Artscapes: Off Center Festival Brings Bold Productions to Segerstrom Center

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“Expect the unexpected.”

That’s what Segerstrom Center President Terry Dwyer said about last year’s annual Off Center Festival.

And as expected, the unexpected has returned for this year’s Off Center Festival, which runs January 10 – 26.

Best described as an artistic joyride of music and avant-garde performance art, the Off Center Festival is noteworthy not just for the eclectic presentations but for the audiences that are drawn to these non-mainstream productions.

This year’s festival includes three artists.

The powerful performance piece HEAR WORD! Naija Woman Talk True opens the Festival January 10 – 12 with real stories of Nigerian women and their obstacles.

Then Latinx artist Flaco Navaja presents his first full-length solo show “Evolution of a Sonero” January 17 – 19.

Closing the festival is Obie Award-winner Ethan Lipton and His Orchestra January 24 – 26 with their Vaudeville-esque musical show No Place to Go, an ode to the unemployed.

The popular Off Center Lounge returns to George’s Cafe (formerly called Center 360) on the Argyros Plaza. It will be open late each evening with a special post-performance menu. Audiences are encouraged to mingle and meet with Festival artists at the Lounge.

“This year’s three Festival productions are theatrical, entertaining, and at times provocative,” noted Dwyer. “And I invite everyone to stop by our Off Center Lounge before and after all productions. Have a bite to eat, meet and greet our artists and enjoy spirited discussions about Festival productions, news of the day and their careers.”

All tickets are $25 and are on sale now at SCFTA.org, at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa or by calling (714) 556-2787. Off Center programs are recommended for mature audiences.

OFF CENTER SCHEDULE

HEAR WORD! Naija Woman Talk True

Thursday – Saturday, January 10, 11 & 12 at 8 p.m.

Samueli Theater

Directed by Ifeoma Fafunwa

Produced by iOpenEye Ltd

HEAR WORD! is an exhilarating performance piece that combines artistry, social commentary and true-life stories of inequality and transformation, delivered by some of Nigeria’s most talented actresses. “Hear word” is Nigerian Pidgin for “listen and comply,” and the show delivers an intimate view into the lives of women from all corners of Nigeria who are facing unique and universal issues, including the limitation of potential for achievement, independence, decision-making and leadership.

Flaco Navaja: Evolution of a Sonero

Thursday – Saturday, January 17, 18 & 19 at 8 p.m.

Samueli Theater

Written and performed by Flaco Navaja

Directed by Jorge B. Merced

Live music by The Razor Blades: Carlos Cuevas (piano), Waldo Chávez (bass), Gabo Lugo (percussion), Victor Pablo (percussion), Hommy Ramos (Trombone)

Lighting design by Lucrecia Briceño

Evolution of a Sonero is the first full-length solo show by acclaimed artist Flaco Navaja. With unabashed love for The Bronx, a gift for crafting memorable characters, and genuine good humor, Navaja and six top-notch musicians — aka The Razor Blades — bring on the charm, the rhythm, and the soul essential to a Bronx Sonero. Paying homage to many great musical icons from Janis Joplin to Menudo, from The Doors to Héctor Lavoe, from Jimi Hendrix to Rubén Blades, the play is as much about Navaja’s creative evolution as it is about the wild mix that gives life to a rhyme, a people and a culture.

Ethan Lipton and His Orchestra: No Place to Go

Friday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 26 at 2 and 8 p.m.

Samueli Theater

Written by Ethan Lipton

Music Composed and Performed by Ethan Lipton & His Orchestra

Original Direction by Leigh Silverman

Produced in Association with ArKtype / Thomas O. Kriegsmann

Featuring: Ethan Lipton, Vocals; Vito Dieterle, Saxophone; Eben Levy, Electric Guitar; Ian Riggs, Bass/Acoustic Guitar.

In No Place to Go, Obie Award-winning playwright, actor and singer Ethan Lipton, with his fine three-piece group, delivers an irreverent and musical ode to the unemployed through jazz, blues, country and lounge stylings, and a whole lot of imagination. It’s spacy premise: the company Lipton has worked for is relocating to Mars. And he doesn’t want to go. Lipton’s modern Everyman maintains an unflappable spirit and shows how to keep calm and carry on.

 

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