The process of planning for and later presenting live performances is a remarkable encounter with careening variables. However refined a season schedule might be or however long we have planned with artists and colleagues for each project – we are ever aware that in an instant, things can change on a dime (and frequently do). Multifarious daily adventures become months and then a year, and a new season is born!
Since our work at the Center parallels life at large, it also offers us abundant recognition of how interdependent we are in creating the conditions for great artistry to arrive and thrive on our stages. That is a potential and vitality that includes you – our patrons, members, supporters, subscribers, audiences, students and visiting cultural omnivores. Without your interest, involvement and support, none of this would happen. Thank you.
As you have come to expect from Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, the 2015-2016 season reflects a diverse and highly considered program of contemporary performances.
One particular intention within our programming focus this season is the massive contribution of women in all of the art forms that our mission envelops.
Our Words & Ideas series is chock full of powerful, maverick and generous voices – from the literary genius of Ursula K. Le Guin, to the disarmingly brilliant cultural commentary of cartoonist Roz Chast. Miranda July returns to the Center for a top-secret experience, and we will hear from Moscow-based Russian feminist punk protest group Pussy Riot.
We also present a retrospective survey of one of the world’s most admired and influential choreographers Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and her company Rosas. The world premiere of a major commissioned work by Ann Carlson, entitled The Symphonic Body UCLA features 100 performers culled from the workers on this campus. It is unlike anything you have experienced before. And, we present the world premiere of new work from L.A.’s beloved Latin-Urban collective CONTRA-TIEMPO under the direction of Ana Maria Alvarez.
Anne Bogart and SITI Company return to the season in a new collaborative work with Julia Wolfe and Bang on a Can All-Stars. And we’ve linked arms with our colleagues at Center Theater Group to welcome Young Jean Lee back to L.A. Her newest theater piece titled STRAIGHT WHITE MEN opens just in time for the holiday season. To start the season’s theater offerings, CAP UCLA is proud to present Desdemona, written by Toni Morrison and Rokia Traoré. Directed by the singular Peter Sellars, this thoughtful work is a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Othello, as told from the female characters’ perspectives.
In music, Cassandra Wilson performs her disarming Billie Holiday tribute and Regina Carter takes the stage in collaboration with Sam Amidon, in a celebration of her own Southern roots. We will also host Anoushka Shankar, Noura Mint Seymali, Lucinda Williams, as well as Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho in an intimate concert featuring UCLA’s one-and-only Gloria Cheng—just to name a few. We love men too! A generous and formidable contingent of men join us as well.
Thank you for finding us, for supporting what we do, and for coming along as we host some truly unforgettable performances this season.
Here’s just a snapshot of what’s in store. You can also click through the online 2015-2016 program guide.
Wednesday night, thanks to Art Spiegelman and Phillip Johnston, we found ourselves immersed in a world of wordlessness. With live music, visuals and spoken word, through WORDLESS! Art shared with us images and tales of the artists whose wordless works spoke volumes to an entire community and culture of visual artists, cartoonists and graphic novelists, including himself.
The project definitely left a stamp on campus.
Art started his day on campus by speaking to a convening of students from several different areas of study in UCLA’s Design Media Arts.
Art is beloved by established and emerging artists around the world, including DESMA students here at UCLA. Art’s e-cigarette and coffee were as omnipresent as his wit and wisdom.
Meanwhile, our friends at UCLA Special Collections also took up the cause, creating a display of work from 1930s wood-cut artist Lynd Ward, who was the first graphic novelists and major influence on many artists who followed–including Art Spiegelman.
Scenes from the mini-installation in the Charles E. Young Research Library.
And, on the night of the show we harnessed some creative talent from within our own community to explore one of the concepts from WORDLESS!–that of balancing on a hyphen..between words and pictures, right brain and left brain.
“First, I would like to say…thank you for your service.”
In a UCLA class of 400 students, young women and men raised their hands and stood to ask a question of Tyler LaMarr: Marine, actor and lead performer in Basetrack Live. Before every question, each student expressed their gratitude. “My brother is a Marine and I want to say thank you.”
“Can you tell us, do you ever feel angry about how some people say negative things about the military?”
“How do you feel when actors who have never been in service portray Marines or soldiers in combat?”
“Do you think the government is telling the truth about what goes on over there?”
The questions flowed for two hours, evolving organically into a conversation: thoughts, opinions, fears, hopes. Tyler’s path since graduating from high school was markedly different from the majority of the students he now faced, but any one of them could have been him — they were more similar than different.
“Can you talk about the stress you felt when you came home?”
“I want to ask you about sexual assault in the military – how bad is it, and what can we do?”
“Did you always want to be an actor? How does a Marine get to be an actor?
The room was filled with laughter, hushed silence, intense listening. You could feel the listening. At the end of class, instead of the usual rush of students pushing to leave, hurrying to the next class, hurrying to lunch, hurrying somewhere, they pushed to the front of the room to shake hands with the young man who proudly talked about his choices. One young woman said, “If you had to do it all again, if you could make any choice, would you do anything different?”
“No,” said Tyler. No, I would do it all the same.”
Hundreds of handshakes. Thank you for your service.
CAP UCLA presents “Basetrack Live” tomorrow night in Royce Hall. And our “Peace & Quiet” station on the Royce Quad, will remain up until after the performance. Join us to experience this unique theater work and join the conversation by visiting “Peace & Quiet” or contributing to our Tumblr.
This weekend marks the final performance of the 2012-2013, with LACO’s Concerto Finale. It’s been a great year and now is a great time for us to settle down and reflect a bit, before the joyous frenzy of bringing you the amazing array of 2013-2014 artists begins in earnest.
I thought I’d take some time to acknowledge and sincerely thank the many students and other members of our vibrant campus community who generously applied considerable heart and talent toward enhancing and contextualizing performances of our past season. There’s a whole wonderful lot of them!
Our on-campus group, Student Committee for the Arts (SCA) this year launched a new programming track for the Royce Hall terrace. Aptly dubbed “The Terrace Series,” SCA sought out performers (most of them also UCLA students) to create free concerts open to all UCLA students prior to our main stage presentations. A happy (and not entirely unexpected) byproduct of having these talented young performers sharing their work outside the hall before the artists on our season took the stage, was the energetic tone they set as audiences arrived.
The first Terrace Series concert featured hip-hop and experimental DJ Co. Fee and experimental soul/jazz singer and UCLA student Moses Sumney who set the stage for an evening of boundary-defying jazz and soul artists with the Robert Glasper Experiment plus special guests José James, Taylor McFerrin and Austin Peralta, a program CAP UCLA co-presented with SCA.
The second Terrace Series got groovy inside the Royce Hall west lobby (thanks to rain). UCLA student acts Ace Mack and Free Food started things off just right as later that night Charles Bradley and Menahan Street Band brought the Royce Hall crowd to its feet in a truly soul-stirring performance.
Most recently, SCA teamed up with noted UCLA Jazz Reggae Festival to create a head-to-head competition between two student groups—The Wes Coast and The Street Hearts— who battled it out on the Royce Terrace before our presentation of avant-groove jazz trio Medeski Martin & Wood. Winners The Street Hearts will be the opening act at Jazz-Reggae Fest on campus next weekend—an amazing opportunity for young musicians. We’re proud to say we knew them when!
Our student advocates at SCA also helped us perpetuate poetry this past season, presenting an incredibly inspiring open-mic poetry slam, hosted by author and poet Carl Hancock Rux, as part of his appearance on our season.
Speaking of poetry, in conjunction with SCA, we created a live poetry bureau on the steps and terrace of Royce Hall the evening of David Sedaris’ performance. Audience-goers from the literarily inclined crowd made great use of a dozen waiting student writers by filling out a small questionnaire and in return, getting an on-the-spot personalized poem.
Student writers Megan Lent, Denise Lin, Meagan Hogan, Wendy Du, Katie Neipris, Brendan Hornbostel, Catherine Kang, Anthony Cerrato, Lena Muratova, Ashley Simmone, Eric Lim, Jeanette Zhu, Makayla Bailey dutifully (and gleefully) clacked away on old-school typewriters and created a very special sense of occasion for our final spoken word event. Check out our full photo gallery and some poetry samples on Flickr.
The winners of our annual humor-writing competition, UCLA students Ida Cutler, Jenna Westover and Patrick Nolan, not only poured their hearts into some truly poignant pieces of writing, but also bravely faced a sold-out Royce Hall audience to do an impromptu live introduction of David Sedaris. They took on the task of informing the rapt crowd that Sedaris’ most recent book had just hit No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. “I’m so embarrassed they mentioned the bestseller,” Sedaris teased when he took the podium a moment later. “I was afraid I was going to have to do it myself.”
There’s something automatically energizing about having UCLA student performers and artists on site. The extremely talented young instrumentalists of We the Folk joined us several times this year—leading audience-goers (who arrived, string instruments in tow) in a “Pick Your Brains Out” jam session on the terrace prior to David Grisman Sextet plus special guest David Lindley and also providing live music in the Freud Playhouse courtyard before several performances of Cheek by Jowl’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore. Fellow student musicians Los Tres Compadres also greeted theatergoers during Cheek by Jowl’s run with a the trio’s classical music approach to modern tunes.
Prior to our presentation of fiery Argentinian group Bajofondo, we invited WAC/Dance grad student Sharna Fabiano and partner Isaac Oboka to host a lively mini-milonga and tango lesson on the Royce Terrace, which the audience participated in to full effect.
And, while they’re not technically UCLA students or teachers, we must thank the dance activists of CONTRA-TIEMPO and Latin percussionists from Son of the Drum for a glorious salsa-dancing sunset as part of our “Carmageddon Tailgate Party,” which kicked off the first of 2012-2013 music performances in Latin style on the evening of Bebel Gilberto plus Forro in the Dark.
Our major April program, Trisha Brown Dance Company: The Retrospective Project, would not have happened without the support and efforts of many campus entities, but we were particularly delighted to witness first-hand the transfer of knowledge from Trisha Brown Dance Company to the student performers of Floor of the Forest, which ran in the Hammer Museum Courtyard from April 1-21.
The work was performed by: Courtney Ryan, Rachel Getman, Sarah Jacobs, Elena Yu, Emily Nelson, Ahilya Kaul, Anna Eliza Pastor, Eydie McConnell, Gwyneth Shanks, Myrrhia Rodriguez, Hana Cohn, Cyndi Huang, Samantha Goodman, Alexis Wilkinson, Brynn Shiovitz and Katherine Ann Kaemmerling.
Not only did these talented young artists volunteer for a rigorous rehearsal period and performance schedule, but several of them also made a point to dive into every element of the Trisha Brown programming, attending talks and other Company performances throughout the week.
Here are a couple Floor of the Forest dancers getting into the moment during the Company’s performance of Roof Piece at The Getty Museum.
Earlier in the year another amazing group of students (and a few non-students) leaped at the chance to work with Meredith Monk as she returned to CAP UCLA in January to complete her artist residency and debut her new work, On Behalf of Nature. Monk collaborated with this group of artists to create a very unique installation piece that they performed in the Freud Playhouse courtyard before each evening of On Behalf of Nature. The subtle and individualized movement of each artist happened among the foliage and gathered crowd. The performers came together several times to sing a gentle wordless refrain reminiscent of Monk’s newest composition. It set a delightfully pensive tone for the audience as they entered the space to enjoy Monk’s elegiac and meditative work.
The Meredith Monk installation performances featured: Sonya Chávez, Chankethya Chey, Meryl Friedman, Jean Garcia-Gathright, Kaitlyn Huwe, Sarah Jacobs, Mary Neely, Odeya Nini, Hap Palmer, Courtney Ryan, Tommy Schulz, Gwyneth Shanks, Alexandra Shilling, Brynn Shiovitz, Elaine E. Sullivan, Kanwal Sumnani and Laurel Jenkins Tentindo.
Our collaboration with UCLA Library Special Collections and the wealth of cultural history and passion that resides in the documents, images and curators of that department yielded a wealth of events related to our presentation of Allen Ginsberg’s Kaddish. Two exhibits on Beat writers and the history of Beat culture in Los Angeles continue through June. Special Collections also graciously welcomed both our Artist Fellows–Laurie Anderson and Robert Wilson–to explore the treasure trove of cultural archives on this campus. Inspiration ensued! (Stay tuned)
This season we also launched a new informal discussion series for our donor audience—“Tonight in the Lounge.” Supporters of our organization at the Sustainer level and above are invited to the private Royce Hall lounge before performances. For “Tonight in the Lounge” we often mined the deep expertise of this campus to create significant moments of insight and inspiration around the artists on our season. These casual talks made an indelible impression on our generous supporters thanks to the great enthusiasm and generosity of many UCLA students and faculty members.
Michael Hackett, Professor and Chair of the Department of theater in UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television helped us welcome international theater back to the 2012-2013 season and gave our donor audience a primer on Eugene Ionesco before performances of the acclaimed playwright’s Rhinoceros from Theatre de la Ville-Paris.
Sahba Shayani, fifth-year graduate student in UCLA’s Program of Iranian Studies/Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, provided thoughtful context around the work of Rumi to performances of Akram Khan Company’s Vertical Road, a compelling dance work inspired in part by words from the beloved Persian poet.
Alex W. Rodriguez, UCLA PhD Student in Ethnomusicology joined us for a lounge talk prior to performance from jazz legend Ron Carter, celebrating the enduring bassist’s stature, legacy and influence in jazz.
James Newton, Distinguished Professor, Ethnomusicology and director of UCLA Charles Mingus Ensemble shared his distinct expertise to set the stage for jazz pianist Vijay Iyer, who performed in several combo configurations and was joined by a personal mentor, saxophonist Steve Coleman.
Oded Erez, second-year doctoral student in the Department of Musicology helped contextualize the passionate music of Israeli band Yemen Blues.
Eric Schmidt, second-year MA/PhD student in the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology joined us to celebrate the work of Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré and share thoughts on the legacy of his legendary father Ali Farka Touré. (Eric also did a wonderful interview with Vieux in preparation for his talk with our donors–scroll down to the January 31 issue of our blog.)
Cheryl L. Keyes Professor of Ethnomusicology & Director of Undergraduate Studies, HASOM came out for our Mardi Gras party, talking to our supporters about the colorful culture that surrounds New Orleans music, as we presented Allen Toussaint Band and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band in Royce Hall.
At every turn, we discover how fortunate we are to be surrounded by the students, staff and professors who populate this campus. The exchange of ideas, the energy created by embracing an atmosphere that is dedicated to new ideas and experiences is an important part of who we are. And we thank them all.