The Broad Stage
The Broad Stage in Santa Monica | Credit: Ben Gibbs

The Broad Stage is taking a stake in the future of the arts on its stage. This month, the venue and presenter, partnered with Santa Monica College, announced programming for its upcoming seasons. What’s different this time around: The Broad Stage is commissioning the works and following the creative process every step of the way.

Five new productions now anchor the seasons ahead as the venue approaches its reopening. These commissions make up what Artistic and Executive Director Rob Bailis is calling The Broad Stage’s “first creative cohort.” And each work is a collaborative world unto itself — a Tony-winning director, a couple of jazz greats, and even Los Angeles’s most famous architect are among those involved.

Rachel Chavkin
Rachel Chavkin | Credit: Erik Tanner

Director Rachel Chavkin, whose projects (Hadestown and more) have gone from downtown to Broadway in recent years, is working with her theater ensemble the TEAM on a timely piece, Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside). Jazz stars of different generations, Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding, are collaborating on an operatic retelling of Iphigenia, which will feature sets by Frank Gehry. Composer Raven Chacon is writing the score for a new dance piece, international pop star Angélique Kidjo has her own show in the works, and the artists of Quote Unquote Collective are developing something that’s “part concert, part theater play.” The Broad Stage joins a handful of theaters and presenters across the country in co-commissioning these works, whose exact premiere dates through the Santa Monica venue, beginning with the 2021–2022 season and going through 2023–2024, are to be announced.

In the meantime, The Broad Stage is taking audiences behind the scenes of the productions in progress. The theater debuts an online series, REVEAL, next month; the first three episodes, which will stream on The Broad Stage’s website, focus on Chavkin and company’s Reconstruction.

It’s new programming as the venue gears up for reopening. “With any luck, we will soon share our hopeful plans for outdoor events this summer and an in-theater season of theater, dance, and music,” said Bailis. And the collaborative, commissioning approach will play a big role going forward. “As these works develop and premiere, we will announce new cohorts to follow,” Bailis anticipates.