The annual Common Ground Festival opens June 23 on the campus of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), with a diverse offering of theatrical works-in-progress, classes and lectures. The festival runs through June 28.
Among the works in progress:
The Akhmatova Project sends audiences to the bohemian circles of Stalin's Russia, where writing is subversive and people commit poetry to memory. The piece with music is directed by Nancy Keystone. 7 PM June 23 and 6 PM June 28. Chris Wells, one of the keynote actors of Los Angeles experimental theatre, hands over Liberty, a solo act combining agitprop cabaret, drag show and "travelogue of the American Dream." 4 PM June 23 and 4 PM June 28.
Fingered comically skewers Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour "under the post-modern knife." Directed by Steven Cosson. 7 PM June 24 and 9 PM June 26.
The Johnson/Long Dance Company illustrates Atlas of the Universe. Performing beneath a film loop of the blue Texas sky, four players prepare for a mysterious trip. 9 PM June 24 and 7 PM June 27.
Rachel Rosenthal Company takes on The Unexpurgated Virgin. L.A.'s enduring and legendary performance artist and her ensemble join forces with sonic innovator Amy Knoles of the California EAR Unit. A look at America's longing "for pure women and virgin forests and our obsessive need to defile." 7 PM June 25.
Other Voices presents Helen & Frida. "Helen Keller & Frida Kahlo step out of history and into each other's arms." The wheelchair dance of choreographer Naomi Goldberg, spinning out Anne Finger's award-winning story, "explores the intersection of disability and sexuality." A collaborative work from the Mark Taper Forum's Other Voices Project. 9 PM June 25 and 7 PM June 26.
Mariachi Quixote by Jose Cruz Gonzales. Don Quezada and La Sanchi, his guitar-slinging amiga, are joined by a live mariachi band on a search through the enchanted streets of L.A. for the mythical Mariachi Square. 8 PM June 26 and June 27; 7 PM June 28.
John Fleck dishes Dirt. The well-known L.A. performer explores mayhem and identity meltdown. 9 PM June 28.
Also included is a playwriting lab by veteran playwright Maria Irene Fornes, June 23 to June 26, by application only..
A theatre fair will fill the market square, as playhouses and companies answer questions and hand out fliers. 3 PM June 28.
All events are free. Reservations are required. Enrollment in the labs is very limited. All unclaimed reservations will be released 15 minutes prior to curtain. Call (310) 478-9ASK for information and reservations.
-- By Michael Farkash
Southern California Correspondent