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Take a peek at new experimental performances at REDCAT’s NOW Festival

Someone rolling on the floor in a walker.
Vanessa Hernández Cruz will present “Exhale Static, Inhale Fumes” at the REDCAT NOW Festival.
(Bobby Gordan)
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Over the weekend, I needed some good R&R. Luckily, the film adaptation of Casey McQuiston’sRed, White and Royal Blue” debuted on Amazon Prime Video and made for the perfect movie night. I have to say, I’m a big fan. Check out Times deputy editor Matt Brennan’s take on why the novel-turned-movie is the “gay rom-com we’ve been waiting for.” I’m Steven Vargas, your L.A. Goes Out host, and here are the top events for the upcoming weekend recommended by the crew (sign up here for the newsletter):

Weekly Countdown

Three nearly naked people pose in front of a bright red background with long, multi-colored hair.
JOJO ABOT will share an immersive spatial opera titled “A God of Her Own Making” at the REDCAT NOW Festival.
(Nick Berardi x JOJO ABOT)

1. REDCAT NOW Festival 2023
Get ready for new performances through the end of the month at REDCAT in downtown L.A. for its 20th New Original Works Festival. Performances range from music to theater and address current issues with experimental takes. This year’s artists include JOJO ABOT, Tuixén Benet, Erica Bitton, Cade, Vanessa Hernández Cruz, Melissa Ferrari, Mark Golamco, Ironstone, Huntrezz Janos, Jordi, Antigoni Tsagkaropoulou and Kevin Williamson. The festival is known for providing artists space to explore and develop works in progress in hopes of developing them into larger pieces. But don’t take my word for it.

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Sara Lyons presented an early version of “This Emancipation Thing” at last year’s NOW Festival and will now be sharing a full-length version of the experimental theater piece at REDCAT in December.

“The NOW Festival has been completely crucial in developing this really big ambitious piece,” they said.

“This Emancipation Thing” re-performs documents about second-wave feminism with a diverse ensemble, contextualizing and adding new perspectives to the texts of the ’60s and ’70s. At the 2022 festival, the piece was 40 minutes long. It has now evolved into a durational piece that lasts six hours. Throughout the performance, texts about sexual politics and abortion in the ’60s are recited and followed by discussion. When the text is revisited and shared again with the audience, “the relationship to it evolves,” Lyons said.

Lyons attributed the development of their theater piece to REDCAT’s willingness to offer space and support for experimental work.

“It’s one of the few places where it’s possible to get support for a new piece from the very beginning of the idea through to the premiere,” they said.

Performances for NOW Festival are at 8:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday until Sept. 2 and tickets to a single performance range from $10 to $25. A festival pass to view all performances ranges from $50 to $60. More details can be found on REDCAT’s website.

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Photos of Tupac, Salt-N-Pepa and other hip-hop artists hang in black picture frames on the wall.
The “Hip Hop at 50” exhibition, co-curated by Queen Latifah and Whoopi Goldberg, opened Thursday at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in West Hollywood.
(Andy Keilen)

2. ‘Hip Hop at 50’
Hip-hop turned 50 on Friday. In honor of the monumental occasion, Morrison Hotel Gallery presents “Hip Hop at 50,” an exhibition co-curated by Queen Latifah and Whoopi Goldberg. The show displays 50 iconic photographs documenting the artists who have shaped the genre over the years, including Run DMC, Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Dr. Dre, Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and the Wu-Tang Clan. The exhibition will be on view until Aug. 24 at the gallery located in the lobby of the Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. More information on the free exhibition can be found on Morrison Hotel Gallery’s website.

Dancers surrounded by greenery gather in a circle, looking up.
CONTRA-TIEMPO’s newest work “¡azúcar!” brings to life the vibrations of Celia Cruz, personal narratives about sugar, Afro-Latine ancestral technologies, dance, music and healing as community practice.
(Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn.)

3. ‘¡azúcar!’
The Ford in the Hollywood Hills presents CONTRA-TIEMPO’s newest work, “¡azúcar!” The dance piece addresses anti-Blackness in Latinidad through the complicated history of sugar. The piece, with music by Celia Cruz, digs into ancestral wisdom about a plant known for healing and sweetening that later turned sour as an industry. The work also shares personal narratives about food, labor, community, family and healing. “¡azúcar!” is a two-year project that has evolved over time with a film, podcast, writings, live exhibition of photography and community engagements. The one-night-only performance is at 8 p.m. Friday and tickets range from $20 to $68. More details can be found on the Ford’s website.

A gallery with colorful art hanging on the wall and from the ceiling.
Installation view of Suchitra Mattai’s “In the absence of power. In the presence of love.” exhibition, at Roberts Projects L.A. until Aug. 26.
(Robert Wedemeyer / Suchitra Mattai / Roberts Projects)
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4. ‘Suchitra Mattai: In the absence of power. In the presence of love.’
Suchitra Mattai has her first exhibition with Roberts Projects in Hollywood running until Aug. 26. “In the absence of power. In the presence of love.” includes new mixed-media paintings, tapestries and soft-sculpture installations that highlight the Indo-Caribbean experience. The pieces touch on themes of migration and displacement, pulling from Mattai’s ancestral history. She describes her process as “brown reclamation,” reinterpreting original images to create new stories. The Times’ Carolina A. Miranda recommends this exhibition, describing Mattai’s use of color, material and texture as fascinating. The exhibition is free and the gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. More information on the exhibition can be found on Roberts Projects’ website.

Pirate characters look at someone who fell in front of a tree.
Harry Kershaw (Francis), left, Chris Leask (Trevor), Henry Shields (Chris), Charlie Russell (Sandra), Nancy Zamit (Annie), Greg Tannahill (Jonathan) and Henry Lewis (Robert) in “Peter Pan Goes Wrong,” playing at the Ahmanson Theatre through Sept. 10.
(Jeremy Daniel)

5. ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’
What could go wrong? Well, a lot. “Peter Pan Goes Wrong” makes its way to the Ahmanson Theatre in downtown L.A., providing comedic mayhem on stage. Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields’ reinterpretation of J.M. Barrie’s classic tells the story of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society attempting to stage a production of “Peter and Wendy” — essentially a play within a play. In the rush to bring the story to the stage, disasters like technical hitches and cast disputes make the magical journey to Neverland a bit bumpier. Still not convinced? Bradley Whitford will join the cast until Aug. 27 and Daniel Dae Kim will perform from Aug. 30 to Sept. 10. Tickets range from $40 to $155 and more info can be found on Center Theatre Group’s website.

Bonus round: ‘18th and Grand: The Olympic Auditorium’

A boxer in a fighting stance.
Unknown Photographer, Baby Arizmendi, circa 1932. Black and white photograph.
(Hap Navarro Boxing Collection)

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes presents “18th and Grand: The Olympic Auditorium,” an immersive exhibition that takes viewers through 80 years of the venue and the cultural movements of L.A. that it held. The auditorium was a core part of Mexican and Mexican American culture in the city and held a boxing ring that offered communal space for people to embrace rivalries and athleticism. The exhibition takes up both floors of the museum and cultural center, showing objects, relics and images of boxing, lucha libre matches, roller derby races and punk rock concerts. There will be a free opening celebration from noon to 10 p.m. Sunday filled with tours, a book signing, workshop and party with KCRW Summer Nights. If you can’t make the jam-packed day, the free exhibition runs until May 12, 2024. LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes is open from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and more details can be found on the museum’s website.

An abstract painting of someone looking at a blue sky.
Hank Willis Thomas, “I’ve Known Rivers (variation without flash),” 2023. Mixed media. Screen print and UV print on retroreflective vinyl mounted on Dibond. 95 1/2 × 120 1/8 × 2 1/4 in.
(Hank Willis Thomas / Kyle Knodell / Pace Gallery)
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There are a lot of gallery exhibitions coming to an end next weekend. So this week, I’m spotlighting seven shows before they close on Aug. 26. Start planning your gallery scavenger hunt here:

  • Hank Willis Thomas: I’ve Known Rivers” at Pace Gallery in Mid-Wilshire presents retro-reflective artwork, which means the looks of images depend on how the lighting hits the pieces. The title of the show pulls from a poem by Langston Hughes and the art investigates colonization, globalization and appropriation through abstraction. Pace Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and more info on the free exhibition can be found on its website.
  • What’s It Like to Be a Loon” is a two-part group exhibition curated by Ezra Woods at Stroll Garden in Fairfax. The exhibit uses themes of reincarnation to explore unlived alternate lives. The gallery is free and open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. More details can be found on the gallery’s website.
  • Control Gallery in Hancock Park presents “Mind Flowers” by Othelo Gervacio, an exhibition that investigates the connection between flowers and human emotions through a dark romanticism lens. The free gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. More information can be found on Control Gallery’s website.
  • Marc Selwyn Fine Art in Beverly Hills presents a solo exhibition by Barry Le Va that displays three historical works: “Untitled (Chalk Inverse),” “A- (Red, Green, Blue, Purple, Felt, Steel, Bought, Cut, Folded, Placed, Rolled)” and “Cleaved Corners (3).” Va’s work throughout the ’60s and ’70s pushed the limits of sculpture and made him a leading figure of postminimalism. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and details on the free exhibition can be found on its website.
  • LAUNCH Gallery in Hancock Park presents “Synthesis,” a free exhibition of mixed media art by Japanese American artists Chiho Harazaki and Kaoru Mansour. Both artists embrace bold imagery to tell the stories of their lives. The gallery is open from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and more info can be found online.
  • Noah Dillon’s exhibition of new works at Pio Pico in Boyle Heights examines the body’s relationship to engineered landscapes. He does this by incorporating industrial material and textures and portraying disparate images of places like Whole Foods and Griffith Park. The free gallery is open from noon to 5 p.m. Friday through Saturday, and more info can be found on the gallery’s Instagram.
  • UTA Artist Space in Beverly Hills presents “Ouroboros” by artist and animator Jeron Braxton. The exhibition represents the symbiotic nature of consumerism and addiction. The free gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and more details can be found on UTA Artist Space’s website.

Go out speed round

An abstract blue chair surrounded by sculptures.
Moral Turgeman, “Interwoven Earthscape 3,” 2023, Baja Cresta boulder, PETG, fiberglass, resin, with polyurethane enamel. Turgeman’s “Rooted Signals” exhibition at Praz Delavallade can be viewed until Aug. 19.
(Simon Cardoza Photography)

Go out before it closes: Moral Turgeman’sRooted Signals” exhibition at Praz-Delavallade Projects Los Angeles closes Saturday. The exhibit pays homage to the mushroom, the most intelligent of simple multicellular organisms. Turgeman immerses viewers in sounds and sculptures, inviting them to sit and reflect on the relationship between humans and the natural world. The exhibit is free and the gallery space in Carthay is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. More details can be found on Praz Delavallade’s website.

Go out for free: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s latest exhibition at the California African American Museum in Exposition Park, “Speaking to Falling Seeds,” portrays portraits of Black Angelenos wheat-pasted across the atrium’s monumental walls. The artwork envisions how safety is felt and built for L.A.’s Black residents. Fazlalizadeh will be in conversation with actress, producer and screenwriter Lena Waithe at the museum about the latest addition. The free event is from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday and more details can be found on CAAM’s website.

Go out and craft: LACMA in Mid-Wilshire presents the pop-up “Listening to Geometric Abstraction.” The workshop dives into the connection between music and art. For example, Piet Mondrian used jazz as an inspiration for abstract, geometric artwork. The workshop will explore the connection and let you try it out for yourself, creating art out of your favorite songs. The drop-in event, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, is free with museum admission. More information can be found on LACMA’s website.

Go out with the kids: The Academy Museum in Mid-Wilshire has a workshop for kids that is all about food. The workshop centers on the animated films “The Princess and the Frog” and “Encanto” to show how food, whether it be gumbo or arepas, can play a key role in storytelling in film. Families are invited to create their own mini food props inspired by the movies. Join in from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Shirley Temple Education Studio. The workshop is free with museum admission, which ranges from free to $25. More details can be found on the Academy Museum’s website.

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Go out on a date: Take your date on a culinary journey centered around olive oil. Sounds odd, but the versatility and breadth of the oil can surprise you. Nuvo Olive Oil presents “The Feast of the California Olive,” an evening that includes a three-course seasonal meal from chef Isaac Gamboa (with a specialty cocktail). The experience is $95 per person and you can reserve a time from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday on Eventbrite.

Sculpture of people jumping rope.
Michael Rippens, “Dancing Shoes,” 2001. Wood, plastic, steel cable, found object, enamel. 48 x 72 in.
(Michael Rippens / Tambayan Collective)

Go out all day: Tambayan Collective presents a new free exhibition titled “You Are Welcome.” The show centers around Filipino American identity and includes artistic creations that range from photography to sculptures. Artists include Michael Rippens, Jimmy Quinzon and Maryrose Cobarrubias Mendoza, and the exhibition in Silver Lake is curated by Edmund Arévalo and Tim Obar. There will be an opening reception from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, and the space will also be open from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday. More details can be found on the collective’s Instagram.

Go out all night: Coco Jones, who plays Hilary Banks in Peacock’s “Bel-Air,” has taken over the R&B charts with “ICU,” off her debut EP “What I Didn’t Tell You.” If you haven’t heard her sing live, now is the time. Jones will be performing with Ebony Riley at 9 p.m. Tuesday at Fonda Theatre in Hollywood. Tickets to the Goldenvoice event range from $35 to $146 and details can be found on AXS.

Go out and wander: CicLAvia returns with a new opportunity to take to the streets and explore the city. This time around it will be opening up the streets connecting Koreatown and Hollywood for people to ride, jog, bike, skate, run, walk or board. The free event presented by Metro is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday and more information can be found on CicLAvia’s website.

Go out and plan in advance: This event isn’t until Aug. 23, but with an artist like Jon Batiste taking the stage, it’s worth getting tickets early. The album release event for “World Music Radio” will be held at Fonda Theatre in Hollywood. Tickets are $35 and more details can be found on AXS.

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More from the crew here

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For those who aren’t outdoorsy but still need to cool down, try these 10 inspiring L.A. libraries for when you want free AC and a quiet place to work.

Still can’t escape the unbearable heat? Not to worry, summer is almost over. In the meantime, here are 25 terrific things to do in L.A. before summer ends.

I’m all ears!

That’s all I’ve got for this week. Follow our feed of recommendations and itineraries on Instagram and Twitter, and if you have recs of your own, send them to steven.vargas@latimes.com.

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