Creative Producing student Sophie Blumberg (Theater MFA 20) presents her capstone project We’re Gonna Die at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles on Thursday (Feb. 20). Directed by Monty Cole (Theater MFA 19), and featuring CalArts’ Herb Alpert School of Music alumni band Laugh Queens and a cross-school team of current students and alumni, writer Young Jean Lee’s We’re Gonna Die is a multidisciplinary performance centered on embracing and celebrating mortality through the creation of a dynamic community-oriented space.
Blumberg describes the inception of the project:
We’re Gonna Die is a challenge to myself as a producer to bridge the gap between theater and music audience experiences, while challenging artists to do the same. The project was inspired by seeing a concert at Bootleg Theater, a venue that itself bridges those worlds. I wanted to create a performance that operated with the flexibility and immediacy of a concert with the emotional impact of a really good play. When both Monty’s father and my own died within eight months of each other in 2018, we knew that We’re Gonna Die was the project that we needed to make.
At the heart of the performance is the idea of breaking down boundaries, between grief and joy, between audience and performer, and between disciplines. Part concert, part storytelling, We’re Gonna Die will elevate beyond the typical performances, demystifying loneliness by making it a shared, group experience.
Director Cole elaborates:
The first time I heard We’re Gonna Die, I heard it as a beautiful album by Future Wife. It reminded me of soulful R&B albums that I listened to as a kid. That music had the ability to plunge into deep emotions and interrupt itself with interludes of everyday life… When my dad passed, those songs and stories suddenly became something more utilitarian. Young Jean Lee has written a piece that helps one deal with love, life, and grief. By performing We’re Gonna Die, you’re sharing a gift, a bag of tools to reckon with your mortality and loss.
The all-CalArtian team includes: director Cole and producer Blumberg; performer Pricilla Jin Chung (Theater MFA 20); guitarist and vocalist Stephanie D’Arcy (Music BFA 19); drummer Ryan Albaugh (Music BFA 18); guitarist Mackenzie Bryce (Music BFA 19); synth player Scarlett Perry (Music BFA 19); bassist Giancarlo Arzu (Music BFA 19); costume designer Edurne Fernandez (Theater MFA 19); lighting designer Omar Madkour (Theater MFA 20); and graphic designer Alex Cerutti (Art BFA 20).
For an in-depth podcast interview with Monty Cole about the performance, please visit the LA Theatre Bites podcast.
We're Gonna Die
The Bootleg Theater
2220 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles
Thursday, Feb. 20
Laugh Queens performs an opening set at 7:30pm
We’re Gonna Die begins at 8:30pm
Post-show reception following the show, sponsored by the CalArts Alumni Office, featuring the band Lace