‘Off Center,’ but on Target

If you like music, or theater, or dancing, or food, the Off Center Festival is for you. Every year, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts puts on a fantastic festival unlike any other I’ve ever seen at a playhouse. The festival will consist of two plays, two musical acts and two dance companies. All from Jan. 22 to Feb. 2, 2013.

Unlike other festivals, the Off Center Festival throws in a fantastic variety of performances. “Audiences will have the chance to meet the artists, discuss their performances, how the works and their interpretations were developed and to give some frank and honest feedback,” as Timothy B. Dunn, the Director of Public Relations, put it.

Everyone I talked to mentioned that the variety of performances astonished them. This year, ticket prices are a measly $10.

One of the first acts for the festival is the incredibly talented Reggie Watts. He’s an incredible performer who blends improv, music and comedy in a way I’ve never seen done before.

Belarus Free Theater will be performing the play “Minsk 2011 A Reply to Kathy Acker” on Jan. 24-26. Belarus Free Theater is well known for their inventive performances, as well as the fact that the theater started as an underground reaction to a repressive government. Almost all the performers are exiles from their native country now. The play deals with sexuality and repression in their native country of Belarus.

“Car Plays” is the third show to go on, playing Jan. 25-27 and Feb. 1-2. It’s about 15 short plays, simultaneously performed in parked cars.

On Jan. 25-26, Doug Varone and Dancers will be doing the show “Stripped/Dressed.” This is a very interesting dance show, because the first half consists of showing the audience how the play came to be (choreography, practice, etc.). The second half is the actual dancing.

On Jan. 28, Sea Wolf will be performing. Similar to Reggie Watts, they will only be playing a single night.

Rival Sons will be playing on Jan. 22. They won Breakthrough Band of the Year in 2011.

Dimensional Life is playing from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2. Essentially, drawings and two-dimensional things change and become other things.

At the same time, Word Becomes Flesh will be playing. It’s a brilliant combination of spoken word, dance and music that tells the story of an expectant father.

While it’s easy to ignore playhouses’ grandiose claims that “This year is different, we promise! We have really great stuff this time,” Segerstrom really impressed with this year’s lineup.

For more information, please visit the Segerstrom Center of the Arts website at www.scfta.org/offcenter, or call (714) 556-2787.