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))
Purpose To further collaborative creation of new theatrical hybrids by spanning different disciplines, cultures and generations; and to provide educational programs.
Headquarters New York City, New York
  • 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. (The Bridge) is an American theater company based in New York City. It was incorporated by its Artistic Director, Avra Petrides, in 1980;[2] and has produced American/International music- theater festivals in the South of France (Languedoc-Roussillon region) with American musical-theater artists such as Alan Jay Lerner, lyricist and librettist of My Fair Lady, and Betty Comden and Adolph Green screenwriters and lyricists of Singin' In The Rain.[3][4] These artists performed and also gave master classes on musical theater to lyricists, librettists, playwrights, composers, directors, and performers from all over the world. In Lower Manhattan The Bridge has presented Performance-Forums in which theater artists collaborate on productions with astrophysicists, philosophers, architects and others working in a variety of disciplines.[5][6] Also, in Lower Manhattan, The Bridge produced Hart & Hammerstein Centennial Plus One which re-introduced Castle Clinton as a noteworthy performance space.[7][8]


The purpose of The Bridge is to further collaborative creation of new theatrical hybrids by spanning different disciplines, cultures and generations; and to provide educational programs in the performing and visual arts.

Notable productions[edit]

In the South of France, The Bridge presented Alan Jay Lerner and Liz Robertson In Concert, Honi Coles and The Copasetics In Concert, and Betty Comden and Adolph Green In Concert.[3][9] In Lower Manhattan, The Bridge has produced its Performance-Forums with astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, theater director, Tom O'Horgan and others.[5][6] And in June 2001, it presented Hart & Hammerstein Centennial Plus One at Castle Clinton, near the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.[10] The production was the first of a summer concert series, and marked the first time in 146 years that Castle Clinton had been used as a theater. Castle Clinton, a 206-year-old circular stone garrison built in 1811 to protect New York from the warring British, has served as an indoor garden, an opera house, an aquarium, an immigrant landing depot, and the setting in which the "Swedish Nightingale" Jenny Lind made her 1850 American debut, courtesy of P.T. Barnum; also, in recent years, as a ticket booth for ferries to the Statue of Liberty.[7][8]

Founder and artistic director[edit]

Avra 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).[11]

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);[12] starring as Leah with Joseph Wiseman and Luther Adler in the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) television adaptation of Ansky's The Dybbuk;[13] 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;[14] 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;[15][16] and being directed by Elia Kazan in a solo performance, for invited audiences, at the Actors Studio, of which she is a member[17] that used texts from Aeschylus' The Oresteia.[18]

As a playwright, her work has been presented in New York at La Mama Experimental Theater Club,[19] the Manhattan Theater Club,[20] the WPA Theater,[21][22][23][24][25][26] The New Dramatists[27] and recorded on WBAI.[28]

She co-wrote and directed the cabaret production, Dietrich for the Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel,[29][30][31] which won a MAC Award.[32] 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.[33][34][35][36][37][38]


The Bridge Stage of the Arts, Inc., was incorporated in New York City in 1980 as a not-for-profit organization.[2] It was then known as The Bridge American Theater Festival, Inc. In 1995, its title was changed to The Bridge Stage of the Arts, Inc.[39] The Bridge works on a project by project basis.

Festival in 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, lyricists-screenwriters 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,[40] (a branch of UNESCO), 150 actors, singers, dancers, choreographers, playwrights, composers, directors and lyricists and librettists from, at times, 22 countries including France, 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 Saint-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.[41][42][43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55][56][57][58]

Betty Comden review excerpted[edit]

Betty Comden and her partner, Adolph Green, were prolific lyricists and librettists of Broadway and film musicals including Singin' In The Rain, Bells Are Ringing, and On the Town. Comden gave The Bridge kudos in 1985.


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 working in a variety of creative, scientific and intellectual disciplines. 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-Forum, 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.[5][6][60][61]

Castle Clinton redux[edit]

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, then musical director of the Encores! series at the New York City Center. It 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. For the Hart & Hammerstein production, The Bridge brought in Broadway theater technicians who, by working into the wee hours of 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.[7][8][62]

Robert Moses vs. Castle Clinton[edit]

In 1941, the Park Commissioner, Robert Moses, wanted to raze Castle Clinton, claiming it was essential to building a crossing from the Battery to Brooklyn.[63] Protests from historic preservationists and others brought this plan to a halt but not before the roof had been removed.

Ongoing and in development[edit]

Promethea On The Rocks, a project that combines theater, music, the visual arts, film, education and community involvement.[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.[3][65][66][67][68]


  1. ^ New York City Birth and Death Records
  2. ^ a b Certificate of Incorporation, is dated April 21, 1980, and signed by the Secretary of State, Basil Paterson
  3. ^ a b c "Bridging the American Musical Gap in Europe," International Herald Tribune, July 25, 1984
  4. ^ La Depeche, July 6, 1982
  5. ^ a b c Time Out (New York ed.), No. 27, March 27 – April 3, 1996
  6. ^ a b c World Notes (newsletter of the International Theatre Institute of the United States, Inc.) No. 23, Summer 1996
  7. ^ a b c "Recharging Battery Park's Seawall and Promenade," New York Times, Real Estate section, June 2, 1996
  8. ^ a b c "Hart & Hammerstein Concert," Courier Lifestyles, June 3, 1996, p.10
  9. ^ "La Depeche 1982 July 6"
  10. ^ "Clinton's Bridge Theatre Is Castle's Bridge to Future," by Robert Simonson, Backstage, February 21, 2001
  11. ^ Evening the Score: Women in Music and the Legacy of Frédérique Petrides, by Jan Bell Groh (1936- ), University of Arkansas Press (1991), pg. 10; OCLC 23693230
  12. ^ "A Director's Double Trouble — Rehearsing 2 Casts for 1 Show," New York Herald Tribune, October 11, 1962
  13. ^ Canadian Film Festival May 1, 1961
  14. ^ "Gavella Orchestrates a Sigh, With the Under-Title A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White" (review), by Arthur Sainer, Village Voice, November 29, 1976
  15. ^ "Theatre: Two by Wilson" (review), by Michael Smith, Village Voice, February 11, 1965
  16. ^ Balm in Gilead and other plays Lanford Wilson, a Spotlight Dramabook, by Lanford Wilson, Hill and Wang (1965); ISBN (clothbound edition) 0-8090-2805-0, ISBN (hardbook edition) 0-8090-1208-1
  17. ^ A Method to Their Madness: The History of the Actors Studio, by Foster Hirsch, Da Capo Press, 1986. ISBN 0-306-80268-6
  18. ^ 1959-60 Actors Studio, Archives, 432 W. 44th Street, New York, New York 10036
  19. ^ "La Mama Experimental Theater Club," October 21, 1970
  20. ^ "Workers in Need of a Work" (review), Village Voice, April 12, 1973
  21. ^ "Metropolitan Notes," New York Times, December 30, 1973
  22. ^ "The Doubts of Liberation" (review), Village Voice, January 3, 1974
  23. ^ Listings, Village Voice, January 24, 1974
  24. ^ "Men Steal Scene in 2 Plays for Women" (review), by Mel Gussow, New York Times, January 25, 1974
  25. ^ Listings, Village Voice, February 7, 1974
  26. ^ "World: Women on the Rocks" (review), Saturday Review April 6, 1974
  27. ^ New Dramatists archives, 424 West 44th Street, New York, N.Y. 10036
  28. ^ WBAI 1970's Arts Programming initiative
  29. ^ "As Melville Told Marlene, the Muse Leads the Music" (review), by Margo Jefferson, New York Times, September 18, 2000
  30. ^ "Bistro Bits," by Barbara & Scott Siegel, Back Stage, Vol. 41, No. 39, September 29, 2000;
  31. ^ Time Out, No. 259, July 7–14, 2000
  32. ^ "Bistro Bits," by Barbara & Scott Siegel, Back Stage, Vol. 42, No. 14, April 6, 2001, pg. 13;
  33. ^ "Terpsichore Taps to Town," by Jennifer Dunning, New York Times, July 6, 2001
  34. ^ "The Old Tap and the New Team Up with Affection," by Jennifer Dunning, New York Times, July 14, 2001
  35. ^ Dance Heritage Coalition Secure Media Network
  36. ^ Dance Heritage Coalition Secure Media Network Assets
  37. ^ "Tap Divas" (review), Variety, July 15, 2001
  38. ^ 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."
  39. ^ Certificate of Amendment, filed with the Secretary of State on June 2nd 1995
  40. ^ "Theatre Notes," International Theatre Institute USA, No. 107, May 1982
  41. ^ Variety, July 21, 1982
  42. ^ French newspaper Midi Libre, July 2, 1982
  43. ^ French publication L'information du Spectacle, June 1982
  44. ^ French newspaper Midi Libre, June 25, 1982
  45. ^ French newspaper La Depeche, June 19, 1982
  46. ^ French newspaper La Marseillaise (fr) de l'Herault, July 1, 1982
  47. ^ French newspaper Liberation July 2, 1982
  48. ^ French newspaper La Marseillaise (fr) de l'Herault, June 25, 1982
  49. ^ French newspaper Midi Libre, June 26, 1982
  50. ^ French newspaper La Depeche, July 6, 1982
  51. ^ French newspaper Le Monde, June 24, 1982
  52. ^ French newspaper Le Figaro, June 11, 1982
  53. ^ French newspaper Midi Libre, July 17, 1984
  54. ^ French newspaper Midi Libre, July 20, 1984
  55. ^ French newspaper Midi Libre, July 22, 1984
  56. ^ French newspaper Midi Libre, July 26, 1984
  57. ^ French newspaper Midi Libre, July 27, 1984
  58. ^ French newspaper Midi Libre, July 28, 1984
  59. ^ "The Long Arm of the American Musical Stretches to Beziers," by Betty Comden, Dramatists Guild Quarterly, Spring 1985; ISSN 0012-6004
  60. ^ 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
  61. ^ archival video tape of the entire event, held by The Bridge Stage of the Arts
  62. ^ "Castle Clinton … Rising in the East," New York Magazine, June 3, 1996
  63. ^ The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, by Robert A. Caro, Knopf (1974); OCLC 834874
  64. ^ Records, The Bridge Stage of the Arts' office at 101 West 78th Street, Suite 21, New York, New York 10024
  65. ^ French Newspaper, Midi Libre, July 29, 1984
  66. ^ French newspaper La Dépêche du Midi, July 6, 1982
  67. ^ "Suzy," (column), New York Post, January 29, 1986
  68. ^ Posters created by United Technologies, advertising the Festival in Summer of1982