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create / 2014

HOPSCOTCH: A MOBILE OPERA AND POP-UP SPACE

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by The Industry

HOPSCOTCH is an audacious operatic adventure that takes the audience on crisscrossing car journeys throughout LA.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

HOPSCOTCH is an audacious operatic adventure that takes the audience on crisscrossing car journeys throughout LA.

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA

What is your idea/project in more detail?

HOPSCOTCH is an audacious operatic adventure told through 18 car journeys. Audiences are taken on a ride to an unknown destination, with performers both inside the car and on the streets. LA-based composers and writers are creating a story to be experienced “on the move.” A larger audience experiences the work for free in a central hub, where the 18 journeys are live-streamed. Developed in collaboration with SCI-Arc, the hub will become a temporary cultural center, with concerts and dialogues throughout October 2015. The Industry’s last opera, INVISIBLE CITIES, was called “the opera of the future” by Wired Magazine and a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize. HOPSCOTCH takes the immersive “moving audience” experience to a new level.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

HOPSCOTCH is planned for October 2015, but the concept for the project has been in development since April of 2013. We are currently at the stage of securing partners to realize this work. The Industry is thrilled to work with the Southern California Institute for Architecture on the design of the central hub. SCI-Arc will host the hub as well, meaning the radius of the project in the city encompasses downtown, Chinatown, Boyle Heights, and other sites that offer a wide range of vistas and cityscapes. Alex McDowell’s 5D World-Building Studio is also collaborating on the media elements of the project: video and media inside the cars and projections both onto the street and inside the cars.

The process for creating the music and narrative material is a highly unusual experiment in collaborative creation that speaks to The Industry’s passion for new ways of telling stories. The work is being developed with five of LA’s most innovative composers: Andrew Norman, Andrew McIntosh, Veronika Krausas, Ellen Reid, and David Rosenboom. Each composer is working with director Yuval Sharon and a writer to create highly individual pieces that will create one master narrative. Creative partners are given freedom to devise experiences with driving in mind, but part of each piece must be able to fit inside a limousine - one singer and one instrumentalist, perhaps; one live singer and one video of a singer playing on the limousine’s television; two instrumentalists in the main cabin and the singer in the passenger seat; and endlessly on. This will create an unusually intimate experience for each audience member, and a different experience in each car. The timeline for creating the work goes through April of 2015.

In the coming months, The Industry will begin confirming its technology partners for the project—and of course a limousine partner! Sharon is also mapping out the geographic regions of the piece based on SCI-Arc as the hub. In the fall, we will secure the production team, and in February 2015 we will cast the singers, instrumentalists, actors, and dancers.

Starting in February 2015, our PR campaign will begin with MPRM, the firm who successfully secured prominent international press for INVISIBLE CITIES. Also, during INVISIBLE CITIES, The Industry partnered with KCET-TV’s ARTBOUND to document the project in an Emmy award-winning hour-long documentary. The Industry plans to develop a similar partnership for HOPSCOTCH.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CREATE today? In 2050?

The cultural scene we imagine in LA 2050 is a highly collaborative one, where the traditional boundaries that separate visual art, music, theater, film, and dance are broken down, and the conversation between the arts is fluid. The spirit of innovation, curiosity, and adventure that has always defined LA makes it the perfect candidate for the world’s next great center of creativity. We believe opera is an ideal catalyst for that transformation, as an inherently collaborative and multimedia art form. By creating ambitious large-scale collaborations with LA-based artists, The Industry’s projects have already worked to realize that vision in this city today, engaging and inspiring new audiences for the arts in general. HOPSCOTCH, will be our most ambitious celebration of the cooperative spirit of LA’s art-making future. It’s a project that is both “very LA” and an aspiration for what LA can still become.

The city itself is the “set” of this particular project, and viewing the city with fresh eyes is a central theme of HOPSCOTCH. This project began with a central aspect of LA life: driving. Cars have defined life in LA—for better and for worse. Using driving to create a communal experience that transcends isolated cars will offer audiences a new vision of what is possible in our city.

There’s nothing we take for granted as much as the city we live in, the evolving backdrops of our everyday lives. But the environment around us should be a constant source of the unexpected, full of surprise, inspiration, provocation. With HOPSCOTCH, we ask the audience to notice our streets in a vivid new way, seeking to transform our everyday view of the city. We hope to inspire Angelenos to fully embrace the entire city as a canvas for creative placemaking.

One of the most exciting elements of INVISIBLE CITIES at Union Station was the unpredictable collision of artists with everyday life, as singers mingled imperceptibly with the daily activity of the train station. In this way, art directly enriches our sense of the everyday life of our city; it is open to everybody and changes our perspective on our city. With HOPSCOTCH, we take that idea directly out into the streets, as the performance surrounding each vehicle will offer Angelenos an unexpected engagement with artists typically locked away in the opera house. The free central hub we are imagining invites people from diverse walks of life to experience a birds’ eye view of LA, geographically and artistically.

Whom will your project benefit?

HOPSCOTCH takes the entire city of Los Angeles as its backdrop, and we are creating a work that we believe will inspire the broadest possible spectrum of audiences: young audiences and new operagoers; art patrons and opera-lovers; technology enthusiasts; fans of multidisciplinary art, architecture, site-specific and community-based work; cultural tourists and members of the local community. We look to the eclectic and diverse audience that made INVISIBLE CITIES at Union Station a sold-out phenomenon. The scale of the project inspired people who even simply walked through the station during the opera; we believe HOPSCOTCH has even greater potential to reach as wide an audience of Angelenos as can be. Thanks to the central hub, HOPSCOTCH allows access to a large audience to experience the performance at no cost.

A large-scale project like this has many additional beneficiaries, including corporate partners, sponsors, local businesses, and Los Angeles’ Arts & Cultural establishment. SCI-Arc students will also benefit from this highly unusual real-world application of thoughts on temporary architecture and performance spaces.

Not to be overlooked are the artists who will benefit from this one-of-a-kind experience. The Industry has already helped launch artistic careers—composer Christopher Cerrone received a Pulitzer Prize and several commissions after INVISIBLE CITIES; tenor Timur Bekbusonov was discovered by his new international representative through his performance in CRESCENT CITY; composer Ellen Reid is receiving a high-profile workshop of an opera in New York that The Industry developed. The many singers, composers, dancers, and actors who will be given an opportunity through HOPSCOTCH will continue to make a significant impact on the cultural life of Los Angeles and beyond.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

The Industry is partnering with the 5D Global Design Studio (5D) and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) to help build the multimedia and logistical infrastructure to make this project a reality.

SCI-Arc is a center of innovation and one of the nation’s few independent architecture schools, dedicated to educating architects who will imagine and shape the future. An integral part of the emerging cultural hub of a city with a tradition of architectural experimentation, the school is devoted to finding radically new responses to the real needs and aspirations of today’s world. SCI-Arc will be instrumental in helping The Industry develop and maintain its central hub for HOPSCOTCH in Downtown LA.

5D is committed to “building worlds and the spaces in between” through interactive media and technology. Under the leadership of Creative Director Alex McDowell, set designer for Tod Machover’s robot opera DEATH AND THE POWERS, 5D’s interest in augmented reality situations make a natural fit for this project. 5D’s role in the project will be to work in tandem with The Industry to imagine the most impactful and innovative ways to use technology as a storytelling tool, incorporated into both the sound and vision of HOPSCOTCH.

These will be new partnerships for The Industry, and the three factors that will be critical to the success of this collaboration are:

  1. The freedom to play, experiment, and take risks in the development of the work.
  2. The shared vision of thinking outside the box and creating work that is of the highest quality possible.
  3. Keeping the artistic vision at the center of everything we do.

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Create” metrics?

  • Employment in creative industries
  • Arts establishments per capita

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

Over 100 artists, production and support staff will be involved in the development and execution of HOPSCOTCH, increasing employment in the creative industries. But even more importantly, the corporate partnerships that The Industry will engage in to develop the piece will further open the doors between the creative and commercial industries. This will lead to more corporations investing in employment in the creative industries.

Organizations like ours are vital to the cultural fabric of LA; if we were unable to create this work, the next generation of artists would not have the opportunities to develop their craft, and the whole field would suffer. The next generation of audiences would not be given access to opera, and would lose the opportunity to love experimental and new music. Tragically, the viability of the art form would be even more endangered.

Projects like these give The Industry the sustainability we need to establish ourselves as an arts organization in LA over the long-term. This in turn will inspire other innovative artists in our community to build their own arts organizations, providing a net benefit for the city as a whole.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

HOPSCOTCH will be experienced in three ways: first, from a limited audience inside the limousines with the artists as they drive around Los Angeles. The intimacy and surprise of being driven to an unexpected destination offers these audiences a unique operatic adventure.

The second way will be in a large central hub, where all 18 journeys will be streamed live to create a dizzying panoply of sight and sound. Entry to the site will be free. The finale of the work is the convergence of the two audiences.

The third way will be the unexpected engagement of the public as the limos drive through the city: scenes popping up on street corners, projections on buildings and sidewalks, and other surprising disruptions of everyday life. This aspect of INVISIBLE CITIES–the singers and dancers mingling among the everyday life of an operating train station–was the production’s most powerful engagement with public life; it is a key element of HOPSCOTCH as well.

The three metrics that will measure success are:

  1. The number of community members that attend the central hub viewing of the performances.
  2. The amount of audience members who share their experience on social media. Audiences of INVISIBLE CITIES shared over 1,000 Instagram photos; we anticipate that HOPSCOTCH will similarly encourage audiences to share their experience.
  3. The number of audience members that have a positive engaging experience.

Comprehensive surveys will be distributed to the audience after the performances in order to measure these successes.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

The first lesson involves how we define our audience. For us, “new audiences” include a wide array of the LA community. They include culturally-conscious patrons who love traditional opera, but are looking for something new that can ignite their imagination of what opera can be. They also include young audiences and those new to opera, but hungry for immersive and unique artistic events.

By producing one-of-a-kind experiences that make the impossible possible, we have learned how to build enthusiasm for opera and music within these audiences. In fact, much of our work is rooted in the rich tradition of American music icons such as Terry Riley, John Cage and John Adams. We seek to celebrate this tradition by making our work accessible to as wide an audience as possible in truly compelling ways.

The second lesson involves how we define our mission. When we talk about embracing the “experimental,” we mean that while honoring the history of classical music, we aim to present it in new and exciting ways. Over the past three years, we have learned the importance of “breaking-out” of the traditional proscenium stage presentation, producing work in a fully operating train station, museum courtyard or reimagined warehouse. This has allowed our audiences to experience the work on a multiplicity of levels. They can walk around freely and experience the piece from every angle, and they become fully immersed in the world of the performance. And they can get closer to the performers than ever before, occasionally even interacting with them.

Our goal to “merge media” goes beyond the documentation of our work; we incorporate different art forms and technologies into the narrative fabric of each production. Interdisciplinary collaborations involve seeking like-minded artists, and even companies, from different fields, and integrating them into The Industry’s artistic team as we develop our work. Whether its six visual artists building installations that make up the physical world of a piece, or Sennheiser constructing the technology for audiences to experience live music through wireless headphones, our spirit of collaborative art-making deepens the experience in a way that becomes uniquely Angeleno.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

INVISIBLE CITIES was developed and executed within 12 months, and became a phenomenon, with 22 sold-out performances, three extensions, and international acclaim. Wired Magazine called it “the opera of the future,” and The Los Angeles Times’ critic Mark Swed described it as “an inventive production that could, and should, be done anywhere.” We are confident that we can successfully produce HOPSCOTCH by October 2015.

We have already built a strong team of key leaders for the project, including the Director, Yuval Sharon; Music Director, Marc Lowenstein; Associate Producer, Rachel Scandling; and Creative Director Daniel Anderson. And we have secured composers Andrew Norman, Andrew McIntosh, Veronika Krausas, Ellen Reid, and David Rosenboom. The artistic team will conduct regular meetings over the next 12 months to ensure the pieces are developing successfully and ready for public performances.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

The first challenge is financial. Although INVISIBLE CITIES was a success in every way, including financially, we are beginning the fundraising process all over again to support this more ambitious new project. The Industry remains a very small 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, with box office revenue only covering a small percentage of the project’s costs. In order to successfully implement this project, we will need to secure in-kind support from institutional partners. With 5D and SCI-Arc as partners, the process of securing collaborators in the realization of the work is successfully underway. Conversations are also already underway with technology sponsors that will help make this project both financially feasible and state-of-the-art.

Outreach is our second challenge. We believe that opera is for everyone, and our goal with HOPSCOTCH is to engage as many Angelenos as possible. As a small nonprofit organization, we are limited by the size of our marketing budget; we combated this challenge with our last two projects with a focus on social media and grassroots campaigning, building buzz from the ground up. We also focused on press and PR, and our partnership with MPRM was successful in achieving international attention for INVISIBLE CITIES. We believe that similar tactics will help make HOPSCOTCH a widely talked-about phenomenon in October 2015, although we will aim to have an even higher marketing budget.

What resources does your project need?

  • Network/relationship support
  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach