CalArts Kicks Off Adrienne Kennedy Festival With FUNNYHOUSE OF A NEGRO Tonight, 12/9

California Institute of the Arts' (CalArts) School of Theater begins its yearlong celebration of the works of Adrienne Kennedy with Funnyhouse of a Negro. Funnyhouse of a Negro, directed by Michael John Garcés, explores the mind of Sarah, a young black woman in the 1960s who is experiencing a breakdown. Sarah's struggle with her identity causes her to create several other selves that include Queen Victoria, the Duchess of Hapsburg, Jesus and Patrice Lumumba. Funnyhouse runs Wednesday-Tuesday, December 9-15, 2009 at 8 PM nightly in CalArts Ensemble Theater 400, 24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia CA, 91355. Ticket reservations can be made online at

The CalArts School of Theater is highlighting the works of playwright, poet and essayist Adrienne Kennedy during its 2009-2010 season with the study and presentation of three of her groundbreaking pieces. In addition to Kennedy's acclaimed Funnyhouse of a Negro, written in 1969, the School of Theater will also present the rarely performed Sun: A Poem for Malcolm X Inspired by His Murder and June and Jean in Concert. All performances will be held in performance spaces on the CalArts campus.

Kennedy's work will be a touchstone for students and faculty throughout the year. Her stage work, hauntingly fragmentary, includes nonlinear lyrical dramas and surrealistic dream plays; its experimental nature is uniquely matched to CalArts' mission. Her writing has inspired feminist and black writing domestically and around the world.

Adrienne Kennedy's plays were first produced in the 1960s. She has been commissioned to write plays for the Public Theater, The Royal Court, the Mark Taper Forum, Julliard, and director-choreographer Jerome Robbins. Kennedy has been a visiting lecturer at many universities, including Yale, Princeton, Brown, New York University, the University of California at Berkeley, and Harvard and received an honorary doctorate from Ohio State University in 2003. Her plays have been widely anthologized and performed around the world. Her multiple awards include the American Academy of Arts and Letters literary award, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund Writers' Award, the Pierre LeComte duNouy Foundation Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Book Award, the PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Award for Drama and three Obies.

Michael John Garcés is the Artistic Director of Cornerstone Theater Company based in Los Angeles. In his initial season as Artistic Director, Michael wrote the first play of Cornerstone's Justice Cycle, Los Illegals, which was subsequently produced in Phoenix, Arizona by Teatro Bravo. Other directing credits include, most recently, the break/s by Marc Bamuthi Joseph which co-premiered at the Humana Festival (Actors Theatre of Louisville) and the Walker Art Center and was recently presented at REDCAT. Theatres at which he has directed include New York Theatre Workshop, The Children's Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, Second Stage, Florida Stage, Yale Repertory Theatre, The Cherry Lane, The Atlantic Theater Company, Repertorio Español and The Huntington Theatre. He has twice been in residence with a consensus-run collective, Sna Jtz'ibajom, in the highlands of Chiapas Mexico, collaborating in the creation of community-engaged work with the members of the Mayan community. Michael is on the executive board of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and he is a resident playwright at New Dramatists.

For more information about the Adrienne Kennedy works presented by the CalArts School of Theater, please visit

CalArts is recognized internationally as a leading laboratory for the visual, performing, media and literary arts. Housing six schools--Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater--CalArts educates professional artists in an intensive learning environment founded on artmaking excellence, creative experimentation, cross-pollination among diverse artistic disciplines, and a broad context of social and cultural understanding. CalArts also operates the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles.

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