Los Angeles, October 27--The Center for New Performance (CNP) at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) will present a developmental production of Smoke, Lilies, and Jade, written by Carl Hancock Rux , directed by Nataki Garrett  and choreographed by Colin Connor . Set during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, Smoke, Lilies, and Jade will be performed at CalArts in Ensemble Theatre II, E 400, 24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia CA, 91355. Performance dates are Thursday-Saturday, November 6-8, and Tuesday-Saturday, November 11-15, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets can be reserved online at Eventbrite.com  by requesting the Smoke, Lilies, and Jade entry.
Smoke, Lilies, and Jade joins the distinguished roster of projects developed by CNP, including What to Wear, a post-modern rock opera written and directed by Richard Foreman, with music by Michael Gordon; Macbeth, a radical reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, directed by CNP Artistic Director Travis Preston and performed by Stephen Dillane, which opened to glowing reviews in Los Angeles, London, Sydney and Adelaide; and September 11, 2001, which premiered at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArt Theater) and toured to Dijon, Montpellier and Théâtre de la Colline in Paris, France.
Originating in New York City’s Harlem during the 1920s, the Harlem Renaissance was an African American cultural movement in which literature, art and music experienced extraordinary revitalization and growth. The movement attracted significant attention nationally and marked the first time that African American literature achieved critical acclaim and a broader audience. The careers of such artists as Langston Hughes, Claude Mckay, Jackie Mabley, Bessie Smith and Duke Ellington all flourished during the Harlem Renaissance.
A densely rich poetic landscape, Rux’s play is inspired by the life and work of Richard Bruce Nugent. Nugent outlived all of his famous contemporaries. His evanescent memories form the basis of Smoke, Lilies, and Jade.
Carl Hancock Rux’s plays and performance works for theater have been produced at venues including in New York at The Joseph Papp Public Theater, the Robert E. Fischer Center for the Performing Arts, PS 122, the Kitchen, HERE Arts Center, New Victory Theater, Lincoln Center, Aaron Davis Hall, Harlem Stage, the BAM Harvey Theater (Next Wave Festival), as well as at REDCAT, Mass MOCA (North Adams, Massachusetts) the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas (Seattle, Washington), Theater X (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), University of Ghana at Legon (West Africa), Ebenezor Experimental Theater Festival (Lulea, Sweden), Maison des Arts (Creteil, France) and the Victoria Theater (Singapore) among others. Rux is the recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts Prize, the Bessie Schomburg Award, the National Endowment for the Arts Playwright in Residence fellowship, NEA Leadership Initiatives, NYFA prize, the Rockefeller Map grant, a Creative Capital artist grant and the New York Foundation for the Arts Gregory Millard fellowship, and was shortlisted for the United Artist Fellowship. He is the author of the Village Voice Literary prize winning collection of poetry Pagan Operetta, the novel Asphalt (Simon & Schuster) and the OBIE award winning play Talk (TCG). He is Head of the Writing for Performance Program at CalArts.
Director Nataki Garrett is the co-Artistic Director of BLANK-THE-DOG PRODUCTIONS (BTD), a Los Angeles/New York based ensemble theater company. Recipient of the NEA/TCG Career Development Program 2005-2007, Garrett was recently nominated for the United States Artists Fellowship. As the associate producer for ETI! East Africa Speaks at Dartmouth, Garrett facilitated workshop productions of work by 11 East African artists and was on the advisory and reading committee for Sundance Theatre Lab/East Africa this year. In 2007, she was invited to co-curate REDCAT’s fall and spring STUDIO. Recent productions include Suction, an opera with libretto by Douglas Kearney and music composed by Anne LeBaron, performed at the REDCAT N.O.W. FEST; Strom Thurmond is Not a Racist (BTD Production/West Coast premiere) by Thomas Bradshaw; Las Meninas by Lynn Nottage; Week #29 of 365 Plays/Days by Suzan-Lori Parks; Life’s a Dream (NYU); Coffee Will Make You Black (Celebration Theatre/West Coast Premiere); Wet: an Opera (REDCAT/World Premiere), libretto by Terese Svoboda, music composed by Anne LeBaron; Fiction (CNP/World Premiere) by Stew; Couples Counseling (World Premiere at REDCAT); several productions at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and for L.A. Theatre Works audio theatre collection and for NPR, recorded live at the Skirball Cultural Arts Center. Garrett teaches acting and is the Performance Program Coordinator at CalArts School of Theater where she received her MFA in directing.
Choreographer Colin Connor is an English and Canadian choreographer. The core of his performing career was his eight years as a soloist with the Limón Dance Company. His body of choreographic work includes over 40 commissions that span the worlds of contemporary, ballet and flamenco. As an educator, Connor has been on the faculties of The Juilliard School, New York University and City College of New York. He has been full-time faculty at California Institute of the Arts for six years.
Three guest artists join the 13-member company:
Mary Lou Rosato most recently appeared in New York in the Lincoln Center Festival production of My Life as a Fairy Tale, which was also performed at the Aarhus Festival in Denmark. Recent Southern California credits include The Clean House at the South Coast Repertory and The Peach Blossom Fan at REDCAT. She played the Earl of Kent in the Center for New Performance at CalArts’ production of King Lear--both in its world premiere at the Brewery in Los Angeles in 2002 and in its subsequent production in France at the Frictions Festival, sponsored by Théâtre Dijon Bourgogne. She has appeared on and off Broadway numerous times and in every major regional theater in the country, including the Mark Taper Forum, Yale Repertory, the Guthrie, the American Repertory Theater, the Shakespeare Theater, Seattle Repertory, the McCarter, the Globe in San Diego and the Williamstown Theater Festival. Her directing credits include an Off-Broadway production of Beaux’ Stratagem at the Pearl Theatre, her own adaptation of Henry V for The Acting Company and As You Like It in spring 2008 with Juilliard’s third-year actors.
Gina Belafonte (Mother) is an actress, director and producer as well as the Director of Global Development and partner of Real Wild Foods. Gina is an activist for social change and serves as the development consultant and senior adviser to The Gathering for Justice, the Project and Development Director of USA for Africa/We Are The World and a board member of the acclaimed theater company The Actors’ Gang. Her theatre credits include King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Taming of the Shrew, The Dinner Guest, Madwoman Of Chaillot, American Dreams and The Café. Her film and television credits include Kansas City, Bright Lights Big City, Tokyo Pop, The Commish, All My Children, The Ed Begley Jr. Show, Dear John, Booker and Friends.
Andrew Ableson (Carl) began his career on the London stage in sell-out productions of The Ecstasy, Bent and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe Theatre. After two seasons on the UK sitcom Second Thoughts and many commercial appearances, Ableson relocated to the US. His multiple film and television credits include The Polar Express, The Shield, Will & Grace, Joan of Arcadia, and Las Vegas. West Coast stage credits include multi-award winning premieres of Mark Ravenhills’s Shopping & F***ing; Austin Pendleton’s Pulitzer-nominated Orson’s Shadow, playing acclaimed theatre critic Kenneth Tynan; and both West and East Coast premieres of the terrorist operetta The Beastly Bombing. His many voice credits include the evil Valmont in The Jackie Chan Adventures, as well Get Smart and Lost.
The Center for New Performance at CalArts (CNP), the professional producing arm of California Institute of the Arts, was established in 1999 as a forum for the creation of work that expands the language, discourse, and boundaries of contemporary theater. The Center supports a producing model that is artist-and-project-specific, giving priority to performance that cannot be easily produced in other circumstances.
In addition to Smoke, Lilies, and Jade, recent CNP projects have included What to Wear, a new post-rock opera, directed and designed by Richard Foreman and composed by Michael Gordon, described by the Los Angeles Times as "theater that you discover while you look, listen and wonder;" Vineland Stelae, a full-length structured improvisation for 30 musicians, created and composed by Sandeep Bhagwati; Marissa Chibas' Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary, which premiered at REDCAT and toured to New York last spring and will travel to Miami this November; 11 September, 2001 by Michel Vinaver, which premiered in Los Angeles prior to a three-city tour of France; and Macbeth, a radical reinterpretation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, directed by Artistic Director Travis Preston and performed by Stephen Dillane, which has been performed to glowing reviews in Los Angeles, London, Sydney and Adelaide. Future CNP projects include Storytellers, a co-production with Centre 104 in Paris.
CNP is headed by Travis Preston, artistic director; Carol Bixler, producing director; Leslie Tamaribuchi, managing director; Erik Ehn, dean of the School of Theater; Stephan Koplowitz, dean of the School of Dance; and David Rosenboom, dean of the School of Music.
California Institute of the Arts, the first U.S. higher educational institution to integrate the visual and performing arts under one roof, is recognized as the nation's leading laboratory for the arts. Housing six schools--Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater-- CalArts embraces creative cross-pollination among diverse art forms and traditions and strongly encourages each artist to pursue his or her vision within a broad context of social and cultural understanding.