The Brooklyn Academy of Music gave a fuller picture of its spring season on Thursday, announcing the New York debut of the novelist Zadie Smith’s first play, “The Wife of Willesden,” and performances by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal. A revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s drama “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window” and a spring music series by Solange Knowles were announced earlier this fall.
Smith’s “The Wife of Willesden,” adapted from the Wife of Bath’s tale from Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales,” will arrive at BAM in April, after runs at the Kiln Theater in London, where it is currently onstage through Jan. 28, and the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., where it will receive its U.S. premiere in February. The play, set in an 18th-century London pub, centers on the Jamaican-born Alvita (Clare Perkins), who recounts a bawdy history of her five marriages to a group of strangers.
Directed by Indhu Rubasingham, “The Wife of Willesden” celebrates the joys of storytelling, especially when you add alcohol, said David Binder, the Academy’s artistic director.
“If you don’t know Chaucer, or if you have no reference of Chaucer, you would enjoy it just as much,” Binder said. “It’s hilarious. It’s joyful. It’s exuberant.”
In February, a rare production of Hansberry’s “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window” will begin performances. The play, about two Bohemian artists struggling to save their marriage, debuted on Broadway in 1964. The revival, starring Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan, will be directed by Anne Kauffman, who also directed it in 2016 at the Goodman Theater in Chicago.
In March, the pop star Solange Knowles, whose first ballet score was included in New York City Ballet’s Fall Fashion Gala in September, will curate a spring music series with her creative arts company Saint Heron. It will include a selection of films and live performances.
The Academy will also present its yearly showcase of hip-hop and spoken work with “Word. Sound. Power.” in April, the 46th annual African dance festival DanceAfrica in May and a week of performances by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in June.
The season will also mark the return of the popular BAMkids Film Festival, from Feb. 4-12, and, for the first time in six years, Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal, from March 3-19. The company will present the U.S. premiere of Bausch’s “Água,” a piece incorporating the sounds, movements and music she encountered during a residency in Brazil in 2001.