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CalArts Center for New Performance Presents the World Premiere of Etta and Ella on the Upper West Side

The CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP) presents the world premiere of Etta and Ella on the Upper West Side, Obie Award-winning playwright Adrienne Kennedy’s neo-noir tale of sibling rivalry running Thursday, Feb. 23 through Saturday, Feb. 25 at REDCAT in downtown Los Angeles.

Directed by CNP Resident Artist Monty Cole, Etta and Ella follows the lives of the titular sisters, New York writers and academics whose mutual competitiveness threatens to poison both their professional ambitions and sibling love. Etta and Ella are played by Tori Danner (Theater MFA 19) and Sarahjeen François (Theater MFA 20), respectively, alongside Wesley T. Jones as Troupe. This new work by Kennedy, hailed as “one of the American theater’s greatest and least compromising experimentalists” by Alexis Soloski for The New York Times, utilizes her distinctive dreamlike, fragmentary storytelling style.

More about the play from CNP

Etta and Ella Harrison are talented academics on the Upper West Side—as well as sisters and rivals. After a lifetime of competition, they are on the verge of destroying each other. Next-generation director Monty Cole employs a cinematic approach to this intricate blend of monologue, dialogue, voiceover, and prose in a work that is part experimental play, part narrative thriller.

The premiere of Etta and Ella coincides with CNP’s 20th anniversary. As with many CNP productions, numerous CalArtians can be found in the cast and creative team:

  • Claire Chrzan (Theater MFA 23), lighting designer
  • Hsuan-Kuang Hsieh (Theater MFA 15), video designer
  • Loren Weldon (Theater MFA 23), costume designer
  • School of Theater faculty Edward Monaghan, fight choreographer
  • School of Theater faculty Mecca Andrews, choreographer
  • Rui M. Xu (Theater MFA 21), producer
  • School of Theater faculty Chris Swetcky, production manager
  • School of Theater faculty Rachel Scandling, associate producer
  • Ella Fornof (Theater BFA 25), assistant light designer
  • Violet Smith (Theater MFA 23), lighting programmer
  • Eliot Burk (Music MFA 23), assistant sound designer
  • Wei-Fang Chang (Theater MFA 25), assistant video designer
  • Bailey Johnson (Theater BFA 24), assistant costume designer
  • Katherine Paez Froehlich (Theater MFA 23), assistant production manager
  • Rebecca Hsia-Palma (Theater MFA 24), assistant stage manager

“I am beyond thrilled to premiere an affecting new work from Adrienne Kennedy, a creative tour-de-force whose impact on the American theater is incalculable,” said CNP Executive Artistic Director Travis Preston. “Monty and the creative team continue her legacy by advancing and redefining what theater can accomplish. It is a joy to witness the artistic fruit of such generational talents.”

The Feb. 24 show is followed by a talk with Cole, composer and former CalArts music faculty Maleke Clemmons (Music BFA 18), and the cast, moderated by 2006 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts recipient and CNP Producing Artist Daniel Alexander Jones.

Picture of Taya Zoormandan

Taya Zoormandan

As digital content and social media producer, Taya enjoys lifting up the stories and accomplishments of CalArts' students, alums, and faculty. She fancies herself a visual artist but is really more of an overzealous collector of art supplies.

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CalArts Center for New Performance Presents the World Premiere of Etta and Ella on the Upper West Side