DIRECT CURRENT

Direct Current

With special emphasis on female creators, on works new to the District of Columbia, and on interdisciplinary creations, the 2020 spring immersion showcases some of the most provocative, original and pioneering voices in the arts today. 

Upcoming Events

DIRECT CURRENT

Ava DuVernay: Screening of 13th

Mon. Mar. 9, 2020

DIRECT CURRENT kicks off with a special screening of Ava DuVernay’s Oscar®-nominated documentary 13th, with Jason Moran’s powerful score performed live for the first time in collaboration with One Woman, One Vote 2020 Festival. Named for the 13th Amendment—which abolished slavery but permitted involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime—13th is an in-depth investigation of the U.S. prison system’s role in our national history of racial injustice. Stay for a post-show discussion with director/writer/producer Ava DuVernay.

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DIRECT CURRENT

jaimie branch’s Fly or Die

Wed. Mar. 11, 2020

For more than a decade, the Brooklyn–based trumpeter/composer has joined diverse acts like William Parker, Spoon, TV on the Radio, and Bell Orchestre. Now, she’s touring with music from her critically acclaimed sophomore album FLY or DIE II: bird dogs of paradise.

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DIRECT CURRENT

Forte

Thu. Mar. 12, 2020

The REACH hosts the D.C. premier of Forte, David Donnelly's new film which challenges outdated notions of classical success and spotlights the strength of three diverse women.

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DIRECT CURRENT

Mija

Fri. Mar. 13, 2020

Though she’s been described as electronic music producer & DJ, Mija’s true identity as an artist is in fact closer to the fantastical independent spirit of Bjork, who she considers one of her primary influences (along with Nicolas Jaar, Imogen Heap, and Chopin).

DIRECT CURRENT

p r i s m

Mar. 13 - 14, 2020

Witness the D.C. premiere of p r i s m, Ellen Reid’s surreal, haunting opera which explores the trauma of sexual abuse and the elasticity of memory that can follow in its wake. Set to a libretto by Roxie Perkins, p r i s m was recently recognized with both the Music Critics Association of North America’s “Best New Opera Award” and the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

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Ava DuVernay: Screening of A Wrinkle in Time

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Presented in collaboration with the OneWoman, One Vote 2020 Festival, Ava DuVernay, America’s highest grossing black female director to date, will have selections from her distinguished filmography, including A Wrinkle in Time (2018), screened at the Kennedy Center REACH as part of a citywide retrospective of her work, with support from the Mayor’s Commission on Television, Film, Media and Entertainment.

DIRECT CURRENT

Live from Here

Sat. Mar. 14, 2020

Attend a live broadcast of Live from Here, American Public Media’s nationally syndicated, weekly variety show hosted by Chris Thile (of both Nickel Creek and the Punch Brothers). In this Concert Hall event, Thile welcomes an all-female lineup of exciting guest artists.

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DIRECT CURRENT

Camila Meza and the Nectar Orchestra

Sat. Mar. 14, 2020

Drawing inspiration from American jazz, Latin American music, and popular songs across decade and genre, Meza wows audiences with her rare combination of talents: fantastic singing, complex guitar work, and vivid musical storytelling.

Washington National Opera

DIRECT CURRENT

Blue

Mar. 15 - 28, 2020

In the D.C. premiere of Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson’s new contemporary opera, a family struggles when a teenager is shot by police.

DIRECT CURRENT

Ava DuVernay: Screening of Selma

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Presented in collaboration with the OneWoman, One Vote 2020 Festival, Ava DuVernay, America’s highest grossing black female director to date, will have selections from her distinguished filmography, including Selma (2014), screened at the Kennedy Center REACH as part of a citywide retrospective of her work, with support from the Mayor’s Commission on Television, Film, Media and Entertainment.

DIRECT CURRENT

Patti Smith, Jesse Paris Smith, and Rebecca Foon

Sat. Mar. 21, 2020

DIRECT CURRENT’s mainstage season draws to a close with an evening of music and poetry from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame punk icon and National Book Award-winning poet Patti Smith; her daughter, the composer, instrumentalist and activist Jesse Paris Smith; and Canadian cellist and composer Rebecca Foon.

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Program

DIRECT CURRENT, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’s two-week celebration of contemporary culture, returns for a third season. With special emphasis on female creators, on works new to the District of Columbia, and on interdisciplinary creations, the 2020 spring immersion showcases some of the most provocative, original and pioneering voices in the arts today. 

DIRECT CURRENT takes place on March 8–21 at the Kennedy Center – including the flexible indoor and outdoor spaces of the REACH, its unprecedented new expansion – and beyond.

At The Kennedy Center

DIRECT CURRENT’s wealth of offerings span the artistic spectrum, from the D.C. premieres of two major new operas to an interactive light show and bold new experiments in dance. Prominent female creators in attendance include Ellen Reid, Jeanine Tesori and Patti Smith, while performers range from Chris Thile to Washington National Opera. All told, DIRECT CURRENT’s third season offers a snapshot of contemporary culture through a thoughtfully curated collection of work by some of today’s foremost cultural risk-takers.

Jamie Branch playing the trumpet.

Female Creators

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women’s suffrage. To honor this milestone centennial, DIRECT CURRENT 2020 not only shines a light on female artists and their work, but also collaborates with two D.C.-based organizations: the One Woman, One Vote 2020 Festival and Vital Voices Global Partnership. The  One Woman, One Vote 2020 Festival marks the centennial with presentations of films, concerts, exhibitions, and special events throughout the city, including a screening of Ava DuVernay’s 13th (March 9). International non-profit Vital Voices joins DIRECT CURRENT for their annual Global Mentoring Walk on International Women’s Day 2020 (March 8) and the Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards (March 11).

Patti Smith, Jesse Paris Smith, and Rebecca Foon

Free Performances

To amplify the mainstage offerings, each evening during DIRECT CURRENT there will be a free live multi-genre performance on the Millennium Stage or in other Kennedy Center venues, where the voices of female creators will once again predominate. Comedian Sarah Sherman (aka Sarah Squirm) shares her signature mix of feminism, self-loathing and performance art (Millennium Stage, March 21). A wealth of additional free events will be announced soon.

D.C. Premieres

DIRECT CURRENT is thrilled to present the D.C. premieres of p r i s m, the surreal and haunting first opera by composer Ellen Reid; and Blue, a new chamber opera on race, violence, and reconciliation from Tony Award®-winning composer Jeanine Tesori and award-winning librettist-director Tazewell Thompson.

Patti Smith, Jesse Paris Smith, and Rebecca Foon lead the audience in the D.C. premiere of Little Sunrise, an interactive lightshow by trailblazing Danish-Icelandic visual artist Olafur Eliasson.

A music and dance double-bill features the East Coast premiere of 1 0 0 1 (2019), performed live by its creators: choreographer and Company Wayne McGregor member Fukiko Takase, “a diabolo of a dancer” (Evening Standard, UK) and composer Dustin O’Halloran.

DIRECT CURRENT is presented as part of The Irene Pollin Audience Development and Community Engagement Initiatives.