Poetry Uncut
The Poetry Uncut series opens UCLA’s Nimoy Theater in fall 2023 | Credit: Sven W. Frenzel

UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance (CAP UCLA) will finally have the second, smaller venue it has needed in fall 2023. That’s the biggest, if expected, news coming out of the season announcement CAP UCLA released last week. Also, the presenter is filling Royce Hall with its usual roster of star performers.

The new UCLA Nimoy Theater is named after the late actor Leonard Nimoy (who found fame starring as Spock on Star Trek, both the TV series and the movies) and was acquired through a gift from his wife, Susan. It’s located at 1262 Westwood Blvd., between Wilshire and Wellworth, in the former Crest Theatre, which in turn opened as the UCLAN Theatre in 1941, commissioned by Frances Seymour Fonda (actor Henry Fonda’s wife). After World War II, it was renamed and showed foreign, indie, and experimental films and was then bought by Pacific Theatres and Disney’s Buena Vista Pictures. The renovation at that time included interior decor by renowned set designer Joseph Musil, who placed original murals depicting scenes of L.A. life on the theater’s walls.

New-music group yMusic plays CAP UCLA in June 2024 | Credit: Graham Tolbert

UCLA’s “reimagining” preserves much of this history, while providing the flexible, intimate performance space that CAP UCLA needs. In the 2023–2024 season, it will open with the performance poetry of J. Ivy, part of the Poetry Uncut series he will curate, which will culminate in a poetry jam on April 6, 2024. Also appearing at The Nimoy will be emissaries of Ethiopian Azmari culture Ethiocolor (Sept. 29), the hip and hot duo of dancer/choreographer Caleb Teicher and pianist/composer Conrad Tao in “Counterpoint” (Sept. 30), pipa player Wu Man (Oct. 15), and Omar Offendum’s The Little Syria Show (Nov. 3–4), which is “set against the backdrop of the lower Manhattan neighborhood once known as Little Syria [and] spans hip-hop, Arabic instrumentation, and ḥakawātī oral storytelling traditions of the Levant to imagine early 20th-century life in the heart of this Arab American community.”

Alt-classical and contemporary-music fans are going to be headed to The Nimoy for a bunch of events that might be too cool for traditional classic music buffs: Gabriel Kahane and the Attacca Quartet in “Magnificent Bird” (Oct. 22), Karim Sulayman and Sean Shibe in “Broken Branches” (Nov. 12), Alarm Will Sound with soloists Nathalie Joachim and Alyssa Pyper (Dec. 2), Eighth Blackbird in “Into the Night” (March 3, 2024), Maya Beiser and Philip Glass (March 30, 2024), Third Coast Percussion in “Perspectives” (April 5, 2024), duo pianists HOCKET in “Photoplay Music: New Works for the Silent Film Era” (May 21, 2024), and yMusic (June 1, 2024).

Kronos Quartet
Kronos Quartet brings “Five Decades” to CAP UCLA in 2024 | Credit: Musical Instrument Museum

At the suddenly less busy Royce Hall, the big jazz shows roll in. Dee Dee Bridgewater and Bill Charlap open the season (Sept. 22), followed by Pat Metheny (Oct. 29), the trio of Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain, and Edgar Meyer along with Indian flutist Rakesh Chaurasia in “As We Speak” (Nov. 18), and in the new year: Terri Lyne Carrington in “New Standards” (Jan. 27, 2024) and the Kronos Quartet’s “Five Decades” tour (April 28, 2024). Speaking of anniversaries, Urban Bush Women celebrate 40 years with “Legacy + Lineage + Liberation” (April 19, 2024).

Finally, The Theatre at Ace Hotel hosts Bill Frisell and Ambrose Akinmusire (Oct. 14), and singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello brings a show based on the work of James Baldwin, “No More Water / The Fire Next Time; The Gospel of James Baldwin” (April 13, 2024).

So at least for this year, smaller is the big news.