Artists have been migrating from New York to Los Angeles ever since Manhattan became Fort Knox for the rich and famous. Creative minds, after all, have long needed places to live that are inspiring, but also affordable.
So what does that mean for Los Angeles? Well, there’s a tech boom, and now real estate prices are skyrocketing here as well (thanks Obama). But it also means that the L.A. art world is growing, changing and maturing. There to capture it in it’s most radical teenage years is Live Arts Exchange, a week-long festival that starts tonight and corrals the city’s most creative and visionary artists who are blending performance mediums to shape a uniquely West Coast scene.
Live Arts Exchange is modeled after similar festivals across the country, including the Fusebox Festival in Austin and the Time Based Art Festival in Portland. “In L.A., we lack community for local artists outside of the traditional theater sphere,” says Miranda Wright, Live Arts Exchange’s founder and executive director. “Live Arts Exchange exists to draw attention to a movement that’s already happening under our noses.”
Most of the eight shows at the festival will go up at the Bootleg Theater in Historic Filipinotown, just south of Echo Park. Two shows will also go up at Automata in Chinatown. And in true L.A. form, there’s something there for everyone.
For theater traditionalists, director Zoe Aja Moore is putting a new twist on Streetcar Named Desire, using Tennessee Williams’ original text to explore modern sexuality and identity. “Streetcar is in the theater realm, but Zoe blends cinema and theater,” says Wright. “It creates a really magical experience.”
If you like your performances a little more unpredictable, there’s director Greg Wohead‘s Celebration, Florida, in which two totally unrehearsed actors get direction from Wohead for the first time through earbuds onstage. Like Florida itself, the show has a throughline of emptiness and absence, memory and nostalgia.
And if straight throw-backs are your style, two works in the festival—both of which combine theater and dance—deal with the complexities and emotional bottle-rockets inherent in growing up female. Unadult delves into the highs, lows, truths and lies involved in becoming a woman. And in Our So–Called Sleepover, or, Freud and Jung Crash the 90s through a Ouija Board, two teenage girls in the 1990s work out their friend-drama through a lens of turn-of-the-century psychoanalysis, all set to a soundtrack of “What a Man” and “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
Live Arts Exchange exists in part, says Wright, to turn the city’s—and the country’s—attention towards the unique artistic flavor that’s coming out of L.A. right now.
“There’s a certain vibrancy, really colorful visually, that’s coming out of Los Angeles,” she says. “It’s a lot more saturated than what I’m seeing elsewhere in the country—there’s something about sunny, West Coast mixed media that’s showing itself.”
Thematically, Wright adds that there’s a movement in L.A. that’s exploring how we relate to each other, both intimately and superficially.
“There’s something there about how we connect to one another and miss one another and personality and identity,” she says. “How do we establish relationships? How do we miss each other, how do we be together?”
Wright founded the Live Arts Exchange after attending Cal Arts and having her artistic sensibilities shaken to the core. “I had a very traditional education in Shakespeare studies,” she says. “The work that was being made on campus just really blew my mind. It was so exciting and so alive; performances about our world right now, not, like, performances about the past.”
Check out the trailer for Unadult to get a taste of this week’s festival.
Live Arts Exchange will take place from October 16 – October 25. Tickets are available online.