The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center will hold its inaugural NextNOW Fest, a four-day festival featuring theatre, music and the arts, from Sept. 11-14.
Martin Wollesen, executive director of The Clarice, came up with the idea as a way to showcase all the University of Maryland and its College of Arts and Humanities offers—especially at the Clarice.
“One of the things we are committed to at the Clarice is working with the next generation of artists and innovators, ideally interested in artists who are thinking differently in how they engage with audiences and the way audiences experience performing arts,” he says. “This is intended to be a very fun couple of days of working with artists who work with audiences in different ways.”
For example, one Chicago theater company will present a series of 32-minute plays and the audience gets to choose which they perform; Dancer Nichole Canuso from Philadelphia will perform for just four audience members at a time, so those watching are part of the intimate performance; and a special brunch with the UMD Symphony Orchestra will be held, and the musicians will play at the table during the meal.
“We think of this as a free, festive, party filled with art, performing arts in particular,” says Leigh Smiley, UMD’s director of the School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies. “Marty has commissioned alumni, current professional dance people and theater students for short little sound bites of shows that will be fun and terrific and people can see probably six things over a course of a day.”
In total, more than 50 events will take place, including audience-integrated theatre from dog & pony dc ; sonic massages by Wollesonic Laboratories; a dance club DJ party by UMD’s Terrapin Beats Society; daredevil aerial dance by Australia’s The Fruits at the first-ever UMD Arts Tailgate; and an Opera Jam Session with UMD School of Music’s Maryland Opera Studio.
Also on tap is NextDANCE, comprised of UMD faculty, students and alumni from the School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies, which will culminate in the world premiere of GROOVE by Fulbright recipient Stephanie Miracle.
“This weekend of festivities is our way to bring Marty into the spotlight. The goal is to get people over here and learn what the Performing Arts Center has to offer,” Smiley says. “The performance art program is aimed towards bringing artists in who can work with our students, as well as entertain the community and anyone who comes to the Clarise to see the shows.”
Another exciting event takes place Friday, Sept. 12, as Aleksey Igudesman and Richard Hyung-ki Joo, who combine comedy and classical music, will perform A Little Nightmare Musician at The Clarice’s Dekelboum Concert Hall at 8pm. Tickets are required for this event.
In addition, from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 13, The Clarice will hold its first-ever Arts Tailgate before the Maryland Terrapins football team’s noon game. The Fruits Daredevil Aerial Dance, a Melbourne-based performance art troupe that fuses theatre, dance and circus, will work on 16-foot-high flexible poles and mesmerizes audiences below.
NextNOW will also offer many interactive arts and food experiences throughout the Fest.
The Clarice YouBooth will allow attendees to share their stories and express themselves on videos that can be shared via social media and be projected onto the walls of the Grand Pavilion; Addi Somekh will create balloon art into sculptures; and Food Frolic will host an array of tastings and surprising menus for people to enjoy.
There will also be a costume sale featuring one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories for The Clarice’s costume shop.
“The Clarice is building the future of the arts,” Wollesen says. “We cultivate singular experiences for artists and audiences and redefine how we create, participate in and experience the arts. We are the NextNOW.”
Most events are free of charge.