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Kaneza Schaal in Jackie Sibblies Drury’s “Really,” from New York City Players, at Abrons Arts Center. (Photo by New York City Players)

Abrons Arts Center Announces Final Season Under Jay Wegman

The longtime artistic director will leave to head up NYU’s Skirball Center. His final season will contain world premieres from a number of experimental theatre companies.

NEW YORK CITY: Abrons Arts Center has announced its 2016-17 season, the last one curated by artistic director Jay Wegman. Abrons, which presents experimental work in a variety of disciplines, including dance, theatre, and opera, will offer a season of world premieres from a number of local companies and artists, including En Garde Arts, Witness Relocation, and Minor Theater.

Jay Wegman.
Jay Wegman.

Wegman was hired by the institution in 2006. He will leave to become the director of New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. “It’s been a privilege to guide Abrons through the last decade of its life cycle,” said Wegman in a statement. “I wanted to create a vibrant home for artists—a place of safety and experimentation, where process is prized over product. In today’s increasingly commercialized art market, I hope Abrons can stand as an example of an organization that places the artistic work first, above all else.”

The season theatrical selections will kick off with a one-night-only performance from circus-theatre trouble Circus Amok (Sept. 11).

After that will be the world premiere of The Black Crook (1866), conceived and directed by Joshua William Gelb (Sept 19-Oct. 7). It will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Broadway premiere of The Black Crook, considered the first book musical. It will use dialogue and songs from the original musical by Charles M. Barras and Theodore Kennick.

Next will be When a Priest Marries a Witch: An Artist Lecture by Suzanne Bocanegra Starring Paul Lazar (Sept 23-24). Written by Bocanegra, the play will feature Paul Lazar (cofounder of Big Dance Theater) as Bocanegra in the story of how she became an artist.

October will feature the world premiere of The Loon (Oct. 13-15, 20-22, 27-29) from Witness Relocation. This new dance-theatre piece choreographed and directed by Dan Safer is based in part on “Voices of the Loon,” a recording of the birds in their natural habitat released in 1980.

Following will be NOW IS THE TIME., from the ensemble Little Lord (Oct. 19-Nov. 5), about a man who disappears in 1809 and reemerges 200 years later, inspired by Rip Van Winkle and the ruins of the Borscht Belt.

Next will be the world premiere of Wilderness from En Garde Arts (Oct. 21-Nov. 13). The documentary theatre piece will follow six young adults over the course of two years.

Throughout the winter, Abrons will play host to Real Talk/Kip Talk (Dec. 3, Feb. 20, April 15), a series of live talk shows about the state of contemporary performance in New York City, hosted by Internet pesonality/press representative Kippy Winston.

Downtown theatre artist Anna Kohler will perform in the world premiere of her newest piece Mytho? Lure of Wildness (Dec. 7-23). The work will feature her naked on a podium to be scrutinized by the audience. Performance artist Hapi Phace will also costar in the piece. The show will also feature projections from Shaun Irons and Lauren Petty and new aroma technology from Harvard team David Edwards and Rachel Fields.

In January, Abrons will present its eighth annual American Realness festival of experimental work in dance and theatre (Jan. 5-15, 2017).

Next will be the world premiere of Your Hair Looked Great from the ensemble Tiny Little Band (Feb. 9-25, 2017). The TED talk-inspired piece will explore concepts of ambition, fame, and succeess.

New York City Players will produce a remount of Richard Maxwell’s 2004 work Good Samaritans, a play with songs about an intake counselor and her patient (Feb. 16-March 24, 2017).

Following that world premiere will be The Terrifying from Minor Theater (March 9-April 1, 2017). The piece, inspired by horror films, is about a village terrorized by a monster.

Next, experimental company Target Margin will take on Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra (May 3-20).

The final theatre offering of the season will be Raw Bacon from Poland by Christina Masciotti (June 1-18). The play follows a veteran named Dennis, struggling to handle his physical and emotional wounds after serving in Iraq.

Abrons Arts Center is an Obie-winning performance and visual arts center in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It was first founded in 1915 as Henry Street Settlement Playhouse and today presents innovative multidisciplinary work across three theatrical venues and two art gallery spaces.

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