Category Archives: Live Wire Blog

Music is Life…

Update Your Playlist.

That’s just one of our rallying cries around our season programming. You’ll see much more of this and other statements that encapsulate our feelings about music, theater, dance and spoken word.

Music is such a huge part of our lives–as a performing arts entity, as humans living in a vibrant, music-rich city. No, make that a vibrant, music-rich world.

The way we consume music has changed dramatically over the last handful of years. It’s remarkable how much the playlist has taken over. Even for those of us, yours truly included, who still love to listen to and purchase whole albums of favorite artists, the concept of playlist is no longer as much of a labor of love as it once was. Raise your hand if you slaved over mix CDs for Valentine’s Day gifts, workout mixes, girls nights, baby showers etc? Now, a playlist is a daily occurrence, fueled as much by our own deep dives of discovery into the vastness of the music landscape as it is by the songs and sounds our social media platforms are building for us.

Here at the Center we are constantly and joyously having our collective playlist updated by the incredible artists from around the world we encounter. And they, each in their own form and culture are updating the playlists of their lineage, the history and legacy of their forms. And by bringing them here to our stages, we are seeking to update your personal playlist as well.

We recently added another great to this year’s lineup–Blues/funk/soul singer and guitar player Black Joe Lewis and his band will co-headline with modern soul great Booker T. Jones here in Royce Hall on Friday December 4. This is sure to be a  very special night as Lewis and his band open the show. His horn section will stick around and flesh out Booker T.’s band and there will likely be more on-stage collaboration between Joe and Booker throughout the evening. The two consummate performers have never worked together before, but are mutual admirers and we count ourselves extremely lucky to bring them together for the first time in an exclusive performance on our season.

Black Joe Lewis and his band.
Black Joe Lewis and his band.

This is just one example of a season full of concerts that are exclusive pairings of musicians and groups that will happen nowhere else in the world–creating a truly eclectic and unique live-playlist experience.

Our exclusive concert pairings include:

  • Grammy Winning jazz collective Snarky Puppy with eclectic local quintet Kneebody on Thursday, September 24 at 8 p.m. in Royce Hall.  (Kneebody will also perform a free outdoor lunchtime concert to welcome students back to campus).
  • Ukranian trance-like quartet DakhaBrakha will be joined by the revered Tuvan throat singers of Huun Huur Tu on Friday, September 25.
  •  Our exclusive Mardi Gras Bhangra event on Tuesday February 9 pairs the unlikely but equally thrilling sounds of New York “dhol and brass” ensemble Red Baraat with legendary New Orleans pianist Henry Butler, trumpeter Steven Bernstein & The Hot 9.
  • Regina Carter returns to Royce Hall February 26 with her violin to share her deeply personal latest album Southern Comfort. We’ve paired her with Los Angeles-based Sam Amidon, a singer, guitarist, fiddler and banjo player who creates “recomposed folk songs.”
  • March 5, 2016 we bring together North African griot and acclaimed ardine player Noura Mint Seymali and her band with Tal National, with its  blissfully hypnotic West African guitar music. Both bands transcend the suffering and turmoil caused by years of civil unrest with the sound of their defiantly joyous music.
  • We’re also one of just a few performance stops for Tigran Hamasyan, who will be bringing us sacred music from Armenia in a thoughtful and rare program that also includes members of the Yerevan State Chamber Choir–Saturday, December 5th in Royce Hall.

And,  couple of new albums from season artists are nearly ready for your playlists.

Buddy Guy, who kicks off our season in just a few weeks (August 13 at Royce Hall) has a new studio album arriving on July 31. “Born To Play Guitar,” features guest appearances by Van Morrison, Joss Stone, Kim Wilson and Billy Gibbons. Morrison joins Buddy on the heartfelt “Flesh & Bone,” a song dedicated to the late great B.B. King. On “Come Back Muddy” Guy reminisces about the good ole days with his friend Muddy Waters.

(We’ve also recently added local rock-blues trio The Record Company to the Buddy Guy show. They will open the night. Get to know them before you arrive, you won’t regret it.)

Anoushkha Shankar, who will be with us April 13 2016, with a Hang drum player, and live electronics, has a new album coming out this week, July 10 titled “HOME.”  Inspired by her classical upbringing and teaching by her legendary father, Maestro Ravi Shankar this album offers both meditative and virtuoso Indian classical raga for solo sitar with ensemble.

Recently, the Grammy Museum opened an exhibit devoted to Anoushka’s revered father, Ravi Shankar. It is the first time this acclaimed musician has been so honored in the United States and the exhibit runs through Spring of 2016.

I know, for me, it was Ravi Shankar who brought the sitar into my personal playlist and I am looking forward to having his virtuosic daughter update it even further.

Please join us often in the coming months as we celebrate the art of performance in myriad and mystical musical forms.  Our playlists will most certainly be bulging.

From the Center: Delfos Danza Contemporanea–Royce Hall April 14, 2015

Unsigned editorial from the performance program notes. 

The Body is Beautiful. Get Used to It.

For one final time in the 2014-2015 we will rally around this idea as the impeccable dancers from Delfos Danza Contemporanea take the stage. Tonight they invite us to examine the masks we wear when looking at one another, at the world or even at ourselves.
Art in all its possibilities, permutations and reverberations can varyingly strip away a disguise, reveal new or forgotten truths, or grant us with a perfect costume that somehow serves the same purpose.

The body itself can be both a disguise and an unveiling, as it glides and stretches into new shapes, new possibilities.

The performers we welcome here tonight are unmasked and open, willing to share themselves, the beauty of their individual bodies, the stories and ideas and heritage embedded into each line, each syllable of movement. Cuando los Disfraces se Cuelgan (When the Disguises Are Hung Up) is a reflection on appearances, the loss and rediscovery of the self, told through a performance that combines multimedia and dance. You’ll find the lyrical aesthetic marked by intense physicality.

Delfos is one of the leading companies in Latin America, and one of the artistic imperatives of all involved is to see their vision as Mexicans transcend the local and connect with the universal from a humanist, ethical, political and social standpoint.

They are led by two incredible co-artistic directors Claudia Lavista and Víctor Manuel Ruiz who are committed to the ongoing exploration of possibility and purpose that is inherent in dance forms.

We count ourselves fortunate to have them with us tonight.
Thank you for being here.

 

Frank Warren: PostSecret Live” Weds. Jan. 23, 2015-Royce Hall

(Unsigned editorial from the performance program notes)

In the last decade, PostSecret Project founder Frank Warren has received more than a million postcards. That is a staggering amount of secrets to imagine that one human is willing to assume compassionate responsibilty for. It is also a staggering example of the capacity for empathy we all possess.

The secrets have come from around the world, each bearing a secret the anonymous senders might otherwise never voice.

Hopes, fears, confessions, regrets, dreams, all captured on 4×6 cards that come pouring into Frank’s mailbox, and his home, every day.
Tonight, we’ll get to see some of the postcards that didn’t end up on the PostSecret website or in one of Frank’s books. But we haven’t all gathered here just to pull back the curtain on the lives of strangers. Frank will share what all those secrets have taught him about the unseen dramas unfolding all around us, and how they can help us be more compassionate.

We all feel the need to conceal parts of ourselves. Whatever our individual secrets may be, we each make daily decisions about what to share and what to hide, which doors to open and which to keep locked.

Here at the Center, we believe in opening doors. We believe in creating a space where we can share an experience, and be reminded that our own most personal truth can be recognized in the unlikeliest of places. Each time an artist takes the stage, it’s an invitation to make a connection. PostSecret reminds us that the act of sharing a secret, on an anonymous postcard or in front of a crowd, is just another kind of invitation to connect, another door being thrown open.

Inspired by PostSecret, we’ve been collecting anonymous answers to the question, What’s the Boldest Thing You’ve Ever Done? Hundreds of cards were dropped into collection boxes across campus over the last few months. They are on display tonight in the lobby. Some, no doubt, carry secrets. All of them help us to see someone else’s life through their own eyes.

We hope you’ll share your boldest moment, public or private, by submitting your own card before you leave tonight.

We’re honored to have Frank Warren here, and to share this evening of insight and discovery with you. Thanks for being here, and for bringing your curiosity and your compassion.

We hope you leave with a new door open.

Vijay Iyer- ‘Music of Transformation’ ‘RADHE RADHE: Rites of Holi’ and ‘Mutations I-X’ Dec. 5, 2014

The unsigned editorial from the performance program notes.

Art is inherently transformative.  The work of artists and the results of the ideas and forms in which they invest their curiosity, their creativity and their talents is imbued with the ability to change the shape of things we thought we once knew, or to wholly create something anew that allows us to reshape, reframe and rethink our own shapes in this world.

Vijay Iyer and Prashant Bhargava, two uniquely transformative artists, have collaborated to bring us a vivid rendering of an entire city embracing a transformative sentiment with RADHE RADHE: Rites of Holi.

Or, as Vijay explains it so eloquently in the notes that follow: “The result is a ballet of sorts: a performative encounter between live music and film, between lived experience and myth, the self and the transformed self, winter and spring.”

The art of contemporary performance revolves around this powerful concept of lived experience, both the experience of the moment, the life and performance experience of the artists on the stage, and the experiences and perceptions we the audience bring into this space as we lean forward to receive the great artistic gifts being offered.

It is a privilege and a gift to do the good work that creates the opportunity for that shared experience to exist. To hold a space and intention for the artists of our time who are committed to shaping and re-shaping our perceptions of art and culture and music.

This is Vijay Iyer’s second appearance at Royce Hall and the second time we have worked closely with him to craft an expansive inquiry into the deep wells of artistry he inhabits. Last time, Vijay performed in several different jazz ensemble configurations, showing his skill as a versatile and intelligent band leader.

We return him to this stage to further showcase the versatility that is making him one of the most important artists in modern music, and one least inclined to sit inside any preconceived notions of genre boundary.

We are incredibly fortunate to be music lovers in a world that Vijay Iyer is dominating. His transformative explorations into the raw potential that lives inside all music continues to take shape, evolve and transform.

We welcome the transformation. And we welcome you to share it with us.

Marathons and Milestones

March has been quite a month. A few themes have emerged for me in the coalescence of life in this city and the way the art we present winds itself into our lives as a presenting organization.  And since I dearly love metaphor, bear with me as I express one.

For the first time in more than a decade of living in West L.A., instead of avoiding leaving the house during the L.A. marathon, I dove into it. Not insofar as I would actually participate in such a daunting activity. (yikes!) But, since I live just a bit south of the marathon route, my S.O. and I went to watch the runners at a couple of different spots along the way.

Mile 22 made me believe in the power of humans to support each other’s endeavors. I literally teared up as I watched the crowds that lined the route. A few people were looking for friends or family members specifically, but mostly it was just people from the neighborhood, the churches and local business that lined the route, out there cheering every runner on, encouraging and congratulating, handing out tiny cups of water and candies and bits of fruit to stranger after stranger. Athletic clothing store Lululemon went big, with a DJ and dancers holding up witty encouraging signs for all to see.  It brought more than a few smiles, fist bumps and bursts of dancing to the sweaty, determined faces as they ran past.

HaMikeatmile22ving witnessed this moment of the race, we really wanted to see some people cross finish line too so we navigated to the point along the ocean in Santa Monica where the marathon ended. Here again were mounds of people lining the route, many layers of them. But, unlike back at Mile 22 where the onlookers cheered and applauded and encouraged every single runner, here, it was clear that the people clamoring at the edge of the race boundary were posted up in an effort to witness their specific friend or family member cross the finish line, and didn’t spare much cheer for strangers. It was awesome to see that support, but also made me a bit wistful for the vibe a few miles back. Runner after runner marked this major accomplishment in front of a sea of people who did not cheer spontaneously for them, because they were waiting for, checking their phones for text messages from, straining to get a glimpse of…someone else, someone specific cross that line.

While I don’t think that lack of spontaneous cheering from strangers diminished anyone who passed by at the culmination of such an incredible feat, I have to say, I much preferred the atmosphere of the admittedly smaller crowd back at mile 22. I bet there may have been a few runners who didn’t even  make it to or beyond that point of the race.  But mile 22 wasn’t the only spot where people line up in support of the marathoners. I saw crowds down the route as far as the eye could see. And regardless where the final stopping point of any runner was, I still think their effort was worthy and admire their fortitude.

It made me think about the artists we present here at the Center. We see groups and performers and creators at many and varied points on the creative marathon that is the life and career path of an artist. We cheer for them at the start, at multiple other convergences on their journey, sometimes stretches wherein there aren’t as many familiar faces lining the sides as others.  We celebrate their milestones.

And we’re proud to do so. Two weeks ago we celebrated the 40th anniversary of one of the most iconic groups in the art of contemporary performance—Kronos Quartet. We reminisced with them, we reveled in a showcase of their talent as individuals, we honored their collective vision and we enjoyed their collaborative spirit. It’s not a finish line, per se, because we hope there are many decades of music to come from this seminal cadre of performers, but it was a thrilling moment of connection to share that huge milestone with them.

Just this past weekend, we had the equally profoundly moving opportunity to intersect with four groups  who have followed in the footsteps of Kronos—new music ensembles Imani Winds, ETHEL, yMusic and eighth  blackbird—each of which is on its own distinctive mile in its unique artistic evolution. And all of which are traversing this path with grace, joy, abundant creativity, eclecticism, and persistent vision.

There was a palpable sense of warmth,  generosity and energy from the audiences who joined us to experience these talented ensembles as part of the first-ever Tune-In Festival L.A. It took me back to mile 22. And for that. I thank you.

If you missed any of these groups this month and you are a lover of music, I would encourage you to find that point on their performance marathon where you can lend them your applause. They’re worth it.

TuneIn

eighth blackbird, yMusic and several UCLA student musicians performed the finale of Tune-In Festival L.A. with “Worker’s Union.”

On Dreams and Tightropes

The last few weeks of artists and programs that have entered our sphere have made me think about dreams and tightropes.

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr @Creative Commons
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr @Creative Commons

Mike Daisey, in a solo performance that was somehow softer, more-nostalgic and more inherently loving than I had originally anticipated, talked about not only the dreamscapes he inserted himself into– as a participating observer of Burning Man, his family’s obsession with Disney World and the passionate fervor of the people who originated the Occupy Wall—but also of his own sense of dreaming, the import that holds on his practice and career and they ways in which we can daily invent and reinvent the world together.

He ended his performance on the steps in front of Royce Hall, his booming voice echoing against the portico, the foggy drizzle of raindrops functioning as punctuation to his testament of the power of dreams, and hopes and imagination.

A few days later, as I watched decades-old footage of British miners, their faces—some grizzled, some wide-eyed and fresh—turned to the camera as they crawled into tiny box cars that led them beneath the earth. Listening to Johan Johannsson’s elegiac music of the Miner’s Hymns added to my sensation of wonder. I wondered what those men’s dreams were? And did those dreams include a life spent largely beneath the earth? What were their days above like? Were they happy? What would they think about being immortalized so many years later as part of a dreamscape created by music and film artists?

This weekend brings yet another dreamscape, an entre into a secret inner world of a percussionist. Schick Machine isn’t just a theater performance. It isn’t just a music performance. It is a shared moment of invention, a celebration of the tinkerer, the mad scientist, the creative explorer in us all.

I’ve also been thinking of tightropes. Theater legend Peter Brook uses the concept of the tightrope as a rehearsal technique, which he allowed his son Simon to document in a new film called (appropriately) The Tightrope.  He takes a seemingly simple idea—move with freedom, abandon and cleverness all while adhering to the idea that you are suspended above air on a two-inch surface.

According to a New York Times review of the film:

 The most important requirement is that they convey a sense of reality, as if they were genuinely suspended in the air, their feet hugging a thin cord. After a while, it becomes clear that the tightrope is also a metaphor, standing for the existential risk inherent in every serious instance of playing.

All art, invented by dreaming, through imagination and exploration, exists on a tightrope, a precipice of risk. Creators create in a landscape of unknown outcome.

We as an organization gladly and gratefully also walk this tightrope with every performance, every year as we carefully shape a season of what we believe will be deeply nourishing and meaningful experiences that will in turn instigate more dreaming, more reasons to step on a sliver of reality and look at the world, ourselves, our art, our relationship to art and artists from a new perspective.

Here’s to dreams and tightropes.

More than Words…

This week at CAP UCLA we are proud to present two unique programs that explore compelling landscapes in musical theater and dance through the art of monologue. These creative and authentic artists harness the spoken word form in ways that will stir your soul—with Young Jean Lee’s WE’RE GONNA DIE (starting Wednesday) and Jerome Bel’s Cedric Andrieux (Saturdaynight).

Words have power, I believe. The power to tell stories, reveal truths and inspire true human connection. Thinking about these two shows made me think about an interview I heard not too long ago between Michael Silverblatt and Aleksander Hemon. The Bosnian author was talking about his book, “The Book of My Lives,”which contains a personal and very emotional remembering of the loss of his daughter. In the interview the author talked about how he was confronted by a friend at that time who said: “words fail in these situations.”

No, Hemon said. Being a writer, he has belief in words. Words don’t fail, he said. Platitudes do. Empty phrases that don’t instigate connection or communication fail. But thoughtful, reflective words with meaning behind them, those can heal, those can inspire.

What you’ll find here at CAP UCLA this week and weekend is a fulsome sense of the power of words, within the context of the art of performance. And you’ll be in great hands.

Young Jean Lee is a trailblazing New York theater maker. She comes to Los Angeles for the first time with a profound and acutely realized collection of songs and stories about loneliness, loss and pain, alchemized into a surprisingly uplifting performance that might just leave us more hopeful, more connected, more compassionate and more understanding of our shared human experience.

Young Jean Lee recently told LA Weekly that she conceived this work as sort of self-therapy.

“My father had just died,” she remembers. “I tell the story in the show — he died in such a horrible way that I was so traumatized and felt completely isolated from everybody. And then I was thinking, when you’re in that place, where you’re in so much pain that nobody can reach you, I was like, ‘What can be of comfort then?’”

Saturday night we bring another perspective on the human experience—our inclination to strive for success, for expression, for joy and for creative pursuit.

We bring to the Royce Hall stage an incredibly intimate examination of the inspirations and challenges behind the growth and success of one artist—named for and performed by celebrated French dancer Cédric Andrieux. Part spoken word, part solo dance performance, this work by famed French choreographer Jerome Bel, reveals the experiences that propel and compel an artistic life.

In a nakedly honest moment on the stage, the former Merce Cunningham company dancer Andrieux tells us the stories of his life, his loves and his frustrations. Andrieux and Bel invite the audience to embrace the role of avid and confidential spectator, not just of one immediate evening of performance, but of one artist’s personal evolution.

Typically in dance performance, the movement speaks volumes. But in this penetrating performance, the words carry weight and power to build an aesthetic bridge between artist and audience.
It’s a rare and magical insight into what goes on behind the curtain and inside the heart and mind of an artist.

At one point in the performance Andrieux admits: “This solo, for me, it’s thinking about 20 years of my life, through what I have done in dance. I realized I had never spent that much time thinking of what I had done and why I had done it.”

Working with Jerome on this solo allowed Cedric to do just that–and he quite movingly shares the revelations this process has wrought for him.

So, if you also, often consider why you do the things you do, if you ever wonder how to deal with pain and loss, if you are into the kind of thoughtful, reflective moments that might just help us all remember how much more we belong to one another than not, please do join us for Young Jean Lee and Cedric Andrieux this week.

From Lucy Guerin: On ‘Weather’

Editor’s Note: Lucy Guerin’s program note about “Weather” was so insightful, I wanted to give it a pulpit here and give everyone the chance to crawl deep inside the philosophy of this important work well before they arrive at the theater. We have weathered some challenges to get Lucy and her company here and we are extremely proud and excited for the performance on Friday. Enjoy.

The ideas underpinning this work stem from a desire to explore the possibilities of the human body’s connection to the elemental forces of weather. The range of this subject is limitless and universal, but for me, weather has a natural expression through dance and movement. It can be defined as the ‘state of the air’, and in this work, this invisible drama is made visible through movement and design. The cause and effect of moving air to create pressure systems informs the choreographic structure of the work, and defines the dynamics and performance of the movement material. Weather affects our mood, dress, food, activities, sports, conversations, architecture and our identity. Many works of art and literature have used the idea of a drought, a storm, the tropics or the icy outreaches of the poles to speak about the psychology of individuals, relationships or societies.

Making “Weather” has been for me a visceral immersion into choreographed movement and the body on stage. The motivation for the material has stemmed from the physical sensation and impact of the elements on the body, abstract representations of weather through maps and diagrams and our identification of human emotions with different weather phenomena. It occurred to me many times throughout the process that the human body shares with weather the qualities of moving air, water, mist and heat, and that the air we breathe in and out becomes part of the weather at some stage.

In today’s world, weather is acting like a barometer for our environmental disasters. As the polar ice caps melt and the holes widen in the ozone layer, we have to accept that humans are now a factor in the creation and alteration of weather. Our actions have tipped the balance resulting in uncertainty in the ‘natural’ order of things.

The attempt by scientists to understand, record and predict the weather is only partially successful, and I think it is this ability to defy our logic and to overwhelm us with its force that ultimately draws me to this subject. This aspect of nature cannot be controlled or subdued and is a poetic reminder that we are not the masters of the universe. Dance shares with the weather a resistance to easy interpretation. It is about force, direction, dynamics and form. But once the body stops dancing, nothing remains, and once the cyclone is still, we are left with only air. It is motion that brings them both into being.

This work has been a return for me to a focus on pure movement and the fascination I have for choreographing the human body. These exceptional dancers have contributed to both the choreographed and the improvised movement in Weather and without their willingness, superlative talents and belief in what we do, I could not have made this work. The stimulating dialogue I have had with my design and music collaborators has also impacted strongly on the creation of this piece and I owe much to their having strong visions within their own practices to bring to this work.
–Lucy Guerin

Calling All Saints and Sinners

Our 2013-2014 season kicks off in less than a week in an evening with our favorite storytellers—The Moth. If you love stories and have yet to experience a Moth Mainstage event, you are missing out. And now’s your chance. It takes the concept of “true stories told live” and kicks it up a notch with compelling anecdotes from seasoned storytellers and Moth regulars.

Are you naughty or nice? Come decked out in either fashion. (Photos by beefy_n1 and duncan via Flickr)

Let’s have some fun with this performance and celebrate the theme of the event—Saints and Sinners. Like CAP UCLA, The Moth is a not-for-profit entity that relies on support from individuals, corporations and organizations to keep its spoken word art form going. Winemaker Apothic Wines has generously pledged an additional donation to The Moth for each audience member who shows up in all red or all white. Support The Moth by wearing white to express your saintly side, or red to revel in your devilish spirit.

Meanwhile, get to know the performers who will be with us in a few short days as we welcome The Moth. It’s a perfect way to get spoken word started in the new season.

Host: Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy is host of The Moth podcast and the author of Loser Goes First: My Thirty Something Years of Dumb Luck and Minor Humiliationand Rock On: An Office Power Ballad, which The Times of London-named a Book of The Year. His new novel, “American Spirit,” has just been released. Kennedy is a longstanding contributor at McSweeneys.net, and his essays also appear in GQ magazine, and in several anthologies including The New Yorker humorist Ian Frazier’s collection, “Humor Me: An Anthology of Funny Contemporary Writing”. Of his latest book, The New York Times Book Review says, “Hilariously spot on. Neither the music business or Mr. Kennedy will ever be the same.”

Here’s Dan in action:

The Storytellers:

Hector Black was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Queens. He served in the army during World War II and graduated from Harvard in 1949. He worked in an interdenominational ministry in New Haven for one year, lived in a communal Christian community for eleven years, and later moved to an impoverished Atlanta neighborhood to work with Quakers. He founded Hidden Spring Nursery in rural Georgia and later moved the business to Tennessee, where he still lives with his family.

Here’s a really sweet interview with Hector:

Cindy Chupack is best known as an Emmy-winning TV writer/producer whose credits include Modern Family, Sex and the City and Everybody Loves Raymond. Author of New York Times bestseller “The Between Boyfriends Book,” her new comic memoir about marriage, “The Longest Date: Life as a Wife” will be published by Viking in Jan ’14. Currently, Cindy is writing a TV pilot based on “The Longest Date” for Fox, writing films and preparing to direct her first feature. For more info, visit www.cindychupack.com

Here’s Cindy at a Moth event way back in 2004:

Jillian Lauren is the author of the memoir Some Girls: My Life in a Harem and the novel Pretty. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review Daily, The New York Times, Los Angeles Magazine and Vanity Fair, among others. She has performed at spoken word and storytelling events across the country. She recently debuted her one-woman show, Mother Tongue. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.

Here’s Jillian reading from her memoir, “Some Girls:”

Kemp Powers is a writer, editor, playwright, author and an occasional birdwatcher. He was a very angry and cynical young man who inexplicably grew into a happy and optimistic adult. His Bosc pear obsession has remained consistent throughout. A journalist for almost 20 years, he has told the stories of countless others in the pages of magazines and newspapers ranging from Esquire to Forbes. Now he tells tales much closer to home as a resident playwright at Los Angeles’ award-winning Rogue Machine Theatre company. His world premier play, “One Night in Miami…”, just enjoyed a hit run at the theater, and he is hard at work on his new play, “The Two Reds.”

Check out the Rogue Machine trailer for Kemp Powers “One Night in Miami..” which has been extended through Sept. 15.

Our Musician:
Andrea Baker was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she began taking classical violin lessons at the age of eight. Andrea is equally comfortable playing both classical music and alternative music styles, including rock and blues, Scottish, and Turkish/Middle-Eastern music. Andrea has performed on national television with the reality show “America’s Next Great Band”, and has toured internationally with an indie-rock band as well as a theater troupe. She currently performs with a traditional Middle-Eastern ensemble, the Scottish Fiddlers of Los Angeles and several other traditional ensembles, bands and music groups around the Los Angeles area.

Summer Reading List

I know, I know, summer is waning. But there’s always time for books, right!? There are a lot of books related to programs on our 2013-2014 season that have become part of a CAP UCLA-centric summer reading list. Join us as these performances approach.

Photo courtesy Simon Cocks via Creative Commons.

You can easily get literarily energized in advance of several of our spoken word artists.
Definitely grab Chris Ware’s latest, Building Stories. As usual, Ware’s storytelling approach is part book, part puzzle and part work of visual art. I can’t wait to get my hands on the copy floating around our offices.

But, we can also dive into the bestseller that helped put Ware on the map.

There are multiple offerings to choose from our lovely wandering poet Naomi Shihab Nye that will provide even greater understanding of her work and enjoyment around her live reading this spring. Both Chris and Naomi’s events are free and we hope you’ll jump at the chance to join us for these wildly different but equally inspiring authors.

And this September, The Moth will release it’s very first book—a collection of some of the organization’s favorite true stories over the years from frequent performers Annie Duke, Nathan Englander, Malcolm Gladwell, Richard Price and Andrew Solomon as well as Moth founder George Dawes Green and many delightful other contributors. (I’m halfway through this one and it is one of those delightful non-linear “discovery” reads that’s perfect for lunch breaks or if you only have short bursts of time to read.)

Along the lines of discovery, I also plan to plunge myself into the inspiration behind several dance and theater programs we have coming up, starting with Complicite and Setagaya Public Theater’s interpretation of some intense writings by Junichiro Tanazaki, who is a literary household name in Japan.

Shun-kin, which kicks off our 2013-2014 theater programming in September, is partially based on a story by Tanazaki titled In Praise of Shadows. Interestingly, there is a strong local connection to this work. In the 1977 edition, the forward to In Praise of Shadows was written by influential Los Angeles architect Charles Moore, who was then Chair of the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design.

Our April presentation of The Suit, Peter Brook’s loving adaptation of a short story by South African writer Can Themba, brings to vivid life a work of art that was suppressed during the writer’s lifetime. It’s still not the easiest thing to find. All the more reason to go searching I say. Here’s an anthology from Amazon that includes it. (How did we book lovers live before Amazon?)

I’m always fascinated by what prompts choreographers to create their work…the possibilities and interpretations are limitless. This season I’m eager to explore the philosophies found in Flesh in the Age of Reason, by Roy Porter, which was part of the impetus for Wayne McGregor’s FAR– so much so, that it’s where the name of the piece comes from.

After we presented Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Orbo Novo, I was compelled to go and read the book upon which it was based, Jill Bolte Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight. The book itself is amazing and a worthy read in, but knowing that Cherkaoui read it, and like I did, probably marveled at it, and yet somehow, very much unlike me, was inspired to create a very intricate and thought-provoking dance work out of it. Unlikely art pairings are a joy to experience.

Lots of context and personal perspective to unearth, explore and wrap ourselves up in–which is just the thing art should inspire us to do I think.