Lane Czaplinski: Performing Arts season preview

Lane Czaplinski

Sep 09, 2019

performance and movement artist nora chipaumire is lit in red with fluorescent bars behind her in a scene from her theatrical work 100% POP, coming to the Wexner Center Oct. 25, 2019, in tandem with an Oct. 24 performance of her work #PUNK. Photo: Ian Douglas

Lane Czaplinski, the Wex's Director of Performing Arts, offers an overview of what's happening in the year ahead, both on stage and behind the scenes.

"An excellence of connection, not the aesthetics of excellence."

Bebe Miller said this. We were sitting in my office last month discussing her project Vault, which is an artist-driven, ongoing conversation about methodologies for archiving and sharing dance-making practices. (Bebe and some other cool artists will be in Columbus Vault-ing, January 18–19, 2020.) When we were almost done with our meeting, she asked about business at our center and how things are going. When I described several ways we’re trying to build our community, she responded with the quote above. At first glance, it reads like a repudiation of the old chestnut that focusing on inclusivity compromises excellence. Of course, this doesn’t make any sense, and while this was probably Bebe’s point to some extent, I think she was actually saying something slightly different: art isn’t just about what artists do but it’s also about what it invites others to do. Put another way, creative expression often provides great opportunities for people to connect. 

So not only does next season feature a lineup of some of the most interesting artists working in performance today, it also includes projects and some behind-the-scenes stuff that provides our center with opportunities to connect with people in dynamic ways. 

For example, Awilda Rodriguez Lora, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, and Sharon Udoh will be in residence creating new performance projects, and among them, they will be collaborating with faculty, building community off campus, and helping us provide different perspectives. In a similar vein, Miguel Gutierrez, Annie Dorsen, and Back to Back Theatre will give artist talks in addition to presenting their work. Faye Driscoll, nora chipaumire, and Radouan Mriziga will teach in addition to performing. 

A production image from Radouan Mriziga's site-responsive performance work 7, coming to the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University Nov. 15-16, 2019

My performing arts colleagues, Ashley Stanton and Adam Elliott (aka The A-Team) will program additional music events over the next several months. Ohio State Professor Karen Eliot’s undergrad and graduate students will contribute writings about the season program throughout the year. I’ll work with colleagues toward making more of our performance projects accessible online. And our new Director, Johanna Burton, already brings a fresh eye to how we do this work and push ourselves even further.

Producers, curators, and other arts administrators often don’t tell people about such efforts, which is odd given how mission critical this work is. In grant proposals, we talk about being more inclusive and accessible, removing barriers to participation, and decolonizing our organizations, as well as providing multiple curatorial perspectives, collaborating on- and off-campus, providing better online distribution models, contributing more toward the creative process, and educating the next generation of artists, scholars, and enthusiasts.

While we are actually putting into place real strategies that endeavor to do these things, we often focus our communication efforts on trying to get audiences excited about “what's next,” which can miscast live art as events that take place in the short term rather than something resulting from a creative practice with a potentially longer-term impact on a discipline, institution, or community. 

“An excellence of connection.” 

It’s people from across our campus, city, and state experiencing provocative performances with one another while providing their minds refuge from the normal constructs of day-to-day life. We hope you will join us. 


Images: nora chipaumire, 100% POP, photo: Ian Douglas; Radouan Mriziga, 7, photo © Marc Domage / Benjamin Boar