Category Archives: THEATER

ADAM LINDER AT REDCAT

Playwright Bernard-Marie Koltès (1948–1989)—a key figure in French postwar drama—believed that dramatic action is always transactional because, writes stage director and Koltès scholar Fabrice Conte, “characters can only interact within the context of a form of negotiation.”

The relationship between the Client and Dealer in Koltès’ play Dans la solitude des champs de coton was the impetus for Adam Linder‘s contemporary opera THE WANT—at Redcat this week in its premiere Los Angeles engagement.

THE WANT will be performed by Jess Gadani, Justin F. Kennedy, Jasmine Orpilla, and Roger Sala Reyner.

Ethan Braun wrote the music and the lighting design is by Shahryar Nashat. The Los Angeles production is co-presented by CAP UCLA.

Working on projects in which our roles interweave, we don’t start with Shahryar as the maker of sculptures or of moving images. Because he’s worked in those mediums, his way of thinking has a particular texture. And because I’ve worked in performing arts and with liveness and theater, my way of thinking has a specific texture.

What interests us is how these textures either complement or productively resist each other. It’s not about the formal outcome of these mediums being combined. And that’s where I would ontologically separate our way of working together from the notion of the “interdisciplinary.” We don’t care about disciplines meeting, but about our sensibilities crisscrossing.Adam Linder

The reason why Adam and I say we never collaborate and are not interested in doing so is that we don’t really make work together. When he comes to me asking if I would do the stage design for a piece he’s making, I’m happy to work within his concept and apply my skills to his vision. For an artist, it can be playful to have these limitations—in an applied arts versus visual arts kind of way. Adam becomes a bit like my client. — Shahryar Nashat

ADAM LINDER—THE WANT

Thursday through Saturday, September 19, 20, and 21, at 8:30 pm.

Sunday, September 22, at 7 pm.

Redcat

631 West 2nd Street, downtown Los Angeles.

Linder and Nashat quotes are from their 2018 Bomb interview by Aram Moshayedi.

Adam Linder, The Want, 2019. Images courtesy and © the artists, performers, and videographer.

JOSHUA HARMON — SKINTIGHT

To experience a thing as beauty means: to experience it necessarily wrongly.Nietzsche

For Elliot Isaac (Harry Groener)—70-year-old chairman emeritus of a definitive American fashion brand, ensconsed in what looks like a John Pawson-designed residence with a thick slab of 20-year-old meat named Trey (Will Brittain)—lust is the drug, and the drug is life.

Elliot and Trey’s happy West Village home has been invaded by Elliot’s daughter Jodi and her son Benjamin, both of whom have dropped in unannounced to celebrate the paterfamilias’ birthday. Jodi—in dire need of a shoulder to kvetch on because her ex-husband just married a 24-year-old woman—is in no mood to deal with daddy’s latest trick, no matter how many times Trey insists that he and the iconic designer are “partners.” (The only thing that comes between Trey and his benefactor is an Elliot Isaac jockstrap.)

So begins Joshua Harmon’s new comedy SKINTIGHT, “a funny play about sad people,” in the words of its playwright—saddened, no doubt, by the transactional nature of life and its inherent betrayals. Turning disenchantment into scorched-earth comedy is Harmon’s signature, and the Geffen Playhouse production of SKINTIGHT features a pair of master class performances in the art of landing and sustaining a joke.

Elliot’s birthday—which he has no interest in celebrating—is an excuse for his daughter to weigh in on a lifetime of paternal abandonment. And if Jodi (Idina Menzel, running on all cylinders in a part written for her) excoriates everyone around her with slashing wit and mock pathos, Benjamin (Eli Gelb), in a series of slo-mo reaction takes, gets the big laughs. Watching mother and son conspire to rid the family house of its interloper, share a porn video, or compete for queer cultural-awareness points is pure voyeuristic pleasure. (Not to mention Trey—Will Brittain—in the aforementioned jockstrap, which provides a marvelous Act Two sight gag for Menzel.)

Near the end of the play, Jodi, in a last attempt at connection, asks her father (Harry Groener) to explain the importance of “hotness,” a marketing concept that has generated untold wealth for the family. Elliot launches into an extended verbal essay on the beauty of Trey’s skin and the smell of sex in the morning. Jodi feels that her father is confusing his appreciation of Trey’s pulchritude with love: “That’s lust. Lust is easy. Love is hard.”

But Jodi—and Nietzsche—have it wrong, at least in the case of Elliot. Jodi was raised by a man whose first desire and last remaining vice is the possession of things and their surfaces. For Elliot, “love” and “lust” are distinctions without a difference.

After all, one suspects that Elliot doesn’t love Trey more or less than any number of boys he’s gone through over the decades, including Jeff (Jeff Skowron), the once-young, now-middle-aged majordomo Elliot employs. It’s just that Elliot is now in his eighth decade and this might be his valedictory ride around the rodeo: Trey is the last trick up his perfectly cuffed sleeve.

SKINTIGHT was directed by Daniel Aukin and the scenic design is by Lauren Helpern.

SKINTIGHT

Through October 12.

Geffen Playhouse

10886 Le Conte Avenue, Westwood, Los Angeles.

Joshua Harmon, Skintight, Geffen Playhouse, September–October 2019, from top: Idina Menzel; Eli Gelb and Menzel; Will Brittain and Harry Groener; Gelb, Menzel, and Brittain; Gelb and Brittain; Menzel and Groener; Groener, Menzel, Gelb, and Brittain; Gelb and Menzel. Photographs by Chris Whitaker.

PEACHES — WHOSE JIZZ IS THIS?

WHOSE JIZZ IS THIS? is a “deconstructed musical” by Peaches, who “takes a trans-disciplinary and transgressive approach to expanding the format of the exhibition by creating a living organism. Working at the intersection of performance and visual art, she develops new and surprising artistic forms. The exhibition presents an amplified way of looking at and understanding Peaches’ universe and the critical thought that informs her work.”*

The exhibition, at Kunstverein in Hamburg, demonstrates how, “in a theatrical and humorous way, Peaches gives shape to an intersectional feminist perspective. Ever adept at boundary blurring, she has produced a site specific work with unexpected approaches and historical reflections on sex, queerness, and new millennial politics.”

WHOSE JIZZ IS THIS? incorporates “music production, live performance, performance art, video, theatrical direction, set and light design… combining them with sculpture, textiles manipulation, and animatronics.”*

PEACHES—WHOSE JIZZ IS THIS?*

Through October 20.

Kunstverein in Hamburg

Klosterwall 23, Hamburg.

Peaches, Whose Jizz Is This?, Kunstverein in Hamburg, 2019, installation views, photographs by Fred Dott. Images courtesy and © the artist, the photographer, and Kunstverein in Hamburg.


CAP UCLA DANCE SEASON 2019–2020

Alastair Macaulay was unambiguous. Closing his 2018 review of the world premiere of FOUR QUARTETS—a collaboration between choreographer Pam Tanowitz, artist Brice Marden, and composer Kaija Saariaho—with the following paragraph, the former New York Times dance critic made its case for posterity:

If I am right to think this is the greatest creation of dance theater so far this century, we’re fortunate that FOUR QUARTETS will travel to other stages. I long to become more deeply acquainted with the many layers of its stage poetry.

The drawback for Los Angeles audiences is that this landmark work will be performed at Royce Hall in early 2020 only twice—a highlight of a remarkably strong CAP UCLA 2019–2020 dance season.

The season begins at Redcat, where Adam Linder presents THE WANT—a contemporary opera/performance piece based on a play by Bernard-Marie Koltès, with music by Ethan Braun.

Sankai JukuUshio Amagatsu’s all-male troupe of Butoh dancers, performing MEGURI—will be at Royce for one night only, as will Michael Keegan-Dolan’s Teaċ Daṁsa (House of Dance) in a new interpretation of SWAN LAKE, featuring a score by Slow Moving Clouds.

The great ballerina Wendy Whelan will dance at Royce, for two nights, in THE DAY. Choreographed by Lucinda Childs with a score by David Lang, Whelan will be joined onstage by cellist Maya Beiser.

The dance season closes in April 2020 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with the Dance at the Music Center co-presentation of PALERMO PALERMO, a 1989 work by dance legend Pina Bausch and Tanztheater Wuppertal.

See link below for details.

CAP UCLA 2019–2020 SEASON OF DANCE

From top: Sankai Juku, Meguri; Adam Linder, The Want, photograph by Shahryar Nashat; Michael Keegan-Dolan, Teaċ Daṁsa, Swan Lake, photograph by Colm Hogan; Maya Beiser, Wendy Whelan, Lucinda Childs, and David Lang, The Day; Pina Bausch, Palermo Palermo, photograph by Jochen Viehoff; Pam Tanowitz, Brice Marden, and Kaija Saariaho, Four Quartets, photograph by Maria Baranova. Images courtesy and © the artists and photographers.

PERFORMANCE PRACTICE PASSION

Los Angeles Performance Practice presents PASSION, a new work “exploring the space that our desire and longing inhabit while rehearsing perseverance.”

Taking Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent film La passion de Jeanne d’Arc as a point of departure,  Rachel Jendrzejewski and Zoe Aja Moore “collaborate to create an embodied investigation of the fraught relationship between feminism and emotion, from Joan of Arc’s day to current political moments.”*

PASSION will be performed by Dorothy Dubrule, Jessica Emmanuel, Brigid Gallagher, Mireya Lucio, and Gabriella Rhodeen—recently seen at Redcat in Paradise Island—and the one-night-only event features recorded excerpts of a live score by Julia Holter for Dreyer’s film, performed by Holter, Corey Fogel, Devin Hoff, Dina Maccabee, and Tashi Wada.

PASSION*

Sunday, August 18.

Doors at 6 pm, performance at 7 pm.

The Theatre at Ace Hotel

929 South Broadway, downtown Los Angeles.

From top: Los Angeles Performance Practice, Passion; Maria Falconetti in La passion de Jeanne d’Arc (1928), directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer (2); Mireya Lucio in Passion rehearsal, photograph by Chris Kuhl. Passion images courtesy and © the photographers, the performers, and Los Angeles Performance Practice.