As the warmer weather approaches, COVID-19 vaccines have become widely available to everyone, and New York begins to re-emerge from the coronavirus shutdown, Lincoln Center and Bryant Park will be presenting live in-person outdoor programming in a range of disciplines after more than a year of pandemic isolation.
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts has announced the upcoming official public opening of Restart Stages, the newly reimagined community spaces and outdoor performance venues on the Lincoln Center campus, designed to help kick-start the performing arts sector and to contribute to the revival of NYC. Throughout the month of May, the landmark site will be welcoming audiences to dozens of free events and surprise pop-up performances in music, dance, drama, and other genres, while making ten outdoor performance and rehearsal spaces available to artists and arts organizations across the five boroughs.
The initiative begins its activation with the May 10th opening of “The Green” – a dramatic physical reimagining of the iconic Josie Robertson Plaza into an accessible open space by set designer and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Mimi Lien. A land blessing ceremony, conducted by Chief Dwaine Perry of the Ramapough Lunaape and facilitated by the Redhawk Native American Arts Council, will open the evening’s free performances, followed by singer-songwriter Martha Redbone (using a fusion of gospel, folk, and blues to celebrate her Native and African-American heritage and to address pressing political and personal issues head-on) and Tony-nominated actor and singer Norm Lewis (who will close the evening with his powerful baritone vocals of show tunes, jazz and blues, and American standards).
In addition to the opening night program, the calendar includes: the premiere of Lincoln Center’s commission of Our Time is Now, violinist Jennifer Koh’s exploration of the AAPI and Black experiences with composer-pianist Courtney Bryan; NEA Jazz Master and ten-time Grammy winner Eddie Palmieri, presented in collaboration with NYU Music and Social Change Lab; Chamber Music Society’s Summer Evenings Outdoors, with the world premiere of a new song cycle by Bruce Adolphe, composed for soprano Angel Blue; Juilliard NOW performance series featuring a new generation of artists in music, dance, and drama; storytelling performances, curated by The Moth; contemporary jazz inspired by Haitian rhythms, with vocalist Pauline Jean and saxophonist Godwin Louis, presented in collaboration with Haiti Cultural Exchange in honor of Haitian Heritage Month; the first in-person Concerts For Kids performance by Brooklyn band Red Baraat; and Broadway star Jose Llana’s special performance for the Philippine Nurses Association.
Passersby may also come across surprise NY PopsUp events on campus, including Cliff Matias and the Redhawk Dancers, puppeteer Basil Twist, and a centennial tribute to activist Yuri Kochiyama, among other performances of music, dance, and art, school graduations, children’s recitals, and more. In addition to the special programs, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts will open its new outdoor reading room on May 24, and Lincoln Center will host its third food distribution in partnership with Food Bank for New York City on May 26.
All offerings will occur outdoors with safety protocols in place for artists, audiences, and staff. Designed with expert advice from medical and public health professionals, they will include the testing of artists and production staff, required face coverings, social distancing, and regular cleaning of the spaces. For those who are not able to attend in person, select Restart Stages events will be livestreamed on the digital platforms of Lincoln Center and its partner organizations, increasing access nationally and internationally.
Free tickets to opening day and all upcoming May events will be made available through the TodayTix Lottery, the official ticketing partner of Restart Stages. The lottery will open for entries two weeks before each performance and close one week prior to the performance at 12:59 pm. The odds of winning tickets will depend on the number of eligible entries received. Attendees who secure tickets will be required to fill out a health survey, among other safety protocols. For more information, and to enter the lottery, go online.
Although the popular Broadway in Bryant Park series – presented at lunchtime on consecutive Thursdays during the summer and featuring the stars and songs of current Broadway hits – won’t be back yet this year with the ongoing closure of theaters and the hiatus of shows, the Picnic Performances will return to midtown Manhattan’s favorite outdoor gathering place with a line-up of 25 live and in-person music, dance, and theater events. Sponsored by Bank of America, the free performances, running June 9-September 20, will be offered to a socially distanced audience, in addition to being livestreamed.
Included in the schedule are world-class performing artists from The New York Philharmonic (which opens the series), Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City Opera, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Joe’s Pub, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Limón Dance Company, Elisa Monte Dance, National Sawdust, Harlem Stage with Jazzmobile and Historic Harlem Parks, Greenwich House Music School, Music from the Sole, and New York Chinese Cultural Center. The summer programming will conclude with a presentation by The Town Hall to celebrate the centenary of its founding, starring mandolinist and public radio star Chris Thile.
For the duration of the series, Bryant Park will observe all current New York City and New York State COVID-19 safety protocols. All performances are open to the public, but capacity is limited and advance registration required. For more information, visit the website.