Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Announces 2017-18 STAGE SEASON Preview — Twyla Tharp and More

MCA Building exterior at night Peter McCullough, © MCA Chicago.

The Museum of Contemporary Art announces the upcoming 2017-18 MCA Stage season, presenting a cutting-edge series of multidisciplinary theater, dance, and music performances in honor of the museum’s 50th anniversary. The season features national and international artists as well as new work by Chicago-based artists. A highlight of the season is the MCA premiere of highly acclaimed choreographer and dancer Twyla Tharp in December, who is building a program of original dances from the 1960s and 70s, recreated for the first time in decades.

The MCA Curator of Performance Stage season is organized by MCA Curator of Performance Yolanda Cesta Cursac with assistance from the MCA's new Associate Curator of Performance Tara Aisha Willis. Willis said, “I believe that performance carries the potential to respond with immediacy to urgent cultural conversations. I am thrilled to be part of a team that’s working hard to be responsive to a global art landscape as well as the particular communities in Chicago.”

MCA Stage performances take place from September 2017 through May 2018, with opportunities to engage with the artists through related talks, workshops, and open rehearsals announced in advance of the performances. Tickets for the performances are available beginning on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 through the MCA Box Office at 312.397.4010 or All performances take place in the MCA’s Edlis Neeson Theater.


September 7-10, 2017

The latest work by 600 HIGHWAYMEN, The Fever tests the limits of individual and collective responsibility. Created for an intimate viewership of 75 people, writers and directors Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone -- named artist fellows by New York Foundation for the Arts in 2016 --- take turns as narrator, describing an unremarkable party hosted by a woman named Marianne in an unnamed town. As time passes, the performers slowly call on volunteers to catch someone falling slowly, rearrange an arm, or help a person get up. The Fever, which premiered in 2017 at the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival, is Browde and Silverstone’s most evocative study about the sympathetic feeling between strangers and how, uncalled-upon, we are dependent on one another.

Marc Bamuthi Joseph: /peh-LO-tah/

October 5-8, 2017

Inspired by the artist’s first trip to South Africa, when the nation was preparing for the 2010 World Cup, Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s /peh-LO-tah/ recounts personal stories of playing soccer mixed with social commentaries about the business of the sport -- how soccer, the source of joy and physical freedom for so many, is also a means of corruption and inequality. Along with poetry and spoken word, live dancers perform a range of movement from hip-hop to modern and folkloric dances of South Africa and Brazil -- host cities of the World Cup -- fused with movements of footballers from around the world. The performance was developed with and directed by Michael John Garcés with choreography by Stacey Printz, and is accompanied by original music by Tommy Shepherd and vocal arrangements by Yaw Agyeman of the Black Monks of Mississippi, altogether creating a powerful meditation on how egalitarianism is played out in a sport known as “the beautiful game.” Presented by the MCA in association with the Chicago Humanities Festival.

Faye Driscoll: Thank You for Coming: Play

November 9-12, 2017

In Play, Bessie Award-winning director and choreographer Faye Driscoll investigates how we rely on stories to relate to one another and to form identities as individuals and citizens. Conceived as the second in the Thank You for Coming series, which envisions a society where performance is both a collective and a political act, this new work combines stories of the performers and collaborators to create a collective autobiography that is danced, sung, and spoken. The project explores how language can define and reduce our lived experiences, and how we are both organized and undone by our personal and societal narratives in an irreverent and rigorous effort to create new bodies, stories, and forms. Presented by the MCA with the Chicago Humanities Festival.

Twyla Tharp: Minimalism and Me

December 7-10, 2017

The MCA presents Twyla Tharp, one of this century’s most celebrated artists, for an original program in which Tharp explores her works from 1965 to 1970. Minimalism and Me features Tharp’s recollections about the era that focuses on the creation of her seminal early works and her experiences while living among many of the major visual artists of the time. Members of Twyla Tharp Dance recreate excerpts of the works that Tharp discusses during the program. An award-winning choreographer, dancer, and author, Tharp has choreographed more than 160 dances that have appeared in feature movies, ballets, Broadway shows, and television specials. Tharp’s lasting contributions to the worlds of art and dance have been recognized with two Emmy Awards, a Tony Award, a National Medal of the Arts, and a Kennedy Center Honor. Minimalism and Me marks Tharp’s debut at the MCA Stage. 

Federico León: Las ideas

January 25-28, 2018

Las Ideas stages the intimacy of a creative process. Federico León and Julian Tello, the Argentine writer/director duo behind Las Ideas, are seated with their laptops, notebooks, and a projector at a ping-pong table. Blurring the lines between reality and fiction, the audience watches as the two engage in a constant exchange – a ping-pong – of ideas and theories for the show taking place. The viewer is invited to follow this process in real time from within: how hypotheses come up, and which mechanisms are activated to put them into practice. What is an actual part of their lives and what belongs to the artistic experience is unclear; the ideas analyzed, observed, and confronted on stage may in fact become actual working material. Performance is in Spanish with subtitles.

Claire Cunningham and Jess Curtis: The Way You Look (at me) Tonight

February 8-11, 2018

The Glasgow-based artist and leading disability culture activist Claire Cunningham and choreographer Jess Curtis, recipient of the Herb Alpert Award for Choreographer, perform The Way You Look (at me) Tonight, a sensory journey exploring society’s habits of perceiving people and the world. The two performers dance, sing, and tell stories to a collage of original music and video, spurring introspective moments and self-reflection. As the performers excavate their own ways of seeing each other -- as a man and a woman of different ages, bodies, and backgrounds -- so are the audience members asked to look at themselves.

Mind Over Mirrors: Bellowing Sun

April 6-7, 2018

Mind Over Mirrors, the evolving project by Chicago-based musician and composer Jaime Fennelly, premieres Bellowing Sun, a performance that  expands Fennelly’s solo practice as a harmoniumist and synthesist, to include a panoramic ensemble made up of vocalist and percussionist Janet Beveridge Bean, violinist Jim Becker, and percussionist Jon Mueller. The four musicians share an interest in the places where the American vernacular and contemporary avant-garde intersect. Bellowing Sun places the musicians in the center of the room, with audiences seated on the stage encircling a large kinetic sculpture suspended overhead, designed in collaboration with Timothy Breen, Eliot Irwin, and Keith Parham. The centerpiece illuminates the room with live animation and gradual changes in light and color, allowing viewers to see and react to their fellow audience members in this enticing audiovisual environment.

Okwui Okpokwasili: Poor People's TV Room

April 12-15, 2018

Bessie Award-winning artist Okwui Okpokwasili debuts at the MCA with Poor People’s TV Room, a kinetic history of collective action and resistance movements in Nigeria. The performance draws from an historical incident -- the Boko Haram kidnappings of more than 300 girls in 2014 --- in order to unearth buried stories of the country’s women-led resistance campaigns. Okpokwasili performs with a cast of women from different generations in this collaboration with director/designer Peter Born that fuses choreography, song, text, and film to build a potent narrative around the impact of that erasure on Nigerian society today. Blended with Okpokwasili’s aesthetic, Poor People’s TV Room crosses disciplines to make a visceral performance where the past is alive and unleashed.


September 2017 through May 2018

See shows for specific dates


MCA’s Edlis Neeson Theater

220 E Chicago Ave

Chicago, IL 60611


Standard - $30

Student - $10

For more information, MCA Box Office at 312.397.4010 or

Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of 2017 2018 SEASON PREVIEWS.  To find out more about other exciting programming coming to Chicago’s stages this upcoming season, click here to read — 

2017-2018 SEASON PREVIEWS– Guide to Upcoming Shows in Chicago


600 HIGHWAY: Maria Baranova

Marc Bamuthi Joseph: Bethanie Hines Photography

Faye Driscoll: Francesca Beltran & Whitney Brewer

Twyla Tharp: Len Knyper, Robert Propper & Jack Mitchell

Federico León: Bea Borgers (KFDA) & Ignacio Iasparra

Claire Cunningham and Jess Curtis: Robbie Sweeny &

Mind Over Mirrors: Timothy Breen & Saverio Truglia

Okwui Okpokwasili: Mena Burnette of xbmphotography, Paul B. Goode & Ian Douglas


Share this:

Make a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *