By Katie Dunham
A number of CalArtians are currently in Edinburgh, Scotland, for the 70th anniversary of The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world.
Marking CalArts’ 14th year partnering with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to stage plays from emerging Welsh and California artists, this year’s festival will once again see CalArts Festival Theater visiting Venue 13, “the best little venue at the Fringe.”
CalArts’ 2017 productions–all written by women–invite audiences to venture inside the diverse and global community of Los Angeles. Two of the three shows, “Gunshot Medley” and “The End, The End, The End…,” have been longlisted for the Festival’s 2017 Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. “The End, The End, The End…” is also longlisted for the Festival’s Eddies Award.
Made possible by the CalArts Office of Advancement, this year marks the first ever Friends of CalArts Edinburgh Tour, during which a group of CalArts fans and supporters will join Travis Preston, Dean of the School of Theater, in Edinburgh for a week of shows and activities.
Running the entirety of the Festival Fringe, the following productions have all been workshopped at CalArts:
In playwright Dionna Michelle Daniel’s (Theater BFA 17) “Gunshot Medley,” past and present meet in a haunted North Carolina graveyard to explore the deep-seated racial tensions in the United States. Set to classic Appalachian folk music and gospel spirituals, the play stretches across the Antebellum American south through present day to weave a rich history of the Black American experience, the historical expendability of Black bodies and the lives lost to hatred, racism and police brutality.
Three slaves—Betty, Alvis, and George, played by Morgan Camper (Theater MFA 18), Derek Jackson (Theater BFA 20), and Darius Booker (Theater MFA 17), respectively—are stuck in a state of limbo, perpetually tasked with cleaning up the wreckage of systemic racism purveying contemporary America. An ever-present fourth character, the High Priestess of Souls (played by Daniel), an incarnate of the Yoruban goddess Oya, awakens each character to their condition, inciting action and social change.
A combination of spoken word and live music, the production pays homage to the real Betty, Alvis and George, three historically documented slaves that died in North Carolina before the emancipation proclamation was signed. It also seeks to respond to the insensitive usage of the Confederate Flag in the wake of the Charleston Church massacre.
Gunshot Medley features lighting design by Jesse Fryery (Theater MFA 17), set design by Alex Grover (Theater MFA 18), music from Kris Rahamad (Music BFA 17), sound design by Sam Sewell (Theater MFA 17), and costume design by Chardonnay Tobar (Theater MFA 18). It is stage managed by Samantha Brounstein (Theater BFA 19).
“Gunshot Medley” opened at Venue 13 on Saturday, Aug. 6, and runs through Saturday, Aug. 26.
Bessie Award-winning artist and CalArts instructor Stacy Dawson Stearns goes inside Marcel Duchamp’s imagination in “Love Gasoline!.” Inspired by the artist’s famously unfinished work, “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass),” the play presents Duchamp’s iconic Nude, who guides the audience into “the glass” to witness elaborate and unconventional acts of desire.
Featuring cyclical episodes of bizarre human behavior, occasional gambling, shots of music and psychologically graphic film sequences, Stearns’ innovative dance play seeks to strip down its own form to expose the possible plays within the glass and the hilarity of human desire.
“Love Gasoline!” stars both Stearns and Brian Ehst (Theater BFA 18) as Nudes, Billy Lawrence (Theater MFA 17) as The Nine Bachelors, and Tyree Marshall as The Bride (Theater BFA 17), and features lighting design by Jesse Fryery (Theater MFA 17), sound design by Sam Sewell (Theater MFA 17), music by Ian Stahl (Music MFA 18), and video design by Jonathan Stearns, CalArts’ Videographer. Rocky Hood (Theater BFA 19) is Production Stage Manager.
“Love Gasoline!” opened at Venue 13 on Saturday, Aug. 5 and runs through Saturday, Aug. 26. Recommended for mature audiences only.
“The End, The End, The End…”
“The End, The End, The End…” focuses on an international ensemble—self-described “outsiders in a land of outsiders”—as they ritualize, remember and perform their exile experience in the United States.
Drowning in media and facing end-of-the-world paranoia and identity crisis in America, the exiles must constantly revise their personal histories and ideologies as the alleged “other” to survive.
Mixing pop iconography, intimate storytelling, motion-sensor video, real-time light art, operatic manifestos of political prophets, athletic and sensual performance, and more, the result is a defiant theatrical collage seeking to debunk myths of otherness and enlist audience members in a revolution for a new utopia.
Conceived and directed by Scarlett Kim (Theater MFA 18), “The End, The End, The End…” stars Brian Ehst (Theater BFA 19), Gabriel Eduardo Jimenez (Theater MFA 18), Jinglin Liao (Dance MFA 18), Tyler Riggin (Theater MFA 18), Henita Telo (Theater BFA 18) and Carolina Vargas (Theater MFA 18). Produced by Changling Lu (Theater MFA 19), it features scenic design by Alex Grover (Theater MFA 18), costume design by Chardonnay Tobar (Theater MFA 18), lighting design by Dylan Phillips (Theater MFA 18) and Josephine Wang (Theater BFA 18), sound design by Sam Sewell (Theater MFA 17), and video design by Shih-lien Eugene Yen (Theater MFA 18). Samantha Brounstein (Theater BFA 19) serves as stage manager.