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Press Releases

Baruch Performing Arts Center Presents World Premiere of Words on the Street, October 26 - November 4

September 14, 2018 | By John Wyszniewski
Everyman Agency

Poet Anna Rabinowitz, Director Kristin Marting, Composer Matt Marks and Video Artist Lianne Arnold Wrestle with Power, Complacency, and Excess in Multidisciplinary Music-Theater Event

Baruch Performing Arts Center is pleased to present the world premiere of Words on the Street, a hybrid music-theater event that wrestles with power, complacency, and excess. Originally written by Anna Rabinowitz as a series of poems, Words on the Street has been transformed into a unique production, collaboratively conceived and developed by Rabinowitz, director Kristin Marting, the late composer Matt Marks (1980-2018), and video designer Lianne Arnold. In response to the untimely death of Matt Marks a community of composers, Lainie Fefferman, John Glover, Mary Kouyoumdjian, David T. Little, Kamala Sankaram, Caroline Shaw, and Randall Woolf have contributed additional compositions to create a highly original sonic world for the work. Music direction is by Mila Henry.

Words on the Street is a mystery, and the crime involves all humanity. An infant is abducted and the Seven Deadly Sins play out their power struggle while pandemonium reigns in a dystopian world teaming with hearsay and falsehood and plagued by threat and insecurity. The Seven Deadly Sins are embodied by a diverse ensemble of performers including acclaimed soprano Lauren Flanigan as Superbia (pride), Sumayya Ali as Gula (gluttony), Paul An as Avaritia (greed), Caitlin Cisco as Ira (wrath), John Kelly as Luxuria (lust), Paul Pinto as Invidia (envy), and Adrian Rosas as Acedia (sloth). 

Words on the Street is not for the faint of heart. Rabinowitz’s poems serve as the jumping off point for a work that tackles humanity’s ongoing struggle with sin and moral corruption. Marting’s direction is a response to the current political and social climate, while Marks’s music, complemented by original music from seven additional composers, adapts, refracts and expands Rabinowitz’s poems as it deconstructs common tropes from opera, music-theatre and pop. Arnold’s video stylistically supports the structure of the poems and the music.

“As a poet living in a chaotic, treacherous world, I am acutely aware of my role as a citizen,” says Rabinowitz. “Language provides the most powerful manifestation of human consciousness, but, unfortunately, with some in power, words have become a weapon to obscure, indeed obliterate, our moral compass. Words on the Street is my way of combatting that degradation.”

“I make live art because it forges community,” says Marting. “I feel a true urgency to create in the face of the struggles which daily impact real people and Words on the Street provides that potent opportunity. For me, art provides the tools we need as a community to move forward.”

Before his passing, Marks wrote, “I read Anna Rabinowitz’s poems without expectation, and found myself carried along with the strange, beautiful journey of her imagination. I almost immediately began hearing the music I could create with her words. Working with her, Kristin, and Lianne has been a gradual act of opening the sonic, dramatic, and visual possibilities of Anna’s poems to be shared with our eventual audiences.”

“As a video designer, I am an artist of the frame,” says Arnold. “I flesh out a lens through which to view dramatic action and our relation to the stories being told on stage. Anna’s poetry has a cornucopia of vivid and lurid imagery and complex rhythms in which to play.”

The creative team for Words on the Street includes Arnulfo Maldonado (Scenic Designer), Lucrecia Briceno (Lighting Designer), Kate Fry (Costume Designer), Chloe Treat (Choreographer), and Sami Pyne (Line Producer).

Performances of Words on the Street will take place October 26–November 4 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, located at 55 Lexington Avenue (enter on 25th street between Lexington and 3rd Avenues) in Manhattan. Critics are welcome beginning October 27, which serves as the official opening. Tickets—priced at $36 general, $51 premium, $31 Baruch alumni, $26 Baruch faculty & staff, and $16 students—can be purchased by visiting baruch.cuny.edu/bpac or by calling 866-811-4111. A benefit performance, with tickets priced at $101, will be held on October 30.

About the Artists

Anna Rabinowitz is a prize-winning poet, editor and librettist. Her fifth volume of poetry, Words On the Street (Tupelo Press) was the recipient of the NEPC Sheilah Margaret Motton Book Award 2017. Darkling and The Wanton Sublime have been re-visioned to critical acclaim as a chamber opera and an operatic monodrama for mezzo-soprano, respectively. Darkling enjoyed a 3-week run off-Broadway in New York City, as well as performances at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the Guggenheim Museum, New York City Opera’s Vox series at the Skirball Center, and abroad in Poland and Berlin. The Wanton Sublime was performed in New York City at Roulette, the Players Club, and the Guggenheim Museum, as well as at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton. It had its European premiere at the Grimeborn Festival at the Arcola Theatre in London. Darkling has been translated into German and published by Luxbooks, Weisbaden, in a bi-lingual edition accompanied by the Albany Records CD of the opera. Rabinowitz’s awards include an NEA Fellowship Grant and the Juniper Prize for At the Site of Inside Out. Previous volumes are At the Site of Inside Out, Darkling, The Wanton Sublime, and Present Tense.

Kristin Marting is a director of hybrid work based in NYC. Over the last 25 years, she has constructed 29 stage works, including 10 original hybrid works, 5 opera-theatre and music-theatre works, 9 reimaginings of novels and short stories and 5 classic plays. Kristin has directed 19 works at HERE (where she is Co-Founder and Artistic Director) and also premiered works at BAM Opera House, 3LD, Ohio Theatre, and Soho Rep. Her work has toured to 7 Stages, Berkshire Festival, Brown, MCA, New World, Painted Bride, Perishable, UMass, Moscow Art Theatre, London and Oslo. She has directed readings and workshops for Clubbed Thumb, EST, New Georges, Playwrights Horizons, Public Theatre, Target Margin, and others. Selected residencies include Cal Arts, LMCC, Mabou Mines, MASS MOCA, NACL, Orchard Project, Playwrights Center, Smack Mellon, Voice & Vision and Williams. Kristin was recently named a nytheatre.com Person of the Decade for outstanding contribution, a Woman to Watch by ArtTable and honored with a BAX10 Award. She also co-founded and co-directs Prototype opera-theatre festival.

Matt Marks’s (1980-2018) work has been called “staggeringly creative” by the New York Times and “bright, catchy and continually turn[ing] Broadway clichés on their heads in surprising ways.” by the Los Angeles Times. His The Little Death: Vol. 1 was one of Time Out New York’s Top Ten Classical albums of 2010 and had one of Huffington Post’s Top Ten Alternative Art Songs of the Decade. Recent projects include his Strip Mall for the L.A. Philharmonic, Bluetooth Islands for the Brooklyn Philharmonic, a remix for Meredith Monk’s latest album, and a live realization of The Dirty Projectors’ album The Getty Address. Also his opera Mata Hari: The Great Imitator for HERE and Prototype Festival, an album with the ensemble Hotel Elefant, his spoken word opera Velocirapture, and his slasher pop opera miniseries Headphone Splitter. As a solo performer, Matt appeared with the LA Philharmonic, Alarm Will Sound, and live on This American Life.

Lianne Arnold is a video and scenic designer whose work extends through theater, opera, music, dance, film & art installation. Her performance work has been seen in New York City at The Kitchen, BAM, HERE, La Mama, TheaterLab, 3LD and Judson Church. She was a production designer on the short film Toru which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. She has made visuals alongside composers John King, Robin Cox, and Earl Maneein and collaborated with visual artists Leslie Kerby, Natalia Margolis, Fariba Alam, and Urban Matter Design Firm. She was named a “Young Designer to Watch” by Live Design Magazine and a “Person You Should Know” by Visible Soul. She proudly earned her MFA from CalArts.

About the Baruch Performing Arts Center

Baruch Performing Arts Center is an acclaimed performing arts presence. Located in the heart of Manhattan just east of Chelsea and the famed flatiron building, BPAC presents renowned classical music, opera, jazz, theater, dance, discussion, film, and innovative cross-genre programming. BPAC has presented over 1,000 cultural programs in its 5 spaces since 2003. Its curated season of 30 programs annually emphasizes new work experienced in intimate settings, the diversity of American culture as exemplified by Baruch students (who come from 130 different countries), and work that lives at the confluence of art and social justice.

Past presentations have included theatre companies such as the National Asian American Theatre Company, Folksbiene, and MCC. The world premiere of the opera The Echo Drift as part of the Prototype festival. Dance makers such as Heidi Latsky, Caleb Teicher, and Urban Bush Women. BPAC is the New York home of the Alexander String Quartet and presents a rich chamber music season including ensembles such as the Israeli Chamber Project and pianists Sara Davis Buechner and 2018 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist, Michael Brown. BPAC offers a jazz series named for bassist Milt Hinton, which has featured artists such as Grammy-Award winner Jane Ira Bloom. Discussion program have included writers Daniel Mendelssohn, Teju Cole, Colum McCann and Amitav Ghosh, actress Linda Lavin, and thought leaders such as Gloria Steinem and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Visit www.baruch.cuny.edu/bpac for complete and up-to-date information on the 2018-19 season.

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