Boney Manilli

Edgar Arceneaux
Past event


Written and directed by interdisciplinary artist Edgar Arceneaux (CalArts MFA 01), Boney Manilli is a dark musical comedy in the shape of a pop music video, a puppet show, and a burial ceremony. Actor Alex Barlas plays “Edgar,” a visual artist overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and self-loathing, who is unable to complete his play on the infamous pop music duo, Milli Vanilli. His freeloading brother, Bro Bro, decides to adapt Disney’s Song of the South into his own play about Black liberation, while their mother, Momma, a failed pop singer, is slowly fading away with dementia. Their lives spin from pathetic to bizarre, becoming strangely intertwined as each one’s search for truth collides with the other’s.


Each night, Boney Manilli opens with a Disco and a 90s-themed karaoke party in the REDCAT lounge. The program includes a post-performance talk on October 7 with Edgar Arceneaux and members of the cast.

To tell a story is one thing, but to paint the picture of identity and infamy within its true reality is Arceneaux’s artistry at its best.

Paulette Ely, Flaunt

Presented by REDCAT in partnership with CAP UCLA.

Boney Manilli is supported by the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. 

UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance received the prestigious Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts’ Artist Project grant for Arceneaux’s Boney Manilli.

about the artist

Edgar Arceneaux

Born in 1972, Los Angeles-based artist Edgar Arceneaux received a BFA from the Art Center College of Design and an MFA from CalArts. Arceneaux constructs drawings, installations, video, and film works as complex arrangements of association that examine adjacencies and points of contact between implausible relations. Constantly working in new modes, Arceneaux directed his first play Until, Until, Until … at the Performa Biennial in NYC in November 2015  and was awarded the Malcolm McLaren Best of Show Award. His new exhibition — play, film, and installation — entitled Boney Manilli is loosely inspired by the infamous pop duo Milli Vanilli. Staged in Nigeria at the Lagos Theater Festival in spring 2019, the work will premiere in the U.S. in 2023 at REDCAT. Arceneaux received the prestigious Mike Kelley Foundation Award in 2019 and the COLA Individual Artist Fellowship in 2020. In 2023, Arceneaux will be participating in the Taipei Biennial, and he will be an artist in residence with the Walker Center for the Arts in Minneapolis in 2024.

He has participated in the Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva Island, Florida; Art Pace in San Antonio; Skowhegan; Banff Center in Canada; and at the Fachhochschule Aachen in Germany. Solo exhibitions have been presented at the Vera List Center at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Studio Museum in Harlem; and Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Basel, Switzerland. His work is in major museum collections at the Whitney Museum; MOMA NY; Carnegie Museum; Museum Ludwig in Köln, Germany; the Hammer Museum; and LACMA, to name a few. He is represented by Vielmetter Los Angeles in Los Angeles and Nathalie Obadia in Paris, and is an associate professor of Art for Roski School of Art and Design at the University of Southern California. Recognized as a national leader in the arts, Arceneaux also serves on the board of directors at Creative Capital.

Instagram / Website

cast & creative team

Written and directed by Edgar Arceneaux 

Original music written by Edgar Arceneaux, in collaboration with Nick Goldston, Everette Saunders and Kirby Tepper

Performed by Alex Barlas, Efé, Terry Wayne Jr.

Dramaturgy by Douglas Kearney

Produced by Ratri Anindyajati and Rarara!

Production Management by Xiaoyue Zhang and Gefei Liu

Stage Management by Macy E. Kunke

Lighting design by Omar Madkour

Costume design by Loren Weldon

Scenic and Props design by Yuki Ding

Puppet design by Miguel Ayala

Video design by Kamyi Lee

Sound design by John Zalewski