In The Works

In the works

The stage hutch for Soundtrack of America gets assembled in a large shop room in Yonkers, NY.
In Yonkers, New York, the Hudson Scenic Studio team assembled the stage hutch for Soundtrack of America, which opened The Shed, April 5 – 14, 2019.
Get an inside look at what’s in the works at The Shed, as well as the process behind the creation of past programs.

This summer artists ignite curiosity and optimism

This summer, eight artists present new performance works that conclude the third edition of our Open Call program. A cornerstone of The Shed’s programming, Open Call supports emerging, NYC-based artists in growing their careers. These eight artists have made new works with urgency, in community, and with great care. Get to know them as they ignite curiosity and optimism with performances of, by, and for New York City. (Be sure to check back as we add videos and more to this page.)

Emerging Artists Facing the Present by Exploring the Past

Get to know the artists who presented work in the Open Call 2023 Group Exhibition, which ran from November 4, 2023, to January 21, 2024. Each of their projects takes on history as a means of understanding the present, following circular paths and doubling back on memories—both individual and collective—to make sense of the world we live in today. In this video series, the artists introduce themselves where they live and work.

Reimagining the Experience of Music

This past June at The Shed, audiences discovered new ways to experience music. Sonic Sphere, a vast, 65-foot-diameter spherical concert hall suspended in air in The Shed’s soaring, 115-foot-tall McCourt, featured immersive, 3-D sound and light explorations of music. KAGAMI, created by the late, legendary composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and Tin Drum, offered a new kind of concert, fusing dimensional moving photography with the real world to create a never-before-experienced mixed reality presentation. Go behind the scenes of the making of these two programs.

The Fire Ensemble’s Ritual for Survival and Community

In December 2022, the Fire Ensemble, led by composer Troy Anthony, presented a developmental concert sharing of To Feel A Thing: A Ritual For Emergence, written by adrienne maree brown in collaboration with Fire Ensemble artistic director Troy Anthony and directed by Charlotte Brathwaite. The Fire Ensemble is an intergenerational choir community centering BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ folx that is in residence at The Shed. Hear from Anthony and some of the choir’s members on building community around To Feel A Thing.

Learn more about Maxwell Alexandre

Brazilian artist Maxwell Alexandre’s paintings depict collective portraits celebrating the empowerment, self-esteem, and prosperity of Black people. Get to know the artist in two videos exploring his exhibition, which was on view from October 2022 to January 2023.

The Stories Behind Straight Line Crazy

In fall 2022, Ralph Fiennes returned to the New York stage at The Shed as Robert Moses in David Hare’s Straight Line Crazy, directed by Nicholas Hytner and Jamie Armitage. Hear from the creative team in two recorded conversations.

Meet the 2022 Open Call artists

Open Call is our large-scale commissioning program for emerging NYC artists. In summer 2022, eight artists presented new performances. Get to know more about them and their work with these videos and conversations.

To learn more about all the artists in the program, visit the Open Call page.

In The Works

Explore Spiderwebs and the Cosmic web with Tomás Saraceno

Tomás Saraceno’s exhibition, Particular Matter(s), called us to renew relationships with Earth, the air, and the cosmos in the Capitalocene, a name for the era of Earth’s existence that we’re living in, characterized by the destructive effects of capitalism on the environment. Though the exhibition is now closed, continue learning about the interwoven threads of Saraceno’s work.

The Quest for an Adapted Classic

Dive into the creative team’s thoughts behind the silent film adaptation MOBY DICK; or, The Whale, directed by Wu Tsang, performed with live orchestral accompaniment by Members of the New York Philharmonic at The Shed.

Investigate White Dominance with Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine’s play, Help, continued the celebrated poet and essayist’s deep inquiry into white dominance in our society. Learn more about the production from its creative team and join the ongoing, urgent conversation opened by the play.
In The Works

over 2 years ago

Claudia Rankine on Writing Help

In July of 2019 the New York Times published an essay I wrote entitled in the print version, “Brief Conversations with White Men,” and online, “I Wanted to Know What White Men Thought About Their Privilege. So I Asked.” The piece received 2,197 comments. I also received over 200 email correspondences from people I didn’t know. Surprisingly, I was suddenly in conversation with hundreds of white men and a number of Black women.Though I wasn’t able to respond to each person individually, Help became a way to use theater to continue the conversation.

Help is a play in which the Narrator inhabits the category of the Black woman in order to be in dialogue with the structure of white supremacy. As the playwright, I was interested in exploring with various publics our power structure, comprised primarily of white men who ultimately determine all civic possibility. According to the US Census Bureau, for example, white men comprise approximately 31 percent of the US population. Yet, since the Supreme Court’s inception in 1789, 94 percent of justices have been white men. In today’s 117th US Congress (the most diverse in our history), 60 percent of its members are white men. According to Fortune magazine, 7 in 10 senior executives are white men, who also account for 72 percent of corporate leadership at the 16 Fortune 500 companies that share demographic information.

The text spoken by white people in the piece was primarily culled from responses to the Times article; public statements by men and women in the government and public life; and interviews conducted with white men by civil rights activist and theologian Ruby Sales, or documentary filmmaker Whitney Dow, or myself. Where the dialogue was excerpted from interviews, no autobiographical details were included. This is a play holding loosely the categories of white man, white woman, and Black woman. The various white men and women do not hold any single identity throughout the play, but speak with the many voices and positions expressed in response to the original article and recent events (including the January 6 insurrection and the global pandemic).

Help builds on the desire to create a shared reality. One in which there is agreement not in how to respond but in what we see is happening. If it’s raining, can we all agree it is raining? How we respond to the rain varies, but can we agree the rain is coming down? Can we live in relation to each other within a shared knowing? The genius analysis, language, and work of Fred Moten, Saidiya Hartman, Lauren Berlant, Frank Wilderson III, Jared Sexton, and Christina Sharpe is foundational to Help. As Ruby Sales has said, “I want a theology that begins to deepen people’s understanding about their capacity to live fully human lives and to touch the goodness inside of them, rather than call upon them—the part of themselves that’s not relational. Because there’s nothing wrong with being European American; that’s not the problem. It’s how you actualize that history and how you actualize that reality.”

Join in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

Hear from Cecily Strong, Jane Wagner, and Lily Tomlin about Wagner’s The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, which returned to a New York stage for the first time in two decades in The Shed’s Griffin Theater in December 2021.
In The Works
Explore the stories behind past programs
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