Category Archives: 2019-20 Season

Avery*Sunshine: A Name with a Story

Downtown Los Angeles. A bustling urban center where the classic rolling hills and palm trees of LA halt to make way for skyscrapers, fire escapes, and vintage theaters. One such vintage venue, The Theatre at Ace Hotel, shimmers with light in the evening dusk and the name “Avery*Sunshine” glows above the entrance, suggesting the presence of the pop/soul icon who will take on the stage this Saturday, November 23rd.

I pause to think of all the times I’ve read the names on vintage theater marquees throughout my time in L.A. On every street corner there is seemingly another niche band or artist performing “TONIGHT ONLY. SOLD OUT”… and in that moment a name I had never recognized becomes my most recent search on Spotify or Apple Music.  A new world of art opening before me.

But, the name Avery*Sunshine. Now those are 5 syllables that changed things.

Avery*Sunshine is the stage name of Denise Nicole White, a Philadelphia-born singer and performer. According to Sunshine, her parents named her after Denise Nicholas, a famous black actress. When Avery*Sunshine’s Spelman College sister got cast in The Color Purple on Broadway, leaving Sunshine to finish their record alone, her manager and writing partner Dana scored the opportunity for Sunshine to travel to Japan to promote her new song, “Stalk You.”

At that moment, Dana muttered words that would pivot the trajectory of Sunshine’s career: “You have an opportunity here, what do you want your name to be?”

Without even a moment of hesitation, “Avery Sunshine” was muttered — a combination of two of Sunshine’s true loves and favorite characters, Shug Avery from The Color Purple and Sunshine from Harlem Nights.

Just like that, Avery*Sunshine was born and her career has sky-rocketed ever since.

So when you step foot before The Theatre at Ace Hotel this Saturday evening and see the glowing letters of her name above you, I challenge you to take a moment to think about what your stage name might be. How does your stage name disclose your niche preferences and qualities?

Once you’ve done that, scurry on into the historic theater and enjoy the show!

See you there.

Message from the Artist: Andrew Dawson

I am very pleased to return to CAP UCLA with Space Panorama and Spirit of the Ring. It has been 30 years since Space Panorama was first performed in London’s West End in the aptly named Apollo Theatre, and it is wonderful to be performing this piece in the 50th Anniversary year of the actual Apollo 11 moon landing.

Spirit of the Ring, in contrast, is the full 16 hrs of Wagners epic story of greed, passion, love and death. Both performance pieces are recreations of epic stories — one of fact and the other fiction — both reach into the human soul and imagination.

A force de croire en ses rêves, l’homme en fait une réalité (By believing in his dreams, a man turns them into reality). —Hergé (author of TinTin)

Andrew Dawson

Message from the Artist: Michael Keegan-Dolan


Every winter, as the days grow short and the nights grow long and dark, thousands of migrating swans appear on the many lakes that surround the house where I used to live. Over time the presence of these swans and that darkness began to merge in my imagination with the love story and tragedy that is Swan Lake. Much of Christian culture has been reduced to a simple notion that God is good, has a white beard and lives in the light, and the devil is bad and sits in the dark. This reductive view of the nature of things can be the root of much suffering and confusion.

Darkness is the absence of light. Fundamentally it is how we know what light is. Depression, like most illness, can be a consequence of a continued state of imbalance, often connected with unresolved events from our lives. The accumulated sadness eventually immobilizes us and can make us sick. This sickness often requires a fundamental change to move it. Change, no matter how unwelcome, is an inevitable part of life; nature’s forces are constantly moving, seeking to find balance so that life can continue to endlessly unfold. When depression visits us it is asking us to change. Depression, by its nature, forces you to be still long enough to hear what you are trying to tell yourself. In the dark we can see nothing with our actual external eyes. In silence there is nothing to hear with our external ears. When our senses have nothing on which to attach, our internal world wakes up and starts to speak to us quietly. When this happens it is important to listen carefully. The darkness in any story is there to teach us something.

Don’t be afraid of the dark, it is your friend.

—Michael Keegan-Dolan

London, UK. 30.11.2017. Michael Keegan-Dolan’s Swan Lake/Loch na hEala; Picture shows: Alexander Leonhartsberger, Rachel Poirier. Photo – © Foteini Christofilopoulou.

Swan Lake (Loch na hEala) ft. Michael Keegan-Dolan!

We are excited to bring Ireland’s Teaċ Daṁsa to the Royce Stage to perform Loch na hEala (Swan Lake) under the direction of Michael Keegan-Dolan!

The name Swan Lake alone evokes sentiment among audiences, the classic tale being prolific in literature and entertainment. The ballet is a popular choice among dance companies, providing a complex narrative and character arcs for dancers. Further, many film adaptations have been produced based on Swan Lake, including films from Columbia Pictures, the Barbie franchise, and Japanese writer Hirokazu Fuse.

Given the pathos that audiences may associate with the classic tale and ballet of Swan Lake, those in attendance for Michael Keegan’s adaptation this weekend will be met with a stimulating and thought-provoking interpretation.

Keegan’s Swan Lake takes place in a small town in modern-day Ireland, providing a relatable context for the dark and comedic entities of the story to blossom into fruition. Michael Keegan-Dolan is renowned for his ability to bring Irish wit to life through unique choreography, and coupled with the new score from the Dublin-based band Slow Moving Clouds, the combination of Nordic and Irish traditional music with minimalist and experimental influences is sure to be moving.

Keegan-Dolan’s incredible career has been praised globally, and his ability to touch on political issues through dance continues to move audiences. What a treat this Saturday evening will be to all!


Message from the Center: Aaron Neville Duo

Until now, it’s been easy to separate Aaron Neville’s career into two separate but equal strains: the funky stuff he’s favored when working with his esteemed band of brothers, and the angelic balladry you associate with him when he’s punching his own time card as a solo artist.

Casual fans might admit they don’t know much — to borrow a phrase — about Neville’s musical center, but they’ve perceived a certain split in his career. An education is about to be provided, then, in the form of Apache, a solo album that makes the case for Aaron Neville as the most holistic of soul men. Its hard R&B side matches anything the Neville Brothers ever recorded for true grit, while still allowing plenty of space for a singer who’s arguably the most distinctive vocal stylist on the planet to tell it like it is.

Message from the Artist: Ain Gordon

1972: Dr. John Fryer dons tuxedo and rubber mask to become Dr Henry Anonymous confronting the American Psychiatric Association with these words: “I am a homosexual, I am a psychiatrist.” Dr. Anonymous propelled psychiatry to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness – but who was Dr

All my work interrogates the ruthless editing machine we call “history.”
I write to theatrically annotate our cultural record by spotlighting figures swept (or forced) to the margins of public memory; stories too fragmented for traditional-form historicizing that may remain untold without imagining the factual gaps.

217 Boxes Of Dr. Henry Anonymous began in alliance with the Historical Society Of Pennsylvania (HSP) and two-year funding from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. The grant stipulated I use any of HSP’s collections as source material for a new play guid- ed only by the thematic launch: “personal battles for public liberty.” (OK, I authored the prompt to defend myself against requests I prematurely specify further). During my intake tour, the head archivist showed me a double set of drawers. The right set, he said, held “steps toward our ideal democracy”, while the left held “stumbles along the way.” (Great set up, I was hooked.) The “ideal” steps on the right side included drafts of the Constitution, etc (all the Philadelphia narratives most aggressively promulgated to tourists – AKA stories I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.) The “stumbles” on the left side included Drum magazine, a 1960’s Philadelphia-based “gay” publication (quite the counterpoint).

Googling Drum magazine led me to seminal LGBTQ activists Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny, which led me to an image of them seated at a hotel dais next to a man in a rubber mask, which led me to a PDF of a handwritten speech on a yellow legal pad that began “I am a homosexual, I am a psychiatrist.” I realized the PDF identifier said “HSP” – the building in which I sat googling. I went up to the readin -room front desk: “Hi, you have this?” “Oh, yes,” they said, “we have 217 boxes of that.”

Message from the Center: Samin Nosrat In Conversation with Lindy West

A few years ago I was wandering around at a farmers market and came across a table of cookbooks. The one that immediately caught my eye (and which I had to have) had a title that made me laugh out loud: I Am Almost Always Hungry.

Who isn’t?

And not just in the stomach-growling, feed-me-now kind of way, but in the larger, hungry-for-everything kind of way. We are always hungry — for a piece of the pie, for a seat at the table, for a change of scenery, for more, for better, for different. In our abundant, overflowing culture we are all almost always hungry.

The two writers on stage tonight, Lindy West and Samin Nosrat, both address this notion of hunger; for equity and acceptance, for humor, for access, for difference, for joy and comfort, for the right to just let your freak flag fly. One of the things I love so much about both of them, is that they refuse to ignore this hunger, they refuse to apologize, to fit in, to lower their voice. Instead, they are delightfully ravenous, they ask questions, and they demand that we too, ask questions, that we not dismiss our own hunger, that we take notice. There is a reason we are all, almost always hungry. It forces us to pay attention, to not ignore or deny the gnawing little voice deep inside that demands we feed ourselves and others.

The late, great M.F.K Fisher, in her introduction to The Gastronomical Me, writes this about hunger:

“Like most humans, I am hungry…our three basic needs, for food and
security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it…and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied…and it is all one. We must eat. If in the face of that…we can find other nourishment and tolerance and compassion, we’ll be no less full of human dignity.”

Thanks for joining us for our first Words & Ideas program of the new
season, it’s an honor to share this glorious hall with Samin and Lindy, and as always, with you.

Meryl Friedman
Director of Education & Special Initiatives

A Note from Damon Lindelof, Co-creator of The Leftovers

Fellow Members of The Guilty Remnant,

The following is an excerpt from the actual script of the Leftovers finale.  Matt Jamison sits with his sister, Nora Durst as she prepares to get zapped into an alternate dimension while he prepares to return to his wife and son… and die.  Here’s what we wrote:

Matt and Nora trade ONE FINAL LOOK.  This is it.  He SMILES —

She’s the Bravest Girl on Earth.

And she SMILES back.  The Richter starts to play.  Something quiet and beautiful and pulling us towards the inevitable…

A big part of screenwriting is trying to convey how a particular moment feels using only words.  We, however, had a secret weapon.  Why even bother wasting the keystrokes on “happy” or “sad” or “painful” or “joyous” or “scared” when we could simply write…

“The Richter starts to play.”

And so it did.  It played over a mother’s realization that her baby was missing from his car seat and it played over another mother picking up another baby on a doorstep.  It played over a cavewoman dying in a stream.  Over a woman running across a bridge to embrace the daughter who abandoned her.  It played over an assassin dying in the arms of a president.  And finally, one last time, it played over two people sitting at a kitchen table… one telling a story almost impossible to believe… and the other believing it.

And here’s what I believe.  There would be no Leftovers without Max Richter and his incredible music.  His brilliance occupies the space between extreme faith and the terror of nothingness… the unexplored region that lies between hope and despair.  But most of all…

Max reminds us that we’re human.   And as painful as life can be, it’s also beautiful.   So sit back, close your eyes, and let it all wash over you as…

The Richter starts to play.

We’re Still Here,

Damon Lindelof