May 8, 2020

Downtown Variety: Take 8

La MaMa and CultureHub Present
Downtown Variety
Powered by LIVE Lab

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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:
H0t Club, John Maria Gutierrez, Paul Lazar, Dan Safer & Abigail Browde,
Laura Sofía Pérez
and Chris Ryan Williams
with video art by Mengwen Cao

Hosted by Mattie Barber-Bockelman


Creative Technologist — Sangmin Chae
Lead Technician — DeAndra Anthony
Video Production Coordinator — Jean Garcia


CultureHub is a global art and technology community that was born out of decades of collaboration between La MaMa and the Seoul Institute of the Arts, Korea’s first contemporary performing arts school. These two pioneering institutions sought to explore how the internet and digital technologies could foster a more sustainable model for international exchange and creativity.

Now in its 10th year, CultureHub has grown into a global network with studios in New York, Los Angeles, Korea, Indonesia, and Italy, providing connected environments for artists to critically examine our evolving relationship to technology. Through residencies, live productions, and educational programming, CultureHub advances the work of artists experimenting with emerging technologies in search of new artistic forms. CultureHub builds new partnerships that expand our network and provide increased access to online and offline platforms that fuel artist mobility, create opportunities for cultural exchange, and broaden human understanding through the convergence of art, technology, and education.

Click Here to Learn More About CultureHub

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.

Click Here to Learn More About Live Lab

Headshot of Mengwen Cao

Born and raised in China, Mengwen Cao is a photographer, artist and culture organizer currently based in New York. Influenced by their Chinese queer immigrant identity, they investigate the liminal in-between space of race, gender and cultural identity with a tender gaze. Their projects have been featured in publications like The New York Times, The New Yorker, NPR, The Guardian, Vox, the Atlantic, Tencent. They have participated in international exhibitions like Photoville, Jimei Arles, Lianzhou Foto Festival. They graduated from the New Media Narratives and Documentary Practice program at the International Center of Photography in 2017. They were recognized by 2018 Lit List and 2019 PDN 30 new and emerging photographers to watch. They received NLGJA’s Excellence in Photojournalism Award in 2019. They are currently the project manager at Magnum Foundation, a non-profit organization expanding creativity and diversity in documentary practice. Previously, they have worked as an instructional designer and a UX designer. They are one of the board members of Authority Collective and a founding member of Chinese Storytellers.

Headshot of hot club

h0t club is an intermedia performance group (a band) based in RI + NYC, made up of composer/percussionist Martim Galvão, director/frontwoman Kate Bergstrom, poet/technologist Todd Anderson and visualist/guitarist Alexander DuPuis.. We make our technology visible in beats and tracks focused on the attention-based economy, gender identity and the psychedelia of consumerism. After meeting at Brown, our work has been featured at Ars Nova, The Culture Project, JACK, Babycastles, Culture Hub, Granoff Center for the Arts, foldA festival + HowlRound Theatre Commons (Kingston, Canada), Opera San Diego, AS220 and more. More at

headshot of john maria gutierrez

John Maria Gutierrez is a multidisciplinary artist, creator, and performer originally from Washington Heights, NY. Since finishing his BFA in Drama from NYU Tisch, John has ventured into various worlds of performance, working with directors and choreographers from around the world – recent credits include The Trojan Women at La Mama dir. Andrei Serban, performing internationally with Miguel Gutierrez (This Bridge Called My A$$, Sadonna), MOTUS (PANORAMA), and Pilobolus. He is a graduate of the Terry Knickerbocker Studio and faculty at Peridance Contemporary Dance Center. John is a proud member of the Great Jones Rep Company of La Mama and G^2, an ongoing collaboration with Beth Graczyk which recently presented work at Judson Church and the Shanghai Tower in China.

headshot of paul lazar

Paul Lazar is a founding member, along with Annie-B Parson, of Big Dance Theater. He has co-directed and acted in works for Big Dance since 1991, including commissions from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Walker Art Center, Dance Theater Workshop, Classic Stage Company and Japan Society. Paul’s one person performance, Cage Shuffle, premiered at the American Realness Festival in 2017 and continues to tour the U.S. and Europe. Paul directed Christina Masciotti’s Social Security at the Bushwick Starr in 2015, Elephant Room at St. Ann’s Warehouse for the company Rainpan 43 in 2012, and Young Jean Lee’s Obie Award winning, We’re Gonna Die in 2011. He directed a new version of We’re Gonna Die in 2015, featuring David Byrne, at the Meltdown Festival in London. He also directed Bodycast: An Artist Lecture by Suzanne Bocanegra starring Frances McDormand for the 2014 BAM Next Wave Festival; and Major Bang for The Foundry Theatre at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Paul has acted in over 40 feature films, including Snowpiercer, The Host, Mickey Blue Eyes, Silence of the Lambs, Beloved, Lorenzo’s Oil and Philadelphia. Paul has performed with The Wooster Group, acting in Brace Up!, Emperor Jones, North Atlantic and The Hairy Ape. Other stage acting credits include Tamburlaine at Theatre For A New Audience, Young Jean Lee’s Lear, The Three Sisters at Classic Stage Company, Richard Maxwell’s Cowboys and Indians at Soho Rep, Richard III at Classic Stage Company, Svejk at Theatre for a New Audience, Irene Fornes’ Mud at the Signature Theater, and Mac Wellman’s 1965 UU. Awards include two Bessies (2010, 2002), the Jacob’s Pillow Creativity Award in 2007, and the Prelude Festival’s Frankie Award in 2014, as well an Obie Award for Big Dance in 2000. Paul currently teaches at New York University. He taught in the Theatre, Dance and Media Department at Harvard University (Spring 2018). He has also taught at Yale, Rutgers, Barnard, The William Esper Studio and The Michael Howard Studio. Photo Credit: Michelle Smith – Lewis

headshot of Laura Sofía Pérez

Laura Sofía Pérez is an interdisciplinary artist who works in video, installation, performance, and sound. She received her MFA in Film/Video from California Institute of the Arts. Exhibitions include “WAVEFORM” (Curated by CultureHub LA), Shatto Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2019), “No Limits Within,” California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles, CA (2017), “Homeless,” Miami, FL (2017), “Without a Song,” Fundación ACE, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2014), and “WIMMIN,” Glasshouse, Brooklyn, NY (2013). Residencies include SUB30 artist in residence at Fundación ACE, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2014), La Práctica at Beta-Local, San Juan, Puerto Rico (2019), and BAiR Emerging at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Banff, Canada (2020).

headshot of dan safer

Dan Safer has directed and choreographed every WR show. He also choreographed and co-directed the acclaimed UBU SINGS UBU with Tony Torn and Julie Atlas Muz (Abrons, Slipper Room, American Rep, BB King’s, Highline Ballroom) and his work as an independent choreographer has been at BAM, DTW, Danspace, and other venues, with acclaimed companies like Pig Iron, Clubbed Thumb, Hoi Polloi, and more., and in films and music videos. In 2011, he choreographed Stravinsky’s RITE OF SPRING for Philadelphia Orchestra with Ridge Theater, and was a 2007 recipient of the Six Points Fellowship (Performance). He taught at NYU for nearly two decades and is now faculty at MIT. He got kicked out of high school for a year, used to be a go-go dancer, and once choreographed the Queen of Thailand’s Birthday Party.

headshot of chris williams

Chris Williams (b. 1990) is a NYC based composer/improviser focused on building community across multiple disciplines with live performances involving immersive music and interactive technologies. His ensemble work explores the edges of avant-garde jazz and experimental music while his solo project blends electronics and spoken word drawing on current studies of critical theory and Black aesthetics.

Downtown Variety


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.

Online Happenings


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.

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