Linda Frye Burnham

  • Mary Luft & Company, Kiss Your Mamma Good-by

    When choreographer Mary Luft and composer Joseph Celli planned New Music America’s tenth annual festival in Miami, one of their goals was to create a festival suited to the environment of its host city. Among the many site-specific installations commissioned for the festival was Kiss Your Mamma Good-by, a performance piece designed by Luft for commuters traveling Miami’s Metrorail and Metromover systems. For five working days, Luft’s dance company performed on the rail cars and in the stations, using text and movement to explore themes of departure and arrival, of moving and being transplanted.

  • May Sun

    China-born, Los Angeles-based visual and performance artist May Sun has produced work at such disparate Los Angeles venues as the Woman’s Building, City Hall, and the Japanese-American Cultural Center. Her latest installation, L.A. River/China Town, was installed at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. In collaboration with director Peter Brosius and composer Tom Recchion, Sun created a multimedia installation that melded myth and history. The work revolved around a symbolic search for the old L.A. Chinatown that was demolished during the building of Union Station. Sun wove together four stories that

  • Contraband, Oracle

    Contraband is an eight-member, San Francisco-based, interdisciplinary performance collective that boasts of its “rowdy dancing.” It annexed a social context and power for its work several years ago with a series of performances in the Gartland Pit, the politically charged site of an unsolved crime in San Francisco’s Mission district in which arson destroyed a hotel for low-income residents and 12 occupants died in the blaze. I, for one, carried the memory of Contraband’s provocative performance there into the Theater Artaud for the company’s recent premiere of Oracle, presented by American

  • Rachel Rosenthal, Rachel's Brain

    Questions about our abuse of the Earth and its inhabitants, human and otherwise, were at the heart of Rachel Rosenthal’s newest performance piece, Rachel’s Brain, 1987. In this solo work, which she performed at the Los Angeles Festival, Rosenthal explored Arthur Koestler's assertion that “the history of science, philosophy and art is the slow process of the mind learning by experience to actualize the brain’s potentials” (from Janus, 1978). In Rosenthal’s view, all of our mistakes, including our arrival at the brink of destruction, are due to the fact that our species was provided with an organ

  • Los Angeles Poverty Department, No Stone for Studs Schwartz

    No Stone for Studs Schwartz, 1987, is an unlikely success, but it packed this theater on Skid Row for two months and, at this writing, is still playing to enthusiastic audiences and rave reviews. Even though its story line is barely coherent and its cast often appears nearly out of control, this group improvisation by the Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) displays an energy and craft that has made it the hottest ticket in town, drawing audiences to a dangerous downtown neighborhood crowded with street people who huddle in dirt lots over bonfires of trash.

    Studs Schwartz is a flashback life-story

  • Patrick Zentz and Dennis Voss

    There was something especially fitting about the turn of events on Labor Day weekend at Big Spring Ranch in Laurel, Montana. When artists/ranchers Patrick Zentz and Dennis Voss turned from the summer wheat harvest to create artworks combining sculpture and performance on the land, their year of labor came full circle, making a unique statement about work and art.

    For their performances, each man activated sculptural pieces that had been fabricated during the long cold winter and displayed during the spring at Yellowstone Art Center in nearby Billings. Audio recordings were made during the

  • Michael Peppe

    Michael Peppe’s Actmusikspectakle V, Region I, Looped is a one-man, 45-minute opera in 11 languages, which Peppe performed seated at a desk, without props or technology, and which features 40 characters plus poems, prayers, impressions, songs, and hundreds of other “musical atoms.” These components were set afloat in Peppe’s own invented “Behaviormusik,” described by him as “an idiom founded on the concept that all possible behavior is musically composable.” The piece was followed by “Forty-three Characters,” selected from the other three “regions” of Actmusikspectakle V and presented as the

  • Rachel Rosenthal

    Much technically stunning performance art is being done—work that it is sensitive, insightful, colorful and professional. But some audience members feel cheated by performances that rely on theatrical technique, as though art has a value that theater does not, as though art can do a job that theater cannot.

    Rachel Rosenthal’s Leave Her in Naxos illuminates this question, as have other of her works. The performance was enormously effective, packed with glamour, color, sex and gossip, and offering, among other things, a Kama Sutra pantomime, celebrity stories, glittering costumes and an incredible