The Broad Stage Announces Five Artistic Partnerships Creating Newly Commissioned Works

The commissioned works and artistic partners include Rachel Chavkin, Zhailon Levingston, Lilian Blaine Cruz and more.

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The Broad Stage, led by Artistic & Executive Director Rob Bailis, has announced a new chapter in its artistic future - as a commissioner and producer of new work - centered around dynamic partnerships with a diverse mix of performers, directors, choreographers, composers, librettists, and arts venues - in the 2021-2022 through 2023-2024 seasons, with exact production dates to be announced. The Broad Stage is the performing arts presenting partner of Santa Monica College.

Bailis said, "The Broad Stage is honored to announce our first creative cohort, with works that anchor our first wave of new programming. During the pandemic at The Broad Stage, we offered ourselves the opportunity to ask what we dreamed of manifesting but were always too busy to attempt. It is thrilling to share the projects we've been quietly nurturing with a range of creators and performers, and the new creative partnerships we've built with co-commissioning producers and arts presenters from across the nation, all to enable artists to present new work for a new era. We anticipate a burst of excitement and joy from all of this activity."

The commissioned works and artistic partners include:

• Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside), a musical feast for the soul exploring intimacy between white and Black people amid lasting anti-Black racism by the TEAM, co-directed by Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown) and Zhailon Levingston (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical)

• Iphigenia, Greek myth and opera itself are re-imagined to raise up social justice for a modern time, by Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding, and directed by Lilian Blaine Cruz with sets by architect Frank Gehry

• Universal Child Care, part concert, part play this multinational cast explores family and cultural norms of childcare, by Quote Unquote Collective's co-artistic directors Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava

• Being Future Being, First Nation creation myths inspire a new path toward community stewardship of our lands, from award-winning choreographer and Catalyst Dance artistic director Emily Johnson

• Yemandja, the African Goddess of the Sea inspires this theatricalization about love, injustice and free will, from Beninoise superstar Angélique Kidjo with visuals by artist Kerry James Marshall

Partnering organizations over the five projects include ArtsEmerson (Boston); a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project supported by Bunnell Street Arts Center (AK); Cal Performances at University of California, Berkeley; Carolina Performing Arts (Chapel Hill, NC); Ruth and Stephen Hendel; The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, DC); MASS MoCA (North Adams, MA); New York Live Arts (NY); THE OFFICE performing arts + film; Portland Institute for Contemporary Arts (OR); Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland; Ryan Rilette, Artistic Director, Ed Zakreski, Managing Director; and Why Not Theatre (Toronto, CAN).

In support of each project, The Broad Stage launches REVEAL, (mostly) digital artist residencies with public programming beginning May 6, 2021, which gets to the heart of the five commissions and charts the journey from idea to fully staged work. Audiences will be connected to this array of groundbreaking artists, their ideas and transformational practices through exclusive footage, demonstrations, discussions, performances and more.

Following each broadcast, REVEAL programs will be available on demand for the foreseeable future at

Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, Superintendent & President of Santa Monica College said, "We are delighted to be associated with the presentation of this new work at The Broad Stage - a wonderful progression of the ideals we hold dear. The arts are crucial to the work of building a more just and equitable world - Santa Monica College's mission - and this new direction of championing diverse, world-class artists while also expanding The Broad Stage's audience is important to me as the CEO of Santa Monica College and also as a community member who values the power of the arts to build understanding and empathy"

The Broad Stage Board of Directors Co-Chairs Jennifer Diener and Anne Taubman said, "We are very happy to be entering a new phase of our vision, creating new works commissioned by The Broad Stage from a range of diverse creative artists, performance ensembles, and other exciting presenters to premiere here in Santa Monica. We hope these works will have not only a start and meaningful life here, but will also bring these artists and their works to the nation's and world's stages as well."

They continued, "When Santa Monica College and The Broad Stage engaged Rob Bailis, we believed that his two decades of organizational leadership, knowledge of contemporary work, relationships with leading artists, and track record for artistic integrity would be a tremendous asset to The Broad Stage and to the arts scene in Los Angeles in general. The works we are commissioning now are just the beginning of our partnerships with incredible artists whose work we intend to support over the developing arc of their careers."

Bailis said, "To create these new shows, we are thrilled to be joining with colleague organizations from across the county. As these works develop and premiere, we will announce new cohorts to follow."

"We have also continued to cultivate our arts presenter role. With any luck, we will soon share our hopeful plans for outdoor events this summer, and an in-theater season of theatre, dance, and music - popular, classical, operatic, jazz, blues, and world - once we are fully able to safely guarantee performance dates and align with post-pandemic re-opening protocols as will be mandated by the state of California, city of Santa Monica, and Santa Monica College."

"In the meantime we are launching REVEAL, an exciting series of digital residencies as a way for the public to participate in the creation of these new works. We want our audience to meet and come to know the artists personally, to embrace their creative processes, and gain insight into their body of work, whether they are already familiar or meeting for the first time. The digital streams we developed to stem the temporary loss of our live stages will remain powerful tools, even as we return to live work. Our REVEAL series not another stop gap but as a lasting platform to support live performance even after that great day comes when we can say the pandemic has passed."

REVEAL: Reconstruction, the first program in the series, will feature three episodes (May 6, 8 & 16, 2021) inviting audiences into the artistic process of the TEAM Ensemble and co-directors, Chavkin and Levingston. From the micro to the macro, these episodes will include a chance to meet the ensemble, learn how past work informs new work, witness a demonstration with the TEAM's Process Chaplain and see how she fosters an intimate working environment; and experience conversations and rehearsal footage with the creative team about Reconstruction, how the work is being developed and the larger themes the work explores.

REVEAL: Reconstruction is made possible, in part, by a generous gift from Susan Stockel.

About the five commissions:

Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside)

Created by Brenda Abbandandolo, Denée Benton, Jhanaë Bonnick, Vinie Burrows, Rachel Chavkin, Eisa Davis, André De Shields, JJJJJerome Ellis, Katherine Freer, Jill Frutkin, Amber Gray, Jeremy O. Harris, Matt Hubbs, Modesto "Flako" Jimenez, Marika Kent, Libby King, Ian Lassiter, Zhailon Levingston, Jake Margolin, James Harrison Monaco, Kristen Sieh, Nicholas Vaughan, and Jillian Walker

Reconstruction's Process Chaplain is Milta Vega-Cardona
Co-directed by Rachel Chavkin and Zhailon Levingston

Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside) is a new work with a live musical score, that is collaboratively written by Brooklyn's the TEAM - "theatrical excavators of American culture, American dreams, and the American psyche." (The Guardian) - Reconstruction asks if intimacy can and/or should exist between Black-identifying and white-identifying individuals in the historical and present-day context of a violently anti-Black United States. This athletic and emotional work shifts through time from the Reconstruction era to the present day, and forges a new language, steeped in music, silence, poetry, fraternities and sororities, water, and retched fashion. Reconstruction is co-directed by Tony Award winner Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown) and Zhailon Levingston (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical).


Music by Wayne Shorter
Libretto and Performed by Esperanza Spalding
Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz
Conducted by Clark Rundell
Set designed by Frank Gehry

Two of the most visionary and daring musical voices of our time - composer Wayne Shorter and librettist and performer Esperanza Spalding - step out of the script to present a contemporary world where race, gender and relationships are challenged in the name of change. Wayne Shorter, "generally acknowledged to be jazz's greatest living composer" (The New York Times) and Esperanza Spalding, "well over a decade into one of the most fruitful and strikingly original careers" (Rolling Stone) have created a modern operatic re-imagining of a powerful ancient story, featuring direction by Obie Award winner Lileana Blain-Cruz and conducted by Clark Rundell.

Through a classical & jazz core and a deeply poetic libretto, on a set designed by Frank Gehry, Iphigenia stares down the history of opera and makes some demands on its future: No more tragic women singing through suicide and going mad in perfect pitch. No more spectacles of women dead and dying. In the end Shorter and Spalding turn their gaze outward beyond the stage: What will we make, they ask, at this precise moment in our collective present when we are so desperately in need of new visions for the world.

spalding said, "Our Iphigenia has at its core a sense of autonomy - in this adventure of life, you have freedom of choice. All cards are on the table and Iphigenia gets to choose, free of everything. Through her example, we can learn how to take a creative approach to everything, using the power of spontaneous engagement. The overarching sentiment is one of humanistic love, of wanting to re-awaken the dreams of youth free of the pressures of adulthood."

Not an adaptation of the Greek myth as much as it is an intervention into myth-making itself, and an intervention into opera as we know it. Audiences will never experience the same show twice.

Universal Child Care

By Quote Unquote Collective
Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava, co-artistic directors

The sheer power and force of the unaccompanied human voice is on display in Universal Child Care, the newest work from Canadian multi-disciplinary performance company Quote Unquote Collective. Part concert, part theatre play (and self-consciously neither of these things), the ensemble screams about the lack of affordable child care and growing inequalities, while comparing different approaches to child care around the globe. This urgent social and political message ventures outside the boundaries of tradition and expectation, and features a nine-person choir, highly-stylized movement and songs delivered in multiple languages.

With a narrative about four couples from wealthy countries - Canada, USA, Denmark and Japan - and a childminder from Mexico who has left her children behind in order to take care of someone else's, Universal Child Care tells the stories of these individuals with a blend of full-on rock wailing, heart-wrenching solos, operatic duets, and nine-part vocal gymnastics.

Quote Unquote Collective aims to work outside the boundaries of tradition and expectation. Engaging with urgent social and political themes, the company is founded on the firm belief that art and performance are tools to provoke conversation and change. Defying conventions of style and form, the collective is built on the idea that individual ideas demand to be expressed through different forms, and should be expressed by whatever means necessary.

Co-founders Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava, who both have a strong background in physical theatre and music, have joined forces to produce work in a variety of genres and disciplines as a means to make new, experimental, and provocative performance work that ignites conversation within the community and the world at large.

Nostbakken and Sadava said, It's 2021. Men and women are not equal in Canada, mothers who are women of colour stand at the intersection of multiple injustices, the lack of affordable child-care remains a central roadblock to equality, and we're angry. It is still women who carry most of the burden of responsibility for child care. Without significant federal funding and policy change, multiple generations of women will continue to face inequality.

Quote Unquote Collective's first production Mouthpiece (2015) follows one woman for one day as she tries to find her voice. Interweaving a cappella harmony, dissonance, text and physicality, two performers express the inner conflict that exists within a modern woman's head: the push and the pull, the past and the present, the progress and the regression. Mouthpiece won multiple awards around the world, toured internationally, has been translated into French, Turkish, Romanian and Spanish, and been adapted into a feature film directed by Patricia Rozema. Their follow-up, Now You See Her, exploring the diverse ways women fade from sight in our culture, recently premiered in Toronto.

Universal Child Care is commissioned by The Broad Stage at Santa Monica College and is Co-Produced by Quote Unquote Collective and Why Not Theatre (Toronto, CA).

Being Future Being

by Emily Johnson
featuring a score by Raven Chacon

Behold a visual, aural and ancestral landscape of Indigenous power! Award-winning choreographer Emily Johnson has created an evening-length performance for the stage and beyond, featuring a newly commissioned score by Raven Chacon. Being Future Being conjures present joy, and asks audiences to consider new creation stories with the power to sustain a world that must begin again.

For Johnson, performance serves as an integral part of our connection to each other, our environment, our stories, our past, present and future, and this new project seeks to (re)build visions of the forces that brought this world into being, while ushering in new futures with the potential to reshape the way we relate to ourselves, and to the human and more-than-human cohabitants of our worlds.

With Being Future Being, the performance will be a starting point, one that asks audiences to join in a community process that flows from each presentation, out and into the world-actions brought to fruition with community stewardship.

Johnson said, "I view our bodies as everything: our bodies are culture, history, present and future, all at once. Out of respect for, and trust in, our bodies and collective memories, I give equal weight to story and image, to movement and stillness, to what I imagine and what I do not know."


Conceived by Angelique Kidjo, Jean Hebrail & Naïma Hebrail Kidjo
Book & Lyrics by Naïma Hebrail Kidjo
Music by Angelique Kidjo & Jean Hebrail
Developed with and Directed by Cheryl Lynn Bruce
Production Designer Kerry James Marshall
Music Director Darryl Archibald
Lighting Designer Kathy A. Perkins
Projections Designer Rasean Davonte Johnson
Costume Designer Mary Jane Marcasiano
Dramaturg Iyvon Edebiri
Starring Angelique Kidjo

Yemandja is a cohesive and expansive work of original theater both uniquely African with deep connections to the roots of African American culture. Inspired by her ancestors, her family, and Africa's resilience, singer and storyteller extraordinaire Angélique Kidjo conjures up a timely theatrical work that is at once a family drama and historical thriller, redolent of Greek tragedy and infused with themes of love.

Yemandja is conceived by three-time Grammy winner Kidjo, who last appeared at the Kennedy Center during the opening festival of THE REACH in 2019, and a stellar team of creative collaborators. Featuring a cast of eight performers and four musicians, this is a work of magical realism that illuminates what happens when people are robbed of their culture.

Kidjo said, "What I've been trying to do as an artist is create a bridge in between cultures. The culture I come from is so oral and so vivid, it comes with images that you cannot really express. I try to let people understand that there is Yemandja in every culture.",


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