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“I see UCLA as becoming a major stop on the international festival circuit.
That’s my ambition,” says Sefton, who spent June and July frequent-flying
from Mexico City to London, Madrid and Moscow to take in 45 different shows
— only one of which he thinks may be good enough to come here. With his
antennae always pinging for the next best production and his global contacts
keeping him wired, he was off in August to a Zurich festival to see performances
from Israel, Australia and Belgium.
Lest you think this a dream job, Sefton notes: “Roughly 90-plus percent
of what I see is rubbish. I see it so no one here has to. I’m the quality-control
The theater festival was just part of Sefton’s debut season that offered
86 different artists and groups that included Yo-Yo Ma, Brian Wilson of the
Beach Boys, the Bach Collegium Japan, Elvis Costello, the world-renowned Kronos
Quartet, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, hip-hop pioneers, Rennie Harris
Puremovement, contortionists and roller-skating violinists.
That season, he says, “was my mission statement.” This season,
he is strengthening the mix with such offerings as Berlin’s Volksbühne,
Mikhail Baryshnikov, Randy Newman, Emmylou Harris, Michael Moore, Itzhak Perlman
and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, straight from its sold-out run of Twelfth
Night in London. In his drive to bring the most innovative and exciting works
here, he will take on a creative role. From the L.A. club scene will emerge
White Trash Wins Lotto, a scathing musical satire of sex, drugs and rock ’n’
roll, which Sefton is producing with Los Angeles composer/writer Andy Prieboy,
former Wall of Voodoo vocalist.
“When people say, ‘You’re just picking things that you like’
— well, yeaaah, pretty much,” Sefton snorts. “That’s
the job, really. I get to exercise my own prejudices, tastes and discriminations.
That’s what I’m here for. But it’s important to me that we
bring in not just the radical and experimental, but the truly fabulous.”
The Globe’s Twelfth Night, for example, “was one of the best things
I saw last year. I also plan on bringing in Chekhov and Ibsen someday, works
not just by the greats, but great productions of those works.”