July 12 – 27, 2002
Described as “a sound theater presentation”, The Radio, written and directed by visual artist William Leavitt, took place at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions at 8 pm. on July 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 & 27.
Admission was $7.
A unique hybrid that combines elements of theater, musique concrete, and installation art, The Radio is based on a script written for three characters along with a soundtrack, also composed by Leavitt, which arguably functions as a fourth character. Alternately speaking to each other and delivering soliloquy, the actors issue dialogue that is nonlinear and is meant to seem somewhat unsettled. The Radio occurs at an unspecified time around the present – either the immediate future or the immediate past, but not at the current time.
An urge to connect with others, despite a seeming indifference, pervades The Radio. Formally, the actors themselves are physically disengaged, each separated from the other on his or her own stage. Central to the work, the recorded sound suggests a simmering sense of potential action but, like the conversations, has no apparent beginning or end. Together, the elements of The Radio result in an evocative narrative about how we relate to each other as individuals and as societies. It quietly but provocatively raises matters pertaining to private relationships and public political issues such as capitalism, the fragility of the environment, isolationism, and secessionist movements. Everything about The Radio skillfully combines a taught sense of urgency with Zen-like restraint.
The Radio features performances by Marlena Rijin, John Linton, and Linden Waddell. Approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes long, The Radio is a thoughtful musing on personal/cultural/political/social moments past, present, and future.
This performance provided a rare opportunity to see a live presentation by William Leavitt. The last one in this area took place twelve years ago. Leavitt has influenced generations of students, and now teaches at Marymont College, Rancho Palos Verdes. He has also taught at Otis Art Institute and California Institute of the Arts. Leavitt is a theater artist, painter, and musician who has performed and exhibited in Los Angeles since 1975. He wrote and produced his first theater piece, “The Silk”, in 1975. Around 1988 he began working with Joseph Hammer and Rick Potts on experimental music projects. They collaborated on the music for “Random Trees”, a play that was presented at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in 1990. Other theatrical works of his that have had productions or staged readings are “Spectral Analysis” (1977), “Three Sofas” (1988), and “Nestor takes Advice” (1996). As a cellist he has performed in several local groups including Solid Eye, The Subtones, and Provisional Riviera. He was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for New Genres in 1991 and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 1998. His installation works and paintings are shown at the Margo Leavin Gallery in Los Angeles.
Special thanks to Margo Leavin, The American Composers Forum, and Transparency for support of this project. Support for Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions and its programs comes from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, California Arts Council, California Community Foundation Arts Funding Initiative, Getty Grant Program, Thornton S. Glide, Jr. and Katrina D. Glide Foundation, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and the members of Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions.