The Links Hall Co-MISSION Festival was not thought of because of the pandemic, but it was jumpstarted by it. Combining the works of the Links Hall residents and fellows to create a celebration of new work was something they’d been pondering before live performance came to a halt last spring.
“It’s interesting, we started conversations before the pandemic about what it might look like to create one big festival with residents and fellows presenting together,” Stephanie Pacheco, Links Hall executive director, says. “If we were going to have a festival of new work, it would be an opportunity for these artists to be in conversation with each other and look at them in a bigger celebration of the residency program. This provided a good opportunity to do that and try it in a virtual format.”
Spanning two weekends (May 20-30), the festival brings together seven different artists whose modes of performance range from puppetry to performance as social practice. All performances will be broadcast as recordings on YouTube, with the exception of Kierah King’s “*Viewership Intended for Re(Creational) use only*” which will be performed live for the stream.
The festival works were paired by artistic coordinator Aaliyah Christina, who curated them based on content and theme. For example, Christina says, Hannah Santistevan and King’s pieces were paired on the second Saturday night because of heavy choreography. Paired, the performances build a Saturday night party, electric atmosphere for the artists and audience.
An exuberant atmosphere is something that Links Hall is all too familiar with after the past year. They have taken the prolonged intermission to envelope themselves in learning, growing and serving their artistic community through technological advances and resource-sharing equipment. Even in the experiment of crafting the CoMISSION Festival, the folks at Links Hall were always thinking of ways to engage in their artistry.
“This has been a big experimental chemistry project in my opinion,” Christina says. “We’ve been [getting] equipment and doing a lot of homework on and practicing with it and putting it into action… The live events on YouTube and Zoom, all of that has been very experimental, trying to figure out the bells and whistles on everything to make everything look high quality for the audience and comfortable for the artist. This festival is our main event of this whole season and the pandemic. It will feel so full-circle to come back around from mapping all of these things out and canceling all of those shows. To put up this two-week event will be very rewarding at the end of a very long, hard, stressful year.”
Tickets are available here and are free, but donations support artists’ fees. Suggested donations: $20 full price single performance, $15 discount single performance, or pay-what-you-can. A $50 festival pass provides access to all performances and artist talks.