The Bengsons (Photo: St. Ann’s Warehouse)
Doors are starting to reopen at a number of New York theaters, and St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn will join those ranks this week. The experimental venue that was home to The Jungle and Oklahoma! before it transferred to Broadway will host in-person audiences for two performances on April 15 and 16, headlined by The Bengsons.
Abigail Bengson and Shaun Bengson, folk artists and theatermakers, will present their work-in-progress, The Broken Ear Setlist: Songs from Ohio, for two performances only. 50 audience members will be allowed to enter St. Ann’s, and more will watch the performances online in what is becoming an increasingly common practice of venues starting to reopen while keeping programming accessible for those unable to attend in person. (Other New York venues that are beginning to reopen include the Park Avenue Armory, BRIC, Harlem Stage, National Black Theater, and The Shed.)
“In our new work, the idea is that loss is the mechanism by which God comes close,” Abigail Bengson said. “We’re interested in this great loss that we’ve all been moving through that has many names and is communal, but is also specific and particular to each person. We’re interested in seeing if we can look at that loss as an opportunity to see the divinity in one another.”
The Broken Ear Setlist: Songs from Ohio, directed by Anne Kauffman and Caitlin Sullivan, features performances from several artists, including Barrie Lobo McLain, Vuyo Sotashe, and Allan K. Washington. Moulin Rouge! choreographer and Tony Award nominee Sonya Tayeh is the movement director. Per St. Ann’s website, “We are offering two types of tickets: socially distanced in-person; and Zoom. This is a perfect way to tiptoe back inside gradually and to maintain the intimacy the Bengsons have been sharing virtually throughout the pandemic.”
In-person audiences can expect temperature checks at the door, social distancing within, and contact tracing. The venue also implemented MERV13 filters into its ventilation system to improve airflow.