Thursday, October 1, 2009

St. Ann's goes all out

Rosanne Cash. Photo by Deobrah Feingold

By Meredith Deliso

At the time of this writing, Susan Feldman is in Warshaw.

The artistic director is scouting for material to bring back to the States to St. Ann’s Warehouse, the theater she’s been at the helm of since 1980 — eight years at their DUMBO location, and 21 years before that in Brooklyn Heights.

As the theater celebrates its 30th season this year, it brings acts Feldman’s seen on past excursions, in Edinburgh (the Druid theater company’s production of Enda Walsh’s “The New Electric Ballroom”), London’s West End (the Kneehigh Theatre production of Noël Coward’s “Brief Encounter”) and Manchester (No Theater’s “End of the Road,” with the Young@Heart Chorus).

The programming is typical of St. Ann’s mission to find a home for American avant-garde companies and daring international productions.

“I work more from my gut of what I see, what I think will be really great in our space, but also something I important for New York audiences to see,” says Feldman.

Hence, the American premieres of both “The New Electric Ballroom” (October 27-November 22), a companion piece to “The Walworth Force,” which also premiered at St. Ann’s last spring, and Young@Heart in “End of the Road” (April 21-May 2), the third piece in a music theater trilogy created by No Theater, as well as the New York premiere of “Brief Encounter” (December 2-January 3) and the world premiere of “Making It” (February 17-21), from Strew, the Tony Award-winning creator of “Passing Strange.”

This season also sees the return of friends to the St. Ann’s stage, including the Tiger Lillie’s twisted theatrical music on October 16 and 17, and, kicking off the season with shows October 9 and 10, Rosanne Cash.

The daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, the singer has made a name for herself in her own right. On October 6, she releases “The List,” a cover album wherein she gives a contemporary interpretation to 12 classic songs pulled from a list of essential country tunes her father gave her, including Hank Williams’ “Take These Chains From My Heart” and Bob Dylan’s “Girl From the North Country.”

“She’s the perfect person to open the season,” said Feldman. “She’s been with us even when we were at the church, performed at the Warehouse, debuted her last new album there, and now gets to debut this CD.”

Other season highlights this year include St. Ann’s 12th annual Labapalooza! Mini Festival of New Puppet Theater from the Lab (June 2-6) and Great Small Works’ 9th annual Toy Theater Festival (May 30-June 13), as well as programming still in the works to mark the 30th anniversary.

After Feldman’s scouting for international talent, she’ll be looking for something else: a new space. The company recently hired a real estate consulting firm to help them find a third home, as starting in 2010, their warehouse will be turned into a 17-story apartment and school complex, as part of developer Two Trees’ Dock Street project.

The theater is just beginning its search for a new space that will meet their requirements, including a large, flexible, column-free space with high ceilings and seating for at least 300, so that they can continue to put on the type of innovative productions they’ve become known for.

With only two seasons remaining at their DUMBO space, now is the time to check out this theater that, a Brooklyn institution for the past 30 years, has helped put the borough on the map, particularly DUMBO, which, when St. Ann’s moved there in 2001, wasn’t the destination it is today.

“At the time, a lot of people didn’t know DUMBO. Part of our job was to educate people that they can see these new projects and get to this fantastic site on the waterfront under the bridge,” says Feldman. “We made a destination out of DUMBO.”

St. Ann’s Warehouse is located at 38 Water Street. For more information, including schedule and ticket costs for shows, go to or call 718-834-8794.


Anonymous,  October 1, 2009 at 1:12 PM  

What an awesome article. I'm totally going to have to check out St. Ann's. Totes Magotes.

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