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Texas Performing Arts Celebrates 40 Years on the 40 Acres with Texas Debuts, Long-Awaited Returns, and World Premieres

Texas Performing Arts Celebrates 40 Years on the 40 Acres with Texas Debuts, Long-Awaited Returns, and World Premieres

Friday, June 18, 2021

June 18, 2021
Media Contact:  Motley Crew Media for Texas Performing Arts
Shannon L. Boggus | 512.773.7249 | shannon.boggus@motleycrewmedia.com
Amy S. Layton | 512.695.0799 | amy.layton@motleycrewmedia.com

TEXAS PERFORMING ARTS CELEBRATES 40 YEARS ON THE FORTY ACRES
WITH TEXAS DEBUTS, LONG-AWAITED RETURNS, AND WORLD PREMIERES

AUSTIN, TX – After spearheading a $3M renovation of Austin’s largest theater, Executive & Artistic Director Bob Bursey announces his first curated season of music, dance, theater, and performance for Texas Performing Arts. A dozen live productions will mark its 40th Anniversary season in 2021-2022. The performance lineup includes established and emerging artists, revivals and new works, long-time favorites and first-time visits.  The season brings Austin a survey of current developments and leading voices in the performing arts in America today.  Audiences will enjoy some of the highest examples of artistic excellence, join artists as they engage with the past and possibilities of the future, experience interdisciplinary collaborations, and be the first to see new productions.

“The ambitious productions in Texas Performing Arts’ 40th Season move Austin on to the national stage for creative new work” said Texas Performing Arts Executive and Artistic Director Bob Bursey.  “These visionary artists provide insight and inspiration for rebuilding from the COVID-19 pandemic and unlocking the potential of Texas Performing Arts’ next 40 years.”

40th Season performances will take place in Texas Performing Arts’ newly renovated Bass Concert Hall, the intimate McCullough Theater, and at other locations on the University of Texas campus and around Austin.

The 40th Season is one of Texas Performing Arts’ anchor series for 2021-22.  It joins the previously announced Broadway in Austin season, which includes the return of Hamilton, Disney’s The Lion King, and the Austin debuts of Hadestown, Tootsie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, and Mean Girls.  Broadway in Austin season subscriptions are currently available at BroadwayInAustin.com.

In addition to the 40th Season and Broadway in Austin, the Texas Welcomes Series hosts events by national touring attractions, concerts, and comedians.  A full listing of performances is available at texasperformingarts.org/events.

Tickets for 40th Season events taking place in Fall 2021 will go on sale to the general public on June 30.  Texas Inner Circle members can purchase tickets during an exclusive pre-sale beginning June 22.  The ticket on-sale for productions taking place in 2022 will be announced at a later date.  Many productions will be staged in intimate settings and capacities will therefore be limited.  Extensive health and safety considerations have been made; full information is available at texasperformingarts.org/visit/health-safety

Texas Performing Arts 40th Season At A Glance

Theater
The Wooster Group – Texas Debut
THE B-SIDE: Negro Folklore From Texas State Prisons
A Record Album Interpretation

McCullough Theater
September 9-12, 2021

Theater
The Wooster Group – New Work
UNTITLED TOAST

McCullough Theater
September 20, 2021 - work-in-progress showing and discussion

Dance
Ballet Hispánico
Noche de Oro: A Celebration of 50 Years

Bass Concert Hall
October 30, 2021

Jazz
Jason Moran and the Harlem Hellfighters
James Reese Europe and the Absence of Ruin

McCullough Theater
November 5, 2021

Music and Words
Kronos Quartet
At War With Ourselves – World Premiere

McCullough Theater
November 19-20, 2021

Dance and Live Music
Third Coast Percussion and Movement Art Is
Metamorphosis

McCullough Theater
December 4, 2021

Film and Live Music
Bill Morrison and Bill Frisell
The Great Flood

McCullough Theater
January 21-22, 2022
Co-presented with the UT Visual Arts Center

Dance
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Bass Concert Hall
March 11-12, 2022

Installation and Immersive Film
Plastic Bag Store
Blue Genie Art Bazar
April 1-17, 2022
April 15-17 performances presented as part of Fusebox 2022

Jazz
Helen Sung with the UT Jazz Orchestra
April 9, 2022
Bates Recital Hall
Presented with the Butler School of Music

Music
Nathalie Joachim and Spektral Quartet
Fanm d’Ayiti

Bates Recital Hall
April 22, 2022

Music
Angélique Kidjo
Remain In Light

Bass Concert Hall
May 12, 2022

Texas Performing Arts 40th Season Productions In Detail

Theater
The Wooster Group

Influential and trendsetting, legendary and revolutionary, the Wooster Group is a New York City-based experimental theater company founded in 1975.  Their productions tour nationally and internationally, though have never been presented in Texas until now.  In September 2021, the Wooster Group will make their long-overdue Texas debut with a two-week residency to open Texas Performing Arts’ 40th Season.  Two Wooster Group productions will be staged in the McCullough Theater, which will be transformed in to a black box-style theater with all audience seating on the stage.

The Wooster Group’s residency and performances at Texas Performing Arts are supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

THE B-SIDE: “Negro Folklore From Texas State Prisons” A Record Album Interpretation
McCullough Theater
September 9-12, 2021

THE B-SIDE is an original production based on the 1965 LP record Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons, which features work songs, blues, spirituals, preaching, and ‘toasts’ from inmates in Texas’ then-segregated agricultural prison farms.  Performer Eric Berryman plays the album, and along with performers Jasper McGruder and Philip Moore, channel the inmates’ voices, via in-ear receivers, recreating them live.  Berryman also provides context from the book Wake Up Dead Man: Hard Labor and Southern Blues by Bruce Jackson, the folklorist who recorded the album at the prison in 1964.  

The production was a New York Times Critics Pick, was nominated for a 2019 Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience, and was included in ‘Best Theater of The Year’ lists in The New York Times and The Washington Post.

“Nothing short of transcendent. An extraordinary masterclass in listening."  — The New York Times

“A ravishing new show by The Wooster Group… Kate Valk stages THE B-SIDE as a richly resonant auditory experience…for any audience anywhere that wants its spirits lifted even as its conscience is stirred.  The experience is history in melody...forging bonds through music.”  — The Washington Post

“A stereophonic séance…stirring…refreshing…perseveringly soulful… ” —The Los Angeles Times

UNTITLED TOAST
McCullough Theater
Work-in-progress showing and discussion September 20, 2021

While in residence at Texas Performing Arts, the Wooster Group will develop a new original theater work, UNTITLED TOAST.  The production will be created in collaboration with and performed by Eric Berryman.  It will be directed by Kate Valk with production design by Elizabeth LeCompte.  UNTITLED TOAST is based on the LP recording Get Your Ass In The Water And Swim Like Me: Narrative Poetry From The Black Oral Tradition, edited by folklorist Bruce Jackson. The album is a collection of epic poems, referred to as “toasts:” stories, performed in rhyme, that describe the feats of legendary street heroes, such as “Signifying Monkey,” “Titanic,” and “Stackolee.”

Dance
Ballet Hispánico
Noche de Oro: A Celebration of 50 Years

Bass Concert Hall
October 30, 2021

Ballet Hispánico is one of America's cultural treasures and its leading Latinx dance organization.  Founded in 1970 by National Medal of Arts recipient Tina Ramirez, Ballet Hispánico brings communities together to celebrate and explore Latinx cultures through innovative dance performances, transformative dance training, and enduring community engagement experiences.

Last presented by Texas Performing Arts in 2002, the company returns to Austin as part of its 50th anniversary season.  The program will celebrate generations of renowned Latinx choreographers through these works: 

18+1 (2012), choregraphed by Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, with music by Pérez Prado.
Batucada Fantástica (1983), choreographed by Vicente Nebrada, with music by Luciano Perrone.
Cada Noche… Tango (1988), choreographed by Graciela Daniele, with music by Astor Piazzolla.
New Sleep (1987), choreographed by William Forsythe, with music by Thom Willems. A first-time collaboration between the company and this renowned choreographer in honor of its founder, Tina Ramirez.
Tiburone (2019), choreography by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, with music by Pérez Prado, Dizzy Gillespie, and The Funky Lowlives.

“The versatile Ballet Hispánico dancers are exquisite.” - The Washington Post

Jazz
Jason Moran and the Harlem Hellfighters
James Reese Europe and the Absence of Ruin

McCullough Theater
November 5, 2021

Pianist, composer, bandleader, and MacArthur “Genius” recipient Jason Moran grew up in Texas and has become established as one of the most original voices on today’s jazz scene.  Moran is active not only in music, but also in visual arts, film, performance art, theatre, and dance – leading Rolling Stone to say that “Jason Moran is shaping up to be the most provocative thinker in current jazz.”  Moran makes his Texas Performing Arts debut with his acclaimed meditation on the life and legacy of early jazz pioneer James Reese Europe.

On New Year’s Day 1918, James Reese Europe, an iconic figure in the evolution of African-American music, landed in France with the Harlem Hellfighters.  This crack military music ensemble popularized the new spirit of jazz to a war-torn French nation fascinated with black culture.  

More than a century later Jason Moran celebrates this hero of black music through a highly personal reflection on the impact of the African-American presence in Europe in the closing years of World War I, and its resonance abroad and in the US. The performance features Moran’s celebrated Bandwagon trio complemented by a seven-piece horn section, contributions from artist/director/screenwriter John Akomfrah, and visual materials from acclaimed cinematographer Bradford Young.

“We already know that Jason Moran is stunningly and profoundly original, even in his treatment of existing material…Knowing it doesn’t prepare one for the stark, sublime beauty of James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters: The Absence of Ruin.” — The Washington Post

“Moran’s tribute keeps the spirit of [James Reese Europe’s] music alive.” – The Guardian

Music and Words
Kronos Quartet
At War With Ourselves – World Premiere

McCullough Theater
November 19-20, 2021

For over 45 years, San Francisco’s Kronos Quartet – David Harrington (violin), John Sherba (violin), Hank Dutt (viola), and Sunny Yang (cello) – has pursued a singular artistic vision, combining a spirit of fearless exploration with a commitment to continually reimagine the string quartet experience.  In the process, Kronos has become one of the most celebrated and influential groups of its generation, performing thousands of concerts worldwide, releasing more than 60 recordings of extraordinary breadth and creativity, collaborating with many of the world’s most accomplished composers and performers, and commissioning more than 1,000 works and arrangements for string quartet.

Texas Performing Arts has presented Kronos Quartet on 10 occasions since 1994.  They return as part of the 40th Season for the world premiere of a new work co-commissioned by Texas Performing Arts.

At War With Ourselves is an evening-length work for string quartet, chorus, and spoken word. The music is composed by Michael Abels, who is best-known for his scores for the Oscar-winning film Get Out and for Jordan Peele’s Us, for which Abels won multiple critics’ awards and nominations.  The hip-hop influenced score was short-listed for the Oscar, and named “Score of the Decade” by online publication The Wrap.

The libretto is written by National Book Award-winning poet Nikky Finney, inspired by her 2013 poem “The Battle of and for the Black Face Boy.” Finney’s evocative poetry, which directly inspired Abels’ music, was written in 2019, the 400th anniversary of the African presence in America.  The intimate, emotionally-charged text — in turns both bold and seductive, and always deeply personal — flits throughout history with allusions to slave ships, Harriet Tubman, black astronomer Benjamin Banneker, and Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos.  In Finney’s words, the work is addressed to “both black and white, both enslaved and free, bystander and non-bystander.  We were then and now, At War With Ourselves.  All of us, one human battlefield.”

The work will be performed by a chorus of Austin-based singers, including recent alumni/ae and current students of the Butler School of Music.  The chorus will be conducted by San Francisco-based choral director Valérie Sainte-Agathe, Artistic Director of the San Francisco Girls Chorus.

"The Kronos Quartet has broken the boundaries of what string quartets do."
The New York Times

Dance and Live Music
Movement Art Is and Third Coast Percussion
Metamorphosis

McCullough Theater
December 4, 2021

Movement Art Is features the gravity-defying choreography of Jon Boogz and Lil Buck, two artists using movement to inspire social change.  They join the Grammy Award–winning Third Coast Percussion for a dynamic collaboration that blends street dance, percussion ensemble, and electronic soundscapes.

This intimate, evening-length program is at once intensely personal and fiercely virtuosic, with two disparate styles of street dance blending seamlessly with new music by Jlin and Tyondai Braxton, as well as Third Coast Percussion’s critically-acclaimed arrangements of Philip Glass’s Aguas da Amazonia.

“Movement Art Is advocates for social change while expressing how vital dance can be.” – The Atlantic

“[Third Coast Percussion] play as if they’re a single, eight-armed organism.” – The New York Times

Film and Live Music
Bill Morrison and Bill Frisell
The Great Flood

Co-presented with the UT Visual Arts Center
McCullough Theater
January 21-22, 2022

The Great Flood is a collaboration between filmmaker and multimedia artist Bill Morrison and guitarist and composer Bill Frisell inspired by the 1927 catastrophe.  The performances are co-presented with UT’s Visual Art Center as part of their exhibition Bill Morrison: Cycles & Loops.

Many consider the flooding of the Mississippi Delta in 1927, which left 27,000 square miles of land underwater, to be the greatest natural disaster in the history of the United States.  Part of its legacy was the forced exodus of displaced sharecroppers who left plantation life and migrated to Northern cities, adapting to an industrial society with its own set of challenges.  Musically, the Great Migration fueled the evolution of acoustic blues to electric blues bands that thrived in cities like Memphis, Detroit, and Chicago, becoming the wellspring for R&B and rock as well as developing jazz styles.

These events are reflected in Morrison’s film The Great Flood, a cinematic elegy based on archival photographs and newsreels and focused on ordinary people and their ability to adapt under extraordinary circumstances.  Frisell’s score is informed by elements of American roots music, mixing rock and country, jazz and blues.  Morrison’s projected film is accompanied by live performance of Frisell on guitar, Tony Scherr on bass, Kenny Wollesen on drums, and Ron Miles on trumpet.  Together, historic imagery dances with the sound of modern music.

"[The Great Flood] would be a memorable drama even played in total silence. Guitarist Bill Frisell's live soundtrack of howling blues chords, Thelonious Monk hooks, country-swing and Old Man River quotes would make a fine concert without a film, too. Put the two together [and] the result moves up another creative and emotional level." —The Guardian

"Visual poetry, sublime."—The New York Times, Critic’s Pick

"Archival wizard Bill Morrison's film finds lyricism in disaster."—The Wall Street Journal

Dance
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Bass Concert Hall
March 11-12, 2022
Special support for these performances is provided by the Applied Materials Foundation.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was the first company to perform in Bass Concert Hall when it opened in 1981.  The company was presented by Texas Performing Arts in 2009.

Founded in 1958, the Ailey company is recognized by U.S. Congressional resolution as a vital American “Cultural Ambassador to the World.”  Ailey’s artists have performed for an estimated 25 million people in 71 countries on 6 continents.  Led by Robert Battle, Ailey’s performances celebrate the human spirit through the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition.

When Alvin Ailey, a Texas native, began creating dances, he drew upon his "blood memories" of Texas, the blues, spirituals, and gospel as inspiration, which resulted in the creation of his most popular and critically acclaimed work, Revelations.  Although he created 79 ballets over his lifetime, Mr. Ailey maintained that his company was not exclusively a repository for his own work.

Today, the Company continues Mr. Ailey's mission by presenting important works of the past and commissioning new ones. In all, more than 235 works by over 90 choreographers have been part of the Ailey company’s repertory.  The performance program will be announced at a later date.

“Nothing prepares you for the totality of Alvin Ailey: the aural, visual, physical, spiritual beauty...Heaven...Everywhere you looked: sensory pleasure...” – The New York Times, Zadie Smith

“In its sixty-year history, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre has enjoyed an inspiring ascent from hardscrabble origins to a long, still unchallenged reign as America’s most popular dance company...” — The New Yorker

Installation and Immersive Film
Plastic Bag Store
Blue Genie Art Bazar, 6100 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78752
April 1-17, 2022
April 15-17 performances presented as part of Fusebox 2022
Part film, part installation, all bags.

The Plastic Bag Store is a public art installation and immersive film by artist Robin Frohardt that brings humor, craft, and a critical lens to our culture of consumption and convenience—specifically, the enduring effects of our single-use plastics. 

Inside The Plastic Bag Store installation, rotisserie chickens, dry goods and toiletries, cupcakes and sushi, and popular products such as Yucky Shards cereal and Bagorade sports drink are among the thousands of hand sculpted items displayed on the store shelves—all made from discarded, single-use plastics collected from the streets and garbage dumps.

Several times each day, the “store” transforms into an immersive, dynamic live experience in which film, live performers, and intricate handmade sets tell the darkly comedic, sometimes tender story of how the overabundance of plastic waste we leave behind might be misinterpreted by future generations.

Co-produced by Frohardt and Pomegranate Arts, The Plastic Bag Store was created over several years by Frohardt in collaboration with her puppetry ensemble and features original music by long-time creative collaborator, the award-winning composer Freddi Price.

“An emphatic work of activism that is also a wistful work of art.” – The New York Times, Best Theater of 2020

Jazz
Helen Sung with the UT Jazz Orchestra
April 9, 2022
Bates Recital Hall
Presented with the Butler School of Music

Helen Sung is an acclaimed jazz pianist and composer, 2021 Guggenheim Fellow, and a Steinway Artist.  A native of Texas, she eschewed her classical piano upbringing after a jazz epiphany during undergraduate studies at UT.  Now based in New York City, Sung has worked with such luminaries as the late Clark Terry, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Terri Lyne Carrington, Wynton Marsalis (who named her as one of his "Who's Got Next: Jazz Musicians to Watch!"), Regina Carter, and Cecile McLorin Salvant.  The UT College of Fine Arts awarded Sung its most prestigious honor: the E. William Doty Distinguished Alumna Award. 

This collaborative concert with the UT Jazz Orchestra is presented as part of the 2022 Longhorn Jazz Festival.  The orchestra will perform several of Sung’s arrangements, with her as the featured soloist.

Music
Nathalie Joachim and Spektral Quartet
Fanm d’Ayiti

Bates Recital Hall
April 22, 2022

Nominated for a Grammy Award for Best World Music Album, Fanm d’Ayiti (Women of Haiti) is an evening-length work for voice, flute, string quartet, and electronics created by composer/performer Nathalie Joachim.  Fanm d’Ayiti celebrates some of Haiti’s most iconic female artists and explores Joachim’s Haitian heritage.  Singing in kreyòl (Haitian Creole), Joachim weaves her own luminous voice with those of her grandmother, a girls choir from her family’s hometown, and interviews with activist women performers who fought for social justice in the world’s first free Black republic. Folk songs blend seamlessly with chamber strings and electronic soundscapes in Joachim’s deft—and highly personal—musical journey.

Spektral Quartet – Clara Lyon, violin; Maeve Feinberg, violin; Dolye Armbrust, viola; Russell Rolen, cello – is known for creating seamless connections across centuries, drawing in the listener with charismatic deliveries, interactive concert formats, an up-close atmosphere, and bold, inquisitive programming.

“No more joyous chamber-music collection has arrived this year than Fanm d’Ayiti." – The New Yorker

“[Fanm d’Ayiti] bridges vast expanses of time and place, bringing together the sounds of Haitian folk music, Western classical music, electronic, and hints of pop… in service to one of the deepest of traditions—the tradition of innovation.” – The Nation

Music
Angélique Kidjo
Remain In Light

Bass Concert Hall
May 12, 2022

Four-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo is a force of nature, capable of transforming any musical material in her path with her powerful voice and positive message.  To close Texas Performing Arts’ 40th Season, Kidjo revisits her unforgettable Remain in Light project from 2018, in which she repatriated the Talking Heads’ 40 year old album by connecting with the music’s original Afropop underpinnings and filtering its new-wave sensibility through her own musical influences from across the African continent.  Kidjo uplifts the music with her euphoric singing, backed by layers of explosive percussion and driving horn orchestrations, and mines the songs for topics that resonate today, adding her own lyrics in languages from her home country of Benin.

Remain in Light was recorded with superstar producer Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Rolling Stones, Beyoncé).  They take classic songs such as "Crosseyed and Painless," "Once in a Lifetime," and "Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)" and reinterpret them with electrifying rhythms, African guitars, and layered backing vocals.  The track-by-track re-imagination celebrates the genius of Talking Heads, Brian Eno, and the touchstones that made the original so revered while reclaiming rock for Africa and bringing the landmark 1980 album full circle in a fitting close for Texas Performing Arts 40th Season.

“[Remain in Light is] stunning…a perfect counterpart to Talking Heads’ record.”
Rolling Stone

“A Breakthrough ‘80s Album Taken Back to Africa…Transformative.” – The New York Times

“Visionary.” – NPR Music

“One of the year’s most vibrant albums.” – The Washington Post

__________

All dates, venues, and programs are subject to change.  Performance times are to be announced.

ABOUT TEXAS PERFORMING ARTS

Texas Performing Arts is the performing arts presenting program of The University of Texas at Austin and operates campus venues including Bass Concert Hall and McCullough Theatre.  It is the home of the Broadway in Austin series. In calendar year 2019 Bass Concert Hall had the highest number of tickets sold of any theater in Austin, was #2 in the State of Texas and #22 in the world, according to industry publication Pollstar. Following a national search, Tony Award-winning producer Bob Bursey was appointed Executive Director in January, 2020.

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