La MaMa and CultureHub are teaming up to create Downtown Variety, a weekly online live performance series that will feature short acts of dance, music, theater, new media, comedy, A/V performance, and more. Responding to calls for social isolation, Downtown Variety brings La MaMa's 1960s café aesthetic to a virtual platform that links performers and audiences in real time across distance. La MaMa and CultureHub will use emerging technologies to create a new venue for artistic expression that questions how art can function and how we as a society can survive challenging periods of history.
Artists for this weekend:
Rena Anakwe, Daniel Koren, John Kelly
Chris Ignacio, Object Collection, Starr Busby, Kim Savarino
Susana Cook with Timo Hughes and music by Julian Mesri
Video art by Kameron Neal
Original music composed by John King
ABOUT CULTUREHUB & LIVE LAB
CultureHub was founded in 2009 in partnership with the Seoul Institute of the Arts in Korea and La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York City to serve the global arts and technology community by offering services such as livestreaming, telepresence, and video and projection design. We connect artists from diverse disciplines and cultures and provide them with environments in which to collaborate, experiment, explore and advance the work of artists experimenting with emerging technologies and fostering new artistic forms.
CultureHub is deeply committed to the use of open source and consumer-based technology to make electronic media art accessible to artists and audiences. In the past year, CultureHub collaborated with resident artist Olivia Jack to produce LiveLab, an open source video call software designed specifically for artists, educators, and cultural organizations. The LiveLab toolkit provides a flexible and artful environment for producing multi-location performances, workshops, and cultural exchanges. Built as an alternative to hardware video conferencing systems, LiveLab is customizable, free of cost, and as easy to use as Skype or Google Hangouts.
Rena Anakwe is an interdisciplinary artist and performer working primarily with sound, visuals, and scent. Exploring intersections between traditional healing practices, spirituality and performance, she creates works focused on sensory-based, experiential interactions using creative technology. Currently, Rena is a 2020-21 Abrons Arts Center Performance AIRSPACE Resident. She was a 2019 ISSUE Project Room Artist-in-Residence, a 2019 Abrons Arts Center (AAC) Sound Series commissioned artist, a 2018 Signal Culture Artist-in-Residence and has collaborated, produced and shown audio/visual/scent work at venues including: Knockdown Center (NYC), Lincoln Center (NYC), BAMcafé (NYC), MoMA PS1 (NYC), CultureHub (NYC), Pioneer Works (NYC), and Montez Press Radio (NYC). Rena is based in Brooklyn, New York by way of Nigeria and Canada.
Starr Busby is an experimental avant-garde artist. You may have seen Starr playing solo shows with their loop station, Francis, or fronting Brooklyn based experimental soul band People’s Champs. Starr has also supported artists such as The Gorillaz, Esperanza Spalding, X Ambassadors, Kimbra, and Alice Smith. Selected appearances include Moby Dick (American Repertory Theatre; Starbuck); Octet (Signature Theatre; Paula); Where Love Lies Fallow (The Shed; Nia 1); Decameron (Studio 153); Apollo Cafe Live: Soul Cypher; #BlackGirlMagic Show (Jack; composer/performer); Mikrokosmos (Steirischer Herbst, Graz and Nottingham Contemporary); The Girl with the Incredible Feeling (Spoleto Festival di Mondi) as well as various concerts and solo shows. Starr also enjoys working as an arts educator through Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project. She is looking forward to her compositional debut via the world premiere of nicHi Douglas’s (pray) at Ars Nova and completing an EP to be released this year. Their music is available via all streaming services and Bandcamp.
Susana Cook is an Argentinean-born New York-based experimental performance artist who has been writing and producing original work for over 20 years. An iconic figure of the East Village art scene from the mid 1990’s to the present, she has presented over 17 original plays at Dixon Place, P.S. 122, W.O.W Cafe Theater, Ubu Rep and The Kitchen, among others. Her ensemble plays and monologues irreverently, boldly and cleverly tackle racism, homophobia, classism, and animal rights. Susana’s shows combine her long experience in political theater, experimental performance with cabaret elements, thus creating a funny, smart and often cathartic theatrical experience.
She writes, directs and performs in her hilariously surrealistic spectacles with her constantly evolving company. Her casts are mostly comprised of minority, queer and trans peoples. Some of her most memorable pieces are “Run! It’s Getting Ugly!”, “The Funeral of the Cow”, “The Homophobes. A Clown Show”, “100 Years of Attitude”, “Dykenstein: Sex, Horror and the Tragedy of the Straight Brain”, and the unforgettable and beloved classic, “Tango Lesbiango”.
Timo Hughes is a lifelong educator. Mindful schools instructor. Dog walker.
Chris Ignacio is a Filipino-American performer, producer and educator. He has toured nationally and abroad since graduating from The Boston Conservatory at Berklee. He is a Culture Push Fellow for Utopian Practice, and Queens Council on the Arts: Community Engagement Commissioning grantee for his self-produced project Co-written, which involves collaborative songwriting with young people of color.
Chris recently produced the NYT Critic’s Pick TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever at JACK. Previously he served as Associate Producer for the Obie Award winning Ma-Yi Theater (KPOP, Teenage Dick). He currently works and performs at La MaMa ETC in the East Village alongside resident theatre artists and puppeteers at La MaMa, such as Theodora Skipitares, Loco7 Dance Puppet Theatre, and Yara Arts Group. He has sung at Lincoln Center, Joe’s Pub, and National Sawdust, and is currently developing a song series anchored around his experience of folk music as a child of Filipino immigrants.
John Kelly is a performance and visual artist. His character-driven dance theatre works focus on the personal and public struggles encountered by artists and social outsiders. ‘Underneath The Skin’, an ensemble dance theatre work based on the life of gay novelist and tattoo artist Samuel Steward (1909-1993), recently premiered at The Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, and will have a 3 week run at LaMaMa in the spring of 2021. Other works have premiered at the BAM Next Wave Festival, Danspace Project, The Joyce Theatre, Lincoln Center, The Kitchen, La MaMa, and New York Live Arts. Kelly’s visual artwork involves self-portraiture, including drawing and painting, photography and video; 2 of his films ‘The Dagmar Onassis Story’ and ‘The Mona Lisa’, are in the permanent collection of MOMA. His recent solo exhibition ‘Sideways Into The Shadows’ at (at Howl! Happening) included 54 hand drawn memorial portraits of friends and lovers lost to the AIDS epidemic. His works have received a 2018 NEA Dance Grant, 2 NEA American Masterpieces Awards, 2 Bessie Awards; 2 Obie Awards; a CalArts Alpert Award, and fellowships from The American Academy in Rome, The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, The Guggenheim Foundation, and The Sundance Theatre Institute. As a vocalist he recently made his debut at MET Live Arts, and at Café Sabarsky in the Neue Galerie.
Daniel Koren ,born in Tel-Aviv, Israel, is an Emmy Nominated Comedian/Composer based in Brooklyn NY. His innovative musical-comedy work with the Koren Ensemble, gained excessive popularity and received more than a million views on YouTube. Koren sold an original a comedy shows to Comedy Central, Starz, and TruTV, and his live musical comedy show “The Most Important Thing” has toured internationally.
Kameron Neal is a video artist, designer, and performance-maker. Forbes describes his work as “an absurd escape that simultaneously provokes and entertains.” He is currently a resident artist at CultureHub, The Public Theater’s Devised Theater Working Group and Bemis Center. He was recently in residence at Ars Nova’s Makers Lab with Shayok Misha Chowdhury. Kameron’s work has also been seen or developed at BAM, New York Theatre Workshop, Soho Rep, Signature Theatre, Detroit Art Week, Vox Populi, New Orleans Film Festival, Digital Graffiti Festival, Blue Balls Festival, National Geographic, Williams College Museum of Art and RISD Museum. kameronneal.com
Object Collection was founded in 2004 by writer/director Kara Feely and composer/musician Travis Just. Based in Brooklyn, the group operates within the intersecting practices of performance, experimental music and theater.
We are concerned with simultaneity, complexity, and radicality, combining dense layers of text, notation, objects and processes. We work to give audiences unconventional viewing experiences through our merging of theatricality and pedestrian activity. Our works upset habitual notions of time, pace, progression and virtuosity. We value accumulation above cohesion.Object Collection has premiered six original operas since 2009. Our work has toured to Norway, Denmark, UK, Japan, Canada, Italy and nationally in the US. Object Collection’s pieces have appeared in New York at La MaMa, Performance Space 122, Ontological Theater at St. Mark’s Church, National Sawdust, Chocolate Factory Theater, Abrons Arts Center, Invisible Dog Art Center, Roulette and Issue Project Room, among others. Albums have been released on Slip Imprint, Infrequent Seams, and khalija. Object Collection has received extended profiles in Frieze Magazine, Pitchfork, The Guardian, The Wire, BOMB, and on BBC Radio. www.objectcollection.us
Kim Savarino is a choreographer and performer. Her choreography has been supported and presented by MANCC’s Forward Dialogues Lab, Arts@Renaissance, Davis & Elkins College, and the WV Dance Festival. Kim joined Third Rail Projects in 2014 and performs in their off-Broadway immersive hit Then She Fell. As a dancer, she has worked with artists including Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker/ROSAS, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Romeo Castellucci, Alex Ketley/The Foundry, and GREYZONE, and recently performed as Cassandra and the Weaver in Andrei Serban’s 2019 revival of The Trojan Women with La MaMa’s Great Jones Repertory Company. She co-organizes an ongoing gathering of Asian diaspora activists, artists, and advocates and is currently contributing to a growing database of artist funding in response to COVID-19 at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1fFyKzxtzSFGzzvpRySJNtsVbjJhwnK7-N9KJxSHrW6w/edit?ts=5e753bfa#gid=0
La MaMa and CultureHub are teaming up to create a Downtown Variety, a weekly online live performance series that will feature short acts of dance, music, theater, new media, comedy, A/V performance, and more. Responding to calls for social isolation, Downtown Variety brings La MaMa's 1960s café aesthetic to a virtual platform that links performers and audiences in real time across distance.
Presented by La MaMa and CultureHub, La MaMa is exploring ways to respond creatively to a situation that is potentially changing how we gather as a community in our theatres. La MaMa is working with CultureHub to provide online streaming of select productions and events on Howlround Theatre Commons.