Beginning mid-March 2020, The Broad Stage and other venues had to cancel or postpone the remaining performances of their 2019/2020 season due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  This past Wednesday the new Artistic and Executive Director, Rob Bailis, along with American writer, actress, radio personality Sandra Tsing Loh took to You Tube streaming to announce the venue’s 2020/21 season. The fall of 2020 will include outdoor performances but the full in-theater season will not begin until January 2021 and continue through July. The upcoming season offers eleven Los Angeles premieres, seventeen performances by artists who are new to The Broad Stage, classical Jazz and Blues, Cabaret on stage, movement trailblazers, opera and the return of four favorite series.

The Broad Stage is affiliated with the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center and presents performances at The Eli & Edythe Broad Stage’s main stage, The Edye Second Space (fondly called The Edye), and The East Wing, as well as in other area venues. Since opening its doors in 2008, The Broad Stage has presented such luminaries as Joshua Bell, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Helen Hunt, Patti LuPone, Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno, Dance Theatre of Harlem, The 7 Fingers and local dance companies that include Invertigo Dance Theatre, BODYTRAFFIC, and Barak Ballet.

7 Fingers in Passengers - Photo by Alexandre Galliez

7 Fingers in Passengers – Photo by Alexandre Galliez

Rob Bailis worked as a performing classical musician for ten years prior to becoming the Interim Artistic Director and Associate Director of Cal Performance at the University of California, Berkeley, where he headed the planning team in curating all of Cal Performances productions and presentations. There he curated dance and theater presentations working closely with Cal Performances established and longstanding artistic partners that included Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Mark Morris Dance Group, Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra, Kronos Quartet and others. He was also responsible for introducing a new generation of international talent to UC Berkeley stages like Kidd Pivot, Rude Mechs, Trajal Harrell, Camille A. Brown and Dancers, Manual Cinema, Bassem Youssef, Handspring Puppet Company, Company Wang Ramirez, and more.

Bailis joined The Broad Stage in June of 2019, but this was his first time curating a full season. Regarding the challenge of developing a new season during a pandemic, Bailis said, “I believe performing arts organizations grow in the soil in which they are planted, which is to say there is an inextricable bond between the needs and nature of a given community and the artists whom they call to illuminate, perplex and evolve their way of life. This is never more important than in times of crisis. As a relative newcomer to Santa Monica and the westside of Los Angeles, planning a season that must respond to these urgent conditions and uncertainties has been both immensely rewarding and also challenging.

R to L: Austin Mann, Yo-Yo Ma - Photo courtesy of The Broad Stage

R to L: Austin Mann, Yo-Yo Ma – Photo courtesy of The Broad Stage

As we face these challenging times, full of frustration, grief and loss, I am all the more moved to introduce a group of artists whom I know we can turn to for healing, inspiration and breakthroughs toward the betterment of our society. Provided we are able to convene safely, I believe the season will live up to our hopeful promise of listening deeply to our community and in response, introducing new artists and work to The Broad Stage, Santa Monica, our region and the world.”

The Broad Stage is coordinating closely with Santa Monica College, the City of Santa Monica, Los Angeles County and other performing arts venues in the region to ensure that they re-open safely. This includes both outside and inside performances, entering and exiting the building, and queuing for restrooms and concessions. Facial coverings or masks will be required and extra precautions will be taken for all sanitation procedures.

The launching of the 2020/2021 Season will begin with the world premiere of BIRDS IN THE MOON, a mobile, theatrical chamber opera by Mark Grey and Júlia Canosa i Serra, as directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer. Grey and Canosa i Serra are best known for their National Opera of Belgium production of Frankenstein. In collaboration with Meyer Sound, the opera is transported in a large shipping container which can not only move from site to site, but which transforms into “a state-of-the-art, self-powered stage”. BIRDS IN THE MOON is described as a search for a better world, which sounds like a very appropriate subject in response to what the world is experiencing with climate change and a pandemic. The exact location for this performance is to be determined.

Ephrat Asherie Dance Company - Photo by Matthew Murphy

Ephrat Asherie Dance Company – Photo by Matthew Murphy

February, March and April of the 2021 season include several Los Angeles premieres:

New York-based Heartbeat Opera’s Fidelio (February 13-14). Live performers will be joined by 100 members of incarcerated choirs across America singing via video projections. Fidelio is directed by Ethan Heard and the music director is Daniel Schlosberg.  A Broad Stage favorite The 7 Fingers presents the LA premiere of Passengers (February 19-21). On March 20 Galician bagpiper and Silkroad’s Cristina Pato and Juilliard-trained Mazz Swift perform together in their collaborative work INVISIBLE(S). Pato investigates women’s issues while Swift takes on the victims of police brutality and racism.  Tony Award winning actor Alan Cumming joins NPR’s All Things Considered host to frequent Pink Martini singer Ari Shapiro in Och & Oy! A Considered Cabaret (Los Angeles Premiere July 30-31 presented with Southern California Public Radio).

R to L: Alan Cummings, Ari Shapire in Och & Oy! A Considered Cabaret - Photo by Emilio Madrid

R to L: Alan Cummings, Ari Shapire in Och & Oy! A Considered Cabaret – Photo by Emilio Madrid

On April 19 Yo-Yo Ma and Austin Mann will offer their collaborative work which involved a two year journey across six continents. The resulting work is titled Truth, Trust and Service – How Culture Connects Us. April also brings three performances at The Edye. Bay Area’s gender bending Monique Jenkinson presents “feminism as a powerful, vulnerable and subversive act through her drag queen alter ego Fauxnique inThe F Word” (April 2-3); Tehran-based Playwright Nassim Soleimanpour’s  play Nassim (April 16-18) involves a different performer joining him each night who sees the script for the first time when he/she is presented it inside a box onstage. Canadian prize-winning journalist Alanna Mitchell performs her Sea Sick, a story that reveals the dark truth about our oceans (April 23-24).

Fauxnique in The F Word - Photo courtesy of The Broad Stage

Fauxnique in The F Word – Photo courtesy of The Broad Stage

Companies presented at The Broad Stage for the first time include Acrobuffos performing Air Play (LA premiere – January 23); Ephrat Asherie Dance Company performing Odeon (LA premiere – March 5-6); Compagnie Marie Chouinard presents Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights (April 16-17); and Mark Morris Dance Group & Music Ensemble performing Morris’ Mozart Dances (June 10-13).

The 2021 season also includes vocalist Dianne Reeves, Chucho Valdes and saxophonist Joe Lovano (February 4-5); considered one of the foremost interpreters of Bach of her generation, Simone Dinnerstein performs the Goldberg Variations (February 6); The Stanley Clarke Band makes it debut at The Broad Stage (January 16); and Takécs Quartet also makes its debut with a program of Haydn, Britten and Debussy (January 15). Others include Grammy winner Keb’ Mo’ (March 26); virtuoso guitarist Miloš performing a repertoire spanning Bach to The Beatles (March 12-13).

Compagnie Marie Chouinard in Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights - Photo by Sylvie Ann Paré

Compagnie Marie Chouinard in Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights – Photo by Sylvie Ann Paré

The season includes the return of favorite series!

Nat Geo Live celebrates its 10th year at The Broad Stage. In Improbable Ascent (March 18-19), Maureen Beck relates her inspiring story as a one-handed rock climber. In Invisible Wonders (April 1-2) photographer Anand Varma uses a camera not just a tool to capture what he sees, but as a way to illuminate layers of beauty and complexity that are otherwise hidden from the naked eye. In How to Clone a Mammoth (May 20-21), Beth Shapiro asks the question could extinct species, like mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life?

Acrobuffos in Air Play - Photo by Florence Montmare

Acrobuffos in Air Play – Photo by Florence Montmare

Beethoven, Bagels & Banter (Sundays, 11:00am Jan 31, Feb 28, Apr 11; The Edye)The popular series returns with a season-long celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday. Curated by Robert Davidovici and featuring a mélange of world-class guest musicians, each program will include at least one work by the great composer himself. “Robert Davidovici is a terrific violinist. His technique is of the ‘wow’ variety, his tone as huge as he cares to make it.” said The Boston Globe. Spend your Sunday mornings with great music, lively conversation and freshly made bagels.

blackbox – now in both The Edye and the East Wing Music Hall, which allows space for dancing — is curated by The Reverend Shawn Amos, who will perform with his new band The Brotherhood (June 25), as well as evenings with vocalist Missy Anderson (February 16), bassist Jennifer Leitham (March 19) and guitarist King Solomon Hicks (April 9).

Stanley Clarke - Photo courtesy of The Broad Stage

Stanley Clarke – Photo courtesy of The Broad Stage

Red Hen Press, which partnered on The Broad Stage at Home during the pandemic hiatus, has three programs, the first exploring African American Poetry and the Blues (February 13) featuring Dexter L. Booth, Douglas Manuel and Eleanor Wilner, with music by Keith Flynn and The Holy Men. The second Those Who Loved Medusa (March 13) features the gorgeous operatic compositions of Mark Abel, sung by GRAMMY® Award-winning soprano Hila Plitmann, and poet Felicia Zamora; the third program, Poetry of Resistance (May 8) presents work by writers of color, women and LGBT writers Allison Joseph, Khalisa Rae, David Campos, Kazim Ali and Blas Falconer, and the “jungle jazz” mixture of African, Latin
and Caribbean grooves and American Jazz from percussionist Munyungo Jackson.

This promises to be a wonderful season and it cannot come soon enough for all of us.

Written and compiled by Jeff Slayton for LADC, May 29, 2020.

To see The Broad Stage 2020/2021 season brochure, click HERE.

To learn more about The Broad Stage, click here.

Featured image: The Mark Morris Dance Group & Musical Ensemble in Mozart Dances – Choreography by Mark Morris – Photo by Kenneth Friedman