Fort Greene

A Man For All Seasons: A gala honoring BAM’s Joseph V. Melillo

September 17, 2018 By Peter Stamelman Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Joe Melillo with Karen Brooks Hopkins, former BAM president. Photo by Elena Olivo

On Thursday night, the Brooklyn Academy of Music presented a special performance at the BAM Harvey Theater to honor Executive Producer Joseph Melillo, who, at the end of 2018, will be stepping down after 35 years from his post as founding director of the Next Wave Festival. During this extraordinary span, Melillo has provided a global platform for more than 7,000 artists from more than 45 countries. And in doing so, he put Brooklyn squarely on the New York City cultural map.

The evening’s highlights included personal stories from artists, friends and colleagues, video clips, short films and special performances. Robert Wilson contributed a new work titled “For Joe a Man Who,” which featured Lucinda Childs, Isabelle Huppert, Jeremy Irons, Chukwudi Iwuji, Nonhlanhla Kheswa, Isabella Rossellini, Carl Hancock Rux, John Turturro and Wilson himself.

Wilson staged the performance by having each actor sit on stage in a chair from his own personal collection. Each performer took a turn standing in place while reciting a monologue from one of their past BAM performances. (For example, Irons did a monologue from O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” Turturro performed a monologue from Beckett’s “Endgame,” Lucinda Childs did “Einstein on the Beach” and Isabelle Huppert did Heiner Muller’s “Quartet.”) This unique format made for compelling and memorable theater.

In addition, in conjunction with Brooklyn Youth Chorus, David Lang performed his new work “she is called.” Also, Laurie Anderson presented “O Superman,” which she performed with Cole Kamen-Green, Danny Meyer, Doug Wieselman and Brooklyn Youth Chorus. There was also a world premiere written and performed by Daniel Bernard Roumain.

Finally, for the “Surprise Finale,” current and former BAM staff performed a dazzling, joyous reenactment of Pina Bausch’s infectious and by now world famous Nelken Line. It was the perfect ending to a splendid evening devoted to a remarkable man.

Former BAM music programmer Limor Tomer and actress and singer Helga Davis dominate the dancefloor at the after party. Photo by Rebecca Smeyne 

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