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Helene Davis
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NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
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NYU Skirball Presents New York Premiere of Joanne Akalaitis’s 'BAD NEWS! i was there…', Sept. 6-8

by Helene Davis
July 15, 2019
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square
New York, NY 10012
NYU Skirball will present the New York premiere of award-winning director Joanne Akalaitis’s "BAD NEWS! i was there…", a site-specific theatrical event, running for five performances, Friday, September 6 – September 8, 2019 at NYU Skirball.

Audiences will be led on a unique a journey through NYU Skirball’s lobby, hallways, and out-of-the-way spaces where messengers from classical drama share shocking events from the great stories of the ancient world: madness, murder, infanticide, suicide and gruesome warfare, sparing no details. Taken from the works of Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, Racine, and Brecht, these monologues are spoken and sung in a harmonious chorus of English, interwoven with Greek, Latin, German and French. All paths lead to the empty stage where the company will recite the story of the battle of Salamis from The Persians by Aeschylus, the oldest surviving play in Western Literature.

Created in the spirit of the Greek polis — where audiences came together to witness performances which called into question the rationality of mortals and the justice of the gods — Akalaitis draws a parallel between this ancient theatrical device and contemporary media coverage of horrifying events, where eyewitnesses often repeat a heartbreaking refrain of “I was there.” guthrietheater.org/bad-news

The performance is followed by a gathering in the lobby, where the audience is invited to share their own Bad News by leaving anonymous notes in drop boxes provided along the paths through NYU Skirball.

"BAD NEWS! i was there…" has an original score by Bruce Odland, visual design by Julie Archer and lighting by Jennifer Tipton. It is presented in cooperation with the Guthrie Theater. Note: audience members travel to locations throughout all areas of NYU Skirball. There will be areas to sit, if needed, in all locations.

Joanne Akalaitis is a five-time Obie Award-winning theater director and writer, co-founder of the critically acclaimed avant-garde theater company Mabou Mines, former artistic director of the New York Shakespeare Festival and a Drama Desk Award recipient. She has staged works by Euripides, Shakespeare, Strindberg, Beckett, Pinter, Tennessee Williams and Jean Genet at theaters all over America and in Europe. She has taught at institutions such as the Juilliard School, Bard College, Fordham and Yale Universities, and was the Andrew Mellon Co-Chair of the first directing program at Juilliard, Chair of the theater program at Bard College until 2012 and the Denzel Washington Endowed Chair in Theatre at Fordham University in 2015. She is a recipient of the Edwin Booth Award and Rosamond Gilder Award for Outstanding Achievement in Theatre.

NYU Skirball, located in the heart of Greenwich Village, is one of New York City’s major presenters of international work, and has been the premier venue for cultural and performing arts events in lower Manhattan since 2003. The 800-seat theater, led by Director Jay Wegman, provides a home for internationally renowned artists, innovators and thinkers. NYU Skirball hosts over 300 events annually, from re-inventions of the classics to cutting-edge premieres, in genres ranging from dance, theater and performance arts to comedy, music and film.

NYU Skirball’s unique partnership with New York University enables it to draw on the University’s intellectual riches and resources to enhance its programming with dialogues, public forums and conversations with artists, philosophers, scientists, Nobel Laureates and journalists. www.nyuskirball.org.

NYU Skirball’s performance season is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Additional generous support of NYU Skirball provided by the Booth Ferris Foundation, Collins Building Services, Howard Gilman Foundation, and Marta Heflin Foundation, as well as Skirball Business Partners and Skirball Members.


"BAD NEWS! i was there…" will play Friday, September 6 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, September 7 at 3 pm and 7:30 pm; and Sunday, September 8 at 3 pm and 7 pm. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online at www.nyuskirball.org, by phone at 212.998.4941, or in person at the Box Office, 566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square: Tuesday-Saturday, 12:00–6:00 P.M.
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