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Pittman Painters


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!!“Every dance is a kind of fever chart, a graph of the heart.” — Martha Graham
Step outside this month, look around, and everywhere you’ll see the natural world erupting with new life and color. Now, want to witness raw human emotions in full bloom as spring floods your senses? Then seek out any of a dozen contemporary dance, movement theatre, and ballet events cascading across stages all over town throughout March.

Arts@Tech will present VIVA MOMIX at the Ferst Center, featuring a collection of acts from the company’s most visually spectacular shows, including Botanica (about the four seasons), Lunar Sea (the moon), and Opus Cactus (the landscape of the American Southwest). MOMIX is a company of dancer/illusionists founded and directed by Moses Pendleton, and their shows are perfect for all ages. I hope you are among the lucky ones to get a full rush of this troupe’s vivid eye candy in dazzling motion.

$15-$25, 7 p.m., Sun., March 1. Ferst Center for the Arts, 349 Ferst Drive. 404-894-2787. Click here for more information.

The most eclectic mix of Atlanta-based dance talent on display this month takes over The Windmill stage in East Point March 5–8. Excuse The Art (ETA) highlights works-in-progress by the Windmill’s Artists-in-Residence and selected artists from the metro area. ETA was created by the members of Fly on a Wall and Windmill Arts Center owner Sam Ross. For the past several weeks, all the artists have been developing their own pieces at The Windmill with input from each other — dancers and movement artists sharing feedback with actors, actors offering drama-turgy tips to dancers, etc.


The four day dance series includes new works by AMT, Walter Apps, Shakira Bell/Blurred Lines Dance Company, LaMia Dingle/Reveal Movement, Nathan Griswold, Porter Grubbs and The Mediums Collective, ImmerseATL, Nicole Johnson and Jimmy Joyner, Jacob Lavoie, Asha Lu, Gianna Mercandetti, Clara Ofotokun, Olivia Rowe, Jordan Slaton, Ben Stevenson, and The Windmill’s resident theater company, Vernal & Sere. The 15 performances fill two programs that will be presented twice: Program A on Thursday and Saturday, March 5 and 7; and Program B on Friday and Sunday, March 6 and 8. The smart move is buying a $25 series ticket that gets you into both programs, plus a free cocktail each night.

$15 per Program A or B; $25 for 2 Programs. 7:30 p.m. Thurs., March 5–Sat., March 7; 4:30 p.m., Sun., March 8. The Windmill Arts Center, 2823 Church St., East Point. 470-588-6244. Click here for tickets.

It may take some serious time management during the first weekend in March, but if you can make it to Kennesaw State University’s Marietta campus Friday March 6 or Saturday March 7, you can experience Modern Myths, a captivating program of neo-classical ballet inspired by Greek mythology. This double bill includes two works by founding members and resident choreographers of Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre — Under the Olive Tree by Tara Lee and Heath Gill’s Horizons. Tara Lee’s work explores the divine/human duality and the seriously flawed psyches of several Greek gods and goddesses. Lee’s fluid choreography both celebrates and opposes classical dance, ranging from stark solos to sensual pas de deux and a frenzied Dionysian scene featuring a dozen delirious dancers. The tale of Icarus’ fiery fall from the heavens inspired Gill to create Horizons. Terminus performances tend to sell out, so plan ahead.

$48.49 (premium), $32.33 (standard), and $16.16 (student). 8 p.m., Fri., March 6; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sat., March 7. Kennesaw State University Dance Theater, 1100 South Marietta Pkwy. S.E., Marietta. 470-733-8274. Click here for more information. 

Or you might consider returning to Cobb County the following Saturday, March 14, to explore The Space in Between, a performance by visiting dance company Ballet 5:8. The program features a trio of ballet works choreographed by Julianna Rubio Slager and based on novels and essays of Christian writer C.S. Lewis. Inspired by Lewis’ novel The Great Divorce, The Space in Between takes place in a town where the rain falls continuously and a man stands at a bus stop, on the brink of heaven and hell. According to Slager, “The work explores the nature of eternity and the joy found on its shores.” Also on the program, Meditations, based on the essay Meditations in a Toolshed, and Of Splendors and Horrors, inspired by a collection of Lewis’ essays and addresses, The Weight of Glory.

$15-$25. 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sat., March 14. Kennesaw State University Dance Theater, 1100 South Marietta Pkwy. S.E., Marietta. 470-733-8274. Click here for more information.

In the mood for something lighter, more of a performance sampler? Then take a whiff of Night Air, a potpourri of short and durational performances appearing in and around the historic Callanwolde mansion on Friday, March 13.  Atlanta artists include members of dance companies Prime Movers, Kit Modus, and Fly on a Wall, dancer/choreographer Corian Ellisor, aerialist Beth Del Nero, and immersive performance art by members of Mediums Collective.

$15. 7:30 p.m., Fri., March 13. Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, 980 Briarcliff Road N.E. 404-872-5338. Click here for more information.

On almost any weekend, some of the most interesting live performances are taking place in theaters and on stages at area universities. That’s certainly true during the third weekend in March, with three different dance events happening simultaneously at Agnes Scott College, Emory University, and Georgia Tech on Friday and Saturday, March 20 and 21, following the spring equinox.

On that Friday and Saturday night, Decatur-based Core Dance presents two (free) performances of “Manifolds” in the courtyard of the Dana Fine Arts Building at Agnes Scott. According to choreographer Rose Shields, “The work examines how the indi-vidual and the community connect with the concepts of architecture and dimension, the physical versus the abstract, and the struggle and growth that is life.” Shields created “Manifolds” in collaboration with visual artist Julia Hill and Core Dance artists. “I’m really interested in how reality appears and changes from person to person according to their unique perspectives,” says Shields. “By distorting reality in ‘Manifolds,’ I hope to spark in people the desire to be ever curious and to not be afraid to learn something new or old.”

Free. 7 p.m., Fri., March 20 and Sat., March 21. Dana Fine Arts Building Court-yard, Agnes Scott College, 141 E. College Ave., Decatur. 404-373-4154. Click here for more information.

Meanwhile, over at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts at Emory, graduate student Maria McNiece investigates themes of existentialism and religious allegory in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot. As part of her interdisciplinary research project involving dance, English, and theater scholarship, she will perform her own dance work that, in her words, “embodies questions regarding human agency.”   Hmmm. There’s a lot to ponder there. With apologies to Becket’s ever-patient Estragon, perhaps she could dance first and think afterwards.


Among the real highlights of every spring dance season is Dance Canvas, which re-turns to the Ferst Center at Georgia Tech March 20 and 21. Each year, Dance Canvas selects up to 10 choreographers from across the U.S. to create and present work through the Choreographer Career Development Initiative. Working with partners C4 Atlanta and Kennesaw State University, the choreographers also participate in workshops dealing with business development, lighting design, marketing, costuming, and public speaking. Dance Canvas 2020 will include new works by these emerging choreographers: Lindsay Renea Benton, Kaila Carter, TereLyn Jones, Elena Notkina, Catherine Messina, Austyn Rich, Peter Swan, Mary Beth Stinson, and Vanessa Zabari. More than 40 professional ballet, contemporary, and tap dancers will perform during the two-night event.

$30. 8 p.m., Fri., March 20 and Sat., March 21. Ferst Center for the Arts, 349 Ferst Drive. 404-894-2787. Click here for more information.

And then there’s “enra.” A Japanese performing arts collective, enra combines contemporary dance, juggling, and martial arts. Their global touring production Dreams lands at the Ferst Center the following weekend, on Friday, March 27. Here’s how they describe their show: “Brilliant, animated computer graphics synchronize with the performers’ movements in a series of magical vignettes that transport you from the sweet beauty of a starry night to the explosive energy of a galaxy in formation, and from a world of abstract whimsy to a modern, gritty cityscape.” Sounds like hypnotic fun. I’m in.

$10-$25. 8 p.m., Fri., March 27. Ferst Center for the Arts, 349 Ferst Drive. 404-894-2787. Click here for more information.

::::
I don’t know if March is coming in like a lion or going out like a lamb, but I do know this whirlwind month of dance will finish with a performance of Giselle. The Atlanta Ballet will present one of the all-time classic masterworks at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center March 27 through 29. How’s this for a romantic fever dream? After a young peasant girl named Giselle is deceived by her lover Albrecht, she dies of a broken heart. But then she rises from the grave along with the supernatural “Wilis,” the ghostly spirits of maidens betrayed by their lovers who trap any men they can seduce. The vengeful demons entice and capture Albrecht and force him to dance until he dies, but the power of Giselle’s love protects him and ultimately sets them both free. If you’re ever going to experience a full-on, over-the-top classic ballet, Giselle is a great one to submit to.

$20-$140. 8 p.m., Fri., March 27 and Sat., March 28; 2 p.m., Sat., March 28 and Sun., March 29. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Pkwy. 404-892-3303. Click here for more information.

If a month full of classic and contemporary performances doesn’t satisfy your insatiable curiosity about every kind of dance, then help yourself to an extra goth portion of “Butoh and Nature: Dance as Ecological Methodology.” “Butoh,” often translated as “dance of darkness,” rose out of the ashes of post-World War II Japan as an extreme avant-garde dance form that shocked audiences with its grotesque movements and graphic sexual allusions. The Friends of Emory Dance present a free lecture by Dr. Rosemary Candelario of Texas Woman’s University on Tuesday, March 31, in the dance studio at the Schwartz Center at Emory. A teacher and choreographer, Dr. Candelario writes about and makes dances engaged with butoh, ecology, and site-specific performance. Her lecture will focus on the various ways butoh dancers make connections between their dance and their local landscapes. 

Finally, go ahead now and mark your April calendars for the Emory Dance Company Spring Concert for Thursday through Saturday, April 16 through 18, also at the Schwartz Center. The program includes six contemporary dance works created by some of the very best student choreographers in the region.

$10. 7:30 p.m., Thurs., April 16–Sat., April 18; 2 p.m., Sat., April 18. Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, Dance Studio, Emory University,1700 North Decatur Road. 404-727-5050. Click here for more information.

For me, dance is the purest of all art forms. And spring is a perfect time to give in to its mysteries. Don’t worry about what any of it means. Just let go and let the movements and sounds wash over you and see how you feel."
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!!''“Every dance is a kind of fever chart, a graph of the heart.”'' — Martha Graham
Step outside this month, look around, and everywhere you’ll see the natural world erupting with new life and color. Now, want to witness raw human emotions in full bloom as spring floods your senses? Then seek out any of a dozen contemporary dance, movement theatre, and ballet events cascading across stages all over town throughout March.

Arts@Tech will present VIVA MOMIX at the Ferst Center, featuring a collection of acts from the company’s most visually spectacular shows, including ''Botanica'' (about the four seasons), ''Lunar Sea'' (the moon), and ''Opus Cactus'' (the landscape of the American Southwest). MOMIX is a company of dancer/illusionists founded and directed by Moses Pendleton, and their shows are perfect for all ages. I hope you are among the lucky ones to get a full rush of this troupe’s vivid eye candy in dazzling motion.

''$15-$25, 7 p.m., Sun., March 1. Ferst Center for the Arts, 349 Ferst Drive. 404-894-2787. [https://arts.gatech.edu/content/vivamomix|Click here for more information].''

The most eclectic mix of Atlanta-based dance talent on display this month takes over The Windmill stage in East Point March 5–8. ''Excuse The Art'' (''ETA'') highlights works-in-progress by the Windmill’s Artists-in-Residence and selected artists from the metro area. ''ETA'' was created by the members of Fly on a Wall and Windmill Arts Center owner Sam Ross. For the past several weeks, all the artists have been developing their own pieces at The Windmill with input from each other — dancers and movement artists sharing feedback with actors, actors offering drama-turgy tips to dancers, etc.

{img fileId="29590" stylebox="float: left; margin-right:25px;" desc="desc" styledesc="text-align: left;" max="400px"}
The four day dance series includes new works by AMT, Walter Apps, Shakira Bell/Blurred Lines Dance Company, LaMia Dingle/Reveal Movement, Nathan Griswold, Porter Grubbs and The Mediums Collective, ImmerseATL, Nicole Johnson and Jimmy Joyner, Jacob Lavoie, Asha Lu, Gianna Mercandetti, Clara Ofotokun, Olivia Rowe, Jordan Slaton, Ben Stevenson, and The Windmill’s resident theater company, Vernal & Sere. The 15 performances fill two programs that will be presented twice: Program A on Thursday and Saturday, March 5 and 7; and Program B on Friday and Sunday, March 6 and 8. The smart move is buying a $25 series ticket that gets you into both programs, plus a free cocktail each night.

''$15 per Program A or B; $25 for 2 Programs. 7:30 p.m. Thurs., March 5–Sat., March 7; 4:30 p.m., Sun., March 8. The Windmill Arts Center, 2823 Church St., East Point. 470-588-6244. [http://www.flyonawall.buzz/excuse-the-art-tickets|Click here for tickets].''

It may take some serious time management during the first weekend in March, but if you can make it to Kennesaw State University’s Marietta campus Friday March 6 or Saturday March 7, you can experience ''Modern Myths'', a captivating program of neo-classical ballet inspired by Greek mythology. This double bill includes two works by founding members and resident choreographers of Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre — ''Under the Olive Tree'' by Tara Lee and Heath Gill’s ''Horizons''. Tara Lee’s work explores the divine/human duality and the seriously flawed psyches of several Greek gods and goddesses. Lee’s fluid choreography both celebrates and opposes classical dance, ranging from stark solos to sensual pas de deux and a frenzied Dionysian scene featuring a dozen delirious dancers. The tale of Icarus’ fiery fall from the heavens inspired Gill to create ''Horizons''. Terminus performances tend to sell out, so plan ahead.

''$48.49 (premium), $32.33 (standard), and $16.16 (student). 8 p.m., Fri., March 6; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sat., March 7. Kennesaw State University Dance Theater, 1100 South Marietta Pkwy. S.E., Marietta. 470-733-8274. [https://www.terminus-serenbe.com/events/modernmyths|Click here for more information].'' 

Or you might consider returning to Cobb County the following Saturday, March 14, to explore ''The Space in Between'', a performance by visiting dance company Ballet 5:8. The program features a trio of ballet works choreographed by Julianna Rubio Slager and based on novels and essays of Christian writer C.S. Lewis. Inspired by Lewis’ novel ''The Great Divorce'', ''The Space in Between'' takes place in a town where the rain falls continuously and a man stands at a bus stop, on the brink of heaven and hell. According to Slager, “The work explores the nature of eternity and the joy found on its shores.” Also on the program, ''Meditations'', based on the essay ''Meditations in a Toolshed'', and ''Of Splendors and Horrors'', inspired by a collection of Lewis’ essays and addresses, ''The Weight of Glory''.

''$15-$25. 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sat., March 14. Kennesaw State University Dance Theater, 1100 South Marietta Pkwy. S.E., Marietta. 470-733-8274. [https://www.facebook.com/events/676915862735507/|Click here for more information].''

In the mood for something lighter, more of a performance sampler? Then take a whiff of ''Night Air'', a potpourri of short and durational performances appearing in and around the historic Callanwolde mansion on Friday, March 13.  Atlanta artists include members of dance companies Prime Movers, Kit Modus, and Fly on a Wall, dancer/choreographer Corian Ellisor, aerialist Beth Del Nero, and immersive performance art by members of Mediums Collective.

''$15. 7:30 p.m., Fri., March 13. Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, 980 Briarcliff Road N.E. 404-872-5338. [https://www.facebook.com/events/182856252943972/|Click here for more information].''

On almost any weekend, some of the most interesting live performances are taking place in theaters and on stages at area universities. That’s certainly true during the third weekend in March, with three different dance events happening simultaneously at Agnes Scott College, Emory University, and Georgia Tech on Friday and Saturday, March 20 and 21, following the spring equinox.

On that Friday and Saturday night, Decatur-based Core Dance presents two (free) performances of “Manifolds” in the courtyard of the Dana Fine Arts Building at Agnes Scott. According to choreographer Rose Shields, “The work examines how the indi-vidual and the community connect with the concepts of architecture and dimension, the physical versus the abstract, and the struggle and growth that is life.” Shields created “Manifolds” in collaboration with visual artist Julia Hill and Core Dance artists. “I’m really interested in how reality appears and changes from person to person according to their unique perspectives,” says Shields. “By distorting reality in ‘Manifolds,’ I hope to spark in people the desire to be ever curious and to not be afraid to learn something new or old.”

''Free. 7 p.m., Fri., March 20 and Sat., March 21. Dana Fine Arts Building Court-yard, Agnes Scott College, 141 E. College Ave., Decatur. 404-373-4154. [https://www.facebook.com/events/2609089269144799/|Click here for more information].''

Meanwhile, over at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts at Emory, graduate student Maria McNiece investigates themes of existentialism and religious allegory in Samuel Beckett’s ''Waiting For Godot''. As part of her interdisciplinary research project involving dance, English, and theater scholarship, she will perform her own dance work that, in her words, “embodies questions regarding human agency.”   Hmmm. There’s a lot to ponder there. With apologies to Becket’s ever-patient Estragon, perhaps she could dance first and think afterwards.

{img fileId="29591" stylebox="float: right; margin-left:25px;" desc="desc" styledesc="text-align: left;" max="600px"}
Among the real highlights of every spring dance season is Dance Canvas, which re-turns to the Ferst Center at Georgia Tech March 20 and 21. Each year, Dance Canvas selects up to 10 choreographers from across the U.S. to create and present work through the Choreographer Career Development Initiative. Working with partners C4 Atlanta and Kennesaw State University, the choreographers also participate in workshops dealing with business development, lighting design, marketing, costuming, and public speaking. Dance Canvas 2020 will include new works by these emerging choreographers: Lindsay Renea Benton, Kaila Carter, TereLyn Jones, Elena Notkina, Catherine Messina, Austyn Rich, Peter Swan, Mary Beth Stinson, and Vanessa Zabari. More than 40 professional ballet, contemporary, and tap dancers will perform during the two-night event.

''$30. 8 p.m., Fri., March 20 and Sat., March 21. Ferst Center for the Arts, 349 Ferst Drive. 404-894-2787. [https://www.dancecanvas.com/|Click here for more information].''

And then there’s “enra.” A Japanese performing arts collective, enra combines contemporary dance, juggling, and martial arts. Their global touring production ''Dreams'' lands at the Ferst Center the following weekend, on Friday, March 27. Here’s how they describe their show: “Brilliant, animated computer graphics synchronize with the performers’ movements in a series of magical vignettes that transport you from the sweet beauty of a starry night to the explosive energy of a galaxy in formation, and from a world of abstract whimsy to a modern, gritty cityscape.” Sounds like hypnotic fun. I’m in.

''$10-$25. 8 p.m., Fri., March 27. Ferst Center for the Arts, 349 Ferst Drive. 404-894-2787. [https://arts.gatech.edu/content/enra-dreams|Click here for more information].''

::{img fileId="29592" desc="desc" styledesc="text-align: left;" max="800px"}::
I don’t know if March is coming in like a lion or going out like a lamb, but I do know this whirlwind month of dance will finish with a performance of ''Giselle''. The Atlanta Ballet will present one of the all-time classic masterworks at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center March 27 through 29. How’s this for a romantic fever dream? After a young peasant girl named Giselle is deceived by her lover Albrecht, she dies of a broken heart. But then she rises from the grave along with the supernatural “Wilis,” the ghostly spirits of maidens betrayed by their lovers who trap any men they can seduce. The vengeful demons entice and capture Albrecht and force him to dance until he dies, but the power of Giselle’s love protects him and ultimately sets them both free. If you’re ever going to experience a full-on, over-the-top classic ballet, ''Giselle'' is a great one to submit to.

''$20-$140. 8 p.m., Fri., March 27 and Sat., March 28; 2 p.m., Sat., March 28 and Sun., March 29. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Pkwy. 404-892-3303. [https://www.atlantaballet.com/performances/giselle|Click here for more information].''

If a month full of classic and contemporary performances doesn’t satisfy your insatiable curiosity about every kind of dance, then help yourself to an extra goth portion of “Butoh and Nature: Dance as Ecological Methodology.” “Butoh,” often translated as “dance of darkness,” rose out of the ashes of post-World War II Japan as an extreme avant-garde dance form that shocked audiences with its grotesque movements and graphic sexual allusions. The Friends of Emory Dance present a free lecture by Dr. Rosemary Candelario of Texas Woman’s University on Tuesday, March 31, in the dance studio at the Schwartz Center at Emory. A teacher and choreographer, Dr. Candelario writes about and makes dances engaged with butoh, ecology, and site-specific performance. Her lecture will focus on the various ways butoh dancers make connections between their dance and their local landscapes. 

Finally, go ahead now and mark your April calendars for the Emory Dance Company Spring Concert for Thursday through Saturday, April 16 through 18, also at the Schwartz Center. The program includes six contemporary dance works created by some of the very best student choreographers in the region.

''$10. 7:30 p.m., Thurs., April 16–Sat., April 18; 2 p.m., Sat., April 18. Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, Dance Studio, Emory University,1700 North Decatur Road. 404-727-5050. [http://dance.emory.edu/events/|Click here for more information].''

For me, dance is the purest of all art forms. And spring is a perfect time to give in to its mysteries. Don’t worry about what any of it means. Just let go and let the movements and sounds wash over you and see how you feel."
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  string(12376) " S&M #2 Modern Myths Web  2020-03-02T18:50:15+00:00 S&M_#2_Modern_Myths_web.jpg    scenes&motions Give in to the mysteries 29588  2020-03-02T18:32:49+00:00 SCENES & MOTIONS: Dance performances spring eternal jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Eward McNally Edward McNally 2020-03-02T18:32:49+00:00  As this was posted prior to concerns regarding the global coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, please check to see if these events are still occurring. Be safe. Be healthy. Wash your hands.
!!“Every dance is a kind of fever chart, a graph of the heart.” — Martha Graham
Step outside this month, look around, and everywhere you’ll see the natural world erupting with new life and color. Now, want to witness raw human emotions in full bloom as spring floods your senses? Then seek out any of a dozen contemporary dance, movement theatre, and ballet events cascading across stages all over town throughout March.

Arts@Tech will present VIVA MOMIX at the Ferst Center, featuring a collection of acts from the company’s most visually spectacular shows, including Botanica (about the four seasons), Lunar Sea (the moon), and Opus Cactus (the landscape of the American Southwest). MOMIX is a company of dancer/illusionists founded and directed by Moses Pendleton, and their shows are perfect for all ages. I hope you are among the lucky ones to get a full rush of this troupe’s vivid eye candy in dazzling motion.

$15-$25, 7 p.m., Sun., March 1. Ferst Center for the Arts, 349 Ferst Drive. 404-894-2787. Click here for more information.

The most eclectic mix of Atlanta-based dance talent on display this month takes over The Windmill stage in East Point March 5–8. Excuse The Art (ETA) highlights works-in-progress by the Windmill’s Artists-in-Residence and selected artists from the metro area. ETA was created by the members of Fly on a Wall and Windmill Arts Center owner Sam Ross. For the past several weeks, all the artists have been developing their own pieces at The Windmill with input from each other — dancers and movement artists sharing feedback with actors, actors offering drama-turgy tips to dancers, etc.


The four day dance series includes new works by AMT, Walter Apps, Shakira Bell/Blurred Lines Dance Company, LaMia Dingle/Reveal Movement, Nathan Griswold, Porter Grubbs and The Mediums Collective, ImmerseATL, Nicole Johnson and Jimmy Joyner, Jacob Lavoie, Asha Lu, Gianna Mercandetti, Clara Ofotokun, Olivia Rowe, Jordan Slaton, Ben Stevenson, and The Windmill’s resident theater company, Vernal & Sere. The 15 performances fill two programs that will be presented twice: Program A on Thursday and Saturday, March 5 and 7; and Program B on Friday and Sunday, March 6 and 8. The smart move is buying a $25 series ticket that gets you into both programs, plus a free cocktail each night.

$15 per Program A or B; $25 for 2 Programs. 7:30 p.m. Thurs., March 5–Sat., March 7; 4:30 p.m., Sun., March 8. The Windmill Arts Center, 2823 Church St., East Point. 470-588-6244. Click here for tickets.

It may take some serious time management during the first weekend in March, but if you can make it to Kennesaw State University’s Marietta campus Friday March 6 or Saturday March 7, you can experience Modern Myths, a captivating program of neo-classical ballet inspired by Greek mythology. This double bill includes two works by founding members and resident choreographers of Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre — Under the Olive Tree by Tara Lee and Heath Gill’s Horizons. Tara Lee’s work explores the divine/human duality and the seriously flawed psyches of several Greek gods and goddesses. Lee’s fluid choreography both celebrates and opposes classical dance, ranging from stark solos to sensual pas de deux and a frenzied Dionysian scene featuring a dozen delirious dancers. The tale of Icarus’ fiery fall from the heavens inspired Gill to create Horizons. Terminus performances tend to sell out, so plan ahead.

$48.49 (premium), $32.33 (standard), and $16.16 (student). 8 p.m., Fri., March 6; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sat., March 7. Kennesaw State University Dance Theater, 1100 South Marietta Pkwy. S.E., Marietta. 470-733-8274. Click here for more information. 

Or you might consider returning to Cobb County the following Saturday, March 14, to explore The Space in Between, a performance by visiting dance company Ballet 5:8. The program features a trio of ballet works choreographed by Julianna Rubio Slager and based on novels and essays of Christian writer C.S. Lewis. Inspired by Lewis’ novel The Great Divorce, The Space in Between takes place in a town where the rain falls continuously and a man stands at a bus stop, on the brink of heaven and hell. According to Slager, “The work explores the nature of eternity and the joy found on its shores.” Also on the program, Meditations, based on the essay Meditations in a Toolshed, and Of Splendors and Horrors, inspired by a collection of Lewis’ essays and addresses, The Weight of Glory.

$15-$25. 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sat., March 14. Kennesaw State University Dance Theater, 1100 South Marietta Pkwy. S.E., Marietta. 470-733-8274. Click here for more information.

In the mood for something lighter, more of a performance sampler? Then take a whiff of Night Air, a potpourri of short and durational performances appearing in and around the historic Callanwolde mansion on Friday, March 13.  Atlanta artists include members of dance companies Prime Movers, Kit Modus, and Fly on a Wall, dancer/choreographer Corian Ellisor, aerialist Beth Del Nero, and immersive performance art by members of Mediums Collective.

$15. 7:30 p.m., Fri., March 13. Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, 980 Briarcliff Road N.E. 404-872-5338. Click here for more information.

On almost any weekend, some of the most interesting live performances are taking place in theaters and on stages at area universities. That’s certainly true during the third weekend in March, with three different dance events happening simultaneously at Agnes Scott College, Emory University, and Georgia Tech on Friday and Saturday, March 20 and 21, following the spring equinox.

On that Friday and Saturday night, Decatur-based Core Dance presents two (free) performances of “Manifolds” in the courtyard of the Dana Fine Arts Building at Agnes Scott. According to choreographer Rose Shields, “The work examines how the indi-vidual and the community connect with the concepts of architecture and dimension, the physical versus the abstract, and the struggle and growth that is life.” Shields created “Manifolds” in collaboration with visual artist Julia Hill and Core Dance artists. “I’m really interested in how reality appears and changes from person to person according to their unique perspectives,” says Shields. “By distorting reality in ‘Manifolds,’ I hope to spark in people the desire to be ever curious and to not be afraid to learn something new or old.”

Free. 7 p.m., Fri., March 20 and Sat., March 21. Dana Fine Arts Building Court-yard, Agnes Scott College, 141 E. College Ave., Decatur. 404-373-4154. Click here for more information.

Meanwhile, over at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts at Emory, graduate student Maria McNiece investigates themes of existentialism and religious allegory in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot. As part of her interdisciplinary research project involving dance, English, and theater scholarship, she will perform her own dance work that, in her words, “embodies questions regarding human agency.”   Hmmm. There’s a lot to ponder there. With apologies to Becket’s ever-patient Estragon, perhaps she could dance first and think afterwards.


Among the real highlights of every spring dance season is Dance Canvas, which re-turns to the Ferst Center at Georgia Tech March 20 and 21. Each year, Dance Canvas selects up to 10 choreographers from across the U.S. to create and present work through the Choreographer Career Development Initiative. Working with partners C4 Atlanta and Kennesaw State University, the choreographers also participate in workshops dealing with business development, lighting design, marketing, costuming, and public speaking. Dance Canvas 2020 will include new works by these emerging choreographers: Lindsay Renea Benton, Kaila Carter, TereLyn Jones, Elena Notkina, Catherine Messina, Austyn Rich, Peter Swan, Mary Beth Stinson, and Vanessa Zabari. More than 40 professional ballet, contemporary, and tap dancers will perform during the two-night event.

$30. 8 p.m., Fri., March 20 and Sat., March 21. Ferst Center for the Arts, 349 Ferst Drive. 404-894-2787. Click here for more information.

And then there’s “enra.” A Japanese performing arts collective, enra combines contemporary dance, juggling, and martial arts. Their global touring production Dreams lands at the Ferst Center the following weekend, on Friday, March 27. Here’s how they describe their show: “Brilliant, animated computer graphics synchronize with the performers’ movements in a series of magical vignettes that transport you from the sweet beauty of a starry night to the explosive energy of a galaxy in formation, and from a world of abstract whimsy to a modern, gritty cityscape.” Sounds like hypnotic fun. I’m in.

$10-$25. 8 p.m., Fri., March 27. Ferst Center for the Arts, 349 Ferst Drive. 404-894-2787. Click here for more information.

::::
I don’t know if March is coming in like a lion or going out like a lamb, but I do know this whirlwind month of dance will finish with a performance of Giselle. The Atlanta Ballet will present one of the all-time classic masterworks at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center March 27 through 29. How’s this for a romantic fever dream? After a young peasant girl named Giselle is deceived by her lover Albrecht, she dies of a broken heart. But then she rises from the grave along with the supernatural “Wilis,” the ghostly spirits of maidens betrayed by their lovers who trap any men they can seduce. The vengeful demons entice and capture Albrecht and force him to dance until he dies, but the power of Giselle’s love protects him and ultimately sets them both free. If you’re ever going to experience a full-on, over-the-top classic ballet, Giselle is a great one to submit to.

$20-$140. 8 p.m., Fri., March 27 and Sat., March 28; 2 p.m., Sat., March 28 and Sun., March 29. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Pkwy. 404-892-3303. Click here for more information.

If a month full of classic and contemporary performances doesn’t satisfy your insatiable curiosity about every kind of dance, then help yourself to an extra goth portion of “Butoh and Nature: Dance as Ecological Methodology.” “Butoh,” often translated as “dance of darkness,” rose out of the ashes of post-World War II Japan as an extreme avant-garde dance form that shocked audiences with its grotesque movements and graphic sexual allusions. The Friends of Emory Dance present a free lecture by Dr. Rosemary Candelario of Texas Woman’s University on Tuesday, March 31, in the dance studio at the Schwartz Center at Emory. A teacher and choreographer, Dr. Candelario writes about and makes dances engaged with butoh, ecology, and site-specific performance. Her lecture will focus on the various ways butoh dancers make connections between their dance and their local landscapes. 

Finally, go ahead now and mark your April calendars for the Emory Dance Company Spring Concert for Thursday through Saturday, April 16 through 18, also at the Schwartz Center. The program includes six contemporary dance works created by some of the very best student choreographers in the region.

$10. 7:30 p.m., Thurs., April 16–Sat., April 18; 2 p.m., Sat., April 18. Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, Dance Studio, Emory University,1700 North Decatur Road. 404-727-5050. Click here for more information.

For me, dance is the purest of all art forms. And spring is a perfect time to give in to its mysteries. Don’t worry about what any of it means. Just let go and let the movements and sounds wash over you and see how you feel.    Terminus MODERN MYTHS: Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre.  0,0,10    scenes&motions                             SCENES & MOTIONS: Dance performances spring eternal "
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Monday March 2, 2020 01:32 pm EST
Give in to the mysteries | more...
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  string(13075) "Why should I step outside of my warm home where I am often tantalized with endless streaming of Amazon Prime and Netflix and CBS All Access ... and make my way to a live stage production on a chilly winter night? An experience that can pull me away from hearth and home is a performance that surprises me, upsets me, or makes me feel something, suddenly and deeply. 

That usually means art that puts me intimately in touch with someone else’s reality. I have yet to see the six productions described below, but from what I have read about them I believe they each share the same dramatic DNA. They offer the promise of a powerful or playful hour or two experiencing what it is to be alive and aware while sitting still in a room filled with strangers.

Maybe Happy Ending

Maybe Happy Ending is a sci-fi musical now playing at the Alliance Theatre through February 16. Set in Seoul, Korea, 50 years in the future, it is a tragicomic love story about two robotic servants known as “helperbots” living in an apartment building for obsolete models. Before they meet and fall in a certain type of “love,” Claire and Oliver are living alone and isolated like “hikikomori,” the Japanese cultural phenomenon in which people never leave their rooms for years at a time. 

The English-language premiere of Maybe Happy Ending in Atlanta is directed by Tony nominee Michael Arden (Once on This Island, Spring Awakening). ”Humanity has been around for a while and grown cynical,” says Arden. “Compared to humans, Claire and Oliver are innocent and trusting. They have a pure way of connecting to each other and to the larger world they discover together.” 

Composer Will Aronson and lyricist Hue Park shared their owns observation in their author’s note for the play. “It’s easy to imagine a future when people start to become indistinguishable from their electronic gadgets. But underneath this, all the old human longings and fears and dreams are still there, unchanged …. Once you take that risk and go out into the world, you have the possibility of experiencing something beautiful. But you don’t have any kind of guaranteed happy ending out of it. It’s all a question mark.” 

If the romantic sci-fi premise of Maybe Happy Ending isn’t a compelling enough emotional tractor beam to pull you in, this Alliance production is also full of stellar Broadway talent. This includes scenic design by Dane Laffrey (Once on This Island), costume design by Clint Ramos (The Rose Tattoo, Eclipsed), lighting design by Travis Hagenbuch, projections design by Sven Ortel (Newsies the Musical), and sound design by Peter Hylenski (Beetlejuice, Once on This Island). 

Originally written in Korean, Maybe Happy Ending premiered in Seoul in 2016 to smash success, winning six Korean Music Awards. Like so many other popular Alliance musical premieres, (Aida, The Color Purple, Bring It On, The Prom, etc.), it’s easy to imagine a not-too-distant future where Maybe Happy Ending ends up on Broadway and earns its own accolades.

$10-$85. Through Feb. 16. Alliance Theatre. 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. 404-733-4650. https://alliancetheatre.org/production/2019-20/maybe-happy-ending

This Random World: The Myth of Serendipity

“… the cascading series of coincidences neatly illustrates the idea that, as the title suggests, we are all hostages to chance.” — Charles Isherwood, The New York Times.

Since 1981, American playwright Steven Dietz has had over 50 of his plays and adaptations produced across the US and around the world; indeed, over the past 10 years, no living playwright has had as many of their plays produced on American stages. Out of Box Theatre is the first ATL ensemble to present Dietz’s This Random World: The Myth of Serendipity since it premiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville four years ago. More than one publication has described the play by saying it “asks the serious question of how often we travel parallel paths through the world without noticing.”

Dietz’s wistful comedy of missed connections reveals brief emotional moments in the lives of an aging mother, her grown son and daughter, and four other people all just one degree of separation away. Their stories intersect so closely that audiences are convinced they’ll all collide or converge sooner or later. But they … .

Dietz doesn’t go for the easy, expected dramatic payoff. In This Random World, serendipity is less about coincidental encounters down the street or at the other end of the world, and more about missing someone by a just few moments. None of Dietz’ characters will ever know what they’ve missed. But we will. And perhaps leave the theatre poignantly wondering, “if only…”

$22. Feb. 14-23. Out of Box Theatre, 585 Cobb Pkwy. S, Suite C-1, Marietta. 678-653-4605. http://www.outofboxtheatre.com/randomworld

Fun Home

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Freddie Ashley, Actor’s Express has had 13 seasons of popular success mounting bold productions of major musicals and critically acclaimed dramas. This track record is reason enough to buy a ticket to anything they do at their cozy quarters in the King Plow complex on the Westside. But by any theatrical standard, Fun Home is something special: a wholly original 90-minute musical about what happens when you finally see your parents through grown-up eyes.

The loyal fanbase for Alison Bechdel’s long-running Dykes to Watch Out For comic strip adored Fun Home as a graphic novel when it was published to rave reviews in 2006. By 2013, Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori had adapted the book into a musical premiering Off Broadway at the Public Theater. Fun Home became a critical sensation once again, not only named Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, but also a finalist for that year’s Pulitzer Prize in Drama. After several reruns by popular demand, Fun Home moved to Broadway in 2015, where it won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Book for a Musical. The following year, the live cast recording won a Grammy award.

The TV ads for the first national tour screamed, “Welcome to a musical about a family that’s nothing like yours — and exactly like yours.” Okay. So, I wonder, how many of you can relate to this author’s wonder years? Alison’s autobiographical tale, which traces the childhood events that led to her becoming a graphic novelist, allows her to reflect upon herself at various points in the past — three ages, played by three actresses. The oldest version often shares the stage with one of the younger versions and looks sweetly or critically at herself at various points in her past. 

As Small Allison, she remembers her funeral director/home remodeler/high school teacher dad as spirited, eccentric, preoccupied, and demanding. She romps around the “fun home,” the family’s nickname for the funeral parlor, hiding in the coffins with her two brothers. She doesn’t realize her father is also a closeted, very repressed homosexual having secret affairs. Later, Medium Allison, the college freshman, finds the courage to come out as a lesbian, first to a female classmate she loves and later to her parents. Finally, looking back on her father’s struggles from the vantage point of middle age, she comes to believe that his untimely death must have been suicide.

I said I haven’t seen these productions. However, I did see the Broadway production of Fun Home with the original cast. I can tell you that the script is one of the best I’ve heard in a musical. Very smart and achingly honest. Incisive, wry, compelling, and yet, at certain moments, laugh-out-loud funny. But the music and the songs are what really make this piece of theater so moving and emotionally powerful. The music and lyrics are woven as effortlessly as the best works of Stephen Sondheim, and I can tell you from memory that the sounds of Fun Home seamlessly shift from giddy to gorgeous, melancholy to zany, angry to haunting, and, ultimately, to heartbreaking and luminous. 

Even if Actor’s Express does half as good a job as the Broadway cast, this Fun Home promises to be one of the highlights of the theater season.

$20-$40. Showtimes vary. Through Feb. 16. Actor’s Express, 87 West Marietta S.t N.W. Suite J-107. 404-607-7469. https://www.actors-express.com/plays/fun-home

Tribes

British playwright Nina Raine explained in a 2010 interview that the idea of writing Tribes came to her after she saw a documentary about a deaf couple who were expecting a child and were hoping it would be born deaf. It occurred to Raine that this family was essentially a tribe whose members wanted to pass on values, beliefs, and language to their children. Each tribe has its own rituals, hierarchies and ways of communicating that are often hard for “outsiders” to understand. She began to see that there were tribes everywhere, including individual families, religious communities, and groups like the (self-defined) deaf community. 

Raine’s play focuses on a dysfunctional middle-class British Jewish family with three grown children, all living at home. One of the two sons, Billy, born deaf, was raised to read lips and to speak but was never taught sign language. Billy’s family, like every other, behaves like a club with its own private language, jokes, and rules. In this Jewish household, arguments, no matter how heated, are considered an expression of love. 

But then Billy meets Sylvia, a hearing woman born to deaf parents who is now slowly going deaf herself. She hates that she’s losing her hearing and begins teaching Billy sign language. After learning about the values of the deaf community, Billy confronts his own family’s beliefs and values. Finally, it is the deaf family member who demands to be heard.

DramaTech, Georgia Tech’s student-run theatre organization, has been around for 73 years. Tribes is an award-winning script, and many productions feature a deaf actor in the role of Billy. This might well be a student production worth seeking out.

$8-$15. 8 p.m. February 7–15, DramaTech Theatre, 349 Ferst Drive. 404-894-3481. https://dramatech.org/events/

Wooden Nickels

In this new one-act play at Theatre Emory directed by Atlanta theatre legend Tim McDonough, two brothers from a Jewish family in Lubbock, Texas, tell the story of their father and his eccentric con-man cousin. Novelist Joseph Skibell (A Curable Romantic) wrote Wooden Nickles based on an essay about Jack Tiger, his father’s cousin, which first appeared in Skibell’s book My Father’s Guitar and Other Imaginary Things. Critic Dara Bramsom called the essay collection “a chronicle of experience and aging, the process within which a part of us — no matter how much we resist it — inevitably echoes our parents.” Others have compared Skibell’s style to “Mark Twain meets Isaac Bashevis Singer meets Wes Anderson.”

7:30 p.m. Feb. 26-29; 2 p.m., March 1.  , Theatre Emory, 1602 Fishburne Drive # 230. 404-727-0524. http://theater.emory.edu/home/shows-events/calendar.html#/?i=1

Stellaluna

When Stellaluna unexpectedly falls into the middle of a bird family’s home, the baby fruit bat is graciously accepted as one of them, but only if she acts like a bird. “Mama Bird told me I was upside down. She said I was wrong...” says the little bat. “Wrong for a bird, maybe, but not for a bat!” Eventually, Stellaluna finds other bats and reunites with her mother. She introduces the birds to her bat family, and she and the birds decide that, despite their many differences, they are still friends. This world premiere adaptation at the Center for Puppetry Arts celebrates self-discoveries, unlikely friendships, and how we can be so different yet feel so much the same. 

Creative wizard Jon Ludwig adapted the story and directed the original production, which has been mounted on the largest set ever built at the Puppetry Center, and where every visual detail is closely based on the beloved children’s book by Janell Cannon. The author said she wrote the book to demonstrate that feeling like “a bat in a bird’s world” was universal. She must have been right, because since its publication in 1993, Stellaluna has sold well over two million copies globally and been translated into 30 languages. 

$19.50 and $25. Showtimes vary. Through March 8.Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St. N.W. https://puppet.org/programs/stellaluna-2/

Parents. Families. Memory. Childhood. Nesting. Dreams. I definitely see patterns here, and they’re matching my mood in this, my 60th winter.

So, brave the slight chill of Atlanta this February and March. Get inside a theatre, meet some of these all-too-human families, and see if you recognize some part of your soul in one or more of these characters. Sitting there in the dark, listening, you might also discover a new, even more fascinating version of yourself. — CL —"
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That usually means art that puts me intimately in touch with someone else’s reality. I have yet to see the six productions described below, but from what I have read about them I believe they each share the same dramatic DNA. They offer the promise of a powerful or playful hour or two experiencing what it is to be alive and aware while sitting still in a room filled with strangers.

__Maybe Happy Ending__

Maybe Happy Ending is a sci-fi musical now playing at the Alliance Theatre through February 16. Set in Seoul, Korea, 50 years in the future, it is a tragicomic love story about two robotic servants known as “helperbots” living in an apartment building for obsolete models. Before they meet and fall in a certain type of “love,” Claire and Oliver are living alone and isolated like “hikikomori,” the Japanese cultural phenomenon in which people never leave their rooms for years at a time. 

The English-language premiere of Maybe Happy Ending in Atlanta is directed by Tony nominee Michael Arden (Once on This Island, Spring Awakening). ”Humanity has been around for a while and grown cynical,” says Arden. “Compared to humans, Claire and Oliver are innocent and trusting. They have a pure way of connecting to each other and to the larger world they discover together.” 

Composer Will Aronson and lyricist Hue Park shared their owns observation in their author’s note for the play. “It’s easy to imagine a future when people start to become indistinguishable from their electronic gadgets. But underneath this, all the old human longings and fears and dreams are still there, unchanged …. Once you take that risk and go out into the world, you have the possibility of experiencing something beautiful. But you don’t have any kind of guaranteed happy ending out of it. It’s all a question mark.” 

If the romantic sci-fi premise of Maybe Happy Ending isn’t a compelling enough emotional tractor beam to pull you in, this Alliance production is also full of stellar Broadway talent. This includes scenic design by Dane Laffrey (Once on This Island), costume design by Clint Ramos (The Rose Tattoo, Eclipsed), lighting design by Travis Hagenbuch, projections design by Sven Ortel (Newsies the Musical), and sound design by Peter Hylenski (Beetlejuice, Once on This Island). 

Originally written in Korean, Maybe Happy Ending premiered in Seoul in 2016 to smash success, winning six Korean Music Awards. Like so many other popular Alliance musical premieres, (Aida, The Color Purple, Bring It On, The Prom, etc.), it’s easy to imagine a not-too-distant future where Maybe Happy Ending ends up on Broadway and earns its own accolades.

$10-$85. Through Feb. 16. Alliance Theatre. 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. 404-733-4650. https://alliancetheatre.org/production/2019-20/maybe-happy-ending

__This Random World: The Myth of Serendipity__

“… the cascading series of coincidences neatly illustrates the idea that, as the title suggests, we are all hostages to chance.” — Charles Isherwood, The New York Times.

Since 1981, American playwright Steven Dietz has had over 50 of his plays and adaptations produced across the US and around the world; indeed, over the past 10 years, no living playwright has had as many of their plays produced on American stages. Out of Box Theatre is the first ATL ensemble to present Dietz’s This Random World: The Myth of Serendipity since it premiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville four years ago. More than one publication has described the play by saying it “asks the serious question of how often we travel parallel paths through the world without noticing.”

Dietz’s wistful comedy of missed connections reveals brief emotional moments in the lives of an aging mother, her grown son and daughter, and four other people all just one degree of separation away. Their stories intersect so closely that audiences are convinced they’ll all collide or converge sooner or later. But they … .

Dietz doesn’t go for the easy, expected dramatic payoff. In This Random World, serendipity is less about coincidental encounters down the street or at the other end of the world, and more about missing someone by a just few moments. None of Dietz’ characters will ever know what they’ve missed. But we will. And perhaps leave the theatre poignantly wondering, “if only…”

$22. Feb. 14-23. Out of Box Theatre, 585 Cobb Pkwy. S, Suite C-1, Marietta. 678-653-4605. http://www.outofboxtheatre.com/randomworld

__Fun Home__

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Freddie Ashley, Actor’s Express has had 13 seasons of popular success mounting bold productions of major musicals and critically acclaimed dramas. This track record is reason enough to buy a ticket to anything they do at their cozy quarters in the King Plow complex on the Westside. But by any theatrical standard, Fun Home is something special: a wholly original 90-minute musical about what happens when you finally see your parents through grown-up eyes.

The loyal fanbase for Alison Bechdel’s long-running Dykes to Watch Out For comic strip adored Fun Home as a graphic novel when it was published to rave reviews in 2006. By 2013, Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori had adapted the book into a musical premiering Off Broadway at the Public Theater. Fun Home became a critical sensation once again, not only named Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, but also a finalist for that year’s Pulitzer Prize in Drama. After several reruns by popular demand, Fun Home moved to Broadway in 2015, where it won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Book for a Musical. The following year, the live cast recording won a Grammy award.

The TV ads for the first national tour screamed, “Welcome to a musical about a family that’s nothing like yours — and exactly like yours.” Okay. So, I wonder, how many of you can relate to this author’s wonder years? Alison’s autobiographical tale, which traces the childhood events that led to her becoming a graphic novelist, allows her to reflect upon herself at various points in the past — three ages, played by three actresses. The oldest version often shares the stage with one of the younger versions and looks sweetly or critically at herself at various points in her past. 

As Small Allison, she remembers her funeral director/home remodeler/high school teacher dad as spirited, eccentric, preoccupied, and demanding. She romps around the “fun home,” the family’s nickname for the funeral parlor, hiding in the coffins with her two brothers. She doesn’t realize her father is also a closeted, very repressed homosexual having secret affairs. Later, Medium Allison, the college freshman, finds the courage to come out as a lesbian, first to a female classmate she loves and later to her parents. Finally, looking back on her father’s struggles from the vantage point of middle age, she comes to believe that his untimely death must have been suicide.

I said I haven’t seen these productions. However, I did see the Broadway production of Fun Home with the original cast. I can tell you that the script is one of the best I’ve heard in a musical. Very smart and achingly honest. Incisive, wry, compelling, and yet, at certain moments, laugh-out-loud funny. But the music and the songs are what really make this piece of theater so moving and emotionally powerful. The music and lyrics are woven as effortlessly as the best works of Stephen Sondheim, and I can tell you from memory that the sounds of Fun Home seamlessly shift from giddy to gorgeous, melancholy to zany, angry to haunting, and, ultimately, to heartbreaking and luminous. 

Even if Actor’s Express does half as good a job as the Broadway cast, this Fun Home promises to be one of the highlights of the theater season.

$20-$40. Showtimes vary. Through Feb. 16. Actor’s Express, 87 West Marietta S.t N.W. Suite J-107. 404-607-7469. https://www.actors-express.com/plays/fun-home

__Tribes__

British playwright Nina Raine explained in a 2010 interview that the idea of writing Tribes came to her after she saw a documentary about a deaf couple who were expecting a child and were hoping it would be born deaf. It occurred to Raine that this family was essentially a tribe whose members wanted to pass on values, beliefs, and language to their children. Each tribe has its own rituals, hierarchies and ways of communicating that are often hard for “outsiders” to understand. She began to see that there were tribes everywhere, including individual families, religious communities, and groups like the (self-defined) deaf community. 

Raine’s play focuses on a dysfunctional middle-class British Jewish family with three grown children, all living at home. One of the two sons, Billy, born deaf, was raised to read lips and to speak but was never taught sign language. Billy’s family, like every other, behaves like a club with its own private language, jokes, and rules. In this Jewish household, arguments, no matter how heated, are considered an expression of love. 

But then Billy meets Sylvia, a hearing woman born to deaf parents who is now slowly going deaf herself. She hates that she’s losing her hearing and begins teaching Billy sign language. After learning about the values of the deaf community, Billy confronts his own family’s beliefs and values. Finally, it is the deaf family member who demands to be heard.

DramaTech, Georgia Tech’s student-run theatre organization, has been around for 73 years. Tribes is an award-winning script, and many productions feature a deaf actor in the role of Billy. This might well be a student production worth seeking out.

$8-$15. 8 p.m. February 7–15, DramaTech Theatre, 349 Ferst Drive. 404-894-3481. https://dramatech.org/events/

__Wooden Nickels__

In this new one-act play at Theatre Emory directed by Atlanta theatre legend Tim McDonough, two brothers from a Jewish family in Lubbock, Texas, tell the story of their father and his eccentric con-man cousin. Novelist Joseph Skibell (A Curable Romantic) wrote Wooden Nickles based on an essay about Jack Tiger, his father’s cousin, which first appeared in Skibell’s book My Father’s Guitar and Other Imaginary Things. Critic Dara Bramsom called the essay collection “a chronicle of experience and aging, the process within which a part of us — no matter how much we resist it — inevitably echoes our parents.” Others have compared Skibell’s style to “Mark Twain meets Isaac Bashevis Singer meets Wes Anderson.”

7:30 p.m. Feb. 26-29; 2 p.m., March 1.  , Theatre Emory, 1602 Fishburne Drive # 230. 404-727-0524. http://theater.emory.edu/home/shows-events/calendar.html#/?i=1

__Stellaluna__

When Stellaluna unexpectedly falls into the middle of a bird family’s home, the baby fruit bat is graciously accepted as one of them, but only if she acts like a bird. “Mama Bird told me I was upside down. She said I was wrong...” says the little bat. “Wrong for a bird, maybe, but not for a bat!” Eventually, Stellaluna finds other bats and reunites with her mother. She introduces the birds to her bat family, and she and the birds decide that, despite their many differences, they are still friends. This world premiere adaptation at the Center for Puppetry Arts celebrates self-discoveries, unlikely friendships, and how we can be so different yet feel so much the same. 

Creative wizard Jon Ludwig adapted the story and directed the original production, which has been mounted on the largest set ever built at the Puppetry Center, and where every visual detail is closely based on the beloved children’s book by Janell Cannon. The author said she wrote the book to demonstrate that feeling like “a bat in a bird’s world” was universal. She must have been right, because since its publication in 1993, Stellaluna has sold well over two million copies globally and been translated into 30 languages. 

$19.50 and $25. Showtimes vary. Through March 8.Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St. N.W. https://puppet.org/programs/stellaluna-2/

Parents. Families. Memory. Childhood. Nesting. Dreams. I definitely see patterns here, and they’re matching my mood in this, my 60th winter.

So, brave the slight chill of Atlanta this February and March. Get inside a theatre, meet some of these all-too-human families, and see if you recognize some part of your soul in one or more of these characters. Sitting there in the dark, listening, you might also discover a new, even more fascinating version of yourself. __— CL —__"
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  string(13580) " S&M MHE2 2  2020-02-04T18:57:05+00:00 S&M_MHE2_2.jpg    scenes&motions These plays may reflect our all-too-human longings 28512  2020-02-04T18:51:10+00:00 SCENES & MOTIONS: Not me. Us: six chances to connect will.cardwell@gmail.com Will Cardwell EDWARD MCNALLY  2020-02-04T18:51:10+00:00  Why should I step outside of my warm home where I am often tantalized with endless streaming of Amazon Prime and Netflix and CBS All Access ... and make my way to a live stage production on a chilly winter night? An experience that can pull me away from hearth and home is a performance that surprises me, upsets me, or makes me feel something, suddenly and deeply. 

That usually means art that puts me intimately in touch with someone else’s reality. I have yet to see the six productions described below, but from what I have read about them I believe they each share the same dramatic DNA. They offer the promise of a powerful or playful hour or two experiencing what it is to be alive and aware while sitting still in a room filled with strangers.

Maybe Happy Ending

Maybe Happy Ending is a sci-fi musical now playing at the Alliance Theatre through February 16. Set in Seoul, Korea, 50 years in the future, it is a tragicomic love story about two robotic servants known as “helperbots” living in an apartment building for obsolete models. Before they meet and fall in a certain type of “love,” Claire and Oliver are living alone and isolated like “hikikomori,” the Japanese cultural phenomenon in which people never leave their rooms for years at a time. 

The English-language premiere of Maybe Happy Ending in Atlanta is directed by Tony nominee Michael Arden (Once on This Island, Spring Awakening). ”Humanity has been around for a while and grown cynical,” says Arden. “Compared to humans, Claire and Oliver are innocent and trusting. They have a pure way of connecting to each other and to the larger world they discover together.” 

Composer Will Aronson and lyricist Hue Park shared their owns observation in their author’s note for the play. “It’s easy to imagine a future when people start to become indistinguishable from their electronic gadgets. But underneath this, all the old human longings and fears and dreams are still there, unchanged …. Once you take that risk and go out into the world, you have the possibility of experiencing something beautiful. But you don’t have any kind of guaranteed happy ending out of it. It’s all a question mark.” 

If the romantic sci-fi premise of Maybe Happy Ending isn’t a compelling enough emotional tractor beam to pull you in, this Alliance production is also full of stellar Broadway talent. This includes scenic design by Dane Laffrey (Once on This Island), costume design by Clint Ramos (The Rose Tattoo, Eclipsed), lighting design by Travis Hagenbuch, projections design by Sven Ortel (Newsies the Musical), and sound design by Peter Hylenski (Beetlejuice, Once on This Island). 

Originally written in Korean, Maybe Happy Ending premiered in Seoul in 2016 to smash success, winning six Korean Music Awards. Like so many other popular Alliance musical premieres, (Aida, The Color Purple, Bring It On, The Prom, etc.), it’s easy to imagine a not-too-distant future where Maybe Happy Ending ends up on Broadway and earns its own accolades.

$10-$85. Through Feb. 16. Alliance Theatre. 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. 404-733-4650. https://alliancetheatre.org/production/2019-20/maybe-happy-ending

This Random World: The Myth of Serendipity

“… the cascading series of coincidences neatly illustrates the idea that, as the title suggests, we are all hostages to chance.” — Charles Isherwood, The New York Times.

Since 1981, American playwright Steven Dietz has had over 50 of his plays and adaptations produced across the US and around the world; indeed, over the past 10 years, no living playwright has had as many of their plays produced on American stages. Out of Box Theatre is the first ATL ensemble to present Dietz’s This Random World: The Myth of Serendipity since it premiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville four years ago. More than one publication has described the play by saying it “asks the serious question of how often we travel parallel paths through the world without noticing.”

Dietz’s wistful comedy of missed connections reveals brief emotional moments in the lives of an aging mother, her grown son and daughter, and four other people all just one degree of separation away. Their stories intersect so closely that audiences are convinced they’ll all collide or converge sooner or later. But they … .

Dietz doesn’t go for the easy, expected dramatic payoff. In This Random World, serendipity is less about coincidental encounters down the street or at the other end of the world, and more about missing someone by a just few moments. None of Dietz’ characters will ever know what they’ve missed. But we will. And perhaps leave the theatre poignantly wondering, “if only…”

$22. Feb. 14-23. Out of Box Theatre, 585 Cobb Pkwy. S, Suite C-1, Marietta. 678-653-4605. http://www.outofboxtheatre.com/randomworld

Fun Home

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Freddie Ashley, Actor’s Express has had 13 seasons of popular success mounting bold productions of major musicals and critically acclaimed dramas. This track record is reason enough to buy a ticket to anything they do at their cozy quarters in the King Plow complex on the Westside. But by any theatrical standard, Fun Home is something special: a wholly original 90-minute musical about what happens when you finally see your parents through grown-up eyes.

The loyal fanbase for Alison Bechdel’s long-running Dykes to Watch Out For comic strip adored Fun Home as a graphic novel when it was published to rave reviews in 2006. By 2013, Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori had adapted the book into a musical premiering Off Broadway at the Public Theater. Fun Home became a critical sensation once again, not only named Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, but also a finalist for that year’s Pulitzer Prize in Drama. After several reruns by popular demand, Fun Home moved to Broadway in 2015, where it won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Book for a Musical. The following year, the live cast recording won a Grammy award.

The TV ads for the first national tour screamed, “Welcome to a musical about a family that’s nothing like yours — and exactly like yours.” Okay. So, I wonder, how many of you can relate to this author’s wonder years? Alison’s autobiographical tale, which traces the childhood events that led to her becoming a graphic novelist, allows her to reflect upon herself at various points in the past — three ages, played by three actresses. The oldest version often shares the stage with one of the younger versions and looks sweetly or critically at herself at various points in her past. 

As Small Allison, she remembers her funeral director/home remodeler/high school teacher dad as spirited, eccentric, preoccupied, and demanding. She romps around the “fun home,” the family’s nickname for the funeral parlor, hiding in the coffins with her two brothers. She doesn’t realize her father is also a closeted, very repressed homosexual having secret affairs. Later, Medium Allison, the college freshman, finds the courage to come out as a lesbian, first to a female classmate she loves and later to her parents. Finally, looking back on her father’s struggles from the vantage point of middle age, she comes to believe that his untimely death must have been suicide.

I said I haven’t seen these productions. However, I did see the Broadway production of Fun Home with the original cast. I can tell you that the script is one of the best I’ve heard in a musical. Very smart and achingly honest. Incisive, wry, compelling, and yet, at certain moments, laugh-out-loud funny. But the music and the songs are what really make this piece of theater so moving and emotionally powerful. The music and lyrics are woven as effortlessly as the best works of Stephen Sondheim, and I can tell you from memory that the sounds of Fun Home seamlessly shift from giddy to gorgeous, melancholy to zany, angry to haunting, and, ultimately, to heartbreaking and luminous. 

Even if Actor’s Express does half as good a job as the Broadway cast, this Fun Home promises to be one of the highlights of the theater season.

$20-$40. Showtimes vary. Through Feb. 16. Actor’s Express, 87 West Marietta S.t N.W. Suite J-107. 404-607-7469. https://www.actors-express.com/plays/fun-home

Tribes

British playwright Nina Raine explained in a 2010 interview that the idea of writing Tribes came to her after she saw a documentary about a deaf couple who were expecting a child and were hoping it would be born deaf. It occurred to Raine that this family was essentially a tribe whose members wanted to pass on values, beliefs, and language to their children. Each tribe has its own rituals, hierarchies and ways of communicating that are often hard for “outsiders” to understand. She began to see that there were tribes everywhere, including individual families, religious communities, and groups like the (self-defined) deaf community. 

Raine’s play focuses on a dysfunctional middle-class British Jewish family with three grown children, all living at home. One of the two sons, Billy, born deaf, was raised to read lips and to speak but was never taught sign language. Billy’s family, like every other, behaves like a club with its own private language, jokes, and rules. In this Jewish household, arguments, no matter how heated, are considered an expression of love. 

But then Billy meets Sylvia, a hearing woman born to deaf parents who is now slowly going deaf herself. She hates that she’s losing her hearing and begins teaching Billy sign language. After learning about the values of the deaf community, Billy confronts his own family’s beliefs and values. Finally, it is the deaf family member who demands to be heard.

DramaTech, Georgia Tech’s student-run theatre organization, has been around for 73 years. Tribes is an award-winning script, and many productions feature a deaf actor in the role of Billy. This might well be a student production worth seeking out.

$8-$15. 8 p.m. February 7–15, DramaTech Theatre, 349 Ferst Drive. 404-894-3481. https://dramatech.org/events/

Wooden Nickels

In this new one-act play at Theatre Emory directed by Atlanta theatre legend Tim McDonough, two brothers from a Jewish family in Lubbock, Texas, tell the story of their father and his eccentric con-man cousin. Novelist Joseph Skibell (A Curable Romantic) wrote Wooden Nickles based on an essay about Jack Tiger, his father’s cousin, which first appeared in Skibell’s book My Father’s Guitar and Other Imaginary Things. Critic Dara Bramsom called the essay collection “a chronicle of experience and aging, the process within which a part of us — no matter how much we resist it — inevitably echoes our parents.” Others have compared Skibell’s style to “Mark Twain meets Isaac Bashevis Singer meets Wes Anderson.”

7:30 p.m. Feb. 26-29; 2 p.m., March 1.  , Theatre Emory, 1602 Fishburne Drive # 230. 404-727-0524. http://theater.emory.edu/home/shows-events/calendar.html#/?i=1

Stellaluna

When Stellaluna unexpectedly falls into the middle of a bird family’s home, the baby fruit bat is graciously accepted as one of them, but only if she acts like a bird. “Mama Bird told me I was upside down. She said I was wrong...” says the little bat. “Wrong for a bird, maybe, but not for a bat!” Eventually, Stellaluna finds other bats and reunites with her mother. She introduces the birds to her bat family, and she and the birds decide that, despite their many differences, they are still friends. This world premiere adaptation at the Center for Puppetry Arts celebrates self-discoveries, unlikely friendships, and how we can be so different yet feel so much the same. 

Creative wizard Jon Ludwig adapted the story and directed the original production, which has been mounted on the largest set ever built at the Puppetry Center, and where every visual detail is closely based on the beloved children’s book by Janell Cannon. The author said she wrote the book to demonstrate that feeling like “a bat in a bird’s world” was universal. She must have been right, because since its publication in 1993, Stellaluna has sold well over two million copies globally and been translated into 30 languages. 

$19.50 and $25. Showtimes vary. Through March 8.Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St. N.W. https://puppet.org/programs/stellaluna-2/

Parents. Families. Memory. Childhood. Nesting. Dreams. I definitely see patterns here, and they’re matching my mood in this, my 60th winter.

So, brave the slight chill of Atlanta this February and March. Get inside a theatre, meet some of these all-too-human families, and see if you recognize some part of your soul in one or more of these characters. Sitting there in the dark, listening, you might also discover a new, even more fascinating version of yourself. — CL —    Courtesy of Alliance Theatre MAYBE HAPPY ENDING: Cathy Ang and Kenny Yang star at the Alliance Theatre.  0,0,11    scenes&motions                             SCENES & MOTIONS: Not me. Us: six chances to connect "
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Tuesday February 4, 2020 01:51 pm EST
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  string(8482) "Looking for creative or quirky ways to escape from the dreaded December holiday crush other than hibernating at home or fleeing for parts unknown to others? Fear not, for visual and performing artists across the ATL are cooking up a wildly ersatz mix of performance experiences to enlighten, entertain, challenge, and surprise you.

Here are just four of them to seek out and submit to.

The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley (through Dec 29)

Theatrical Outfit premieres the latest love letter to Jane Austen by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, two fiercely talented playwrights with Atlanta connections. Inspired by characters in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley celebrates family and forgiveness at the time of year when many of us find ourselves yearning for one or the other, or perhaps more often, both family AND forgiveness. In the days immediately before and after Christmas 1815, a diligent housekeeper, an indomitable maid, and a lovesick groomsman struggle to control the boorish Mr. Wickham. At the Pemberley Estate, the servants’ quarters and the house kitchen also serve as a retreat for members of the ruling class who often come downstairs to confide in or comfort the maids, the butler, or the cook.

The play, though set over two centuries ago, looks at the central characters through a contemporary lens. Cassie (Lauren Boyd), the house maid, and Lydia (Erika Miranda), the upper-class young woman living upstairs, both refuse to marry the first handsome man who proposes to them. Both women strive against social conventions as they struggle to grow into themselves. When the story moves to December 26, better known as Boxing Day in England, the play explores another timeless question: How should we show our special appreciation for the men and woman whom we usually pay for the services they render throughout the year? Atlanta theatre lovers will be delighted to know these festivities are being directed with buoyant passion by the always brilliant Carolyn Cook.

Regardless of where the story of these literary characters takes you, I’ll wager that the gorgeous costumes, the period sets, and the rich British dialects are bound to put you in the best kind of holiday mood.

Christmas With The Crawfords (Dec 5-21)

Speaking of moods, or more precisely, tempers, perhaps you remember the notorious ’80s film Mommie Dearest starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford. (“No wire hangers!”) And, hopefully, you lapped up Feud, FX Network’s brilliant Tinseltown cat fight with Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis and Jessica Lange as Crawford. Well then, you’re probably already familiar with the riotous theatrical spoof based on the actual Christmas Eve live radio broadcast Joan Crawford made from her Brentwood mansion in 1949. Christmas With The Crawfords is a mash-up musical parody and also a loving homage to Hollywood’s “Golden Age.” Such legends as Judy Garland, Carmen Miranda, Gloria Swanson, Hedda Hopper, Ethel Merman, and the Andrews Sisters all have grand entrances, belt out holiday songs, and spit out over-the-top one liners.

The cast is fabulously diverse, with woman playing men, men playing women, and sassy adult actors portraying Joan Crawford’s ever-suffering children, Tina and Christopher. But lest we forget, the Crawfords were members of an actual family who felt pain and jealously as well as pride and love. As directed by Atlanta’s own Alice Acker, the all-local cast is sharp enough to reveal some of the bittersweet humanity behind the drag-alicious histrionics. Once again, the dazzling costumes and period set details are to die for.

Curious Holiday Encounters (Dec 5-8)

This month marks the 10th year, give or take, that 7 Stages has hosted some of the most original performances and immersive installations during the so-called “holiday season.” Each December, Wreck The Halls, the annual L5P Krampus Crawl, has converged at the world-famous theatre led by the full-tilt, head-bangin’ Rock Star Orchestra. Then, a few years ago, visionary puppeteer/director Michael Haverty curated the first of a series of “Curious Holiday Encounters,” inviting audiences to explore a cornucopia of visual and theatrical moments in every corner of 7 Stages’ creative space.


This year’s “Encounters” will appear and transform every crevice and corner, from the upstairs and downstairs lobby areas to the dressing rooms, the staff office, and the upstairs window balcony. (I’m super curious to see what might be happening on the roof!) Sky Creature Productions (Marium Khalid, Barrett Doyle, and Arianna Khmelnyuk) is creating a hypnotic time portal meditation on Past, Present, and Future; and visual artist Devi Well has crafted imagery honoring Celtic and other pagan origins of the season. Three multitalented “Jacks & Jills of all creative trades” — Nicolette Emmanuel, McKinley Campos, and Adam Pellitier, will challenge guests with Dual Spiral, their emotional response to giving and receiving; while poet/spoken word artists Theresa Davis and Desiree Renee share their poignant Remembrance.

 


Still curious? Then prepare to be enthralled by two movement theatre works: Hjól: The Wheel of the Year by Full Radius Dance; and the uniquely intimate moments of Charmed Ones by dancer/choreographer Corian Ellisor performing with Alex Abarca, Nick Goodly, and Danyale Taylor. Venture even deeper into 7 Stages’ inner sanctums to discover Out Front Theatre’s hilarious Holigays and Theatre du Reve’s Masqued New Year’s Eve Revolution Ball!  …in French, no less. “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!” And finally, topping it all off, the Little Five Points Rock Star Orchestra, of course. Four nights only, Dec 5-8.


SAINT (Dec 14)

Connection. Trust. Intimacy. Relationship. These are the words artistic director Mallory Baxley uses to describe the powerful bond between the eight women dancers in SAINT, the newest premiere work by Zoetic Dance Ensemble. Zoetic has been an-all women ensemble since their inception 19 years ago. The premiere will be danced by veteran Zoetic members Jacquelyn Benthall, Hannah Carlin, Gabrielle Gambino, Ellie Peterson and Sarah Wildman together with three new dancers, Emma Morris, Katherine Reeves, and Tori Vincent.

Baxley says that “with each major new dance work, the dance artists who commit to creating and performing the work together spend six months or more confiding in each other, and sharing feelings, childhood memories, doubts, fears, regrets, and deepest aspirations. That level of intimacy builds an amazing amount of trust, and we use that to build the work.”


Anyone raised Roman Catholic associates the essence of Christmas with the Virgin Mary and the Nativity. Zoetic’s SAINT is not at all intended to have that kind of sacred meaning. Rather, the Zoetic artists intend it as “a collaborative dance project … about the evolution of perspective and the ideologies of individualized and collective femininity.” Baxley asks, “What is a woman? She is so many things. Saint. Sinner. Light. Dark. Soft. Hard. This new work explores culture perceptions of women and our own personal perceptions about who we are as women.”

SAINT will feature an original score composed and performed by Xavier “Xay Zoleil” Lewis and a trio of musicians. The dancers will wear costumes designed by Hannah James. Morgen Tanksley designed the immersive floor-to-ceiling installation and the graphic projections that will transform the interior of Ambient+ Studios massive 110-year old industrial space near West End. Zoetic’s latest premiere will have two performances only, at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., Saturday, December 14. God willing, you’ll find time to encounter this SAINT in person.

Most cultures around the world celebrate at least one holiday on or near the Winter Solstice. If there is one universal theme that resonates with people everywhere, it seems to be that of unity and connection — the idea that as family members, neighbors, coworkers, citizens, as men, women, and every variation of self-identity, we have more in common, than we have differences. The best public performances, be they sacred, serious, strange, or silly, bring audiences together, if only for a precious hour or two. Here’s hoping you experience a few of those hours around Atlanta stages over the next few weeks.

God bless us, every one. -CL-"
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Here are just four of them to seek out and submit to.

__The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley (through Dec 29)__

Theatrical Outfit premieres the latest love letter to Jane Austen by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, two fiercely talented playwrights with Atlanta connections. Inspired by characters in Jane Austen’s ''Pride and Prejudice'', T''he Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley'' celebrates family and forgiveness at the time of year when many of us find ourselves yearning for one or the other, or perhaps more often, both family AND forgiveness. In the days immediately before and after Christmas 1815, a diligent housekeeper, an indomitable maid, and a lovesick groomsman struggle to control the boorish Mr. Wickham. At the Pemberley Estate, the servants’ quarters and the house kitchen also serve as a retreat for members of the ruling class who often come downstairs to confide in or comfort the maids, the butler, or the cook.

The play, though set over two centuries ago, looks at the central characters through a contemporary lens. Cassie (Lauren Boyd), the house maid, and Lydia (Erika Miranda), the upper-class young woman living upstairs, both refuse to marry the first handsome man who proposes to them. Both women strive against social conventions as they struggle to grow into themselves. When the story moves to December 26, better known as Boxing Day in England, the play explores another timeless question: How should we show our special appreciation for the men and woman whom we usually pay for the services they render throughout the year? Atlanta theatre lovers will be delighted to know these festivities are being directed with buoyant passion by the always brilliant Carolyn Cook.

Regardless of where the story of these literary characters takes you, I’ll wager that the gorgeous costumes, the period sets, and the rich British dialects are bound to put you in the best kind of holiday mood.

__Christmas With The Crawfords (Dec 5-21)__

Speaking of moods, or more precisely, tempers, perhaps you remember the notorious ’80s film ''Mommie Dearest'' starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford. (“No wire hangers!”) And, hopefully, you lapped up ''Feud'', FX Network’s brilliant Tinseltown cat fight with Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis and Jessica Lange as Crawford. Well then, you’re probably already familiar with the riotous theatrical spoof based on the actual Christmas Eve live radio broadcast Joan Crawford made from her Brentwood mansion in 1949. ''Christmas With The Crawfords'' is a mash-up musical parody and also a loving homage to Hollywood’s “Golden Age.” Such legends as Judy Garland, Carmen Miranda, Gloria Swanson, Hedda Hopper, Ethel Merman, and the Andrews Sisters all have grand entrances, belt out holiday songs, and spit out over-the-top one liners.

The cast is fabulously diverse, with woman playing men, men playing women, and sassy adult actors portraying Joan Crawford’s ever-suffering children, Tina and Christopher. But lest we forget, the Crawfords were members of an actual family who felt pain and jealously as well as pride and love. As directed by Atlanta’s own Alice Acker, the all-local cast is sharp enough to reveal some of the bittersweet humanity behind the drag-alicious histrionics. Once again, the dazzling costumes and period set details are to die for.

__Curious Holiday Encounters (Dec 5-8)__

This month marks the 10th year, give or take, that 7 Stages has hosted some of the most original performances and immersive installations during the so-called “holiday season.” Each December, ''Wreck The Halls'', the annual ''L5P Krampus Crawl'', has converged at the world-famous theatre led by the full-tilt, head-bangin’ Rock Star Orchestra. Then, a few years ago, visionary puppeteer/director Michael Haverty curated the first of a series of “Curious Holiday Encounters,” inviting audiences to explore a cornucopia of visual and theatrical moments in every corner of 7 Stages’ creative space.

{img fileId="26547" stylebox="float: left; margin-right:15px;" desc="desc" styledesc="text-align:left;" max="600"}
This year’s “Encounters” will appear and transform every crevice and corner, from the upstairs and downstairs lobby areas to the dressing rooms, the staff office, and the upstairs window balcony. (I’m super curious to see what might be happening on the roof!) Sky Creature Productions (Marium Khalid, Barrett Doyle, and Arianna Khmelnyuk) is creating a hypnotic time portal meditation on Past, Present, and Future; and visual artist Devi Well has crafted imagery honoring Celtic and other pagan origins of the season. Three multitalented “Jacks & Jills of all creative trades” — Nicolette Emmanuel, McKinley Campos, and Adam Pellitier, will challenge guests with ''Dual Spiral'', their emotional response to giving and receiving; while poet/spoken word artists Theresa Davis and Desiree Renee share their poignant ''Remembrance''.

 

{img fileId="26549" stylebox="float: right; margin-left:15px;" desc="desc" styledesc="text-align:left;" max="300"}
Still curious? Then prepare to be enthralled by two movement theatre works: ''Hjól: The Wheel of the Year'' by Full Radius Dance; and the uniquely intimate moments of ''Charmed Ones'' by dancer/choreographer Corian Ellisor performing with Alex Abarca, Nick Goodly, and Danyale Taylor. Venture even deeper into 7 Stages’ inner sanctums to discover Out Front Theatre’s hilarious ''Holigays'' and Theatre du Reve’s ''Masqued New Year’s Eve Revolution Ball!''  …in French, no less. “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!” And finally, topping it all off, the Little Five Points Rock Star Orchestra, of course. Four nights only, Dec 5-8.


__SAINT (Dec 14)__

Connection. Trust. Intimacy. Relationship. These are the words artistic director Mallory Baxley uses to describe the powerful bond between the eight women dancers in ''SAINT'', the newest premiere work by Zoetic Dance Ensemble. Zoetic has been an-all women ensemble since their inception 19 years ago. The premiere will be danced by veteran Zoetic members Jacquelyn Benthall, Hannah Carlin, Gabrielle Gambino, Ellie Peterson and Sarah Wildman together with three new dancers, Emma Morris, Katherine Reeves, and Tori Vincent.

Baxley says that “with each major new dance work, the dance artists who commit to creating and performing the work together spend six months or more confiding in each other, and sharing feelings, childhood memories, doubts, fears, regrets, and deepest aspirations. That level of intimacy builds an amazing amount of trust, and we use that to build the work.”

{img fileId="26548" desc="desc" styledesc="text-align:left;" relative="y" legacyalign="center" align="center" width="100%"}
Anyone raised Roman Catholic associates the essence of Christmas with the Virgin Mary and the Nativity. Zoetic’s ''SAINT'' is not at all intended to have that kind of sacred meaning. Rather, the Zoetic artists intend it as “a collaborative dance project … about the evolution of perspective and the ideologies of individualized and collective femininity.” Baxley asks, “What is a woman? She is so many things. Saint. Sinner. Light. Dark. Soft. Hard. This new work explores culture perceptions of women and our own personal perceptions about who we are as women.”

''SAINT'' will feature an original score composed and performed by Xavier “Xay Zoleil” Lewis and a trio of musicians. The dancers will wear costumes designed by Hannah James. Morgen Tanksley designed the immersive floor-to-ceiling installation and the graphic projections that will transform the interior of Ambient+ Studios massive 110-year old industrial space near West End. Zoetic’s latest premiere will have two performances only, at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., Saturday, December 14. God willing, you’ll find time to encounter this SAINT in person.

Most cultures around the world celebrate at least one holiday on or near the Winter Solstice. If there is one universal theme that resonates with people everywhere, it seems to be that of unity and connection — the idea that as family members, neighbors, coworkers, citizens, as men, women, and every variation of self-identity, we have more in common, than we have differences. The best public performances, be they sacred, serious, strange, or silly, bring audiences together, if only for a precious hour or two. Here’s hoping you experience a few of those hours around Atlanta stages over the next few weeks.

God bless us, every one. __-CL-__"
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  string(9375) " S&M Out Front Christmas With The Crawfords Diane Haymes Photography Resized  2019-12-03T22:59:00+00:00 S&M_Out_Front_-_Christmas_with_the_Cra...-_Diane_Haymes_Photography_resized.jpg    dance theater theatre edwardmcnally performance scenes&motions ‘We have more in common, than we have differences’ 26535  2019-12-03T22:54:43+00:00 SCENES & MOTIONS: Unity and connection in the theater jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Edward McNalley Edward McNally 2019-12-03T22:54:43+00:00  Looking for creative or quirky ways to escape from the dreaded December holiday crush other than hibernating at home or fleeing for parts unknown to others? Fear not, for visual and performing artists across the ATL are cooking up a wildly ersatz mix of performance experiences to enlighten, entertain, challenge, and surprise you.

Here are just four of them to seek out and submit to.

The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley (through Dec 29)

Theatrical Outfit premieres the latest love letter to Jane Austen by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, two fiercely talented playwrights with Atlanta connections. Inspired by characters in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley celebrates family and forgiveness at the time of year when many of us find ourselves yearning for one or the other, or perhaps more often, both family AND forgiveness. In the days immediately before and after Christmas 1815, a diligent housekeeper, an indomitable maid, and a lovesick groomsman struggle to control the boorish Mr. Wickham. At the Pemberley Estate, the servants’ quarters and the house kitchen also serve as a retreat for members of the ruling class who often come downstairs to confide in or comfort the maids, the butler, or the cook.

The play, though set over two centuries ago, looks at the central characters through a contemporary lens. Cassie (Lauren Boyd), the house maid, and Lydia (Erika Miranda), the upper-class young woman living upstairs, both refuse to marry the first handsome man who proposes to them. Both women strive against social conventions as they struggle to grow into themselves. When the story moves to December 26, better known as Boxing Day in England, the play explores another timeless question: How should we show our special appreciation for the men and woman whom we usually pay for the services they render throughout the year? Atlanta theatre lovers will be delighted to know these festivities are being directed with buoyant passion by the always brilliant Carolyn Cook.

Regardless of where the story of these literary characters takes you, I’ll wager that the gorgeous costumes, the period sets, and the rich British dialects are bound to put you in the best kind of holiday mood.

Christmas With The Crawfords (Dec 5-21)

Speaking of moods, or more precisely, tempers, perhaps you remember the notorious ’80s film Mommie Dearest starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford. (“No wire hangers!”) And, hopefully, you lapped up Feud, FX Network’s brilliant Tinseltown cat fight with Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis and Jessica Lange as Crawford. Well then, you’re probably already familiar with the riotous theatrical spoof based on the actual Christmas Eve live radio broadcast Joan Crawford made from her Brentwood mansion in 1949. Christmas With The Crawfords is a mash-up musical parody and also a loving homage to Hollywood’s “Golden Age.” Such legends as Judy Garland, Carmen Miranda, Gloria Swanson, Hedda Hopper, Ethel Merman, and the Andrews Sisters all have grand entrances, belt out holiday songs, and spit out over-the-top one liners.

The cast is fabulously diverse, with woman playing men, men playing women, and sassy adult actors portraying Joan Crawford’s ever-suffering children, Tina and Christopher. But lest we forget, the Crawfords were members of an actual family who felt pain and jealously as well as pride and love. As directed by Atlanta’s own Alice Acker, the all-local cast is sharp enough to reveal some of the bittersweet humanity behind the drag-alicious histrionics. Once again, the dazzling costumes and period set details are to die for.

Curious Holiday Encounters (Dec 5-8)

This month marks the 10th year, give or take, that 7 Stages has hosted some of the most original performances and immersive installations during the so-called “holiday season.” Each December, Wreck The Halls, the annual L5P Krampus Crawl, has converged at the world-famous theatre led by the full-tilt, head-bangin’ Rock Star Orchestra. Then, a few years ago, visionary puppeteer/director Michael Haverty curated the first of a series of “Curious Holiday Encounters,” inviting audiences to explore a cornucopia of visual and theatrical moments in every corner of 7 Stages’ creative space.


This year’s “Encounters” will appear and transform every crevice and corner, from the upstairs and downstairs lobby areas to the dressing rooms, the staff office, and the upstairs window balcony. (I’m super curious to see what might be happening on the roof!) Sky Creature Productions (Marium Khalid, Barrett Doyle, and Arianna Khmelnyuk) is creating a hypnotic time portal meditation on Past, Present, and Future; and visual artist Devi Well has crafted imagery honoring Celtic and other pagan origins of the season. Three multitalented “Jacks & Jills of all creative trades” — Nicolette Emmanuel, McKinley Campos, and Adam Pellitier, will challenge guests with Dual Spiral, their emotional response to giving and receiving; while poet/spoken word artists Theresa Davis and Desiree Renee share their poignant Remembrance.

 


Still curious? Then prepare to be enthralled by two movement theatre works: Hjól: The Wheel of the Year by Full Radius Dance; and the uniquely intimate moments of Charmed Ones by dancer/choreographer Corian Ellisor performing with Alex Abarca, Nick Goodly, and Danyale Taylor. Venture even deeper into 7 Stages’ inner sanctums to discover Out Front Theatre’s hilarious Holigays and Theatre du Reve’s Masqued New Year’s Eve Revolution Ball!  …in French, no less. “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!” And finally, topping it all off, the Little Five Points Rock Star Orchestra, of course. Four nights only, Dec 5-8.


SAINT (Dec 14)

Connection. Trust. Intimacy. Relationship. These are the words artistic director Mallory Baxley uses to describe the powerful bond between the eight women dancers in SAINT, the newest premiere work by Zoetic Dance Ensemble. Zoetic has been an-all women ensemble since their inception 19 years ago. The premiere will be danced by veteran Zoetic members Jacquelyn Benthall, Hannah Carlin, Gabrielle Gambino, Ellie Peterson and Sarah Wildman together with three new dancers, Emma Morris, Katherine Reeves, and Tori Vincent.

Baxley says that “with each major new dance work, the dance artists who commit to creating and performing the work together spend six months or more confiding in each other, and sharing feelings, childhood memories, doubts, fears, regrets, and deepest aspirations. That level of intimacy builds an amazing amount of trust, and we use that to build the work.”


Anyone raised Roman Catholic associates the essence of Christmas with the Virgin Mary and the Nativity. Zoetic’s SAINT is not at all intended to have that kind of sacred meaning. Rather, the Zoetic artists intend it as “a collaborative dance project … about the evolution of perspective and the ideologies of individualized and collective femininity.” Baxley asks, “What is a woman? She is so many things. Saint. Sinner. Light. Dark. Soft. Hard. This new work explores culture perceptions of women and our own personal perceptions about who we are as women.”

SAINT will feature an original score composed and performed by Xavier “Xay Zoleil” Lewis and a trio of musicians. The dancers will wear costumes designed by Hannah James. Morgen Tanksley designed the immersive floor-to-ceiling installation and the graphic projections that will transform the interior of Ambient+ Studios massive 110-year old industrial space near West End. Zoetic’s latest premiere will have two performances only, at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., Saturday, December 14. God willing, you’ll find time to encounter this SAINT in person.

Most cultures around the world celebrate at least one holiday on or near the Winter Solstice. If there is one universal theme that resonates with people everywhere, it seems to be that of unity and connection — the idea that as family members, neighbors, coworkers, citizens, as men, women, and every variation of self-identity, we have more in common, than we have differences. The best public performances, be they sacred, serious, strange, or silly, bring audiences together, if only for a precious hour or two. Here’s hoping you experience a few of those hours around Atlanta stages over the next few weeks.

God bless us, every one. -CL-    Diane Haymes CHRISTMAS WITH THE CRAWFORDS: Christmas Eve, 1949. One by one, a who’s who of Hollywood divas surprise and shock the imperious Joan Crawford during a live radio broadcast from her Brentwood mansion. Photo credit: Diane Haymes  0,0,10    edwardmcnally performance dance theater theatre scenes&motions                             SCENES & MOTIONS: Unity and connection in the theater "
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Tuesday December 3, 2019 05:54 pm EST
‘We have more in common, than we have differences’ | more...

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  string(5983) "This month, from October 3–6, Atlanta-based choreographer George Staib and dance company Staibdance present the world premiere of fence, their most political and socially driven work to date. Staib, working with 13 of our city’s boldest contemporary dancers and a visionary international design team, is expanding on the visceral emotions and cultural tensions that fueled his critically acclaimed dance work moat when it premiered at Emory’s Schwartz Center three summers ago.

Like moat, fence is also inspired by the choreographer’s painful memories of growing up in pre-revolutionary Iran and Reagan-era rural Pennsylvania. Staib’s latest work invites the audience on a personal journey exploring power and powerlessness, the experience of being the outsider, and how the idea of “otherness” can rob us of our power or, ultimately, become the source of our power in this life.

As a young child in Iran in the early 1970s, Staib attended the Tehran American School on the outskirts of the nation’s ancient capital. His classmates were mostly from the U.S. and Europe. As the only student who had been born and raised in Iran, he was painfully self-conscious of his outsider status at school. Staib felt real fear when two American students were lured to a remote part of the campus by two Iranian men who suddenly stabbed the boys through a fence that separated the school from a mostly deserted landscape.

Two years later, in 1977, Staib’s family fled Iran and immigrated to rural Pennsylvania. George grew up in America during the Iranian Revolution and in the shadow of the hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy that ultimately led to President Jimmy Carter’s political defeat and helped elect Ronald Reagan. In the wake of those global events, and inside yet another fence that surrounded his American high school, Staib felt like even more of an outcast than he had back in Tehran. Other students often hurled rocks at him and his sister and shouted racist, anti-Iranian insults.

Four decades after the emotional and political turmoil of his childhood, Staib now serves on the dance faculty of Emory University. He founded his Atlanta-based dance company in 2012. As a working artist and as an American citizen during these Trumpian dark times, Staib sees the South as a region with many of the same power dynamics (race, religion, gender, class) that he faced in his native Iran and in rural Pennsylvania in the early 1980s.

“In fence,” Staib explains, “the dancers delineate and rearrange space; they destroy it, and then move on, as a parallel symbol of the desire to alter the self and to deny any sense of otherness. They examine the tension that exists between what is and what may be; the tension between the moment of betrayal and the moment power is taken away from any individual; and ultimately, the provocative precipice of reclaiming our ground.”

Perhaps more than in any previous work premiered by Staibdance (wishdust, moat, attic, snap, versus, and nameday), Staib’s intensely physical vocabulary in fence bonds with traditional Iranian dance. Iranian dance movement is rarely, if ever, performed with, or in front of, members of the opposite sex. fence blends these traditional gender-specific movements with original dance vocabulary created collaboratively by Staib, co-choreographer/managing director Sarah Hillmer, and the dancers themselves, whose contrasting movements explore feelings of unrest on both a personal and a global level.

Over the past seven seasons, Staibdance premieres have been performed by a who’s who of Atlanta dance talent. The latest all-star team includes Anna Bracewell, Nicole Johnson, Jimmy Joyner, Britanie Leland, Chrystola Luu, Gianna Mercandetti, Laura Morton, Amelia Reiser, Virginia Spinks, and apprentice dancers Patsy Collins, Bailey Harbaugh, Catherine Messina, and Benjamin Stevenson.

Beginning with their premiere of attic at Emory in 2015, Staibdance has also given special attention to creating compelling physical and sensory environments as part of each complete dance work. Using funds from a major National Dance Project (NDP) Production Award grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), Staib has gathered a tantalizingly impressive creative design team to carry out his vision.


Jessica Anderson and Sebastian Monroy, the genius duo behind Into Outof Studio, are weaving a sensory-based digital experience within the work. Anderson, the creative technologist behind the Design & Innovation Lab at Spelman College, serves as creative/technical advisor. Designer Gregory Catellier creates distinct spaces and moods with light, scenic designer Sara Ward Culpepper sculpted the titular fence inhabiting the space, and former Atlanta Ballet costume designer Tamara Cobus chose the physical textures and patterns the dancers move within.

Enveloping it all is original music rooted in Middle Eastern scales, harmonics, rhythms, and Iranian vocals. Electronic musician and composer Ben Coleman (formerly of Judi Chicago and Noot d’ Noot) blurs the elements in real time, creating a cross-pollination of sounds, texts, and otherworldly ambiance. All this talent was paid for by the NDP Production Award — Staibdance was one of only two grant recipients from the Southeast and the first Georgia-based arts organization to ever receive the highly competitive award, so kudos to them for that.

Ultimately, George Staib and everyone at Staibdance wants this dance work to be part of a dialogue on power. As they enter the venue, the audience is surrounded by a world of projected images of people’s personal journeys, via posts from the company’s hashtag campaign that asks, “What takes your power?” (#staibdancefence #givespower #takeyourpower) As audiences exit the performance space, they leave through an entirely different world of projected images, centered on the ways the global hashtag community reclaims their power. -CL-"
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Like ''moat, fence'' is also inspired by the choreographer’s painful memories of growing up in pre-revolutionary Iran and Reagan-era rural Pennsylvania. Staib’s latest work invites the audience on a personal journey exploring power and powerlessness, the experience of being the outsider, and how the idea of “otherness” can rob us of our power or, ultimately, become the source of our power in this life.

As a young child in Iran in the early 1970s, Staib attended the Tehran American School on the outskirts of the nation’s ancient capital. His classmates were mostly from the U.S. and Europe. As the only student who had been born and raised in Iran, he was painfully self-conscious of his outsider status at school. Staib felt real fear when two American students were lured to a remote part of the campus by two Iranian men who suddenly stabbed the boys through a fence that separated the school from a mostly deserted landscape.

Two years later, in 1977, Staib’s family fled Iran and immigrated to rural Pennsylvania. George grew up in America during the Iranian Revolution and in the shadow of the hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy that ultimately led to President Jimmy Carter’s political defeat and helped elect Ronald Reagan. In the wake of those global events, and inside yet another fence that surrounded his American high school, Staib felt like even more of an outcast than he had back in Tehran. Other students often hurled rocks at him and his sister and shouted racist, anti-Iranian insults.

Four decades after the emotional and political turmoil of his childhood, Staib now serves on the dance faculty of Emory University. He founded his Atlanta-based dance company in 2012. As a working artist and as an American citizen during these Trumpian dark times, Staib sees the South as a region with many of the same power dynamics (race, religion, gender, class) that he faced in his native Iran and in rural Pennsylvania in the early 1980s.

“In ''fence'',” Staib explains, “the dancers delineate and rearrange space; they destroy it, and then move on, as a parallel symbol of the desire to alter the self and to deny any sense of otherness. They examine the tension that exists between what is and what may be; the tension between the moment of betrayal and the moment power is taken away from any individual; and ultimately, the provocative precipice of reclaiming our ground.”

Perhaps more than in any previous work premiered by Staibdance (''wishdust, moat, attic, snap, versus'', and ''nameday''), Staib’s intensely physical vocabulary in ''fence'' bonds with traditional Iranian dance. Iranian dance movement is rarely, if ever, performed with, or in front of, members of the opposite sex. ''fence'' blends these traditional gender-specific movements with original dance vocabulary created collaboratively by Staib, co-choreographer/managing director Sarah Hillmer, and the dancers themselves, whose contrasting movements explore feelings of unrest on both a personal and a global level.

Over the past seven seasons, Staibdance premieres have been performed by a who’s who of Atlanta dance talent. The latest all-star team includes Anna Bracewell, Nicole Johnson, Jimmy Joyner, Britanie Leland, Chrystola Luu, Gianna Mercandetti, Laura Morton, Amelia Reiser, Virginia Spinks, and apprentice dancers Patsy Collins, Bailey Harbaugh, Catherine Messina, and Benjamin Stevenson.

Beginning with their premiere of ''attic'' at Emory in 2015, Staibdance has also given special attention to creating compelling physical and sensory environments as part of each complete dance work. Using funds from a major National Dance Project (NDP) Production Award grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), Staib has gathered a tantalizingly impressive creative design team to carry out his vision.

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Jessica Anderson and Sebastian Monroy, the genius duo behind Into Outof Studio, are weaving a sensory-based digital experience within the work. Anderson, the creative technologist behind the Design & Innovation Lab at Spelman College, serves as creative/technical advisor. Designer Gregory Catellier creates distinct spaces and moods with light, scenic designer Sara Ward Culpepper sculpted the titular fence inhabiting the space, and former Atlanta Ballet costume designer Tamara Cobus chose the physical textures and patterns the dancers move within.

Enveloping it all is original music rooted in Middle Eastern scales, harmonics, rhythms, and Iranian vocals. Electronic musician and composer Ben Coleman (formerly of Judi Chicago and Noot d’ Noot) blurs the elements in real time, creating a cross-pollination of sounds, texts, and otherworldly ambiance. All this talent was paid for by the NDP Production Award — Staibdance was one of only two grant recipients from the Southeast and the first Georgia-based arts organization to ever receive the highly competitive award, so kudos to them for that.

Ultimately, George Staib and everyone at Staibdance wants this dance work to be part of a dialogue on power. As they enter the venue, the audience is surrounded by a world of projected images of people’s personal journeys, via posts from the company’s hashtag campaign that asks, “What takes your power?” (#staibdancefence #givespower #takeyourpower) As audiences exit the performance space, they leave through an entirely different world of projected images, centered on the ways the global hashtag community reclaims their power. __-CL-__"
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  string(6601) " Staibdance Fence Web  2019-10-03T16:05:20+00:00 staibdance_fence_web.jpg    atlanta dance arts scenes and motions culture fence scenes&motions The give and take of power 24177  2019-10-03T15:59:06+00:00 SCENES AND MOTIONS: ‘fence’ allows painful memories to escape jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris EDWARD MCNALLY Edward McNally 2019-10-03T15:59:06+00:00  This month, from October 3–6, Atlanta-based choreographer George Staib and dance company Staibdance present the world premiere of fence, their most political and socially driven work to date. Staib, working with 13 of our city’s boldest contemporary dancers and a visionary international design team, is expanding on the visceral emotions and cultural tensions that fueled his critically acclaimed dance work moat when it premiered at Emory’s Schwartz Center three summers ago.

Like moat, fence is also inspired by the choreographer’s painful memories of growing up in pre-revolutionary Iran and Reagan-era rural Pennsylvania. Staib’s latest work invites the audience on a personal journey exploring power and powerlessness, the experience of being the outsider, and how the idea of “otherness” can rob us of our power or, ultimately, become the source of our power in this life.

As a young child in Iran in the early 1970s, Staib attended the Tehran American School on the outskirts of the nation’s ancient capital. His classmates were mostly from the U.S. and Europe. As the only student who had been born and raised in Iran, he was painfully self-conscious of his outsider status at school. Staib felt real fear when two American students were lured to a remote part of the campus by two Iranian men who suddenly stabbed the boys through a fence that separated the school from a mostly deserted landscape.

Two years later, in 1977, Staib’s family fled Iran and immigrated to rural Pennsylvania. George grew up in America during the Iranian Revolution and in the shadow of the hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy that ultimately led to President Jimmy Carter’s political defeat and helped elect Ronald Reagan. In the wake of those global events, and inside yet another fence that surrounded his American high school, Staib felt like even more of an outcast than he had back in Tehran. Other students often hurled rocks at him and his sister and shouted racist, anti-Iranian insults.

Four decades after the emotional and political turmoil of his childhood, Staib now serves on the dance faculty of Emory University. He founded his Atlanta-based dance company in 2012. As a working artist and as an American citizen during these Trumpian dark times, Staib sees the South as a region with many of the same power dynamics (race, religion, gender, class) that he faced in his native Iran and in rural Pennsylvania in the early 1980s.

“In fence,” Staib explains, “the dancers delineate and rearrange space; they destroy it, and then move on, as a parallel symbol of the desire to alter the self and to deny any sense of otherness. They examine the tension that exists between what is and what may be; the tension between the moment of betrayal and the moment power is taken away from any individual; and ultimately, the provocative precipice of reclaiming our ground.”

Perhaps more than in any previous work premiered by Staibdance (wishdust, moat, attic, snap, versus, and nameday), Staib’s intensely physical vocabulary in fence bonds with traditional Iranian dance. Iranian dance movement is rarely, if ever, performed with, or in front of, members of the opposite sex. fence blends these traditional gender-specific movements with original dance vocabulary created collaboratively by Staib, co-choreographer/managing director Sarah Hillmer, and the dancers themselves, whose contrasting movements explore feelings of unrest on both a personal and a global level.

Over the past seven seasons, Staibdance premieres have been performed by a who’s who of Atlanta dance talent. The latest all-star team includes Anna Bracewell, Nicole Johnson, Jimmy Joyner, Britanie Leland, Chrystola Luu, Gianna Mercandetti, Laura Morton, Amelia Reiser, Virginia Spinks, and apprentice dancers Patsy Collins, Bailey Harbaugh, Catherine Messina, and Benjamin Stevenson.

Beginning with their premiere of attic at Emory in 2015, Staibdance has also given special attention to creating compelling physical and sensory environments as part of each complete dance work. Using funds from a major National Dance Project (NDP) Production Award grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), Staib has gathered a tantalizingly impressive creative design team to carry out his vision.


Jessica Anderson and Sebastian Monroy, the genius duo behind Into Outof Studio, are weaving a sensory-based digital experience within the work. Anderson, the creative technologist behind the Design & Innovation Lab at Spelman College, serves as creative/technical advisor. Designer Gregory Catellier creates distinct spaces and moods with light, scenic designer Sara Ward Culpepper sculpted the titular fence inhabiting the space, and former Atlanta Ballet costume designer Tamara Cobus chose the physical textures and patterns the dancers move within.

Enveloping it all is original music rooted in Middle Eastern scales, harmonics, rhythms, and Iranian vocals. Electronic musician and composer Ben Coleman (formerly of Judi Chicago and Noot d’ Noot) blurs the elements in real time, creating a cross-pollination of sounds, texts, and otherworldly ambiance. All this talent was paid for by the NDP Production Award — Staibdance was one of only two grant recipients from the Southeast and the first Georgia-based arts organization to ever receive the highly competitive award, so kudos to them for that.

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Thursday October 3, 2019 11:59 am EDT
The give and take of power | more...
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  string(7187) "!!!!“And because there is something they can’t see people think it has to be special, because people always think there is something special about what they can’t see, like the dark side of the moon, or the other side of a black hole, or in the dark when they wake up at night and they’re scared.” 
!!!!― Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Art in any form can help us to see. And to feel. Art, at its best, helps us think and perhaps even to understand.

Take for instance The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Mark Haddon’s best-selling “mystery novel” (2003) (and subsequent theatrical adaptation) is told from the point of view of Christopher, a special teenager who’s better at solving equations than navigating a world that’s out of sync with how his mind works. After being wrongly accused of murdering his neighbor’s dog, he resolves to find the real culprit. When his investigation uncovers painful truths about his family, he dares to strike out on his own.

In his blog, author Mark Haddon wrote "Curious Incident is not a book about Asperger's or any specific disorder. If anything, it's a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way.”  As a book and as a play, Christopher’s coming-of-age story has become a hero’s quest fascinating readers and audiences all over the world.

Speaking to critic Maddy Costa in The Guardian, playwright Simon Stephens agreed that the irony is that “Christopher sees stories as lies, and theatre as dishonest. But it's through the lie that you find the greater truth. That's why you need to expose the mechanics of it.” This revealing irony is a big part of what got two metro area artistic directors, Lisa Adler (Horizon Theatre) and Justin Anderson (Aurora Theatre), excited about mounting the Atlanta premiere of one of the most popular dramatic scripts of the past decade.

“Christopher faces tremendous challenges because of his otherness,” says Anderson. “He’s desperately trying to find his place in the world. He overcomes so many obstacles that, by the end of the play, he and the audience come to understand that (his) otherness is perfect. Ultimately, our young hero is equal to everyone else and deserves respect as a valuable member of his family and his community.”

Anderson adds, “I’m fascinated by how bodies move in physical spaces, and so I’m thrilled to be able to use our combined tools and talents to make visible the thought process of these characters and to reveal the inner mystery of this young man’s mind. In many ways, ‘Curious Incident…’ is the most ambitious creative project I’ve ever been involved with.”

Might Atlanta audiences have unusually high expectations for this premiere? Perhaps.

Consider that, over the past seven years, the international bestseller has been adapted to the stage by Simon Stephens and premiered at the Royal National Theatre in London where it won seven Olivier Awards. To dramatize the intricate workings of Christopher’s brilliant imagination, the British creative team developed a state-of-the-art computerized LED lighting system, transforming a mostly bare set into a hypnotic grid of lights at key points in the story. At any moment, the giant white box of the stage became a swirling kaleidoscope of math equations, a speeding passenger train, a maze of London streets, or a star-filled expanse of interstellar space.

In 2015, the Royal Theatre production opened on Broadway to rave reviews and earned five Tony Awards, including ‘Best Play.’ Since then, touring productions and foreign language translations have wowed audiences in over a dozen countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. And now, two small local theaters are co-producing and co-directing a new production with a local cast that will rely less on dazzling LED lighting effects, and more on ingenious original choreography. It will run at Horizon in L5P Sept. 20–Oct. 27 and at Aurora in Lawrenceville, Jan 9.–Feb 9., 2020.

As you might expect, theatre co-founder Lisa Adler is thrilled to open Horizon’s 36 season with “Curious Incident…” by adapting it to Horizon’s intimate stage in the Little Five Points Community Center. “Simon Stephens’ play is a great example of movement theatre at its best,” says Adler. “Our ensemble of eight actors will be telling a lot of this story with their bodies. Depending on the needs of a given scene, they’ll stand or stretch to become a closet, a piece of furniture, or the cabin of an imaginary spaceship.” The veteran director explains that “even though Christopher is a teenage character who can’t stand being touched, there are times when we’ll show him moving in space by having ‘invisible’ actors lifting him up walls and through the air.”

“Christopher is fascinated with math problems, puzzles, and seeing clues hidden in plain sight,” says Adler. “So, we’re basing our set design and choreography on all these elements as well as on Tetris, P.T., and other video games. We’re using projections, panels, portals, sound effects — lots of clever stage tricks to solve the stage puzzles this unique script presents.” Adler is quick to add, “Creatively, we’re having as much fun as with any play we’ve ever done, and we’re working to involve the audience in the puzzle-solving fun.”

To bring forth the best possible performances from their ensemble, Adler and Anderson invited Chicago-based “movement director” Roger Ellis to join their “trinity of perspectives.” The three directors are collaborating in rehearsals for four weeks leading up to opening night.

Anderson describes the play and the trio’s directorial arrangement as a “beautiful marriage of realism, surrealism, and dreamlike moments.” “We’re definitely learning from each other,” he adds. “The conversations and creative debates make for a super creative fusion. It feels like the very best ideas are bubbling to the top.”

I write this as someone who marveled with glee at the ingenuity of the Broadway production I witnessed four Septembers ago, and someone who was deeply moved by Christopher’s personal journey. And I’ll add that as a man with more than a little bit of an OCD personality, I certainly have my own mental challenges with obsessing over patterns and yearning to find order in a miraculous but often chaotic universe.

Personally, I can’t wait to see The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time again, both at Horizon this month and at Aurora in January. I’ve got to admit I’m curious (pun intended) to see how well they solve the puzzles of producing this very special play.

!!!!  The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time, directed by Lisa Adler and Justin Anderson.
!!!!Sept. 20–Oct. 27
!!!!Horizon Theatre
!!!!1083 Austin Ave., Atlanta.
!!!!404-584-7450. https://www.horizontheatre.com/
!!!!      Jan. 9–Feb. 9
!!!!Aurora Theatre
!!!!128 East Pike St., Lawrenceville
!!!!678-226-6222, https://www.auroratheatre.com/
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!!!!― Mark Haddon, ''The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time''

Art in any form can help us to see. And to feel. Art, at its best, helps us think and perhaps even to understand.

Take for instance The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Mark Haddon’s best-selling “mystery novel” (2003) (and subsequent theatrical adaptation) is told from the point of view of Christopher, a special teenager who’s better at solving equations than navigating a world that’s out of sync with how his mind works. After being wrongly accused of murdering his neighbor’s dog, he resolves to find the real culprit. When his investigation uncovers painful truths about his family, he dares to strike out on his own.

In his blog, author Mark Haddon wrote "Curious Incident is not a book about Asperger's or any specific disorder. If anything, it's a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way.”  As a book and as a play, Christopher’s coming-of-age story has become a hero’s quest fascinating readers and audiences all over the world.

Speaking to critic Maddy Costa in The Guardian, playwright Simon Stephens agreed that the irony is that “Christopher sees stories as lies, and theatre as dishonest. But it's through the lie that you find the greater truth. That's why you need to expose the mechanics of it.” This revealing irony is a big part of what got two metro area artistic directors, Lisa Adler (Horizon Theatre) and Justin Anderson (Aurora Theatre), excited about mounting the Atlanta premiere of one of the most popular dramatic scripts of the past decade.

“Christopher faces tremendous challenges because of his otherness,” says Anderson. “He’s desperately trying to find his place in the world. He overcomes so many obstacles that, by the end of the play, he and the audience come to understand that (his) otherness is perfect. Ultimately, our young hero is equal to everyone else and deserves respect as a valuable member of his family and his community.”

Anderson adds, “I’m fascinated by how bodies move in physical spaces, and so I’m thrilled to be able to use our combined tools and talents to make visible the thought process of these characters and to reveal the inner mystery of this young man’s mind. In many ways, ‘Curious Incident''…''’ is the most ambitious creative project I’ve ever been involved with.”

Might Atlanta audiences have unusually high expectations for this premiere? Perhaps.

Consider that, over the past seven years, the international bestseller has been adapted to the stage by Simon Stephens and premiered at the Royal National Theatre in London where it won seven Olivier Awards. To dramatize the intricate workings of Christopher’s brilliant imagination, the British creative team developed a state-of-the-art computerized LED lighting system, transforming a mostly bare set into a hypnotic grid of lights at key points in the story. At any moment, the giant white box of the stage became a swirling kaleidoscope of math equations, a speeding passenger train, a maze of London streets, or a star-filled expanse of interstellar space.

In 2015, the Royal Theatre production opened on Broadway to rave reviews and earned five Tony Awards, including ‘Best Play.’ Since then, touring productions and foreign language translations have wowed audiences in over a dozen countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. And now, two small local theaters are co-producing and co-directing a new production with a local cast that will rely less on dazzling LED lighting effects, and more on ingenious original choreography. It will run at Horizon in L5P Sept. 20–Oct. 27 and at Aurora in Lawrenceville, Jan 9.–Feb 9., 2020.

As you might expect, theatre co-founder Lisa Adler is thrilled to open Horizon’s 36{SUP()}th{SUP} season with “Curious Incident''…''” by adapting it to Horizon’s intimate stage in the Little Five Points Community Center. “Simon Stephens’ play is a great example of movement theatre at its best,” says Adler. “Our ensemble of eight actors will be telling a lot of this story with their bodies. Depending on the needs of a given scene, they’ll stand or stretch to become a closet, a piece of furniture, or the cabin of an imaginary spaceship.” The veteran director explains that “even though Christopher is a teenage character who can’t stand being touched, there are times when we’ll show him moving in space by having ‘invisible’ actors lifting him up walls and through the air.”

“Christopher is fascinated with math problems, puzzles, and seeing clues hidden in plain sight,” says Adler. “So, we’re basing our set design and choreography on all these elements as well as on Tetris, P.T., and other video games. We’re using projections, panels, portals, sound effects — lots of clever stage tricks to solve the stage puzzles this unique script presents.” Adler is quick to add, “Creatively, we’re having as much fun as with any play we’ve ever done, and we’re working to involve the audience in the puzzle-solving fun.”

To bring forth the best possible performances from their ensemble, Adler and Anderson invited Chicago-based “movement director” Roger Ellis to join their “trinity of perspectives.” The three directors are collaborating in rehearsals for four weeks leading up to opening night.

Anderson describes the play and the trio’s directorial arrangement as a “beautiful marriage of realism, surrealism, and dreamlike moments.” “We’re definitely learning from each other,” he adds. “The conversations and creative debates make for a super creative fusion. It feels like the very best ideas are bubbling to the top.”

I write this as someone who marveled with glee at the ingenuity of the Broadway production I witnessed four Septembers ago, and someone who was deeply moved by Christopher’s personal journey. And I’ll add that as a man with more than a little bit of an OCD personality, I certainly have my own mental challenges with obsessing over patterns and yearning to find order in a miraculous but often chaotic universe.

Personally, I can’t wait to see ''The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time'' again, both at Horizon this month and at Aurora in January. I’ve got to admit I’m curious (pun intended) to see how well they solve the puzzles of producing this very special play.

!!!! %%% ''The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time'', directed by Lisa Adler and Justin Anderson.
!!!!Sept. 20–Oct. 27
!!!!Horizon Theatre
!!!!1083 Austin Ave., Atlanta.
!!!!404-584-7450. https://www.horizontheatre.com/
!!!! %%%  %%%  %%% Jan. 9–Feb. 9
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!!!!― Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Art in any form can help us to see. And to feel. Art, at its best, helps us think and perhaps even to understand.

Take for instance The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Mark Haddon’s best-selling “mystery novel” (2003) (and subsequent theatrical adaptation) is told from the point of view of Christopher, a special teenager who’s better at solving equations than navigating a world that’s out of sync with how his mind works. After being wrongly accused of murdering his neighbor’s dog, he resolves to find the real culprit. When his investigation uncovers painful truths about his family, he dares to strike out on his own.

In his blog, author Mark Haddon wrote "Curious Incident is not a book about Asperger's or any specific disorder. If anything, it's a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way.”  As a book and as a play, Christopher’s coming-of-age story has become a hero’s quest fascinating readers and audiences all over the world.

Speaking to critic Maddy Costa in The Guardian, playwright Simon Stephens agreed that the irony is that “Christopher sees stories as lies, and theatre as dishonest. But it's through the lie that you find the greater truth. That's why you need to expose the mechanics of it.” This revealing irony is a big part of what got two metro area artistic directors, Lisa Adler (Horizon Theatre) and Justin Anderson (Aurora Theatre), excited about mounting the Atlanta premiere of one of the most popular dramatic scripts of the past decade.

“Christopher faces tremendous challenges because of his otherness,” says Anderson. “He’s desperately trying to find his place in the world. He overcomes so many obstacles that, by the end of the play, he and the audience come to understand that (his) otherness is perfect. Ultimately, our young hero is equal to everyone else and deserves respect as a valuable member of his family and his community.”

Anderson adds, “I’m fascinated by how bodies move in physical spaces, and so I’m thrilled to be able to use our combined tools and talents to make visible the thought process of these characters and to reveal the inner mystery of this young man’s mind. In many ways, ‘Curious Incident…’ is the most ambitious creative project I’ve ever been involved with.”

Might Atlanta audiences have unusually high expectations for this premiere? Perhaps.

Consider that, over the past seven years, the international bestseller has been adapted to the stage by Simon Stephens and premiered at the Royal National Theatre in London where it won seven Olivier Awards. To dramatize the intricate workings of Christopher’s brilliant imagination, the British creative team developed a state-of-the-art computerized LED lighting system, transforming a mostly bare set into a hypnotic grid of lights at key points in the story. At any moment, the giant white box of the stage became a swirling kaleidoscope of math equations, a speeding passenger train, a maze of London streets, or a star-filled expanse of interstellar space.

In 2015, the Royal Theatre production opened on Broadway to rave reviews and earned five Tony Awards, including ‘Best Play.’ Since then, touring productions and foreign language translations have wowed audiences in over a dozen countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. And now, two small local theaters are co-producing and co-directing a new production with a local cast that will rely less on dazzling LED lighting effects, and more on ingenious original choreography. It will run at Horizon in L5P Sept. 20–Oct. 27 and at Aurora in Lawrenceville, Jan 9.–Feb 9., 2020.

As you might expect, theatre co-founder Lisa Adler is thrilled to open Horizon’s 36 season with “Curious Incident…” by adapting it to Horizon’s intimate stage in the Little Five Points Community Center. “Simon Stephens’ play is a great example of movement theatre at its best,” says Adler. “Our ensemble of eight actors will be telling a lot of this story with their bodies. Depending on the needs of a given scene, they’ll stand or stretch to become a closet, a piece of furniture, or the cabin of an imaginary spaceship.” The veteran director explains that “even though Christopher is a teenage character who can’t stand being touched, there are times when we’ll show him moving in space by having ‘invisible’ actors lifting him up walls and through the air.”

“Christopher is fascinated with math problems, puzzles, and seeing clues hidden in plain sight,” says Adler. “So, we’re basing our set design and choreography on all these elements as well as on Tetris, P.T., and other video games. We’re using projections, panels, portals, sound effects — lots of clever stage tricks to solve the stage puzzles this unique script presents.” Adler is quick to add, “Creatively, we’re having as much fun as with any play we’ve ever done, and we’re working to involve the audience in the puzzle-solving fun.”

To bring forth the best possible performances from their ensemble, Adler and Anderson invited Chicago-based “movement director” Roger Ellis to join their “trinity of perspectives.” The three directors are collaborating in rehearsals for four weeks leading up to opening night.

Anderson describes the play and the trio’s directorial arrangement as a “beautiful marriage of realism, surrealism, and dreamlike moments.” “We’re definitely learning from each other,” he adds. “The conversations and creative debates make for a super creative fusion. It feels like the very best ideas are bubbling to the top.”

I write this as someone who marveled with glee at the ingenuity of the Broadway production I witnessed four Septembers ago, and someone who was deeply moved by Christopher’s personal journey. And I’ll add that as a man with more than a little bit of an OCD personality, I certainly have my own mental challenges with obsessing over patterns and yearning to find order in a miraculous but often chaotic universe.

Personally, I can’t wait to see The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time again, both at Horizon this month and at Aurora in January. I’ve got to admit I’m curious (pun intended) to see how well they solve the puzzles of producing this very special play.

!!!!  The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time, directed by Lisa Adler and Justin Anderson.
!!!!Sept. 20–Oct. 27
!!!!Horizon Theatre
!!!!1083 Austin Ave., Atlanta.
!!!!404-584-7450. https://www.horizontheatre.com/
!!!!      Jan. 9–Feb. 9
!!!!Aurora Theatre
!!!!128 East Pike St., Lawrenceville
!!!!678-226-6222, https://www.auroratheatre.com/
     COURTESY THE HORIZON THEATRE FLY "CURIOUS:' Brandon Michael Mayes (as Christopher) in rehearsal for Horizon Theatre’s production of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.'  0,0,1    scenes&motions                             SCENES AND MOTIONS: ‘The Dog in the Night-Time’ "
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Article

Thursday September 5, 2019 10:44 am EDT
‘A Curious Incident,’ indeed | more...
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  string(10392) "Immersive. Interactive. Experiential. Site specific. Whatever the term, the allure of art that invites your direct participation is very much alive all over Atlanta.
Sky Creature, LifeVisionVR, Fly on a Wall, gloATL, Flight of Swallows, Deer Bear Wolf, Out of Hand, PushPush Film &Theater, Seedworks, The Object Group, Hereafter Artist Collective, Liquid Sky, MakeShift Circus Collective, Serenbe Playhouse, and Brian Clowdus Immersive Experiences are among a growing array of ATL-based visual, media, and performing arts groups and companies creating sensory-heavy (and often phone-free) environments for exploring emotions, sharing stories, and building community.
Some of ATL’s most captivating storytellers and cultural connectors create all-enveloping environments:
• Sitting in the dark during The Black Box, you feel the cellist’s bow caress the strings. The lonely sounds massage your eardrum and open your heart.
• The night’s first sultry zephyr floats across your face, a slight kiss on your moist cheek. A sassy ingenue sails overhead from a trapeze in Ragtime: The Musical, her song of lust and passion floating through the air.
• You creep ever so gently through the Skin, the tactile environment in Sky Creature’s Sin Piel, that “holy place with a once divine presence, a place to confess, atone and heal, but that has now become a corrupted sanctuary…”  In order to pass through its gates, you must participate in a ritual that involves tasting the space you exist in.
These are just a few of the sensory experiences you may have encountered over the last few weeks, as a guest of these dreamweavers of the “stage.”
Immersive theater shows take place in abandoned warehouses or hidden basements or former mental institutions or public parks at midnight. They’re not just about stepping into an imagined world. They’re about exploring overlooked and mysterious corners of the city. Real estate-obsessed urbanites love nothing more than entrée to buildings that were formerly off-limits, and intrepid explorers love visiting neighborhoods that are off the beaten path. 
In the past year or so, several theatrical productions and creative events took place in unusual performance spaces around Atlanta. Fly On A Wall presented Byte indoors, but Dave and Public Arcana took place outside Colony Square and in a West End park. Small audiences gathering in private living rooms last fall to see the one-woman play Shaking the Wind (Out of Hand Theatre) and in the bathrooms of private residences this past spring to participate in another one-woman play, Broken Bone Bathtub.
Deer Bear Wolf produced their re-telling of the Peter Pan story, Second Star to the Right, in three parts in three outdoor locations, including a trio of large tree houses. Audiences were encouraged to dress in style to witness their version of “CLUE” inside the Swan House at The Atlanta History Center. The Sleepy Hollow Experience by Serenbe Playhouse took audiences in and around an actual horse stable, and Brian Clowdus’ The Edgar Allan Poe Experience invited everyone to enjoy a cocktail while following the tormented author in and out of four 19th-century rooms at the Wren’s Nest in West End. And back in February, gloATL held a screening of their documentary A Night of Alchemy and served food and drinks in the empty shell of the abandoned Rhodes Theater on Peachtree Street in Midtown.
Curious Holiday Encounters (7 Stages Theatre, The Object Group, Weird Sisters Theatre, etc.), The Golden Record, Dead Poets Lounge, and The Black Box (all by Hereafter Arts Collective in collaboration with other artists), and especially TRANSMIGRATION and Sin Piel by Sky Creature (formerly Saiah), also banished traditional theater’s Fourth Wall and pulled audiences out of comfort zones and deep into other lives, eras, psyches, dreams, and dimensions.
Beginning this month and into the fall, curious culture seekers and anyone seeking authentic human connection can dive head first into several immersive experiences. Mediums Collective’s first project Are We There Yet? will guide audiences through a labyrinth they’ve constructed at Windmill Arts Center in East Point where you encounter ritual and individual expressions of grief before being invited into spaces of healing. Other opportunities include gloATL’s month-long “activation” of the contemporary art in the Cousins Galleries, The Object Group’s multi-media exploration of anti-Arab racism in Camus’ “The Stranger” at 7 Stages, Liquid Sky’s steam punk celebration of the 20th anniversary of The B Complex artists studios in Oakland City, and the return of The Poe Experience with its Sleep No More-style of multi-room, interactive (and potentially confrontational) performances.
 




These days, the average age of audiences attending the often excellent productions at the more established subscription theaters tends to be 45 or older. Why are millennials and their 20-something siblings avoiding these more traditional theater and seeking out something — anything — immersive or interactive?
“Younger audiences are restless. They’re definitely less interested then their parents or grandparents in seeing a show on a stage,” says Object Group founder (and former 7 Stages associate artistic director) Michael Haverty. “They don’t want to sit in seats for two hours or more watching actors recite lines. Nowadays, everyone wants to talk to the ringmaster. This is all part of the evolution of the art of theatre.” Haverty adds, “Millennials want accessibility and flexibility. They want to be able to touch someone, be part of the performance; anything to feel part of the ‘family’ of performers around them.”  
Over the past decade, Haverty, an accomplished puppeteer and director, has created some of the most exciting and innovative work in the city. The Navigator (2013) at 7 Stages and The Breakers (2016), both presented at The Goat Farm, were popular with younger audiences who were fascinated by the surprising use of puppetry, video projections, sound effects, specially-designed props and, in the case of The Breakers, an entire house built inside a cavernous 19th century-era brick-walled factory.
Haverty left his position at 7 Stages last year to spend more time with his young son. “I’m still full of ideas for new theater works, but I’m really not that interested in directing actors on a stage anymore.”
Another multitalented Atlanta artist who’s worked in a wide range of settings is Nicolette Emanuelle, a classically trained cellist and experimental storyteller. In 2016, Emanuelle helped start Hereafter Artist Collective and began hosting the Dead Poets Lounge, a one-night event in various locations that combines literature, circus arts, acting, and live music to bring to life the poems of dead poets. Their promo blurb read as follows: “Imagine The Raven is a woman, watch Porphyria’s Lover dance in the air, and let your imagination go wild.”
Emanuelle thinks younger audiences are not so much bored with traditional theater, but desperate for something bolder. “So many people are unemployed or underemployed. They crave something that will snap them out of their funk!” She’s quick to add, “Don’t get me wrong. I really love millennials. Believe it or not, they actually have hope for the future.”
This looser, experience-based vs. plot-based approach to theater and storytelling happens in a real, physical space alongside fellow humans as opposed to virtual or smart-phone space so many people live in. Being in such close proximity to performers also heightens an awareness of the artist’s physical body. Voyeurism is part of any theatrical experience, but participatory performance often involves physical touch. In many instances, you can share an intimate one-on-one encounter with a performer. 
“As a female and a professional aerialist, I’m not comfortable with random people touching me,” declares Marilyn Chen, owner of the cirque-style entertainment company Liquid Sky. “But I understand how much everyone seems to crave authentic connection. As performers, we’re able to look into people’s eyes in a way that most nonperformers can’t. The people watching us are able to experience a kind of intimacy that they seldom have in their daily phone-focused lives.”
Few Atlanta storytellers have been as bold and adventurous with sensory performance as director/playwright Marium Khalid. Just a few years ago, Khalid was the toast of Atlanta theater with her company Saiah and their daringly immersive productions. City of Lions and Gods was ArtsATL’s choice for best production of 2011. The following year, the even more ambitious Rua | Wülf, an adult retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood story that took audiences in and out of every corner of the Goat Farm, was voted Best Play by the readers of this publication. But after Saiah’s critically acclaimed outdoor production Terminus in 2014, Khalid dropped out of sight. 
Khalid has returned with a new production company, Sky Creature, and a new show, Sin Piel, which was presented last May in The Circus School building in Grant Park. Khalid describes Sky Creature as “the next evolution of Saiah.” In her words, “We dive into truths from all perspectives and explore them through a new form, using scent, taste, touch, sight and sound — and a new form of virtual reality like you’ve never experienced before.”
Sin Piel is an enveloping sensory experience inspired by “the ‘Anatomical Venus,’ mental illness, and an exploration of spiritual darkness.” After suffering a serious, life-threatening illness over a period of two years, Khalid decided to create Sin Piel as “a journey that draws us into the innermost sacred parts of our spiritual and physical anatomy …(where) we explore the shadow and light of our internal being, as well as how we choose to engage with our individual pain …”
The scrupulously tactile and gloriously surreal Sin Piel, like all the best immersive theater works, seems to have the same goal as theater or art in any form. Namely, to move, to engage, to amuse, to enlighten, and to connect. To make us feel less alone and to build empathy and, ultimately, to make that authentic human connection all living beings long for."
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Sky Creature, LifeVisionVR, Fly on a Wall, gloATL, Flight of Swallows, Deer Bear Wolf, Out of Hand, PushPush Film &Theater, Seedworks, The Object Group, Hereafter Artist Collective, Liquid Sky, MakeShift Circus Collective, Serenbe Playhouse, and Brian Clowdus Immersive Experiences are among a growing array of ATL-based visual, media, and performing arts groups and companies creating sensory-heavy (and often phone-free) environments for exploring emotions, sharing stories, and building community.
Some of ATL’s most captivating storytellers and cultural connectors create all-enveloping environments:
• Sitting in the dark during ''The Black Box'', you feel the cellist’s bow caress the strings. The lonely sounds massage your eardrum and open your heart.
• The night’s first sultry zephyr floats across your face, a slight kiss on your moist cheek. A sassy ingenue sails overhead from a trapeze in ''Ragtime: The Musical'', her song of lust and passion floating through the air.
• You creep ever so gently through the Skin, the tactile environment in Sky Creature’s ''Sin Piel'', that “holy place with a once divine presence, a place to confess, atone and heal, but that has now become a corrupted sanctuary…”  In order to pass through its gates, you must participate in a ritual that involves tasting the space you exist in.
These are just a few of the sensory experiences you may have encountered over the last few weeks, as a guest of these dreamweavers of the “stage.”
Immersive theater shows take place in abandoned warehouses or hidden basements or former mental institutions or public parks at midnight. They’re not just about stepping into an imagined world. They’re about exploring overlooked and mysterious corners of the city. Real estate-obsessed urbanites love nothing more than entrée to buildings that were formerly off-limits, and intrepid explorers love visiting neighborhoods that are off the beaten path. 
In the past year or so, several theatrical productions and creative events took place in unusual performance spaces around Atlanta. Fly On A Wall presented ''Byte'' indoors, but ''Dave and Public Arcana'' took place outside Colony Square and in a West End park. Small audiences gathering in private living rooms last fall to see the one-woman play ''Shaking the Wind'' (Out of Hand Theatre) and in the bathrooms of private residences this past spring to participate in another one-woman play, ''Broken Bone Bathtub''.
Deer Bear Wolf produced their re-telling of the Peter Pan story, ''Second Star to the Right'', in three parts in three outdoor locations, including a trio of large tree houses. Audiences were encouraged to dress in style to witness their version of “CLUE” inside the Swan House at The Atlanta History Center. The Sleepy Hollow Experience by Serenbe Playhouse took audiences in and around an actual horse stable, and Brian Clowdus’ ''The Edgar Allan Poe Experience'' invited everyone to enjoy a cocktail while following the tormented author in and out of four 19th-century rooms at the Wren’s Nest in West End. And back in February, gloATL held a screening of their documentary ''A Night of Alchemy'' and served food and drinks in the empty shell of the abandoned Rhodes Theater on Peachtree Street in Midtown.
''Curious Holiday Encounters'' (7 Stages Theatre, The Object Group, Weird Sisters Theatre, etc.), ''The Golden Record'', ''Dead Poets Lounge'', and ''The Black Box'' (all by Hereafter Arts Collective in collaboration with other artists), and especially ''TRANSMIGRATION'' and ''Sin Piel'' by Sky Creature (formerly Saiah), also banished traditional theater’s Fourth Wall and pulled audiences out of comfort zones and deep into other lives, eras, psyches, dreams, and dimensions.
Beginning this month and into the fall, curious culture seekers and anyone seeking authentic human connection can dive head first into several immersive experiences. Mediums Collective’s first project ''Are We There Yet?'' will guide audiences through a labyrinth they’ve constructed at Windmill Arts Center in East Point where you encounter ritual and individual expressions of grief before being invited into spaces of healing. Other opportunities include gloATL’s month-long “activation” of the contemporary art in the Cousins Galleries, The Object Group’s multi-media exploration of anti-Arab racism in Camus’ “The Stranger” at 7 Stages, Liquid Sky’s steam punk celebration of the 20th anniversary of The B Complex artists studios in Oakland City, and the return of The Poe Experience with its ''Sleep No More''-style of multi-room, interactive (and potentially confrontational) performances.
 

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These days, the average age of audiences attending the often excellent productions at the more established subscription theaters tends to be 45 or older. Why are millennials and their 20-something siblings avoiding these more traditional theater and seeking out something — anything — immersive or interactive?
“Younger audiences are restless. They’re definitely less interested then their parents or grandparents in seeing a show on a stage,” says Object Group founder (and former 7 Stages associate artistic director) Michael Haverty. “They don’t want to sit in seats for two hours or more watching actors recite lines. Nowadays, everyone wants to talk to the ringmaster. This is all part of the evolution of the art of theatre.” Haverty adds, “Millennials want accessibility and flexibility. They want to be able to touch someone, be part of the performance; anything to feel part of the ‘family’ of performers around them.”  
Over the past decade, Haverty, an accomplished puppeteer and director, has created some of the most exciting and innovative work in the city. ''The Navigator'' (2013) at 7 Stages and ''The Breakers'' (2016), both presented at The Goat Farm, were popular with younger audiences who were fascinated by the surprising use of puppetry, video projections, sound effects, specially-designed props and, in the case of ''The Breakers'', an entire house built inside a cavernous 19th century-era brick-walled factory.
Haverty left his position at 7 Stages last year to spend more time with his young son. “I’m still full of ideas for new theater works, but I’m really not that interested in directing actors on a stage anymore.”
Another multitalented Atlanta artist who’s worked in a wide range of settings is Nicolette Emanuelle, a classically trained cellist and experimental storyteller. In 2016, Emanuelle helped start Hereafter Artist Collective and began hosting the ''Dead Poets Lounge'', a one-night event in various locations that combines literature, circus arts, acting, and live music to bring to life the poems of dead poets. Their promo blurb read as follows: “Imagine The Raven is a woman, watch Porphyria’s Lover dance in the air, and let your imagination go wild.”
Emanuelle thinks younger audiences are not so much bored with traditional theater, but desperate for something bolder. “So many people are unemployed or underemployed. They crave something that will snap them out of their funk!” She’s quick to add, “Don’t get me wrong. I really love millennials. Believe it or not, they actually have hope for the future.”
This looser, experience-based vs. plot-based approach to theater and storytelling happens in a real, physical space alongside fellow humans as opposed to virtual or smart-phone space so many people live in. Being in such close proximity to performers also heightens an awareness of the artist’s physical body. Voyeurism is part of any theatrical experience, but participatory performance often involves physical touch. In many instances, you can share an intimate one-on-one encounter with a performer. 
“As a female and a professional aerialist, I’m not comfortable with random people touching me,” declares Marilyn Chen, owner of the cirque-style entertainment company Liquid Sky. “But I understand how much everyone seems to crave authentic connection. As performers, we’re able to look into people’s eyes in a way that most nonperformers can’t. The people watching us are able to experience a kind of intimacy that they seldom have in their daily phone-focused lives.”
Few Atlanta storytellers have been as bold and adventurous with sensory performance as director/playwright Marium Khalid. Just a few years ago, Khalid was the toast of Atlanta theater with her company Saiah and their daringly immersive productions. ''City of Lions and Gods'' was ArtsATL’s choice for best production of 2011. The following year, the even more ambitious ''Rua | Wülf'', an adult retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood story that took audiences in and out of every corner of the Goat Farm, was voted Best Play by the readers of this publication. But after Saiah’s critically acclaimed outdoor production ''Terminus'' in 2014, Khalid dropped out of sight. 
Khalid has returned with a new production company, Sky Creature, and a new show, ''Sin Piel'', which was presented last May in The Circus School building in Grant Park. Khalid describes Sky Creature as “the next evolution of Saiah.” In her words, “We dive into truths from all perspectives and explore them through a new form, using scent, taste, touch, sight and sound — and a new form of virtual reality like you’ve never experienced before.”
''Sin Piel'' is an enveloping sensory experience inspired by “the ‘Anatomical Venus,’ mental illness, and an exploration of spiritual darkness.” After suffering a serious, life-threatening illness over a period of two years, Khalid decided to create Sin Piel as “a journey that draws us into the innermost sacred parts of our spiritual and physical anatomy …(where) we explore the shadow and light of our internal being, as well as how we choose to engage with our individual pain …”
The scrupulously tactile and gloriously surreal Sin Piel, like all the best immersive theater works, seems to have the same goal as theater or art in any form. Namely, to move, to engage, to amuse, to enlighten, and to connect. To make us feel less alone and to build empathy and, ultimately, to make that authentic human connection all living beings long for."
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Sky Creature, LifeVisionVR, Fly on a Wall, gloATL, Flight of Swallows, Deer Bear Wolf, Out of Hand, PushPush Film &Theater, Seedworks, The Object Group, Hereafter Artist Collective, Liquid Sky, MakeShift Circus Collective, Serenbe Playhouse, and Brian Clowdus Immersive Experiences are among a growing array of ATL-based visual, media, and performing arts groups and companies creating sensory-heavy (and often phone-free) environments for exploring emotions, sharing stories, and building community.
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• The night’s first sultry zephyr floats across your face, a slight kiss on your moist cheek. A sassy ingenue sails overhead from a trapeze in Ragtime: The Musical, her song of lust and passion floating through the air.
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These are just a few of the sensory experiences you may have encountered over the last few weeks, as a guest of these dreamweavers of the “stage.”
Immersive theater shows take place in abandoned warehouses or hidden basements or former mental institutions or public parks at midnight. They’re not just about stepping into an imagined world. They’re about exploring overlooked and mysterious corners of the city. Real estate-obsessed urbanites love nothing more than entrée to buildings that were formerly off-limits, and intrepid explorers love visiting neighborhoods that are off the beaten path. 
In the past year or so, several theatrical productions and creative events took place in unusual performance spaces around Atlanta. Fly On A Wall presented Byte indoors, but Dave and Public Arcana took place outside Colony Square and in a West End park. Small audiences gathering in private living rooms last fall to see the one-woman play Shaking the Wind (Out of Hand Theatre) and in the bathrooms of private residences this past spring to participate in another one-woman play, Broken Bone Bathtub.
Deer Bear Wolf produced their re-telling of the Peter Pan story, Second Star to the Right, in three parts in three outdoor locations, including a trio of large tree houses. Audiences were encouraged to dress in style to witness their version of “CLUE” inside the Swan House at The Atlanta History Center. The Sleepy Hollow Experience by Serenbe Playhouse took audiences in and around an actual horse stable, and Brian Clowdus’ The Edgar Allan Poe Experience invited everyone to enjoy a cocktail while following the tormented author in and out of four 19th-century rooms at the Wren’s Nest in West End. And back in February, gloATL held a screening of their documentary A Night of Alchemy and served food and drinks in the empty shell of the abandoned Rhodes Theater on Peachtree Street in Midtown.
Curious Holiday Encounters (7 Stages Theatre, The Object Group, Weird Sisters Theatre, etc.), The Golden Record, Dead Poets Lounge, and The Black Box (all by Hereafter Arts Collective in collaboration with other artists), and especially TRANSMIGRATION and Sin Piel by Sky Creature (formerly Saiah), also banished traditional theater’s Fourth Wall and pulled audiences out of comfort zones and deep into other lives, eras, psyches, dreams, and dimensions.
Beginning this month and into the fall, curious culture seekers and anyone seeking authentic human connection can dive head first into several immersive experiences. Mediums Collective’s first project Are We There Yet? will guide audiences through a labyrinth they’ve constructed at Windmill Arts Center in East Point where you encounter ritual and individual expressions of grief before being invited into spaces of healing. Other opportunities include gloATL’s month-long “activation” of the contemporary art in the Cousins Galleries, The Object Group’s multi-media exploration of anti-Arab racism in Camus’ “The Stranger” at 7 Stages, Liquid Sky’s steam punk celebration of the 20th anniversary of The B Complex artists studios in Oakland City, and the return of The Poe Experience with its Sleep No More-style of multi-room, interactive (and potentially confrontational) performances.
 




These days, the average age of audiences attending the often excellent productions at the more established subscription theaters tends to be 45 or older. Why are millennials and their 20-something siblings avoiding these more traditional theater and seeking out something — anything — immersive or interactive?
“Younger audiences are restless. They’re definitely less interested then their parents or grandparents in seeing a show on a stage,” says Object Group founder (and former 7 Stages associate artistic director) Michael Haverty. “They don’t want to sit in seats for two hours or more watching actors recite lines. Nowadays, everyone wants to talk to the ringmaster. This is all part of the evolution of the art of theatre.” Haverty adds, “Millennials want accessibility and flexibility. They want to be able to touch someone, be part of the performance; anything to feel part of the ‘family’ of performers around them.”  
Over the past decade, Haverty, an accomplished puppeteer and director, has created some of the most exciting and innovative work in the city. The Navigator (2013) at 7 Stages and The Breakers (2016), both presented at The Goat Farm, were popular with younger audiences who were fascinated by the surprising use of puppetry, video projections, sound effects, specially-designed props and, in the case of The Breakers, an entire house built inside a cavernous 19th century-era brick-walled factory.
Haverty left his position at 7 Stages last year to spend more time with his young son. “I’m still full of ideas for new theater works, but I’m really not that interested in directing actors on a stage anymore.”
Another multitalented Atlanta artist who’s worked in a wide range of settings is Nicolette Emanuelle, a classically trained cellist and experimental storyteller. In 2016, Emanuelle helped start Hereafter Artist Collective and began hosting the Dead Poets Lounge, a one-night event in various locations that combines literature, circus arts, acting, and live music to bring to life the poems of dead poets. Their promo blurb read as follows: “Imagine The Raven is a woman, watch Porphyria’s Lover dance in the air, and let your imagination go wild.”
Emanuelle thinks younger audiences are not so much bored with traditional theater, but desperate for something bolder. “So many people are unemployed or underemployed. They crave something that will snap them out of their funk!” She’s quick to add, “Don’t get me wrong. I really love millennials. Believe it or not, they actually have hope for the future.”
This looser, experience-based vs. plot-based approach to theater and storytelling happens in a real, physical space alongside fellow humans as opposed to virtual or smart-phone space so many people live in. Being in such close proximity to performers also heightens an awareness of the artist’s physical body. Voyeurism is part of any theatrical experience, but participatory performance often involves physical touch. In many instances, you can share an intimate one-on-one encounter with a performer. 
“As a female and a professional aerialist, I’m not comfortable with random people touching me,” declares Marilyn Chen, owner of the cirque-style entertainment company Liquid Sky. “But I understand how much everyone seems to crave authentic connection. As performers, we’re able to look into people’s eyes in a way that most nonperformers can’t. The people watching us are able to experience a kind of intimacy that they seldom have in their daily phone-focused lives.”
Few Atlanta storytellers have been as bold and adventurous with sensory performance as director/playwright Marium Khalid. Just a few years ago, Khalid was the toast of Atlanta theater with her company Saiah and their daringly immersive productions. City of Lions and Gods was ArtsATL’s choice for best production of 2011. The following year, the even more ambitious Rua | Wülf, an adult retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood story that took audiences in and out of every corner of the Goat Farm, was voted Best Play by the readers of this publication. But after Saiah’s critically acclaimed outdoor production Terminus in 2014, Khalid dropped out of sight. 
Khalid has returned with a new production company, Sky Creature, and a new show, Sin Piel, which was presented last May in The Circus School building in Grant Park. Khalid describes Sky Creature as “the next evolution of Saiah.” In her words, “We dive into truths from all perspectives and explore them through a new form, using scent, taste, touch, sight and sound — and a new form of virtual reality like you’ve never experienced before.”
Sin Piel is an enveloping sensory experience inspired by “the ‘Anatomical Venus,’ mental illness, and an exploration of spiritual darkness.” After suffering a serious, life-threatening illness over a period of two years, Khalid decided to create Sin Piel as “a journey that draws us into the innermost sacred parts of our spiritual and physical anatomy …(where) we explore the shadow and light of our internal being, as well as how we choose to engage with our individual pain …”
The scrupulously tactile and gloriously surreal Sin Piel, like all the best immersive theater works, seems to have the same goal as theater or art in any form. Namely, to move, to engage, to amuse, to enlighten, and to connect. To make us feel less alone and to build empathy and, ultimately, to make that authentic human connection all living beings long for.    Courtesy of hereafter arTist collective The Black Box presented by Hereafter Artist Collective.  0,0,11    scenes&motions                             SCENES & MOTIONS: Breaking Through "
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Friday July 5, 2019 10:41 am EDT
How immersive performances in the ATL are redefining the theatre experience | more...
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  ["title"]=>
  string(42) "SCENES AND MOTIONS: 'Ragtime: The Musical'"
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  string(9406) "!!!"I'll play them the music
!!!Of something beginning,
!!!An era exploding,
!!!A century spinning.
!!!My law and my justice
!!!In rhythm and rhyme!
!!!Listen to that ragtime!”
!!!— Coalhouse’s Soliloquoy, Ragtime: The Musical



Ragtime: The Musical, at Serenbe Playhouse through June 8, is epic in its scope and urgently topical. The sweeping story confronts racial injustice, sexual mores, immigration, poverty, unionization, women's rights, oligarchy vs. democracy, Arctic exploration, and celebrity murder trials. Visionary artistic director Brian Clowdus has earned a national reputation and serious publicity for his bold, sometimes spectacular outdoor stagings of Broadway musicals (Hair, Carousel, Evita, Miss Saigon, Cabaret, Titanic, etc.) amid the natural landscape of Serenbe, the planned community 30 miles south of downtown ATL. After installing a full-size, working Ferris wheel for Carousel, landing an actual military helicopter every night for Miss Saigon and sinking a four-story model of the Titanic in the second act of each performance of that production last summer, one wonders how he could possibly top himself.


He does it with Ragtime, not by going bigger, but by going smaller, focusing our attention on the actors and performers and their intense, passionate performances. Wisely, Clowdus and scenic designer Ryan Howell chose not to reconstruct turn-of-the-last-century Pennsylvania Station on the same scale as the original lavish Broadway production, or have working 1900s-era automobiles, locomotives, and real fireworks displays. Instead, they and their ingenious team of artist technicians put the audience right next to a fifty-foot wooden vaudeville stage under a giant canvas tent, with a pair of acrobatic swings in the middle and a brassy, super versatile ragtime band at one end.


Voilà! The sprawling red-white-and-blue tableau-vivant pageantry of the 1998 Broadway version is now a cozy, if sometimes crowded, vaudeville review. Step right up! Gaze at the limber young cast in their sexy period costumes (by Clare Parker and Jordan Jeffers)! Don’t miss the “antique” footlights, “vintage” painted posters high overhead, and the sensuous stage fog shifting from red to blue to green to match the mood of a lovely ballad or a passionate scene.


This is Ragtime in the round, with performers moving on and off the stage from all directions and between the few rows of seats that wrap around 90 percent of the runway stage. Real fans of immersive theater can sit at the VIP tables for four that are nestled right up in the action, close enough to feel the sweat flying off the actors on a steamy Georgia night.

Clowdus has put together one of the strongest ensemble casts I’ve ever witnessed in a regional theater production. Many of them connect with each other and with the audience on a more personal level than the Broadway cast I saw almost 20 years ago. The talents of everyone involved, on stage and off, are what ultimately enable Clowdus’ vaudeville approach to convey the heart and soul and brains of this great work of American musical theater.

!!!  And there was distant music
!!!Changing the tune, changing the time …
!!!A strange, insistent music
!!!Putting out heat,
!!!Picking up steam.

The title, Ragtime, refers to the musical predecessor to jazz that was popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It grew out of the folk music of the Civil War era and was a key ingredient in the sound of early vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley. Ragtime music was the Elvis Presley of its time — the shock of the new! A daring music that, once heard, could not be unheard. Some say the word is derived from “ragged time,” meaning something that’s ripped apart.

Consider the structure of ragtime music. Steady, marching notes played by the left hand represent the order of the piece, while the right hand uses syncopated rhythms to go against the order. Here, the left hand is a metaphor for John Philip Sousa and the music of 1900-era white society, and the right hand is the mischievous, syncopated rhythms of the emerging urban black culture coming out of New Orleans, Kansas City, Chicago, and Harlem.

Ragtime: The Musical (1997) is based on E. L. Doctorow’s best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name published in 1975. (Milos Forman directed an Oscar-nominated film version in 1981.) Doctorow’s sprawling tale, which opens in 1902, is the saga of three sets of characters at the turn of what would come to be known as “The American Century.” As in the novel, historical figures like Harry Houdini, Evelyn Nesbit, Emma Goldman, Booker T. Washington, J.P. Morgan, and Henry Ford all make appearances, sometimes impacting the main characters, other times representing a cultural attitude, an economic shift, or a technological innovation.

Doctorow wove together simultaneous scenarios to connect the lives of three families: upper-class white Protestants living in the New York City suburb of New Rochelle, Lower East Side immigrants from Eastern Europe, and middle-class blacks in Harlem. What if a certain immigrant began a motion picture company? What if that black woman who tried to kill her child was rescued by a wealthy white woman who was just beginning to make her own decisions? What if the black piano player from Harlem changed people’s lives with his music and his demands for justice.

!!!      People feathered and tarred, my friend.
!!!Unions broken and why for?
!!!Children laboring, women still enslaved!
!!!Leave your little backyard my friend.
!!!There are causes to die for!
!!!— “The Night That Goldman Spoke at Union Square”


Initially, the smart, colorful score gives each community its own voice. The wealthy white family sings polite parlor songs. The Latvian immigrants evoke Eastern Europe’s shtetls. The piano player conveys the rambunctious energy of ragtime, the sound toward which all the others begin to bend. Aurally as well as visually, the show becomes a melting pot. These three groups of characters, representing different swaths of the American experience, will collide as cultures cross-pollinate, Gilded Age capitalism ramps up at full steam, and society’s underdogs start to demand their fair share.

!!!  I will not move
!!!From where I'm standing
!!!Till what's mine is restored to me
!!!I'm not some fool
!!!I'm not their nigger!
!!!I will have what's fairly owed me!
!!!— “Justice”



A flashpoint occurs after Coalhouse Walker, Jr. (Marcus Terrell Smith), driving his own Ford Model T, is insulted by a racist firehouse crew who proceed to vandalize his car. The piano playing entertainer becomes a single-minded justice seeker determined to have his property and his dignity restored, by any means necessary. When we meet Mother’s Younger Brother (Chase Davidson), he is obsessed with vaudeville beauty Evelyn Nesbit (Niki Badua). But hearing anarchist Emma Goldman (Lilliangina Quiñones) at a political rally transforms him into a revolutionary eager to make bombs for Coalhouse and his vigilante crew.

!!!Where are they now,
!!!Those women who stared from the mirror?
!!!We can never go back to before.
!!!— “Back to Before”

Although the tragic storyline of Coalhouse and Sarah (Nicole Vanessa Ortiz) inspires the most passionate scenes and songs, the transformation of the wealthy white Mother (Courtney Chappelle) is the backbone of this story. Her character interacts with and influences each of the three story lines and serves to unify the show. At key points, she recoils at the moralizing coldness of Father (Daniel Burns). Their marriage pits her budding social conscience against his male chauvinism and his white capitalistic need to control his circumstances. Through the course of the show, we watch her discover her humanity and emotions, which lead her to finally find her soulmate in Tateh (Jacob S. Louchheim), the immigrant peddler turned very early silent movie director.

The 1998 Broadway production was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won four. Best Score went to the songwriting team of Stephen Flaherty (music) and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics). The musical’s book (of lines spoken, not sung) is by Terrence McNally, no relation to myself even though I actually have an older brother named Terrence who has been an actor, a screenwriter, and an LA radio talk show host. One more coincidence: My brother Terrence McNally lives in Long Beach, California, and is friends with the more famous playwright. In 1997, both McNallys attended the LA premiere of Ragtime together.

In an address to members of the League of American Theatres and Producers, playwright Terrence McNally remarked, "I think theatre teaches us who we are, what our society is, where we are going. I don't think theatre can solve the problems of a society, nor should it be expected to. Plays don't do that. People do. But plays can provide a forum for the ideas and feelings that can lead a society to decide to heal and change itself."

Thankfully, this rousing, emotional, and politically powerful Serenbe Playhouse production of Ragtime: The Musical does just that.

Ragtime: The Musical. 7:30 p.m. Wed., Thurs., Sun.; 8 p.m. Fri., Sat. Through Sunday, June 9 at Serenbe Playhouse, 9110 Selborne Lane, Palmetto, GA. 770-463-1110."
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!!!''Of something beginning,''
!!!''An era exploding,''
!!!''A century spinning.''
!!!''My law and my justice''
!!!''In rhythm and rhyme!''
!!!''Listen to that ragtime!”''
!!!''— Coalhouse’s Soliloquoy, Ragtime: The Musical''



''Ragtime: The Musical'', at Serenbe Playhouse through June 8, is epic in its scope and urgently topical. The sweeping story confronts racial injustice, sexual mores, immigration, poverty, unionization, women's rights, oligarchy vs. democracy, Arctic exploration, and celebrity murder trials. Visionary artistic director Brian Clowdus has earned a national reputation and serious publicity for his bold, sometimes spectacular outdoor stagings of Broadway musicals (Hair, Carousel, Evita, Miss Saigon, Cabaret, Titanic, etc.) amid the natural landscape of Serenbe, the planned community 30 miles south of downtown ATL. After installing a full-size, working Ferris wheel for Carousel, landing an actual military helicopter every night for Miss Saigon and sinking a four-story model of the Titanic in the second act of each performance of that production last summer, one wonders how he could possibly top himself.


He does it with Ragtime, not by going bigger, but by going smaller, focusing our attention on the actors and performers and their intense, passionate performances. Wisely, Clowdus and scenic designer Ryan Howell chose not to reconstruct turn-of-the-last-century Pennsylvania Station on the same scale as the original lavish Broadway production, or have working 1900s-era automobiles, locomotives, and real fireworks displays. Instead, they and their ingenious team of artist technicians put the audience right next to a fifty-foot wooden vaudeville stage under a giant canvas tent, with a pair of acrobatic swings in the middle and a brassy, super versatile ragtime band at one end.


Voilà! The sprawling red-white-and-blue tableau-vivant pageantry of the 1998 Broadway version is now a cozy, if sometimes crowded, vaudeville review. Step right up! Gaze at the limber young cast in their sexy period costumes (by Clare Parker and Jordan Jeffers)! Don’t miss the “antique” footlights, “vintage” painted posters high overhead, and the sensuous stage fog shifting from red to blue to green to match the mood of a lovely ballad or a passionate scene.


This is Ragtime in the round, with performers moving on and off the stage from all directions and between the few rows of seats that wrap around 90 percent of the runway stage. Real fans of immersive theater can sit at the VIP tables for four that are nestled right up in the action, close enough to feel the sweat flying off the actors on a steamy Georgia night.

Clowdus has put together one of the strongest ensemble casts I’ve ever witnessed in a regional theater production. Many of them connect with each other and with the audience on a more personal level than the Broadway cast I saw almost 20 years ago. The talents of everyone involved, on stage and off, are what ultimately enable Clowdus’ vaudeville approach to convey the heart and soul and brains of this great work of American musical theater.

!!! %%% ''And there was distant music''
!!!''Changing the tune, changing the time …''
!!!''A strange, insistent music''
!!!''Putting out heat,''
!!!''Picking up steam.''

The title, Ragtime, refers to the musical predecessor to jazz that was popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It grew out of the folk music of the Civil War era and was a key ingredient in the sound of early vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley. Ragtime music was the Elvis Presley of its time — the shock of the new! A daring music that, once heard, could not be unheard. Some say the word is derived from “ragged time,” meaning something that’s ripped apart.

Consider the structure of ragtime music. Steady, marching notes played by the left hand represent the order of the piece, while the right hand uses syncopated rhythms to go against the order. Here, the left hand is a metaphor for John Philip Sousa and the music of 1900-era white society, and the right hand is the mischievous, syncopated rhythms of the emerging urban black culture coming out of New Orleans, Kansas City, Chicago, and Harlem.

''Ragtime: The Musical'' (1997) is based on E. L. Doctorow’s best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name published in 1975. (Milos Forman directed an Oscar-nominated film version in 1981.) Doctorow’s sprawling tale, which opens in 1902, is the saga of three sets of characters at the turn of what would come to be known as “The American Century.” As in the novel, historical figures like Harry Houdini, Evelyn Nesbit, Emma Goldman, Booker T. Washington, J.P. Morgan, and Henry Ford all make appearances, sometimes impacting the main characters, other times representing a cultural attitude, an economic shift, or a technological innovation.

Doctorow wove together simultaneous scenarios to connect the lives of three families: upper-class white Protestants living in the New York City suburb of New Rochelle, Lower East Side immigrants from Eastern Europe, and middle-class blacks in Harlem. What if a certain immigrant began a motion picture company? What if that black woman who tried to kill her child was rescued by a wealthy white woman who was just beginning to make her own decisions? What if the black piano player from Harlem changed people’s lives with his music and his demands for justice.

!!! %%%  %%%  %%% ''People feathered and tarred, my friend.''
!!!''Unions broken and why for?''
!!!''Children laboring, women still enslaved!''
!!!''Leave your little backyard my friend.''
!!!''There are causes to die for!''
!!!''— “The Night That Goldman Spoke at Union Square”''


Initially, the smart, colorful score gives each community its own voice. The wealthy white family sings polite parlor songs. The Latvian immigrants evoke Eastern Europe’s shtetls. The piano player conveys the rambunctious energy of ragtime, the sound toward which all the others begin to bend. Aurally as well as visually, the show becomes a melting pot. These three groups of characters, representing different swaths of the American experience, will collide as cultures cross-pollinate, Gilded Age capitalism ramps up at full steam, and society’s underdogs start to demand their fair share.

!!! %%% ''I will not move''
!!!''From where I'm standing''
!!!''Till what's mine is restored to me''
!!!''I'm not some fool''
!!!''I'm not their nigger!''
!!!''I will have what's fairly owed me!''
!!!''— “Justice”''



A flashpoint occurs after Coalhouse Walker, Jr. (Marcus Terrell Smith), driving his own Ford Model T, is insulted by a racist firehouse crew who proceed to vandalize his car. The piano playing entertainer becomes a single-minded justice seeker determined to have his property and his dignity restored, by any means necessary. When we meet Mother’s Younger Brother (Chase Davidson), he is obsessed with vaudeville beauty Evelyn Nesbit (Niki Badua). But hearing anarchist Emma Goldman (Lilliangina Quiñones) at a political rally transforms him into a revolutionary eager to make bombs for Coalhouse and his vigilante crew.

!!!''Where are they now,''
!!!''Those women who stared from the mirror?''
!!!''We can never go back to before.''
!!!''— “Back to Before”''

Although the tragic storyline of Coalhouse and Sarah (Nicole Vanessa Ortiz) inspires the most passionate scenes and songs, the transformation of the wealthy white Mother (Courtney Chappelle) is the backbone of this story. Her character interacts with and influences each of the three story lines and serves to unify the show. At key points, she recoils at the moralizing coldness of Father (Daniel Burns). Their marriage pits her budding social conscience against his male chauvinism and his white capitalistic need to control his circumstances. Through the course of the show, we watch her discover her humanity and emotions, which lead her to finally find her soulmate in Tateh (Jacob S. Louchheim), the immigrant peddler turned very early silent movie director.

The 1998 Broadway production was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won four. Best Score went to the songwriting team of Stephen Flaherty (music) and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics). The musical’s book (of lines spoken, not sung) is by Terrence McNally, no relation to myself even though I actually have an older brother named Terrence who has been an actor, a screenwriter, and an LA radio talk show host. One more coincidence: My brother Terrence McNally lives in Long Beach, California, and is friends with the more famous playwright. In 1997, both McNallys attended the LA premiere of Ragtime together.

In an address to members of the League of American Theatres and Producers, playwright Terrence McNally remarked, "I think theatre teaches us who we are, what our society is, where we are going. I don't think theatre can solve the problems of a society, nor should it be expected to. Plays don't do that. People do. But plays can provide a forum for the ideas and feelings that can lead a society to decide to heal and change itself."

Thankfully, this rousing, emotional, and politically powerful Serenbe Playhouse production of Ragtime: The Musical does just that.

''Ragtime: The Musical. 7:30 p.m. Wed., Thurs., Sun.; 8 p.m. Fri., Sat. Through Sunday, June 9 at [http://www.serenbeplayhouse.com|Serenbe Playhouse], 9110 Selborne Lane, Palmetto, GA. 770-463-1110.''"
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  string(9849) " 1  2019-05-30T22:23:41+00:00 1.jpeg    scenes&motions Demanding dignity and justice in the Gilded Age 18217  2019-05-30T22:05:15+00:00 SCENES AND MOTIONS: 'Ragtime: The Musical' tony.paris@creativeloafing.com Tony Paris EDWARD MCNALLY Edward McNally 2019-05-30T22:05:15+00:00  !!!"I'll play them the music
!!!Of something beginning,
!!!An era exploding,
!!!A century spinning.
!!!My law and my justice
!!!In rhythm and rhyme!
!!!Listen to that ragtime!”
!!!— Coalhouse’s Soliloquoy, Ragtime: The Musical



Ragtime: The Musical, at Serenbe Playhouse through June 8, is epic in its scope and urgently topical. The sweeping story confronts racial injustice, sexual mores, immigration, poverty, unionization, women's rights, oligarchy vs. democracy, Arctic exploration, and celebrity murder trials. Visionary artistic director Brian Clowdus has earned a national reputation and serious publicity for his bold, sometimes spectacular outdoor stagings of Broadway musicals (Hair, Carousel, Evita, Miss Saigon, Cabaret, Titanic, etc.) amid the natural landscape of Serenbe, the planned community 30 miles south of downtown ATL. After installing a full-size, working Ferris wheel for Carousel, landing an actual military helicopter every night for Miss Saigon and sinking a four-story model of the Titanic in the second act of each performance of that production last summer, one wonders how he could possibly top himself.


He does it with Ragtime, not by going bigger, but by going smaller, focusing our attention on the actors and performers and their intense, passionate performances. Wisely, Clowdus and scenic designer Ryan Howell chose not to reconstruct turn-of-the-last-century Pennsylvania Station on the same scale as the original lavish Broadway production, or have working 1900s-era automobiles, locomotives, and real fireworks displays. Instead, they and their ingenious team of artist technicians put the audience right next to a fifty-foot wooden vaudeville stage under a giant canvas tent, with a pair of acrobatic swings in the middle and a brassy, super versatile ragtime band at one end.


Voilà! The sprawling red-white-and-blue tableau-vivant pageantry of the 1998 Broadway version is now a cozy, if sometimes crowded, vaudeville review. Step right up! Gaze at the limber young cast in their sexy period costumes (by Clare Parker and Jordan Jeffers)! Don’t miss the “antique” footlights, “vintage” painted posters high overhead, and the sensuous stage fog shifting from red to blue to green to match the mood of a lovely ballad or a passionate scene.


This is Ragtime in the round, with performers moving on and off the stage from all directions and between the few rows of seats that wrap around 90 percent of the runway stage. Real fans of immersive theater can sit at the VIP tables for four that are nestled right up in the action, close enough to feel the sweat flying off the actors on a steamy Georgia night.

Clowdus has put together one of the strongest ensemble casts I’ve ever witnessed in a regional theater production. Many of them connect with each other and with the audience on a more personal level than the Broadway cast I saw almost 20 years ago. The talents of everyone involved, on stage and off, are what ultimately enable Clowdus’ vaudeville approach to convey the heart and soul and brains of this great work of American musical theater.

!!!  And there was distant music
!!!Changing the tune, changing the time …
!!!A strange, insistent music
!!!Putting out heat,
!!!Picking up steam.

The title, Ragtime, refers to the musical predecessor to jazz that was popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It grew out of the folk music of the Civil War era and was a key ingredient in the sound of early vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley. Ragtime music was the Elvis Presley of its time — the shock of the new! A daring music that, once heard, could not be unheard. Some say the word is derived from “ragged time,” meaning something that’s ripped apart.

Consider the structure of ragtime music. Steady, marching notes played by the left hand represent the order of the piece, while the right hand uses syncopated rhythms to go against the order. Here, the left hand is a metaphor for John Philip Sousa and the music of 1900-era white society, and the right hand is the mischievous, syncopated rhythms of the emerging urban black culture coming out of New Orleans, Kansas City, Chicago, and Harlem.

Ragtime: The Musical (1997) is based on E. L. Doctorow’s best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name published in 1975. (Milos Forman directed an Oscar-nominated film version in 1981.) Doctorow’s sprawling tale, which opens in 1902, is the saga of three sets of characters at the turn of what would come to be known as “The American Century.” As in the novel, historical figures like Harry Houdini, Evelyn Nesbit, Emma Goldman, Booker T. Washington, J.P. Morgan, and Henry Ford all make appearances, sometimes impacting the main characters, other times representing a cultural attitude, an economic shift, or a technological innovation.

Doctorow wove together simultaneous scenarios to connect the lives of three families: upper-class white Protestants living in the New York City suburb of New Rochelle, Lower East Side immigrants from Eastern Europe, and middle-class blacks in Harlem. What if a certain immigrant began a motion picture company? What if that black woman who tried to kill her child was rescued by a wealthy white woman who was just beginning to make her own decisions? What if the black piano player from Harlem changed people’s lives with his music and his demands for justice.

!!!      People feathered and tarred, my friend.
!!!Unions broken and why for?
!!!Children laboring, women still enslaved!
!!!Leave your little backyard my friend.
!!!There are causes to die for!
!!!— “The Night That Goldman Spoke at Union Square”


Initially, the smart, colorful score gives each community its own voice. The wealthy white family sings polite parlor songs. The Latvian immigrants evoke Eastern Europe’s shtetls. The piano player conveys the rambunctious energy of ragtime, the sound toward which all the others begin to bend. Aurally as well as visually, the show becomes a melting pot. These three groups of characters, representing different swaths of the American experience, will collide as cultures cross-pollinate, Gilded Age capitalism ramps up at full steam, and society’s underdogs start to demand their fair share.

!!!  I will not move
!!!From where I'm standing
!!!Till what's mine is restored to me
!!!I'm not some fool
!!!I'm not their nigger!
!!!I will have what's fairly owed me!
!!!— “Justice”



A flashpoint occurs after Coalhouse Walker, Jr. (Marcus Terrell Smith), driving his own Ford Model T, is insulted by a racist firehouse crew who proceed to vandalize his car. The piano playing entertainer becomes a single-minded justice seeker determined to have his property and his dignity restored, by any means necessary. When we meet Mother’s Younger Brother (Chase Davidson), he is obsessed with vaudeville beauty Evelyn Nesbit (Niki Badua). But hearing anarchist Emma Goldman (Lilliangina Quiñones) at a political rally transforms him into a revolutionary eager to make bombs for Coalhouse and his vigilante crew.

!!!Where are they now,
!!!Those women who stared from the mirror?
!!!We can never go back to before.
!!!— “Back to Before”

Although the tragic storyline of Coalhouse and Sarah (Nicole Vanessa Ortiz) inspires the most passionate scenes and songs, the transformation of the wealthy white Mother (Courtney Chappelle) is the backbone of this story. Her character interacts with and influences each of the three story lines and serves to unify the show. At key points, she recoils at the moralizing coldness of Father (Daniel Burns). Their marriage pits her budding social conscience against his male chauvinism and his white capitalistic need to control his circumstances. Through the course of the show, we watch her discover her humanity and emotions, which lead her to finally find her soulmate in Tateh (Jacob S. Louchheim), the immigrant peddler turned very early silent movie director.

The 1998 Broadway production was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won four. Best Score went to the songwriting team of Stephen Flaherty (music) and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics). The musical’s book (of lines spoken, not sung) is by Terrence McNally, no relation to myself even though I actually have an older brother named Terrence who has been an actor, a screenwriter, and an LA radio talk show host. One more coincidence: My brother Terrence McNally lives in Long Beach, California, and is friends with the more famous playwright. In 1997, both McNallys attended the LA premiere of Ragtime together.

In an address to members of the League of American Theatres and Producers, playwright Terrence McNally remarked, "I think theatre teaches us who we are, what our society is, where we are going. I don't think theatre can solve the problems of a society, nor should it be expected to. Plays don't do that. People do. But plays can provide a forum for the ideas and feelings that can lead a society to decide to heal and change itself."

Thankfully, this rousing, emotional, and politically powerful Serenbe Playhouse production of Ragtime: The Musical does just that.

Ragtime: The Musical. 7:30 p.m. Wed., Thurs., Sun.; 8 p.m. Fri., Sat. Through Sunday, June 9 at Serenbe Playhouse, 9110 Selborne Lane, Palmetto, GA. 770-463-1110.    BreeAnne Clowdus AT SERENEB: The cast of "Ragtime: The Musical."  0,0,1    scenes&motions                             SCENES AND MOTIONS: 'Ragtime: The Musical' "
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Article

Thursday May 30, 2019 06:05 pm EDT
Demanding dignity and justice in the Gilded Age | more...
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  string(34) "SCENES & MOTIONS: Sleepless nights"
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  string(60) "'The Hero's Wife' and 'Harold and the Purple Crayon' onstage"
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  string(60) "'The Hero's Wife' and 'Harold and the Purple Crayon' onstage"
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  string(8817) "“To die, to sleep — to sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come …” — Hamlet

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by sleep. Sleep, dreams, and nightmares.

What happens to me when I am asleep? What happens to my wife as she lies next to me? What happens to our dogs? What do other people feel when they are sleeping? Why do we have nightmares? What does a small child dream about?

Two of Atlanta’s most reliably creative spaces are pulling audiences into very different dreamscapes. Synchronicity Theatre’s The Hero’s Wife confronts the violent night terrors of a war veteran who unknowingly attacks his young wife in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, just a few blocks away, the Center for Puppetry Arts wields invisible technology to conjure the fantastic midnight reveries of Harold and The Purple Crayon.

At first glance, the two world-premiere productions could not be more different. Yet both make intense private moments palpably real, and feature characters (and local artists) exhibiting strengths and skills we haven’t seen before.

Chicago-based playwright Aline Lathrop’s sharp one-act at Synchronicity grabs us from the opening moments: A man and a woman are lying asleep together when he suddenly screams and tries to punch her in the face. She ducks instinctively, but his second blow sends her sprawling. Just as quickly, he falls back into a deep sleep, unaware that anything has happened. End scene.

For the next 80 minutes, the action shifts back and forth, in short emotional scenes, from waking to sleeping moments. What we are seeing are the first few months after Cameron, a 40-year-old Navy SEAL, is thrown back into civilian life with his young wife Karyssa following his final tour of duty in Iraq, during which he was MIA for several weeks. What happened to him? What did he do while he was missing in action? What wartime horrors is he reliving in his sleep? What is he screaming during his violent nightmares, and why is he screaming in Arabic, a language he claims not to speak or understand? Is he hallucinating? Is he going insane?

Cam doesn’t remember what happens when he’s asleep and, like so many veterans, he won't talk about what happened overseas or acknowledge he’s suffering from PTSD. Karyssa, a yoga teacher barely out of college, fears her husband will commit suicide if she tells him he’s hitting her. She makes excuses for her bruises when he asks about them. As the nightmare violence escalates, the characters slowly start to switch places during the day. Cam, reluctant to ever leave the house, begins losing his macho, romantic, lover-in-charge attitude, becoming increasingly paranoid, impulsive, fragile, and vulnerable. We watch as Karyssa evolves from a sweet, sexy, emotionally open wife and nervous partner walking on eggshells to a physically strong, emotionally guarded woman sharing a bed with a trained killer.

Joe Sykes is convincing as a strong, damaged man desperate to hide his emotional problems. But since Lathrop designed her play (quite smartly) from Karyssa’s point of view, the most powerful character arc belongs to Rebecca Robles’ young newlywed as she fights physically and emotionally to save herself and the man she still loves.

Using only light shifts and subtle background sounds, director Rachel May and her design team slide the drama from day to night and back almost seamlessly. Sykes’ Cameron and Robles’ Karyssa slip in and out of the double bed where they make love, snuggle, and fall sleep, only to have their romantic bliss erupt into sudden violence. The all aqua-and-white set appears realistic at first glance, but some of the ceiling, walls, and empty bookshelves are slightly off-kilter. Things are not what they seem.

As Karyssa watches her husband sleep peacefully, she says, “No one ever really knows another person, do they?” If other people are not always who we thought they were, when should we trust our perceptions of anything else? What is objective reality? How different is memory from fantasy? If we love or fear a person or a place or a thing, does that make it real, regardless of whether anyone else perceives it?

Questioning or trusting the power of imagination may be the core of Crockett Johnson’s 1955 classic children’s picture book, Harold and The Purple Crayon, which, like The Hero’s Wife, begins (we can assume) at night in a bedroom.

One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight. There wasn’t any moon, and Harold needed a moon for a walk in the moonlight. And he needed something to walk on. He made a long straight path so he wouldn’t get lost. And he set off on his walk, taking his big purple crayon with him. But he didn’t seem to be getting anywhere on the long straight path. So he left the path… .

Just like in all five “Purple Crayon” books, Harold, in the Center’s ingenious production, creates an entire world with his crayon. When he's hungry, he draws a picnic lunch of nine pies. When he draws a dragon, then becomes scared of it, his purple crayon fashions an ocean and a sailboat for his escape just in time. He draws himself over the ledge of a cliff and then quickly sketches a hot-air balloon to safely float away. And so on. Eventually, our little hero longs for home and begins drawing dozens of windows in high-rise buildings hoping to “find” his own window with its view of the same moon that always hangs above him. He finally draws his window around the moon and decides he must be home.

“And then Harold made his bed. He got in it and he drew up the covers.”

Except he’s not home. Joshua A. Krisch, in an essay about the book on Fatherly, an online site for dads, calls Harold and the Purple Crayon  “Inception for kids.” He goes further, noting that Peter Nolan's science fiction action film “suggests that you can fall into your own dreams so deeply that you never escape, and the best you can hope for is that your imagination will recreate a world so similar to your own that you cannot recognize it for what it is — a dream, a nightmare. This, too, is Harold’s fate. He ends the book lost in a land entirely defined by his own imagination. It has a window, a moon, a bed, but it isn’t home. Nonetheless, Harold drifts off to sleep content.”

In director Jon Ludwig’s original and delightfully trippy production, Harold, his crayon, and many of the objects and creatures he “draws” are puppets that gently glow under bright black lights in dreamy shades of vivid purple, pink, and magenta. Whatever purple lines Harold draws appear magically in front of and around him: Purple train tracks run beneath his feet, a purple boat floats by. At times, he uses his crayon like a wand to create whole buildings to explore or a sky full of stars to fly in as he takes off on his rocket ship.

How do you make imaginary lines appear to flow out of a puppet crayon? Ludwig and his team of creative geniuses at the Center adapted a 200-year old technology known as “Pepper’s Ghost.” Created in the mid-1800s, Pepper’s Ghost projected images off large glass panels to create ghostlike figures in the air. Ludwig’s team tracked down a rare sheet of very fragile, ultra-reflective material and stretched it in front of and above the stage at a 45-degree angle. Two projectors direct animations onto a screen below the stage which are reflected by the sheet into the space in front of the invisible puppeteers, who are covered in black, like ninjas.

The entire effect is wonderful, whimsical, liberating, and genuinely comforting. The large audience of young children, including my eight-year old niece and her older friends, were enchanted and amused from beginning to end. As was I. Like Crockett’s beloved books, the Puppetry Center’s 45-minute show isn’t worried about life lessons or adults setting rules or saving the day. There is just pure experience, imagination, and childhood run wild. Ludwig’s Harold and The Purple Crayon invites people of all ages to see the magic in everyday objects and ordinary moments — to create our own reality.

I’ve always aspired to try to live life as a waking, lucid dream. Or, as the magician Prospero explained to his niece in The Tempest, "We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep."

The Hero’s Wife at Synchronicity Theatre, Peachtree Pointe, 1545 Peachtree Street, now through May 5. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays at 5 p.m. 404 484-8636.

Harold and the Purple Crayon at Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring Street NW, now through May 26, Tuesdays through Sundays. 404 873-3391."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(9083) "''“To die, to sleep — to sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come …” — Hamlet''

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by sleep. Sleep, dreams, and nightmares.

What happens to me when I am asleep? What happens to my wife as she lies next to me? What happens to our dogs? What do other people feel when they are sleeping? Why do we have nightmares? What does a small child dream about?

Two of Atlanta’s most reliably creative spaces are pulling audiences into very different dreamscapes. Synchronicity Theatre’s ''The Hero’s Wife'' confronts the violent night terrors of a war veteran who unknowingly attacks his young wife in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, just a few blocks away, the Center for Puppetry Arts wields invisible technology to conjure the fantastic midnight reveries of ''Harold and The Purple Crayon''.

At first glance, the two world-premiere productions could not be more different. Yet both make intense private moments palpably real, and feature characters (and local artists) exhibiting strengths and skills we haven’t seen before.

Chicago-based playwright Aline Lathrop’s sharp one-act at Synchronicity grabs us from the opening moments: A man and a woman are lying asleep together when he suddenly screams and tries to punch her in the face. She ducks instinctively, but his second blow sends her sprawling. Just as quickly, he falls back into a deep sleep, unaware that anything has happened. End scene.

For the next 80 minutes, the action shifts back and forth, in short emotional scenes, from waking to sleeping moments. What we are seeing are the first few months after Cameron, a 40-year-old Navy SEAL, is thrown back into civilian life with his young wife Karyssa following his final tour of duty in Iraq, during which he was MIA for several weeks. What happened to him? What did he do while he was missing in action? What wartime horrors is he reliving in his sleep? What is he screaming during his violent nightmares, and why is he screaming in Arabic, a language he claims not to speak or understand? Is he hallucinating? Is he going insane?

Cam doesn’t remember what happens when he’s asleep and, like so many veterans, he won't talk about what happened overseas or acknowledge he’s suffering from PTSD. Karyssa, a yoga teacher barely out of college, fears her husband will commit suicide if she tells him he’s hitting her. She makes excuses for her bruises when he asks about them. As the nightmare violence escalates, the characters slowly start to switch places during the day. Cam, reluctant to ever leave the house, begins losing his macho, romantic, lover-in-charge attitude, becoming increasingly paranoid, impulsive, fragile, and vulnerable. We watch as Karyssa evolves from a sweet, sexy, emotionally open wife and nervous partner walking on eggshells to a physically strong, emotionally guarded woman sharing a bed with a trained killer.

Joe Sykes is convincing as a strong, damaged man desperate to hide his emotional problems. But since Lathrop designed her play (quite smartly) from Karyssa’s point of view, the most powerful character arc belongs to Rebecca Robles’ young newlywed as she fights physically and emotionally to save herself and the man she still loves.

Using only light shifts and subtle background sounds, director Rachel May and her design team slide the drama from day to night and back almost seamlessly. Sykes’ Cameron and Robles’ Karyssa slip in and out of the double bed where they make love, snuggle, and fall sleep, only to have their romantic bliss erupt into sudden violence. The all aqua-and-white set appears realistic at first glance, but some of the ceiling, walls, and empty bookshelves are slightly off-kilter. Things are not what they seem.

As Karyssa watches her husband sleep peacefully, she says, “No one ever really knows another person, do they?” If other people are not always who we thought they were, when should we trust our perceptions of anything else? What is objective reality? How different is memory from fantasy? If we love or fear a person or a place or a thing, does that make it real, regardless of whether anyone else perceives it?

Questioning or trusting the power of imagination may be the core of Crockett Johnson’s 1955 classic children’s picture book, ''Harold and The Purple Crayon'', which, like ''The Hero’s Wife'', begins (we can assume) at night in a bedroom.

One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight. There wasn’t any moon, and Harold needed a moon for a walk in the moonlight. And he needed something to walk on. He made a long straight path so he wouldn’t get lost. And he set off on his walk, taking his big purple crayon with him. But he didn’t seem to be getting anywhere on the long straight path. So he left the path… .

Just like in all five “Purple Crayon” books, Harold, in the Center’s ingenious production, creates an entire world with his crayon. When he's hungry, he draws a picnic lunch of nine pies. When he draws a dragon, then becomes scared of it, his purple crayon fashions an ocean and a sailboat for his escape just in time. He draws himself over the ledge of a cliff and then quickly sketches a hot-air balloon to safely float away. And so on. Eventually, our little hero longs for home and begins drawing dozens of windows in high-rise buildings hoping to “find” his own window with its view of the same moon that always hangs above him. He finally draws his window around the moon and decides he must be home.

''“''And then Harold made his bed. He got in it and he drew up the covers.''”''

Except he’s not home. Joshua A. Krisch, [https://www.fatherly.com/play/harold-purple-crayon-childrens-book-dark-reality/|in an essay about the book] on Fatherly, an online site for dads, calls ''Harold and the Purple Crayon''  “''Inception'' for kids.” He goes further, noting that Peter Nolan's science fiction action film “suggests that you can fall into your own dreams so deeply that you never escape, and the best you can hope for is that your imagination will recreate a world so similar to your own that you cannot recognize it for what it is — a dream, a nightmare. This, too, is Harold’s fate. He ends the book lost in a land entirely defined by his own imagination. It has a window, a moon, a bed, but it isn’t home. Nonetheless, Harold drifts off to sleep content.”

In director Jon Ludwig’s original and delightfully trippy production, Harold, his crayon, and many of the objects and creatures he “draws” are puppets that gently glow under bright black lights in dreamy shades of vivid purple, pink, and magenta. Whatever purple lines Harold draws appear magically in front of and around him: Purple train tracks run beneath his feet, a purple boat floats by. At times, he uses his crayon like a wand to create whole buildings to explore or a sky full of stars to fly in as he takes off on his rocket ship.

How do you make imaginary lines appear to flow out of a puppet crayon? Ludwig and his team of creative geniuses at the Center adapted a 200-year old technology known as “Pepper’s Ghost.” Created in the mid-1800s, Pepper’s Ghost projected images off large glass panels to create ghostlike figures in the air. Ludwig’s team tracked down a rare sheet of very fragile, ultra-reflective material and stretched it in front of and above the stage at a 45-degree angle. Two projectors direct animations onto a screen below the stage which are reflected by the sheet into the space in front of the invisible puppeteers, who are covered in black, like ninjas.

The entire effect is wonderful, whimsical, liberating, and genuinely comforting. The large audience of young children, including my eight-year old niece and her older friends, were enchanted and amused from beginning to end. As was I. Like Crockett’s beloved books, the Puppetry Center’s 45-minute show isn’t worried about life lessons or adults setting rules or saving the day. There is just pure experience, imagination, and childhood run wild. Ludwig’s ''Harold and The Purple Crayon'' invites people of all ages to see the magic in everyday objects and ordinary moments — to create our own reality.

I’ve always aspired to try to live life as a waking, lucid dream. Or, as the magician Prospero explained to'' ''his niece in The Tempest, "We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep."

The Hero’s Wife ''at [https://www.synchrotheatre.com/season/20/the-heros-wife|Synchronicity Theatre], Peachtree Pointe, 1545 Peachtree Street, now through May 5. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays at 5 p.m. 404 484-8636.''

Harold and the Purple Crayon ''at [http://www.puppet.org/buy-tickets/2018-19/harold-and-the-purple-crayon/|Center for Puppetry Arts], 1404 Spring Street NW, now through May 26, Tuesdays through Sundays. 404 873-3391.''"
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  string(9332) " Harold.300dpi  2019-05-02T16:38:03+00:00 Harold.300dpi.jpg    scenes&motions 'The Hero's Wife' and 'Harold and the Purple Crayon' onstage 17099  2019-05-02T16:39:26+00:00 SCENES & MOTIONS: Sleepless nights tony.paris@creativeloafing.com Tony Paris EDWARD MCNALLY Edward McNally 2019-05-02T16:39:26+00:00  “To die, to sleep — to sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come …” — Hamlet

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by sleep. Sleep, dreams, and nightmares.

What happens to me when I am asleep? What happens to my wife as she lies next to me? What happens to our dogs? What do other people feel when they are sleeping? Why do we have nightmares? What does a small child dream about?

Two of Atlanta’s most reliably creative spaces are pulling audiences into very different dreamscapes. Synchronicity Theatre’s The Hero’s Wife confronts the violent night terrors of a war veteran who unknowingly attacks his young wife in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, just a few blocks away, the Center for Puppetry Arts wields invisible technology to conjure the fantastic midnight reveries of Harold and The Purple Crayon.

At first glance, the two world-premiere productions could not be more different. Yet both make intense private moments palpably real, and feature characters (and local artists) exhibiting strengths and skills we haven’t seen before.

Chicago-based playwright Aline Lathrop’s sharp one-act at Synchronicity grabs us from the opening moments: A man and a woman are lying asleep together when he suddenly screams and tries to punch her in the face. She ducks instinctively, but his second blow sends her sprawling. Just as quickly, he falls back into a deep sleep, unaware that anything has happened. End scene.

For the next 80 minutes, the action shifts back and forth, in short emotional scenes, from waking to sleeping moments. What we are seeing are the first few months after Cameron, a 40-year-old Navy SEAL, is thrown back into civilian life with his young wife Karyssa following his final tour of duty in Iraq, during which he was MIA for several weeks. What happened to him? What did he do while he was missing in action? What wartime horrors is he reliving in his sleep? What is he screaming during his violent nightmares, and why is he screaming in Arabic, a language he claims not to speak or understand? Is he hallucinating? Is he going insane?

Cam doesn’t remember what happens when he’s asleep and, like so many veterans, he won't talk about what happened overseas or acknowledge he’s suffering from PTSD. Karyssa, a yoga teacher barely out of college, fears her husband will commit suicide if she tells him he’s hitting her. She makes excuses for her bruises when he asks about them. As the nightmare violence escalates, the characters slowly start to switch places during the day. Cam, reluctant to ever leave the house, begins losing his macho, romantic, lover-in-charge attitude, becoming increasingly paranoid, impulsive, fragile, and vulnerable. We watch as Karyssa evolves from a sweet, sexy, emotionally open wife and nervous partner walking on eggshells to a physically strong, emotionally guarded woman sharing a bed with a trained killer.

Joe Sykes is convincing as a strong, damaged man desperate to hide his emotional problems. But since Lathrop designed her play (quite smartly) from Karyssa’s point of view, the most powerful character arc belongs to Rebecca Robles’ young newlywed as she fights physically and emotionally to save herself and the man she still loves.

Using only light shifts and subtle background sounds, director Rachel May and her design team slide the drama from day to night and back almost seamlessly. Sykes’ Cameron and Robles’ Karyssa slip in and out of the double bed where they make love, snuggle, and fall sleep, only to have their romantic bliss erupt into sudden violence. The all aqua-and-white set appears realistic at first glance, but some of the ceiling, walls, and empty bookshelves are slightly off-kilter. Things are not what they seem.

As Karyssa watches her husband sleep peacefully, she says, “No one ever really knows another person, do they?” If other people are not always who we thought they were, when should we trust our perceptions of anything else? What is objective reality? How different is memory from fantasy? If we love or fear a person or a place or a thing, does that make it real, regardless of whether anyone else perceives it?

Questioning or trusting the power of imagination may be the core of Crockett Johnson’s 1955 classic children’s picture book, Harold and The Purple Crayon, which, like The Hero’s Wife, begins (we can assume) at night in a bedroom.

One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight. There wasn’t any moon, and Harold needed a moon for a walk in the moonlight. And he needed something to walk on. He made a long straight path so he wouldn’t get lost. And he set off on his walk, taking his big purple crayon with him. But he didn’t seem to be getting anywhere on the long straight path. So he left the path… .

Just like in all five “Purple Crayon” books, Harold, in the Center’s ingenious production, creates an entire world with his crayon. When he's hungry, he draws a picnic lunch of nine pies. When he draws a dragon, then becomes scared of it, his purple crayon fashions an ocean and a sailboat for his escape just in time. He draws himself over the ledge of a cliff and then quickly sketches a hot-air balloon to safely float away. And so on. Eventually, our little hero longs for home and begins drawing dozens of windows in high-rise buildings hoping to “find” his own window with its view of the same moon that always hangs above him. He finally draws his window around the moon and decides he must be home.

“And then Harold made his bed. He got in it and he drew up the covers.”

Except he’s not home. Joshua A. Krisch, in an essay about the book on Fatherly, an online site for dads, calls Harold and the Purple Crayon  “Inception for kids.” He goes further, noting that Peter Nolan's science fiction action film “suggests that you can fall into your own dreams so deeply that you never escape, and the best you can hope for is that your imagination will recreate a world so similar to your own that you cannot recognize it for what it is — a dream, a nightmare. This, too, is Harold’s fate. He ends the book lost in a land entirely defined by his own imagination. It has a window, a moon, a bed, but it isn’t home. Nonetheless, Harold drifts off to sleep content.”

In director Jon Ludwig’s original and delightfully trippy production, Harold, his crayon, and many of the objects and creatures he “draws” are puppets that gently glow under bright black lights in dreamy shades of vivid purple, pink, and magenta. Whatever purple lines Harold draws appear magically in front of and around him: Purple train tracks run beneath his feet, a purple boat floats by. At times, he uses his crayon like a wand to create whole buildings to explore or a sky full of stars to fly in as he takes off on his rocket ship.

How do you make imaginary lines appear to flow out of a puppet crayon? Ludwig and his team of creative geniuses at the Center adapted a 200-year old technology known as “Pepper’s Ghost.” Created in the mid-1800s, Pepper’s Ghost projected images off large glass panels to create ghostlike figures in the air. Ludwig’s team tracked down a rare sheet of very fragile, ultra-reflective material and stretched it in front of and above the stage at a 45-degree angle. Two projectors direct animations onto a screen below the stage which are reflected by the sheet into the space in front of the invisible puppeteers, who are covered in black, like ninjas.

The entire effect is wonderful, whimsical, liberating, and genuinely comforting. The large audience of young children, including my eight-year old niece and her older friends, were enchanted and amused from beginning to end. As was I. Like Crockett’s beloved books, the Puppetry Center’s 45-minute show isn’t worried about life lessons or adults setting rules or saving the day. There is just pure experience, imagination, and childhood run wild. Ludwig’s Harold and The Purple Crayon invites people of all ages to see the magic in everyday objects and ordinary moments — to create our own reality.

I’ve always aspired to try to live life as a waking, lucid dream. Or, as the magician Prospero explained to his niece in The Tempest, "We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep."

The Hero’s Wife at Synchronicity Theatre, Peachtree Pointe, 1545 Peachtree Street, now through May 5. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays at 5 p.m. 404 484-8636.

Harold and the Purple Crayon at Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring Street NW, now through May 26, Tuesdays through Sundays. 404 873-3391.    Courtesy The Center for Puppetry Arts HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON: Through May 26 at the Center for Puppetry Arts.  0,0,10    scenes&motions                             SCENES & MOTIONS: Sleepless nights "
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Thursday May 2, 2019 12:39 pm EDT
'The Hero's Wife' and 'Harold and the Purple Crayon' onstage | more...
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  string(9267) "Self-validation through occupation or creative pursuit. The workplace as social microcosm. Work teams serving as substitute families. The collective versus the individual. Upper class/corporate management versus the working class. The potential of art and beauty to connect social and economic classes.

These are some of the universal and quite timely themes of two blue-collar dramas on local stages this month. Detroit playwright Dominique Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew centers on four autoworkers wrestling with conscience, identity, and the instinct for economic survival. The Pitmen Painters, by British playwright Lee Hall, tells the true story of a group of English coal miners during the Great Depression who began creating their own artworks and become unexpected stars of London’s high society art circles. In each story, the workers we spend time with are multifaceted, complex, and conflicted, reflecting and illuminating the difficult choices facing them during critical turning points in their individual lives and in their communities.

Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company is presenting Skeleton Crew, the final play in Morisseau’s three-play cycle The Detroit Project, each of which is set in her hometown. Webster’s defines skeleton crew as “the minimum number of personnel needed to operate and maintain an item, such as a ship or business, during an emergency or shutdown.” It is a fitting title for this four-character drama set in the run-down break room of Detroit’s last remaining car stamping factory during the auto industry crisis of 2008, the worst year of the Great Recession.

Faye, the factory’s union rep and a 29-year veteran on the job, is homeless, living out of her car, and a year away from collecting a big share of her hard-earned retirement benefits. Reggie, the working-class-turned-white-collar factory foreman, is working to provide the best life for his family while looking out for the workers who’ve come to trust him. Shanita is a pregnant young woman who’s proud of her job and loves her work. Dez is a brash, romantic young employee trying to save enough money to open his own business.

Each member of this African-American workplace family must confront choices on how to move forward if their plant closes. Reggie (Enoch Armando King) wants to prepare his team for the plant’s closing, but upper management requires his silence about how soon the factory will shut down until a fair employee severance package can be approved. Faye (Tonia Jackson) must decide how and where she'll live. Shanita (Asia Howard) must determine how to support herself and her unborn child. Dez (Anthony Campbell) must figure out how to make his dream a reality. Each character must balance their own needs and desires, their loyalty to one another, and their yearning to continue in a job they take genuine pride in.

True Colors associate artistic director Jamil Jude, who directed this production of Skeleton Crew, spent time in Detroit talking to auto factory workers. “For generations of Americans, landing a union job in a factory was like hitting the lottery. It paid a wage you could rely on to own a home and raise a family. The benefits were good. You could retire comfortably. Until very recently, factory jobs were one of the most reliable foundations of the American Dream.”

These sort of jobs, and this sort of work — building something as tangible and essential as a family car — are central to how the men and women in Skeleton Crew define themselves and their self-worth. The characters’ intimate and complex relationship to their occupation, their workplace, and to their fellow workers helps explain the depth of their anxiety about being laid off and leaving what they’ve known all their lives.

Director Jude and his cast were in rehearsals during the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. “We all knew friends or family who were directly affected by the shutdown,” says Jude. “Atlanta hasn’t been considered a key industrial center for a long time, but the recession impacted every town and city in this country, including ours. Tens of thousands of our neighbors across the metro area work in government jobs, so when they stopped getting paid this past January, we all sensed the anger and fear and even the personal self-doubt they were feeling. Ultimately, this is a play that speaks to any worker in any job in today’s America, blue-collar or not.”

Jude believes Morisseau’s plays “juxtapose beauty with destruction, hope with despair, and bring to light the complicated realities of urban African-American communities. Her artistic voice combines the beautiful poetry of the great writers of the diaspora with a laser-focused social critique of the modern age.” Jude adds, “It’s not surprising at all that the dramatic tensions in this play are resonating with our audience and with audiences across the country wherever Skeleton Crew has been produced.”

Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon, True Colors’ founding artistic director, cast then-actress/poet Dominique Morisseau in his 2010 production of The Mountaintop. Four years ago, True Colors presented Morisseau’s Detroit ’67 , the second installment of her play cycle; next year, the theatre company will present Paradise Blue, the first work in her Detroit Project trilogy.

Audiences can explore another critique of class division from a blue-collar perspective in The Pitmen Painters. The Theatrical Outfit is presenting the Atlanta premiere of British writer Lee Hall’s often comical portrait of artistic flowering amid the oppressive conditions faced by a group of British coal miners. After hiring a college professor to teach them art appreciation, the miners, also known as “pitmen,” start painting scenes drawn from their everyday lives. Within months, avant-garde artists become their friends, their work hangs in prestigious collections, and they are celebrated in high society. But every day, they continue to risk their lives deep down in the mine.

Hall, who also wrote the screenplay for Billy Elliot was inspired by William Feaver’s book about the art collective known as the Ashington Group. In the 1930s, hundreds of mines were operating in this northeastern region of England, sending more than a million men underground to work 10-hour shifts in the pits. In this gritty environment, it seems a miracle that an insular mining community like Ashington could produce a talent like miner-turned-artist Oliver Kilbourn, let alone a whole labor collective of miner-artists.

According to Hall, ”These pitmen had a tradition of organized labor which provided places of solidarity which made possible this kind of intellectualism. They were profoundly concerned with creativity and how that linked to personal growth and collective understanding — how you learn, and the relationships, with teachers, with peers, in that process.”

The art discussions between the technically naive painters and their tutor, Mr. Lyons, manage to be both intellectually engaging and often quite humorous. “Art isn’t about answers,” the art instructor says during his first class with the pitmen. “It’s about asking questions.” The characters in The Pitmen Painters grapple and argue with a wide spectrum of questions. What is art and who should make it? When does a man who paints become a painter? What does art make of its maker? What are the merits of abstract versus representational art? Who owns art? How much should art cost?

Examples of their boldly executed paintings, which are projected on large screens during the play, depict scenes from their lives and the lives of their families and friends. These powerful artworks validate the tutor’s belief that culture is not the exclusive preserve of the upper classes, and that “fundamentally, underneath, anybody can have a creative gift.”

But perhaps the largest question at the heart of this story revolves around issues of self-identity and self-improvement, especially when they come in conflict with loyalty to one’s cultural group or community. As one of the paintbrush-wielding miners says, after hearing a speech celebrating his achievements and those of his fellow working-class artists, “It’s easy for people outside to see us as a bunch of miners. But we don’t see ourselves as that. We see ourselves as individuals, don’t we?”

In their plays, Morrisseau and Hall use humor, insightful detail, and vivid, lived-in dialogue to enable us, their audience, to connect intimately with the working men and women on stage. At such a divisive time in this country, there can be profound value in any experience that inspires us to look past cultural or class differences to see people as individuals and not as monolithic groups or stereotypes. And that certainly includes absorbing a compassionate, thoughtful play or gasping in awe at a deeply felt work of art, especially when we share that kind of experience with neighbors we haven’t yet met.

Skeleton Crew. Through March 10. Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road S.W. 404-613-3220.

The Pitmen Painters. Through March 24. Theatrical Outfit, 84 Luckie St. N.W. 678-528-1500."
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These are some of the universal and quite timely themes of two blue-collar dramas on local stages this month. Detroit playwright Dominique Morisseau’s__ __''Skeleton Crew''__ __centers on four autoworkers wrestling with conscience, identity, and the instinct for economic survival. ''The Pitmen Painters'', by British playwright Lee Hall, tells the true story of a group of English coal miners during the Great Depression who began creating their own artworks and become unexpected stars of London’s high society art circles. In each story, the workers we spend time with are multifaceted, complex, and conflicted, reflecting and illuminating the difficult choices facing them during critical turning points in their individual lives and in their communities.

Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company is presenting ''Skeleton Crew, ''the final play in Morisseau’s three-play cycle ''The Detroit Project'', each of which is set in her hometown. Webster’s defines skeleton crew as “the minimum number of personnel needed to operate and maintain an item, such as a ship or business, during an emergency or shutdown.” It is a fitting title for this four-character drama set in the run-down break room of Detroit’s last remaining car stamping factory during the auto industry crisis of 2008, the worst year of the Great Recession.

Faye, the factory’s union rep and a 29-year veteran on the job, is homeless, living out of her car, and a year away from collecting a big share of her hard-earned retirement benefits. Reggie, the working-class-turned-white-collar factory foreman, is working to provide the best life for his family while looking out for the workers who’ve come to trust him. Shanita is a pregnant young woman who’s proud of her job and loves her work. Dez is a brash, romantic young employee trying to save enough money to open his own business.

Each member of this African-American workplace family must confront choices on how to move forward if their plant closes. Reggie (Enoch Armando King) wants to prepare his team for the plant’s closing, but upper management requires his silence about how soon the factory will shut down until a fair employee severance package can be approved. Faye (Tonia Jackson) must decide how and where she'll live. Shanita (Asia Howard) must determine how to support herself and her unborn child. Dez (Anthony Campbell) must figure out how to make his dream a reality. Each character must balance their own needs and desires, their loyalty to one another, and their yearning to continue in a job they take genuine pride in.

True Colors associate artistic director Jamil Jude, who directed this production of ''Skeleton Crew'', spent time in Detroit talking to auto factory workers. “For generations of Americans, landing a union job in a factory was like hitting the lottery. It paid a wage you could rely on to own a home and raise a family. The benefits were good. You could retire comfortably. Until very recently, factory jobs were one of the most reliable foundations of the American Dream.”

These sort of jobs, and this sort of work — building something as tangible and essential as a family car — are central to how the men and women in ''Skeleton Crew'' define themselves and their self-worth. The characters’ intimate and complex relationship to their occupation, their workplace, and to their fellow workers helps explain the depth of their anxiety about being laid off and leaving what they’ve known all their lives.

Director Jude and his cast were in rehearsals during the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. “We all knew friends or family who were directly affected by the shutdown,” says Jude. “Atlanta hasn’t been considered a key industrial center for a long time, but the recession impacted every town and city in this country, including ours. Tens of thousands of our neighbors across the metro area work in government jobs, so when they stopped getting paid this past January, we all sensed the anger and fear and even the personal self-doubt they were feeling. Ultimately, this is a play that speaks to any worker in any job in today’s America, blue-collar or not.”

Jude believes Morisseau’s plays “juxtapose beauty with destruction, hope with despair, and bring to light the complicated realities of urban African-American communities. Her artistic voice combines the beautiful poetry of the great writers of the diaspora with a laser-focused social critique of the modern age.” Jude adds, “It’s not surprising at all that the dramatic tensions in this play are resonating with our audience and with audiences across the country wherever ''Skeleton Crew'' has been produced.”

Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon, True Colors’ founding artistic director, cast then-actress/poet Dominique Morisseau in his 2010 production of The Mountaintop. Four years ago, True Colors presented Morisseau’s ''Detroit ’67'' , the second installment of her play cycle; next year, the theatre company will present ''Paradise Blue'', the first work in her ''Detroit Project'' trilogy.

Audiences can explore another critique of class division from a blue-collar perspective in ''The Pitmen Painters.'' The Theatrical Outfit is presenting the Atlanta premiere of British writer Lee Hall’s often comical portrait of artistic flowering amid the oppressive conditions faced by a group of British coal miners. After hiring a college professor to teach them art appreciation, the miners, also known as “pitmen,” start painting scenes drawn from their everyday lives. Within months, avant-garde artists become their friends, their work hangs in prestigious collections, and they are celebrated in high society. But every day, they continue to risk their lives deep down in the mine.

Hall, who also wrote the screenplay for Billy Elliot was inspired by William Feaver’s book about the art collective known as the Ashington Group. In the 1930s, hundreds of mines were operating in this northeastern region of England, sending more than a million men underground to work 10-hour shifts in the pits. In this gritty environment, it seems a miracle that an insular mining community like Ashington could produce a talent like miner-turned-artist Oliver Kilbourn, let alone a whole labor collective of miner-artists.

According to Hall, ”These pitmen had a tradition of organized labor which provided places of solidarity which made possible this kind of intellectualism. They were profoundly concerned with creativity and how that linked to personal growth and collective understanding — how you learn, and the relationships, with teachers, with peers, in that process.”

The art discussions between the technically naive painters and their tutor, Mr. Lyons, manage to be both intellectually engaging and often quite humorous. “Art isn’t about answers,” the art instructor says during his first class with the pitmen. “It’s about asking questions.” The characters in ''The Pitmen Painters'' grapple and argue with a wide spectrum of questions. What is art and who should make it? When does a man who paints become a painter? What does art make of its maker? What are the merits of abstract versus representational art? Who owns art? How much should art cost?

Examples of their boldly executed paintings, which are projected on large screens during the play, depict scenes from their lives and the lives of their families and friends. These powerful artworks validate the tutor’s belief that culture is not the exclusive preserve of the upper classes, and that “fundamentally, underneath, anybody can have a creative gift.”

But perhaps the largest question at the heart of this story revolves around issues of self-identity and self-improvement, especially when they come in conflict with loyalty to one’s cultural group or community. As one of the paintbrush-wielding miners says, after hearing a speech celebrating his achievements and those of his fellow working-class artists, “It’s easy for people outside to see us as a bunch of miners. But we don’t see ourselves as that. We see ourselves as individuals, don’t we?”

In their plays, Morrisseau and Hall use humor, insightful detail, and vivid, lived-in dialogue to enable us, their audience, to connect intimately with the working men and women on stage. At such a divisive time in this country, there can be profound value in any experience that inspires us to look past cultural or class differences to see people as individuals and not as monolithic groups or stereotypes. And that certainly includes absorbing a compassionate, thoughtful play or gasping in awe at a deeply felt work of art, especially when we share that kind of experience with neighbors we haven’t yet met.

''[https://truecolorstheatre.org/event/skeleton-crew/|Skeleton Crew. Through March 10]. [http://www.fultonarts.org/index.php/art-centers/southwest-arts-center|Southwest Arts Center], 915 New Hope Road S.W. 404-613-3220.''

''[https://www.theatricaloutfit.org/shows/the-pitmen-painters/|The Pitmen Painters. Through March 24]. [https://www.theatricaloutfit.org|Theatrical Outfit], 84 Luckie St. N.W. 678-528-1500.''"
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  string(10357) " Pittman Painters  2019-03-04T18:40:06+00:00 Pittman Painters.jpg    performance art edward mcnally skeleton crew the pitmen painters scenes&motions ‘Skeleton Crew’ and ‘The Pitmen Painters’ 14424  2019-03-04T18:38:19+00:00 SCENES & MOTIONS: A working class hero is something to be mcnally259@gmail.com Ed McNally Edward McNally Edward McNally 2019-03-04T18:38:19+00:00 Creative Loafing is proud to welcome Edward McNally into the editorial fold. A formidable figure on Atlanta's arts scene, his column "Scenes & Motions" will appear online and in print. Self-validation through occupation or creative pursuit. The workplace as social microcosm. Work teams serving as substitute families. The collective versus the individual. Upper class/corporate management versus the working class. The potential of art and beauty to connect social and economic classes.

These are some of the universal and quite timely themes of two blue-collar dramas on local stages this month. Detroit playwright Dominique Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew centers on four autoworkers wrestling with conscience, identity, and the instinct for economic survival. The Pitmen Painters, by British playwright Lee Hall, tells the true story of a group of English coal miners during the Great Depression who began creating their own artworks and become unexpected stars of London’s high society art circles. In each story, the workers we spend time with are multifaceted, complex, and conflicted, reflecting and illuminating the difficult choices facing them during critical turning points in their individual lives and in their communities.

Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company is presenting Skeleton Crew, the final play in Morisseau’s three-play cycle The Detroit Project, each of which is set in her hometown. Webster’s defines skeleton crew as “the minimum number of personnel needed to operate and maintain an item, such as a ship or business, during an emergency or shutdown.” It is a fitting title for this four-character drama set in the run-down break room of Detroit’s last remaining car stamping factory during the auto industry crisis of 2008, the worst year of the Great Recession.

Faye, the factory’s union rep and a 29-year veteran on the job, is homeless, living out of her car, and a year away from collecting a big share of her hard-earned retirement benefits. Reggie, the working-class-turned-white-collar factory foreman, is working to provide the best life for his family while looking out for the workers who’ve come to trust him. Shanita is a pregnant young woman who’s proud of her job and loves her work. Dez is a brash, romantic young employee trying to save enough money to open his own business.

Each member of this African-American workplace family must confront choices on how to move forward if their plant closes. Reggie (Enoch Armando King) wants to prepare his team for the plant’s closing, but upper management requires his silence about how soon the factory will shut down until a fair employee severance package can be approved. Faye (Tonia Jackson) must decide how and where she'll live. Shanita (Asia Howard) must determine how to support herself and her unborn child. Dez (Anthony Campbell) must figure out how to make his dream a reality. Each character must balance their own needs and desires, their loyalty to one another, and their yearning to continue in a job they take genuine pride in.

True Colors associate artistic director Jamil Jude, who directed this production of Skeleton Crew, spent time in Detroit talking to auto factory workers. “For generations of Americans, landing a union job in a factory was like hitting the lottery. It paid a wage you could rely on to own a home and raise a family. The benefits were good. You could retire comfortably. Until very recently, factory jobs were one of the most reliable foundations of the American Dream.”

These sort of jobs, and this sort of work — building something as tangible and essential as a family car — are central to how the men and women in Skeleton Crew define themselves and their self-worth. The characters’ intimate and complex relationship to their occupation, their workplace, and to their fellow workers helps explain the depth of their anxiety about being laid off and leaving what they’ve known all their lives.

Director Jude and his cast were in rehearsals during the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. “We all knew friends or family who were directly affected by the shutdown,” says Jude. “Atlanta hasn’t been considered a key industrial center for a long time, but the recession impacted every town and city in this country, including ours. Tens of thousands of our neighbors across the metro area work in government jobs, so when they stopped getting paid this past January, we all sensed the anger and fear and even the personal self-doubt they were feeling. Ultimately, this is a play that speaks to any worker in any job in today’s America, blue-collar or not.”

Jude believes Morisseau’s plays “juxtapose beauty with destruction, hope with despair, and bring to light the complicated realities of urban African-American communities. Her artistic voice combines the beautiful poetry of the great writers of the diaspora with a laser-focused social critique of the modern age.” Jude adds, “It’s not surprising at all that the dramatic tensions in this play are resonating with our audience and with audiences across the country wherever Skeleton Crew has been produced.”

Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon, True Colors’ founding artistic director, cast then-actress/poet Dominique Morisseau in his 2010 production of The Mountaintop. Four years ago, True Colors presented Morisseau’s Detroit ’67 , the second installment of her play cycle; next year, the theatre company will present Paradise Blue, the first work in her Detroit Project trilogy.

Audiences can explore another critique of class division from a blue-collar perspective in The Pitmen Painters. The Theatrical Outfit is presenting the Atlanta premiere of British writer Lee Hall’s often comical portrait of artistic flowering amid the oppressive conditions faced by a group of British coal miners. After hiring a college professor to teach them art appreciation, the miners, also known as “pitmen,” start painting scenes drawn from their everyday lives. Within months, avant-garde artists become their friends, their work hangs in prestigious collections, and they are celebrated in high society. But every day, they continue to risk their lives deep down in the mine.

Hall, who also wrote the screenplay for Billy Elliot was inspired by William Feaver’s book about the art collective known as the Ashington Group. In the 1930s, hundreds of mines were operating in this northeastern region of England, sending more than a million men underground to work 10-hour shifts in the pits. In this gritty environment, it seems a miracle that an insular mining community like Ashington could produce a talent like miner-turned-artist Oliver Kilbourn, let alone a whole labor collective of miner-artists.

According to Hall, ”These pitmen had a tradition of organized labor which provided places of solidarity which made possible this kind of intellectualism. They were profoundly concerned with creativity and how that linked to personal growth and collective understanding — how you learn, and the relationships, with teachers, with peers, in that process.”

The art discussions between the technically naive painters and their tutor, Mr. Lyons, manage to be both intellectually engaging and often quite humorous. “Art isn’t about answers,” the art instructor says during his first class with the pitmen. “It’s about asking questions.” The characters in The Pitmen Painters grapple and argue with a wide spectrum of questions. What is art and who should make it? When does a man who paints become a painter? What does art make of its maker? What are the merits of abstract versus representational art? Who owns art? How much should art cost?

Examples of their boldly executed paintings, which are projected on large screens during the play, depict scenes from their lives and the lives of their families and friends. These powerful artworks validate the tutor’s belief that culture is not the exclusive preserve of the upper classes, and that “fundamentally, underneath, anybody can have a creative gift.”

But perhaps the largest question at the heart of this story revolves around issues of self-identity and self-improvement, especially when they come in conflict with loyalty to one’s cultural group or community. As one of the paintbrush-wielding miners says, after hearing a speech celebrating his achievements and those of his fellow working-class artists, “It’s easy for people outside to see us as a bunch of miners. But we don’t see ourselves as that. We see ourselves as individuals, don’t we?”

In their plays, Morrisseau and Hall use humor, insightful detail, and vivid, lived-in dialogue to enable us, their audience, to connect intimately with the working men and women on stage. At such a divisive time in this country, there can be profound value in any experience that inspires us to look past cultural or class differences to see people as individuals and not as monolithic groups or stereotypes. And that certainly includes absorbing a compassionate, thoughtful play or gasping in awe at a deeply felt work of art, especially when we share that kind of experience with neighbors we haven’t yet met.

Skeleton Crew. Through March 10. Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road S.W. 404-613-3220.

The Pitmen Painters. Through March 24. Theatrical Outfit, 84 Luckie St. N.W. 678-528-1500.    Casey Gardner THE PITMEN PAINTERS: Cast of "The Pitmen Painters" at Theatrical Outfit, left to right: Clifton Guterman, Allan Edwards, Caitlin Josephine Hargraves, Brian Kurlander, Richard Garner, and Andrew Benator. Artwork: Rocio Rodriguez' Time, 1995, Oil on canvas, Collection of The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA).  0,0,10    "edward mcnally" "performance art" "Skeleton Crew" "The Pitmen Painters" scenes&motions                             SCENES & MOTIONS: A working class hero is something to be "
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Article

Monday March 4, 2019 01:38 pm EST
‘Skeleton Crew’ and ‘The Pitmen Painters’ | more...