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Rebecca Solnit on Sam Green’s Utopian Cinema


The word utopia means, literally, no place and this is a movie that unlike almost all other movies can only be in one place at a time, this place you’re in now with its filmmaker Sam Green and musicians. These live performance films attempt to embody it by weaving together images and ideas and spoken words that will never be replicated exactly, a movie being born as you see and hear it, as alive as music.

Maybe little utopias are realized all the time, the utopias of people together in spirit and in body for a dance or a protest and everything in between. And sometimes we only realize their sweetness as they recede. A lot of us now look back at the golden age of cinema as a bygone paradise, the communion of strangers in the dark with each other, with darkness, with light, with story, with enchantment, drawn together to see a flicker of projected light come to life onscreen.

Were you to ask people if they’d be comfortable sitting in the dark surrounded by strangers from all walks of life, people would undoubtedly say that sounded scary, but every evening all over the world, we pay admission and settle in to do exactly that, and the audience becomes the Greek chorus of the film, laughing, snickering, hushing or fidgeting, instructing each other how to see and hear.

Television chopped up movies with commercials and put them in the middle of domestic distraction, but that was nothing compared to this moment when films are on your iPhone and your laptop and in fuzzy tiny windows on YouTube. The worst thing about these new modes of viewing isn’t that they diminish cinema as visual and imaginative spectacle. The worst thing is that they’re watched furtively and alone. Cinema, which was once a great banquet in a dream palace, is now often a snack devoured absentmindedly in isolation. And only in society, only together, do we have the power to live out those old dreams, or new ones.

Utopia is sociable, and Sam Green’s work gives you back the sociability of a movie, the way it was always about coexisting, by making it as live as a silent movie with an orchestra, a nineteenth-century Chautauqua lecture, a sermon or a party. Take it as an invitation to think about utopia, not only the old ones that might have failed, but whatever faint aroma of paradise might arise in a room where you hope and think and breathe with others

— REBECCA SOLNIT

Message from the Artists: Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed

I spend a lot of my time trying to encourage people to live more creative lives — to take risks, to make something out of nothing, and to expand their sense of wonder. I can get really passionate about this. (Another word would be “pushy.”) Sometimes I wonder why I care so much. What does it matter to me if people are making art or not? Who cares whether anyone out there is writing novels, or learning new languages, or dancing or singing or growing or transforming? Well, in the end, I think it comes down to this: We appear to be living in a universe that is constantly creating and recreating itself. The evidence for this is literally everywhere. Nature is always changing from one form to another. All you need to do is look in a telescope and you can see galaxies being born. Look in a microscope and you’ll see bacteria evolving and adapting right before your eyes. The whole thing reeks of a giant cosmic arts-and-crafts project — an infinite, ever-unfolding experiment in constant creative response. It appears to me that energy only wants one thing: to create. And you, of course, are made of energy. So start creating! Because once you start creating, you will step into alignment with the direction that the entire universe is heading. You will be in the flow of life itself. And that will you make you happy. That will make you healthy. That will make you belong. That’s why creativity matters so much to me — because I want a sense of healthy belonging for myself, and I want it for you, too.

— ELIZABETH GILBERT

Writers don’t have job descriptions, but if we did the first line on mine would be this: tell the truest story you can about what it means to be human. That’s the thing I’m always digging for, and by digging I mean that rather actually. On the page and in my life, I attempt to uncover to the truth that lives beneath the easier truths that sit on the surface of our lives. I seek to understand and convey not who we are, but who we are really. This kind of emotional excavation has been an obsession of mine since I was a child. I always wanted to know why. Not why the sky is blue or why birds have feathers (though these are certainly worthy questions!), but rather why does she love him, why did you leave, why are you ashamed, why did you go down this path instead of that one, why did this sorrow lead to that beauty, why can’t you, why will you, why are you going keep loving or walk away or change your mind? My deepest curiosity is the inner workings of what gets called the human heart, but it’s really something far grittier than that. It’s the dark core of who we are, which I have found endlessly, shimmeringly beautiful.

— CHERYL STRAYED

Message from the Artist: Luciana Souza

In her excellent book Nine Gates, Jane Hirshfield says that a good poem begins in the body and mind of concentration. She goes on to explain that by concentration she means a particular state of awareness: penetrating, unified, and focused, yet also permeable and open.

I had fallen in love with Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing many years ago. Everything about that book is important and interesting to me. The poems, the drawings, and his way of illuminating the truth of a moment, of revealing things, his clarity.

As I started setting these poems I wanted the words to be heard, but not necessarily defined. To me, the string instruments offer the best canvas for these songs. Like the voice, the sound of plucked strings decay and brings on silence and more possibility for listening. Also, the idea of counterpoint between the voice and strings was essential to me. The music would have to be simple and unadorned.

I am often asked if I conceive projects based on themes, and if I return to poetry from time to time. To me, a project shapes itself and is generated by what is occupying more space in musical and artistic mind for a certain period. But I never leave my other interests completely. I am always navigating between poetry, Brazilian, and a
more wordless and instrumental context. To me, these things are interchangeable and they are one. I can always find the stories in wordless melodies, and I can always find the silence in poetry.

The other day I taught a class and caught myself describing the process of setting a poem to music as falling in love. Falling in love with a poem. Locking myself in a room and reading the poem ten, twenty times. Walking around with the poem looping in my head. Driving in my car and feeling possessed by the poem and thinking — You are mine! I do think the process is a bit obsessive and all-consuming, but deeply rewarding… when you are granted permission by the publisher.

When you play with musicians such as Chico Pinheiro and Scott Colley, you are treated to such a generosity of possibilities. Questions get answered without having to be asked because the trust and intuition are so generously displayed. Questions are also left unanswered, which is a necessity in music (and life) — to have things open and possible.

On the liner notes of the record I say that making music with Chico and Scott is a thing of wonder. And I mean that in the sense of what is mysterious, miraculous, and beautiful about making music and lifting poetry from the page.

— Luciana Souza

Message from the Artist: Sweet Honey In The Rock

On behalf of Sweet Honey In The Rock®, welcome to our 45th Anniversary Celebration at UCLA Royce Hall.

Can you believe it’s been 45 years since our first performance at the WC Handy Blues Festival at Howard University on November 17, 1973? Although the original group of men and women was created at the request of Le Tari, an actor at the DC Black Repertory Theatre, there was a fall rehearsal where four women showed up—Louise Robinson, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Carol Maillard and Mie Fredericks. Bernice was disappointed but Louise said let’s keep going.

We can sing.

Since that time, 27 women have graced the Sweet Honey stage.

We are humbled and deeply appreciative of everyone who made and makes it possible for us to be here today. We do not take our longevity for granted. Gratitude to you all—family, friends, and fans. We could not be on this journey without you.

Have a good time party hearty sing-along raise your voices in wishing Sweet Honey In The Rock® a glorious 45th anniversary and blessings for many years to come.

Always giving thanks all ways,
Carol Maillard

Message from the Artist: UnCabaret

We are filled with hope every time UnCabaret convenes. We are curious about each other’s stories, and our own. What do they mean? How are we changing? What’s funny about that? We rejoice in the right to assemble, to meet friends of friends and the person at the next table reading that book you love.

We commit to the courage of making the uncomfortable funny. We love our adventurous audience. We intend to uplift. We work to be a safe space for women and the LGBTQA community without excluding CIS men. We look for people who make the most beautiful mistakes, original thinkers and open hearted lovers. Those who are self knowing without being self-obsessed. And of course who love to laugh.

We enter into partnerships and community. We seek to be a full chakra experience. We have an attention span. We understand silence. We try to respect our own history while staying in the now. We have a sense of urgency. We have never written an artist’s statement before but are always up for the new. Thank you for being here tonight. Thank you for being part of UnCabaret.

—Beth Lapides

2018 David Sedaris Humor Writing Contest Winners

From numerous entries, our SCA team has selected the three students with the most hilarious anecdotes and stories! We’d like to thank all of our applicants and commend them for their literary prowess and comedic talent. The works of Jonathan Allan, Peyton Austin, and Aubrey Freitas will be published below, as well as on the SCA website. Read on for a good time and guaranteed fits of laughter!

 

Peyton Austin – Voyeur

The gilded, near-naked carving of Jesus Christ that hung from the cross on the classroom walls haunted Lauren more than anything else in this world. Maybe it wasn’t gilded, but bronze. It wouldn’t surprise Lauren since her Catholic school was cheap. They spent all their money on the football program and not on air conditioning, even though the school was in Los Angeles. So maybe the school had purchased bronze Jesus Christs instead of gold, but nevertheless, Jesus Christ suffered in every room of her school.

Lauren always wondered why Jesus had to be near-naked in his loincloth. Historical accuracy, sure—or maybe biblical accuracy—but Lauren hated the way she could make out every line of Jesus’s emaciated ribs. It was weirdly voyeuristic—maybe it was meant to be erotic. There were tons of weird shit like that in the Catholic teachings: Jesus was husband to the church, and nuns were married to him, and all the paintings and sculptures emphasized his naked body. Lauren stared at him in pretty much every class: a tiny, possibly-gold metal Jesus, perpetually suffocating. Perpetually dying.

Lauren tried to convince herself that the fixation was piety. It didn’t work.

And it wasn’t just in school either. During Lauren’s sophomore year she had dated this kid Jeremy from her precalc class. They’d sat next to each other, so he helped her with the math problems whenever she got stuck (which was a lot). Then they started talking, and texting, and they went on a four dates and Lauren had her first official boyfriend. She’d liked him, and with some surprise and a little more pride on Lauren’s part, he liked her in return. Three weeks or so into dating, she went over to his house for the first time. With some surprise and the utmost horror, Jeremy had a wooden crucifix the length of Jeremy’s forearm on his wall—and Jeremy was 5’11’, so Lauren’s horror was deserved. Jeremy had kissed her and they began making out, but Lauren could see Jesus hanging, literally hanging, over Jeremy’s shoulder. And all of a sudden Lauren noticed how bony Jeremy’s fingers were on her neck and waist, and how skinny his neck was, and how thin and prominent his chest seemed when she touched him. She’d broken up with him three days later.

Lauren failed precalc that year. She had to retake it this year, which sucked.

And this year Lauren also had Ms. Cavanaugh.

Ms. Cavanaugh was Lauren’s Sacraments teacher. She always wore bright colors, went over the questions of her tests right before the test, and—most importantly—she framed a picture of Liam Neeson from Star Wars on her desk. Ms. Cavanaugh told the class on more than one occasion, “When I die and Christ comes to take me to Heaven, he better look like Liam Neeson.” The class laughed at this, but it always unsettled Lauren. Because seriously, how is imagining Jesus Christ as Star Wars Liam Neeson anything other than erotic fantasy?

“Well, Jesus was described as handsome,” Isabelle, one of Lauren’s friends, said when Lauren brought the topic up.

Gia, another one of Lauren’s friends, said, “Says who?”

“I’m pretty sure Mr. Ramon said that freshman year,” Isabelle said.

Gia scoffed. “And I’m pretty sure that’s made up. You know, like immaculate conception or Adam and Eve.”

Isabelle rolled her eyes—more often than not Gia’s resentment towards the Catholic Church rubbed up against Isabelle’s piety. “Humans have imagined Jesus as attractive for hundreds of years now,” Isabelle said. “It’s not that weird.”

“It’s a little weird,” Lauren interrupted, hoping to stop an argument before it started. “But ‘Jesus is handsome’ seems to be the norm, while ‘Jesus is Liam Neeson’ is on a whole other level.”

“Just as weird as your obsession with those crucifixes,” Gia said. “I mean, I don’t know if you can really judge Ms. Cavanaugh.”

Lauren wasn’t offended, but she couldn’t help but feel chagrined. Gia was right: Lauren couldn’t take the high ground concerning Ms. Cavanaugh. She just hated that ratty loincloth and His crooked legs and horribly obvious ribs.

Lauren took some Goldfish when Isabelle offered them. Crunching her third Goldfish, however, she had a horrifying thought: Lauren was just as much a voyeur as Ms. Cavanaugh, even though Ms. Cavanaugh was attracted to Jesus and Lauren wasn’t. Lauren focused even more on Jesus’s body than Ms. Cavanaugh did, every last detail of it hung up there on the cross. Her disgust made her on the same level as Ms. Cavanaugh’s desire.

Lauren crushed the Goldfish in her palm and watched the crumbs sprinkle the table in thousands of pieces. She swept them off the table and onto the concrete. Then she slipped her hand under her starchy uniform shirt and pressed her fingers to her ribs. She breathed in so her ribs became more prominent, held her breath, and fit her fingers into the small valleys between her ribs. Her breath shuddered. They did not know which of Jesus’s sides were pierced, but Lauren clutched at her left side. Neither blood nor water ran down her ribs or fingers, but horror still washed over her. “Dude,” Gia said, eyeing Lauren’s lifted shirt, “what the actual fuck are you doing?”

Her heart beat against her fingertips, so Lauren moved her palm to her heart and listened to her own mortality. “Gia, remember what you told me about Angie Moreno’s mother? When you did that history project at Angie’s house and her mother had about a billion crosses on her wall?”

Gia laughed. “Yeah. Like, we’re not the ones you need to convince about your devotion. Leave that to Jesus.”

“But they were just crosses, no body or anything,” Lauren said.

“Okay, so what?”

Lauren removed her hand from her shirt, noting that her skin was possibly just as bronze as Jesus’s. She said, “I think I’m gonna become a Christian.”

 

Aubrey Freitas – Cell Signal From Above

I’m currently saving up all of my allowance money because everybody laughs at my old iPhone 4 when they see it. They tell me that I’m definitely way past my free upgrade time or that I should just buy out my contract or that I might as well start using a flip phone. I get it. It’s old and lame and the camera quality is really, really bad, but it’s my backup phone, and I happen to need it until I save up enough to buy a new one. What those judgmental assholes ask me after hearing my explanation is usually some variation of “what happened to your old phone?” a story I’m always happy to tell.

I was in Argentina over the summer, volunteering with Saintly Children Abroad to help teach underprivileged kids how to read and write in English. Usually I really get people with this opening sentence. They realize that I’m actually a really nice person and that they’re actually an asshole for laughing at my bad phone. They become way more sympathetic after that. I explain how on weekends we had days off, and how the other volunteers and I would go exploring around Cordoba to see all of the sights, tourist traps included. Here, they usually say that they’ve never been to Argentina, and then I get to tell them all about an incredible experience that they’ll never have. It’s my payback for the phone jokes.

I was in Alta Gracia one Sunday, where I lost my phone. I make sure they know that Alta Gracia means ‘higher grace’ in Spanish, because after living there for a month and a half, I’m extremely cultured and my Spanish is muy bueno. I explain how Alta Gracia is a very religious place, if you couldn’t tell by the name, and how there’s a very famous church there with a painting of Mary on a mirror that, legend says, just appeared one day. The locals say it was a sign from God. Here, the snoops either say how incredible that is or tell me that they think that’s a load of bullshit.

Since it was on a Sunday, there was a large mass being held right outside of the church. The church was really small, only like twenty people could fit inside it, so it obviously wasn’t practical for services.

Here, they usually ask, “Why don’t they just expand the church to make room for more people?”

And I tell them, “I don’t know, but stop interrupting me because I’m getting to the good part about how I lost my phone.”

We didn’t attend the mass, because not all volunteers could speak Spanish– not me, of course– but the other volunteers, so we stayed a little bit behind the crowd by this huge basin of holy water that people drank from and would wash their faces in when they left.

I forgot to mention before that the whole trip I was WhatsApp messaging this really cute boy from my hometown back in California. We were talking for about a month, so, yeah, it was pretty serious. He kept telling me that he wanted the two of us to hang out more once I got back to the U.S., but I knew that he was basically asking to be my boyfriend. I would message him “Good morning” every day, keeping in mind the four hour time difference, and he would always reply with “Sup.” He was so cool. Of course I told the other volunteers about him and showed them pictures, but none of them wanted to give him a chance because they thought our conversations were shallow. I thought he was a really nice guy. Like, he had such a way with words. We talked about our favorite mixed drinks and Cotillion—I don’t know how much deeper a conversation can get. Here, the person listening would usually nod, probably so that they feel less uncomfortable about hearing about my love life.

So of course I was messaging David, that’s the guy’s name, while I was at Alta Gracia. The mass ended and people started rushing out to get to the fountain of holy water that me and all the other volunteers were standing by. Obviously I wasn’t paying attention, because I was messaging David, and a woman bumped into me for absolutely no reason. Like, if I’m not paying attention, then she should be paying attention, otherwise that’s how accidents happen, right? So I was shoved forward, and my phone fell into the holy water right after it had buzzed as David sent me another message. He had just sent his daily “Sup”, so I asked him, “what are you doing”, and now I’ll never know the response. At this part the nosy people usually give me a “damn that sucks” face, or a “wow, I can’t believe that happened” face.

Because I was so mad, and irritated, and just in, like, complete disbelief that that had happened, I yelled out “Fuck!”—like who wouldn’t, honestly? My phone was ruined—and leaned over the water basin, my hands reaching in to see if I could grab it. I know that people in Argentina speak Spanish and all, but they curse in English just like we do. Everybody turned towards me, and some of the old grandmothers covered their mouths with their head scarves. I told them “lo siento and perdon”, then made the sign of the cross so that they knew I was a good Catholic girl. They definitely forgave me after that. That water was really cold, by the way, and people were drinking from it, so I still can’t believe I touched something that unsanitary. That’s just how strong I thought my relationship with David was. So, needless to say, I wasn’t able to message David for the rest of my trip. It sucked, and obviously it still sucks, because I’m now stuck with a the crappiest of crappy iPhones.

I guess it wasn’t all bad, though, because when I came back home after the summer, I found out David actually had two girlfriends already. I was, like, the third one he was trying to add to his trio of three blind mice. What an asshole. If I could go back in time, I’d tell the lady that bumped into me “thank you for saving me”. She really came out of nowhere. It was like a sign or something, for me to stop messaging Douchebag David. Like God really had my back with some guardian angel. I may have a shitty iPhone, but at least I don’t have a shitty boyfriend like Miranda Castillo and Kimberly Wilson. They’re clearly better at sharing than I am. But, anyway, that’s the story of how I lost my phone. Here, whoever is listening usually stops talking to me because I have really long answers to simple questions.

 

Jonathan Allan – I Began to Ask Myself Who Was Really Doing the Wrangling: the Snakes or me, the Snake Wrangler?

After my divorce, life got complicated. But my work wrangling snakes provided an escape from it all. Until one day I asked myself, who was wrangling whom? Me, the snake wrangler? Or the snakes that I was paid to wrangle?

It would seem simple, but life has a funny way of teaching you things. You see, after countless hours with these guys, they actually taught me, the snake wrangler, what it meant to wrangle. The entire time I was hooking with my snake hook and clamping with my snake clamp, the snakes, in retrospect, were really the ones doing the hooking and clamping. And doesn’t that put things into perspective?

Sure, maybe I should’ve been more present with Marsha. But I did my best to get us through the affair. And you know what, now that I’m on the other side of the snake terrarium, and the snakes are roaming the building, I wonder if we were even good for each other.

She always wanted to live in Europe. Of course, my snake-wrangling salary never got us there. But after seeing how much these snakes had to wrangle out of me, I’m glad to be where I am. Where else would I have learned that I’m afraid to be alone? And that this is no way to begin a marriage? How else could I have known that my mother’s toes and Marsha’s toes were very similar, and that this was weird? Who would’ve taught me that these snakes have been studying this building’s floor plans and have seemingly been planning this for generations? If it weren’t for these little devils, where would I be?

One could say, well, you wouldn’t be wrapped in a snake coil while another snake keeps watch. But I regret nothing. Yeah sure, I could have secured the main door at least, so they wouldn’t be able to escape and wreak havoc on an unsuspecting population. And yeah, not all the snakes had something valuable to offer, necessarily. A couple of them were just regular, human-biting snakes. (You know the type.) But you know what they say: you have to break a few eggs.

Oh god, they got to the eggs.

Was engineering these genetically-modified super-snake eggs maybe a reaction to Marsha’s new boyfriend? You see, these are the kind of questions only a group of vengeful snakes could wrangle out of me. It’s funny how the answer to most of our problems can be as simple as a bunch of slimy, scaly monsters and their surprising ability to work basic latches. I mean, these little buggers really are something. A part of me is even proud. However, at this point, most of me is a swollen piece of pus, and the part of me that is proud is about to lose airflow. But ain’t that just how it goes? How else would I learn about my body’s capacity to handle venom, a lack of oxygen, and unhealthy attitudes toward women without these beautiful, otherworldly tentacle beasts known as the snake?

After it’s all said and done, I would like to think we wrangled a little bit out of each other: me, the snake wrangler, and the snakes I was supposed to wrangle. But at this point, it seems safer to recognize the superiority of our Snake Overlords. I guess this is what emotional maturity looks like: as the sun rises over a new world, where the snakes have just taken Manhattan, and all humans tremble in fear, I am finally more capable of dealing with my feelings. If only that Marsha-shaped bulge in that megasnake’s belly could see me now.

Message from the Artist: Bill T. Jones on Analogy Trilogy

MEMORY & UCLA – A MESSAGE FROM BILL T. JONES

“Memory often strikes me as a kind of a dumbness. It makes one’s head heavy and giddy, as if one were not looking back down the receding perspectives of time but rather down from a great height, from one of those towers whose tops are lost to view in the clouds.” – W.G. Sebald

While the eloquence of W.G Sebald fails me, in this return visit to UCLA I am overcome with a particular emotion and a recall of the first time a young Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane were invited to perform at Schoenberg Hall in 1983; our first national tour as a duet company. The vastness of the city, the endless highways, its glamorous history and presence made us feel as real players in the modern world, and children in the deep end of the pool finally. UCLA stood out as an essential beach head in the question of the new. To be invited to show one’s work was a nod of approval and something more.

Bringing this three-part work, a result of 5 years of making and doing, I am overcome with a sense of gratitude to Kristy Edmunds and UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, and also to you the adventurous patrons, for upholding this belief in the transformative power of live performance.

—Bill T. Jones

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company
Analogy Trilogy

Message from the Center: Barber Shop Chronicles

The older a man gets, the faster he can run as a boy.
—Inua Ellams

It took me a while to understand why my mom would leave me alone in the Barbershop every other week. Six years old, surrounded by Black men and their conversations, all I could do was listen and hope that one day, I could add to the conversation. Being an only child raised by a single-mother, the Barbershop taught me a lot about the Black male voice. Mainly, that it matters and that it exists. Somehow, my mother knew this. She trusted that these important conversations would live with me, shape me, push me towards my own definition of Black male masculinity.

In Inua Ellams’ piece, these same conversations take wing across a variety of borders. For many Black men, his characters find a place of commune in the barbershop where joy and pain are expressed. Where questions are answered, jokes told. Heartfelt and beautifully crafted, Ellams’ Barber Shop Chronicles provides to us all a window to the scared haven that is the Barbershop. The Country Club for Black Culture. To my first barber, Mr. Jerry, I thank you for all the cuts and conversations.

On behalf of us at the Center, it is with great pleasure that we welcome and share these conversations with you.

—Theodore Bonner-Perkins

Message from the Center: Lucinda Childs

With the contemporary dance program this year, we have put a focus on three singular choreographers whose early start came from the now legendary Judson Church movement. Deborah Hay, Lucinda Childs and Trisha Brown along with other contemporaries founded Judson Dance Theater in the late 1960’s. It was a space where they all forged their early explorations, developed their choreographic practices and were able to perform regularly for the audiences that were largely comprised of their artist peers. The “downtown” NY art scene was a hotbed, and in the emerging post-modern dance movement, these three women generated material that continues to influence artists to this day.

Lucinda Childs, Andy Warhol 16mm Film Still (1964)
Lucinda Childs, Andy Warhol 16mm Film Still (1964)

These choreographers went on to pursue different paths over their evolving and accomplished careers. While their dance work and lifelong contributions to the form is individualistic and distinct, they each share the sustained commitment to the internal and externally facing architectures of movement. From the infinite possibilities, they shape their practices on an axis that reaches the sublime, and breaks convention. There is wit and irreverence, and an unmistakable joy in liberty that never strays from an intense focus on the choreographic intention.

Lucinda Childs Dance Company, Photo by Nathaniel Tileston (1979)
Lucinda Childs Dance Company, Photo by Nathaniel Tileston (1979)

Lucinda Childs: A Portrait (1963 -2016) offers us a an arc across her evolving sensibilities and explorations through a selection of choreographies in a chronological order. Pastime (1963) through several choreographies from the 1970’s to her world premiere this evening of Into View (2016). A rare experience to survey time and process through a truly masterful artist.

Lucinda Childs, Photo by Lucie Jansch (2012)
Lucinda Childs, Photo by Lucie Jansch (2012)

We would like to thank the Board and our progressive supporters whose contributions enabled the Center to contribute to Lucinda Child’s latest choreography, Into View. As a co-commissioner, we are proud to also be hosting the World Premiere in Los Angeles. The company, designers and creative team has been here working with our production team for the final rehearsals and production development leading up to this auspicious occasion in Royce Hall.

For those of you here tonight, you will become a valued part of the history of the work as it moves to BAM in New York and on to many of the world’s most revered stages in Europe and beyond. We would also like to express our appreciation for Pomegranate Arts, whose work as one of the nation’s most esteemed Producers, and Lucinda herself, for entrusting us with the work. We could not be more proud.

Thank you all for being here.

Our “jolly good fellows”

As the start of the new season draws closer, we’re giving you a sneak peek into some of the delights of the 2016-2017 spread. The CAP UCLA Fellows Program is dedicated to celebrating masters of their craft through multi-year presentation commitments. We hope you join us in our celebration!

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Anne Bogart & SITI Company

New York-based SITI Company, co-founded by acclaimed American theater and opera director Anne Bogart with Leon Ingulsrud and Ellen Lauren is known worldwide as a constantly evolving collective of artists whose collaborative spirit results in the creation of new theater that straddles performing arts disciplines and challenges norms. The Center will work closely with Anne Bogart and other members of the company to explore projects, educational programs and performances unique to our campus and immediate community.

In this 2016-2017 season we are delighted to team up with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra to present Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson’s Lost in the Stars featuring SITI Company, with direction from Anne Bogart and musical direction from Jeffrey Kahane. An adaptation of Alan Paton’s novel Cry, the Beloved Country, this 1949 Broadway musical was the last score Kurt Weill wrote for the stage before his passing.

In the 2015-2016 season we presented Steel Hammer, a collaboration among SITI Company, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Julia Wolfe and esteemed music collective Bang on A Can All-Stars. SITI Company thrilled CAP UCLA audiences in the 2014-2015 season with their adventurous collaboration with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company for the dance-theater work A Rite, inspired by Stravinsky’s iconic Rite of Spring.

Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson is among the most important visual and theater artists in the world. His work uses different artistic techniques integrating movement, dance, painting, light, design, sculpture, music and drama.

In our 2016-2017 season, we will feature a Mikhail Baryshnikov and Robert Wilson collaboration—their second for CAP UCLA. Letter to a Man is based on autobiographical texts by Vaslav Nijinsky (1889-1950), one of the most celebrated dancers and choreographers of his time who danced in Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and created seminal choreographies himself. His diaries, written in less than six weeks in 1919, document the young man’s descent into madness. They were first published in 1936.

We presented another collaboration of Wilson and Baryshnikov in the 2014-2015 season. Developed with, and starring, the legendary Baryshnikov, and co-starring Oscar-nominated actor Willem Dafoe, The Old Woman is an adaptation of the eponymous work by recently rediscovered Russian avant-garde author Daniil Kharms. A brilliant, obscure and slyly political novella from the 1930s, The Old Woman loosely follows the story of a struggling writer who cannot find peace with himself.

In our 2013-2014 season, we featured a solo act from Wilson. As an homage to revolutionary composer John Cage, Robert Wilson performed Cage’s Lecture on Nothing, one of the central texts of twentieth-century experimental literature. The production has been described as being an “acoustically and visually inspiring approach to the philosophical and poetic text” which Cage based on a complex time length scheme similar to some of his music.

Kronos Quartet

Through our Artist Fellow initiative, we celebrate Kronos Quartet as one of the most influential contemporary ensembles of our time and a driving force in the performing arts. For 40 years, the Grammy-winning Kronos Quartet has redefined the string quartet experience through thousands of concerts, more than 50 recordings, collaborations with composers and performers from around the globe, and more than 800 commissioned works.

CAP UCLA is delighted to present a new multimedia work featuring the Kronos Quartet for the 2016-2017 season entitled Beyond Zero, which commemorates the centennial of the outbreak of the First World War.  Dubbed “the war to end all wars” World War I ushered in a century of conflict that continues into this millennium. Kronos Quartet will perform compositions by influential composer Aleksandra Vrebalov, and in conjunction with films and archival footage from filmmaker Bill Morrison.

The Beyond Zero event will feature performances of works co-commissioned by CAP UCLA for the Kronos Quartet/Kronos Performing Arts Association initiative Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire.

Beginning in the 2015-2016 season, Fifty for the Future commissioned 50 new works – 10 per year for five years – devoted to contemporary approaches to the quartet and designed expressly for the training of students and emerging professionals. The works are being created by an eclectic group of composers – 25 men and 25 women. Kronos will premiere each piece and create companion digital materials, including scores, recordings, and performance notes, which will be distributed online for free. Fifty for the Future will present string quartet music as a living art form.

In the 2013-2014 season, CAP UCLA celebrated the longevity and far-reaching influence of Kronos Quartet in a double-performance presentation, which included a special 40th Anniversary concert and the Los Angeles debut of Kronos’ first-ever collaboration with CAP UCLA Fellow Laurie Anderson.

CAP UCLA Fellows program is supported in part by the generous support of Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy.