Lincoln Center is going to be buzzing with activity this summer as one of the hottest spots for live entertainment.
Starting May 10, The Green opens at Lincoln Center's Josie Robertson Plaza, transforming the iconic space into a grassy knoll and an outdoor performance park with multiple stages, a jukebox-type space, a public library kiosk, a snack bar and a rehearsal area for musicians.
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The Green is the shining jewel of Lincoln Center's Restart Stages program, which brings back performing arts to the area as well as community services such as blood drives, food distributions and a primary election polling place.
"What we're really trying to do is both play our part in New York but also transform ourselves—how do we think differently about the work we do, how we do it and who we serve and how we serve?" Henry Timms, president and CEO of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, said during a tour we took on Thursday. "The original inspiration came from our partnership with Stavros Niarchos Foundation and their thinking around this idea of the 'agora'—that space which is both civic and cultural and inspiring. How do we think about reimaging the agora in a new and interesting way?"
This is certainly one of the most innovative projects at Lincoln Center ever, and it's likely to inform programming in the future, its officials say.
Below, we've highlighted the coolest things you can expect to see at The Green this summer:
"The Green" itself spans about 14,000 square feet around the Revson Fountain with grass-like material by SYNLawn New York that's recyclable and sourced from U.S. farmers. The new park-like area shows curved, grassy slopes and ample space for sunbathing and relaxing. In the northeast corner, visitors can even grab a snack.
Set designer and MacArthur Genius grantee Mimi Lien was commissioned by Lincoln Center to design the space. The SYNLawn, ramps and curved pieces are designed with accessibility in mind and even implements cane detection for the blind in its architecture. The curves in the grass were actually inspired by the Metropolitan Opera House's arches.
"When invited to consider how the physical space of Josie Robertson Plaza could be reenvisioned to be a more inclusive and inviting environment, I immediately thought that by changing the ground surface from hard paving stones with no seating to a material like grass, suddenly anyone would be able to sit anywhere," she said.
In the past, people walked through the plaza to get to various performances or visit the fountain, but now, the plaza will be a place of respite.
"I dreamt of making it a space of inhabitation, of pleasure, and of rest," Lien said. "I wanted to make a place where you could lie on a grassy slope and read a book all afternoon. Get a coffee and sit in the sun. Bring your babies and frolic in the grass. Have a picnic lunch with co-workers. I hope that this curved grass surface will feel like an embrace and an expanse at the same time, and will reimagine the Plaza as a site of social infrastructure, like a town green — a place to gather, a common ground."
Once Restart Stages is over SYNLawn New York will upcycle its grassy material to new homes and playgrounds for at-risk youth in upstate New York.
Across the whole campus, there are 10 stages and rehearsal areas, including one underground on Jaffe Drive inside a parking garage. This cave-like space will be used by Jazz at Lincoln Center as a jazz and comedy club.
Above ground, the main stage sits in Damrosch Park. Performances have taken place here before (for usually up to about 2,000 people), but this summer will be different. Concerts will only be played to about 380 people at a time and seats are broken up into pairs for social distancing. Here, the New York Film Festival will present screenings, area high schools will hold their graduation ceremonies, The Juilliard School will put on performances and organizations will use it for community events. First up, Norm Lewis will take the stage on Monday.
Over near the NYPL's Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center branch on Hearst Plaza, there will be a cabaret-style stage that is more intimate. Great for a date night, this stage will host smaller performances. Martha Redbone will be the first to take this stage after a land blessing ceremony conducted by Chief Dwaine Perry of the Ramapough Lunaape.
Musicians will also set up on the steps of the pavilion and roof on Hearst Plaza to perform, much like they did in April when sheep puppets appeared behind the New York Philharmonic.
The library, rehearsal space and "jukebox"
The NYPL is setting up a kiosk and outdoor library on the Plaza's northern terrace nearby rehearsal spaces carved out for musicians—you'll be able to hear music from the street and listen as you read comfortably.
Another piece to Restart Stages is a "jukebox" type space inside the lobby down below. Inside the glass-lined space, musicians will play a grand piano and other instruments. Their music will be piped through speakers so that people passing by on the street or sitting on the sunken plaza's steps will hear it.
The creativity that's gone into bringing all of this together this year is impressive and only sets up Lincoln Center for even more imaginative programming in the future.
"I think this is a really great foundation for what we're going to do outside and inside and it's really showing what our values are, engaging our community, our campus and all of our organizations, which are working together to bring the arts back," said Jordana Leigh, Lincoln Center's senior director of programming "I bet you even next summer can imagine it'll be more creative. This is a good testing ground this summer to be imaginative and try things out."
Among all the slated performances for this summer and fall, there will be free and low-cost tickets released each month in collaboration with Lincoln Center's resident organizations and community partners, including the premiere 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; Chamber Music Society’s Summer Evenings Outdoors; 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; Concerts For Kids performance by Brooklyn band Red Baraat; and much more. Free tickets can be reserved through the TodayTix Lottery, and you can check out lincolncenter.org for the most updated list of performances.
In July, artist Andrea Miller will also present an experience called "You Are Here," a sculpture and sound installation on the Josie Robertson and Hearst Plazas. Sculptures created by Tony Award-winning scenic designer Mimi Lien will house a speaker that will play audio portraits of New Yorkers. Sound artist Justin Hicks will create an "aural garden" telling the stories of artists, ushers, security guards and educators from within the Lincoln Center family, and other New Yorkers. During the second half of the installation, the audio portraits will gradually be replaced by live performances by the participants. Live performances will each feature several portraits now brought to life in Hearst Plaza, with choreography created by Andrea Miller and performed by GALLIM dancers. The final evening of the installation will feature all of the performers live and on-site.
The Green will be open at Lincoln Center from May 10 through September 2021, 9am–Midnight.
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