A Testament to the Power of Performance

As the year ends and we prepare to return to live performance in the spring, we asked some of our patrons to help us look back on our last live presentation at Royce Hall, Toshi Reagon’s Parable Of The Sower. Thank you to all who filled out the survey!

Based on Octavia Butler’s popular novel, the much-anticipated concert opera piece that Reagon worked on as an artist in residence with CAP UCLA during 2018-19 was presented to a sold out crowd on March 7, 2020. The survey respondents said they were excited and there was an ‘exhilarating great energy’ in the hall.

CAP UCLA at Royce Hall presenting Parable Of The Sower Photo by Reed Hutchinson

The show, a testament to the power of performance, has been referenced positively by several Angelenos as the last live show they saw before the pandemic shutdown. And the Los Angeles Times declared it a ‘lavish, powerful work’ and that ‘there is a genuine power to the Reagons’ “Sower.”’

Our patrons said:

“I love live performance, and Ms. Reagon’s work that night was no exception. And then – poof – the pandemic hit and we haven’t been to a live performance since.”

“I’m glad that my last live show was such a good one.”

“Incredibly happy to remember this as ‘the last public gathering I attended before [the pandemic began].’”

Now we’ll ask you, what is your favorite part of being in a theater? Share your memories with us on social by using #CAPUCLA. And save the date for our spring announcement on January 11th.

Message From The Center: Picturing Mexican America

Welcome to L.A. Omnibus, a forum for writers, thinkers, artists, and activists to share ideas, pose questions and explore solutions. Deriving inspiration from the Latin meaning of omnibus, “for all,” these programs explore how our city is shifting, settling, and re-making itself. L.A. is not only about where we live, but how we live, how we fit together in a dynamic California landscape that is often at odds with its human inhabitants.

This morning before writing this, I went on one of my usual weekend walks. Each weekend, I try to pick a place I haven’t been to, someplace to really look at, the kind of looking you can only do because you’re on foot, and not in a car on the way to somewhere else. Today, I did a big loop in Encino, roughly between Petit and Encino Aves on the east and west, and the L.A. river and Ventura Blvd on the north and south. Sitting in the middle of this large, flat Valley rectangle is Los Encinos State Historic Park, originally Tongva land before being colonized by the Spanish expedition of Gaspar de Portolá. Over the next couple hundred years, this tract of land, plus the surrounding miles upon miles of land in every direction, underwent a complicated tangle of questionable private and municipal land acquisitions. This part of the Valley was home to an enormous cattle industry, then sheep, then agriculture, then housing subdivisions. This small State Historic Park, with its restored adobe structures, fenced in duck pond (which was the site of the original natural springs so crucial to the area), and centuries-old oak trees (los encinos) is one of those odd markers of “old California,” which used to be Mexico, or Alta (Upper) California. Sitting hidden in the middle of a residential neighborhood, the fading historical marker inside the park doesn’t quite tell the whole story. One of the frustrating yet fascinating things about California is that there is always more than one story. This is a big, complicated place, and like the fault lines that periodically shift the landscape, we periodically need to shift our way of seeing and understanding.

Recently, on one of my L.A. walks, I did a deep dive into something I encountered, and in the internet rabbit-hole of one link leading to another, I found the project Picturing Mexican America. I was surprised that I didn’t know about the project, and that it was founded by UCLA professor, Marissa López. UCLA is not unlike California — it’s a big, complicated place – frustrating that you can’t keep track of everything that’s happening, but so gratifying when you stumble on a fascinating story. I love learning about L.A., there is so much I don’t know, or thought I knew but didn’t. I love having my assumptions overturned. The amazing thing about this project is how it so generously disrupts assumptions, how it expands our lens: revealing who we are, where we come from, and how we might get to the next place.  I’m so excited to dig deep with Marissa and Ani Boyadijian, Research & Special Collections Manager at the Los Angeles Public Library (who is a partner on the project), as we uncover archives, maps, photos, and stories – shaking loose some assumptions about the Los Angeles we think we know, and how we got here.

­—Meryl Friedman, Director of Education & Special Initiatives

The entire Tune In Festival is on demand now!

Visionary poet Sunni Patterson said it best when she introduced her set at The Tune In Festival on November 5th, “I’m grateful everyday.” We are grateful for you all. We’re grateful to bring you artists of different backgrounds, places and experiences and to always be discovering something — or someone — new.

If you watched The Tune In Festival this year on CAP UCLA Online, thank you. If you want another chance to catch it, the full festival is available to stream now through Wednesday, December 15. After December 15, excerpts from the festival lineup will be available periodically on our Channel.

It’s the perfect season to invite friends and family over to turn on and tune into this year’s Tune In Festival. For the most enjoyment, helpful tips on watching from your TV are available through the search on our channel. Tenor Karim Sulayman said, “what’s so wonderful about creating a digital piece is that I can connect with an audience all over.” Help us expand the circle for Karim, Sunni and the dozens of other participating artists.

Thank you to all the supporters who raised their voices and supported the arts during the live run of the festival and those who choose to give during the on demand period. We are always grateful for you.

SCA UCLA Executive Board 2021-22

The Student Committee for the Arts (SCA) supports and encourages awareness of, and participation in, the arts on the UCLA campus and provides UCLA students with discounted tickets for prime seats to CAP UCLA performances. UCLA students care about art and culture whether they are majoring in it or not. 

SCA collaborates with CAP UCLA staff to gain practical experience in professional arts administration and provide student artists with outlets to showcase their work. The committee also programs a series of pre-show concerts on the Royce Hall Terrace, curated to compliment and celebrate the artists on the CAP UCLA main stage. SCA Terrace Series events are always free and open to all.

Introducing the SCA Board

Greetings! As a committee, we wanted to take some time to introduce the SCA board of directors for the 2021-22 school year. We are so excited to be back together in person this year and are looking forward to working with CAP UCLA to continue programming events for the student body.

Ashla Chavez-Razzano (she/her), Executive Co-Director

Art History Major & Professional Writing Minor | 4th year

“This year, I envision a very triumphant return to campus with new arts programming for the student body, along with more professional training for the members of SCA. We are excited to give committee members the chance to realize the ideas they’ve developed over quarantine, and celebrate the importance of community during our first year back!

I am looking forward to the live, interactive events that will be taking place on campus this year. From the ongoing Dinner with an Artist series, to creative writing workshops and zine fests, it will be a dream to experience the tangible excitement of CAP UCLA events as they elevate the creative electricity of campus in real time!”

Roma Edwards (she/her), Executive Co-Director

World Arts and Culture Major & FTVDM Minor | 2nd year 

“My vision for SCA is to have a committee where all members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and putting on creative events. I also hope that we can put on more interdisciplinary events that bring together student artists from different fields. Additionally, I hope to increase the visibility of SCA, because I am really proud of the work we do, and I want more people on campus to have access to our events and the funding that we provide.

I am most excited to collaborate with CAP UCLA on Soundwalk, which is a location-specific app that plays music composed for different parts of campus. I love this self reflective and nature-based concept, and I can’t wait to promote it. We were thinking of having a soundwalk week where we program wellness walks and student dance performances to go along with the app, and this is exactly the type of experimental and interdisciplinary event that I love to work on.”

Jenny Elliott (she/her), Marketing Director

Communications Major & FTVDM Minor | 3rd year

“Having everyone back on campus has been a very exciting yet overwhelming experience. I am looking forward to hosting in-person events this year and being able to involve more of the UCLA community.

I am very excited about Ellen Reid Soundwalk coming to campus!! I am glad that we are bringing it to UCLA and can’t wait to tune in. I am also hoping to again collaborate with CAP UCLA to see what we can do with our student ‘Passport’ membership program this year.”

 

B Munro Thompson (they/she), Programming Director

World Arts and Cultures Major & Visual and Performing Arts Education Minor | 5th year

“For this year I hope we can bring the arts to campus in a big way with exciting events new and old. I’m really excited to try to bring a zine fest to UCLA, hopefully collaborating with all the magazines and literary organizations on campus. I hope to collaborate with CAP UCLA through plenty of SCA pre-shows.”

 

 

Max Gordy (he/him), Education and Outreach Co-Director

Political Science Major & Urban and Regional Studies Minor | 4th year 

“I’m excited to work on bringing students from a wide range of disciplines and communities across campus into SCA and CAP UCLA events.

I’m hoping to work with CAP and its resources to use the arts as a tool to strengthen the social and physical student community at UCLA. I’m also looking forward to defining places on and off campus as accessible to students through visual and performance art. I think we at SCA and CAP UCLA have an opportunity to rebuild connections between arts programs and the student body as the demand for in-person programming is becoming higher than ever.”

 

Andrew Checchia (he/him), Social Chair

English Major & Food Studies Minor | 3rd year

“Returning to campus has breathed new life and energy into SCA. Now we have the chance to spotlight all the hard work artists put in during the pandemic and capitalize on the excitement of an in person campus. Our committee has the opportunity to help our community process these intense months of shared pandemic experience, which means bringing the best and most immediate art to a whole new group of motivated people.

I’m looking forward to collaborating with CAP having learned so many lessons from digital programming. I think a reckoning with our modern online landscape was a long time coming for most event planners. While in person is certainly preferable, I look forward to learning from CAP UCLA’s efforts to market, engage, and execute compelling programming over the internet.”

Congratulations are also in order for SCA’s new Education and Outreach Co-Director Isabella Bustanoby and Design Director Maya Lu!

Visit SCA’s website for more information on the organization and — if you’re currently a UCLA student — to find out how you can get involved.

Message From The Tune In Festival Curators

The artists and composers that are a part of this year’s Tune In Festival, at their very core, inspire. As an artist, the biggest gift one receives from another artist is the gift of inspiration. When I rush home after a performance to practice, or create, I am truly elated. Lifted. Elevated. These artists are an inspiration and they are also exquisite storytellers. Through their music, their words, they paint pictures, create frameworks, but perhaps most importantly, make you feel. And really feel. They have that intangible quality that drives one to change, to dance spontaneously in the living room, to marvel at and in turn contemplate one’s own fragility. The ten cellos that score Julius Eastman’s powerfully obsessive and passionate Holy Presence of Joan of Arc, the way that Mariee Sioux’s enchanting voice and veritable guitar playing transport and invite, seemingly effortlessly, into her world. The vibrant and unexpected juxtapositions of J. Ivy’s words that rouse us to ponder different and alternate significance. The almost inexplicable world of light, of luminescence, that Olivier Messiaen was able to generate in Quartet for the End of Time as he composed it 80 years ago in a POW camp. This is the power of artists to overcome, to continually create, to move. To share their generosity of spirit, their vulnerability, their quests to drive change.

This is The Tune In Festival 2021.

—Lisa Kaplan, Eighth Blackbird

There aren’t many things that we can collectively agree on, but I think we would all concur that the stories we tell are a huge part of everyone’s human experience. Each step we’ve taken in life has been tied to a thread of wonder, exploration, growth and new perspective. These tales, these guiding lights, open our eyes to the unknown, helping to connect the reason of our being to our life’s purpose.

Throughout history there have been those who have been anointed with the ability to dive deeper into our meaning. Storytellers who have been gifted with a keen sense of feel and intuition. Griots, Poets, who observe, gather, and translate the happenings of the world into digestible food for thought and food for our souls. These “Street reporters who take notes for the future,” are the glue of our society and brick layers for civilization.

I’m beyond excited to help bring together some of the most prolific poets and storytellers of our day. Hailing from New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco, and Detroit, the masterful, rhythmic, healing words of Sunni Patterson, Tongo Eisen-Martin and jessica Care moore will uplift our spirits and help make The Tune In Festival electric, entertaining, and enlightening. On this weekend, we will all be elevated, smiles will be rewarded, hearts will be filled, lives will forever be changed.

—J. Ivy, Poet/Spoken Word Artist

How do artists effect change?

The Tune In Festival

Ahead of The Tune In Festival we asked the artists, “how do artists effect change?”

“They breathe purpose. They are Healers. For example, the author of We Want Our Bodies Back, jessica Care moore, affectionately known as Detroit Butterfly, is not only an Apollo Legend, whose words are celebrated worldwide, she is a pillar in the poetry community. In her set she shares her latest work of art, Wild Beauty, where she not only gives love a new perspective, but also dances with the tug of war that love often presents,” said J. Ivy, performance poet and co-curator.

“Art takes us where linear thinking cannot. While we all find our own relevance in the experience, none of us is spared from catharsis. Extremes in contrast. We live for the experience of extremes, and assume responsibility for the consequences,” said Matthew Duvall, Eighth Blackbird Percussionist and Artistic Director.

“Artists effect change in so, so many different ways. I feel that artists have the ability to take very complex messages and crystallize them into one piece or one project or one experience that can communicate to people in ways that just words or just research can’t. They can create something and just distill the very essence of a situation or an emotion for an audience member to really be moved by and to change from that experience,” said Anthony R. Greene, composer and musician.

Come celebrate the power of protest and resilience found in music and poetry with all 30 ensembles and poets this Thursday through Sunday at CAP UCLA Online.

Message From The Center: Breathing Fire

Welcome to the second year of L.A. Omnibus, a forum for writers, thinkers, artists, and activists to share ideas, pose questions and explore solutions. Deriving inspiration from the Latin meaning of omnibus, “for all,” these conversations explore how our city is shifting, settling, and re-making itself. L.A. is not only about where we live, but how we live, how we fit together in a dynamic California landscape that is often at odds with its human inhabitants.

As I write this, on an early October morning in L.A., it is cool and dry, the sky a faultless blue. But California is burning. Today, the wind is picking up, red flag warnings are in effect and there are reports of possible “proactive” power shutoffs throughout the state. On Cal Fire’s interactive map, there are more than fifteen active “fires of interest,” and over 50% have been burning for more than two months. Millions of acres are scorched, the loss of habitat, livelihood and life is disastrous, and yet… The smoke will eventually thin out, the evacuation orders will be lifted, the crews will move on, and the sky will return to that devastating blue. In a matter of days, or weeks or months it will start all over again, in another community, in another forest, in another canyon – we shift and re-settle and re-build, but we are at odds with what we are making. The tallest living tree in the world, standing unbowed for almost 3,000 years in the middle of the Sequoia National Forest is wrapped in a kind of flame-retardant aluminum foil, guarded by front-line firefighters against the surrounding blaze. How will this end?

The women and men fighting California’s fires undergo unimaginable hardship. They must fight against the instinct that tells them to run from fire, and they instead, run towards. Since World War II, California has relied heavily on inmate fire crews, who can make up about 30% of the force.  Like “regular” firefighters, they work twenty-four-hour shifts, often sleeping in the scrub that they clear, covered by dirt and ash and the all-pervasive smoke. Unlike “regular” firefighters, they are paid $1 an hour.

This summer, on a hot, dry day in the beginning of August, I heard Jaime Lowe on NPR, talking about her book, Breathing Fire: Female Inmates on the Front Lines of California’s Wildfires.

I bought the book and read it nonstop; fascinated, moved, surprised by what I didn’t know. I read about women who run towards fire, women running towards redemption, towards a shot at a second chance; running towards a different life. I reached out to Jaime, to ask if she would be a part of this program, to be in conversation with other women who have literally pulled themselves from the fire and are working every day in our community to help others get a shot.

Many thanks to Jaime, Michelle, Elizabeth, and Wendy for being willing to talk about their lives, their work, their perspective. They have been through it, and they stand for possibility and solutions. They remind me of the hundreds of Sequoia, standing together in solidarity across thousands of years, amidst fire and drought and wind and us. They too, have been through it. If we listen, they can show us the way to the other side.

—Meryl Friedman,
Director of Education & Special Initiatives
UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance

Introducing CAP UCLA’s Interim Leadership: Meryl Friedman and Fred Frumberg

As Kristy Edmunds embarks on her new role with MASS MoCA and as Creative Advisor for the UCLA Nimoy Theater, Fred Frumberg and Meryl Friedman, both of whom have extensive experience in managing CAP UCLA’s operations, have assumed interim leadership of CAP UCLA. Together, they will oversee management, programs, artist relations and all other aspects of leading a major cultural organization in close coordination with the school and campus. 

“I’ve been lucky enough to work in a theater my entire adult life, and I know how much possibility lives in that room especially when students meet a new artist or discover the performing arts for the first time,” says Friedman. “I’ve had the joy of experiencing the power of that potential every day for the past 13 years as Director of Education and Special Initiatives, with Kristy and all our incredible team. Every day we get to create a new story, and I’m honored to help write this next chapter.”

“I met Kristy in 2005 when I was running a company in Cambodia,” Frumberg explains. “She took a risk by inviting one of our theater pieces to the Melbourne Arts Festival. It’s that uncompromising commitment to the power of arts that enticed me to join CAP UCLA as deputy director five years ago and that empowers me to take on this interim role. I’m humbled to join the entire staff as we navigate this exciting transition together.”

Meryl and Fred are eagerly coordinating with artists to meet you all in the theater for a vibrant spring season and an enthusiastic return to live performance. 

An Announcement from Kristy Edmunds

I’m writing to share the news that after 10 tremendous years at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, I have accepted the position as the next Director of MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts. I am honored and excited to join this incredible organization while full of emotion as I transition my role from the Center and UCLA which has been my professional home for over a decade.

I have countless memories from hundreds of performances, artists, and the Center’s indefatigable staff over these years of our shared efforts (that stunningly and often against all odds have made many an ‘art miracle’ happen, with many more to come). I could fill volumes recounting these wildly rewarding, challenging, and indelible experiences, and perhaps one day I will try to catalogue the weave of my time at the helm of CAP UCLA.

Doing so now would be premature because as I transition into the big shoes at MASS MoCA, I will continue my involvement with the Center as Creative Advisor for the much-anticipated UCLA Nimoy Theater (formerly The Crest). With renovations soon to begin there will be exciting news about “the Nimoy” on the near-term horizon.

At this moment though, I want to express gratitude for the positive impact that you have all had on my tenure at UCLA. Every director of an arts organization has the multi-faceted responsibilities that come with the job, and here that encompasses the myriad detail involved in presenting and sustaining live performances and the artists who create their worlds for us to encounter on stage. I have had the pleasure to collaborate with an astonishing staff, patron leadership from our Executive Producer Council, the School of the Arts and Architecture and moreover, all of you that make up the community that we have the joy of working with and for.

I have been regularly motivated by you as audience members and supporters who are such an enormous part of what has compelled me to get up every morning and stay late into the evenings. You care about what we do here and show up time and again. At a professional and personal level, your presence and consistency over these many years means that we know each other by name, by face, and through our many exchanges together. This rapport and relationship is the backbone of the Center itself.

You have made a lasting mark on my professional life in extraordinary ways. These come in the form of a simple kindness, a high-five or an embrace, or sharing a profound observation about the production or a burst of ebullience in the lobby. You’ve offered helpful advice on improvements (notably the wine selection or parking, a squeaking seat, font sizes, the importance of harp players and more). You’ve sent emails to me after reflecting on a show or an event; a masterclass by a visiting artist, or a toast backstage. There have been times when you re-upped your membership to support CAP UCLA, and done so not for the benefits associated, but for the cause. Some of you have made transformative gifts to one of the support funds or program endowments that keep the lights on and enable the work to continue.

You are as much a part of the inspiration behind my job as the artists and the people I work with each day.

I know this is as true for the CAP UCLA team as it is for me.

As I begin as the Director of MASS MoCA and shift into an advisory role to support the transition ahead, I am elated to announce that Fred Frumberg, Deputy Director and Program Manager and Meryl Friedman, Director of Education and Special Initiatives who have extensive experience in managing CAP UCLA’s operations, will together assume the interim leadership for CAP UCLA. I know you will join me in supporting them and everyone on the Center’s team as we move into a brilliant future.

Thank you for being the community that has made my life’s work here so fulfilling, and here’s to the circle expanding in transformative ways for all of us.

—Kristy Edmunds,
Executive and Artistic Director
UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance

Behind the Curtain of Sun & Sea: What Does It Take To Create an Indoor Beach?

The first task was sourcing 10 tons of local sand to create the beach that audience members look down onto from a square shaped balcony. Following three days of performances and 15 showtimes, the sand will be donated to local elementary schools for use in sandboxes.

The next step was creating a realistic scene. While performing the libretto, translated from Lithuanian to English, the cast will act like it’s any other day at the beach — relaxing on towels, slathering on sunscreen and playing badminton. They’ll even nibble on snacks sourced daily from neighboring eateries in Little Tokyo. Beach noise playing over speakers in the space will add a layer to the live singing; there will even be a dog or two to add to the ambience.

There is also a distinct color palette of pastels to create a sense of nostalgia. The costumes and props will all be muted tones. We even crowdsourced a light colored bike from a member of CAP UCLA’s staff as a prop.

This peek behind the curtain only just begins to reveal the scale of the transformation needed to execute this artistic vision.

The 2019 Venice Biennale winner Sun & Sea, presented by CAP UCLA, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and the Hammer Museum and featuring the L.A.-based Tonality choir, will make its West Coast premiere at the Geffen Contemporary on October 14th. Tickets on sale September 17th at 10 AM PDT. 

Thoughts from the staff of CAP UCLA