We recently announced an MCA Stage season that is filled with up-and-coming artists, intimate performances, and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Our Box Office staff are positive that many of these performances will sell out so, before they do, we asked a few staff members and interns which performance(s) they are most looking forward to attending.
There is a distinct theme to many of the shows in the MCA Stage 2017–18 season: collectivity. My top three picks for the season—600 HIGHWAYMEN’s The Fever, Faye Driscoll’s Thank You For Coming: Play, and Okwui Okpokwasili’s Poor People’s TV Room—exemplify the power found in collaboration and privilege collective voice over the individual.
- On September 7–10, 600 HIGHWAYMEN presents The Fever, a work that quietly explodes the boundaries between performer and audience.
- Faye Driscoll returns to MCA Stage with Play, a “semi-fictional collective autobiography” on the performance of self and her second installment of Thank You For Coming, on November 9–12.
- On April 12–15, writer, performer, and choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili brings Poor People’s TV Room, an interdisciplinary exploration of identity and visibility, especially of women.
Each of these three works respond to our chaotic present with an urgent call for human connection. Power to the people!
It’s like our performance curators read my mind: I was recently having a conversation with my husband about how I’d had the chance to see the works all of major contemporary choreographers except Twyla Tharp. Shortly afterwards, I discovered we’d be presenting her at MCA Stage this year. Yay! My enthusiasm for this show is about more than checking a name off a list though. Ms. Tharp is programming a series of dances to coincide with the MCA’s 50th anniversary. Her program, called Minimalism and Me, will feature excerpts from her dances of the early 1960s and 1970s. This is a perfect convergence with our exhibitions, which will showcase what the MCA has been collecting since 1968. And not only is Ms. Tharp designing a program just for us, but she will actually be on stage to talk about her dances as they’re being performed. (Oops . . . spoiler alert!) To have an artist with the kind of eminence that Ms. Tharp has curate for our museum is pretty darn moving and a unique opportunity. Don’t snooze on this one—it’s going to sell out in a hot second.
As a performance intern, who's participated in preparing the shows, to pick just one show to recommend is exceedingly cruel. But if I have to pick one, I would choose Okwui Okpokwasili. One of the tasks assigned to me was compiling videos of each artist from 2017–18 season—a task that allowed me to watch and get to know the artists and works more intimately. The moment Okwui started to dance in the small window of my computer, I was totally mesmerized. It's the kind of magic every performer dreams of having, including me, a previous percussion performer. I know how precious and critical it is to possess the ability to seize the audiences' eye not only by phenomenal skills but by genuine emotions that radiate from the art form. Okwui definitely has such a gift. Watching her dance transported me into another zone, where I can temporarily lose myself and just be a visitor in the life Okwui brought into the work. To see her live . . . such an experience has no "expiration date," it'll reside in your mind forever.
Mind Over Mirrors’ Bellowing Sun is a show that I cannot wait to see and hear. Whether musicians think about it or not, theatrics and visual art are an implicit part of music performance, and they can make or break a concert as much as the actual music can. It’s thrilling to see such an innovative and compelling composer bring these elements into the mix as a meaningful part of the composition and I cannot wait to hear Mind Over Mirrors’ new music through this highly intentional lens. It is exciting to think that with the audience encircling the ensemble, Bellowing Sun will come into conversation with the rest of the performance season on topics such as community and thoughtful togetherness.
Bonus: Mind Over Mirrors performs in an ensemble format rather than Jaime Fennelly’s usual solo setup.