Tag Archives: spoken word

Choose Your Own Arts Adventure!

You are in control of your own season experience!
You are in control of your own season experience!

Our sincere thanks go out to everyone who has already subscribed to our upcoming season. We’re currently working on seating order for subscribers and your tickets will be in the mail soon! We are looking forward to a packed calendar of inspiring, provocative and exciting performers from around the world, and it is always great to know we have a cadre of committed arts lovers readying themselves for the season along with us.

Subscriptions to our pre-curated series of Theater, Spoken Word, Jazz, Roots & World, Global Music, Dance, and our special four-night package celebrating Belgian contemporary company Rosas ended last week. But, you can still subscribe to the 2015-2016 season with a self-programmed Create-Your-Own series of five or more events. In fact, you can order a Create-Your-Own series at any point during the season, gathering any five or more upcoming performances.

This choose-your-own-arts-adventure option has by far become our most-popular subscription method over the last several years. It makes sense. As a social media savvy society, we are increasingly able to curate our own experiences with information, pop culture and entertainment. It seems natural that arts lovers would gravitate toward desiring a series of events that will specifically enhance their individual interests. And our programming is eclectic enough that we know you are also likely to be exploring and engaging with new artists and experiences as you build those personalized series.

There are people who might ask– why subscribe to CAP UCLA or to any performing arts program at all?  Why not just buy tickets as the shows approach? We know subscribing to a series in advance definitely entails a certain amount of pre-planning on your personal calendar, self-education/research into artists as well as an initial financial investment—all of which might seem daunting.

But, if you’ve never purchased a subscription to a performing arts program before, consider some of the benefits. For us, and likely for many other organizations, the only discounts on ticket prices happen during the subscription window. For example, our series subscribers (anyone who purchases our pre-curated selections) save 15% off list prices. For our Create-Your-Own option, you save 10%. This adds up to a great deal per ticket, one you won’t get otherwise.

And, ticket fees, which no one loves, but are inevitable and necessary, are lower on a subscription package because you pay one fee for five performances, rather than doling out fees on five or more different purchases throughout the year.

At CAP UCLA subscribing is also your best way to get the best seats in the house. Our venues are not large–Royce Hall is an 1,800 seat theater, Freud Playouse just 500 seats. Prime seats go to first to our returning subscribers who are also philanthropic members of CAP UCLA, then to our repeat series subscribers. By the time individual tickets go on sale every year, there is very limited access to seats front-and-center in any of our venues. So if you’re the kind who loves to see the sweat on a dancer’s brow, or catch every nuance of an actor’s facial expression, or see fingers fly across a keyboard or guitar string, subscribing is your best bet to get that experience.

For us, subscribers are the foundation of success for any given performance. We are proud of the artists we present and we bring them to Los Angeles because we truly believe that there are people here who should witness them. The subscribers who sign on now to be here for a performance up to a year from now, we know are going to bring the kind of energy to this place that will lift us all up.

For those of you who subscribe year after year, we see you. We feel you and we thank you. For those of you who are new subscribers this year, we can’t wait to see what you bring to the program. And for those of you who pick up tickets as the season progresses, we are so appreciative of the support and energy you add to the whole process as the curtain call draws near.

Individual tickets go on sale June 26 at full price. If you see several things you like on our upcoming season, consider taking a chance and Create-Your-Own series now or at any moment before a performance begins.

Regardless of how you get here though, know that we’re extremely happy when you arrive.

Here’s a peek into my arts-addled mind. This is the series I would create if I wasn’t essentially already subscribed to every single performance.

Miranda July: New Society-Because I like earnestly rendered awkwardness and I like  community togetherness and this “social experiment” is poised to provide both.

Kid Koala’s Nufonia Must Fall–While I am an electronic music lover, I’m not super familiar with his DJ work, but I find this combination of electronic sounds, live string instruments and graphics very intriguing. Plus I have a huge soft spot for sweet-looking animated robots.

Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music: The 20th Century Abridged.–Because I also have a huge soft spot for men in drag.  (Avid re-watcher of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Rocky Horror Picture Show right here).  I caught Taylor in a performance at the Hammer earlier this year and not only is he incredibly glam, but surprisingly tender and with truly legit vocal chops. Can’t wait to see him bedazzle Royce Hall.

Akram Khan and Israel Galvan: Torobaka-I fell in love with Akram Khan’s work when we presented Vertical Road a couple of years ago. It was the same year he created this beautiful piece for the London Olympics opening ceremony, which the U.S. cut out of its broadcast in favor of a Ryan Seacrest interview. I’ve watched this segment many times since then and am looking very much forward to seeing Khan perform in what seems like it will be a very powerful physical dialogue between two dancers and two forms.

An Evening with Anoushka Shankar–I love the sitar and had many chances living in L.A. to see her glorious father perform live, none of which I took. I am remedying that mistake with the next generation.

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the 2015-2016 Season

The process of planning for and later presenting live performances is a remarkable encounter with careening variables. However refined a season schedule might be or however long we have planned with artists and colleagues for each project – we are ever aware that in an instant, things can change on a dime (and frequently do). Multifarious daily adventures become months and then a year, and a new season is born!

Since our work at the Center parallels life at large, it also offers us abundant recognition of how interdependent we are in creating the conditions for great artistry to arrive and thrive on our stages. That is a potential and vitality that includes you – our patrons, members, supporters, subscribers, audiences, students and visiting cultural omnivores. Without your interest, involvement and support, none of this would happen. Thank you.

As you have come to expect from Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, the 2015-2016 season reflects a diverse and highly considered program of contemporary performances.

One particular intention within our programming focus this season is the massive contribution of women in all of the art forms that our mission envelops.

Our Words & Ideas series is chock full of powerful, maverick and generous voices – from the literary genius of Ursula K. Le Guin, to the disarmingly brilliant cultural commentary of cartoonist Roz Chast. Miranda July returns to the Center for a top-secret experience, and we will hear from Moscow-based Russian feminist punk protest group Pussy Riot.

We also present a retrospective survey of one of the world’s most admired and influential choreographers Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and her company Rosas. The world premiere of a major commissioned work by Ann Carlson, entitled The Symphonic Body UCLA features 100 performers culled from the workers on this campus. It is unlike anything you have experienced before. And, we present the world premiere of new work from L.A.’s beloved Latin-Urban collective CONTRA-TIEMPO under the direction of Ana Maria Alvarez.

Anne Bogart and SITI Company return to the season in a new collaborative work with Julia Wolfe and Bang on a Can All-Stars. And we’ve linked arms with our colleagues at Center Theater Group to welcome Young Jean Lee back to L.A. Her newest theater piece titled STRAIGHT WHITE MEN opens just in time for the holiday season. To start the season’s theater offerings, CAP UCLA is proud to present Desdemona, written by Toni Morrison and Rokia Traoré. Directed by the singular Peter Sellars, this thoughtful work is a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Othello, as told from the female characters’ perspectives.

In music, Cassandra Wilson performs her disarming Billie Holiday tribute and Regina Carter takes the stage in collaboration with Sam Amidon, in a celebration of her own Southern roots. We will also host Anoushka Shankar, Noura Mint Seymali, Lucinda Williams, as well as Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho in an intimate concert featuring UCLA’s one-and-only Gloria Cheng—just to name a few. We love men too! A generous and formidable contingent of men join us as well.

Thank you for finding us, for supporting what we do, and for coming along as we host some truly unforgettable performances this season.

Here’s just a snapshot of what’s in store.  You can also click through the online 2015-2016 program guide.

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.

Victoria Tennant: Irina Baronova and the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo–Saturday Oct. 18, 2014

The unsigned editorial from the performance program notes.

“It seems extraordinary now, when every town has a ballet school and every little girl has a tutu in her dress-up drawer, that there was a time when ballet was largely unknown in America.”

Early in her beautiful book, Victoria Tennant makes this observation in a section that recounts her mother’s teenage journey as a Russian artist touring in America.

Then, toward the end of the book, packaged alongside a picture of an aged-but-still-stunning Baronova posing with a tutu-and-tiara-clad young girl, comes these words from Baronova herself.

“It gives me, personally, a lot of satisfaction to feel that my work helped introduce audiences to ballet and made them like it. So, there is a piece of me in all the companies that have since sprung up. The work was not in vain. I achieved something, not just for myself, but for the Art that I love and for the future generations of youngsters coming after me.”

Victoria’s book is not only a loving testament to the life of an artist, a daughter’s tribute to the mother who inspired her, but an incredibly important record of an essential evolution in the art of performance, documenting a significant time period in the history of dance in this country and abroad.

She’s an exceptional storyteller.  And tonight, we have the extreme pleasure of welcoming her to the stage to share her stories with us.

Victoria will immerse us in her mother’s journey and her own journey of discovery as she embarked upon the creation of this book, mining a treasure trove of images, stories and memories carefully preserved and left behind by her famous mother.

Many programs on our season this year explore this notion of the art of archive, the potency and beauty there is to be found in the words and images from the past.

The story behind the story, Victoria’s tale, is as powerful as  the story of her mother’s incredible life and work.

We’re very proud to have her with us, to share personal and vivid memories of a woman beloved by the public, and to remind us of the great spirit, tenacity, generosity and lasting influence of an artist who came before.

Welcome, and thank you for being here with us.

Cedric on Cedric

Cedric Andrieux takes the stage tomorrow night in the eponymous solo work created by Jerome Bel. We asked him a few questions about this very intimate and revealing piece of dance theater.

CAP UCLA:You worked very closely with Jerome Bel on the creation of this work and in it you speak very candidly about your early inspiration and your work with Merce Cunningham. What part of the piece was the most difficult or challenging to synthesize into a brief period on the stage?

CEDRIC: I think we struggled a bit more on the Merce Cunningham section. The rest of the script follows a chronological order, but we couldn’t do that for the middle part, the Cunningham part. We then had to find a different way of organizing ideas and thoughts.

CAP UCLA:Do you have a favorite part and if so, what is it?

CEDRIC: I am very happy that we found a way to render onto the stage the creation process that Merce used to create new dances. I also love performing one of the scenes of “The Show Must Go On.” It is one thing to perform it in the context of the whole piece, but it changes completely when I do it in the solo.

CAP UCLA:Was it challenging or nerve-wracking to be solo on stage and speaking directly to the audience throughout? As a dancer in a company, I assume it’s rather rare to have spoken moments. Was that something you had to work on as a performer or did you already have some experience with that?

CEDRIC: I think it is part of the project, to have on stage a performer who is in a situation that he knows, the stage, but having to use a tool that he doesn’t necessarily control, in my case, voice. But since it is not about pretending to be comfortable, or trying to hide the discomfort, the challenge becomes more about being in the moment and letting go of the image of oneself that one wants or is used to portray on stage. It is about allowing yourself to be vulnerable.

CAP UCLA: Toward the end of the piece you say that working on the creation of this solo made you realize you had never spent that much time thinking of what you had done and why you had done it. Are you still learning, still discovering more about yourself and what drives you? If so, what continues to surprise you?

CEDRIC: Since the solo, I would say that the flood gates are open! What continues to actually surprise me is the realization that you always end up banging your head against the same issues. They take different forms, but it always come back to the same, even though you constantly feel that you’re resolving those issues, or that you finally have enough distance….

CAP UCLA:You have performed this work extensively in France and toured the world, most recently even a stretch of performances in Africa. How does your performance translate when you are visiting audiences of other cultures? Do you get different reactions at different moments? Is there a particular kind of audience who “gets it” the most quickly or deeply?

CEDRIC: That is another interesting and challenging aspect of the solo for me, the fact that from one audience to the next, even in the same city, even in the same theater, the response might entirely be different. There is an aspect of Jerome’s work that plays with the codes of theater, and theater goers, what are we doing here, what are our expectations, and the deconstruction or the highlighting of those codes, that can get lost with people that may not have as much experience or awareness with those actual codes. But the solo was made to be comprehended by everyone, not just the elite of theater goers, not just dancers, so whatever the context is, I always feel like the information that the solo exposes comes across….

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.

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.

Notes from Kristy: Come On In, The Water’s Fine

The other night we heard the resulting song cycles and creative framework of a new work by Heidi Rodewald and her collaborators Donna Di Novelli and Kevin Newbury, who just completed their residency here at the Center. While their time in residence was concentrated, they generated some truly remarkable material in pursuit of collaborative ideas.

And if my reaction to what they shared is any gauge of the future life for this work, it is going to strike some very resonant chords. The project is called “The Good Swimmer” and is based in part upon the found text of a lifeguard training manual from the 1940s (when women had to assume traditional male job roles as they were all off to war).

There was a particular conceptual through line in it that I cannot get out of my mind. A central thread from the instruction manual for lifeguard training: “The Lifeguard knows what she must be most alert to, and most concerned over, which is the good swimmer. The good swimmer knows how to take care of themselves when they swim out beyond where most would venture. The danger for the lifeguard is that those less capable will follow. The good swimmer therefore poses the greatest hazard to the lifeguard’s duty of care.”

I love it when an unexpected and pristine clarity knocks me sideways.

We are about to play host to a whole season of pristine clarity coming out of the artists that are soon to arrive as we open the 2013-2014 program. I thought it might be good to mention a few of the firsts – The Moth kicks off the Spoken Word series, LACO returns for their illustrious program at Royce Hall as our Resident Orchestra, Deer Tick sets UCLA’s Welcome Week off with an alt-country twist to our Roots/Folk series, and Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock – while marking 30 years of amazing music together – kick off our Jazz offerings.

Crossing over from both the Atlantic and the Pacific we welcome the mega-theater work, “Shun-kin” by Complicite in collaboration with Setagaya Public Theater — putting a momentous start to the Theater season, with a work that is quite simply not to be missed. Our Dance series opens the following week with the North American premiere of Lucy Guerin’s most recent choreography, “Weather.”

To put this into some statistical perspective, that’s about 100 independent artists over three weeks, hailing from cities and countries far and wide converging in Los Angeles this September. We are going to be heaving with the generosity of brilliant artists taking the stage to send up their finest for our ebullient audiences, and I for one am BEYOND READY.

One of the aspects to bringing that much creative mastery into a place like this, is what happens on campus, in Westwood Village, and in the venues themselves when unanticipated and astonishing moments in art between impassioned people come together in unique exchange…well, it makes the fight against the traffic and I-405 closures and daily irritations melt away and we get to be joyously AWAKE together. For the artists– the equivalency is that it makes the airport delays, visa approval processes and all of the rehearsals well and truly worth it.

This is a big and important season for the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA. It marks the deepening presence of our mission and purpose, and a heightened relationship to our supporters and audiences, along with these extraordinary artists. For those of you already reading this, it means that you are interested in the Center sustaining the work of our purpose. Know that I consider one and all of you to be the exact people it will take for us to continue to develop and evolve regardless of the ever-vexing pressures that can work against a great public promise. In short, you are the good swimmers, and here’s hoping that by watching you swim out into the great beyond, others will indeed follow.

–K

Come Closer to the Flame with The Moth at UCLA Live

The Moth never disappoints. Anytime you hear the words “The Moth” you know you’re in for an evening, (or even a car ride) full of thought-provoking, laugh-out-loud, funny, emotional, awe-inspiring and sometimes heartbreaking stories that serve to shine a little light in the darkness that divides us and remind us all we’re less strange and less of strangers than we often think.

By the way, did you know the name of The Moth is derived from an idyllic and personal memory of group’s founder George Dawes Green? He wanted to recreate, in New York, the feeling of sultry summer evenings in his native Georgia, where he and his friends would gather on a friend’s porch to share spellbinding tales. There was a hole in the screen which let in moths that were attracted to the light, and the group started calling themselves The Moths.

Come to that light in Royce Hall March 1 for a special Moth Mainstage that is shaping up to be an evening of hilarity and poignancy around the theme Rush: Stories of Ticking Clocks— featuring tales of chasing the ephemeral, battling the ravages of the endless tick tick or begging the universe for just one more second.


Rudy Rush has signed on to host the show. Rush was the youngest host of the longest-running African-American syndicated show, “Showtime at the Apollo” and has appeared with Dave Chapelle and Martin Lawrence, and on shows such as “Def Comedy Jam,” Jamie Foxx’s “Laff-A-Palooza “and “Premium Blend.” He’s been featured in his own half-hour special on Comedy Central and was the comedic force on the long-running, nationally syndicated radio show, “The Doug Banks Morning Show.”

Joining Rush are a cadre of smart, funny, thought-provoking writers and storytellers including prolific essayist and author Jenny Allen, renowned UCLA hand surgeon Kodi Azari, poker champion Annie Duke, Upright Citizen’s Brigade regular and Emmy-nominated writer for “The Ellen Degeneres Show” Brian Finkelstein, and author, journalist and screenwriter Jerry Stahl.

Jenny Allen is an award-winning essayist, Broadway and New York Theater performer and writer of poignant comedy, often featuring tales from her life as a mom and cancer survivor. She’s been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, New York, Vogue, Esquire, More, The Huffington Post and Good Housekeeping, and in anthologies including Disquiet, Please!, In the Fullness of Time, and The Fifty Funniest American Writers.

Check out this incredibly witty, slightly explicit (fair warning!) tale from a 2010 Moth event titled Raised Eyebrows: Stories of Shocks, Scandals and Surprises. Allen comically reveals her reaction to an unsettling discovery whilst perusing her teenage daughter’s email account–left accidentally open.

A member of our own UCLA family will hit the stage for this evening of The Moth with internationally renowned plastic surgeon and Kodi Azari, MD and associate professor of orthopedic surgery and plastic surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He was one of the lead surgeons on the first double-hand transplantation, the first arm transplantation performed in the United States, and the first hand transplantation in the Western United States.

And, Azari is no stranger to The Moth setting, having appeared last June at The Moth event Night: Stories of Stars Aligned, which featured esteemed scientists, writers and artists telling on-stage stories about their personal relationship with science.

You may know her from the “World Series of Poker” circuit, Annie Duke joins us to spin yarns related to her career as a professional poker player. Through March 2012, Annie has earned more than $4.2 million in live poker tournaments. At the “World Series of Poker” alone, she has cashed on 39 occasions, made 15 final tables, and won a gold bracelet in 2004. Last year, Annie wrote and read a story “A House Divided” about her upbringing and how it lead her to a career in gambling for the moth iTunes podcast.

Comedian/writer Brian Finkelstein is a regular performer and teacher at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles. His last one-person show, “First Day Off in a Long Time,” was selected for the HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen and chosen “Best in Comedy” by Time Out New York. The show was later developed as a sitcom for FOX. Brian has appeared in a variety of independent films, NPR, NBC’s “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” TBS’s “Cut to the Chase,” and Comedy Central’s “Upright Citizens Brigade.” Most recently he was an Emmy-nominated writer for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

Check out Brian at a previous Moth Mainstage, performing under the theme Love Hurts: Stories about Heartbreak. He self-deprecatingly talks about the bitterness left in the wake of an unrequited romance.

An author, journalist and screenwriter, Jerry Stahl is a unique player for this performance. His raw memoir of working in porn, television and film and chronicle of drug abuse and addiction recovery, Permanent Midnight, was made into a 1999 movie starring Ben Stiller. He’s also the author of novels Perv, I, Fatty (optioned by Johnny Depp) and Pain Killers and wrote the HBO movie, “Hemingway & Gellhorn,” starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman, which premieres in May.

Tickets are still available, starting at $20.

So please, come closer to the flame.