A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

Kristen Smiarowski presents the third phase of "The Key Game" project at Automata. / Photo courtesy of the artist

Choreographer Kristen Smiarowski has a mission. Since 2008, the multi-faceted artist has been reflecting on a fictional short story by Polish writer Ida Fink, “The Key Game.” In a three-phase response to the text about a Jewish family’s impending doom in the Holocaust, the LA-based dance maker has enlisted the art and intelligence of a number of international colleagues.  Together, they explore a “construction of cultural memory.”

The third phase of “The Key Game” project, “Sleeping, Staring, Well,” is an immersive multimedia performance event and installation at Automata in Chinatown this Thursday through Saturday (8 p.m. start on Thursday and Friday, 4 p.m. start on Saturday). The installation will remain on view through Jan. 25.

Viewers enter the theater at reserved times every 15 minutes and are free to wander in the rooms to explore “Sleeping, Staring, Well.” In line with the theoretical premise of the work, the premiere includes references to its predecessors, Phase 1: “The Key Game” and Phase 2: “Indexical Permutations,” both dances which are far enough away from the event being explored to be abstract movement commentaries.

There will be live dancing each night by featured performer Rosalynde Loo LeBlanc; music composed by Douglas C. Wadle and played by the gnarwhallaby quartet; video by Jesse Garison, Ann Kaneko and Andrea Keiz; art objects in a set designed by Caitlin Lainoff; and opportunities for the audience to add their own memories to the piece.

Though one complete viewing of the show lasts about an hour, Smiarowski encourages viewers to stay and return to selected sites on the two exhibition floors. Following the project’s themes, we get to acknowledge our own personal memories of what we witnessed and see how they are changed by time.

All in all, “The Key Game” project’s latest installment is a formidable conceptual enterprise created to engage us on multidisciplinary levels. Best bet would be to arrive with eyes open, senses alert and brains active — and prepared to fully enjoy the experience.

—Benn Widdey, Culture Spot LA

Automata is at 504 Chung King Court, LA 90012. Ticket prices are $15 general admission and $12 students, seniors and Automata members. Advance reservations strongly suggested. Tickets can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets or at the door. Note: Tickets will be sold for specific entrance times.


Preview Performances: Thursday, Jan. 16

Ticketed entry: 8, 8:15, 8:30, 8:45, 9 p.m.

Opening Night Performances and Reception: Friday, Jan. 17

Ticketed entry: 8, 8:15, 8:30, 8:45, 9 p.m.

Performances: Saturday, Jan. 18

Ticketed entry: 4, 4:15, 4:30, 4:45, 5, 7:30, 7:45, 8, 8:15, 8:30, 8:45, 9, 9:15, 9:30 p.m.


Jan. 19 – 25, noon to 5 p.m. (closed Monday, Jan. 20)

THE KEY GAME PROJECT: “Sleep, Staring, Well” links:

Website: www.thekeygameproject.org


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheKeyGameProject