When it comes to contemporary youth theater, few are as ambitious — or successful — as Proximity Theatre. Founded in 2007 by NYU students Kyra Lehman and Ken Urbina, the Santa Barbara–based company has made a name for itself by putting on inventive and forward-thinking theater pieces, ranging from creative takes on the classics (Romeo & Juliet, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) to stunning original pieces (The Marvellous Story of Shandy Wilkes).
This Sunday, July 29, Proximity hosts a benefit concert at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club. Featuring some of Santa Barbara’s brightest rising musicians — The Wools, Sierra Reeves, Kuntar — the night promises to be an eclectic and action-packed affair. Below, you’ll find just a few reasons why you should turn out for Sunday’s event. For more about Proximity, or to purchase tickets, visit proximitytheatre.org.
1. The Mastermind: On top of his role as Proximity’s executive director, Urbina is an accomplished songwriter and performer. (He’s also the man behind all of Proximity’s musical scores.) On Sunday, he’ll bring his soulfully electro-tinged, R&B-inspired songs to the stage. Fans of Frank Ocean take heed.
2. The Rising Rockers: If you caught The Wools at one of their few and far-between first performances, you know what the hype is about. The young five-piece is smartly mixing potent piano pop with a catchy mix of Spoon-like deliveries and infectious psych-rock hooks. As an added bonus, Sunday marks their first SOhO showing.
3. The Song Bird: Also on board: Santa Barbara songstress Sierra Reeves. The fair-voiced singer is touting a new band, as well as a smattering of new (and newly reworked) songs, which sound like a heady mix of Imogen Heap and Vanessa Carlton: in other words, pure harmonized dreaminess.
4. The Future: In the coming months, Proximity will unveil a new, original play based on a classic story (the title is being kept under wraps until the premiere), as well as a collaboration with the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum. They’ll also be offering teen theater workshops and a group trip to N.Y.C. “The money we raise goes straight into our current production and future programming,” explained Urbina about Sunday’s event. “From rehearsal and performance space to printer paper and ink cartridges — it all goes toward the greater good of our mission to inspire people to connect to their bodies, themselves, and each other by vigorously exploring how alive we can be in our own skins.” People interested in helping out and not able to attend the benefit are encouraged to visit proximitytheatre.org to donate.