The Bridge Stage of the Arts
|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|
Founder and Artistic Director
|Avra Petrides (November 21, 1938- )|
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; 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. 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. Also, in Lower Manhattan, The Bridge produced Hart & Hammerstein Centennial Plus One which re-introduced Castle Clinton as a noteworthy performance space.
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.
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. In Lower Manhattan, The Bridge has produced its Performance-Forums with astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, theater director, Tom O'Horgan and others. And in June 2001, it presented Hart & Hammerstein Centennial Plus One at Castle Clinton, near the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. 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 205-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.
Founder and Artistic Director
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).
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); starring as Leah with Joseph Wiseman and Luther Adler in the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) television adaptation of Ansky's The Dybbuk; 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; 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; and being directed by Elia Kazan in a solo performance, for invited audiences, at the Actors Studio, of which she is a member that used texts from Aeschylus' The Oresteia.
As a playwright, her work has been presented in New York at La Mama Experimental Theater Club, the Manhattan Theater Club, the WPA Theater, The New Dramatists and recorded on WBAI.
She co-wrote and directed the cabaret production, Dietrich for the Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel, which won a MAC Award. 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.
History of The Bridge
The Bridge Stage of the Arts, Inc., was incorporated in New York City in 1980 as a not-for-profit organization. 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. The Bridge works on a project by project basis.
Festival in the South of France
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, (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.
Betty Comden review excerpted
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.
'The Long Arm of the American Musical Stretches to Beziers'
… It is not unusual for American musicals to appear in London … 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 voices echoing, perhaps as far as the foothills of the Pyrenees. Ah your music, your theater, she is indeed the international language, no?
…The concept of The Bridge, a yearly workshop and festival devoted to the American musical, to be located in France … 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.
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:
- Tom O'Horgan, Theater director of the Broadway productions Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Lenny, Inner City; director for the Vienna State Opera, New York City Opera; and co-author of Senator Joe at the Neil Simon Theater on Broadway.
- Neil de Grasse Tyson, Ph.D. Astrophysicist and Director of the Hayden Planetarium.
- Michael Sherman, A futurist, who was advising governments and corporations on their long-range plans. He has made a comparative study of images of time in modern culture.
- Min Tanaka, International choreographer and Butoh dancer.
- Tony Rothman, Ph.D. Physicist specializing in cosmology, who has been on the Editorial Board of Scientific American, and a Pulitzer Prize nominee.
- Kirk Nurock, Composer/pianist, who has played with Phil Woods, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie and Donald Byrd. His compositions and arrangements have been performed by Judy Collins, Dizzy Gillespie, Dick Hyman, Bette Midler, Jane Ira Bloom, The Brecker Brothers and Jay Clayton.
- Serge Gubelman, who has been playing the Didgeridu since the 70's.
- R.M. Fischer, Sculptor and installation artist, whose work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Cincinnati Art Museum, and the Dallas Museum of Art, among others. His public installations include Rector Gate at Battery Park City and the Kansas City Sky Stations.
- Brenda Bufalino, Tap dancer and Founder of the American Tap Dance Foundation, who has performed as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, the Smithsonian Institution, the Kennedy Center and on PBS' Great Performances series; and-
- Theo Bleckmann, Vocalist and composer who has worked with Philip Glass, Anthony Braxton, Elliott Sharp, Meredith Monk and Kirk Nurock.
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.
Castle Clinton redux
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. 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. 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.
Robert Moses vs. Castle Clinton
In 1941, the Park Commissioner, Robert Moses, wanted to raze Castle Clinton claiming this was essential to building a crossing from the Battery to Brooklyn. Protests from historic preservationists and others brought this plan to a halt, but not before Castle Clinton's roof had been removed.
Ongoing and in development
Promethea On The Rocks, a project that combines theater, music, the visual arts, film, education and community involvement.
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.
- New York City Birth and Death Records
- Certificate of Incorporation, is dated April 21, 1980, and signed by the Secretary of State, Basil Paterson
- "Bridging the American Musical Gap in Europe," International Herald Tribune, July 25, 1984
- La Depeche, July 6, 1982
- Time Out (New York ed.), No. 27, March 27 – April 3, 1996
- World Notes (newsletter of the International Theatre Institute of the United States, Inc.) No. 23, Summer 1996
- "Recharging Battery Park's Seawall and Promenade," New York Times, Real Estate section, June 2, 1996
- "Hart & Hammerstein Concert," Courier Lifestyles, June 3, 1996, p.10
- "La Depeche 1982 July 6"
- "Clinton's Bridge Theatre Is Castle's Bridge to Future," by Robert Simonson, Backstage, February 21, 2001
- 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
- "A Director's Double Trouble — Rehearsing 2 Casts for 1 Show," New York Herald Tribune, October 11, 1962
- Canadian Film Festival May 1, 1961
- "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
- "Theatre: Two by Wilson" (review), by Michael Smith, Village Voice, February 11, 1965
- 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
- A Method to Their Madness: The History of the Actors Studio, by Foster Hirsch, Da Capo Press, 1986. ISBN 0-306-80268-6
- 1959-60 Actors Studio, Archives, 432 W. 44th Street, New York, New York 10036
- "La Mama Experimental Theater Club," October 21, 1970
- "Workers in Need of a Work" (review), Village Voice, April 12, 1973
- "Metropolitan Notes," New York Times, December 30, 1973
- "The Doubts of Liberation" (review), Village Voice, January 3, 1974
- Listings, Village Voice, January 24, 1974
- "Men Steal Scene in 2 Plays for Women" (review), by Mel Gussow, New York Times, January 25, 1974
- Listings, Village Voice, February 7, 1974
- "World: Women on the Rocks" (review), Saturday Review April 6, 1974
- New Dramatists archives, 424 West 44th Street, New York, N.Y. 10036
- WBAI 1970's Arts Programming initiative
- "As Melville Told Marlene, the Muse Leads the Music" (review), by Margo Jefferson, New York Times, September 18, 2000
- "Bistro Bits," by Barbara & Scott Siegel, Back Stage, Vol. 41, No. 39, September 29, 2000;
- Time Out, No. 259, July 7–14, 2000
- "Bistro Bits," by Barbara & Scott Siegel, Back Stage, Vol. 42, No. 14, April 6, 2001, pg. 13;
- "Terpsichore Taps to Town," by Jennifer Dunning, New York Times, July 6, 2001
- "The Old Tap and the New Team Up with Affection," by Jennifer Dunning, New York Times, July 14, 2001
- Dance Heritage Coalition Secure Media Network
- Dance Heritage Coalition Secure Media Network Assets
- "Tap Divas" (review), Variety, July 15, 2001
- 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."
- Certificate of Amendment, filed with the Secretary of State on June 2nd 1995
- "Theatre Notes," International Theatre Institute USA, No. 107, May 1982
- Variety, July 21, 1982
- French newspaper Midi Libre, July 2, 1982
- French publication L'information du Spectacle, June 1982
- French newspaper Midi Libre, June 25, 1982
- French newspaper La Depeche, June 19, 1982
- French newspaper La Marseillaise (fr) de l'Herault, July 1, 1982
- French newspaper Liberation July 2, 1982
- French newspaper La Marseillaise (fr) de l'Herault, June 25, 1982
- French newspaper Midi Libre, June 26, 1982
- French newspaper La Depeche, July 6, 1982
- French newspaper Le Monde, June 24, 1982
- French newspaper Le Figaro, June 11, 1982
- French newspaper Midi Libre, July 17, 1984
- French newspaper Midi Libre, July 20, 1984
- French newspaper Midi Libre, July 22, 1984
- French newspaper Midi Libre, July 26, 1984
- French newspaper Midi Libre, July 27, 1984
- French newspaper Midi Libre, July 28, 1984
- "The Long Arm of the American Musical Stretches to Beziers," by Betty Comden, Dramatists Guild Quarterly, Spring 1985; ISSN 0012-6004
- 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
- archival video tape of the entire event, held by The Bridge Stage of the Arts
- "Castle Clinton … Rising in the East," New York Magazine, June 3, 1996
- The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, by Robert A. Caro, Knopf (1974); OCLC 834874
- Records, The Bridge Stage of the Arts' office at 101 West 78th Street, Suite 21, New York, New York 10024
- French Newspaper, Midi Libre, July 29, 1984
- French newspaper La Dépêche du Midi, July 6, 1982
- "Suzy," (column), New York Post, January 29, 1986
- Posters created by United Technologies, advertising the Festival in Summer of1982