Tag Archives: the moth

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.


Summer Reading List

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

Photo courtesy Simon Cocks via Creative Commons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.