With equal parts passion and humor, Edmunds announced an ambitious season that aspires to take the renowned performance program, formerly UCLA Live, to edgy new heights, from "The Great Flood," a mix of music and film about the history-changing devastation wrought by the Mississippi River in 1927, to Circus Oz, an Australian troupe of madcap musicians and acrobats who will turn Royce Hall into the big top.
"I know the ‘Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA’ doesn’t really roll off the tongue in the first blush," Edmunds joked, "but if you practice a few times, you really get it."
And they did, offering up waves of applause and cheers. Primed for a night of revelations about the coming season, the audience roared its approval when Edmunds announced, "International theater makes a bold and much-anticipated return."
A scene from "Rhinoceros," performed by the Théâtre de la Ville-Paris.
The popular theater program, missing from the two previous seasons due to budget constraints, makes its auspicious return with the launch of the 2012-13 season on Sept. 21 when the Théâtre de la Ville-Paris brings to a U.S. audience for the first time its rendition of Eugéne Ionesco’s "Rhinoceros," to beperformed in French with English subtitles.
The wide-ranging calendar also includes dance, music and the spoken word, as well as special performances with an extra portion of fun. Among these, "All on a Mardi Gras Day" with the Allen Toussaint Band and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, will be preceded by a crawfish boil on the Royce Hall terrace. And campus venues previously not part of the program will showcase performances like the acclaimed a capella quartet Anonymous 4, singing David Lang’s "love fail" in Powell Library’s richly acoustic rotunda.
New Orleans jazzman Allen Toussaint.
All together, 51 ticketed events will be performed at Royce and other venues — that’s up from the offerings of the past two previous seasons, which had 36 events each.
Edmunds also spoke to the center’s commitment to being "involved in the work and aspirations of emerging and master artists, beyond what we may believe their name recognition or fan base will bring to us."
This involvement extends the artists’ reach beyond performance to first-hand engagement with the UCLA community. For example, Trisha Brown Dance Company will present a first-ever retrospective of the acclaimed choreographer’s work. That will include a staging of "Astral Converted" on the grassy expanses of Sunset Canyon Recreation Center’s amphitheater for an affordable ticket price of $10. The dance company will also do intensive training with students from UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures /Dance. The students, in turn, will present Brown’s "Floor of the Forest" installation/dance in the Hammer Museum courtyard.
A new residency program to help incubate new art will provide opportunities for emerging and established artists to rehearse and develop new work on campus. Meredith Monk — composer, singer, filmmaker and choreographer — spent a week in April working with students from the School of the Arts and Architecture, in part, to inform the development of "On Behalf of Nature," her new work to debut at Freud Playhouse in January. Also on campus currently as part of the center’s residency program is L.A.-based Early Morning Opera, which is developing its newest creation, HOLOSCENES, in a long-dormant rehearsal space one floor below Royce Hall’s main auditorium.
Laurie Anderson is one of the center's inaugural artist fellows.
CAP UCLA has also created an Artist Fellows Program, with interdisciplinary master artist Laurie Anderson, who will perform "Dirtday!" in October, as an inaugural fellow. Over the next three years, the center will collaborate with Anderson to explore opportunities to enhance, contextualize and document her unique creative approach.
"The center is about continuously deepening our dynamic relationship to art and the relationship between artists and audience," Edmunds said.
The hugely popular Design for Sharing will continue to bring more than 16,000 Los Angeles school students to Royce Hall performances. A new initiative, "Who is the Poet in Your Life?," will reach beyond the performance hall to ask audiences to discover the poetry and poets that surround them and to create poetry of their own.
"We are on a mission to ensure that we all have a poet in our own lives," Edmunds said.
Kristy Edmunds and a guest share a celebratory high-five at the reception.
At a post-event reception held on Royce’s rooftop terrace beneath a glimmering nighttime sky, guests enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres and exchanged thoughts about the new season.
"I think that this program has so much to discover," said Deborah Irmas, president of the CAP board. Cultural events, she said, "are interesting only if you’re challenged — if you see something and think, ‘Oh, I don’t really know what this is about.’ Then you can discover something."
"I’m really excited," added board member Laurie Raskin Shuman. "There are so many new things on the program — there’s more jazz than I’ve seen in a long time, and wonderful dance. I just want to sign up for everything."
Learn more about CAP UCLA’s 2012-13 season at the UCLA Newsroom. Find a season calendar here. Create Your Own series subscriptions and Royce Choice package subscriptions are on sale now. Individual tickets go on sale August 4. Faculty and staff receive a 15 percent discount for most events, unless noted on an event’s detail page. Order tickets here.
Kristy Edmunds introduces new Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA