The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center Announces 2014-2015 Season

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Clarice is Building the Future of the Arts with NextNOW Artists,
Audiences and Experiences 

CONTACT: Missy McTamney

CONTACT: Sarah Snyder

July 15, 2014 – College Park, MD – The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland (The Clarice), under the direction of Executive Director Martin Wollesen, is creating the NextNOW. We are building the future of the arts by educating, training and presenting the next generation of artists and creative innovators.

By shaping NextNOW audiences, experiences and artists, The Clarice breaks through traditional boundaries in art-making and audience development through the work of its 5 partners: the School of Music (SOM), the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS), the Artist Partner Program (APP), the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library (MSPAL) and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC).

The Clarice’s 2014 – 2015 season will define new audience experiences, give voice to emerging artists and diverse talent and bring a variety of world cultures to the stage. “The future is not tomorrow, but today,” said Wollesen of the upcoming season. “We create and engage in a connected and globalized world that shifts the way we share and how we communicate.  Let wonder guide you and fast forward to the NextNOW.”

Selected highlights of The Clarice’s 2014 – 2015 season include:

The NextNOW Fest

The Clarice’s 2014 – 2015 season opens with the NextNOW Fest, September 11 – 14, 2014, a compact and dynamic exploration of what is possible in the arts for artists and audiences alike.  It provides a glimpse into The Clarice’s NextNOW experience through four days of fun, frolic and forward movement.  The NextNOW Fest includes more than 30 FREE events happening simultaneously throughout The Clarice and on its grounds. The Clarice’s first-ever ArtsTailgate will take place on Saturday, September 13 at UMD’s home game and will feature Australian performance art troupe The Fruits. The Fest also features the unveiling of The Clarice’s new lobby experience with a large-scale projection design showcase, massive balloon sculptures and an artful food and beverage experience. 

In addition to the free activities, two ticketed events are planned, including the NextNOW Fest Brunch on Sunday, September 14, 2014 and Igudesman and Joo, whose unique and hilar­i­ous the­atri­cal shows com­bine com­edy with clas­si­cal music and pop­u­lar cul­ture.  Igudesman and Joo will perform on Friday, September 12, 2014.   Food and beverages will be available for sale throughout The Fest. More information about the NextNOW Fest can be found here.

Redefining Audience Experiences

NextLOOK is a new series in which The Clarice and Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mount Rainier, MD, partner to support artists whose works are in the research and development phase of creation. On October 11, 2014, as part of the NextLOOK series, Pointless Theatre Company, one of the freshest young theatre companies in the region and founded by TDPS alumni, presents the first-ever public presentation of three original puppet spectacles that blend theatre, dance, music and the visual arts.

On November 1, 2014, BASETRACK, a multimedia performance piece incorporating a live musical score, examines the cost of war. Photos and videos from military families are paired with interviews of Marines stationed in Afghanistan during combat to create a daring, moving and inspirational theatrical experience.

Jared Mezzocchi, an award-winning projection designer and assistant professor of multimedia design in TDPS, writes, directs and integrates multimedia technology in TDPS’ The Lost World, which runs February 13 through February 21, 2015. Adapted from Conan O’Doyle’s eponymous silent film, The Lost World uses projections and film to create a stunning theatrical world in which velociraptors and dilophosaurus roam free, but also explores adolescence, the task of preserving our imaginations, and the primordial struggle between chaos and control.

Tia Fuller has toured across the world as a saxophonist in superstar Beyoncé's all-female band but, on April 9, 2015, her musicianship shines in the intimate Cabaret-style setting of the Kogod Theatre. The Kogod transforms into a jazz club with table seating and a bar.

Local Artists

DC’s standout theatre ensemble, dog & pony dc investigates what’s possible through the creation of their newest audience-integrated theatrical work, Toast, September 11-14, 2014 at the NextNOW Fest. Performed in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, dog & pony dc will share character, narrative and design concepts for Toast and collaborate with audience members to imagine how the pieces might fit together into the final production.

The Clarice’s Creative Dialogues is a free conversation series designed to inspire cross-disciplinary conversations around issues that inspire and motivate artists to create their work. On October 30, 2014, a Creative Dialogue entitled The Narrative Elements of War: An Embedded Conversation will continue The Clarice’s exploration of issues of the Civil War and civil rights in a modern-day context. Local panelists BR McDonald, Founder and President of the Veteran Artist Program, and Rina Shah, Founder and Director of International Spirit of Healing, join Anne Hamburger, BASETRACK Producer, and Maurice Decaul, a former Marine, poet, essayist and playwright, in a conversation about war, art, trauma and memory. This Creative Dialogue is in connection with The Clarice’s presentation of BASETRACK, a multimedia theatre piece designed to raise public awareness of the impact of war on the service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 32nd Annual Choreographers’ Showcase, co-presented by The Clarice’s Artist Partner Program and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, features some of the region’s most talented, emerging choreographers on January 24, 2015.

The School of Music’s UMD Symphony Orchestra and UMD Concert Choirperforms Brahms’ German Requiem on November 14, 2014. The performance also features soprano Katie Baughman, a prizewinner in the 2014 UMSO Concerto Competition and SOM alumna, singing Earl Kim’s mournful and introspective composition Where Grief Slumbers (1984).

Diversity in Performance and Female Playwrights

MacArthur ‘Genius’ Kyle Abraham presents When Wolves Came In, a boundary-breaking performance featuring three new dance works that reflect on freedom, the Emancipation Proclamation and the connection between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, on November 8, 2014.

On Saturday March 28, 2015, UNIVERSES’ Party People Salon showcases the history and impact of the Black Panther and Young Lords movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Through the fusion of poetry, jazz, hip hop and Southern blues, the Salon offers a rare opportunity to discover what has become of these inspiring and at times controversial citizens whose movement to make change still reverberates today.

Internationally acclaimed auteur Ping Chong and noted director and dramaturg, Talvin Wilks, collaborate with UMD graduate and undergraduate designers and performers from TDPS to develop Collidescope: Adventures in Pre- and Post-Racial America, a theatrical presentation in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin, from November 7 through November 14, 2014. This devised work examines America’s troubled racial history and its ramifications.

Not only is Jennifer Barclay an assistant professor of theatre performance in TDPS, but she is also one of the nation’s leading female playwrights. The actor-turned-playwright’s The Human Capacity runs May 2 through May 9, 2015 and follows the journey of a Stasi officer in East Berlin as he seeks redemption from the woman whose life he shattered. The Human Capacity looks at a society and family in turmoil, and investigates the human capacity for cruelty, perseverance and forgiveness.

TDPS has partnered with the Big Ten Conference schools to create a new playwriting and performance initiative known as the Big Ten Theatre Chairs. The group will commission, produce and publicize new plays in an effort to influence the national dialogue about women playwrights and aim to produce higher-caliber plays that are effective tools for teaching theatre students. Naomi Iizuka’s Good Kids is the program’s first commissioned work and is staged at The Clarice from February 27 through March 7, 2015. Good Kids explores a casual sexual encounter gone wrong, and its very public aftermath.

World Cultures

On September 20, 2014, La Santa Cecilia brings their distinctive rhythmic style that draws from Latin rhythms, jazz, rock and klezmer music to The Clarice. The group, who won a Grammy in 2014, shares stories about love, loss, heartbreak and the voiceless through their original songs and musicianship.

Tigran Hamasyan is a piano wunderkind. He displays dazzling piano dexterity with an undeniably profound sense of composition. Although he likes to mix up his repertoire– playing everything from thrash metal to dubstep to avant-garde-– his true passion is the folk music of Armenia, his native land. His Kogod Cabaret performance on February 27, 2015 will be his only appearance in the area.

The Nile Project is founded on the belief that music has the power to change perceptions and inspire action. The Nile Project’s unique sound comes from intensive musical residencies in which musicians from the Nile River Basin gather for weeks to learn from one another and translate their experiences into collectively composed new musical works. Established in 2011 by Egyptian ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis and Ethiopian-American singer Meklit Hadero, The Nile Project makes its debut at The Clarice on April 26, 2015.

Commissioning and Support of New Work

The future is generated by NextNOW talent. The Clarice’s Executive Director Martin Wollesen has introduced Pocket Commissions, small but significant “start-up” funds for young composers, choreographers and playwrights to create and share new work with audiences. Recent TDPS graduate and Fulbright recipient, Stephanie Miracle is one of the first artists to receive a Pocket Commission from The Clarice and debuts Groove, a rock-’n’-roll, high-energy dance-theatre work involving international performers that explores groove and free style party dancing as a transcultural experience. Groove caps off the NextDANCE performance as part of the NextNOW Fest on September 11-12, 2014.

Kronos Quartet is a daring ensemble known for their fearlessness and their re-imagination of the string quartet experience. On October 25, 2014, the ensemble performs a new work by Serbian-born Aleksandra Vrebalov and filmmaker Bill Morrison, Beyond Zero: 1914-1918, that marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. Inspired by anti-war writings, music and art created during and after the First World War, the piece utilizes music and film to travel through the turmoil of the “great war.” Morrison’s film features footage from the Library of Congress, some of which has never been seen before. This performance at The Clarice is Beyond Zero: 1914-1918’s East coast premiere.

Choreographed by mother and daughter team Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy of Ragamala Dance, Song of the Jasmine is inspired by the poets of medieval India and employs traditional Indian Bharatanatyam dance to conjure the past in order to experience the power of the present. The score is performed live by jazz saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, UMD alum Rajna Swaminathan on percussion and current UMD student Anjna Swaminathan on classical Indian violin during the performance on February 7, 2015. Song of Jasmine is co-commissioned by The Clarice.

Next Ideas NextNOW

Several new initiatives will continue to unfold as the season approaches.  Common Tone is a jointly-curated program by the UMD School of Music and the Artist Partner Program that connects young artists and the community through creative musical experiences in local neighborhood venues such as Busboys and Poets in Hyattsville, MD.  Events abandon traditional concert ritual, celebrate curiosity, explore the senses and encourage participation. 

TDPS’s Subversive Artists and Ideas Festival brings together leading artists and scholars to explore aesthetic boundaries, challenge social norms and question rules in their performance and research.  The year-long Festival will instigate spirited debate about what it means to be subversive in different disciplines.

And if you’re ready to take it to the NextLEVEL, try The Clarice’s new access program.  Abadoning the subscription model, with NextLEVEL The Clarice is offering extra benefits like artist introductions and invitations to Tweet from Your Seat for selected events, as well as discounted tickets with no booking fees. Additionally, all tickets for the public will be $25 in the 2014-2015 season. Student tickets are $10.

More information about these NextNOW ideas and The Clarice’s entire upcoming season can be found here.


Located on the University of Maryland campus and a part of the College of Arts and Humanities, The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is a premier presenting arts venue and collaborative laboratory shared by the Artist Partner Program (APP), the School of Music (SOM), the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS), Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library (MSPAL) and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC).  The Clarice made its debut in 2001 and has grown into a national model for campus performing arts centers, presenting performances and programs by artist partners as well as by students, faculty and alumni of SOM and TDPS. The Clarice is building the future of the arts now.

The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. An agency of the Department of Business & Economic Development, the MSAC provides financial support and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, units of government, colleges and universities for arts activities. Funding for the Maryland State Arts Council is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.