The 16th annual New Original Works Festival at REDCAT is in full swing. Described as a laboratory for cutting-edge artists in dance, music, theater and multimedia performance, this three-weekend festival highlights nine Los Angeles area practitioners exploring new and unique ideas in live theater. Pushing conventional artistic boundaries into often hard-to-label genres, three artists/groups inhabit the downtown site for each of the distinctly different weekends. Weekend Two runs this Thursday, Aug. 1, through Saturday, Aug. 3, and Weekend Three encompasses the following Thursday, Aug. 8, through Saturday, Aug. 10. All shows begin at 8:30 p.m.
Weekend Two brings performance artist/director Kate Watson-Wallace, composer Hprizm and visual artist/dramaturge Veronica Casado Hernandez’s “kim” to the stage. Enacted by an ensemble of female/femme performers, this new piece explores desire, contagion, failure, ritual, pleasure and the ecstatic via the acts of dressing and undressing.
In promotional materials, Paul Outlaw describes his “Big Black Cockroach” as an “evocative, farcical horror show about black virility, white fragility, gender confusion, internalized homophobia and misogyny.”
Alexandro Segade and Amy Ruhl stand front and center in their creation, “Popular Revolt.” Weaving office technologies, Marxist theater, motivational speeches and motion graphics, the duo “muster revolutionary fervor in the suffocating embrace of Neoliberalism.”
Weekend Three includes Source Material’s music-theater piece, “A Thousand Tongues.” Performed by Nini Julia Bang and directed by Samantha Shay, this debut production incorporates a tapestry of traditional world music as it addresses the ideas of “isolation, the unknown, vulnerability and the veil between this world and the other.”
Celebrating companionship, self-worth, death and unspoken love, Austyn Rich presents “BL**DY SPAGHETTI.” This ”fervent and virtuosic” performance piece is described as “honoring black and brown troops who were front-lined” in deadly combat situations.
The third artist on this final program is co-founder of the daring performance ensemble Poor Dog Group. Jesse Bonnell’s “Paradise Island” examines some of the texts by iconic experimental theater artist Richard Foreman as it taps into contemporary notions of bliss.
Many of the productions that have seen their first light of day in previous festivals go on to international exposure. The LA audience serves as a sounding board and jumping off point for the creators to dig deeper into their work, make changes and modifications, and improve their art even more.
—Benn Widdey, Culture Spot LA
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