Set in the lesbian bars, cop shops and street-cars of McCarthy-era Los Angeles, Concrete Folk Variations is a puppet drama written, directed and designed by Susan Simpson. Initially presented as a three-part serial, the performance in its entirety will be presented by AUTOMATA in Chinatown May 2-11, 2014.
An emotionally gripping noir, Concrete Folk Variations is told through Simpson’s intricately crafted small-scale puppets, projections and a minimalist mid-century Los Angles cityscape. This cultural excavation of the moment just before the rise of the modern gay movement unearths secret codes, clandestine homosexual societies, flamboyant transgressions and soul crushing silence, all under the looming storm of police crack-downs and public shaming. Concrete Folk Variations is a hypnotic tale of the formidable times that sparked the first calls for liberation, mapping a rich and labyrinthine culture stretching from the docks of Long Beach to the dive bars of Silver Lake.
Concrete Folk Variations centers on the laconic butch detective, Loretta Salt. When a prominent society maven and philanthropist (who secretly slums at lesbian dives) is murdered, L.A.P.D. beat cop Loretta Salt turns reluctant investigator and steps into an infested swamp of corruption, brutality and subterfuge.
This work was originally presented as a three part serial in 2008 -2009 at The Manual Archives, a micro-theater in Silver Lake. The LA Weekly wrote of part one “a tone-perfect first installment hooks our attention with a killer mystery, moody narration and fascinating historicity.”
Susan Simpson, is a critically acclaimed experimental theater artist and filmmaker whose work often involves intricate marionettes and unusual film projection. Her puppet plays have been presented in New York, Seattle and Los Angeles including numerous times at The Museum of Jurassic Technology and The Velaslavasay Panorama. Frankenstein: Mortal Toys which Simpson co-directed and designed with Janie Geiser played in Los Angeles and New York and was hailed by the New York Times as “that happy thing: an inspired melding of material and medium… Frankenstein as it might have been conceived by Joseph Cornell.” The Los Angeles Times called Simpson’s marionette play Lead Feet and Nothing Upstairs “radically inventive [and] technically virtuosic” Stage and Cinema said of Simpson’s 2010 production “Equal parts history, science-fiction, and story-telling, Exhibit A remained true to avant-garde roots… Simpson seems to understand that storytelling, regardless of its form, is the one thing audiences are craving these days.”
Concrete Folk Variations runs Thursday and Fridays at 8 pm, and Saturdays ay 3 pm and 8 pm, May 2 though 11. Tickets are $18.00; Students and Seniors are $15.00. Automata is located at 504 Chung King Court in Chinatown (Los Angeles).
In Austin, TX? LAPP artist Miwa Matreyek will perform her latest solo work This World Made Itself, along with Myth & Infrastructure at the Fusebox Festival this weekend, presenting by Women & Their Work!
Matreyek creates animated short films as well as live works that integrate animation, performance, and video installation. Arriving to animation from a background in collage, her work explores how animation transforms when it is combined with the body, both physically in her performance pieces, as well as a composited video element in her short films.
In her projection based performances, animation takes on a more physical and present quality, while body and space take on a more fantastical attribute, creating an experience that is both cinematic and theatrical. She is interested in the slippery meeting point of cinema and theater/performance, the moments of convergence where fantastical illusions are created, and the moments of divergence where the two struggles against each other.
The Fusebox Festival is an annual hybrid art festival that champions adventurous works of art across a variety of different mediums. Matreyek will kick off her residency with Women & Their Work at the Fusebox Festival at an Artist Talk on Thursday, April 24 at 3pm. Performance of both pieces will be presented on Friday, April 25 at 9pm and Saturday, April 26 at 3pm.
This project is made possible in part by support from the National Performance Network (NPN) Performance Residency Program. www.npnweb.org
FREE TICKETS AVAILABLE AT FUSEBOXFESTIVAL.COM
Ruth Wikler-Luker, founder/curator/producer of Portland’s BOOM Arts travelled to Los Angeles last June to see Cooking Oil, a performance and public dialogue initiative produced by LAPP after four years of collaborative artistic development in Uganda and Rwanda with director Emily Mendelsohn, playwright Deborah Asiimwe, designer Shannon Scrofano, and an incredible ensemble of performers from Kigali, Kampala, New York, and Los Angeles.
Ten months later, we were delighted to see our international dialogue continued under the curatorial vision of Wikler-Luker, who hosted Mendelsohn and a digital Asiimwe for a workshop of Appointment With gOD, which had its first performance at the University of Portland last night. The play is Asiimwe’s funny, insightful exploration of the US visa process from an African perspective. A group of visa applicants anxiously await their fate in a US embassy waiting room in a developing country, and compare strategies and experiences with one another between appointments with the “gODs” behind the counter.
Ironically, Asiimwe’s visa was not approved, preventing her from traveling to Portland for the work. Despite this, she and Mendelsohn were able to continue their ongoing exploration of cross-cultural aesthetic online, and with the participation of Portland-based actors, students, and activists.
If you happen to be in Portland, please jump into this exciting conversation around borders, power, and what it means to be the “other.”
Miwa Matreyek will premiere her new piece, This World Made Itself, this week at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio.
“Magical…the sheer breadth of the imagery…is unlike anything you’ve seen before.”—Los Angeles Times
Miwa Matreyek, a multimedia performance artist from Los Angeles, creates spellbinding, visually rich fusions of inventive animation and live performance that will leave you rapt. Here she will premiere her latest solo work, This World Made Itself, which merges cinematic vistas with theater and intricate shadow play. The fantastical kaleidoscopic experience is sophisticated yet full of childlike wonder.
Its thematic journey takes you through the history of the earth, from the universe’s first spark of beginning to our complex world of accelerated human interaction. The performance unfolds as both a panorama referencing natural history and science (imagine flipping through a vividly illustrated children’s encyclopedia) and a spectacle of surrealistic metaphor and fantasy. Matreyek will also perform her previous piece Myth and Infrastructure, which traverses seascapes, cityscapes, and domestic spaces to conjure dreamlike scenes with nuanced layers of light and shadow. Miwa Matreyek makes worlds beyond our reach clear and present to our delight, a visionary talent for these times.
Her premiere is made possible in part by support from the National Performance Network (NPN) Performance Residency Program. This project is also supported by the Princess Grace Foundation and Creative Capital.
Los Angeles Performance Practice is currently working with Matreyek to schedule additional presentations through 2015.
Watch a video trailer HERE.