Season to feature Stoppard classic, hip-hop dance, and more

By From page C8 | September 20, 2011

The upcoming season from the UC Davis theater and dance department features playwright Tom Stoppard’s modern classic “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” — an extremely witty play containing some of the funniest and finest back-and-forth dialog in contemporary theater. Other shows include a classic early 20th Century Spanish drama by Lorca, a new piece examining the impact of AIDS in contemporary Mexico, a dance performance featuring hip-hop choreography, and several ambitious new and original works by graduate students.

This season also charts a new course by offering several “development of production” events that will be free and open to the public.

The season will also feature four visiting Granada Artists-in-Residence: Michael Barakiva, an award-winning Armenian/Israeli director based in New York City; Juliette Carrillo, director of critically acclaimed world and West Coast premieres; Rennie Harris, an internationally renowned leader of hip-hop dance theatre; and Ellen Bromberg, a video artist and 2006 Guggenheim Fellow whose work is frequently seen on public television.

Department of theater and dance Chair Lynette Hunter said, “The department is continuing its commitment to refreshing the classics and exploring innovative performance in our quarterly Granada productions. The mix of experimental and traditional work is aimed at our campus and community audiences which have always shown a hunger for experiencing new ways of doing theatre and dance, generating new conversations about cultural and social values.”


The department of theater and dance’s new season commences with “The Zona Rosa Project,” a Sideshow Lab performance open to the public free of charge, devised and directed by Granada Artist-in-Residence Michael Barakiva. Barakiva will use the real-life story of Mexican medical doctor Francisco Estrada Valle as a launching point to explore Mexico’s history of combating the HIV virus as well as the remarkable evolution of gay rights in the deeply Catholic country. The stage will be set by Emmy Award-winning scenic designer and Theatre & Dance professor John Iacovelli.

Michael Barakiva’s directing credits include the premieres of two plays by Wendy Wasserstein’s “ at Theatre J in Washington, D.C., the first workshop of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”, and “UP” by Bridget Carpenter at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He is the Resident Director of the Lake George Theater Lab in upstate New York.

“The Zona Rosa Project” opens on Thursday, Oct. 13, and plays through Sunday, Oct. 16, at Wyatt Pavilion Theatre. The complimentary seating will be on a first come, first served basis.

In November, Granada Artist-in-Residence Michael Barakiva directs Tom Stoppard’s famous play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.” This existentialist tragicomedy draws on the Shakespearean tragedy “Hamlet” as a springboard into an absurdly comical examination of life’s most fundamental question: how do we know what we know?

Barakiva has chosen to set the play in a dream world that is half Elizabethan and half black and white Hollywood silent movies. “We’re using Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Lorca’s traveling band of actors as inspiration,” says Barakiva.

“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” opens on Thursday, Nov. 17, and continues through Saturday, Dec. 3, in Main Theatre.


The department’s first production of 2012, MFA Thesis Choreographies, features back-to-back works by master of fine arts graduating candidates Kevin O’Connor and Folawole.

Kevin O’Connor’s piece will fuse live vocal, music, dance and circus arts. Kevin and his collaborators will examine what community means in contemporary society. Inspired by the writings of the mathematical cosmologist Brian Swimme, they will reflect on the questions of existence from the perspective of contemporary science. Born in Canada and now living in Oakland, O’Connor earned a degree in conservation biology, and has more recently devoted his time to both circus and dance training.

Folawole’s new work will include four choreographies exploring his question, “Will we accept or perplex possibilities for a powerful playful present?” Folawole recently received the Bay Arean’s prestigious Dejrassi Resident Award 2010. He has performed with companies including San Francisco Ballet (classical ballet) and Oakland Ballet (soloist, classical ballet). He has studied at American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and with Sara Shelton Mann’s Dance Theatre among other venues.

MFA Thesis Choreographies runs Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 16-18 and 24-26 and Sunday, Feb. 19 and 23  in Vanderhoef Studio Theatre at Mondavi Center.

Also during the winter quarter, Granada Artist-in Residence, Juliette Carrillo directs Federico García Lorca’s famous drama “The House of Bernarda Alba.” The play was completed two months before Lorca’s murder by the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War. Wrought with sexual tension, the play explores themes of repression, passion, and conformity, and considers the effects of men upon women as five daughters are confined to their mother’s house for an eight-year period of mourning.

Juliette Carrillo is most known for her productions of “Lydia” by Octavio Solis, produced at Denver Theater Center, Yale Repertory Theatre and the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Her other projects include shows at Seattle Repertory Theater, San Francisco’s Magic Theatre, and at South Coast Repertory in Southern California.

“The House of Bernarda Alba” opens in Main Theatre on Thursday, March 8, and continues through Sunday, March 18.


The annual Edge Performance Festival returns with two weeks of events, some occurring on the same evening. The festival includes showcases like the Extreme Play Blitz; stagings of new Undergraduate One-Acts; An Hour of 5-Minute Plays; Main Stage Dance; and sing-along late night showings of the film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and more. The Edge Performance Festival will occur at various locations to be announced including Main Theatre, Arena Theatre and Wyatt Pavilion Theatre. The festival opens on Thursday, April 12, and plays through Sunday, April 22.

Also featured during Spring Quarter will be “Rites of Spring,” featuring two back-to-back choreographies by spring 2012 Granada Artists-in-Residence Rennie Harris and Ellen Bromberg.

Choreographer and internationally renowned hip-hop artist Rennie Harris creates a new work. Award-winning video artist Ellen Bromberg and acclaimed choreographer and theater and dance professor Della Davidson devise a new mediated piece that investigates ideas of death and beauty.

Rennie Harris is the Founder and Artistic Director of internationally acclaimed Rennie Harris Puremovement. Harris is currently an Adjunct Professor in UCLA’s World Arts and Culture Program and was recently visiting artist at Stanford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts. Local audiences may remember Harris’ choreography in the modern urban adaptation of the Shakespeare tragedy “Rome & Jewels” (seen at the Mondavi Center several years ago).

Ellen Bromberg, a 2006 Guggenheim Fellow, has been creating dances for companies and solo artists for over 30 years. She has received numerous awards for her work including three Isadora Duncan Dance Awards; one for outstanding achievement in choreography for “The Black Dress,” which was subsequently broadcast on PBS Television’s “Alive From Off Center.” As 2006 UC Davis Granada Artist-in-Residence, Bromberg co-created with Della Davidson ”The Weight of Memory,” a media-dance piece which premiered at the Mondavi Center, and was subsequently restaged at Repertory Dance Theater in Salt Lake City in 2008.

“Rites of Spring” opens on Thursday, May 31, at Main Theatre. It closes on Sunday, June 3.

The six season productions described above will be augmented by free events that are open to the public. These may include interdisciplinary lectures and open discussions — dates and times for these events will be announced as the season progresses.

The last production of the season is the 12th annual UC Davis Film Festival. It is produced by the department of theater and dance and presented by the Davis Varsity Theatre in association with UCD Technocultural Studies and co-sponsored by Film Studies and Art Studio. The rapidly growing festival features a wide array of student films including animation, comedy, drama, commercials, documentaries, music videos and other art films.

The UCD Film Festival plays Wednesday-Thursday, May 23-24, at 8:30 p.m. at the Varsity Theatre in downtown Davis. Tickets will be available at the Varsity box office starting May 16.

All season performance dates and venues are subject to change.

Tickets to all department of theater and dance productions (excluding the Film Festival) may be purchased in advance at the Mondavi Center Ticket Office. Visit http://mondaviarts.org for more information or call (530) 754-2787. They may also be purchased at the door for a slightly higher price (provided the show has not sold out).

High school and youth groups of ten or more receive a special rate of $5 per ticket ($10 for musicals) at the teacher or group leader’s request. Call the publicity office at (530) 752-5863 to make arrangements for this discount.

An order of fifteen or more tickets for a single performance receives a 10% discount. Groups of 25 or more receive a 10% discount plus two free tickets.

Seniors now qualify for the reduced student ticket rate.

For ticket details, photos and more information, visit http://theatredance.ucdavis.edu. For a complete 2011-2012 season calendar, visit http://theatredance.ucdavis.edu/season/current.aspx

Jeff Hudson

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