It’s no exaggeration to say that this year has presented challenges for the arts community, especially those incorporating elements of performance, but in the face of these unprecedented difficulties the community is responding with inspiring alacrity. One such institution responding nimbly is the Center for the Art of Performance UCLA (CAP UCLA).
“The word adaptation will surely be a constant companion as we navigate the lengthy period ahead …. We envision that this transformative time will serve our collective betterment — one requiring more humility, more justness and more availability to the realities of the world we have neglected and must now actively address in order to correct course,” wrote Kristy Edmunds, executive and artistic director, in her message announcing CAP UCLA’s 2020-21 season.
CAP UCLA curates annual seasons of live performances for artists to explore new possibilities, expand their expertise and add scholarly context to their practice. The work they showcase explores new possibilities in contemporary dance, theater, music and other emerging genres. This season, upcoming performances will be brought online until further notice in order to ensure safety for its artists, staff and audiences. Artists will be travelling to or across Los Angeles to perform at Royce Hall, while audiences will be able to watch and participate in the comfort of their homes. Audiences will get to engage with over 140 artists through CAP UCLA’s artist recovery initiatives, online stage features, Tune in Festival Performances and more. Here are some events that are coming to you soon:
“The People Speak” brings voices of figures of the past and present to life. See real people reenact the words of those who have lead movements that ended slavery and Jim Crow segregation, protested war and the genocide of Native Americans, created unions and the eight-hour workday and advanced women’s rights and LGBTQ liberation. The online stage performance set to stream Nov. 1 features the words and lyrics of protesters and visionaries that recapture the passion that helped change history. The show is produced by Anthony Arnove, co-editor of “Voices of a People’s History of the United States” and producer of the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Dirty Wars.”
Although social distancing measures have been put into place, 600 HIGHWAYMEN has still found creative ways to involve spectators in their performance, “A Thousand Ways.” This three-part performance starting Dec. 6 explores what occurs in encounters between people. Become both performer and audience member in this innovative series of performances that goes through the whole ideal arc of social distancing, from full physical separation (as parties in a phone conversation) to a full-on public convention, as you investigate the nuances of interaction in societies, while at home.
Combine a passion for animation and music, and you’ve got Kid Koala’s online stage performance. This December 5, Montreal based DJ Kid Koala and CAP UCLA are collaborating to host “Music to Draw To,” a series of online performances focused on fostering community and creativity. For each four to five-hour online stage performance, participants are invited to tap into their creative minds to draw, sculpt, paint, knit or write in the comfort of their homes while listening to music designed to encourage creativity as a community.
Although COVID-19 has put pressure on the Los Angeles arts community, Edmunds is confident that CAP UCLA and its artists will come out the other side of the pandemic with the tools and knowledge to address the world’s upcoming challenges:
“Amidst their towering achievements as artists, they also share qualities like perseverance, humility, fierce artistry and compassion. Each artist on the CAP UCLA program — in very unique ways — are sharing the unwavering commitment to leave nothing unattended as we find our way together. On their own, they are singular voices in their art forms. Aggregated, they are a collective force for what it means to leave something behind that made wherever they were better because of the deep ethic of their inexplicably purposeful care.”
Top Image: Celisse Henderson speaks into a microphone at a “The People Speak” event. | Courtesy of CAP UCLA