Dashner, Michael Buckley, more
CinéSalon: VERSAILLES ’73: AMERICAN RUNWAY REVOLUTION (Deborah Riley Draper, 2012)
French Institute Alliance Française, Florence Gould Hall
55 East 59th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
Tuesday, May 26, $13, 4:00 & 7:30
The French Institute Alliance Française’s CinéSalon series “Haute Couture on Film,” part of the larger “Fashion at FIAF” festival, comes to a fitting close with Deborah Riley Draper’s fab 2012 doc, Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution. In June 1919, Germany and the Allies signed a peace treaty at the palace of Versailles in France, where Louis XIV and his family lived until they had to flee in 1789. Nearly two hundred years later, the historic Château de Versailles was in disrepair, and American fashion doyenne Eleanor Lambert decided to do something about it, creating a high-society fundraiser featuring presentations by five French designers and five American designers. Deborah Riley Draper captures all of the backstage intrigue and surprising results in her debut full-length film, speaking with many of those who were on hand for what turned out to be an eye-opening, game-changing haute couture competition. “There are moments in history that change the course of history,” says Versailles ’73 model Alva Chinn. “That was a moment in history that changed the course of fashion history.” Among those sharing their perspectives on the Battle of Versailles, which pitted Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, and Emanuel Ungaro against Anne Klein, Stephen Burrows, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, and Halston, are Met Costume Institute curator-in-charge Harold Koda, Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture president Didier Grumbach, American actor and Halston assistant Dennis Christopher (Breaking Away), Château de Versailles chief curator Beatrix Saule, public relations executive and former Lambert assistant John Tiffany, Versailles ’73 patron Simone Levitt, former Halston assistant and Bill Blass executive Tom Fallon, photographer Charles Tracy, designer Burrows, and, most fabulously, participating models China Machado, Barbara Jackson, Charleen Dash, Pat Cleveland, Karen Bjornsen, Norma Jean Darden, Nancy North, Marisa Berenson, Bethann Hardison, Carla LaMonte, and Billie Blair, who are utterly delightful as they detail the fascinating goings-on.
The competition not only shed new light on American design and runway presentation but on the style and verve of black models, who brought a new energy to the world of international fashion. Narrated by King of Vintage Cameron Silver, the film features photographs and silent color footage from the event; it’s too bad that better material isn’t available from this seminal moment in twentieth-century haute couture, when the underdog Americans brought their A-game once again to the French. Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution is being shown May 26 at 4:00 & 7:30; both screenings will be followed by a wine reception, and Macy’s fashion director Nicole Fischelis will introduce the later show.
New York Theatre Workshop
79 East Fourth St. between Second & Third Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through May 31, $75
Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith returns to New York Theatre Workshop with the searing Forever, a harrowing, deeply intimate one-woman show about the severely dysfunctional relationship between a daughter and her alcoholic mother. In the semiautobiographical work, Orlandersmith (Yellowman, Monster, The Gimmick) spends a gripping eighty minutes discussing her artistic influences while looking back at damaging scenes from her past as she walks through Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, paying tribute to Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Richard Wright, and other writers and musicians who helped her survive a brutal childhood in Harlem. “All of us have come / All of us who are seeking / have come to be with these people here in Pere Lachaise — who beyond our parents helped us give birth to ourselves,” she says. Statuesque and elegant in a long black dress, her braided hair falling over her shoulders and reaching toward her hips, she recalls a broken friendship with a local tomboy, being beaten by her mother over math homework, and how she felt when her mother tells her she is “fat / hateful / disgusting.” She shares her physical and psychological pain with the audience, making direct, lingering eye contact that is both soothing and uncomfortable. “I can’t believe I still can feel her slap. She’s been gone / dead / over twenty years but I can still see / feel / hear her laughing,” she says. Orlandersmith tells the story with a lyrical, poetic rhythm that is captivating and unique. She describes her Caesarian birth thusly: “October 29, 1959 / I was torn from blood/guts/water / Spanked into consciousness / Spanked into living.” Later she adds, “A scar I made a long time ago coming through you / I stare at it / Wondering how I could have been born from it / How I could have been born from you.”
About midway through Forever, which is calmly directed by Neel Keller, with excellent lighting by Mary Louise Geiger and sound by Adam Phalen, Orlandersmith relates a long, agonizing episode from her childhood in nerve-racking detail, one of the most powerful and frightening things you’re ever likely to experience from a show; it’s difficult to watch, but you won’t be able to avert your eyes from hers, finalizing an unbreakable bond between performer and audience that will stay with you long after you leave the theater. Ultimately, she tries to find closure as she revisits her mother’s death. Forever is both heartbreaking and uplifting, a shocking, poetic exploration of family, memory, and the ties that bind; it was particularly poignant the night we saw it, on the eve of Mother’s Day. Before and after the show, people are invited to write their own tributes to those they’ve lost on notecards they can tape to the long, narrow bulletin boards lining the side walls, and following the show, attendees can walk around Takeshi Kata’s central staging area and check out dozens of Orlandersmith’s family photographs on similar boards around the set. The notecards and photographs are a brilliant touch, a physical evocation of how the past embraces and surrounds both the audience and the performer’s emotional experience, providing yet more intimacy and reminding you of your own relationships. (The May 20 show will be followed by a discussion with photographers James and Karla Murray and NYU adjunct professor Cynthia Copeland, moderated by Alexander Santiago-Jirau, who will also lead a Shop Talk after the May 27 show.)
One of our favorite places to experience public art is in Madison Square Park, where the Mad. Sq. Art program has featured site-specific works by Antony Gormley, Alison Saar, Roxy Paine, Rachel Feinstein, Leo Villareal, Shannon Plumb, Jim Campbell, and so many others over the years. On May 18, the park will host a morning symposium, “Explaining Public Art,” in the One Madison Ave. building, starting with a welcome from Madison Square Park Conservancy board chairman David Berliner, executive director Keats Myer, and Parks Department director of art & antiquities Jonathan Kuhn, followed by an introduction by senior curator Brooke Kamin Rappaport. Beginning at 9:15, eight Mad. Sq. Art participants will make presentations: Richard Deacon, Orly Genger, Paula Hayes, Mel Kendrick, Jaume Plensa, Jessica Stockholder, Ursula von Rydingsvard, and Teresita Fernández, whose new installation, “Fata Morgana,” is being installed right now for a June 1 opening. At 10:30, there will be three panel discussions, one on “Site” with Bill Fontana and Charles Long, moderated by Ariella Budick; a second on “Medium,” with Sandra Gibson, Luis Recoder, and Villareal, moderated by Phong Bui; and a third on “Public,” with Feinstein, Plumb, Bill Beirne, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, and Jacco Olivier, moderated by Robin Cembalest. The symposium concludes with a keynote conversation between Bloomberg Philanthropies arts program head Kate D. Levin and Ford Foundation president Darren Walker. Admission is free, but advance RSVP, is required. New York City just wouldn’t be the same with public art, so this should be a fascinating way to gain insight into its creation and development.
Ever look at a Wikipedia page and want to make changes to an entry but didn’t know if you were allowed to or how to do it? On May 19 from 3:00 to 7:00, the Guggenheim is hosting its second Wikipedia Edit-a thon, as the uptown institution donates one hundred images to the online encyclopedia and invites the general public to help flesh out the entries, either at the museum or remotely. Among the images that will become part of Wikipedia Commons are works by Edgar Degas, Paul Klee, Vincent Van Gogh, and others. The Guggenheim’s inaugural Wikipedia Edit-a-thon was held last October, dedicated to museum architecture. Tuesday’s Guggathon begins with a welcome address from Guggenheim curatorial assistant Natalia Lauricella and remarks from Wikimedia NYC president Richard Knipel, who will then lead a training session for registered attendees. Then the hands-on editing — participants must bring their own laptops and power cords — takes place from 4:15 to 5:45, followed by a review of the results. At 6:00, gallery educator Lewis Kachur will give a private tour of the Thannhauser Collection.