By Holli Harms
The new Perelman Performing Arts Center sits on the sacred site of the 9/11 attacks that left thousands dead and thousands displaced and the rest of us New Yorkers, in shock, stunned, and devastated. One minute the magnificent buildings were there and the next they were gone on one of the most beautiful of early fall days I and most can remember. And with the destruction of those incredible structures, the destruction of the lives of so many, including one I knew. With those feelings, I entered the Arts Center as one would a sacred space, quiet with a heavy heart. I sat with my bottle of water watching as others of the press arrived getting their coffee or water taking one of the complimentary bowls of fruits and/or gourmet muffins and waiting for the introduction to the amazing structure.
What we all quickly found out from the builders, funders, supporters, and staff that they also believed it to be a sacred space, but instead of lingering in places of melancholy and pain they, the architects and visionaries, decided that this space should not lie dormant but should flourish and bring life and become a place to celebrate, innovate, and most importantly bring us all together. Artists and art and community are what the vision is to come out of this sacred space.
The Perelman Performing Arts Center will be opening its doors in September of this year 2023 and TICKETS begin selling online on June 20th.
I entered the dramatic and beautiful lobby/restaurant/free stage area in Lower Manhattan and was immediately taken by the vast openness of the space and the view of the building’s outer structure made of translucent marble. Stunning. (You can watch the story of its creation HERE.)
Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg was there to welcome us and tell us all about this amazing space. He started by reminding us that “When New Yorkers are faced with adversity they don’t look back they look forward.” He went on to say that the Arts Center, imagined and created by architect Joshua Ramus, is going to add light and hope to the World Trade Center site in a manner that respects its role as a place of reflection.
Connection, connecting people and art is the center’s mission. The three main stages will feature artists and audiences interacting, and the lobby stage will feature free performances. Everyone entering through the doors will find a place to sit and relax, a place to enjoy Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s food creations, and a plethora of outdoor seating to enjoy the neighborhood. As with everything in the building, these spaces have flexible walls with no barriers and can be adapted as needed.
This IS the way to honor the memory of 9/11, with life and connections of people and art.
The three main stages are astonishing spaces dedicated to the endless possibility of human creation. They are able to move walls and floors with the flip of a switch and reconstruct audience seating into 60 different variations of venues including in-the-round, proscenium, thrust, and black box. They can move walls and combine stages to create one huge theater, or take two walls down and combine two of the spaces into one. They moved the walls and the stage for us to show the fluidity and flexibility of the spaces. Artists can be inspired by the flexibility of the spaces and create innovative theatrical productions that bare no restrictions because of the limitations of the space. There are no limits or boundaries to their imaginations.
The possibilities are almost endless because of the innovative inspirational architect and designer Joshua Ramus. He has designed a vibrant community gathering. Every inch of the space has been considered for creating the best works. The walls are soundproof so one theater can have a full-piece orchestra playing while next door a spoken-word production is happening with no sound but the voices of the performers and the reactions of the audience. The entire building is wrapped in translucent marble. Allowing light to come in during the day and at night it glows from the inside. Wrapping the building in this amazing marble creates a enchanting space for artists to bring their magic to. The building is one big element of surprises and fun, connections, and experiences. Like Shakespeare who has proven to be a continuous source of inspiration so too will the Perelman for decades to come.
Lower Manhattan has been healing ever since that devastating day. There were those that believed it would be forever a ghost town but it is a thriving, living and working area with Hudson Park, the residential neighborhood of Battery Park City, award-winning shops and restaurants, and outdoor concerts. We heal. It is what we humans do, we heal our hearts and our homes. We move forward with a new appreciation for life and beauty, and we now have a new space to do it all in.
The Perelman Performing Arts Center 251 Fulton Street, NYC NY 10007