Frontiers (announcement)

New Original Works Festival Returns to REDCAT

emerging queer artist Marsian De Lellis is using fabulous props, puppets and costumes to tell the tale of someone who can’t figure out which she loves more, inanimate objects, men or women.

In Chekhov’s The Seagull, Treplev declares, “We need new forms!” In exploring fresh innovations within the performing arts, the angst-filled young Russian should set his sites on REDCAT. The Downtown performance center kicks off its 11th Annual New Original Works Festival (aka NOW Fest), which showcases an eclectic assortment of groundbreaking works from L.A.’s most promising upcoming artists. The festival spans a diverse array of art forms including dance, puppetry, theater and mulitmedia pieces. 

Think of NOW as a science experiment. REDCAT functions as a laboratory for the city’s up-and-coming artists, where they can tinker and formulate their performance hypotheses. Then, once they’ve achieved their breakthroughs, they get to present them to the community at large onstage at the festival, like a biochemist sharing his dissertation with the Nobel society.

“It is a thrill to see REDCAT active as a vital performance laboratory each summer, with dozens of artists and collaborators using our flexible theater to invent new and interdisciplinary ways to express urgent ideas,” says REDCAT Executive Director Mark Murphy, expanding on the scientific metaphor. “The eight works premiering during this 11th edition will surely resonate with audiences who value the exploration of new forms, and hybrid approaches to creating new productions for the stage.”

To Murphy, NOW aims for a wide cross-section of audiences, but the LGBT community specifically has much to appreciate in this year’s festival.

“Anyone with a healthy curiosity about contemporary culture and an interest in fresh perspectives on our changing world will enjoy the experience of engaging with the vital artists in the NOW Festival,” he says. “Sexual identity issues are among the topics being explored, and may be of particular interest to LGBT audiences. The hilarious and brilliant John Fleck, a seminal figure in queer performance (and politics, unexpectedly, when he became one of the infamous “NEA Four” during the culture wars) is creating a particularly twisted piece with many wigs, cleavers and bad taxidermy. And emerging queer artist Marsian De Lellis is using fabulous props, puppets and costumes to tell the tale of someone who can’t figure out which she loves more, inanimate objects, men or women. And I should mention that the high-velocity dance performances feature some extremely attractive male and female dancers—but I haven’t asked them how they identify in terms of sexual identity.”

Whether gay, straight or somewhere in between, all the participants share a mutual spark that earned them a place within the NOW Fest ranks.

“Vitality is the word I use the most when describing what makes an idea or proposal special,” says Murphy. “The artists featured in the festival have the talent and skills to accomplish what they proposed to do—and also have the passion and imagination to create something really new. We prize artists who can teach us something, because they are smart, skilled and courageous. It doesn’t matter if they are established artists or emerging artists who are introducing a fresh approach. It isn’t about who is the most polished but who can really change our way of thinking about our culture and our rapidly changing society.” 

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