Between Coachella, Burning Man, and FYF Fest, the West Coast festival fatigue struggle is real. But don’t let that discourage you from checking out the New Original Works Festival (NOW Fest), opening today. Entering its 12th year, the highbrow NOW Fest will be taking over RedCat for the next three weeks and will feature an eclectic roster of talent spanning art forms and nationalities—all of whom are united by their status as Angelenos. With nine new, original works of dance, theatre, music and multimedia performance, the odds of seeing something amazing are pretty good. At $40 for a festival pass it’s a steal—no camping or crowd surfing required. Here’s what to expect:
Week One (July 30–August 1)
Nguyễn Nguyên and Maria Gillespie: Bloom
Take an astrophysicist, a video artist, and two choreographers, add in a development period at the Beijing International Dance Festival, and you’ll get Bloom. This explosive piece melds projections and dance for a unique and interesting experience.
Sheetal Ghandi, Ulka Mohanty, and Mark Gutierrez: In|Expiration
Dancers Sheetal Ghandi and Ulka Mohanty use traditional Indian dance forms like Kathak and Bharatanatyam to explore issues like race-fueled violence and personal justice in their work. Bassist Mark Gutierrez provides live accompaniment.
Zac Pennington, Jherek Bischoff, and Steven Reker: Crying
String quartets are usually quarantined to stuffy concert halls, but they’ve been co-opted by indie rock darlings Zac Pennington and Jherek Bischoff (Parenthetical Girls) to wax poetic on the status of the pop idol. Choreographer Steven Reker rounds out the group to present the performer in four acts: icon, androgyne, messiah and martyr.
Week Two (August 6–8)
Stina Ahlberg: Sammanfläta (Intertwined)
Swedish choreographer Stina Ahlberg conjures demons, goddesses, and other mythic characters to the stage in her Los Angeles debut. Consider this the recent transplant’s formal introduction to her new city.
Mint Park and Hee-Eun Jeong: BIT
Dance, light, and sound come together in this multidisciplinary performance. Multimedia composer Mint Park and choreographer Hee-Eun Jeong share an interest in the culture of fashion and film, something Angelenos know well.
Robert Cucuzza: Circle Jerk
French writer André Breton is known as the founder of Surrealism, but he was also known for being a sexist jerk. Here, the rants of Breton and his fellow Surrealists are set to a live Gypsy Jazz score and performed by a heavily female cast. Circle Jerk’s name stems from a phrase used to criticize Internet trolls, suggesting that decade-old criticisms are more relevant than we might think.
Week Three (August 13-15)
Cassandra: Stellar Tears
Stellar Tears is a song cycle put on by a “feminist art-rock power-ballad soul-pop project” named for two Cassandras: one a prophetess from Greek myth, the other a babely guitarist from the cult film Wayne’s World.
Takao Kawaguchi, Jonathan Hall, and Deanna Erdmann: Touch of the Other
In the Sixties, L.A. sociologist Laud Humphrey conducted a controversial study on homosexual activity in the city’s public restrooms. In Touch of the Other, an artist and a choreographer join forces to revisit the research and connect it to present-day issues.
Kevin Williamson: Trophy
We’ll be frank: it’s hard to tell exactly what Trophy is all about. But its creators’ credentials are reason enough check it out. Choreographer Kevin Williamson is known for expressing the human condition through dance, and CalArts favorite Jeepneys is providing the score. With projections by Cari Ann Shim Sham rounding out the piece, Trophy is definitely worth a look.
NOW Fest runs from July 30 to Aug 15, shows starting at 8:30 p.m.
Per show prices: $20 General Admission, $16 for RedCat members and $14 for students. Festival passes are $40.