The Bridge – Stage of the Arts

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The Bridge - Stage of the Arts, Inc.
Formation 1980
Type Intercultural, inter-disciplinary theater production company
Legal status not-for-profit organization (501(c)(3))
  1. To promote international cultural exchange resulting in Intercultural theatre collaborations
  2. To bring new energies to stage productions by fostering collaborations between theater artists, astrophysicists, futurists and others
Headquarters New York City, New York
Region served
Official language
Founder and Artistic Director
Avra Petrides (November 21, 1938- )[1]

The Bridge – Stage of the Arts, Inc., was incorporated by its Artistic Director, Avra Petrides, in New York City in 1980. It was then known as The Bridge American Theater Festival, Inc.[2] and has been known by its current name since 1995.[3] A not-for- profit theater production company, it is based on Manhattan's Upper West Side and has produced American/International music- theater festivals in the South of France (Languedoc-Roussillon region) with leading artists of the American musical-theater;[4] and, in Lower Manhattan, it has presented its Performance-Forums, in which stage artists collaborate on theater production with astrophysicists, philosophers, architects and others working in a great variety of creative disciplines.[5][6] Also, in Lower Manhattan, The Bridge produced Hart & Hammerstein at the Castle which re-introduced Castle Clinton as a noteworthy performance space.[7][8]

Its purpose is to further the collaborative creation of new theatrical hybrids by spanning/combining different disciplines, cultures and generations; however, The Bridge works solely on a project to project basis.


Petrides, a native New Yorker, is the daughter of pioneering woman orchestral conductor, Frédérique Petrides, and journalist, Peter Petrides, who, for many years was Managing Editor of the New York City based, Greek-American newspaper, The National Herald (not to be confused with the newspaper of the same name that was established in 1997).[9]

Before becoming Artistic Director of The Bridge, her many appearances as an actress included Honey, the young wife, in the original Broadway production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (in the matinee company, opposite Kate Reid and Shepperd Strudwick);[10] starring as Leah with Joseph Wiseman and Luther Adler in the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) television adaptation of Ansky's The Dybbuk;[11] playing Bette Davis in Adrienne Kennedy's A Movie Star Has To Star in Black and White, directed by Joseph Chaikin at Joseph Papp's Public Theater;[12] appearing as Darlene in the original production of Lanford Wilson's Balm in Gilead directed by Marshall Mason at Ellen Stewart's Café La Mama;[13][14] and being directed by Elia Kazan in a solo performance, for invited audiences, at the Actors Studio, of which she is a member[15] that used texts from Aeschylus' The Oresteia.[16]

As a playwright, her work has been presented in New York at La Mama Experimental Theater Club,[17] the Manhattan Theater Club,[18] the WPA Theater,[19][20][21][22][23][24] The New Dramatists[25] and recorded on WBAI.[26]

She co-wrote and directed the cabaret production, Dietrich for the Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel,[27][28][29] which won a MAC Award.[30] And Ms. Petrides directed Tap Divas and the tap dance extravaganza Tap City with Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, Brenda Bufalino and others, which played at the Doris Duke Theater in Times Square.[31][32][33][34][35][36]

Festival in the South of France[edit]

Bridge Productions are always staged in spaces exceptional for their beauty and resonance of the past. Although based in Manhattan, in the 1980s, The Bridge produced summer music- theater festivals in the south of France, with an emphasis on the American musical theater. Alan Jay Lerner (lyricist, librettist, My Fair Lady, Camelot), Comden and Green (lyricist-librettists Singin' In The Rain, Will Rogers Follies) tap dancer Honi Coles (Tony Award winner, My One and Only) Virgil Thomson (critic and composer, Four Saints in Three Acts) members of the American Dance Machine and of Joseph Chaikin's experimental The Open Theater, and others performed at night and taught master classes during the day. Each summer, through the invitation of The Bridge and the International Theatre Institute,[37] (a branch of UNESCO), 150 actors, singers, dancers, choreographers, lyricists and librettists from, at times, 22 countries including China, Australia, Ethiopia, Madagascar, America and Japan came to partake free of charge in The Bridge programs. The performances attended by an international audience were sold out.

Surrounded by sunlit vineyards and streams, the festivals' first site, in 1982, was a restored 17th century factory, in the small, medieval township of St. Chinian, South of France, (Languedoc-Roussillon region), where the uniforms of Louis XIV's regiments were once embroidered. In 1984, The Bridge Festival moved to the nearby walled medieval city of Beziers also in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of the South of France.

To bring something as high spirited and new as the American musical into these timeless surroundings was thrilling, giving a sense of new in old, of continuity of tradition and the march of time.[38][39][40][41][42][43][44][45] [46][47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55]

Betty Comden review[edit]

Betty Comden with her partner Adolph Green were among the most prolific writers of Broadway and film musicals, among them Singin' in the Rain, Bells Are Ringing, and On the Town:

Playwrights on the Academic

The Long Arm of the American Musical Stretches to Beziers

Spreading like a blight or a blessing or both, the American musical and the serious study of it have penetrated into the most unlikely places. It is not unusual for American musicals to appear in London, where, last season, there was a veritable flood of them, nor is it strange that A Chorus Line is a smash in Budapest, but just why were 50 assorted voices of musical workshop members belting out the song "Just in Time" one morning in July in the vaulted 11th century cloister of Sainte-Aphrodise in the relatively small town of Beziers (population 100,00) somewhere in the southwest of France!

"Just in time, I found you just in time..." was issuing from throats that had traveled from Norway, Belgium, Sweden, France, West Germany, the Netherlands, Israel, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Madagascar, Rumania, New Jersey and several other of the United States, only because my partner Adolph Green and I were using that song we had written with Jule Styne for the show Bells are Ringing as an example of a certain kind of theatrical-musical moment. It pleased us to learn that most of the international group of students seemed to know, or at least know of the song. They spontaneously sang along, their vices echoing, perhaps as far as the foothills of the Pyrenees. Ah your music, your theater, she is indeed the international language, no?

It was this thought that brought a vision to an American actress and playwright, Avra Petrides, out of whose brain sprang full blown, like Minerva from the head of Zeus (with a little help from her friends the French government and some American corporations), the concept of The Bridge, a yearly workshop and festival devoted to the American musical, to be located in France. This was to be literally a bridge between countries and cultures to disseminate knowledge on the subject by assembling "stagères", working participants from all over the globe, and bringing over from America leading practitioners of musical theater to do the disseminating. Her dream was that some day in the future, for example, if Hal Prince wanted to experiment with Japanese Noh players, working with a Swedish lyricist, a Yugoslavian composer, and a Bessarabian choreographer, such an international collaboration would be assembled under the auspices of The Bridge. This is but a facetious example of the possibilities. Avra Petrides has a strong and sincere feeling about the need for open communication through the arts among the many diverse cultures of our all too unpeaceful world, and hopes The Bridge will help.[56]

In Lower Manhattan[edit]


In 1996, in Lower Manhattan, The Bridge initiated its Performance- Forums in the Art Deco "Cocoa" building at No.1 Wall Street. In this series, American/international theater artists collaborate with astrophysicists, sculptors, theologians, philosophers, poets, novelists, painters, musicians, choreographers, filmmakers, and others. The aim: to better understand each other's endeavors and find new and exciting ways to combine them in stage production. The theme of the initial Performance-Forum was Time (as perceived by people in different disciplines and cultures.)

For several months prior to this event these people collaborated on a performance based on that theme:

This debut Performance-, given on March 28, 1996, was attended by approximately two hundred artists, scientists and philosophers, who, at its conclusion, participated in the Forum, which took the form of a panel-led discussion on the evening's theme Time.[57][58][59][60]

In addition, in 1996, The Bridge re-introduced the beautiful 19th century reddish circular stone structure in Historic Battery Park, Castle Clinton, as a remarkable performance space, with the production, Hart and Hammerstein Centennial Plus One. An evening of song, it was hosted by CBS' Charles Osgood, and featured leading singers and Rob Fisher, musical director of the Encores! series at the New York City Center. This was the first performance at Castle Clinton since the mid-1800s when, as an opera house, it was the Lincoln Center of its day, attracting impresarios, like P.T. Barnum and performers, like Jenny Lind. The Bridge production began what has become the Lower Manhattan River-to-River Festival.


In 1941, the powerful Park Commissioner, Robert Moses had wanted to raze Castle Clinton claiming this was essential to building a crossing from the Battery to Brooklyn.[61] The protests from historic preservationists and others brought this plan to a halt, but not before Castle Clinton's roof had been removed.

For the Hart & Hammerstein production, The Bridge brought in Broadway theater technicians who, by working into the wee hours the night before the performance, erected a 30 inch high, spacious stage, and to guard against the possibility of rain bringing the performance to a close, covered the roof opening with a translucent white tent.[62][63][64]


The Bridge programs have been supported by organizations including the French Ministries of Culture (L'Association Française d'Artistique) and Foreign Affairs (Le Ministère des Relations Extérieures), the United States Department of State, CBS, United Technologies Corporation and the Daily News Foundation.[65][66][67][68][69]


  1. ^ New York City Birth and Death Records
  2. ^ Certificate of Incorporation, is dated April 21, 1980, and signed by the Secretary of State, Basil Paterson
  3. ^ Certificate of Amendment, filed with the Secretary of State on June 2nd 1995
  4. ^ International Herald Tribune, July 25, 1984, Article entitled Bridging the American Musical Gap in Europe
  5. ^ Time Out March 27-April 3, 1996 issue No. 27
  6. ^ The Newsletter of The International Theatre Institute of the United States, Inc. World Notes, No. 23, Summer 1996
  7. ^ The New York Times, Real Estate section, article entitled Recharging Battery Park's Seawall and Promenade, June 2, 1996
  8. ^ Courier Lifestyles, article entitled Hart & Hammerstein Concert, June 3, 1996, p.10
  9. ^ Jan Bell Groh (1936- ) Evening the Score: Women in Music and the Legacy of Frédérique Petrides, p. 10, University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville (1991)
  10. ^ The New York Herald Tribune, October 11, 1962, article entitled A Director's Double Trouble-- Rehearsing 2 Casts for 1 Show
  11. ^ Canadian Film Festival May 1, 1961
  12. ^ The Village Voice November 29. 1976, review by Arthur Sainer, entitled Gavella Orchestrates a Sigh, with the under-title A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White
  13. ^ The Village Voice, February 11, 1965, review entitled Theatre: Two by Wilson, reviewer Michael Smith
  14. ^ Balm in Gilead and other plays Lanfotd Wilson, a Spotlight Dramabook, Hill and Wang, New York (1965) ISBN (clothbound edition) 0-8090-2805-0, ISBN (hardbook edition) 0-8090-1208-1
  15. ^ A method to their madness: the history of the Actors Studio by Foster Hirsch Da Capo Press, 1986. ISBN 0-306-80268-6
  16. ^ 1959-60 Actors Studio, Archives, 432 W. 44th Street, New York, New York 10036
  17. ^ La Mama Experimental Theater Club Archives October 21, 1970
  18. ^ Village Voice review entitled Workers in need of a work April 12, 1973
  19. ^ The New York Times Metropolitan Notes December 30, 1973
  20. ^ Village Voice review entitled The doubts of liberation January 3, 1974
  21. ^ Village Voice listings January 24, 1974
  22. ^ The New York Times review entitled Men Steal Scene in 2 Plays for Women reviewer Mel Gussow
  23. ^ Village Voice listings February 7, 1974
  24. ^ Saturday Review World, review entitled Women on the Rocks April 6, 1974
  25. ^ New Dramatists archives, 424 West 44th Street, New York, N.Y. 10036
  26. ^ WBAI 1970's Arts Programming initiative
  27. ^ The New York Times, September 18, 2000, review entitled As Melville Told Marlene, the Muse Leads the Music, the writer, Margo Jefferson
  28. ^ Bistro Bits by Barbara & Scott Siegel, September 29, 2000
  29. ^ Time Out July 7–14, 2000, Issue no.259
  30. ^ Bistro Bits by Barbara & Scott Siegel, April 6, 2001
  31. ^ The New York Times July 6. 2001 article entitled Terpsichore Taps to Town by Jennifer Dunning
  32. ^ The New York Times, July 14, 2001 article entitled The Old Tap and the New Team Up with Affection, by Jennifer Dunning
  33. ^ Dance Heritage Coalition Secure Media Network
  34. ^ Dance Heritage Coalition Secure Media Network Assets
  35. ^ Variety review of Tap Divas dated July 15, 2001
  36. ^ Program printed by The New 42nd Street, Inc. in which they identified the New York City Tap Dance Festival, featuring Tap Divas and Tap City as "A Project of the The New 42nd Street, Inc."
  37. ^ International Theatre Institute USA Theatre Notes/ May 1982 No. 107
  38. ^ Variety July 21, 1982
  39. ^ French newspaper Midi-Libre, July 2, 1982
  40. ^ French publication L'information du Spectacle June 1982
  41. ^ French newspaper Midi-Libre June 25, 1982
  42. ^ French newspaper La Depeche June 19, 1982
  43. ^ French newspaper La Marseillaise de l'Herault July 1, 1982
  44. ^ French newspaper Liberation July 2, 1982
  45. ^ French newspaper Herault June 25, 1982
  46. ^ French newspaper Midi-Libre June 26, 1982
  47. ^ French newspaper La Depeche July 6, 1982
  48. ^ French newspaper Le Monde June 24, 1982
  49. ^ French newspaper Le Figaro June 11, 1982
  50. ^ French newspaper Midi-Libre, July 17, 1984
  51. ^ French newspaper Midi-Libre July 20, 1984
  52. ^ French newspaper Midi-Libre July 22, 1984
  53. ^ French newspaper Midi-Libre July 26, 1984
  54. ^ French newspaper Midi Libre July 27, 1984
  55. ^ French newspaper Midi Libre July 28, 1984
  56. ^ Printed in the Dramatists Guild Quarterly Spring 1985
  57. ^ Time Out, March 27- April 3, 1996 Issue no. 27
  58. ^ The Newsletter of the International Theatre Institute of the United States, Inc. World Notes No. 23 Summer 1996
  59. ^ The WQXR-FM initiative, Action for the Arts featured The Bridge Performance - Forums in public service announcements made by The Bridge's Artistic Director, Avra Petrides (on WQXR-FM) and they were featured in their Action for the Arts "catalog" which detailed the work of 96 organizations
  60. ^ archival video tape of the entire event, held by The Bridge Stage of the Arts
  61. ^ Robert A. Caro, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, New York Knopf (1974) ISBN 0-394-72024-5
  62. ^ New York Magazine, entitled Castle Clinton...Rising in the East, June 3, 1996
  63. ^ The New York Times, entitled Recharging Battery Park's Seawall and Promenade June 6, 1996
  64. ^ Courier Lifestyle entitled Hart & Hammerstein Concert, June 3, 1996
  65. ^ French Newspaper, Midi-Libre July 29, 1984
  66. ^ International Herald Tribune, July 25, 1984
  67. ^ French newspaper La Depeche du Midi, July 6, 1982
  68. ^ New York Post, Suzy column, January 29, 1986
  69. ^ Posters created by United Technologies, advertising the Festival in Summer of1982