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Gob Squad and the Slow Vogue

Gob Squad, Creation (Pictures for Dorian), REDCAT, October 19, 2018  Watching The Gob Squad’s Creation (Pictures for Dorian) at REDCAT brought home to me the fact that you can get away with saying anything so long as you say it with a British accent. I’ll go even further—you can, in fact, do anything and seem up to the task and on top of things, so long as you drop a few word along the way in a British accent. Brits will get naked too, I learned at REDCAT, even when they’re older, and they’ll stand there, revolving slowly on an art-model dias, the flesh rippling around them, and manage to achieve a kind of elegance, a grace even, amidst the pillowing wreckage. I also learned how very, very avant-garde they are, … [Read more...]

Beyond Category

David Roussève: Halfway to Dawn, REDCAT, October 4, 2018 — Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington deserved his royal nickname. Throughout his fifty-year reign as America's premier composer/pianist/band leader and goodwill ambassador to the world, Ellington spoke and carried himself in a courtly, regal manner. He routinely used the "royal we" when acknowledging applause from his audiences--as in, "we love you madly"--and referred to himself, with amused and characteristic noblesse oblige, simply as "our pianist." He was charming and grandiose, elegant and hip. In truth, the princely Ellington's empire was actually quite small; it consisted of about fifteen loyal musicians, all with virtually lifetime jobs, and a retinue that … [Read more...]

Theatre for Cartoon Demons

Olwui Okpokwasili’s Poor People’s TV Room, REDCAT , Los Angeles Premier —  Related Posts: Attaining the Singular, Death and the Avant-Garde in our Neoliberal Nightmare I had a vision not long ago. It wasn’t a particularly visionary vision, but it was very specific in a David Lynchy kinda way, and it involved a dark, fluid space alive with various currents and lit up with a spectral glow. The fluid was heavier than water but not quite as dense as oil, and out of it the quarter moon arc of a human profile would now and then appear in the form of a whirlpool-like structure, and I understood this to be the way a coherent self arises out of the flood of sensations and perceptions before dissolving again back into the underlying … [Read more...]

Mars, Music, Mayhem

"War of the Worlds" director Yuval Sharon, composer Annie Gosfield, LA Phil, Disney Hall —  From the late 1920s until the rise of television in the early 1950s, two relatively new inventions--motion pictures and radio-- truly united the United States. By the time of their broadest reach in the 30s and 40s, movies had an immensely popular draw; millions of people went to see them every week. For a quarter, you could enjoy two films, a newsreel, a comedy short and a bag of popcorn. Radio was an even more visceral unifier and when families owned one they felt connected to a wider world. The airwaves carried free sources of entertainment and information. Everybody listened to FDR's "fireside chats', popular music, Joe Louis … [Read more...]

Death Defying

Sur Les Traces de Dinozard, Faustin Linyekula, Choreographer, September 29, REDCAT — To open its 2017-2018 season, REDCAT offered a dramatic dance/theatre/music presentation of the 90-minute performance of Sur Les Traces de Dinozard ("In Search of Dinozard"), choreographed, directed and danced by the award-winning Congolese artist, Faustin Linyekula. His troupe of seven male singer/dancers, known as Studios Kabako, mesmerized the audience with tableaux of death and survival, music and movement, memory and hope. Born out of more than a century of colonization, corruption and killing in Central Africa, the evening's words and images will haunt anyone who experienced them. REDCAT deserves continued praise for expanding … [Read more...]

Pink Elephants

Circus Polka, 1942, Fifty Elephants, Balanchine and Stravinsky Team Up— "Elephants never forget", as the old saying goes. And we should never forget one of the oddest moments in the history of elephants, circuses and classical music. April 9th will mark the 75th anniversary of this unique event. In late 1941, choreographer George Balanchine was contacted in New York by John North Ringling with a unique proposition: could a "ballet" be created for his Barnum and Bailey Circus elephants? The idea was intriguing and in January, 1942, Balanchine called his friend Igor Stravinsky who was busy working in Los Angeles. The two Russians agreed on the idea and, for a healthy fee, the composer finished a piano version of what … [Read more...]

Death and the Avant-Garde in Our Neoliberal Nightmare

The Ontology of Tantrum — On the eve of George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004 I happened to attend a performance of Sarah Kane’s 4:48 Psychosis at UCLA and, oddly enough, it was the perfect work of art to draw me back from the brink. I thought of this again after finding myself on the edge of an even deeper abyss following the debacle of November 6, 2016, when two recent productions served a similar purpose. I’m talking about Marissa Chibas’s The Second Woman at Bootleg, and Letter to a Man by Robert Wilson and Mikhail Baryshnikov at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Both productions managed to cast new light on our increasingly dire situation in the US, reminding me in very different ways of the ferocity with which our right wing elite has been waging … [Read more...]

The Body at the Center

Christian Rizzo / ICI—CCN MONTPELLIER: d’après une histoire vraie — September 15th was the first of four nights of a ballet featuring eight male dancers accompanied solely by two drummers for a 70 minute performance.  Curiosity about how this melange of 16 bare feet and two piles of percussion instruments could entertain an audience for over an hour is what drew some of us to REDCAT. We were not disappointed after the house lights went down and were soon transfixed by what we saw and heard. When the lights came back up, the two-minute standing ovation for the performers was enthusiastic and well-deserved. The choreographer, director and designer of the production is Christian Rizzo, a man with a truly … [Read more...]

Dancing with Kafka

Der Bau - Isabelle Schad | Laurent Goldring from Théâtre Auditorium Poitiers — The exceptional is what one comes to expect from the programing at REDCAT. Some original presentations during a recent fortnight have included TeatroCinema's ingeniously staged Historia de Amor and an evening of often bleak, always beautiful films by the late director Chantal Akerman. April 17th proved again the daring temperament with a performance by Berlin based choreographer Isabelle Schad and French artist Laurent Goldring. Isabelle Schad has re-imagined an unfinished novella by Franz Kafka, entitled Der Bau (The Burrow). When the lights came up, the only things visible on stage were four or five bunched-up pieces … [Read more...]

LA Theater and the Kool-Aid of Simplicity

Notes from a Stealth Revolution— Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to produce close to forty full runs of new theater in Los Angeles, many of which I also participated in as a director and playwright. I have moved several of these productions to stages in New York, Edinburgh, Atlanta, Prague and Berlin, and been thrilled and inspired by the results. A good part of my ability to work in this way has to do with the strong and largely unmediated collaborative relationships that can be forged in Los Angeles with actors and designers, and also with the comparatively low cost of working in an arena that everyone understands to be, quite simple, not a part of the commodity economy. It seems possible, however, that in 2015 all this … [Read more...]