Conversation Series

Held in our historic period rooms, these insightful conversations throughout the year feature artists, scholars, cultural leaders, and social trailblazers who gather to offer new points of view and unique perspectives on Armory productions, explore a range of themes and relevant topics, and encourage audiences to think beyond conventional interpretations and perspectives of art.

FLEXN Conversations: “A New Vision for Justice in America
Thursday, May 18–Sunday, May 21

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In the wake of the first one hundred days of the new Administration, the Park Avenue Armory, in collaboration with Common Justice, has gathered visionary public figures, social justice advocates, community leaders, and youth from across the country to participate in a series of urgent, pointed, and creative conversations entitled “A New Vision for Justice in America”. Each performance of FLEXN Evolution begins with an onstage conversation, moderated by Reggie (Regg Roc) Gray and Peter Sellars, in which participants debate imaginative and implementable solutions to some of the most critical societal issues explored in FLEXN: the criminal justice system, mass incarceration, gun violence, police brutality, racial inequity, school to prison pipeline, and youth disenfranchisement.

“Envisioning the Future from the Past”—Thursday, May 18
“Imagining, Organizing, & Reforming for a More Just Future”
(Student Matinee)—Friday, May 19
“A New Era of Prosecutors”—Friday, May 19
“Justice Beyond Prisons”—Saturday, May 20
“Envisioning Just Cities”—Sunday, May 21

Confrontational Comedy
Monday, May 22 at 7:00pm


Following a sold-out event in 2016 headlined by Hari Kondabolu, Confrontational Comedy returns to the Armory featuring an afternoon of comedy sets performed by challenging and relevant comedians and a conversation highlighting the power of humor to confront stereotypes and engage audiences around uncomfortable topics.

Hansel & Gretel:

The Courage of Art Symposium
Wednesday–Saturday, June 7–10

Artist Talk
Wednesday, June 7 at 6:00pm


Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, and Ai Weiwei discuss the inspirations, ideas, and creative process behind their latest collaboration.

The symposium continues with artists, activists, academics, and journalists responding to the artistic collaboration by engaging in a series of debates about the role of artists as catalysts for change. Participants to be announced.

Artists In Residence: Open House
Saturday, September 16 at 1:00pm


Armory artists-in-residence host a series of work-in-progress performances, presentations, and conversations in their studio spaces housed in the historic Company rooms on the Armory’s second floor. 2017 artists-in-residence include: Tania Bruguera, Reggie Gray, Lynn Nottage, and Marvin Sewell.

Blank Out: Artists Talk
Saturday, September 23 at 6:00pm


Composer and director Michel van der Aa and collaborators discuss the creation of chamber opera and 3D film, Blank Out.

Repons: Artist Talk
Saturday, October 7 at 6:00pm


Conductor Matthias Pintscher and Pierre Audi discuss composer Pierre Boulez and their realization of his spatial work in a live performance setting.

Person Place Thing
Friday, November 17 at 7:00pm


Randy Cohen and Person Place Thing return to the Armory for a special Fall edition in front of a live audience. Participants to be announced.

Robert Lepage and The Mnouchkine Method: Artist Talk
Friday, December 8 at 6:00pm

Director Robert Lepage and other members of the creative team and cast discuss the creative process behind the development of this epic work.

Kanata Perspectives
Friday, December 15 at 6:00pm

Performers, activists, and native Canadians respond to KANATA and discuss the role of art in highlighting indigenous issues and concerns.

Previously This Season

Interrogations of Form: Culture in a Changing America
In Collaboration with The Aspen Institute Arts Program
Sunday, February 19, 1:00pm–8:00pm

Artists, activists, academics, and community leaders gather for a day-long series of conversations, performances, and open studios that explore the role of art, creativity, and imagination in addressing or challenging the social and political issues bound up in what it means to be an American today.

Visitors can attend the full Symposium or individual sessions, and are free to visit the Artist Salons throughout the day. Salon tours with the artists commence at the times indicated below. Session one sets the stage for discussion, focusing on culture’s impact on an ever-evolving society, and session two focuses on the future of a variety of art forms including music, film, spoken word, and comedy. The day concludes with a special session of Person Place Thing which features surprising viewpoints from an intergenerational perspective.

Participants and schedule subject to change. Availability is limited, but tickets may also be available at the door. Tickets can be purchased for individual sessions or for the entire day at a discounted rate.

Symposium Pass: $40
Includes Sessions 1, 2, and 3.

Session 1: $15

1:00pm–2:00pm: What Makes an American?: The Culture of Citizenship
Nisha Agarwal (Commissioner, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs), Tania Bruguera (artist, Armory Artist-in-Residence), Sarah Lewis (author, curator and Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture and African American Studies, Harvard University), and Jose Antonio Vargas (activist and journalist) join moderator Eric Liu (Founder, Citizen University) in a debate over the role of culture and the nature of citizenship in a changing America. Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner, Department of Cultural Affairs, New York City, responds.

1:00pm–4:00pm: Artist Salons
Artist Salon featuring works by Carrie Mae Weems and guest artists; Nyame O. Brown, Jennifer Hsu, Kambui Olijuimi, and Lava Thomas
Salon tour with guest artists at 2:15pm
Artist Salon featuring artworks by Elizabeth Colomba
Curated by Deborah Willis and Kalia Brooks
Salon tour with Deborah Willis and Kalia Brooks at 2:45pm
Artist Salon featuring works on film by Paola Mendoza

2:00pm–2:45pm: Staying Visible: The Power of Storytelling
Introductory performance by Yosimar Reyes
Cristela Alonzo (creator, Cristela, ABC network), Christopher Myers (illustrator, author, and artist), and Erika Wurth (Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee writer and Professor of Creative Writing, Western Illinois University) join moderator Elizabeth Hutchinson (Associate Professor of Feminist and Cultural Theory, Barnard College) in a discussion about the essential role of the arts in preserving forgotten stories, collective memories, and fragile histories.

3:00pm–3:45pm: The Movement in Movement
Jookin’ innovator Lil Buck and flex pioneer Reggie (Regg Roc) Gray discuss and showcase their dance styles and how they are working for social progress through movement. Hosted by former Principal Dancer of the New York City Ballet and Director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program, Vail Dance Festival, and DEMO at the Kennedy Center, Damian Woetzel.

Session 2 : $15

4:00pm–4:45pm: Sounding Off
Jason Moran (jazz pianist, composer, curator), Toshi Reagon (singer, musician, composer), Davóne Tines (opera singer), and Camille Zamora (co-founder, Sing for Hope) join Ric Leichtung (Webster Hall Talent Buyer and Adhoc founder) to discuss how music can lead, accompany, and inspire America now.

The session opens with a dedication of a Sing for Hope Piano, designed by French artist Lady JDay, for the Lenox Hill Neighborhood Women’s Shelter, located on the Armory’s fourth floor. Special performance by Jason Moran and Davóne Tines.

4:00pm–7:00pm: Artist Salons
Artist Salon featuring works by Carrie Mae Weems and guest artists; Nyame O. Brown, Jennifer Hsu, Kambui Olijuimi, and Lava Thomas
Salon tour with guest artists at 5:15pm
Artist Salon featuring artworks by Elizabeth Colomba
Curated by Deborah Willis and Kalia Brooks
Salon tour with Deborah Willis and Kalia Brooks at 5:45pm
Artist Salon featuring works on film by Paola Mendoza

5:00pm–5:45pm: Where in the World is America?
Award-winning filmmaker Mira Nair (Queen of Katwe, Amelia, The Namesake, Monsoon Wedding, Mississippi Masala) and Warrington Hudlin (President of the Black Filmmaker Foundation) discuss the future of American cinema and America’s current place in the world.

6:00pm–6:45pm: Open Mic with Yosimar Reyes, Negin Farsad, and special guests
Yosimar Reyes hosts an open-mic session featuring spoken-word poetry that challenges myths about identity in America. Reyes is joined at the mic by youth poets Karlyn Boens, Madeleine LeCesne, Ashley Gong, and N’kosi Nkululeko. Negin Farsad (comedian, actress, writer, and filmmaker) concludes the session with her pioneering brand of social justice comedy.

Session 3: $15

7:00pm–8:00pm: Person Place Thing
Person Place Thing is an interview show based on the idea that people are particularly engaging when they speak not directly about themselves but about something they care about. Guests talk about one person, one place, and one thing that are important to them to reveal surprising stories from great talkers. Ta-Nehisi Coates (journalist and author) and Sonia Sanchez (scholar, poet, playwright, and activist) debate these topics with host Randy Cohen (formerly “The Ethicist”); members of The Ebony Hillbillies are musical guests.

A Hairy Ape for the 21st Century: Artist Talk
Friday, March 31 at 6:00pm

The Hairy Ape director Richard Jones, Bobby Cannavale, and Robert M. Dowling (Eugene O’Neill scholar and Professor of English, Central Connecticut State University) discuss the challenges of presenting Eugene O’Neill’s play nearly 100 years after its first production by the Provincetown Players in 1922.

Richard Jones

Richard Jones has directed theater at the Young Vic, the Old Vic, National Theatre, and RSC; On the West End: Royal Court Theatre and in New York at the Public Theatre and three times on Broadway. Jones has directed Opera at The Royal Opera House, The E.N.O., Aix en Provence, Paris, Amsterdam, Glyndebourne, La Scala Milan, Frankfurt, Berlin, and Munich. In theater, he has been awarded the Olivier Award for Too Clever by Half (Old Vic) and Into the Woods (West End), the Evening Standard Award for Best Direction for The Illusion (Old Vic). He was nominated for a Tony Award for La Bête (Broadway). He was awarded 3 Olivier Awards in Opera for Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (ROH), Hansel and Gretel (WNO), and The Mastersingers of Nurnberg (ENO). This also won the South Bank Show Award. In the 2015 New Years Honours, Jones was appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE).

Bobby Cannavale

New York Theater: The Big Knife (Roundabout), Glengarry Glen Ross (Broadway), The Motherfucker With The Hat (Broadway, Tony nomination and Drama Desk Award), Mauritius (Broadway, Tony nomination), Hurlyburly (Acorn Theater), Fucking A (Public Theatre), The Gingerbread House (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater), and others, and is a member of the Labyrinth Theater Company. Film: Antman, Spy, Danny Collins, Adult Beginners, Annie, Chef, Blue Jasmine, Win Win, The Station Agent, Fast Food Nation, Romance And Cigarettes, and others. Upcoming Film: Going Places, Jumanji, and Boundaries. TV: Vinyl, Boardwalk Empire (Emmy Award, SAG nomination), Nurse Jackie (2-time Emmy nomination, SAG nomination), Will And Grace (Emmy Award), and others. Upcoming TV: Master Of None and Mr. Robot.

Robert M Dowling

Robert M. Dowling is professor of English at Central Connecticut State University. His acclaimed biography Eugene O’Neill: A Life in Four Acts was named a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist for biography in 2015. Dowling has written and edited several other books on O’Neill, as well as numerous articles on the playwright for such publications as The Irish Times, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, The Dramatist, and Irish America, among others. He serves on the editorial board of The Eugene O’Neill Review and the board of directors of the Eugene O’Neill Society. Nanjing University Press will be releasing a Chinese translation of his biography Eugene O’Neill in 2018.

The Hairy Ape & New York City: Class and Identity
Friday, April 14 at 6:00pm

Catherine Combs (“Mildred”), Valerie Paley (Chief Historian at the New-York Historical Society), and Erika Rundle (Associate Professor in Theater Arts and Gender Studies at Mount Holyoke College) discuss The Hairy Ape’s intersecting forces of class, gender, and identity—issues that continue to entangle the social fabric of New York City today.

Catherine Combs

Catherine Combs most recently starred in the Tony-winning revival of A View From the Bridge directed by Ivo Van Hove (Ahmanson/Kennedy Center) Off-Broadway: Gloria (Vineyard Theatre) The Sensuality Party (The New Group). Regional: Gloria (Goodman Theatre) Smokefall (Goodman Theatre) The Delling Shore (ATL Humana Festival 2013) The Edge of Our Bodies (ATL Humana Festival 2011)  Other: Hamlet (Santa Susana Repertory Company) A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Santa Susana Rep) The Merry Wives of Windsor (Kingsmen Shakespeare Company) Film: The Blind Side, Touched with Fire, 13 Going on 30 Television: The Mentalist and The Mysteries of Laura.

Valerie Paley

Valerie Paley joined the New-York Historical Society in 2001 and currently serves as vice president, chief historian, and director of the Center for Women’s History. A graduate of Vassar College, Paley holds an M.A. in American Studies and a Ph.D. in History from Columbia University, where she teaches an undergraduate seminar in museums and public culture at the Columbia Center for American Studies. Her responsibilities at the New-York Historical Society encompass a critical range of administrative and curatorial activities, which have included developing the new Center for Women’s History; curating permanent and temporary exhibitions, including the Smith Gallery “New York and the Nation” installation and the recent The Battle of Brooklyn; supervising pre- and postdoctoral fellows as dean of scholarly programs; and editing publications. She is an elected member of the Council (governing board) of the American Historical Association

Erika Rundle

Erika Rundle (moderator) is an associate professor of theatre arts and gender studies at Mount Holyoke College, where she teaches courses in theatre history, dramatic literature, and performance studies. She is also a dramaturg, translator, and scholar, whose articles and reviews have been published in numerous journals and anthologies. Her translation of Marie Ndiaye’s play Hilda has been performed off-Broadway and regionally. Drama after Darwin, her study of twentieth-century “primate drag,” is forthcoming in 2017. Rundle holds a B.A. from Brown University, an M.S. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and an M.F.A. and D.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama.

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