Off-Broadway Theater Preview: BREAKING IT OPEN (La Mama’s 59th Season)

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by Nia Liat on September 16, 2020

in Theater-New York,Virtual


La MaMa’s 59th season “Breaking It Open” will explore how new work is created, performed and viewed in a global pandemic. Artist Residents will be given the time, space, and resources to make work using new creative tools and formats at the intersection of online and live theater performance. La MaMa’s creative community is uniquely positioned for this moment. See La MaMa for more info.

With the theaters as broadcast studios and the artists’ work livestreamed, the potential to experiment with audience configurations, and the innovative resources of La MaMa’s immense family of experimental artists, this season looks to the future with hope and anticipation for the daring work to come. The season will officially launch September 18, 2020 at 8PM ET with a special presentation of Downtown Variety, followed by a virtual season launch party.

The Artist Residents for the 2020/21 season will include Mellon Foundation Playwright-in-Residence Murielle Borst-TarrantGreat Jones Repertory with Dan Safer; composer and pianist Philip Glass; Loco7 Dance Puppet Theatre Company; conceptual artist, choreographer, and activist Yoshiko Chuma; actor and writer Paul Lazar; composer, performer, and writer Jerome Ellis; choreographer and dance artist John Maria Gutierrez; choreographer and director Bobbi Jene Smith; feminist performance duo Split Britches; writer, director, performer, dancer and choreographer Shauna DavisSeattle-based performer Timothy White Eagle; composer and performer Justin Hicks; puppeteer and director Leah Ogawa; and multidisciplinary theater artist Stacey Karen Robinson.

“We are not trying to replace in-person theatre,” said La MaMa Artistic Director Mia Yoo. “There will always be that, and we will always present live performance in a physical theatre space. However, we need to empower artists to experiment with new tools, reimagine existing forms and invent new mediums that tell stories and examine our humanity through artistic expression.

“The internet is radically shifting the ways artists connect and create. As an experimental theater, it is important that La MaMa’s artists be part of shaping this virtual space. Adrienne Kennedy created her own nonlinear form of storytelling in the 60’s, breaking the conventions of traditional playwriting. When John Jesurun started dragging TVs onstage in the early 80’s, many people questioned it, but artists need to investigate the mediums of their time.”

The weekly Digital Programming that grew out of the shutdown will continue into the new season.

Fall Calendar

Resident Artists will begin their residency and work within La MaMa’s virtual and physical spaces.

Friday, September 18, 2020 at 8PM ET
DOWNTOWN VARIETY and 59th Season Victual Launch Party

La MaMa and CultureHub have teamed up to create Downtown Variety, which uses emerging technologies to create a new venue for artistic expression and creative connections. Powered by LiveLaba browser-based media-router, CultureHub is developing for networked collaboration between artists, technologists, and audiences. This September 18th edition of Downtown Variety will have a virtual afterparty to launch La MaMa’s Season.  Featuring: Belarus Free Theatre, Annie-B Parson, Stacy Stearns, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky, D’Mani Thomas and more.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at 7PM ET
LA MAMA DESIGNFEST: Grand Prize Announcement

The grand prize announcement will be livestreamed for DesignFest, an online juried competition to celebrate and support emerging theater designers in time of the pandemic and beyond. The goal is to foster and realize new ideas and generate opportunities in the disciplines of lighting, scenic, sound, projection and costume design. The Judging Committee is comprised of Mimi Lien (Scenic), Jiyoun Chang (Lighting), Justin Hicks (Sound), Gabriel Berry (Costume), and Hao Bai (Projection). For more info and submission guidelines, visit Designfest.

Thursday, October 1 – Sunday, October 18, 2020
LOVE STORY: School of Hard Knocks
by Artist Resident Yoshiko Chuma

The world premiere of LOVE STORY: School of Hard Knocks marks the 40th anniversary of Yoshiko Chuma’s School of Hard Knocks.  With Love Story, Chuma returns to La MaMa with a new project that assembles a mosaic of films, dance, music, visual art, and narratives.  With appearances by an international cast of over fifty artists consisting of veterans of The School of Hard Knocks and a new generation of artists from New York, Ankara, Madaba, Tokyo, Caracas, Tehran, Hong Kong, Berlin, Los Angeles, Brussels, Kabul, Palestine, and Dakar. Choreographer/director/instigator/movement-explorer/performer, Yoshiko Chuma continues a lifetime investigation of ideas regarding national security, perceived dangers within borders, immigration, and war.

Monday, November 9 – Sunday, November 15, 2020
by Philip Glass

National Medal of Arts winner Philip Glass returns to La MaMa with his Days and Nights Festival celebrating music, theater, and film. The Days and Nights Festival is the premier program of the Philip Glass Center. Developed by Philip Glass, the festival is designed to encompass and nurture the arts in a way that welcomes the future while exploring the seminal developments in the arts throughout history.  It is committed to the cultivation, promotion and development of the arts.

Monday, November 16 – Sunday, December 6, 2020
by Artist Resident Bobbi Jene Smith

Former Batsheva Dance Company member Bobbi Jene Smith’s new work, Revisiting Lost Mountain, combines the high stakes of live performance, the choice and freedom of immersive theater, the heightened aesthetic and emotional content of cinema and a two-fold manifestation as both a live event in the moment and video on demand experience after the performance cycle.

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