UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance has reimagined its 2020–21 season for the realities of COVID-19.
CAP UCLA remains constant in prioritizing the safety and health of artists, audiences and staff. The new season, its first with an online stage, focuses on rebuilding financial stability for artists, expanding opportunities of support with five new commissions, seven online stage programs, 20 performances and “The Tune In Festival,” featuring 20 different artists and ensembles.
Since the remainder of 2020 offers little to no live North American touring, CAP UCLA facilitated a collaboration with the National YoungArts Foundation for The Sidewalk Sessions: L.A., which provides opportunities for Los Angeles residents to bring an artist to perform on their sidewalk or driveway and invite friends, neighbors and family to enjoy — at a distance. Hosts will pay $50 to hold a session, and all proceeds will be given to the performing artist. Sessions are now available to book for July, August and September.
The four remaining commissions are Constance Hockaday’s “Artist-in-Presidents,” a reimagining of FDR’s fireside chats; “The Choreographers’ Scores: 2020,” a micro-commission project sharing documentation of world-renowned choreographers’ creation process; “Notes on Napkins: 2020,” which functions similarly for composers sharing their works; and Chris Doyle’s “Memento Vivere,” made with the help of 60 UCLA students, each recorded for 60 seconds and compiled as time keepers of the future. More than 300 artists – locally, nationally and internationally – will benefit from these micro-commissions.
“The truth is, this season is the most epic project we have undertaken in our lifetimes — to collaborate with artists on a future that will not be as unevenly distributed as the past has been,” said Kristy Edmunds, the executive and artistic director of CAP UCLA. “Theater has lasted through the ages, and in this time of digital access we may have an opportunity to connect the work of performance creators to more people than our house seats enable.”
The highlight of the 2020–21 season is “The Tune In Festival; a convergence of music and poetry in the time of change,” a five-day convening of artists from across the U.S., Canada and Latin America. More than 20 artists and ensembles are coming together in cross-cultural solidarity in the time-honored tradition of music and poetry as a source of resilience, protest and inspiration. Participating artists include Kronos Quartet with an homage to the legendary Pete Seeger; a capella favorites Sweet Honey In the Rock; Ethiopian-American vocalist Meklit; Peruvian folk singer Nano Stern; and Canadian duo The Small Glories. The Tune In Festival is being made possible by a generous gift from composer Rachel Fuller (“Animal Requiem”) and her husband, Pete Townshend of The Who.
Projects adapted specifically for the online stage include a four-day celebration of “Grace,” a work about God’s grace and the legacy of Alvin Ailey by choreographer Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE. “Grace @ 20” features a filmed presentation, discussions and at-home master classes; Forced Entertainment’s “Table Top Shakespeare: At Home Edition,” a condensed at-home version of all 36 Shakespeare plays told with found objects; Robin Frohardt: “The Plastic Bag Store: A Film,” a puppet-led virtual tour of an absurdist retail space installation currently on lockdown in Times Square; and “she is called,” a concert by the highly acclaimed Brooklyn Youth Chorus featuring new compositions by women composers.
This programming will enable CAP UCLA to respond to what the national arts ecosystem needs the most: financial stability, creative development and contractual support. This support is carried out as in past seasons — with performances across genres. All fall 2020 performances, including “The Tune In Festival,” will be released as digital versions recorded live on CAP UCLA stages. Once live performances are able to resume, CAP UCLA will continue to offer digital versions of each performance (with the exception of David Sedaris) for patrons who cannot or prefer not to attend large events.