Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, Borough President Scott Stringer, and a slew of officials visited the East Village yesterday to kick off the second phase of a $35 million city-funded project that will bring a new home to Performance Space 122.
The former school building at 150 First Avenue got a $4 million exterior renovation from 2008 to 2010. This past February, PS 122, the AIDS Service Center, Painting Space 122, and Mabou Mines moved out in anticipation of Phase II, which will bring the nearly 120-year-old building up to code, make it more energy efficient, and give it a brand new interior.
When the $31 million overhaul is complete, PS 122 — which is moving to the building’s top floor — will get two new theaters, a big change that will make for more dynamic performances.
“Our spaces just were not functioning at the level we wanted to work at,” explained Bevin Ross, PS 122’s Institutional Giving and Capital Campaign Manager. “We were squeezing shows before,” Ross told B+B.
The larger of the two theaters, which will seat approximately 200 people, is set to be two stories high, and will allow for work on a much grander scale. The smaller theater will seat 87.
Jess Edkins, PS 122’s Creative Director, explained, “All of our artists are really pushing the boundaries, and it got to a point where the space was hindering their work.”
“We want to be sophisticated generalists,” Ross elaborated. “With the new space we have the base of what every artist needs.”
That means big things for PS 122’s annual COIL festival — an event well known for bringing in some of the best experimental, avant-garde theater and dance performances from the United States and abroad over the past eight years. Starting last year, it took on what Edkins describes as a “very nomadic” existence, with performances spread across the city.
Tickets for COIL 2014, which kicks off Jan. 3, went on sale this week (the teaser below was released today). The event will happen at nine different venues, across three boroughs. As usual, there are some seriously wacky performances lined up, including a An Evening with William Shatner Asterisk, which features “a meticulous cataloguing and remixing of everything William Shatner ever said” on Star Trek to create “a dynamic video oracle,” accompanied by live performance. Dang. Talk about deep space.
Edkins, meanwhile, is particularly excited about Tyson vs. Ali , in which director Reid Farrington will employ found video, multiple actors and screens, and even an on-stage boxing match. “For this performance Reid is really branching out from what he’s done before,” she said.
And Heather Kravas’ dance performance, a quartet, will be “exceptionally rigorous,” Ross promises. “It’s a very difficult piece to dance.”
So when will COIL wind its way back to First Avenue? Construction on the 122 Community Center is expected to last two years, so figure 2016.
photo credit: Photo: David Nager/ASCNY