LOS ANGELES: Center Theatre Group (CTG) has announced the launch of the Digital Stage, a new virtual platform. The company has also established the CTG Creative Collective, a cohort of artists brought on to help develop and present new works, and has announced its latest associate artists who will shape the theatre’s 2020-21 programming.
“At a time when our traditional model of creating and attending theatre is upended, we felt it was vital to pause and reflect on the endless possibilities our unique art form provides, both for today and for the long-term vision of a more equitable future,” said artistic director Michael Ritchie in a statement. “We realized it was absolutely necessary not only to find a way to keep creating and sharing theatrical events during this uniquely challenging moment, but we also needed to look at what theatre could become as we strive to make real and impactful changes to our institution and our field once we are all able to come back together. With the CTG Creative Collective, we have gathered some of our field’s great minds—artists with whom our connections run deep—to create experiences for our Digital Stage today, devise ways to bring audiences together outdoors or in other safe ways during this time of social distancing, and to dream differently about the world we want to see when we can all return to our theatres.”
The CTG Creative Collective comprises Luis Alfaro, Culture Clash (Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza), Elephant Room (Steve Cuiffo, Trey Lyford, and Geoff Sobelle), Lars Jan, Daniel Alexander Jones, Miwa Matreyek, Dominique Morisseau, and Kristina Wong. The collective will work together until May of 2021.
CTG’S associate artists this season will include director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw, director/actor Phylicia Rashad, and playwright Paula Vogel.
The company’s Live from the KDT will feature multicamera readings and productions recorded at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. This series will kick off with Alfaro’s three-play series of Chicano adaptations, The Greek Trilogy of Luis Alfaro presented in partnership with the Getty; Electricidad (Oct. 17); Oedipus El Rey (Oct. 24); and Mojada (Oct. 31).
The Live from KDT series will also include Kristina Wong for Public Office (Oct. 30-Nov. 29), a virtually staged production that explores the performance artist’s leap from potential reality TV stardom to hyperlocal politics.
Next will be CTG’s annual L.A. Writers’ Workshop, featuring Christa McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue written by Kemp Powers, a haunting meditation on race and privilege in America. Additional L.A. Writers’ Workshop Festival readings will be announced at a later date.
Lastly, the Live from KDT programming will present “Not a Moment, But a Movement” (Dec.), a series of three events pairing play readings with visual artists and musicians to create an interdisciplinary collaboration intended to amplify and center Black artists. The series will be presented in conjunction with Watts Village Theater Company and the Fire This Time Festival.
As part of its Theatre Experiences series, CTG will partner with the Stratford Festival to present films of Romeo and Juliet (Dec. 8-March 7, 2021), Love’s Labour’s Lost (Jan. 14-April 14, 2021), Antony and Cleopatra (Feb. 11-May 12, 2021), King Lear (March 11-June 9, 2021) and Macbeth (April 8-July 7, 2021).
Next will be Dael Orlandersmith’s Until the Flood (begins streaming Nov. 15). The play, which was presented at CTG in January, features interviews with community members of Ferguson, Mo., after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. CTG associate artistic director Neel Keller directs.
CTG will also present “Circus Kid” (Nov. 21), a documentary directed by Lorenzo Pisoni about the director’s childhood growing up in the legendary Pickle Family Circus. The film expands on Pisoni’s autobiographical play Humor Abuse, which played at the Mark Taper Forum in 2013.
CTG Creative Collective members Steve Cuiffo, Trey Lyford, and Geoff Sobelle will bring Elephant Room: Dust from the Stars (Dec. 16-20) to the Digital Stage next. The show is a live, interactive sci-fi sequel to Elephant Room, which was produced at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in 2021. Paul Lazar will direct.
The Theatre Experiences programming will close out with a retelling of Culture Clash’s Chavez Ravine (early 2021). The show, about a cherished neighborhood in a growing city, was originally commissioned and produced by CTG and in 2003.
Also part of this year’s programming will be the Forum and the Community Conversations series, with will feature discussions with artistic directors, actors, directors, playwrights, designers, and administrators.
CTG’s Digital Stage will also become a home to Audio Adventures, a series of audio-only content including podcasts and radio plays. The lineup will include a new adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’s novel, It Can’t Happen Here (Oct. 13-Nov.8), presented in collaboration with broadcast partners including American Conservatory Theater, Arena Stage, Center Theatre Group, La Jolla Playhouse, Roundabout Theatre Company, Seattle Repertory Theatre, South Coast Repertory, and others.
The Audio Adventures series will also include works curated from L.A. Theatre Works’ 500-play catalogue. The three selected recordings feature plays that were also produced or presented by Center Theatre Group, including Luis Valdez’s Zoot Suit (Oct. 21-Dec. 20), Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced (Nov. 11-Jan. 10, 2021), and August: Osage County (Dec. 9-Feb. 7, 2021) by Tracy Letts.
The previously announced Education and Community Partnerships programming this fall will include classes, workshops, readings, mentorship, career planning, and educator training on the Digital Stage.
Center Theatre Group is Los Angeles’s leading nonprofit theatre company. It programs out of three spaces, the 2000-seat Ahmanson, the Mark Taper Forum, and the Kirk Douglas Theatre. It presents and produces a broad range of theatrical work.
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