Monday, December 20, 2010

Twin Muses: Painting joins forces with poetry

Posted By on Mon, Dec 20, 2010 at 7:30 AM

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Painter Amy Kindred sent a request out some time ago inviting artists to view her paintings online and then submit poems that complemented works of their choosing. The poems had to be accessible enough to stand alone and had to be completed by Hoosier authors. Other than that, no rules.

What developed is Kindred's most recent book, Twin Muses: Art and Poetry (April, 2010), which features 29 poems by various writers and 22 of Kindred's paintings that were created over a ten-year period.

Near the beginning of the book, Kindred's 'Figure 2' (called "Dew Drops" on her website) reminded me of painter Susan Hodgin's work. I like the bold colors and thick lines that appear in much of Kindred's work. I like that her project reminded me of pulling together poetry and art when I was the editor of genesis, IUPUI's literary and art magazine. Most of all, I am pleased to have discovered new-to-me poets.

My favorite in this collection is Terre-Haute-based poet and artist Zann Carter with "Love/Skin":

touching me you're
wind
and i'm
rippling wheat. you're
water
and i'm
tumbled stones.
now your fingers
dance
down my spine
to the beat of my pulse
my hurtheart rhythm.
ah, it was only a small
betrayal,
now fading
into your insistent tattoo
on the drum of my skin:
love
love
love.

I also love this excerpt from Carter's "Sacrament":

working by
scarlet hibiscus
and a lush mango tree...
i was ripe for epiphany

Indy-based slam poet, filmmaker, and photographer Devon Ginn got my attention with these selections from "Muse":

I want to grab the sun
let it burn into my flesh
mold onto my bones
sink deep into the marrow...
ignite my blood
from crimson to bastard amber...
drink the lava
the neon blue is at bay..."

The third writer whose work I especially liked is poet Neil Cain, also from Indy, with "Encountering Buddha":

pulled into a single point
that is the distance to the horizon
met with the will of the winds
to which i am a hollow bone
whistling

Kindred's book release coincided with a First Friday exhibit this past June. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend and am therefore happy to have gotten my hands on a copy of this collection. I also look forward to checking out one of Kindred's other books, The Hunger for Hope: Spiritual Journeys of Vincent Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo, as Kahlo is one of my favorite artists.

For samples of Amy Kindred's work, including several that appear in Twin Muses, visit her website www.akindredart.com.

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Passion and pain: Pollock (DVD)

Posted By on Mon, Dec 20, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Jackson Pollock, Full Fathom Five, 1947
  • Jackson Pollock, "Full Fathom Five," 1947

Eventually I will stop talking about how awesome Netflix is. Today is not that day.

Last weekend, still on an artist's high (it's like a runner's high but with less jogging) after watching Modigliani, I queued up Pollock, the 2000 biopic of abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock starring Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden. Both were nominated for Oscars — Harden won for Best Supporting Actress — and the more I think about it, Harris should've won for his performance. Pollock's struggles with alcoholism and depression (perhaps manic depression) shone through Ed Harris, to the point that I didn't like him by the end of the movie. More than dislike, however, was sympathy. There were a few scenes where Harris just looked at another character and a weight hung in the air, making it difficult to breathe. I wanted to time travel and help Harden, portraying Pollock's wife Lee Krasner, coax along Pollock's genius. At the very least, I wanted to help Pollock fight his demons and critics, who may have been one and the same.

Two scenes in the movie, at roughly the 30-minute and one-hour mark, are magical. The music is well chosen — its speed follows Pollock as he fairly dances around a canvas on the floor, dripping and spilling paint in wild abstractions that leave the viewer to define what they're seeing. Krasner said Pollock "used to give his pictures conventional titles... but now he simply numbers them. Numbers are neutral. They make people look at a picture for what it is - pure painting." His fiercest supporter, Krasner stayed by Pollock's side through his disease, even when their relationship had all but broken down. The movie was based on Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith's Jackson Pollock: An American Saga, which brings my list of books I want to read to roughly 47,000. I look forward to learning more about the artist's life, tragic though it was.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Indiana Film Journalists name 2010 "Bests"

Posted By on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 5:50 PM

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The Indiana Film Journalists Association (www.indianafilmcritics.com), a group of journalists dedicated to promoting quality film criticism in the Hoosier State, has announced its annual film picks for 2010, some of which are on screen over this holiday season.

To be eligible, a film must have played theatrically in Indiana during the 2010 calendar year, screened to state critics in advance of a 2011 general release date, or play in a Hoosier State film festival such as Indianapolis International Film Festival or Heartland Film Festival.

NUVO Film Critic Ed Johnson-Ott is a member of the IFJA. We've linked his reviews and current showtimes to the winning film's where applicable.

Highlights of the awards include:

David Fincher’s The Social Network took top honors, winning Best Film as well as a Best Screenplay award for writer Aaron Sorkin.

This summer’s blockbuster Inception picked up two awards — Best Director for Christopher Nolan and the Original Vision Award, “meant to recognize a film that is especially innovative or original.”

Natalie Portman was named Best Actress for her role in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. James Franco won Best Actor for 127 Hours, Danny Boyle’s film about a trapped mountain who examines the errors of his life while struggling with the elements for survival.

Hailee Steinfeld took Best Supporting Actress for True Grit, and Christian Bale was named Best Supporting Actor for The Fighter.

Surprisingly, How to Train Your Dragon was named Best Animated Film over Toy Story 3, while British artist Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop picked up Best Documentary, and Lebanon Best Foreign Language Film.

Andie Redwine was honored with The Hoosier Award — which “recognizes a significant cinematic contribution by a person with Indiana roots” — for her work on Paradise Recovered, a film shot partially in southern Indiana about a woman from a sheltered religious sect who is forced to examine her life from a fresh perspective. Redwine and her film were the subject of a NUVO feature story earlier this year when it screened at the 2010 Heartland Film Festival.

Here’s the full list of honored films:

Best Film of the Year
Winner: "The Social Network"
Runner-up: "Inception"
Other Finalists: "127 Hours," "Black Swan," "Exit Through the Gift Shop," "The Fighter," "Never Let Me Go," "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," "True Grit," "Winter's Bone"

Best Animated Film
Winner: "How to Train Your Dragon"
Runner-up: "Toy Story 3"

Best Foreign Language Film
Winner: "Lebanon"
Runner-up: "Biutiful"

Best Documentary
Winner: "Exit Through the Gift Shop"
Runner-up: "The Tillman Story"

Best Screenplay
Winner: Aaron Sorkin, "The Social Network"
Runner-up: Christopher Nolan, "Inception"

Best Director
Winner: Christopher Nolan, "Inception"
Runner-up: Debra Granik, "Winter's Bone"

Best Actress
Winner: Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"
Runner-up: Jennifer Lawrence, "Winter's Bone"

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Hailee Steinfeld, "True Grit"
Runner-up: Melissa Leo, "The Fighter"

Best Actor
Winner: James Franco, "127 Hours"
Runner-up: Jesse Eisenberg, "The Social Network"

Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Christian Bale, "The Fighter"
Runner-up: John Hawkes, "Winter's Bone"

Original Vision Award
Winner: "Inception"
Runner-up: "127 Hours"

The Hoosier Award
Winner: Andie Redwine, writer/producer of "Paradise Recovered"


IFJA Members:
Bob Bloom, Lafayette Journal & Courier
Caine Gardner, Greencastle Banner-Graphic, The Film Yap.com;
Eric Harris, Canneltoncritic.com, The Perry County News
Lou Harry, Indianapolis Business Journal
Ed Johnson-Ott, NUVO Newsweekly
Christopher Lloyd, The Film Yap.com, The Current
Richard Propes, The Independent Critic.com
Nick Rogers, Suite101.com, The Film Yap.com
Joe Shearer, The Film Yap.com, Indy.com
Matthew Socey, WFYI
Gina Wagner, IndyMojo.com / HauntedFlower.com

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Go & Do: Your Arts Weekend Awaits You

Posted By on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 5:30 PM

Ryan Artzberger stars as Scrooge in the IRTs production of A Christmas Carol.
  • Julie Curry
  • Ryan Artzberger stars as Scrooge in the IRT's production of "A Christmas Carol."

The long-awaited Wicked is here, and you can check out my review Saturday morning as I’m seeing it Friday night, but there are plenty of other wicked things going on, despite — and because of — the holiday season.

First off, on stage at the Indiana Repertory Theatre is their annual production of A Christmas Carol, but this year there are plenty of significant changes in the show.

Richard J. Roberts is directing, since Priscilla Lindsay has left town, and he cast a new actor, Ryan Artzberger in the pivotal role of Scrooge. Well, there’s nothing new about Arzberger as he’s been entertaining area audiences for years, but for our reviewer Josefa Beyer, points out he’s “an actor who usually reminds me more of a young Ray Liotta than old Alistair Sim.

Fortunately, she notes in her 4 star review of the show, “the same edge that made Artzberger a great Mercutio last season can be tucked into a waistcoat and top hat (here with shaved head) to conjure a hardened old businessman who bristles at helping the poor yet trembles like jelly when confronted with his past.” Roberts scores bigtime here, too, as he “finds the right balance between Victorian dignity, Gothic moodiness and a playful stage physicality that proves to us the redemptive qualities of ghosts, boiled pudding and theater.

Also this weekend, we’ve got a couple “Nutcracker” performances, both by esteemed companies, featuring some of the best dancers in the area.

The Indianapolis School of Ballet presents Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker at the Scottish Rite Cathedral Theater, 650 N. Meridian St., which, if you’ve never been, is an amazingly beautiful venue. Here, Artistic Director Victoria Lyras collaborates with master scenic artist C. David Higgins, using replicas of Indianapolis’ historic Morris-Butler House as a backdrop, with choreography by Fiona Fuerstner. Friday’s performance begins at 7 p.m., while Saturday and Sunday are both 3 p.m. matinees. Tickets: $20 for adults, $15 for kids and $10 general admission balcony seats available 1 hour before the shows; student and senior discounts available.

The Indiana Ballet Conservatory (IBC), a pre-professional company, presents Russian choreographer Vasily Vainonen’s version of The Nutcracker at the Madame Walker Theatre. First staged in 1934, Vainonen’s version was a part of Russia’s Kirov Ballet’s repertoire for decades. Each IBC performance features a hot-as-fire dancer, the Boston Ballet’s Lasha Khozashvili. Showtimes are December 17 at 7:00 p.m., December 18 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., and December 19 at 2:00 p.m.

What with all the holiday-related dance and theater going on, you might have fallen behind on your visual art activities. Here are some gallery visits we recommend:

Indianapolis Art Center, Basile Exhibition Corridor.
ARTIFACTS — Winners from Art from the Heartland 2010
Reviewer Susan Watt Grade gives this show a whopping four stars features the works of Indiana’s Amy Brier, Chicago area artists Connie Noyes and Vera Scekic, Ohio-based artists Jim Shire

Cultural Arts Gallery @ IUPUI
Unsettled Spaces: Artwork by Emily Janowiak
Reviewer Dan Grossman gave this show 3.5 stars, and says you’ll relate to this mixed-media-on-map exhibit, “particularly if you’ve spent your undergrad years instate shuttling back and forth between college and home.

You’ve got friends and family in town, of course, and if you want to show off some of the museums in town, you don’t want to miss:

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Polar Bears to Penguins
Yours truly saw this show, mostly because I’m an acolyte of the apocalypse. I’ll quote from myself to emphasize that it’s “not hard to put the pieces of this Pole puzzle together: oil and gas exploration of either Pole is a bad idea; the ecosystem in the Arctic is ‘definitely in trouble’ and pollution, created worldwide, ends up bio-accumulating up the food chain and into polar bears.” Once scientist in the exhibit, Dr. Nick Lunn, says “he feels more like ‘a polar bear historian than a polar bear researcher.

Indianapolis Museum of Art
Andy Warhol Enterprises
David Hoppe gave this show 5 stars, the most you can get! And says: “The great virtue of curator Sarah Urist Green's approach is to insist on seeing Warhol whole, from his beginnings as a stylishly mannered commercial illustrator, through the enfant terrible days in the '60s when he became a household word, into the celebrity decadence of disco and, finally, his Autumnal period as multi-media brand.

There are other essential exhibits out there, including galleries not open on the weekends.

We strongly suggest you see the current Gallery No. 2 exhibit at the Harrison Center for the Arts, "Music the Way We See It,"a collaboration between Michael Graves & Justin Cooper which reviewer Grossman says “has the kind of creative tension that you see in fine jazz performances.” 4 stars.

Dan also gives 4 stars to Toys at Gallery 924, curated by nonprofit arts organization Primary Colors. This is always a great show, full of frivolity and fun, and this year, for the first time you can view and purchase the works of these 20 artists past opening night. Grossman says: “A great show ,all in all, giving you toys you can play with as well as toys that play with your imagination. Bring some new or gently used art supplies when you visit, to benefit VSA arts of Indiana.

Still want more options? Head on over to our A&E Events Calendar and browse for yourself. Then, you know, Go & Do something.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

IAC Artist Grant workshop at the Phoenix

Posted By on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 10:00 AM

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Is “starving artist” too pointed of a cliché these days? Making money as an artist has always been tough, but the economic downturn has been especially difficult for artists.

Of course, though, there are grants, and if you’ve lived in Indiana for very long, you’re familiar with Indiana Arts Commission’s Individual Artist Grant Program.

The IAC will lead a grants workshop at The Phoenix Theatre (749 N. Park Avenue) on Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 5:30. The workshop is for artists interested in applying for the Individual Artist Grant Program for the year 2012.

Application process for 2012 grants opened Nov. 16, 2010 and goes to Feb. 14, 2011, so you don’t have much time!

The Individual Artist Program was devised back in 1999 as a way to support career development projects for artists who have lived in Indiana at least one year prior to the application date. Applicants must also be at least eighteen years of age and remain in Indiana for the duration of the grant period.

Note that artists can only get a grant for the disciplines available for that fiscal year: crafts, design, media arts, photography and visual arts disciplines on odd fiscal years, and dance, literature, music, and theater disciplines in the even fiscal years.

Thus, this workshop will be pertinent to those artists working in the disciplines of dance, literature, music and theater. The amount of grant money requested can range up to $2,000.

The workshop will last two hours and instruct participants about the program and its requirements. Artists will learn basic grant writing tips, the deadlines for the Individual Artist Grant Program and the online process. It’s free, but you must register by 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 17.

To register, email Sharon Gamble at sgamble@phoenixtheatre.org with your name and phone number or call her at 635-2381.

For more info, visit the IAC at www.in.gov/arts/individualartistprogram.htm.

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Learning more about writing nonfiction

Posted By on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 9:00 AM

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A slightly-nasty Saturday was worth braving on December 11 for Getting Serious about Your Nonfiction Book, a class sponsored by the Writers’ Center of Indiana. The workshop met at the Wayne Branch Library (198 S. Girls School Road), not hard to find despite incorrect directions on my iPhone, and was led by Skip Berry, a poet, essayist, and former visual arts writer for The Indianapolis Star. Berry, the author of several nonfiction books, brought along handouts and shared a LOT of great information about the publication process. Though there is a lot of work to get done when it comes to writing a book, from research to learning how to effectively market your product, the workshop made it feel as though that work is both possible and worth the reward of getting it done.

The workshop was well attended — I counted 14 people besides myself — and, to my amusement, looked like a casting call for a Benetton ad. Interests in book subjects varied wildly. I’m interested in putting together a book of poems and essays. The woman behind me wanted to write a book because “she likes to tell people what to do.” Another woman, a business owner, wanted to write a business book extolling the virtues of diversity in the workplace. Across the room, a gentleman was interested in public policy and economics. One lady was there simply because she felt like she was supposed to write a book.

Berry cautioned the group to protect ourselves as writers, that the journey of writing a book could take a couple years. I was reminded of various assignment sheets from my college days when we were instructed to ask, “Who is my audience?” When Berry asked what we would be willing to give up in order to write our books, my first thought was “television.” (A not-as-valiant move when I consider how I’ve taken to watching Netflix programming on my laptop.)

Though I can’t go into all that Berry discussed in this space, I can tell you that self-publication is growing in popularity via print-on-demand presses, that a book proposal shouldn’t be accompanied by any marketing tricks like an envelope filled with glitter (I don’t care if you ARE writing about especially-sparkly vampires), and that social networks are changing the way books are promoted. Berry also recommends Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents, an annual guide available for around $30, as the quintessential reference book for any writer seeking business contacts.

Visit the Writers’ Center of Indiana’s website for more information about upcoming classes. Some cost money but some, like Berry’s workshop, are free. Makes it even more fun to soak up all that knowledge.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The tortured artist: "Modigliani" (DVD)

Posted By on Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 12:02 AM

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A few months ago, NUVO's intrepid web editor, Laura McPhee, posted a clip from 2004's Modigliani (starring Andy Garcia) on her Facebook page, calling the five-minute excerpt "her kind of porn."

I watched the clip. I liked it. About six weeks ago, I joined Netflix after housesitting for friends with nicer stuff than I own. Last night, I added Modigliani to my instant queue. I saw the former excerpt in context.

I get the porn thing now.

Artists. Wine. Rain. Paris in 1920. Strained relationships. Addiction. Phrases like “Make your point, Spaniard.” Ah! The tragedy was delicious.

Before watching the film, I knew nothing of Modigliani besides his style of painting. I didn’t know he was 36 when he died, that he had a child and wife, that he and Picasso did not get along. I was taken in within minutes of the movie beginning, from Modi — as the artist was known to his friends — jumping on a table to announce his arrival at a café. (I don’t care if that was fictional; it was sexy.) I spent the two hours absorbing details of his life and now want to know more about his history.

When Miriam Margolyes, the actress portraying Gertrude Stein, appeared, I fairly squealed. I recently read a little about her life in Paris, about her salon that featured work by Picasso and Matisse, about some of the writers whom she knew, like Hemingway. I try to imagine a life like that, where painters and scribes who are world famous now formed friendships and drew support for their work. It makes me want to start my own artists’ salon to see what happens. At the very least, we can drink a lot of red wine. It’s for, um, research.

If you’re looking for a good art film rife with complications — we’re talking hallucinations, people locked in insane asylums, religious bigotry, censorship, early deaths, and what appeared to be a gay geisha party — this is the film for you. I’ve a handful of stars and I’m giving them all to Modigliani.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Book launch: 'Shadows Set in Concrete'

Posted By on Mon, Dec 13, 2010 at 9:00 AM

J.L. Kato
  • JL Kato

The great Bookmamas (9 S. Johnson Avenue) hosted a book launch party and reading for poet J.L. Kato on Sunday afternoon, whose collection Shadows Set in Concrete was recently published. Snowpocalypse 2010 didn't appear to keep anyone home — I believe I counted 30 people in the room — and everyone listened attentively as Kato shared his work. It is a testament to his words that I forgot I was sitting but a few feet away from a cake.

Kato read entirely from his book, including "Jun, ken, pon," a look at rock, paper, and scissors, and a personal favorite, "Avant-Garde Assassination," read in honor of the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's passing:

"She folds / a fragile crane. / December wind. / Yoko's mobile spins. / She holds John / to her breast."

"At the Breakfast Table" looks on his mother in younger years:

"I remember when
she was tall
a woman in her prime
who wore lipstick
thermometer red.
Mercury reaching
a hundred degrees,
a fevered life
of stretching
nylons over her knee,
parading smoke rings
across the air."

"Festival of Dolls," the first poem to appear in the book, is also the last piece, translated into Japanese. The poem, written from Kato's mother's viewpoint as a young woman living in Fukuoka in 1945, talks of mushroom clouds and playing with dolls. I don't read or speak Japanese, but I find myself scanning the beautiful writing in a search of favorite lines like "precious potatoes," "I stole a sack of red plums," or the final stanza, "So much for a hungry girl / with eyes for America / land of silk and money." I close my eyes and lose the language barrier, imagining firework bursts of color, shadows burned into concrete by an atomic bomb blast, a young girl who will survive it all to raise a poet.

For information about ordering a copy of Kato's book, email info@restorationpress.com.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Arts: Weekend Preview

Posted By on Fri, Dec 10, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Chelsey Wood and Stephanie Kucsera star in UIndys gender-bending version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.
  • Submitted photo
  • Chelsey Wood and Stephanie Kucsera star in UIndy's gender-bending version of "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead."

All right, my little pretties, while you are biding your time, awaiting the arrival of Wicked (Dec. 15), there’s plenty of happenings goin’ on to keep you happy.

If it’s the holidays, then you know there’s a Nutcracker going on. Or two. Or three. Or… Gregory Hancock rolls out his always-beloved Nutcracker, with a modern take on the classic as this version of The Nutcracker finds Clara orphaned and homeless. Show runs Friday, Dec.10, 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 11, 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 12 at 2:00 p.m. at the Pike Performing Arts Center (6701 Zionsville Road). Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and seniors and available by calling 216-5450 or online at www.pikepac.org.

Then there’s Handel’s Messiah, a must touchstone for the holidays, right? This performance unites the talents of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Kirk Trevor, along with the Tabernacle and Fairview Presbyterian Church sanctuary choirs. Handel’s Messiah is one of the world’s most performed choral works, and we wager if there is life on other planets, those creatures would recognize it as well. Soloists include Emily Albrink, soprano; Lexa Ferrill, mezzo-soprano; Brian Stucki, tenor; and Kyle Ferrill, bass-baritone. The concert will be held at the Tabernacle Presbyterian Church (418 East 34th Street) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $25/adult, $10/student; call the ICO at 940-9607 or visit www.icomusic.org.

On Tuesday, Dec. 14, the popular Jabberwocky series continues with their holiday installment, “Ho, Ho, Oh!” If you haven’t been to Jabberwocky, you’re missing out. Generally, they invite a few story tellers along a theme, then open up the fun to the entire room. That’s right, everybody gets their moment in the storytelling sun! So bring your Hanukkah tales, your mistletoe secrets, or even an anecdote about childhood celebrations complete with eggnog and ugly sweaters. Meets at the IndyFringe Theatre (719 E. St Clair Street) at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 and available online at http://indyfringe.org.

Theater performances we reviewed

Need a break from the holidays? A little Tom Stoppard will help! UIndy’s theater department is staging Stoppard’s brilliant existential play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. NUVO Critic Josefa Beyer gave the show a whopping 4.5 stars had this to say about this production: “UIndy reminds us that in Tom Stoppard’s (Shakespeare in Love) Tony-award winning play, the fuss is about language — clever, playful and frightening. Turning Shakespeare’s Hamlet inside out, Stoppard focuses on two minor characters, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and their funny, disturbing struggle to understand (ala Waiting for Godot tramps) their roles onstage and in life. Time weighs on them between their few scenes with Hamlet, but for us, it is like watching Laurel and Hardy on acid.” Directed by Brad Wright and presented at Esch Hall Studio, the version of R&G features two female actresses in the normally-male roles. Beyer calls the performances of Chelsey Wood and Stephanie Kucsera “perfect.” We’re going, dude! Through Dec. 11.; 788-3251; www.theatre.uindy.edu.

Beyer also saw Santaland Diaries, adapted by Joe Mantello from David Sedaris’ essay about working as Macy store elf. It’s one-man production, directed by Randy White, featuring a 3.5 star performance by Scot Greenwell. Beyer says it’s “easy to enjoy an hour of Greenwell’s sardonic descriptions of workers perky and grisly, parents and children who make or break Christmas posing for pictures on Santa’s lap, and the author’s personal fantasy, working in soap opera…. Greenwell — a proven local talent — has just begun to tap all he could from this one-man performance. His impersonation of Billie Holiday singing for a terrified youngster begins to fathom the possibilities. Through Dec.12; 721-9458; www.indyfringe.org.

The Phoenix’s A Very Phoenix X-Mas 5: Regifted revisits holiday scenes of old, presenting the “best of the best” shorts selected from Phoenix X-mas’ past. Each year, Phoenix reaches out to local writers to write short, hilarious plays about the holiday season, and this is their best-of-the-best showcase. Our critic, Katelyn Coyne gives the show 3 stars and says: “If you’re in the market for a variety show with humor, flare and real spirit this holiday season, A Very Phoenix X-mas 5 is a great choice. Through Dec. 19; 635-PLAY; www.phoenixtheatre.org.

Finally, A Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre Christmas opened last week and critic Rita Kohn gave the show 3.5 stars, saying it is a “show with a lot of heart, belly laughs and fine singing and dancing. Presented as a classic TV variety show with the inimitable Eddie Curry as host, it’s a race to the finish with his perfectly timed groaners. The versatile cast of 16 singers/dancers and six musicians delivers high energy, high kicks, enjoyable harmony and finely tuned character acting in 28 song and dance numbers, skits and stories.” The show runs through Dec. 23; 872-9664; www.beefandboards.com.

See you out there!

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Digh-hard fan

Posted By on Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 10:00 PM

Patti Digh poses with copies of her first book, Life is a Verb
  • Patti Digh poses with copies of her first book, Life is a Verb

A few years ago, I followed a link from a blog I can no longer name and found my way to the world of Patti Digh. The author and public speaker maintains a blog called 37 Days, which she started after her stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died a short 37 days later. Digh writes her blog, in part, as a means of leaving something tangible and meaningful for her daughters, ever cognizant of time and how quickly it truly passes.

When Digh announced that she would be conducting a book tour, I half-shrugged, figuring I would be hoofing it to Chicago to hear her. But there it was. December 7. Indianapolis. The Barnes & Noble at 3748 East 82nd Street. Holy shit! She and I began to communicate every so often via Twitter and I succeeded at keeping my crazy tamped down as what I affectionately called Patti Digh Day approached. It was fun — and a little weird — to meet someone I’ve been reading for years, whose life and family I have electronically been introduced to. 37 Days leaves me feeling breathless, inspired, and renewed towards the art I create. It’s also where I was introduced to the work of a poet named Maya Stein, a woman of equally exquisite words.

37 Days is a good place to go to feel, to sink into an essay and discover a world outside yourself, to be reminded of the beauty that is all around us. Here’s a link to the essay that started it all for me, the story of a young woman named Meta who passed away after a car accident.

Digh read from her latest book, Creative is a Verb: If You’re Alive, You’re Creative, to a small crowd of women, including one reader who had come to Indy from Dayton, Ohio. The author continues on to Franklin, IN, today and then heads out of state for her next reading. I am thrilled to have heard her read, especially as I continue bringing art into my life more fully. I look forward to Digh’s next reading, red cowboy boots and all.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Ho-ho-home for the holidays

Posted By on Mon, Dec 6, 2010 at 11:43 AM

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I’m not one for decorating during the holidays but I feel I am becoming that person. So far, I’ve accumulated a tangled mass of Christmas lights that have been strung up at my various apartments. I also have — somewhere — three whole ornaments for a tree I do not own. The year I purchased the ornaments, I hung them on a lamp that I christened Fred the Christmas Halogen. What? It’s quirky and I’m an artist so I can get away with it.

My collection of holiday items has begun to grow. Last year, I purchased plates and mugs with snowpeople on them and I recently noted the price of a welcome mat which features an ice-skating reindeer. It would seem my decorations fall under the So Cute It’s Sickening category. I’m okay with that.

I look forward most to the winter holidays because my family is together. When I was a kid, we would drive around and look at the lights. Perhaps that is a tradition we can pick up again this year, especially with Broad Ripple Lights Up! taking place soon. My brother, who normally lives in Arizona, can come home to snow and the revelry of the season. My favorite time will be on Christmas Eve when everyone is together at my parents’ house. While my mom and brother exercise their culinary talents in the kitchen, my dad and I will putter around the house, putting on holiday music and lighting candles, the sound of our slippers scuffing the floors. I’ll add my ornaments to my parents’ tree and set out the decorations that have been in our family for decades. And then I will lay in wait for Santa, cookies in one hand and a camera in the other.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Nuts about "Nutcracker"s and other great shows this weekend

Posted By on Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 2:00 PM

Santaland Diaries stars Scot Greenwell
  • "Santaland Diaries" stars Scot Greenwell

Great theater and dance awaits you this weekend as local theaters and dance companies roll out their holiday fare:

If you know NUVO, you know we LOVE David Sedaris. Cardinal Stage Company, based in Bloomington, is an equity theater that’s burst onto the scene recently, and this is their first foray into Indianapolis, and boy, is it a good choice. Indy’s own Scot Greenwell stars in Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries, the hilarious saga of Sedaris’ stint as a Macy’s elf. NUVO reviewer Josefa Beyer gives the show 3.5 stars has this to say about Scot Greenwell: “Greenwell — a proven local talent — has just begun to tap all he could from this one-man performance. His impersonation of Billie Holiday singing for a terrified youngster begins to fathom the possibilities.” For her complete review, see nuvo.net. Santaland Diaries runs Dec. 2-12 at IndyFringe, 719 E. St. Clair Street, 721-9458, www.cardinalstage.org. For more info, you can email: fo@indyfringe.org.

R&G are GIRLS!

Also opening this weekend is UIndy’s gender-bending take on Tom Stoppard’s play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Stoppard took Hamlet and re-wrote it from the viewpoint of two minor, throwaway characters, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. UIndy takes it a step further and casts females (Chelsey Wood and Stephanie Kucsera) in the roles of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Sounds like fun to us; see Josefa’s review of this play on Monday. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead starts at 8:00 p.m., Friday, at Esch Hall, Studio Theatre on the campus of the University of Indianapolis (1400 East Hanna Avenue), with shows also on Saturday, Sunday and Thursday through Saturday of next week all at the same 8 p.m. time. Admission is $10 for the public or $8 dollars for students, seniors or groups of eight or more. For tickets, call (317) 788-3251.

We’re nuts about NUTS!

‘Tis the season where we go CRAZY trying to keep track of all the Nutcrackers. Someday, we hope to see them all on stage, simultaneously, a cast of hundreds, attended by tens of thousands of people — can we book Lucas Stadium perhaps? This week, Butler unveils their Nutcracker, featuring the Butler Symphony Orchestra and the Indianapolis Children's choir. What’s special about this Nutcracker is that Butler Ballet melds choreography by several faculty members in creating a dimensional take on the familiar Nutcracker story. Tickets for an adult range from $21.50 to $28.50, while tickets for children, students and seniors range from $17 to $23. Group discount rates are available for groups of 15 or more. The show runs through Sunday, Dec. 5, with performance times varying depending on the day. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.cloweshall.org or call (317) 940-6444. See Rita Kohn’s review on Monday.

Finally, we’re super excited about an alternative Nutcracker presented by the always-compelling NoExit Theatre. Gorgeanna Smith is directing, and her direction of the 2009 production of Antigone at the IMA is one of the best-reviewed shows in NUVO we’ve seen in recent years. So there’s lots of excitement around their dark take on the venerable Nutcracker. See it at the Wheeler Building, 1035 Sanders St., Friday and Saturday (Dec. 3 & 4) at 8:00 p.m. and next Thursday-Saturday (Dec. 9-11) at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 general, $10 for students. See www.noexitperformance.org for more, and see our review of the performance on Monday.

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