The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago
, announces the 2009 MCA Stage Season with two newly added programs this spring. As one of the most inventive and unpredictable bands in popular music, or perhaps one of the most accessible and poppy bands in experimental music, The Books bring their unique fusion of electronica, folk, and minimalist classical music (May 3). Brazilian body percussionists Barbatuques perform with premier, award-winning tap dancer Ted Levy, and Chicago Human Rhythm Projects performance ensemble BAM! (May 29-31).
At the pinnacle of the season, maverick choreographer Marie Chouinard from Montreal brings Orpheus and Eurydice, a provocative, erotic, and sensual contemporary ballet. Based on a Greek myth wherein Orpheus travels to the underworld to win back the life of his beloved wife, Eurydice, who was bitten by a snake and died shortly after the two had wed, Chouinards version moves through the underworld using her signature use of theatrics, drama, and intensity.
This spring, the MCA presents an inspired new music series featuring three compelling chamber music concerts by three accomplished Chicago music ensembles. In April, University of Chicagos critically acclaimed ensemble Contempo and Grammy Award-winning ensemble-in-residence eighth blackbird perform a double-bill concert with samba-jazz legend Leny Andrade. In May, Grammy-nominated ensemble the Chicago Chamber Musicians (CCM) perform a theatrically staged concert about child soldiers in Africa that includes video projections and gripping narration by actor Arthur Kisenyi of Uganda. In June, the ambitious and fearless International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) teams up with worldrenowned percussionist and conductor Steve Schick to take on the rarely performed works of Xenakis, an architect, philosopher, mathematician, and one of the most important and innovative modernist composers of the 20th century.
Court Theatre: The Wild Duck
January 15 - February 15, $32-56
Humor meets tragedy in Ibsens classic tale of an idealistic, young man who shatters the lives of the Ekdal family in an attempt to liberate them from the web of lies that keep them sane. With a new translation by playwright Richard Nelson and stage design by architect Leigh Breslau, Court Theatre Artistic Director Charles Newell brings his uncompromising approach to this rarely staged play to reveal the real humanity of the characters.
Exhibition: A lonely man doesnt laugh so easily
January 2 - February 15
Titled after a line in Ibsens play, this exhibition contrasts portrait photography from the MCA Collection with an interactive and evolving installation by Chicago-based artist Christopher Hiltz. Hiltz takes portraits of audience members attending selected performances of The Wild Duck, which are added to his component of the exhibition during the run of the play, to demonstrate the shift in conventions of photographic portraiture from Ibsens period to today. The tedium and frustrations of life that Ibsen explores in his characters resonate in the faces of the subjects photographed by artists from the collection: Paul Rosin, Blythe Bohnen, and Larry Clark.
chelfitsch: Five Days in March
Friday-Sunday, February 20-22, $25
Leading a new generation of experimental theater artists, Toshiki Okadas award-winning play from Japan is set on the eve of the U.S. and British offensive in Iraq, when Japan rejoined the ranks of the armed nations for the first time since 1945. The plays main characters, a young couple of Tokyo hipsters who meet and spend five days in a Shibuya love hotel, are completely disconnected from the world events. Characterized by stylized scripts and unique body movement, chelfitschs work has garnered attention from the contemporary dance world for their physical richness, and earned the 2004 Kishida Kunio Drama Award, Japans most important theatrical accolade, for Five Days in March.
Dean & Britta: 13 Most Beautiful
Songs for Andy Warhols Screen Tests
Saturday, March 7, $25
Indie pop darlings Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips bring their languid lyrics and
hypnotic harmonies to Andy Warhols Screen Tests, rarely seen silent film portraits of fixtures of the 1960s New York art scene, including many well known celebrities such as Edie Sedgwick, Lou Reed, Dennis Hopper, and Baby Jane Holzer. This multimedia performance features large-scale video projections with live music by Dean & Britta and their band.
Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes: Monsters and Prodigies: The History of the Castrati
Friday-Sunday, March 20-22, $25
Direct from Mexico City, Claudio Valdés Kuri is causing a worldwide sensation with his award-winning theater/opera about the castrati - boys castrated before puberty to preserve the soprano range of their voices, an 18th-century practice that propelled many boys from poverty to outrageous stardom. Through brilliant musical performances and extreme physical comedy, Monsters and Prodigies offers a humorous and sophisticated satire of Baroque opera and a century of music ruled by the castrati.
Roundtable: The Age of the Castrati: Music, Myths, and Medicine Tuesday, March 17, 6 pm, FREE
Featured sopranista Javier Medina leads a discussion on the lives of the castrati in history and opera with David Schrader, the renowned harpsichordist and organist and professor of music history at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Additional panelists include music faculty in opera and young opera vocalists.
Film screening: Carlos Sauras Carmen Saturday, April 18, 3pm, and Sunday April 19, noon
To celebrate the film directors MCA appearance, museum visitors are invited to view Carlos Sauras masterful film about a fictional rehearsal for Bizets opera set in Flamenco dance school. The first in his critically acclaimed Flamenco Trilogy, Carmen (1983, 102 min) features many Flamenco legends including guitarist Paco de Lucia, dancer/chorographers Cristina Hoyos and the late Antonio Gades (whose original stage show is the source for Sauras ravishing film), and Laura del Sol in the title role. Free with museum admission.
Roundtable: The Baroque is Now Saturday, March 21, 2 pm
Kuri engages in discussion with Brian Dickie, General Director of Chicago Opera Theater, on the enduring allure of the Baroque, why it captives us, and how to tackle the form in making experimental theater and opera. This wide-ranging conversation also draws from the directors creative approaches in directing provocative artistic teams and reinterpreting overlooked works for todays stage. Beatriz Margain, Cultural Attaché for the Consulate of Mexico, facilitates the discussion.
Roundtable: Carmen: New Renderings Monday, April 20, 6 pm
In conjunction with Chicago Opera Theaters La Tragédie de Carmen (May 2-15 at the Harris Theater), acclaimed Spanish film director Carlos Saura discusses how George Bizets opera classic inspired his flamenco retelling of the story of Carmen. COT Director Andrew Eggert and Conductor Alexander Platt join the discussion.
Marc Bamuthi Joseph: the break/s
Thursday-Saturday, March 26-28, $25
Poet and performer Marc Bamuthi Joseph realizes the living history of the hip-hop generation through his own personal coming-of-age story using verse, dance, and film in this dramatic multimedia performance. Inspired by award-winning author Jeff Chang, whose book Cant Stop Wont Stop captures the creation of the hip-hop culture as a local, political, and artistic movement, Bamuthi focuses on the current state of hip-hop as part of a global culture. the break/s features an onstage beatboxer and embraces the power of improvisation with its sound score and visual projections mixed in the moment by an on-stage DJ.
Contempo with Leny Andrade and special guests
Saturday, April 4, $25
Contempo, the critically acclaimed music ensemble, performs a double-bill concert with samba-jazz great Leny Andrade, Brazil's history-making vocalist. Contempo's own illustrious history spans 44 years performing music at the highest level by the most innovative composers of our time. This program features Contempo's Grammy Award-winning ensemble-inresidence eighth blackbird, lauded for their signature style of playing from memory with virtuosic and theatrical flair.
Compagnie Marie Chouinard: Orpheus and Eurydice
Friday-Sunday, April 17-19, $40
Always innovative and often provocative, artist and choreographer Marie Chouinards newest work is a dramatic ballet based on the Greek myth of Orpheus, the first poet, and Eurydice, his beloved wife. Featuring elements of experimental theatre, dramatic lighting, and powerful body movement, Chouinard
explores the birth and power of language and its links to the body in her signature style intense, adventurous, and sensuous.
New program: The Books
Sunday, May 3, $20
Found sounds and classical technique find new form as experimental music duo Nick Zamutto and Paul de Jong create their signature mix of electronica, folk, and pop. Described as one of the most inventive and unpredictable bands in popular music, The Books multimedia performances incorporate their own projected videos as they blend samples and field recordings with acoustic instrumentation.
Chicago Chamber Musicians: Strange News and Black Angels
Friday, May 8, $25
Inspired by news reports of child soldiers in Africa, Norwegian composer Rolf Wallin and director Josse de Paauw create this multimedia, theatrically staged concert featuring video projections and a powerful performance by narrator Arthur Kisenyi of Uganda. Culled from disturbing interviews conducted by the artists in Uganda and the Congo, Strange News focuses on the ceremonies of song and dance that are used to reintegrate these brutalized children back into society. Renowned composer George Crumbs Black Angels was inspired by the Vietnam War and portrays a voyage of a souls fall from grace, its spiritual annihilation, and its redemption. To achieve a highly surrealistic effect, Black Angels features an arsenal of sounds including chanting, whistling, whispering, shouting, gongs, maracas, and water-tuned crystal goblets.
New program: Chicago Human Rhythm Project: Triple bill with
Barbatuques, Ted Levy, and BAM!
Friday-Sunday, May 29-31, $35
Brazilian body percussionists Barbatuques create a visual and aural spectacle by combining Afro-Brazilian chants, stomping, shuffling, body drumming, and other vocal and movement techniques. Founded by musician Fernando Barba, this 14-person body band is joined in this double-bill performance by premier, award-winning tap-dance artist Ted Levy, and Chicago Human Rhythm Projects performance ensemble BAM!, comprising Chicagos finest tap artists.
International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE): Xenakis
Thursday, June 4, $25
The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) pairs up with worldrenowned percussionist/conductor Steven Schick to perform the large ensemble works of Iannis Xenakis, one of the most important, innovative, modernist composers of the 20th century. The demanding works of Xenakis, beloved by philosophy scholars, architects, contemporary music aficionados, and indie rockers alike, are known to the public largely through recording. Live performances of these works are rare, and the performances by ICE of all five major works -- Psappha, Echange, Akanthos, Palimspsete, and O-Mega -- are almost unheard of in the US.