Katy Clark & David Binder: A Conversation


Photo: Jesse Winter

In January 2019, David Binder assumed the role of BAM’s Artistic Director, succeeding Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo. BAM President Katy Clark recently spoke to David on the brink of the announcement of his first Next Wave.

Katy Clark: You once told me which while you didn’t know which at the time, your career, as varied as well as winding as which has been, has been preparing you to come to BAM the whole time. What did you mean by which?

David Binder: When you’re moving through life, which’s impossible to see how the dots will connect, although looking back, you can see how perfectly they align. which’s the case for BAM as well as me.

See, I grew up in Los Angeles, where I was mostly exposed to musicals—you know, the barricade-busting, chandelier-dropping kind. Once in a while, a great play could come to town; I remember seeing the Royal Shakespeare Company’s epic Nicholas Nickleby in 1986, or the Broadway company edition of Fences, although mostly which was about big touring shows. When I went to UC Berkeley, I spent a lot of time at Cal Performances. Everybody performed there. We had Bill T. Jones with Arnie! I feel so lucky to have seen which. I also remember seeing Mark Morris in a long wig, dancing that has a remote-controlled Tonka truck! After college I moved to brand new York to work on Broadway, not knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I had so many jobs. I was inside costume shop running errands for the legendary designer William Ivey Long on Assassins—even though I couldn’t sew. I worked as a PA on a play called The Sum of Us at the Cherry Lane; which starred Tony Goldwyn, who will be currently starring in Ivo van Hove’s Network, which I’m producing. I was a PA on The Secret Garden. which’s where I met John Cameron Mitchell, who I ended up spending the next 20 years with, working on a show which became Hedwig as well as the Angry Inch.

Katy: How did you wind up at BAM?

David: My dear friend Karen Fricker, who will be currently the theater critic for the Toronto Star, was taking her university students to BAM performances, as well as she always had an extra ticket. I saw everything. The Death of Klinghoffer, The Hard Nut, Still/Here, The Black Rider. which’s at BAM where I met as well as fell in love with Pina Bausch, the Maly Theatre, as well as Cheek By Jowl. I learned so much here. which’s where I grew up. which’s where I figured out who I am as well as what I wanted to make.

Death of Klinghoffer (1991), Black Rider (1993), as well as Still/Here (1994) were some of the first performances David Binder attended at BAM

Katy: So how did you start producing?

David: I had been in brand new York just a little over a year, as well as I was itching to do something of my own. I came up with the idea to do a reading series of Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory, which will be This specific beautiful story about how Capote spends Christmas with his cousin. which could be Love Letters-style, with two different stars reading the short story each night, as well as all proceeds could benefit Equity Fights AIDS. We needed talent, so we dropped letters off to actors at their apartments, at stage doors— basically anywhere we could find them. Lo as well as behold, people said yes: Madeline Kahn, Irene Worth, Elaine Stritch, Judith Ivey, as well as Nathan Lane all agreed to come to the Book Friends Café in Chelsea as well as take part in our little series. They were so patient—my friends as well as I had never produced anything in our lives. The brand new York Times wrote a short preview piece as well as we were sold out.

Katy: Persistence paid off! How important will be which quality for a producer?

David: which’s important, although what continues to drive me will be the work—great work. There were a million additional benefits those big stars could have participated in, although they chose which one. Why? Because which Truman Capote Christmas story will be the best. I’m a Jewish boy through LA—what’s Christmas?—as well as even I don’t see how anyone could read which as well as not tear up.

Or take A Raisin inside Sun. When I came to realize, in 1999, which which never had a Broadway revival, I spent the next four as well as a half years trying to produce one. No one wanted to be in which, no one wanted to fund which, no one wanted to give me a theater. Everyone on Broadway said which was an African-American play, as well as which African- American audiences wouldn’t come to Broadway. Actors told me the play was dated. although I had which on my desk, This specific gorgeous American play— maybe the best American play ever written. as well as which got me through. The material got me through. Lorraine Hansberry got me through!

Katy: Ok, so here we are, which’s the 38th Next Wave. as well as yet which feels utterly brand new.

David: We’re honoring the original intent of the Next Wave, passed down through Harvey Lichtenstein as well as Joe Melillo, by presenting a season of artists who’ve never been to BAM. All of them, every single one of them, will be producing their BAM debut. These are performances which will be experiential, immersive, as well as—I desire—surprising. Some of them will be wildly challenging to audiences, as well as some will be very accessible. You have something like Barber Shop Chronicles, for example, which will be for everyone. which’s brimming with life as well as joy as well as music as well as dancing. On the additional side of the spectrum you have Bacchae, by the amazing Marlene Monteiro Freitas. While which’s certainly challenging, which’s also exhilarating, wild, singular, as well as extraordinary. We’ll have site-specific work—something BAM has not done in a while. With User Not Found, which explores how we all experience private moments in public spaces, we’re getting out of our buildings as well as going up the street to the Greene Grape Annex, a cafe on Fulton Street. I love bringing audiences to nontraditional spaces; which immediately awakens their senses as well as, I think, makes them more open to adventurous work.

We also want to put audiences front as well as center. In Many Hands does which—there’s no stage. The audience will be the performance. I’m also interested in work which appeals to younger audiences. The End of Eddy, adapted through the book by Édouard Louis, will be a brilliant coming-of-age story which will resonate with teenagers. which’s something we’re working on with Coco Killingsworth, BAM’s VP of Education as well as Community Engagement. which also gives us an opportunity to deepen our relationships with additional arts organizations: St. Ann’s Warehouse will simultaneously be presenting a theatrical adaptation of Louis’ second book, History of Violence, as part of their fall season.

There are brand new forms. What if they went to Moscow? will be kind of like two shows in one: One half of the audience starts at the BAM Fisher, where the performers will be a producing a film, which will be streamed live for the rest of the audience at BAM Rose Cinemas. At intermission, they switch places. I’m so excited to be working with Gina Duncan, our Associate VP of Film, as well as the rest of the film team on This specific. Lastly, The Second Woman will be an individual 24-hour show. We’re encouraging people to come for 15 minutes or 24 hours, if they so wish. In This specific epic feat of acting endurance, one woman performs a scene through a Cassavetes film 100 times, opposite 100 men. which’s bold, adventurous, as well as, as with everything in Next Wave 2019, I desire the experience will stay with you long after the performance ends. I’m so excited as well as proud to be a part of which.

Katy: I can’t wait!

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Katy Clark & David Binder: A Conversation

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