PERFORMANCE PRESENTED LIVE... isn't any obligation to follow a set form or roster of use-'em-or-else rules. There is no edict saying that orchestral music and whimsical puppetry can't share a stage, nor that drama or song can't lavishly, and sometimes wrenchingly, express those things we, as a society, find difficult to discuss. There are fringe festivals, yes, which include comedy and street clowning and mime, and there are alternative festivals, like those that ask a creator to pen a play in an hour or ten minutes. The Off Center Festival, at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, walks its own path into a strangely familiar land, not through traditional buskery, or a theme (like ten-minute plays), but by searching out those artists who are making waves, trying innovative methods of storytelling, and leaving audiences with much to ponder.
"NUFONIA MUST FALL LIVE"... from Kid Koala will unfurl on Jan. 23, and pinning it down to one sole category is a task best left undone, for it can't be done. The mammoth graphic novel of the same name unfurls at the Costa Mesa venue with puppets and music and a host of elements not typically seen when a graphic novel springs to life (something that typically happens in cinemas, let us add, and not on stages). Other works of the multi-day festival include Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely -- hello Americana, roots, funk, soul, and more music taking wing -- and The Martha Redbone Roots Project. Enjoy a free show from Milo Greene on Jan. 23, and make time to watch the thought-provoking "Sell/Buy/Date" from Sarah Jones, which explores "the life experiences of people affected by the commercial sex industry." "Samedi Détente," which emotively details a girl's Rwandan childhood and later departure (told partially through dance), and "ADA/AVA," which is a portrait of grief and memory, also are part of the expansive-of-mind/heart schedule.