Category Archives: THEATER


This weekend, the actor, writer, and performance artist Roger Guenveur Smith and singer and composer Marc Anthony Thompson will present PORTRAIT OF CHARLES WHITE at LACMA.

Smith and Thompson will “navigate White’s career as an artist, educator, and political activist, as well as his compelling personal profile, to devise an intimate meditation on a man of immense complexity and enduring influence.”*


Saturday, May 4, at 7:30 pm.


5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.

From top: Charles White in his Los Angeles studio, 1970, courtesy the Hammer Museum; Roger Guenveur Smith; Marc Anthony Thompson; Charles White painting Mary McLeod Bethune, 1978, © Charles White Archives, photograph by Frank J. Thomas, courtesy of the Charles White Archives and the photographer.


“Songs are like tattoos,” wrote Joni Mitchell, echoing the pain of their creation. For the composer, songs often outlive the love that inspired them. For the rest of us, they’re emblems of the faces and places they evoke and the times they define.

John Kelly—visual and performance artist, writer, choreographer, and Mitchell interpreter nonpareil—brings his new, highly subjective work TIME NO LINE to Los Angeles for a three-night stand at Redcat.

Based on journal entries spanning forty years, TIME NO LINE bridges the decades with movement, music, and art. As an on-the-ground witness to the initial devastation of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and the culture wars of the 1990s, Kelly is an artist-activist of rare insight and experience, and this engagement is not to be missed.

“The spoken word was the last thing I cared to add to my arsenal as a performer… [Journal writing is a] habit that has accumulated and become a significant body of work, a source of both insanely good raw material and embarrassment and remorse. It’s tough to read back through this stuff.” — John Kelly

On opening night, Kelly will join writer and professor David Román for a post-performance talk.*


Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, April 25, 26, and 27.

All shows at 8:30 pm.


631 West 2nd Street, downtown Los Angeles.

*David Román is the author of Acts of Intervention: Performance, Gay Culture, and AIDS and co-editor—with Holly Hughes—of O Solo Homo: The New Queer Performance.

Joni Mitchell, “Blue,” © 1971, Joni Mitchell Music, Inc. (BMI).

John Kelly, Time No Line performance photographs, from top: Paula Court; John Kelly‘s Instagram; Theo Cote; Court. Images courtesy of John Kelly and the photographers.

John Kelly (above) at Sideways into the Shadows, his portrait series of lovers, friends, and colleagues lost to the AIDS epidemic, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, 2018. Photograph by Susan Rand Brown, courtesy of John Kelly and the photographer.


SUDDEN RISE—co-written by Wu Tsang, boychild, and Fred Moten—is the New York City performance debut of the ensemble Moved by the Motion.

This “collage” of text, film, movement, and sound is complemented by the words of Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Hannah Arendt, W.E.B. Du Bois and Jimi Hendrix.


Friday, April 26, at 8 pm.

Saturday April 27, at 4 pm and 8 pm.

Whitney Museum of American Art

99 Gansevoort Street, New York City.

Moved by the MotionSudden Rise, photographs by Paula Court/EMPAC. Images courtesy of Moved by the Motion and the photographer.


“To describe a life is to paraphrase it; and to paraphrase is to set the original aside. Removed from immediate consciousness, a described life is not merely past, not merely an article of memory. It becomes the occasion of a narrative that closes on a heinous injustice, or several; it sacrifices on the altar of abstraction those moments of the living person that were singular and unrepeatable, irreducibly human.” — Darby English*

On our college campuses and in THE NICETIES—the textually rich new play by Eleanor Burgess—the groves of academe are riven with theoretical landmines. At issue onstage at the Geffen Playhouse is the subject of history—how it should be taught and who should do the teaching.

Janine Bosko (Lisa Banes) is a highly regarded professor at an Ivy League university. Convinced that good intentions and steadfast devotion to primary sources shield her from criticism, she meets with one of her students—Zoe (Jordan Boatman)—to discuss her thesis on the American Revolution. Professor Bosko finds the paper intelligently written but fundamentally flawed, too reliant on the subjectivity of its author. For her part, Zoe has determined that, in the hands of her professor, history is an insidious instrument blocking social change.**

This brilliantly performed discourse on representation, identity, and justice versus revenge was directed by Kimberly Senior in a production transferred intact from the Manhattan Theatre Club. Burgess does not insult her audience with easy resolutions, and the debate continued long after the curtain went down.


Through May 12.

Geffen Playhouse

10886 Le Conte Avenue, Westwood, Los Angeles.

*Darby English, “Introduction: To Describe a Life,” in To Describe a Life: Notes from the Intersection of Art and Race Terror (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2019), 2.

**The Niceties was inspired by the 2015 Yale Halloween-costume controversy.

The Niceties, Geffen Playhouse, from top: Lisa Banes (left) and Jordan Boatman; Boatman; Banes; Banes and Boatman. Photographs by T. Charles Erickson.


The paintings of Ben Shahn, Antonio Berni, Raquel Forner, Honoré Sharrer, and Pavel Tchelitchew, the photography of Walker Evans and George Platt Lynes, the sculpture of Elie Nadelman and Gaston Lachaise, the ballet costumes of Kurt Seligmann, Paul Cadmus, and Jared French, the music of Virgil Thomson, and the philosophy of George Gurdjieff

… all come together in LINCOLN KIRSTEIN’S MODERN, the Museum of Modern Art exhibition devoted to the writer, critic, curator, patron, and impresario who set the aesthetic template for MOMA and brought George Balanchine to America to establish the New York City Ballet.


Through June 15.

Museum of Modern Art

11 West 53rd Street, New York City.

This summer MOMA‘s West 53rd Street location will close for four months—June 15 through October 21—for reconstruction.

From top: George Platt LynesLincoln Kirstein, circa 1948, gelatin silver print, Museum of Modern Art, New York, © 2019 estate of George Platt Lynes; Paul Cadmus, set design for the ballet Filling Station, 1937, cut-and-pasted paper, gouache, and pencil on paper, Museum of Modern Art, New York, gift of Lincoln Kirstein, 1941, © 2018 estate of Paul Cadmus; Walker EvansRoadside View, Alabama Coal Area Town, 1936, gelatin silver print, printed circa 1969 by Charles RodemeyerMuseum of Modern Art, New York, gift of the artist, © 2019 Walker Evans Archive, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Paul CadmusBallet Positions, drawing for the primer Ballet Alphabet, 1939, ink, pencil, colored ink, and gouache on paper (letters reversed on drawing), Museum of Modern Art, New York, gift of Kirstein, © 2019 estate of Paul Cadmus; Pavel TchelitchewHide-and-Seek. 1940–42, oil on canvas, Museum of Modern Art, New York; Harvard Society for Contemporary Art pamphlet. 1931–32, Harvard Society for Contemporary Art scrapbooks, vol. 2 (Autumn 1930–33), Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York; Ben ShahnBartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco, 1931–32, gouache on paper on board, Museum of Modern Art, New York, © 2019 estate of Ben Shahn / VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Pavel Tchelitchew, study for a backdrop for the ballet Apollon Musagète, 1942, gouache, ink, and pencil on paper, Museum of Modern Art, New York, gift of Kirstein; George Platt LynesLew Christensen in Apollon Musagète, June 24, 1937, gelatin silver print, Museum of Modern Art, New York, © 2019 estate of George Platt Lynes.