Like every performance venue, The Broad Stage, a performing arts presenting partner of Santa Monica College, has been closed to in-person performance since the spring of 2020. In the spirit of reimaging its future, The Broad Stage, led by Artistic and Executive Director Rob Bailis, has just announced that it will begin a “new chapter in its artistic future.” During the 2021-2022 and the 2023-2024 seasons, the organization will be acting as a commissioner and producer of new work in partnership with a wide variety of performers, directors, choreographers, composers, librettists, and arts venues. This support comes as The Broad announces the May 2021 launching of REVEAL, digital artist residencies designed to bring audiences into the creative process of several new works. Each episode of REVEAL dives into the core of these commissions and monitors the creative journey from conception to the artists’ vision realized on stage.  Audiences will feel a connection with each of the groundbreaking artists, listen to their ideas via exclusive footage, demonstration, discussions, and performances. Following each broadcast, REVEAL programs will be made available on-demand for the foreseeable future at

Artistic and Executive Director Rob Bailis said, “The Broad Stage is honored to announce our first creative cohort, with works that anchor our first wave of new programming. During the pandemic at The Broad Stage, we offered ourselves the opportunity to ask what we dreamed of manifesting but were always too busy to attempt. It is thrilling to share the projects we’ve been quietly nurturing with a range of creators and performers, and the new creative partnerships we’ve built with co-commissioning producers and arts presenters from across the nation, all to enable artists to present new work for a new era. We anticipate a burst of excitement and joy from all of this activity.”

One artists on this list is Emily Johnson, Choreographer/Director of Catalyst Dance, who will be presenting an evening-length work titled Being Future Beging that features a score by Raven Chacon, a Diné (Navajo meaning “The People”) artist known as a composer of chamber music, as well as a solo performer of noise music.

Emily Johnson of Catalyst Dance - Photo by Tracy Rector & Melissa Ponder

Emily Johnson of Catalyst Dance – Photo by Tracy Rector & Melissa Ponder

Based in Lenapehoking/New York City, Johnson is of the Yup’ik Nation and writes that “her dances function as portals and care processions, they engage audienceship within and through space, time, and environment – interacting with a place’s architecture, peoples, history and role in building futures”. She is a Bessie Award-winning choreographer, Guggenheim and United States Artists Fellow, and recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award. Johnson is also a published writer. She hosts monthly ceremonial fires on the Lower East Side of Mannahatta in partnership with Abrons Arts Center. Johnson has created an evening-length performance for the stage and beyond, featuring a newly commissioned score by Raven Chacon. Being Future Being conjures present joy and asks audiences to consider new creation stories with the power to sustain a world that must begin again.

“For Johnson, performance serves as an integral part of our connection to each other, our environment, our stories, our past, present and future, and this new project seeks to (re)build visions of the forces that brought this world into being, while ushering in new futures with the potential to reshape the way we relate to ourselves, and to the human and more-than-human cohabitants of our worlds.

With Being Future Being, the performance will be a starting point, one that asks audiences to join in a community process that flows from each presentation, out and into the world—actions brought to fruition with community stewardship.” (The Broad Stage press release)

Other commissioned works and artistic partners include:

Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside) Created by Brenda Abbandandolo, Denée Benton, Jhanaë Bonnick, Vinie Burrows, Rachel Chavkin, Eisa Davis, André De Shields, JJJJJerome Ellis, Katherine Freer, Jill Frutkin, Amber Gray, Jeremy O. Harris, Matt Hubbs, Modesto “Flako” Jimenez, Marika Kent, Libby King, Ian Lassiter, Zhailon Levingston, Jake Margolin, James Harrison Monaco, Kristen Sieh, Nicholas Vaughan, and Jillian Walker. Reconstruction’s Process Chaplain is Milta Vega-Cardona; Co-directed by Rachel Chavkin and Zhailon Levingston.

Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside) is a new work with a live musical score, that is collaboratively written by Brooklyn’s the TEAM – “theatrical excavators of American culture, American dreams, and the American psyche.” (The Guardian) – Reconstruction asks if intimacy can and/or should exist between Black-identifying and white-identifying individuals in the historical and present-day context of a violently anti-Black United States. This athletic and emotional work shifts through time from the Reconstruction era to the present day, and forges a new language, steeped in music, silence, poetry, fraternities and sororities, water, and retched fashion. Reconstruction is co-directed by Tony Award winner Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown) and Zhailon Levingston (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical).

Reconstruction - The Lumberyard - the TEAM - Photo by Alon Koppel Photography

Reconstruction – The Lumberyard – the TEAM – Photo by Alon Koppel Photography

the TEAM – Rachel Chavkin – Photo by Erik Tanner

the TEAM – Zhailon Levingston – Photo courtesy of The Broad Stage


Iphigenia: Music by Wayne Shorter; Libretto and Performed by esperanza spalding; Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz; Conducted by Clark Rundell; and Set designed by Frank Gehry.

Two of the most visionary and daring musical voices of our time – composer Wayne Shorter and librettist and performer esperanza spalding – step out of the script to present a contemporary world where race, gender and relationships are challenged in the name of change. Wayne Shorter, “generally acknowledged to be jazz’s greatest living composer” (The New York Times) and esperanza spalding, “well over a decade into one of the most fruitful and strikingly original careers” (Rolling Stone) have created a modern operatic re-imagining of a powerful ancient story, featuring direction by Obie Award winner Lileana Blain-Cruz and conducted by Clark Rundell.

Wayne Shorter - Photo by Robert Ascroft

Wayne Shorter – Photo by Robert Ascroft


Universal Child Care By Quote Unquote Collective Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava, co-artistic directors.

The sheer power and force of the unaccompanied human voice is on display in Universal Child Care, the newest work from Canadian multi-disciplinary performance company Quote Unquote Collective. Part concert, part theatre play (and self-consciously neither of these things), the ensemble screams about the lack of affordable child care and growing inequalities, while comparing different approaches to child care around the globe. This urgent social and political message ventures outside the boundaries of tradition and expectation, and features a nine-person choir, highly-stylized movement and songs delivered in multiple languages.

Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava – Photo courtesy of The Broad Stage


Yemandja Conceived by Angelique Kidjo, Jean Hebrail & Naïma Hebrail Kidjo; Book & Lyrics by Naïma Hebrail Kidjo; Music by Angelique Kidjo & Jean Hebrail; and Developed with and Directed by Cheryl Lynn Bruce.

Yemandja is a cohesive and expansive work of original theater both uniquely African with deep connections to the roots of African American culture.  Inspired by her ancestors, her family, and Africa’s resilience, singer and storyteller extraordinaire Angélique Kidjo conjures up a timely theatrical work that is at once a family drama and historical thriller, redolent of Greek tragedy and infused with themes of love.

Angelique Kiduo – Photo by Patrick Fouque

Kerry James Marshall - Photo courtesy of The Broad Stage

Kerry James Marshall – Photo courtesy of The Broad Stage


Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, Superintendent & President of Santa Monica College said, “We are delighted to be associated with the presentation of this new work at The Broad Stage — a wonderful progression of the ideals we hold dear. The arts are crucial to the work of building a more just and equitable world — Santa Monica College’s mission — and this new direction of championing diverse, world-class artists while also expanding The Broad Stage’s audience is important to me as the CEO of Santa Monica College and also as a community member who values the power of the arts to build understanding and empathy”

The Broad Stage Board of Directors Co-Chairs Jennifer Diener and Anne Taubman said, “We are very happy to be entering a new phase of our vision, creating new works commissioned by The Broad Stage from a range of diverse creative artists, performance ensembles, and other exciting presenters to premiere here in Santa Monica. We hope these works will have not only a start and meaningful life here but will also bring these artists and their works to the nation’s and world’s stages as well.”

Bailis said, “To create these new shows, we are thrilled to be joining with colleague organizations from across the county. As these works develop and premiere, we will announce new cohorts to follow.”


INFORMATION AND VIEWING OPPORTUNITIES: Following the live premiere broadcast of each episode, all REVEAL programs will be available on demand for the foreseeable future at

The first program in the REVEAL series, Reconstruction, will feature three episodes (May 6, 8 & 15) inviting audiences into the artistic process of the TEAM and the inspiration and creation behind their new project Reconstruction.

If you wish to attend:  RSVP and learn more HERE.

Premiere Thursday, May 6 at 7pm (PT)

Episode 1: How Primer for a Failed Superpower primed the TEAM for Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside)  This bold introduction to the TEAM includes a short documentary and a conversation about their 2017 work, Primer for a Failed Superpower, a concert of new and surprising arrangements of iconic protest songs featuring a 32-person multigenerational ensemble. Hosted by Stephanie Ybarra (Artistic Director, Baltimore Centerstage), the core creative team for Primer will discuss the process and lessons from making this massive, ecstatic 2-night event.

Featuring hosts and participants Stephanie Ybarra (Artistic Director, Baltimore Centerstage), Company Directors Rachel Chavkin and Zhailon Levingston, Music Supervisor Orion Johnstone and Music Director Nehemiah Luckett.

Premiere Saturday, May 8 at 11am (PT)

Episode 2: Finding Intimacy in the Reconstruction Room: The role of our Process Chaplain

Step inside the Reconstruction rehearsal room, and learn how intimacy is created, deepened, questioned and supported by Process Chaplain Milta Vega-Cardona. In this live, interactive Zoom conversation, Vega-Cardona will be joined by Reconstruction artists to discuss the role of a Process Chaplain and its vast impact on their creative practice. A Q&A with the participants will follow.

Featuring Reconstruction co-directors Rachel Chavkin and Zhailon Levingston, Process Chaplain Milta Vega-Cardona and artists JJJJJerome Ellis and James Harrison Monaco.

Premiere Sunday, May 16 at 2 PM (PT)

Episode 3: Creating Reconstruction: “How We Make Is as Important as What We Make”

Through Reconstruction, the TEAM aspires to make a work that is as useful to racially diverse audiences as the process has been to them in decolonizing themselves and their practices. With the support of Process Chaplain Milta Vega-Cardona they have focused on creating a rehearsal room rooted in anti-capitalist and anti-colonial practices. This live streamed panel and Q&A will discuss this process and feature in-progress video clips and interviews with their artists.

Featuring The Broad Stage Artistic & Executive Director Rob Bailis, Reconstruction co-directors Rachel Chavkin and Zhailon Levingston plus artists from the Reconstruction writing team.

To learn more about REVEAL, click HERE.

For more information, please visit The Broad Stage website.

Written and compiled by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, CA. – Photo by Ben Gibbs.