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UCLA series' new leader picks big names, restores plays to mix

May 22, 2012|By Mike Boehm
  • Royce Hall on the UCLA campus is the anchoring venue for the CAP-UCLA performance series.
Royce Hall on the UCLA campus is the anchoring venue for the CAP-UCLA performance… (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles…)

While they adjust to a new name for the long-running performance series anchored at UCLA’s Royce Hall, audiences may be reassured by the selection of major names that Kristy Edmunds, the new director who tweaked the title, has included in her first season of picks.

The 2012-13 season announced Tuesday for the re-branded Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (formerly UCLA Live) has some top stars of avant-garde or genre-blending performance in Laurie Anderson, Hal Willner, Meredith Monk, guitarist Bill Frisell and the Trisha BrownDance Company.

A roster of American roots music, jazz and art-pop talent features Allen Toussaint and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (Feb. 12, 2013), Emmylou Harris (Oct. 2), the Ron Carter Quartet with the Robert Glasper Trio (Oct. 27), the Brad Mehldau Trio and the Bad Plus with Joshua Redman (May 4, 2013), Steve Earle and his country-singer wife, Allison Moorer, with the Living Sisters (Jan. 12, 2013), and twin bills of the David Grisman Sextet with David Lindley (Nov. 2) and Michelle Ndegeocello with James “Blood” Ulmer supported by former Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid (Dec. 7).

Siblings Rufus and Martha Wainwright will preside over two Christmas shows (Dec. 21-22), keeping up a family tradition begun by their late mother, Kate McGarrigle, when she teamed with her sister, Anna. David Sedaris, a series regular, will continue to spin stories under the new CAP-UCLA banner (May 1).

Anderson will offer “Dirtday!” (Oct. 26), a new piece consisting of songs and stories that she has begun to tour. It’s a prelude to offerings that will be forthcoming in future seasons under a recently announced three-year fellowship sponsored by CAP-UCLA, in which Anderson will visit the campus periodically to incubate and present new work. The other CAP-UCLA fellow, stage director Robert Wilson, is expected to contribute to series programming starting next season.

Monk and her vocal ensemble will premiere a new work, “On Behalf of Nature” (Jan. 18-20 at Freud Playhouse), described as a Buddhist-influenced “evening-length … poetic meditation on the environment.”

The Trisha Brown Dance Company (April 4-7) will offer a retrospective of its leader’s choreography in several venues. Two separate main programs will be performed at Royce Hall: “I am going to toss my arms – if you catch them they will be yours,” “Set and Reset” (with score by Laurie Anderson and costumes and sets by Robert Rauschenberg) and the solo piece “Watermotor” will be seen April 5, and “Les Yeux et L’ame,” “Foray Foret,” “Spanish Dance” and “Newark” on April 7.

Also on tap are a ticketed performance of Brown’s “Astral Converted” April 4 at UCLA’s Sunset Canyon Amphitheatre, and free performances of several other works that dancers from her company will teach to the UCLA students who will perform them. They include “Roof Piece” on April 6 and “Floor of the Forest,” which calls for erecting a sculptural set piece in the courtyard of the Hammer Museum.

Other dance offerings are the Akram Khan Company’s “Vertical Road,” based on mystic poetry by Rumi and Sufi authors (Oct. 5-6) and Belgian company Ultima Vez and choreographer Wim Vandekeybus’ revival of the 1987 piece “What the Body Does Not Remember” (March 15-16).

The theatrical peformances that had stopped the last two seasons because money was short will resume, led by a staging of Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist classic “Rhinoceros,” performed in the original French, with supertitles, by Theatre de la Ville-Paris (Sept. 21-22 at Royce Hall).

Britain’s Cheek by Jowl company, which performed “Othello” in the 2004 UCLA season, will be back with another Elizabethan classic, John Ford’s blood-soaked “’Tis Pity She’s a Whore” (Jan. 9-11 at Freud Playhouse).

Australia’s Back to Back Theatre, an ensemble composed mainly of actors with mental disabilities, will perform its company-generated touring production, “Ganesh Versus the Third Reich,” in which the elephant-headed Hindu god goes on a quest through Nazi Germany to reclaim the swastika, the sacred symbol from ancient India purloined by Hitler and his minions (Jan. 24-27 at Freud Playhouse).

Another Australian import is Melbourne’s Circus Oz (Feb. 7-10, 2013) whose acrobats and onstage band dress in neo-Victorian steampunk fashion.

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