create / 2014

Los Angeles Performance Practice: Innovative Performance in DTLA

Los Angeles Performance Practice: Innovative Performance in DTLA

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Los Angeles Performance Practice

We will produce groundbreaking theatrical experiences that activate under-utilized corridors and buildings in DTLA.


Please describe yourself.

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

We will produce groundbreaking theatrical experiences that activate under-utilized corridors and buildings in DTLA.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

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

  • Central LA
  • Downtown LA

What is your idea/project in more detail?

We at Los Angeles Performance Practice aim to transform the cultural landscape of Los Angeles and beyond by contributing to a shared knowledge, resources, and conversational critique. We produce groundbreaking theatrical experiences through innovative approaches to collaboration, technology, and social engagement.

With LA2050, we hope to create a series of performance events in Downtown LA, working with key partners to activate under-utilized streets, buildings, and public spaces to provide artists with increased opportunities to share work, and audiences with sought-after immersive performance experiences.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

We plan to work with city developers, property managers, and downtown businesses to activate contemporary performance in specific areas. We have initiated conversations with the Mayor’s Office (city planning division), and have worked in the past with the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. We also plan to call upon our friends and contacts in property management, and form new relationships with those involved in Bringing Back Broadway initiatives.

We have seen a huge influx of demand for “immersive” and “site-specific” performance in the past 2-5 years. In New York, for example, some of the most successful performances have been in non-traditional sites- with ‘Sleep No More’ being the most dominant example. Audiences are hungry for immersive experiences, and at the same time contemporary art with aesthetic integrity.

Our network of artists have ample experience working in these emerging forms- but producing at this scale can be expensive. These performance experiences are often intended for intimate audiences, making it impossible to recoup costs through ticket sales alone. Other companies have attempted this kind of work, but have been unable to pay artists a fair wage.

We will implement this project in partnership with our network of artists, providing opportunities to emerging artists in Los Angeles, and relying on the strengths of artists who are already developing projects within this framework- but still seeking a venue and producing infrastructure. We will hire performers, directors, designers, visual artists, composers, and stage managers to execute the highest quality experience possible.

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

LA is known internationally as being a leader in film/television, music, even contemporary visual art. Our city is under-recognized for the incredible talent we house in the areas of contemporary performance.

Prior to Los Angeles Performance Practice, it was common for interdisciplinary artists working in performance to develop and present work outside of their home city. LA artists were (and still are) presenting work at world-class venues in New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Dallas, plus in Europe and Latin America. But, sufficient opportunities were hard to come by in LA.

We are working actively to form relationships with top venues in the city to promote the work of our local artists. We have two premieres scheduled at REDCAT in the coming year, and are in our second year with the Bootleg Theater producing the Live Arts Exchange (LAX) Festival for contemporary work.

By bringing contemporary performance to DTLA, we will elevate the overall perception of performance emerging out of Los Angeles, and will activate our local audiences and communities in celebration of our work.

In Los Angeles, anything is possible! We feel it’s still the “wild west” of theater/dance/performance forms. Because of this, it’s the best place to innovate art itself- to tell stories about THIS MOMENT, using tools and technologies of the present day.

Our project will bring this work out of the theaters- out of outdated infrastructure- and into the streets. We’ll activate hotels, office buildings, parks, street corners, abandoned warehouses. By relocated performance to a public space beyond the walls of the theater, we will encourage expanded creativity that will funnel into other industries in Los Angeles: film/tv, design, restaurants, hotels, etc.

Whom will your project benefit?

Our project will provide well-paying opportunities to local artists. These opportunities are few and far between in Los Angeles. One of our overall goals with LAPP is to create infrastructure that makes it easier to live as a generative artist in our city.

Beyond the artists themselves, our project will greatly benefit the City of Los Angeles. It is well known that bringing arts and culture to underdeveloped sectors of cities worldwide sparks city development. We have seen this pattern re-occur several times in the country- and several times in Los Angeles.

Additionally, our project will benefit local business. A study from Americans for the Arts found that “Attendees at arts events spend $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and babysitters. Attendees who live outside the county in which the arts event takes place spend twice as much as their local counterparts ($39.96 vs. $17.42)—valuable revenue for local businesses and the community.

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

City of Los Angeles We are in conversation with members of the City Planning team, who have expressed interest in working with us to identify projects that could be used as activating arts and cultural activities in under-utilized parts of the city. Should we receive this funding, we will be able to offer the City our services in programming these unused areas.

ACE Hotel We are in conversation with the ACE around one particular project that would occur on Broadway as an immersive, overnight experience. The success of this collaboration also hinges on funding. The ACE has a built-in audience of local art-seekers, and we would be thrilled to work with them.

Annie Saunders (confirmed artist) Annie has a wealth of experience in working with site-specific immersive performances. Her project ‘The Day Shall Declare It’ explores the concept of work, both what it means to us and what it does to us. The piece interrogates beliefs about working, work ethics, work/life balance and how these concepts infiltrate our relationships with others and ourselves.

Zoe Aja Moore (confirmed artist) Zoe will direct a new adaptation of Hedda Gabler as an immersive, overnight experience. Hedda is a cry for a new radicalism – a woman in the midst of bourgeois culture struggles to break free from the repetition of history. By extending the classic play, Hedda Gabler, into an overnight event the play is adapted into a ritualistic experience that invites the audience to encounter the action of the performance through an intimate proscenium – the performers and audiences body rhythms of sleep and wakefulness align with each other, shifting the play from it’s traditional psychological profile into a united experience of the play’s universal themes. The extended duration of the play aerates the text, creating space for operatic expressions and intimate moments.

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

  • Employment in creative industries
  • Arts establishments per capita
  • Minority- and women-owned firms
  • Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”) (Dream Metric)

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

Los Angeles Performance Practice was founded in 2010 by Miranda Wright. We are a woman-owned firm, and support the work of female and minority artists.

We specialize in international collaboration, and are always looking for ways to “export” LA culture, in addition to bringing international artists to our city.

We pay artists above union standards for performances, and strive to form partnerships with local businesses whenever possible to have positive cultural and economic impacts in the community.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

Our project will be evaluated by collecting data in the following forms:

  1. Our box office data will be collected and computed. Box office data will allow us to make estimates of economic impact using toolkits provided by Americans for the Arts.

  2. Our box office data will be submitted to the LA Arts Census, which will provide metrics on our audience community- who they are, where they live, and how often they participate in other cultural activities.

  3. Our budget and box office data will be reported through the Cultural Data Project, which will provide comparative reports between our annual activity and other organizations and projects around the country.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

  1. We have incredible artists in LA whose work should be seen by their own communities. I have seen our city’s top artists develop new work in residencies in New York, San Francisco, and everywhere in between, but not give a presentation or showing of the work in Los Angeles for 2-3 years at a time.

These artists are incredible assets to our city, and we must make it affordable for them to create their work, and share it locally. One of the leading factors that led to the founding of Los Angeles Performance Practice was a passion for creating opportunities and infrastructure for our top artists to develop new work in the city where they live.

  1. Audiences are hungry for cultural experiences that immerse them in a new world. Film, TV, and video games can only take us so far. The new forms emerging in the performance world allow audience members to inhabit completely new environments, curated on a detail-specific level, where they can actually interact with story, characters, and their surroundings. This is beyond 3D entertainment- it is live performance.

I attended a conference on theater in the past three months that reminded me of this more than ever before. Theater organizations are struggling to find new audiences. This is because they are not programming new work. Los Angeles has an opportunity to be on the front lines of cultural evolution- free from the restraints of the rules implemented by institutions that are decades old and held captive by outdated architecture.

We have the opportunity to truly create something new. And, to create something that is meaningful to our current culture- work about topics that are current and relevant to the tenants of this century.

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

We plan to create three public performances and a culminating event for all three between November 2014 and September 2015. We have produced site-specific work in the past, and it typically takes three to six months of planning and rehearsal before a project is ready for public performance.

Two of the three projects have already embarked on the pre-production and development process, allowing us to act quickly in implementing at least one of the three projects early in the cycle.

Our general timeline for the project: October 2014:
Confirm venue for Project #1 with downtown developers Hire performers & designers for Project #1 Rehearsals begin for Project #1 Design and build process for Project #1

November 2014: Performances for Project #1 in DTLA site Reading & Design meetings for Project #2 at DTLA site Hire Design team for Project #2

December 2014: Hire performers for Project #2 Workshop for Project #2 Confirm lead artists for Project #3

January 2015: Rehearsals for Project #2 Build and execute designs for Project #2 Initial design meetings & readings for Project #3

February 2015: Performances for Project #2

March 2015: Complete development & pre-production for Project #3

April 2015: Workshops & Design meetings for Project #3

May 2015: Begin planning for culminating project / LAX Festival Rehearsals & Build for Project #3

June 2015: Performances for Project #3

June-August, 2015: Planning for culminating project

September 2015: Culminating Festival, highlighting all three projects

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

We anticipate permitting to be one possible barrier or challenge. We have worked in the past with the LAPD, and have always researched city ordinances well in advance of any project that is set to take place in public space. We will ensure we overcome any permitting barriers by planning well in advance, and seeking advice from our friends at Grand Park, who have produced a series of very large performance events in Downtown LA.

We also anticipate communications to be a challenge. It is important to us that we reach out to artists and audience members who may have an interest in the project, who fall outside of our existing networks. We plan to implement a comprehensive communications strategy, including plans to effectively use our social media toolkit. We will also engage the press through our publicity partner Pazos Media, to ensure we are casting a wide net for audiences and artists in the LA area.

What resources does your project need?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)