Magazine article American Theatre

No Space like Home: Global Connections Bolster Local Artistry at Los Angeles's REDCAT

Magazine article American Theatre

No Space like Home: Global Connections Bolster Local Artistry at Los Angeles's REDCAT

Article excerpt

ENTERING THROUGH THE LONG MAIN HALL OF the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) and into its warm, wood-paneled Lounge--where an elevated window looks out, at traffic level, on South Flower Street in downtown Los Angeles--one has the impression of passing into a space that is carefully balanced between aboveground and underground worlds. Outside, we see the calves of well-heeled pedestrians making their way to the nearby L.A. Philharmonic; inside, patrons lean against the bar or relax in the Lounge, sipping wine or espresso, listening intently to this evening's conversation. Tonight REDCAT is hosting two multimedia artists, Park Chan-Kyong and Sean Snyder, for the opening of their collaborative exhibition in REDCAT's Gallery space, and the two are discussing their shared interest in Cold War North Korean politics and in blurring the lines between video, text and photography. Along the walls are bookshelves filled with the monographs, published by REDCAT, of artists who have previously appeared in the Gallery, and some visitors thumb through the pages of past editions.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Meanwhile, inside REDCAT's theatre, the New York City-based Wooster Group is rehearsing its fiery revival of North Atlantic, a vitriolic send-up of Cold War militarism that the company premiered in 1982. The Wooster Group, which has embarked on a multi-year residency at REDCAT, is among the array of national and international artists who make up about a third of REDCAT's programming. Another third features projects developed together with the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and the final third of REDCAT's presentations involves collaborations with other Los Angeles artists and organizations. In addition to dramatic works, the REDCAT theatre has been used to present dance productions, film screenings, fashion shows, concerts and galas--everything, that is, that doesn't belong in REDCAT's Gallery, including the International Children's Film Festival, the SCREAM Festival of electro-acoustic music, and a genre-bending event organized by the CalArts Center for Experiments in Art, Information and Technology. The theatre space itself is an engineering marvel, with a fully flexible 200-to 270-seat house, state-of-the-art lighting and projection technology, and an acoustic environment designed by Yasuhisa Toyota. Though tonight's production is an exception, tickets rarely cost more than $25, and the audience is mostly under 40.

What should we call a space that enables artists from a wide range of backgrounds to perform side by side, that encourages those artists to be challenged and enriched by one another's work, and that promotes and celebrates creative endeavors that transcend disciplinary boundaries? Is it a theatre, or should it he called by another name? Mark Murphy, REDCAT's insightful and committed executive director--whose gentle, birdlike demeanor belies his ambitious vision for the space and for the next generation of artists who will work in it--refers to REDCAT as a contemporary performing arts center, though one with a profoundly theatrical mission. REDCAT's openness to different art forms and its emphasis on multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary programming is, to Murphy, a reflection of conversations that have been reshaping the theatrical landscape for years. Still, the question of how to define a vital, community-based role for the performing arts in the 21st century is one that REDCAT seeks both to provoke and to answer.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

REDCAT's own response to the question has everything to do with its position in downtown L.A. Inclining upwards on the slope bridging Flower Street and Grand Avenue, under the vast stainless-steel sails of Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall and within easy reach of some of L.A.'s most notable cultural institutions--the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Colburn School of the Performing Arts, the Music Center, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels--REDCAT's modest street-level facade quietly welcomes visitors. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.