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The Arts in Atlanta


Check out Atlanta's most comprehensive arts & culture calendar. We've been covering arts and culture in Atlanta since 1972 and have a team of critics to guide you with Visual Art reviews, festivals, art event listings, and Theatre and Dance reviews.

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Art Features and Reviews

Explore CL's monthly arts column, Scenes & Motions, by Edward McNally and other art and culture reviews.

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  string(52) "SCENES & MOTIONS: Not me. Us: six chances to connect"
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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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  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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  string(6142) "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.

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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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  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.

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-    CHRISTINA MASSAD FENCE: ‘Dancers delineate and rearrange space.’  0,0,10    scenes&motions "scenes and motions" dance arts atlanta culture "Fence"                             SCENES AND MOTIONS: ‘fence’ allows painful memories to escape "
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Culture, Dance

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.

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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.

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“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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  string(7799) " Curious Publicity Email  2019-09-05T14:40:54+00:00 curious-publicity-email.jpeg    scenes&motions ‘A Curious Incident,’ indeed 22838  2019-09-05T14:44:40+00:00 SCENES AND MOTIONS: ‘The Dog in the Night-Time’ tony.paris@creativeloafing.com Tony Paris EDWARD MCNALLY Edward McNally 2019-09-05T14:44:40+00:00  !!!!“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/
     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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Culture, A&E Feature, Theater, Theater Feature, Homepage

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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  string(10974) " SM 60269687 2487885001438939 328309653748318208 O  2019-07-05T14:47:56+00:00 SM_60269687_2487885001438939_328309653748318208_o.jpg    scenes&motions How immersive performances in the ATL are redefining the theatre experience 20098  2019-07-05T14:41:22+00:00 SCENES & MOTIONS: Breaking Through jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Edward McNally Edward McNally 2019-07-05T14:41:22+00:00  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 …”
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Culture, A&E Feature, Theater, Theater Feature, Homepage

Friday July 5, 2019 10:41 am EDT
How immersive performances in the ATL are redefining the theatre experience | more...
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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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!!!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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Culture, A&E Feature, Theater, Theater Feature, Homepage

Thursday May 30, 2019 06:05 pm EDT
Demanding dignity and justice in the Gilded Age | more...
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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."
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  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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Culture, Performance Art, Theater, Theater Feature, Visual Arts , Homepage

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.

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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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‘Skeleton Crew’ and ‘The Pitmen Painters’ | more...
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Wednesday August 28, 2019 10:48 am EDT
The Artistic Director of the Atlanta Philharmonic Orchestra on inclusivity and diversity in classical music | more...
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  string(262) "Atlanta Ballet
Founded in 1929, Atlanta Ballet — www.atlantaballet.com — is considered one of the premier dance companies in the country. Atlanta Ballet’s eclectic repertoire spans ballet history, highlighted by beloved classics and inventive originals..."
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!!Atlanta Ballet
Founded in 1929, Atlanta Ballet — www.atlantaballet.com — is considered one of the premier dance companies in the country. Atlanta Ballet’s eclectic repertoire spans ballet history, highlighted by beloved classics and inventive originals. In 1996, Atlanta Ballet opened the Centre for Dance Education (CDE), which is dedicated to nurturing young dancers while providing an outlet for adults to express their creativity. The CDE serves over 23,000 people in metro Atlanta each year. Atlanta Ballet’s roots remain firmly grounded in the Atlanta community and continue to play a vital role in the city’s cultural growth.


“Love Fear Loss,” by Brazilian choreographer Ricardo Amarante, is the centerpiece work of the opening program of the company’s 90th season, It follows the love story of French singer Édith Piaf from the high of new love, through the fear of intimacy slipping away, to the tragedy of losing her lifelong partner. Amarante has described his work as a celebration of the human condition and the beauty that arises from even the darkest moments in life.  The program will also include a remounting of “Vespertine,” the hypnotic 2017 work by British choreographer Liam Scarlett, a world premiere commissioned work by New York-based Claudia Schreier and a guest performance by New York-based Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

 

!!Caló Gitano Dance Academy
Marianela “Malita” Belloso was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and has been dancing flamenco for practically her entire life. She started when she was only six years old. By the time she was nine, she was already performing on television and in major flamenco stage productions with Siudy Quintero Dance Academy, the largest flamenco dance academy in Venezuela. Malita arrived in Atlanta in 2000 and formed the flamenco performance company Caló Gitano – www.calogitano.com – now the largest flamenco academy in Georgia. After opening Caló Dance Studio in Kirkwood nine years ago, Malita trained a group of advanced flamenco dancers and formed partnerships with other artists and musicians to create large-scale theater works and original flamenco musical productions as Caló Theatre Company  

!!Core Dance
Core Dance – www.coredance.org  – was co-founded in 1980 in Houston, Texas, by dancer and choreographer Sue Schroeder and her sister, Kathy Russell. Five years later, the organization added Atlanta, Georgia, as a second home base. Over four decades, Core has performed 125 pieces of original choreography across the globe, collaborating with the renowned and the obscure. The company actively encourages participation and conversation with the community, sharing what they know about bodies and movement with those dealing with abuse, homelessness, language barriers, refugee status, substance abuse, aging, and HIV/AIDS.

“If… a memoir” is a love song written for humanity. Sue Schroeder in collaboration with the Dance Artists of Core Dance, Christian Meyer (composer), and Simon Gentry (cinematographer) will create an evening-length, physical theater choreo-poem. According to Schroeder, “this new work will draw from early 1950s Beat Generation culture and influences including jazz-inspired rhythm, improvisational spirit, rejection of standard narrative values and seeming disorganization with a deliberate effect.”

!!Department of Dance at Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw State University is home to Georgia’s largest collegiate dance program and Atlanta’s first theater designed specifically for dance. Through the program’s academic and practical experiences, students develop a holistic understanding of dance as an art form while also investigating dance as a method of analysis, a mode of enquiry, and an aesthetic experience. The Department’s collaborative partnerships provide students with uniquely valuable opportunities. This year, KSU Dance launched a new partnership with Terminus Modern Ballet Theater, directly connecting students to the professional practice of dance. 

September 27, KSU Dance – www.arts.kennesaw.edu/dance – presents The Charlotte Ballet performing Johan Inger’s “Walking Mad,” a piece inspired by a quote from Socrates: “Our greatest gifts come to us in a state of madness.” KSU’s student dance company will premiere “Slang,” a new work in November.

!!Emory Dance
Emory Dance – www.dance.emory.edu –  presents a wide range of public programming each year, including Emory Dance Company concerts, the Friends of Dance Lecture Series, guest artists, dance on film presentations, and informal and site-specific performances and events. Through the Candler Concert Series, Emory Dance presents some of the finest modern dance choreographers and companies, including The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Monica Bill Barnes & Company, David Dorfoman Dance, Doug Varone and Dancers, Urban Bush Women, the José Limón Dance Company, and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet.

September 19, the Emory Dance Program presents a Creativity Conversation with visiting artist Dafi Altebeb, a young Israeli musician, dancer, and choreographer who has performed throughout the world. Her original dance works have premiered in major international festivals, including Internationale Tanzmesse (Dusseldorf), Les Brigittines Centre d’Art Contemporain (Brussels), Chang Mu International Dance Festival (Seoul), Ballet Preljocaj – Pavillion Noir (France), ​and Napoli Theater Festival (Italy). 

As a child in his native Iran 40 years ago, Emory Dance faculty member George Staib witnessed up close the frightening reality of religious revolution. In October, he and his brilliant company Staibdance present “Fence,” their most political and socially driven dance work to date. “Fence” examines how “otherness” can take your power or fuel it. Staib blends intensely physical movement vocabulary with traditional Iranian dance, and uses original music, lighting, and digital effects to weave the audience directly into the work.

!!Ferst Center for the Arts
The Georgia Tech Office of the Arts operates the Ferst Center for the Arts – www.arts.gatech.edu/artstech-performance-series – which presents the Arts@Tech season of professional music, dance, theater, and multimedia performances from September to April. The Georgia Tech School of Music performs multiple concerts at the Center, and DramaTech, the student theater group, performs in the James E. Dull Theatre in the back of the building. Arts@Tech has brought some of the most innovative and exciting multimedia works to be seen in the city, showcasing the highest in music and dance talents along with cutting-edge digital technologies. The works explore and explode themes of disability/mobility design, interconnectivity, LGBTQ living, and cultural celebration.


The Ferst will be the site of two of the most exciting “Don’t Miss!” productions of 2019: “Dökk by fuse*” (October 4) and “Kinetic Light: DESCENT” (November 23).


“Dökk” blends light, sound, and movement into a mind-blowing, multidimensional universe created by fuse*, an Italian digital art studio and production company. Aerial dancer Elena Annovi moves through a sequence of 10 other-worldly environments created by software that synthesizes data from social media, the sound score, the dancer’s heartbeat, and her movements. 

“DESCENT” by Kinetic Light is an evening-length dance work, choreographed by Alice Sheppard in collaboration with disabled dancer Laurel Lawson and disabled lighting and video artist Michael Maag. Featuring a unique, architectural stage that acts as a partner in the choreography and storytelling, and performed on an architectural ramp with hills, curves and peaks, “DESCENT” celebrates the pleasure of reckless abandon. The ramp is a landscape that generates its own site-specific movement as dancers Laurel and Alice discover new experiences of acceleration, resistance, and momentum. Andromeda and Venus, reimagined as interracial lovers, claim their desire as their wheelchairs fly within inches of the ramp’s edges. The thrilling work challenges our assumptions about social justice, movement and embodiment, and art and architecture. 

!!Fly On A Wall
Since their inception in 2014, Fly on a Wall – www.flyonawall.buzz – has created a body of work which includes multimedia performance, installation, and dance for film. They have been presented by Dashboard, the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Contemporary, Art on the Atlanta BeltLine, Synchronicity Theatre, Eyedrum Art and Music Gallery, the City of Duluth, and the Marietta Performing Arts Center. 

Fly on a Wall’s work best reveals itself through inventive theatrical elements that often manifest as performative structures. These elements are integral to the work and allow the audience new dimensions with which to view it. Performance structures that Fly on a Wall has created include: large plexiglass prisms for Art on the Atlanta Beltline, a tandem bicycle generating power for a light bulb in Dashboard’s “Shifting Scapes,” an abstract home made of 20-foot-high. floor-to-ceiling paper panels inside an abandoned castor factory. Once completed, each of these structures house Fly on a Wall’s unique blend of movement and theater.

This month, Fly on a Wall is bringing Anna Long from Chicago to teach three Gaga/dancers classes and one Gaga/people class throughout the weekend. Anyone interested may drop in to a single class or purchase class passes. Space is limited, it is recommended to register early.

On Sunday, August 25, stop by The Windmill Arts Center in East Point to celebrate Fly's one-year anniversary at the Windmill as artists-in-residence with Vanguard Repertory Company. Meet team members, hang out for free refreshments, and find out what Fly on a Wall has in store for the coming year.

!!glo
In 2009, dance/choreographer Lauri Stallings and her partner, production specialist Richard Carvlin, founded the Atlanta-based company glo –  www.gloatl.org. Today, glo’s “moving artists” include Kristina Brown, Noëlle Davé, Christina Kelly, Raina Mitchell, Cailan Orn, Mary Jane Pennington, and Mechelle Tunstall. Stallings and her dancers seem to be constantly performing all over metro Atlanta and Georgia and beyond, often in public spaces, including NYC’s Central Park. Over the past decade, glo has presented civic actions, world premiere performance experiments, an international curated live art series, and public art tours across the state. The company regularly collaborates with orchestral conductors, filmmakers, rappers, and fashion and visual artists to, in Stalling’s words, “help revitalize identity in the American South.” 

Stallings is uniquely obsessed with the ways choreography can identify and amplify the fluid nature of a city. The choreographer believes that movement with a social conscience is a critical component in creating group empathy and goodwill. That’s why she and glo’s movement artists love to construct “People Parades” for folks to come together in a public place to sit, skip, stand, kneel, walk-in 2’s, prance, waltz, spin, shuffle, be still, and twist.” 

Now, as Artist in Residence of the High Museum of Art, Lauri Stallings has constructed MAPPING: Public Choreographies to loop around the entire High Museum Campus. From 12:30–1:15 p.m., every Thursday and Saturday in August, Stallings and glo invite the Atlanta community to join them on the grass of the High Museum for MAPPING: Public Choreographies. For 45 minutes, anyone can come, watch ,or join however they want..

!!Rialto Center for the Arts
The Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University – www.rialto.gsu.edu – is located in one of the oldest parts of the city, downtown’s historic Fairlie-Poplar District. It opened a century ago as one of Atlanta’s first large movie houses, a decade before the Fabulous Fox. After major renovations for the 1996 Olympics, the Rialto became part of GSU’s ever-expanding campus. The annual Rialto (subscription) Series has presented an eclectic mix of world music, jazz, contemporary dance, and international programs. “Ailey II: The Next Generation of Dance” returns to the Rialto October 26. Artistic Director Troy Powell guides Ailey II’s signature pristine performances built on dynamic movement and brilliant technique.

!!Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre
The city we know as Atlanta was founded in the 1820s as Terminus. The five founding members of Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre – www.terminus-serenbe.com – came together to celebrate their shared home as a place where cultures intersect. Now in their second season, these experienced dance artists combine ballet and modern influences to create new theatrical dance works. 

On August 3, TMBT jump starts the school year and the return of their “pop up” open class series. Attend an open house at Westside Cultural Arts Center for free dance class offerings, light bites, door prizes, and a special presentation by Atlanta Optimal Performance Symposium.

Terminus opens its second season performing at Serenbe with “Lore,” the story of two siblings who share the collected heritage of their community. The work touches on the oral histories passed down through generations. TMBT invites audiences to gather around a fire as night falls in The Hollow at Serenbe to experience “Lore” October 11–20.

!!Zoetic Dance
::::
Since its first public performance in 2001, Zoetic Dance Ensemble – www.zoeticdance.org – has been a team of strong women, led by strong women. Zoetic’s dynamically athletic work embodies the feminine spirit and celebrates the power of the female body. Since 2001, their passion for female expression has attracted a range of creative women to share their visions, voices and stories of female empowerment. Zoetic, under the creative leadership of Mallory Baxley, enjoys a special partnership with Whitespace Gallery in Inman Park, which is where they’ll kick off their 2019-2020 season with a party and a preview of their upcoming work, “Saint.” The site for that December premiere will be Ambient+Studios, which began as a 109-year-old factory space near West End. “Saint” will feature original music by Xavier “Xay Zoleil” Lewis, costume design by Hannah James, and unique graphic design by Morgan Tanksley.



Return to Fall Arts Preview 2019 "
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!!Atlanta Ballet
Founded in 1929, Atlanta Ballet — www.atlantaballet.com — is considered one of the premier dance companies in the country. Atlanta Ballet’s eclectic repertoire spans ballet history, highlighted by beloved classics and inventive originals. In 1996, Atlanta Ballet opened the Centre for Dance Education (CDE), which is dedicated to nurturing young dancers while providing an outlet for adults to express their creativity. The CDE serves over 23,000 people in metro Atlanta each year. Atlanta Ballet’s roots remain firmly grounded in the Atlanta community and continue to play a vital role in the city’s cultural growth.

{img fileId="21508" stylebox="float: left; margin-right:25px;" desc="desc" max="600"}
“Love Fear Loss,” by Brazilian choreographer Ricardo Amarante, is the centerpiece work of the opening program of the company’s 90th season, It follows the love story of French singer Édith Piaf from the high of new love, through the fear of intimacy slipping away, to the tragedy of losing her lifelong partner. Amarante has described his work as a celebration of the human condition and the beauty that arises from even the darkest moments in life.  The program will also include a remounting of “Vespertine,” the hypnotic 2017 work by British choreographer Liam Scarlett, a world premiere commissioned work by New York-based Claudia Schreier and a guest performance by New York-based Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

 

!!Caló Gitano Dance Academy
Marianela “Malita” Belloso was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and has been dancing flamenco for practically her entire life. She started when she was only six years old. By the time she was nine, she was already performing on television and in major flamenco stage productions with Siudy Quintero Dance Academy, the largest flamenco dance academy in Venezuela. Malita arrived in Atlanta in 2000 and formed the flamenco performance company Caló Gitano – www.calogitano.com – now the largest flamenco academy in Georgia. After opening Caló Dance Studio in Kirkwood nine years ago, Malita trained a group of advanced flamenco dancers and formed partnerships with other artists and musicians to create large-scale theater works and original flamenco musical productions as Caló Theatre Company  

!!Core Dance
Core Dance – www.coredance.org  – was co-founded in 1980 in Houston, Texas, by dancer and choreographer Sue Schroeder and her sister, Kathy Russell. Five years later, the organization added Atlanta, Georgia, as a second home base. Over four decades, Core has performed 125 pieces of original choreography across the globe, collaborating with the renowned and the obscure. The company actively encourages participation and conversation with the community, sharing what they know about bodies and movement with those dealing with abuse, homelessness, language barriers, refugee status, substance abuse, aging, and HIV/AIDS.

“If… a memoir” is a love song written for humanity. Sue Schroeder in collaboration with the Dance Artists of Core Dance, Christian Meyer (composer), and Simon Gentry (cinematographer) will create an evening-length, physical theater choreo-poem. According to Schroeder, “this new work will draw from early 1950s Beat Generation culture and influences including jazz-inspired rhythm, improvisational spirit, rejection of standard narrative values and seeming disorganization with a deliberate effect.”

!!Department of Dance at Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw State University is home to Georgia’s largest collegiate dance program and Atlanta’s first theater designed specifically for dance. Through the program’s academic and practical experiences, students develop a holistic understanding of dance as an art form while also investigating dance as a method of analysis, a mode of enquiry, and an aesthetic experience. The Department’s collaborative partnerships provide students with uniquely valuable opportunities. This year, KSU Dance launched a new partnership with Terminus Modern Ballet Theater, directly connecting students to the professional practice of dance. 

September 27, KSU Dance – www.arts.kennesaw.edu/dance – presents The Charlotte Ballet performing Johan Inger’s “Walking Mad,” a piece inspired by a quote from Socrates: “Our greatest gifts come to us in a state of madness.” KSU’s student dance company will premiere “Slang,” a new work in November.

!!Emory Dance
Emory Dance – www.dance.emory.edu –  presents a wide range of public programming each year, including Emory Dance Company concerts, the Friends of Dance Lecture Series, guest artists, dance on film presentations, and informal and site-specific performances and events. Through the Candler Concert Series, Emory Dance presents some of the finest modern dance choreographers and companies, including The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Monica Bill Barnes & Company, David Dorfoman Dance, Doug Varone and Dancers, Urban Bush Women, the José Limón Dance Company, and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet.

September 19, the Emory Dance Program presents a Creativity Conversation with visiting artist Dafi Altebeb, a young Israeli musician, dancer, and choreographer who has performed throughout the world. Her original dance works have premiered in major international festivals, including Internationale Tanzmesse (Dusseldorf), Les Brigittines Centre d’Art Contemporain (Brussels), Chang Mu International Dance Festival (Seoul), Ballet Preljocaj – Pavillion Noir (France), ​and Napoli Theater Festival (Italy). 

As a child in his native Iran 40 years ago, Emory Dance faculty member George Staib witnessed up close the frightening reality of religious revolution. In October, he and his brilliant company Staibdance present “Fence,” their most political and socially driven dance work to date. “Fence” examines how “otherness” can take your power or fuel it. Staib blends intensely physical movement vocabulary with traditional Iranian dance, and uses original music, lighting, and digital effects to weave the audience directly into the work.

!!Ferst Center for the Arts
The Georgia Tech Office of the Arts operates the Ferst Center for the Arts – www.arts.gatech.edu/artstech-performance-series – which presents the Arts@Tech season of professional music, dance, theater, and multimedia performances from September to April. The Georgia Tech School of Music performs multiple concerts at the Center, and DramaTech, the student theater group, performs in the James E. Dull Theatre in the back of the building. Arts@Tech has brought some of the most innovative and exciting multimedia works to be seen in the city, showcasing the highest in music and dance talents along with cutting-edge digital technologies. The works explore and explode themes of disability/mobility design, interconnectivity, LGBTQ living, and cultural celebration.

{img fileId="21485" stylebox="float: right; margin-left:25px;" desc="desc" max="600"}
The Ferst will be the site of two of the most exciting “Don’t Miss!” productions of 2019: “Dökk by fuse*” (October 4) and “Kinetic Light: DESCENT” (November 23).


“Dökk” blends light, sound, and movement into a mind-blowing, multidimensional universe created by fuse*, an Italian digital art studio and production company. Aerial dancer Elena Annovi moves through a sequence of 10 other-worldly environments created by software that synthesizes data from social media, the sound score, the dancer’s heartbeat, and her movements. 

“DESCENT” by Kinetic Light is an evening-length dance work, choreographed by Alice Sheppard in collaboration with disabled dancer Laurel Lawson and disabled lighting and video artist Michael Maag. Featuring a unique, architectural stage that acts as a partner in the choreography and storytelling, and performed on an architectural ramp with hills, curves and peaks, “DESCENT” celebrates the pleasure of reckless abandon. The ramp is a landscape that generates its own site-specific movement as dancers Laurel and Alice discover new experiences of acceleration, resistance, and momentum. Andromeda and Venus, reimagined as interracial lovers, claim their desire as their wheelchairs fly within inches of the ramp’s edges. The thrilling work challenges our assumptions about social justice, movement and embodiment, and art and architecture. 

!!Fly On A Wall
Since their inception in 2014, Fly on a Wall – www.flyonawall.buzz – has created a body of work which includes multimedia performance, installation, and dance for film. They have been presented by Dashboard, the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Contemporary, Art on the Atlanta BeltLine, Synchronicity Theatre, Eyedrum Art and Music Gallery, the City of Duluth, and the Marietta Performing Arts Center. 

Fly on a Wall’s work best reveals itself through inventive theatrical elements that often manifest as performative structures. These elements are integral to the work and allow the audience new dimensions with which to view it. Performance structures that Fly on a Wall has created include: large plexiglass prisms for Art on the Atlanta Beltline, a tandem bicycle generating power for a light bulb in Dashboard’s “Shifting Scapes,” an abstract home made of 20-foot-high. floor-to-ceiling paper panels inside an abandoned castor factory. Once completed, each of these structures house Fly on a Wall’s unique blend of movement and theater.

This month, Fly on a Wall is bringing Anna Long from Chicago to teach three Gaga/dancers classes and one Gaga/people class throughout the weekend. Anyone interested may drop in to a single class or purchase class passes. Space is limited, it is recommended to register early.

On Sunday, August 25, stop by The Windmill Arts Center in East Point to celebrate Fly's one-year anniversary at the Windmill as artists-in-residence with Vanguard Repertory Company. Meet team members, hang out for free refreshments, and find out what Fly on a Wall has in store for the coming year.

!!glo
In 2009, dance/choreographer Lauri Stallings and her partner, production specialist Richard Carvlin, founded the Atlanta-based company glo –  www.gloatl.org. Today, glo’s “moving artists” include Kristina Brown, Noëlle Davé, Christina Kelly, Raina Mitchell, Cailan Orn, Mary Jane Pennington, and Mechelle Tunstall. Stallings and her dancers seem to be constantly performing all over metro Atlanta and Georgia and beyond, often in public spaces, including NYC’s Central Park. Over the past decade, glo has presented civic actions, world premiere performance experiments, an international curated live art series, and public art tours across the state. The company regularly collaborates with orchestral conductors, filmmakers, rappers, and fashion and visual artists to, in Stalling’s words, “help revitalize identity in the American South.” 

Stallings is uniquely obsessed with the ways choreography can identify and amplify the fluid nature of a city. The choreographer believes that movement with a social conscience is a critical component in creating group empathy and goodwill. That’s why she and glo’s movement artists love to construct “People Parades” for folks to come together in a public place to sit, skip, stand, kneel, walk-in 2’s, prance, waltz, spin, shuffle, be still, and twist.” 

Now, as Artist in Residence of the High Museum of Art, Lauri Stallings has constructed MAPPING: Public Choreographies to loop around the entire High Museum Campus. From 12:30–1:15 p.m., every Thursday and Saturday in August, Stallings and glo invite the Atlanta community to join them on the grass of the High Museum for MAPPING: Public Choreographies. For 45 minutes, anyone can come, watch ,or join however they want..

!!Rialto Center for the Arts
The Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University – www.rialto.gsu.edu – is located in one of the oldest parts of the city, downtown’s historic Fairlie-Poplar District. It opened a century ago as one of Atlanta’s first large movie houses, a decade before the Fabulous Fox. After major renovations for the 1996 Olympics, the Rialto became part of GSU’s ever-expanding campus. The annual Rialto (subscription) Series has presented an eclectic mix of world music, jazz, contemporary dance, and international programs. “Ailey II: The Next Generation of Dance” returns to the Rialto October 26. Artistic Director Troy Powell guides Ailey II’s signature pristine performances built on dynamic movement and brilliant technique.

!!Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre
The city we know as Atlanta was founded in the 1820s as Terminus. The five founding members of Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre – www.terminus-serenbe.com – came together to celebrate their shared home as a place where cultures intersect. Now in their second season, these experienced dance artists combine ballet and modern influences to create new theatrical dance works. 

On August 3, TMBT jump starts the school year and the return of their “pop up” open class series. Attend an open house at Westside Cultural Arts Center for free dance class offerings, light bites, door prizes, and a special presentation by Atlanta Optimal Performance Symposium.

Terminus opens its second season performing at Serenbe with “Lore,” the story of two siblings who share the collected heritage of their community. The work touches on the oral histories passed down through generations. TMBT invites audiences to gather around a fire as night falls in The Hollow at Serenbe to experience “Lore” October 11–20.

!!Zoetic Dance
::{img fileId="21484" desc="desc" max="1000"}::
Since its first public performance in 2001, Zoetic Dance Ensemble – www.zoeticdance.org – has been a team of strong women, led by strong women. Zoetic’s dynamically athletic work embodies the feminine spirit and celebrates the power of the female body. Since 2001, their passion for female expression has attracted a range of creative women to share their visions, voices and stories of female empowerment. Zoetic, under the creative leadership of Mallory Baxley, enjoys a special partnership with Whitespace Gallery in Inman Park, which is where they’ll kick off their 2019-2020 season with a party and a preview of their upcoming work, “Saint.” The site for that December premiere will be Ambient+Studios, which began as a 109-year-old factory space near West End. “Saint” will feature original music by Xavier “Xay Zoleil” Lewis, costume design by Hannah James, and unique graphic design by Morgan Tanksley.

{BOX( bg="#f47d5c" style="padding:15px;")}
!!::~~#000000:POISED FOR GREAT PERFORMANCES~~::
!!!::~~#000000:Emerging dance collectives on the rise~~::

{DIV(class="byline clearfix")}__~~#000000:ANGELA HARRIS~~__{DIV}
{img fileId="21486" stylebox="float: right; margin-left:25px;" desc="desc" max="600"}~~#000000:Atlanta continues to emerge and evolve as a vibrant dance city that supports the visions and dreams of professional artists. Although longstanding companies, such as the Atlanta Ballet, Ballethnic, Georgia Ballet, Full Radius, and CORE, will always have a strong presence deserving of audiences’ time and support, recently, there is a new and expanded focus on developing a fresh crop of professional dance artists in the city.~~
~~#000000:Poised to make its mark on the national dance landscape, Atlanta has caught the eye of national companies interested in moving, touring, or relocating. Ivan Pulinkala, the new dean of the College of the Arts at Kennesaw State University, envisioned the __KSU Dance Theater__ as an attractive presence for companies seeking to make a new footprint in the metro area. Last season, KSU welcomed BalletX and LA-based Body Traffic; this fall, Charlotte Ballet graces the KSU Dance Theatre stage.
As Atlanta receives more notoriety as a film hub, the ripple of national attention spreads out to the greater arts community. Atlanta native __Juel D. Lane__ — a dancer, choreographer, filmmaker, and artist — marked the spring season with stellar new works performed nationally by the Ailey II dance company. The fresh images of Lane’s dance films, ''The Maestro'' and ''PRISM'', received national acclaim. Atlanta audiences will have a chance to enjoy his films at the 2019 BronzeLens Film Festival in August.
Atlanta still has a way to go to support full-time salaries for professional dance artists. But what the city lacks in employment opportunities, it makes it up through the many companies providing outlets for professional artists to hone their skills. 
For 12 seasons running, Dance Canvas has been a leader in providing resources for emerging professional dance artists, enabling choreographers to premiere work and audiences to witness newly emerging voices in dance. The company serves as a launching platform for artists and their work, from the aforementioned films of Juel D. Lane and the work of Atlanta Dance Collective’s artistic director Sarah Stokes, to Atlanta’s newest professional dance company, The Tap Rebels.
__Dance Canvas__ currently has a call-out for artists with a deadline of August 15 for choreographers seeking an opportunity to develop new work; premieres of the selected works will take place in March 2020 at the Ferst Center for the Arts.
Recent years have witnessed the emergence of artist collectives within the dance community. Audiences should be on the lookout for exciting new work from __Terminus Modern Ballet Theater__, founded by five former Atlanta Ballet principal dancers. __Atlanta Dance Collective__ features the work of resident choreographers and boasts a strong company of a dozen contemporary dancers. __Kit Modus__, based out of Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, and __ImmerseATL__, under the direction of Sarah Hillmer, formerly of Atlanta Ballet, offer opportunities for artists to develop work and train in a collaborative space with local and nationally based guest artists. T-Lang has developed __‘The Movement Lab’__, a new studio and dance hub “intended to nurture growth and innovation.”
With the many dance artists and dance productions being dreamed up, workshopped, and presented in Atlanta this fall — from ballet and contemporary to tap and dance on film — there is something for every dance lover’s taste. I encourage readers to try something new, see all the dance that is blossoming in Atlanta, and rediscover Atlanta’s dance legacies. We are rich in tradition and brimming with new ideas.
''Angela Harris is the executive artistic director of Dance Canvas, Inc.''~~
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  string(15274) " Dancer  2019-08-02T18:46:02+00:00 Dancer_sm.jpg    dance fall arts preview 2019 Interpretative and ritual, modern and folk, ballet and bharatanatyam 21499  2019-08-05T16:51:25+00:00 Fall Arts Preview 2019: Dance jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Edward McNally  2019-08-05T16:51:25+00:00 Atlanta Ballet
Founded in 1929, Atlanta Ballet — www.atlantaballet.com — is considered one of the premier dance companies in the country. Atlanta Ballet’s eclectic repertoire spans ballet history, highlighted by beloved classics and inventive originals... SIDEBAR: POISED FOR GREAT PERFORMANCES

!!Atlanta Ballet
Founded in 1929, Atlanta Ballet — www.atlantaballet.com — is considered one of the premier dance companies in the country. Atlanta Ballet’s eclectic repertoire spans ballet history, highlighted by beloved classics and inventive originals. In 1996, Atlanta Ballet opened the Centre for Dance Education (CDE), which is dedicated to nurturing young dancers while providing an outlet for adults to express their creativity. The CDE serves over 23,000 people in metro Atlanta each year. Atlanta Ballet’s roots remain firmly grounded in the Atlanta community and continue to play a vital role in the city’s cultural growth.


“Love Fear Loss,” by Brazilian choreographer Ricardo Amarante, is the centerpiece work of the opening program of the company’s 90th season, It follows the love story of French singer Édith Piaf from the high of new love, through the fear of intimacy slipping away, to the tragedy of losing her lifelong partner. Amarante has described his work as a celebration of the human condition and the beauty that arises from even the darkest moments in life.  The program will also include a remounting of “Vespertine,” the hypnotic 2017 work by British choreographer Liam Scarlett, a world premiere commissioned work by New York-based Claudia Schreier and a guest performance by New York-based Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

 

!!Caló Gitano Dance Academy
Marianela “Malita” Belloso was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and has been dancing flamenco for practically her entire life. She started when she was only six years old. By the time she was nine, she was already performing on television and in major flamenco stage productions with Siudy Quintero Dance Academy, the largest flamenco dance academy in Venezuela. Malita arrived in Atlanta in 2000 and formed the flamenco performance company Caló Gitano – www.calogitano.com – now the largest flamenco academy in Georgia. After opening Caló Dance Studio in Kirkwood nine years ago, Malita trained a group of advanced flamenco dancers and formed partnerships with other artists and musicians to create large-scale theater works and original flamenco musical productions as Caló Theatre Company  

!!Core Dance
Core Dance – www.coredance.org  – was co-founded in 1980 in Houston, Texas, by dancer and choreographer Sue Schroeder and her sister, Kathy Russell. Five years later, the organization added Atlanta, Georgia, as a second home base. Over four decades, Core has performed 125 pieces of original choreography across the globe, collaborating with the renowned and the obscure. The company actively encourages participation and conversation with the community, sharing what they know about bodies and movement with those dealing with abuse, homelessness, language barriers, refugee status, substance abuse, aging, and HIV/AIDS.

“If… a memoir” is a love song written for humanity. Sue Schroeder in collaboration with the Dance Artists of Core Dance, Christian Meyer (composer), and Simon Gentry (cinematographer) will create an evening-length, physical theater choreo-poem. According to Schroeder, “this new work will draw from early 1950s Beat Generation culture and influences including jazz-inspired rhythm, improvisational spirit, rejection of standard narrative values and seeming disorganization with a deliberate effect.”

!!Department of Dance at Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw State University is home to Georgia’s largest collegiate dance program and Atlanta’s first theater designed specifically for dance. Through the program’s academic and practical experiences, students develop a holistic understanding of dance as an art form while also investigating dance as a method of analysis, a mode of enquiry, and an aesthetic experience. The Department’s collaborative partnerships provide students with uniquely valuable opportunities. This year, KSU Dance launched a new partnership with Terminus Modern Ballet Theater, directly connecting students to the professional practice of dance. 

September 27, KSU Dance – www.arts.kennesaw.edu/dance – presents The Charlotte Ballet performing Johan Inger’s “Walking Mad,” a piece inspired by a quote from Socrates: “Our greatest gifts come to us in a state of madness.” KSU’s student dance company will premiere “Slang,” a new work in November.

!!Emory Dance
Emory Dance – www.dance.emory.edu –  presents a wide range of public programming each year, including Emory Dance Company concerts, the Friends of Dance Lecture Series, guest artists, dance on film presentations, and informal and site-specific performances and events. Through the Candler Concert Series, Emory Dance presents some of the finest modern dance choreographers and companies, including The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Monica Bill Barnes & Company, David Dorfoman Dance, Doug Varone and Dancers, Urban Bush Women, the José Limón Dance Company, and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet.

September 19, the Emory Dance Program presents a Creativity Conversation with visiting artist Dafi Altebeb, a young Israeli musician, dancer, and choreographer who has performed throughout the world. Her original dance works have premiered in major international festivals, including Internationale Tanzmesse (Dusseldorf), Les Brigittines Centre d’Art Contemporain (Brussels), Chang Mu International Dance Festival (Seoul), Ballet Preljocaj – Pavillion Noir (France), ​and Napoli Theater Festival (Italy). 

As a child in his native Iran 40 years ago, Emory Dance faculty member George Staib witnessed up close the frightening reality of religious revolution. In October, he and his brilliant company Staibdance present “Fence,” their most political and socially driven dance work to date. “Fence” examines how “otherness” can take your power or fuel it. Staib blends intensely physical movement vocabulary with traditional Iranian dance, and uses original music, lighting, and digital effects to weave the audience directly into the work.

!!Ferst Center for the Arts
The Georgia Tech Office of the Arts operates the Ferst Center for the Arts – www.arts.gatech.edu/artstech-performance-series – which presents the Arts@Tech season of professional music, dance, theater, and multimedia performances from September to April. The Georgia Tech School of Music performs multiple concerts at the Center, and DramaTech, the student theater group, performs in the James E. Dull Theatre in the back of the building. Arts@Tech has brought some of the most innovative and exciting multimedia works to be seen in the city, showcasing the highest in music and dance talents along with cutting-edge digital technologies. The works explore and explode themes of disability/mobility design, interconnectivity, LGBTQ living, and cultural celebration.


The Ferst will be the site of two of the most exciting “Don’t Miss!” productions of 2019: “Dökk by fuse*” (October 4) and “Kinetic Light: DESCENT” (November 23).


“Dökk” blends light, sound, and movement into a mind-blowing, multidimensional universe created by fuse*, an Italian digital art studio and production company. Aerial dancer Elena Annovi moves through a sequence of 10 other-worldly environments created by software that synthesizes data from social media, the sound score, the dancer’s heartbeat, and her movements. 

“DESCENT” by Kinetic Light is an evening-length dance work, choreographed by Alice Sheppard in collaboration with disabled dancer Laurel Lawson and disabled lighting and video artist Michael Maag. Featuring a unique, architectural stage that acts as a partner in the choreography and storytelling, and performed on an architectural ramp with hills, curves and peaks, “DESCENT” celebrates the pleasure of reckless abandon. The ramp is a landscape that generates its own site-specific movement as dancers Laurel and Alice discover new experiences of acceleration, resistance, and momentum. Andromeda and Venus, reimagined as interracial lovers, claim their desire as their wheelchairs fly within inches of the ramp’s edges. The thrilling work challenges our assumptions about social justice, movement and embodiment, and art and architecture. 

!!Fly On A Wall
Since their inception in 2014, Fly on a Wall – www.flyonawall.buzz – has created a body of work which includes multimedia performance, installation, and dance for film. They have been presented by Dashboard, the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Contemporary, Art on the Atlanta BeltLine, Synchronicity Theatre, Eyedrum Art and Music Gallery, the City of Duluth, and the Marietta Performing Arts Center. 

Fly on a Wall’s work best reveals itself through inventive theatrical elements that often manifest as performative structures. These elements are integral to the work and allow the audience new dimensions with which to view it. Performance structures that Fly on a Wall has created include: large plexiglass prisms for Art on the Atlanta Beltline, a tandem bicycle generating power for a light bulb in Dashboard’s “Shifting Scapes,” an abstract home made of 20-foot-high. floor-to-ceiling paper panels inside an abandoned castor factory. Once completed, each of these structures house Fly on a Wall’s unique blend of movement and theater.

This month, Fly on a Wall is bringing Anna Long from Chicago to teach three Gaga/dancers classes and one Gaga/people class throughout the weekend. Anyone interested may drop in to a single class or purchase class passes. Space is limited, it is recommended to register early.

On Sunday, August 25, stop by The Windmill Arts Center in East Point to celebrate Fly's one-year anniversary at the Windmill as artists-in-residence with Vanguard Repertory Company. Meet team members, hang out for free refreshments, and find out what Fly on a Wall has in store for the coming year.

!!glo
In 2009, dance/choreographer Lauri Stallings and her partner, production specialist Richard Carvlin, founded the Atlanta-based company glo –  www.gloatl.org. Today, glo’s “moving artists” include Kristina Brown, Noëlle Davé, Christina Kelly, Raina Mitchell, Cailan Orn, Mary Jane Pennington, and Mechelle Tunstall. Stallings and her dancers seem to be constantly performing all over metro Atlanta and Georgia and beyond, often in public spaces, including NYC’s Central Park. Over the past decade, glo has presented civic actions, world premiere performance experiments, an international curated live art series, and public art tours across the state. The company regularly collaborates with orchestral conductors, filmmakers, rappers, and fashion and visual artists to, in Stalling’s words, “help revitalize identity in the American South.” 

Stallings is uniquely obsessed with the ways choreography can identify and amplify the fluid nature of a city. The choreographer believes that movement with a social conscience is a critical component in creating group empathy and goodwill. That’s why she and glo’s movement artists love to construct “People Parades” for folks to come together in a public place to sit, skip, stand, kneel, walk-in 2’s, prance, waltz, spin, shuffle, be still, and twist.” 

Now, as Artist in Residence of the High Museum of Art, Lauri Stallings has constructed MAPPING: Public Choreographies to loop around the entire High Museum Campus. From 12:30–1:15 p.m., every Thursday and Saturday in August, Stallings and glo invite the Atlanta community to join them on the grass of the High Museum for MAPPING: Public Choreographies. For 45 minutes, anyone can come, watch ,or join however they want..

!!Rialto Center for the Arts
The Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University – www.rialto.gsu.edu – is located in one of the oldest parts of the city, downtown’s historic Fairlie-Poplar District. It opened a century ago as one of Atlanta’s first large movie houses, a decade before the Fabulous Fox. After major renovations for the 1996 Olympics, the Rialto became part of GSU’s ever-expanding campus. The annual Rialto (subscription) Series has presented an eclectic mix of world music, jazz, contemporary dance, and international programs. “Ailey II: The Next Generation of Dance” returns to the Rialto October 26. Artistic Director Troy Powell guides Ailey II’s signature pristine performances built on dynamic movement and brilliant technique.

!!Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre
The city we know as Atlanta was founded in the 1820s as Terminus. The five founding members of Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre – www.terminus-serenbe.com – came together to celebrate their shared home as a place where cultures intersect. Now in their second season, these experienced dance artists combine ballet and modern influences to create new theatrical dance works. 

On August 3, TMBT jump starts the school year and the return of their “pop up” open class series. Attend an open house at Westside Cultural Arts Center for free dance class offerings, light bites, door prizes, and a special presentation by Atlanta Optimal Performance Symposium.

Terminus opens its second season performing at Serenbe with “Lore,” the story of two siblings who share the collected heritage of their community. The work touches on the oral histories passed down through generations. TMBT invites audiences to gather around a fire as night falls in The Hollow at Serenbe to experience “Lore” October 11–20.

!!Zoetic Dance
::::
Since its first public performance in 2001, Zoetic Dance Ensemble – www.zoeticdance.org – has been a team of strong women, led by strong women. Zoetic’s dynamically athletic work embodies the feminine spirit and celebrates the power of the female body. Since 2001, their passion for female expression has attracted a range of creative women to share their visions, voices and stories of female empowerment. Zoetic, under the creative leadership of Mallory Baxley, enjoys a special partnership with Whitespace Gallery in Inman Park, which is where they’ll kick off their 2019-2020 season with a party and a preview of their upcoming work, “Saint.” The site for that December premiere will be Ambient+Studios, which began as a 109-year-old factory space near West End. “Saint” will feature original music by Xavier “Xay Zoleil” Lewis, costume design by Hannah James, and unique graphic design by Morgan Tanksley.



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The Arts Issue, Explore Arts & Culture

Monday August 5, 2019 12:51 pm EDT
Interpretative and ritual, modern and folk, ballet and bharatanatyam | more...
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SIDEBAR: Atlanta’s airport art gallery

Same as it ever was, the visual arts scene in Atlanta is in a state of flux, particularly at the street level where the West and Southwest flanks of downtown mark the next major front for the newest of the new to appear. With the Goat Farm closing and morphing into who-knows-what; the construction of The MET continuing apace and attracting entities like MINT and Mammal Gallery; and The Bakery executing its inspiring, if sometimes bewilderingly eclectic, strategy with characteristic DIY aplomb (while facing a move in the next year, as the lease on the arts center’s Warner Street building will not be renewed), the west side is the best side for seeking out the edges of Atlanta’s art/art music/art performance scene.

“Atlanta’s strong suit for the 40-something years I’ve been here is how incredibly active the grassroots community is,” says Louise Shaw, curator of the Senser Museum at the Centers for Disease Control and cofounder of Idea Capital, an arts funding group. “People, particularly young people, are continually trying to reinvent the art scene.”

Otherwise, the more things change, the more stalwart venues, such as the High Museum, Atlanta Contemporary, Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, the major arts institutions and fine art galleries, keep moving forward with their respective missions. At the same time, public art, street art, mural painting, and graffiti are exerting a particular influence on the Atlanta art scene for which the city is becoming increasingly recognized nationally and internationally.

“The street art trend is really exciting,” says Shaw. “The work along Edgewood and in Cabbagetown, the Krog Tunnel, these works that stay up for a few months and are then replaced by new work — this kind of activity creates a vibrancy and excitement lacking in many cities.” 

From gleaming white halls and walls to sandblasted slabs of brick and concrete to just about any flat accessible surface with a sightline, Atlanta’s visual artists, curators and gallery owners use whatever means are available to satisfy the muse. That’s how it works.

!!Atlanta Celebrates Photography
Entering its third decade, Atlanta Celebrates Photography (ACP) — www.acpinfo.org — is both an annual festival and the name of the organization responsible for staging the event. Billed as the largest community photography event in America, the 2019 edition of the ACP festival, which begins in mid-September and runs through the end of October, features more than 100 happenings including five lectures, three professional development workshops, a photobook fair, a film series, and numerous exhibits. This panoply of activity takes place at site-specific outdoor installations including the BeltLine, arts facilities, museums, galleries, retail businesses, and special venues spread across metro Atlanta.

“The ACP festival provides a comprehensive platform not only for people to experience our events, but to participate as creators,” says ACP Executive Director Amy Miller. “This allows for a true celebration of all that photography can be — a multifaceted art form with the power to change lives and connect people.”

The ACP has no event facility to call its own. All exhibits, lectures, screenings, and sundry programs are arranged through partnerships with other organizations and institutions. “The beauty of this business model is that the entire city becomes our venue,” Miller says. “The ACP festival raises awareness of arts venues and cultural organizations throughout the city, which creates a rising tide that, hopefully, lifts all boats.”

!!!Highlights of the 2019 Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival include:
The FENCE (Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside Trail): This truly mega-outdoor photo exhibition returns to Atlanta with more than 40 photographers from around the world, selected by a jury of 40 experts from a  global call for entries, spreading the joy of their craft along a 700+-foot-long fence.

ACP Auction Gala (Saturday, September 14): Cocktail reception, open bar, dinner, plus a silent auction at The Landmark honoring Dr. Sarah Kennel, newly installed curator of photography at the High Museum of Art. The auction serves as the primary fundraising event for ACP and the 2019 ACP Festival.

ACP Special Exhibition: Teen Spirit at Mason Fine Art – www.masonfineartandevents.com – (Artists Reception, Thursday, September 19, 6-9 p.m., Exhibition September 19-October 11, free and open to the public). Volunteer photographers, led by ACP co-founder Corinne Adams, guide teens at Scottish Rite and Egleston hospitals in an exploration of identity, including (or in spite of) their diagnosis, through writing and photographic self-portraiture. This exhibition showcases the creative work produced by the teens during the past 12 months.

Photobook Fair (October 4-5): The photo book event of the Southeast at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. For the complete list of exhibitors, artist talks, and book-signings, please visit ACPinfo.org 

Chris Verene’s “Home Movies” (Thursday, October 10): The Landmark Midtown Art Cinema hosts a one-night-only screening of “home movies” (video clips) shot by renowned photographer Chris Verene during the course of documenting his family’s life in rural Illinois, which has been the former Atlantan’s primary subject for the past three decades. A post-screening panel discussion will feature photographer Ashley Reid and Mona Bennett, ambassador of the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, moderated by Felicia Feaster.

In conjunction with the Landmark screening of “Home Movies,” Marcia Wood Gallery – www.marciawoodgallery.com – which represents Verene, will be exhibiting a large selection of the artist’s photographs during the ACP Festival. Verene will be in attendance at the gallery opening in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood on September 18 and closing reception on October 12.

!!Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center
In 2015, the Atlanta Contemporary dropped the “Arts Center” from its name and fully embraced the institutionalized practice of “free admission, every day.” Today, Atlanta Contemporary – www.atlantacontemporary.org – occupies a special position in the arts community not only because of the price of admission to the facility, but also by virtue of its varied offerings, which include showcasing and commissioning new work by emerging artists; diverse educational programs, such as Contemporary Kids, Contemporary Cocktails, and Contemporary Talks; and on-site subsidized studio space for working artists through the Studio Artist Program. Atlanta Contemporary, incidentally, also throws great art parties and openings.

“Any city that is a beacon for tourism and advancement in technology, any city that wants to be recognized as a destination, needs a contemporary art center that advocates for what’s happening today,” says Executive Director Veronica Kessenich.

With the departure of curator Daniel Fuller at the end of June, Kessenich is moving forward with a full slate of previously scheduled fall exhibitions and looking with anticipation toward a new chapter in the evolution of the Westside arts center.

“Daniel was such an integral part of Atlanta Contemporary over the last four and a half years,” says Kessenich. “We will surely miss him and thank him for his leadership and service to Atlanta Contemporary.”

On tap between Saturday, August 24, and Sunday, December 22, are solo exhibitions by Bryan Graf and Emma McMillan, plus Contemporary On-Site projects featuring Coco Hunday, an artist-run exhibition space in Tampa, Florida; Atlanta-based artist Wihro Kim; and Bailey Scieszka who lives and works in Detroit.

In “Landlines,” Bryan Graf explores a range of photographic approaches and subjects, seeking balance or an equivalence between conceptual, visceral, and narrative elements. “The photographs in this show are notes, recordings, observations, and questions from specific places and times,” notes the Atlanta Contemporary press release. “This is an optical research into the debris of the days; a self-portrait of the dust that sculpts us.”

Emma McMillan’s “Project X” is inspired by the work of Atlanta architect John Portman, whose influence on the contours of the Atlanta skyline can scarcely be understated. Appropriating the name of an unrealized 1969 utopian residential building, Project X conjures up the architect’s design theory and manifest legacy in a series of large oil and aquarelle paintings, which are displayed across aluminum scaffolding, creating an immersive environment reminiscent of Portman’s iconic downtown Atlanta structures.

!!EBD4
Coinciding with the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival, EBD4 – www.EBD4.com – an industrial space for creatives in Chamblee, is staging a special “ACP at EBD4” exhibition. “1980’s ATL Portraits of Drag Queens & Club Kids (think RuPaul)” by Al Clayton showcases Clayton’s chronicling of the intersectional-before-it-was-cool club scene in Atlanta back when the local celebrity head count included RuPaul, Larry Tee, LaHoma, Sable Chanel, Charlie Brown, and Spike, among others. 

The exhibition will also display images from Clayton’s landmark 1969 book, Still Hungry in America, along with select images of Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Townes van Zandt, Tammy Wynette and other luminaries from Ken Burns’ documentary Country Music. The Clayton family will have prints from the photographer’s personal collection available, as well as limited edition prints.

Opening: Saturday, October 19, 2019, 6:30. Dance party starts at 8:30, admission $10.

Open House: Wednesday, October 23–Saturday, October 26, 1–5 p.m. or by appointment.

!!Gallery 72
It may come as a surprise to some that the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs has its own art gallery. Opened in 2014, Gallery 72 — www.ocaatlanta.com — is located downtown on the first floor of the 72 Marietta Street building. During the past five years, Gallery 72 has hosted a variety of exhibitions addressing relevant topics ranging from human trafficking, civil and human rights, memory and ritual, to the growth of local arts organizations (e.g., Wonderroot, The Creatives Project) and the rise of hip-hop. 

“Gallery 72 is a space where artists can push the experimental aesthetics of their work, which they may not choose to pursue in more commercial venues,” says gallery director Kevin Sipp. “It is also important that the gallery represents Atlanta as it is now, which is a melting pot of vibrant cultures, political views, and ideas.”

Gallery 72 will host two exhibitions in the fall: In “Reclaim/Proclaim Blandtown” (October 10-November 22), Gregor Turk takes up the subject of a long-neglected Westside Atlanta neighborhood. In the 1950s, the African-American community of Blandtown, which once boasted more than 200 houses, was rezoned to heavy industrial without proper public review. Today, much of the area, which is bisected by the BeltLine, is being rezoned back to residential for rapid redevelopment. Of the four original remaining houses, one was converted by Turk in 2003 into his studio. Comprising wall-mounted sculpture and photography, “Reclaim/Proclaim Blandtown” is part history lesson, part manifesto, and part civic rousing. In 2017, Turk received an Idea Capital grant for developing this project followed by an Artist Project Grant the next year from the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

"Contrapunto: A Latin American Art Collective in Atlanta" (November 28-February 7) celebrates the work of a Latin art collective founded in 2008 by Carlos Solis. In addition to Solis, Contrapunto members, all of whom are based in Atlanta, included in the exhibition are Jorge Arcos, Pedro Fuertes, Catalina Gomez Beuth, Dora López, and Graciela Núñez Bedoya, Their work ranges from surrealist, cubist, and abstract to realist and naturalistic. In Spanish, “contrapunto” usually refers to the musical practice of joining two or more melodies to create harmony while maintaining the individual quality of each player’s contribution.

Says Sipp, “The narratives that fuel Atlanta and its present growth have expanded beyond past narratives to include transcendent global perspectives from all corners of the world.”

!!Hathaway Gallery
::::


Established in 2015 in what is now a thriving Westside neighborhood jam-packed with live-work spaces, restaurants, and entertainment venues, Hathaway Gallery – www.hathawaygallery.com  – strives to “foster and expand the contemporary art collector base in the Southeast through inclusivity and education.” Hathaway’s fall exhibition schedule includes:

“No Place Like Home” (July 20–September 7): A three-person exhibition of works by Jaime Bull, In Kyoung Chun, and Maryam Palizgir. Each of the artists brings a distinctly expressive technique and vision to bear on the idea of “home.” 

“Changing Tides” (September 14–November 9): A solo exhibition featuring the highly kinetic, vividly colorful abstract paintings of Fran O’Neill. 

!!High Museum
In the realm of mainstream visual arts, every major metropolitan city has its leader of the pack. The museum with the largest and deepest collection, the curatorial punch, and the financial wherewithal to make things happen that other institutions can’t and, truth be told, don’t need to match.

In Atlanta, the High Museum of Art – www.high.org – has filled that role since the founding of the Atlanta Art Association (the museum’s organizational precursor) in 1905. In 2019, the sensually curvaceous, gleaming white structure, situated on a gently rising grassy slope at the corner of Peachtree and 16th streets, stands alongside the Alliance Theater and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as one of three pillars girding the Woodruff Arts Center.

In 2018, the High undertook a total reconfiguration of its almost 94,000 square feet of gallery space. The massive makeover allowed for the rearrangement of artwork from the museum’s 16,000-piece permanent collection and the inclusion of a trove of never-before-exhibited artistic treasure. Among those treasures were selections from a 2017 acquisition of visionary folk art from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, which shone new light on the art of Thornton Dial, Sr., Lonnie Holley, Henry Church, Mary T. Smith, and the fabulous quilts created by the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama.


At the end of last year, the High Museum presented Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors,” a wildly popular exhibition seen by 136,000 people before closing in February. For a minute at least, it seemed like Kusama-mania had imbued the museum with a rejuvenating hipness, tagging the joint as being worthy of regular visitation by a new generation or two of art-curious fans.


“We’re always committed to presenting the finest examples of artistic achievement we can get our hands on,” says High Museum director Rand Suffolk.

!!!Three exhibitions distinguish the High Museum’s fall calendar:
“Something Over Something Else,” Romare Bearden’s Profile Series (Sept. 14, 2019– Feb. 2, 2020):

Organized by the High, this touring exhibition brings together dozens of works from Romare Bearden’s “Profile” series for the first time since its debut nearly 40 years ago. A series of collages conjures up the original presentations from 1978 and 1981, which featured accompanying wall texts written by Bearden (who died in 1988) in collaboration with essayist, jazz critic, and novelist Albert Murray.

“A Thousand Crossings,” Sally Mann (Oct. 19, 2019–Feb. 2, 2020): 


One of the preeminent art photographers of the last half-century, Sally Mann (American, born 1951) is a Virginia native whose work is often deeply, sometimes defiantly, rooted in her journey as a Southerner. Notes the High’s press preview: “The exhibition is both a sweeping overview of Mann’s artistic achievement over the past four decades and a focused exploration of how the South emerges in her work as a powerful and provocative force…”


“Figures of Speech,” Virgil Abloh (Nov. 9, 2019–March 8, 2020): 

Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, where it debuted in June, “Figures of Speech” showcases the work of Virgil Abloh, the 39-year-old creative operator at the console of a thoroughly modern matrix enveloping art, music, fashion, and celebrity. The exhibition includes clothing designs for Louis Vuitton (Abloh is the first person of African descent to lead the Parisian fashion house’s ready-to-wear line for men); videos of fashion shows, which have garnered no small amount of viral online attention; and Abloh’s distinctive furniture designs (some for IKEA) and graphic art.

“Each exhibition also complements our permanent collection, adding context and insight across multiple collecting areas,” says Suffolk. “Presenting one of these shows would be exceptional.  Having all three here this fall is extraordinary.”

!!Jackson Fine Art
Widely recognized as one of the most important supporters of contemporary fine art photography in Atlanta and beyond, Jackson Fine Art – www.jacksonfineart.com – caters to artists, collectors, museums and corporate clients with services ranging from curating and managing collections to framing and installing.

For the fall season, Jackson Fine Art is showcasing a large selection of photographs by Sally Mann to supplement her retrospective at the High Museum (see above). Specifically, the exhibit (October 18–December 21) draws heavily from “Remembered Light,” a series that produced a book of photographs documenting painter-sculptor Cy Twombly’s studio in Lexington, Virginia, where both artists grew up.

!!Michael C. Carlos Museum
2019 marks the centennial celebration of the formal establishment of a museum to house Emory University’s collection of art and antiquities, which was relocated in 1919 from the original campus in Oxford, Georgia, to the main campus in Atlanta. In 1985, with the support of local philanthropist Michael C. Carlos, the museum moved into the old law school building following a complete renovation by architect Michael Graves. In 1993, an expanded museum and new conservation laboratory, which also benefited from Carlos’s largesse and Graves’ architectural acumen, opened as the Michael C. Carlos Museum – www.carlos.emory.edu.

Today, the Carlos Museum serves as a repository for more than 16,000 works, including what is arguably the largest ancient art collection in the Southeast. In addition to ancient artifacts from Rome, Egypt, Greece, the Near East, and the Americas; works of Asian art and sub-Saharan African art from the 19th and 20th centuries; and works on paper from the Middle Ages to the present, the museum also presents special exhibitions and educational events open to students of all ages and the general public. “The Carlos Museum’s collection of ancient art is unique in Atlanta and the Southeast, but we’re so much more than mummies,” says Allison Hutton, director of communications and marketing. “The oldest piece in our collection was created around 6,500-6,000 BC and the ‘youngest,’ a print by Tom Hück, was created in 2018, so we have quite a range.”

The museum recently launched SmARTy Packs, which lets families learn about art together in the galleries through hands-on projects. This fall, in conjunction with the exhibition “Through a Glass, Darkly” (see below), the museum will host an engraving workshop with artist Andrew Raftery. 

“Through a Glass, Darkly: Allegory and Faith in Netherlandish Prints from Lucas van Leyden to Rembrandt” (August 31-December 1) considers the form, function, and meaning of allegorical prints produced in the Low Countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) between the 16th and 18th centuries.

“Minor White Unburdened: Photographs from the Collection of Lindsay W. Marshall” (October 12-December 15) features works by Minor White alongside photographs by friends and colleagues including Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Rose Mandel. Accompanying the photographs will be a selection of White’s writings in which he reflects upon his career and lifelong personal struggles with religion, sexuality, and the constitution of the spirit.

!!MODA
In 2011, the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) – www.museumofdesign.org – celebrated its grand relocation to the sleek, stylish, ground-floor confines of Perkins + Will, a renowned architecture firm on Peachtree Street across from the High Museum, with an exhibit titled “Passione Italiana: Design of the Italian Motorcycle.” Since then, MODA has pursued its mission “to advance the understanding and appreciation of design as the convergence of creativity and functionality.”

“MODA is the only design museum in the Southeastern United States, which makes us different from institutions in Atlanta and far beyond,” says Executive Director Laura Flusche. “Our exhibitions and our programs demonstrate that design can inspire change, transform lives, and make the world a better place.”

MODA has mounted exhibitions that celebrate beautiful products (espresso machines, motorcycles), graphic designers and architects (Paul Rand, Eero Saarinen, Louise Fili), wearable technology (biofeedback devices), activist art and craft, urban design, landscape architecture, and food production techniques and distribution methodology. The museum organizes public lectures and educational programs that tackle serious topics and engage the imagination.

“Attendance at MODA has skyrocketed in the past 18 months,” says Flusche. “We’re attracting a young, diverse group of design-lovers who are passionate about social justice and human rights issues and the ways that design can address those things.”

On display at the gallery through Sunday, September 29, is “Wire & Wood: Designing Iconic Guitars”, which explores the basics of guitar design and construction alongside the ways in which musicians use the instrument to shape their public image. Included in the exhibition, curated and designed by W. Todd Vaught, are a number of instruments which have acquired legendary status by virtue of the musicians who wielded them on concert stages around the world.

Among the famed axes on display in “Wire & Wood” are Bo Diddley’s Gretsch 6138, Buck Owens’ Harmony Acoustic, Derek Trucks’ Gibson SG, Jack White’s Diddley Bow (from It Might Get Loud), Junior Brown’s Custom Guit-Steel, Kurt Cobain’s Fender Stratocaster, Steve Vai’s Ibanez EVO, and St. Vincent’s Signature Ernie Ball Music Man.

“Wire & Wood” confronts the age-old conundrum of whether form follows function or vice-versa by first presenting the guitar in its simplest form along with information about the ways in which traditional design elements and materials affect sound. The exhibit then discusses advancements in the luthier’s art, including mass manufacturing and alternative materials, accompanied by stories explaining how and why certain modern guitars are endowed with a status beyond their mere existence.

!!Museum of Contemporary Art  of Georgia
It’s right there in the name: The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA) — www.mocaga.org — collects and archives significant, contemporary works by artists who hail from or reside in the state of Georgia. That said, to provide context and accommodate relational concepts, the museum’s exhibitions include Georgia artists and artists from around the world. 

Co-founded in 2000 by David S. Golden, then president of CGR Advisors, and Annette Cone-Skelton, an accomplished Georgia artist and now President/CEO/Director of MOCA GA, the museum’s collection includes more than 1,000 works by 330 Georgia artists in a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, photography, and installation.

“Before MOCA GA, much of the work being exhibited locally was by artists imported from other urban centers, which did not necessarily acknowledge the narratives that were important to this area,” says Cone-Skelton. “This left a tremendous void in the landscape of arts institutions in Atlanta.”

Consequently, the Atlanta arts community experienced an exodus of talent to cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. MOCA GA stepped into the void with a mission based on programs that create a forum for interchange between artists and the community, and a platform from which to launch local artists and their works into the orbit of the global arts community.  

Recently, Atlanta Contemporary announced Cone-Skelton and Atlanta mixed-media artist Kevin Cole as recipients of the 2019 Nexus Award. The award recognizes “individuals, groups, or organizations that have made significant contributions to the contemporary arts landscape and celebrates local leaders who are instrumental in making Atlanta an exceptionally vibrant arts community.” 

!!!MOCA GA fall schedule:
Tuesday, August 13: Working Artist Project (WAP) Fellow Krista Clark artist talk for “Base Line of Appraisal” exhibition, 6:30-8:30 pm

Thursday, September 5: “Dorothy O’Connor: Scenes” opening reception, 6:30-8:30 pm

Friday, September 6: Public panel and reception for the Latin American Association exhibition (unnamed at press time), 6-9 pm

Friday, September 13: WAP Fellow Myra Greene’s opening reception (unnamed at press time), 6:30-8:30 pm

Tuesday, October 1: WAP Fellow Myra Greene artist talk, 6:30-8:30 pm

Friday & Saturday, October 4-5: MOCA GA hosts the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Photobook Fair

Friday, October 18: MOCA GA hosts the Atlanta Photography Group panel

Friday, November 15: WAP Fellow Cosmo Whyte’s opening reception (unnamed at press time), 6:30-8:30 pm

::::
!!
Opened in 2010 and curated by writer and filmmaker, Robin Bernat, Poem88 – www.poem88.net  – declared a reorganization of its roster of artists. Consequently, 70 percent of the artists on the Poem 88 roster are women while approximately 28 percent represent ethnic or cultural minorities and 42 percent are 50 years of age or older. As a woman-owned business, Poem 88 is committed to supporting and nurturing “a community that is frequently sidelined in today’s contemporary art world.”

“Raymond Goins: Infallible Beauty” (Saturday, September 7–Saturday, October 19): This exhibition will provide an unadorned and decontextualized view of the work of Raymond Goins, a self-taught artist who moves fluidly between the realms of interior design, decorative art, and fine art. 

!!Sandler Hudson Gallery
Established in 1989 by Georgia-born owners Debbie Hudson and Robin Sandler, Sandler Hudson www.sandlerhudson.com  — Gallery specializes in innovative and provocative contemporary art that spans a multitude of disciplines including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video, and new media. For the fall season, Sandler Hudson is presenting three exhibitions:

“Recent Drawings” (June 28–September 14): A group exhibition featuring works by Krista Clark, William Downs, Yanique Norman, and Rocío Rodríguez, “Recent Drawings” explores a variety of mark-making using various instruments, techniques, and mediums.

“JET” (September 20–October 19): Los Angeles-based artist Erin D. Garcia brings his vibrant and colorful paintings to the south for the first time. “JET” will present Garcia’s distinctly rendered varicolored gradient shapes on his largest canvases to date, along with multiple works on paper.

“Blue Distant” (October 25–November 30): A solo exhibition of new paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by Savannah artist Namwon Choi. Choi’s elegantly offbeat works fuse conceptual notions of Eastern and Western art into a wondrously personal vision.

!!SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film
The Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) opened its Midtown Atlanta campus in 2005. Among its prominent facilities is the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film – www.scadfash.org. With nearly 10,000 square feet of exhibition space, SCAD FASH serves as a teaching museum for students and a platform for public presentations of fashion-focused designs, films, gallery talks, and lectures.

“SCAD FASH’s exhibitions and programs are curated in collaboration with world-renowned designers and artists, and are developed to inspire and engage visitors with varied backgrounds, not only fashionistas!” says SCAD’s public relations director Jeanette McWilliams. 

Past exhibitions have featured fashion luminaries, such as Oscar de la Renta, Guo Pei, Mary Katrantzou and Carolina Herrera, and fashionable work including costumes from The Handmaid’s Tale television series (SCAD exhibit ends August 12).

“The public’s interest in fashion has never been more ardent and continues to grow,” says McWilliams. “Last May, our first-ever student runway show sold out almost as quickly as the tickets went online.”

!!!During the fall season, SCAD FASH is hosting three exhibitions:
“Aura and Invention: Alternative Processes in Photography” (September 26–November 14) showcases works by SCAD students and recent alumni from the Atlanta and Savannah campuses. According to a SCAD press release, “Works in this exhibition were chosen for their inventiveness in process and design, by young artists who are pushing the limits and potential for photography in an image-saturated society. Through alternative perspectives in the composition of photography, these artists challenge modes of reproduction, and offer alternatives to a culture of instant production and dissemination of images.”

“Form & Function: Shoe Art by Chris Francis” (August 13–December 8) puts the spotlight on the Los Angeles-based street artist-turned-shoe-designer who learned his trade by consulting with and acquiring vintage machines and tools from immigrant cobblers. Francis credits the punk movement for inspiring the independent design house where he crafts small batches of wildly stylized shoes, many of which have been worn by rock stars including Mötley Crüe’s Mick Mars, Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, and former Runaways guitarist Lita Ford.

Isabelle de Borchgrave exhibition: “w” (October 22–January 12) explores five centuries of fashion through the trompe l’oeil masterpieces of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave. Using paper and paint, de Borchgrave creates sculptural replicas of garments found in early European paintings and collections. The exhibition includes de Borchgrave’s series “Les Ballet Russes,” which interprets costumes designed by Léon Bakst, Giorgio de Chirico, and Pablo Picasso, as well as her “Kaftans” series, which was inspired by the Silk Road textiles of central Asia. The exhibition also includes work by eccentric early 20th-century artist Mariano Fortuny, whose famous Delphos gown debuted in 1907.

!!Whitespace
In a converted 1893 carriage house on Edgewood Avenue behind her Inman Park Victorian residence, Whitespace – ww.whitespace814.com – owner Susan Bridges stages exhibitions of contemporary art along with the occasional chamber ensemble performance. Opened in 2007, Whitespace was the Creative Loafing Reader’s Choice for Best Gallery in 2013.

“On Singing the Body Formless and Electric” (Friday, August 2–Saturday, August 31): In the spirit of poet Walt Whitman’s “I sing the body electric,” Whitespace hosts a tripartite exhibition curated by Atlanta native Lisa Alembik, assistant professor at Perimeter College of Georgia State University on the Clarkston campus. The main gallery will feature eight artist or artist groups, which include Carrie Hawks, Catherine Lucky Chang, Eleanor Aldrich, Hannah Adair, Hannah Ehrlich, Larkin Ford & Joe Hadden, Michelle Laxalt, and Parker Thornton. In the Whitespec space, the two-artist collaborative of Pinky/MM Bass and Carolyn DeMeritt will display their work, while Amanda Britton commandeers Shedspace. 

“7th Annual Short Shorts 2019, Jiffy Louvre: Leave Worry Behind” (Thursday, August 29, 7:30-9 p.m.): An evening of one- to five-minute films selected by guest juror, painter, sculptor, and animator Joseph Peragine, director of the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design at Georgia State University.

!!ZUCKERMAN MUSEUM OF ART
Opened in 2014, the Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art (ZMA) — www.arts.kennesaw.edu/zuckerman — on the Kennesaw State University campus encompasses three exhibition galleries, a collection research center, and a two-story-high glass atrium, which is the most striking feature of the 9,200-square-foot facility designed by Stanley Beaman & Sears. The museum regularly presents works from the university’s 6,000-piece permanent collection along with exhibitions of contemporary works by local, national, and international artists. The ZMA's Fine Arts Satellite Gallery in the Wilson Building features faculty, student, and alumni projects.

“The ZMA team, which has significantly altered in the past year, is proud of what we accomplished in the institution's first five years,” says Teresa Bramlette Reeves, director of curatorial affairs, who will have resigned from her position by the time this article is published. “We routinely presented exhibitions of depth and variety, supported local artists, shared the work of nationally and internationally recognized artists, and produced associated brochures and catalogues.”

The ZMA’s two main fall exhibitions open on Saturday, August 24, with a free reception and special programming from 3-5 p.m. 

"Painting Who?" (through December 15) presents a series of paintings by multiple artists, which serve multiple roles and stretch the definition and traditional boundaries of painting. “I see them as alive,” wrote Moira Dryer (1957-1992) about her work, which is featured in the show. “I see them as walking away from the wall. It’s a feeling I have that the work is active, active in our own world, not separate.” The other artists showcased in “Painting Who?” are Jeff Conefry, Gracie Devito, Chris Hood and Wihro Kim.

"Fruitful Labors" (through November 10) focuses on strategies and tactics for coping, according to a ZMA press release. Ranging from the absurd to the essential, the tactics include conversation, repetitive labor, intergenerational storytelling, and healing practices. The artwork “reflects our innate fear of uncertainty and the unknown while simultaneously valuing the power of belief in the face of struggle.” Featured artists include Lenka Clayton, Harry Dodge/Stanya Kahn, Shanequa Gay, Stanya Kahn, Michelle Laxalt, Shana Moulton, and Kaitlynn Redell.


 


Return to Fall Arts Preview 2019"
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Same as it ever was, the visual arts scene in Atlanta is in a state of flux, particularly at the street level where the West and Southwest flanks of downtown mark the next major front for the newest of the new to appear. With the Goat Farm closing and morphing into who-knows-what; the construction of The MET continuing apace and attracting entities like MINT and Mammal Gallery; and The Bakery executing its inspiring, if sometimes bewilderingly eclectic, strategy with characteristic DIY aplomb (while facing a move in the next year, as the lease on the arts center’s Warner Street building will not be renewed), the west side is the best side for seeking out the edges of Atlanta’s art/art music/art performance scene.

“Atlanta’s strong suit for the 40-something years I’ve been here is how incredibly active the grassroots community is,” says Louise Shaw, curator of the Senser Museum at the Centers for Disease Control and cofounder of Idea Capital, an arts funding group. “People, particularly young people, are continually trying to reinvent the art scene.”

Otherwise, the more things change, the more stalwart venues, such as the High Museum, Atlanta Contemporary, Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, the major arts institutions and fine art galleries, keep moving forward with their respective missions. At the same time, public art, street art, mural painting, and graffiti are exerting a particular influence on the Atlanta art scene for which the city is becoming increasingly recognized nationally and internationally.

“The street art trend is really exciting,” says Shaw. “The work along Edgewood and in Cabbagetown, the Krog Tunnel, these works that stay up for a few months and are then replaced by new work — this kind of activity creates a vibrancy and excitement lacking in many cities.” 

From gleaming white halls and walls to sandblasted slabs of brick and concrete to just about any flat accessible surface with a sightline, Atlanta’s visual artists, curators and gallery owners use whatever means are available to satisfy the muse. That’s how it works.

!!__Atlanta Celebrates Photography__
Entering its third decade, Atlanta Celebrates Photography (ACP) — www.acpinfo.org — is both an annual festival and the name of the organization responsible for staging the event. Billed as the largest community photography event in America, the 2019 edition of the ACP festival, which begins in mid-September and runs through the end of October, features more than 100 happenings including five lectures, three professional development workshops, a photobook fair, a film series, and numerous exhibits. This panoply of activity takes place at site-specific outdoor installations including the BeltLine, arts facilities, museums, galleries, retail businesses, and special venues spread across metro Atlanta.

“The ACP festival provides a comprehensive platform not only for people to experience our events, but to participate as creators,” says ACP Executive Director Amy Miller. “This allows for a true celebration of all that photography can be — a multifaceted art form with the power to change lives and connect people.”

The ACP has no event facility to call its own. All exhibits, lectures, screenings, and sundry programs are arranged through partnerships with other organizations and institutions. “The beauty of this business model is that the entire city becomes our venue,” Miller says. “The ACP festival raises awareness of arts venues and cultural organizations throughout the city, which creates a rising tide that, hopefully, lifts all boats.”

!!!Highlights of the 2019 Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival include:
__The FENCE (Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside Trail):__ This truly mega-outdoor photo exhibition returns to Atlanta with more than 40 photographers from around the world, selected by a jury of 40 experts from a  global call for entries, spreading the joy of their craft along a 700+-foot-long fence.

__ACP Auction Gala__ (Saturday, September 14): Cocktail reception, open bar, dinner, plus a silent auction at The Landmark honoring Dr. Sarah Kennel, newly installed curator of photography at the High Museum of Art. The auction serves as the primary fundraising event for ACP and the 2019 ACP Festival.

__ACP Special Exhibition: Teen Spirit at Mason Fine Art__ – www.masonfineartandevents.com – (Artists Reception, Thursday, September 19, 6-9 p.m., Exhibition September 19-October 11, free and open to the public). Volunteer photographers, led by ACP co-founder Corinne Adams, guide teens at Scottish Rite and Egleston hospitals in an exploration of identity, including (or in spite of) their diagnosis, through writing and photographic self-portraiture. This exhibition showcases the creative work produced by the teens during the past 12 months.

__Photobook Fair__ (October 4-5): ''The'' photo book event of the Southeast at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. For the complete list of exhibitors, artist talks, and book-signings, please visit ACPinfo.org 

__Chris Verene’s “Home Movies”__ (Thursday, October 10): The Landmark Midtown Art Cinema hosts a one-night-only screening of “home movies” (video clips) shot by renowned photographer Chris Verene during the course of documenting his family’s life in rural Illinois, which has been the former Atlantan’s primary subject for the past three decades. A post-screening panel discussion will feature photographer Ashley Reid and Mona Bennett, ambassador of the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, moderated by Felicia Feaster.

In conjunction with the Landmark screening of “Home Movies,” Marcia Wood Gallery – www.marciawoodgallery.com – which represents Verene, will be exhibiting a large selection of the artist’s photographs during the ACP Festival. Verene will be in attendance at the gallery opening in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood on September 18 and closing reception on October 12.

!!Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center
In 2015, the Atlanta Contemporary dropped the “Arts Center” from its name and fully embraced the institutionalized practice of “free admission, every day.” Today, Atlanta Contemporary – www.atlantacontemporary.org – occupies a special position in the arts community not only because of the price of admission to the facility, but also by virtue of its varied offerings, which include showcasing and commissioning new work by emerging artists; diverse educational programs, such as Contemporary Kids, Contemporary Cocktails, and Contemporary Talks; and on-site subsidized studio space for working artists through the Studio Artist Program. Atlanta Contemporary, incidentally, also throws great art parties and openings.

“Any city that is a beacon for tourism and advancement in technology, any city that wants to be recognized as a destination, needs a contemporary art center that advocates for what’s happening today,” says Executive Director Veronica Kessenich.

With the departure of curator Daniel Fuller at the end of June, Kessenich is moving forward with a full slate of previously scheduled fall exhibitions and looking with anticipation toward a new chapter in the evolution of the Westside arts center.

“Daniel was such an integral part of Atlanta Contemporary over the last four and a half years,” says Kessenich. “We will surely miss him and thank him for his leadership and service to Atlanta Contemporary.”

On tap between Saturday, August 24, and Sunday, December 22, are solo exhibitions by Bryan Graf and Emma McMillan, plus Contemporary On-Site projects featuring Coco Hunday, an artist-run exhibition space in Tampa, Florida; Atlanta-based artist Wihro Kim; and Bailey Scieszka who lives and works in Detroit.

In “__Landlines__,” Bryan Graf explores a range of photographic approaches and subjects, seeking balance or an equivalence between conceptual, visceral, and narrative elements. “The photographs in this show are notes, recordings, observations, and questions from specific places and times,” notes the Atlanta Contemporary press release. “This is an optical research into the debris of the days; a self-portrait of the dust that sculpts us.”

Emma McMillan’s “__Project X__” is inspired by the work of Atlanta architect John Portman, whose influence on the contours of the Atlanta skyline can scarcely be understated. Appropriating the name of an unrealized 1969 utopian residential building, Project X conjures up the architect’s design theory and manifest legacy in a series of large oil and aquarelle paintings, which are displayed across aluminum scaffolding, creating an immersive environment reminiscent of Portman’s iconic downtown Atlanta structures.

!!EBD4
Coinciding with the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival, EBD4 – www.EBD4.com – an industrial space for creatives in Chamblee, is staging a special “ACP at EBD4” exhibition. “__1980’s ATL Portraits of Drag Queens & Club Kids (think RuPaul)__” by Al Clayton showcases Clayton’s chronicling of the intersectional-before-it-was-cool club scene in Atlanta back when the local celebrity head count included RuPaul, Larry Tee, LaHoma, Sable Chanel, Charlie Brown, and Spike, among others. 

The exhibition will also display images from Clayton’s landmark 1969 book, ''Still Hungry in America'', along with select images of Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Townes van Zandt, Tammy Wynette and other luminaries from Ken Burns’ documentary ''Country Music''. The Clayton family will have prints from the photographer’s personal collection available, as well as limited edition prints.

Opening: Saturday, October 19, 2019, 6:30. Dance party starts at 8:30, admission $10.

Open House: Wednesday, October 23–Saturday, October 26, 1–5 p.m. or by appointment.

!!Gallery 72
It may come as a surprise to some that the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs has its own art gallery. Opened in 2014, Gallery 72 — www.ocaatlanta.com — is located downtown on the first floor of the 72 Marietta Street building. During the past five years, Gallery 72 has hosted a variety of exhibitions addressing relevant topics ranging from human trafficking, civil and human rights, memory and ritual, to the growth of local arts organizations (e.g., Wonderroot, The Creatives Project) and the rise of hip-hop. 

“Gallery 72 is a space where artists can push the experimental aesthetics of their work, which they may not choose to pursue in more commercial venues,” says gallery director Kevin Sipp. “It is also important that the gallery represents Atlanta as it is now, which is a melting pot of vibrant cultures, political views, and ideas.”

Gallery 72 will host two exhibitions in the fall: In “__Reclaim/Proclaim Blandtown__” (October 10-November 22), Gregor Turk takes up the subject of a long-neglected Westside Atlanta neighborhood. In the 1950s, the African-American community of Blandtown, which once boasted more than 200 houses, was rezoned to heavy industrial without proper public review. Today, much of the area, which is bisected by the BeltLine, is being rezoned back to residential for rapid redevelopment. Of the four original remaining houses, one was converted by Turk in 2003 into his studio. Comprising wall-mounted sculpture and photography, “Reclaim/Proclaim Blandtown” is part history lesson, part manifesto, and part civic rousing. In 2017, Turk received an Idea Capital grant for developing this project followed by an Artist Project Grant the next year from the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

"__Contrapunto: A Latin American Art Collective in Atlanta__" (November 28-February 7) celebrates the work of a Latin art collective founded in 2008 by Carlos Solis. In addition to Solis, Contrapunto members, all of whom are based in Atlanta, included in the exhibition are Jorge Arcos, Pedro Fuertes, Catalina Gomez Beuth, Dora López, and Graciela Núñez Bedoya, Their work ranges from surrealist, cubist, and abstract to realist and naturalistic. In Spanish, “contrapunto” usually refers to the musical practice of joining two or more melodies to create harmony while maintaining the individual quality of each player’s contribution.

Says Sipp, “The narratives that fuel Atlanta and its present growth have expanded beyond past narratives to include transcendent global perspectives from all corners of the world.”

!!Hathaway Gallery
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Established in 2015 in what is now a thriving Westside neighborhood jam-packed with live-work spaces, restaurants, and entertainment venues, Hathaway Gallery – www.hathawaygallery.com  – strives to “foster and expand the contemporary art collector base in the Southeast through inclusivity and education.” Hathaway’s fall exhibition schedule includes:

“__No Place Like Home__” (July 20–September 7): A three-person exhibition of works by Jaime Bull, In Kyoung Chun, and Maryam Palizgir. Each of the artists brings a distinctly expressive technique and vision to bear on the idea of “home.” 

“__Changing Tides__” (September 14–November 9): A solo exhibition featuring the highly kinetic, vividly colorful abstract paintings of Fran O’Neill. 

!!High Museum
In the realm of mainstream visual arts, every major metropolitan city has its leader of the pack. The museum with the largest and deepest collection, the curatorial punch, and the financial wherewithal to make things happen that other institutions can’t and, truth be told, don’t need to match.

In Atlanta, the High Museum of Art – www.high.org – has filled that role since the founding of the Atlanta Art Association (the museum’s organizational precursor) in 1905. In 2019, the sensually curvaceous, gleaming white structure, situated on a gently rising grassy slope at the corner of Peachtree and 16th streets, stands alongside the Alliance Theater and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as one of three pillars girding the Woodruff Arts Center.

In 2018, the High undertook a total reconfiguration of its almost 94,000 square feet of gallery space. The massive makeover allowed for the rearrangement of artwork from the museum’s 16,000-piece permanent collection and the inclusion of a trove of never-before-exhibited artistic treasure. Among those treasures were selections from a 2017 acquisition of visionary folk art from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, which shone new light on the art of Thornton Dial, Sr., Lonnie Holley, Henry Church, Mary T. Smith, and the fabulous quilts created by the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama.

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At the end of last year, the High Museum presented Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors,” a wildly popular exhibition seen by 136,000 people before closing in February. For a minute at least, it seemed like Kusama-mania had imbued the museum with a rejuvenating hipness, tagging the joint as being worthy of regular visitation by a new generation or two of art-curious fans.


“We’re always committed to presenting the finest examples of artistic achievement we can get our hands on,” says High Museum director Rand Suffolk.

!!!Three exhibitions distinguish the High Museum’s fall calendar:
“__Something Over Something Else,__” Romare Bearden’s Profile Series (Sept. 14, 2019– Feb. 2, 2020):

Organized by the High, this touring exhibition brings together dozens of works from Romare Bearden’s “Profile” series for the first time since its debut nearly 40 years ago. A series of collages conjures up the original presentations from 1978 and 1981, which featured accompanying wall texts written by Bearden (who died in 1988) in collaboration with essayist, jazz critic, and novelist Albert Murray.

“__A Thousand Crossings__,” Sally Mann (Oct. 19, 2019–Feb. 2, 2020): 

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One of the preeminent art photographers of the last half-century, Sally Mann (American, born 1951) is a Virginia native whose work is often deeply, sometimes defiantly, rooted in her journey as a Southerner. Notes the High’s press preview: “The exhibition is both a sweeping overview of Mann’s artistic achievement over the past four decades and a focused exploration of how the South emerges in her work as a powerful and provocative force…”


“__Figures of Speech__,” Virgil Abloh (Nov. 9, 2019–March 8, 2020): 

Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, where it debuted in June, “Figures of Speech” showcases the work of Virgil Abloh, the 39-year-old creative operator at the console of a thoroughly modern matrix enveloping art, music, fashion, and celebrity. The exhibition includes clothing designs for Louis Vuitton (Abloh is the first person of African descent to lead the Parisian fashion house’s ready-to-wear line for men); videos of fashion shows, which have garnered no small amount of viral online attention; and Abloh’s distinctive furniture designs (some for IKEA) and graphic art.

“Each exhibition also complements our permanent collection, adding context and insight across multiple collecting areas,” says Suffolk. “Presenting one of these shows would be exceptional.  Having all three here this fall is extraordinary.”

!!Jackson Fine Art
Widely recognized as one of the most important supporters of contemporary fine art photography in Atlanta and beyond, Jackson Fine Art – www.jacksonfineart.com – caters to artists, collectors, museums and corporate clients with services ranging from curating and managing collections to framing and installing.

For the fall season, Jackson Fine Art is showcasing a large selection of photographs by Sally Mann to supplement her retrospective at the High Museum (see above). Specifically, the exhibit (October 18–December 21) draws heavily from “Remembered Light,” a series that produced a book of photographs documenting painter-sculptor Cy Twombly’s studio in Lexington, Virginia, where both artists grew up.

!!Michael C. Carlos Museum
2019 marks the centennial celebration of the formal establishment of a museum to house Emory University’s collection of art and antiquities, which was relocated in 1919 from the original campus in Oxford, Georgia, to the main campus in Atlanta. In 1985, with the support of local philanthropist Michael C. Carlos, the museum moved into the old law school building following a complete renovation by architect Michael Graves. In 1993, an expanded museum and new conservation laboratory, which also benefited from Carlos’s largesse and Graves’ architectural acumen, opened as the Michael C. Carlos Museum – www.carlos.emory.edu.

Today, the Carlos Museum serves as a repository for more than 16,000 works, including what is arguably the largest ancient art collection in the Southeast. In addition to ancient artifacts from Rome, Egypt, Greece, the Near East, and the Americas; works of Asian art and sub-Saharan African art from the 19th and 20th centuries; and works on paper from the Middle Ages to the present, the museum also presents special exhibitions and educational events open to students of all ages and the general public. “The Carlos Museum’s collection of ancient art is unique in Atlanta and the Southeast, but we’re so much more than mummies,” says Allison Hutton, director of communications and marketing. “The oldest piece in our collection was created around 6,500-6,000 BC and the ‘youngest,’ a print by Tom Hück, was created in 2018, so we have quite a range.”

The museum recently launched SmARTy Packs, which lets families learn about art together in the galleries through hands-on projects. This fall, in conjunction with the exhibition “Through a Glass, Darkly” (see below), the museum will host an engraving workshop with artist Andrew Raftery. 

“__Through a Glass, Darkly: Allegory and Faith in Netherlandish Prints from Lucas van Leyden to Rembrandt__” (August 31-December 1) considers the form, function, and meaning of allegorical prints produced in the Low Countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) between the 16th and 18th centuries.

“__Minor White Unburdened: Photographs from the Collection of Lindsay W. Marshall__” (October 12-December 15) features works by Minor White alongside photographs by friends and colleagues including Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Rose Mandel. Accompanying the photographs will be a selection of White’s writings in which he reflects upon his career and lifelong personal struggles with religion, sexuality, and the constitution of the spirit.

!!MODA
In 2011, the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) – www.museumofdesign.org – celebrated its grand relocation to the sleek, stylish, ground-floor confines of Perkins + Will, a renowned architecture firm on Peachtree Street across from the High Museum, with an exhibit titled “Passione Italiana: Design of the Italian Motorcycle.” Since then, MODA has pursued its mission “to advance the understanding and appreciation of design as the convergence of creativity and functionality.”

“MODA is the only design museum in the Southeastern United States, which makes us different from institutions in Atlanta and far beyond,” says Executive Director Laura Flusche. “Our exhibitions and our programs demonstrate that design can inspire change, transform lives, and make the world a better place.”

MODA has mounted exhibitions that celebrate beautiful products (espresso machines, motorcycles), graphic designers and architects (Paul Rand, Eero Saarinen, Louise Fili), wearable technology (biofeedback devices), activist art and craft, urban design, landscape architecture, and food production techniques and distribution methodology. The museum organizes public lectures and educational programs that tackle serious topics and engage the imagination.

“Attendance at MODA has skyrocketed in the past 18 months,” says Flusche. “We’re attracting a young, diverse group of design-lovers who are passionate about social justice and human rights issues and the ways that design can address those things.”

On display at the gallery through Sunday, September 29, is “Wire & Wood: Designing Iconic Guitars”, which explores the basics of guitar design and construction alongside the ways in which musicians use the instrument to shape their public image. Included in the exhibition, curated and designed by W. Todd Vaught, are a number of instruments which have acquired legendary status by virtue of the musicians who wielded them on concert stages around the world.

Among the famed axes on display in “__Wire & Wood__” are Bo Diddley’s Gretsch 6138, Buck Owens’ Harmony Acoustic, Derek Trucks’ Gibson SG, Jack White’s Diddley Bow (from ''It'' ''Might Get Loud''), Junior Brown’s Custom Guit-Steel, Kurt Cobain’s Fender Stratocaster, Steve Vai’s Ibanez EVO, and St. Vincent’s Signature Ernie Ball Music Man.

“Wire & Wood” confronts the age-old conundrum of whether form follows function or vice-versa by first presenting the guitar in its simplest form along with information about the ways in which traditional design elements and materials affect sound. The exhibit then discusses advancements in the luthier’s art, including mass manufacturing and alternative materials, accompanied by stories explaining how and why certain modern guitars are endowed with a status beyond their mere existence.

!!Museum of Contemporary Art  of Georgia
It’s right there in the name: The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA) — www.mocaga.org — collects and archives significant, contemporary works by artists who hail from or reside in the state of Georgia. That said, to provide context and accommodate relational concepts, the museum’s exhibitions include Georgia artists and artists from around the world. 

Co-founded in 2000 by David S. Golden, then president of CGR Advisors, and Annette Cone-Skelton, an accomplished Georgia artist and now President/CEO/Director of MOCA GA, the museum’s collection includes more than 1,000 works by 330 Georgia artists in a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, photography, and installation.

“Before MOCA GA, much of the work being exhibited locally was by artists imported from other urban centers, which did not necessarily acknowledge the narratives that were important to this area,” says Cone-Skelton. “This left a tremendous void in the landscape of arts institutions in Atlanta.”

Consequently, the Atlanta arts community experienced an exodus of talent to cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. MOCA GA stepped into the void with a mission based on programs that create a forum for interchange between artists and the community, and a platform from which to launch local artists and their works into the orbit of the global arts community.  

Recently, Atlanta Contemporary announced Cone-Skelton and Atlanta mixed-media artist Kevin Cole as recipients of the 2019 Nexus Award. The award recognizes “individuals, groups, or organizations that have made significant contributions to the contemporary arts landscape and celebrates local leaders who are instrumental in making Atlanta an exceptionally vibrant arts community.” 

!!!MOCA GA fall schedule:
__Tuesday, August 13:__ Working Artist Project (WAP) Fellow Krista Clark artist talk for “__Base Line of Appraisal__” exhibition, 6:30-8:30 pm

__Thursday, September 5:__ “__Dorothy O’Connor: Scenes__” opening reception, 6:30-8:30 pm

__Friday, September 6:__ Public panel and reception for the Latin American Association exhibition (unnamed at press time), 6-9 pm

__Friday, September 13:__ WAP Fellow Myra Greene’s opening reception (unnamed at press time), 6:30-8:30 pm

__Tuesday, October 1:__ WAP Fellow Myra Greene artist talk, 6:30-8:30 pm

__Friday & Saturday, October 4-5:__ MOCA GA hosts the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Photobook Fair

__Friday, October 18:__ MOCA GA hosts the Atlanta Photography Group panel

__Friday, November 15:__ WAP Fellow Cosmo Whyte’s opening reception (unnamed at press time), 6:30-8:30 pm

::{img fileId="21491" desc="desc" max="1000"}::
!!{Poem 88}
Opened in 2010 and curated by writer and filmmaker, Robin Bernat, Poem88 – www.poem88.net  – declared a reorganization of its roster of artists. Consequently, 70 percent of the artists on the Poem 88 roster are women while approximately 28 percent represent ethnic or cultural minorities and 42 percent are 50 years of age or older. As a woman-owned business, Poem 88 is committed to supporting and nurturing “a community that is frequently sidelined in today’s contemporary art world.”

“__Raymond Goins: Infallible Beauty__” (Saturday, September 7–Saturday, October 19): This exhibition will provide an unadorned and decontextualized view of the work of Raymond Goins, a self-taught artist who moves fluidly between the realms of interior design, decorative art, and fine art. 

!!Sandler Hudson Gallery
Established in 1989 by Georgia-born owners Debbie Hudson and Robin Sandler, Sandler Hudson www.sandlerhudson.com  — Gallery specializes in innovative and provocative contemporary art that spans a multitude of disciplines including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video, and new media. For the fall season, Sandler Hudson is presenting three exhibitions:

“__Recent Drawings__” (June 28–September 14): A group exhibition featuring works by Krista Clark, William Downs, Yanique Norman, and Rocío Rodríguez, “Recent Drawings” explores a variety of mark-making using various instruments, techniques, and mediums.

“__JET__” (September 20–October 19): Los Angeles-based artist Erin D. Garcia brings his vibrant and colorful paintings to the south for the first time. “JET” will present Garcia’s distinctly rendered varicolored gradient shapes on his largest canvases to date, along with multiple works on paper.

“__Blue Distant__” (October 25–November 30): A solo exhibition of new paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by Savannah artist Namwon Choi. Choi’s elegantly offbeat works fuse conceptual notions of Eastern and Western art into a wondrously personal vision.

!!SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film
The Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) opened its Midtown Atlanta campus in 2005. Among its prominent facilities is the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film – www.scadfash.org. With nearly 10,000 square feet of exhibition space, SCAD FASH serves as a teaching museum for students and a platform for public presentations of fashion-focused designs, films, gallery talks, and lectures.

“SCAD FASH’s exhibitions and programs are curated in collaboration with world-renowned designers and artists, and are developed to inspire and engage visitors with varied backgrounds, not only fashionistas!” says SCAD’s public relations director Jeanette McWilliams. 

Past exhibitions have featured fashion luminaries, such as Oscar de la Renta, Guo Pei, Mary Katrantzou and Carolina Herrera, and fashionable work including costumes from ''The'' ''Handmaid’s Tale'' television series (SCAD exhibit ends August 12).

“The public’s interest in fashion has never been more ardent and continues to grow,” says McWilliams. “Last May, our first-ever student runway show sold out almost as quickly as the tickets went online.”

!!!During the fall season, SCAD FASH is hosting three exhibitions:
“__Aura and Invention: Alternative Processes in Photography__” (September 26–November 14) showcases works by SCAD students and recent alumni from the Atlanta and Savannah campuses. According to a SCAD press release, “Works in this exhibition were chosen for their inventiveness in process and design, by young artists who are pushing the limits and potential for photography in an image-saturated society. Through alternative perspectives in the composition of photography, these artists challenge modes of reproduction, and offer alternatives to a culture of instant production and dissemination of images.”

“__Form & Function: Shoe Art by Chris Francis__” (August 13–December 8) puts the spotlight on the Los Angeles-based street artist-turned-shoe-designer who learned his trade by consulting with and acquiring vintage machines and tools from immigrant cobblers. Francis credits the punk movement for inspiring the independent design house where he crafts small batches of wildly stylized shoes, many of which have been worn by rock stars including Mötley Crüe’s Mick Mars, Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, and former Runaways guitarist Lita Ford.

__Isabelle de Borchgrave exhibition:__ “__w__” (October 22–January 12) explores five centuries of fashion through the trompe l’oeil masterpieces of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave. Using paper and paint, de Borchgrave creates sculptural replicas of garments found in early European paintings and collections. The exhibition includes de Borchgrave’s series “Les Ballet Russes,” which interprets costumes designed by Léon Bakst, Giorgio de Chirico, and Pablo Picasso, as well as her “Kaftans” series, which was inspired by the Silk Road textiles of central Asia. The exhibition also includes work by eccentric early 20th-century artist Mariano Fortuny, whose famous Delphos gown debuted in 1907.

!!Whitespace
In a converted 1893 carriage house on Edgewood Avenue behind her Inman Park Victorian residence, Whitespace – ww.whitespace814.com – owner Susan Bridges stages exhibitions of contemporary art along with the occasional chamber ensemble performance. Opened in 2007, Whitespace was the ''Creative Loafing'' Reader’s Choice for Best Gallery in 2013.

“__On Singing the Body Formless and Electric__” (Friday, August 2–Saturday, August 31): In the spirit of poet Walt Whitman’s “I sing the body electric,” Whitespace hosts a tripartite exhibition curated by Atlanta native Lisa Alembik, assistant professor at Perimeter College of Georgia State University on the Clarkston campus. The main gallery will feature eight artist or artist groups, which include Carrie Hawks, Catherine Lucky Chang, Eleanor Aldrich, Hannah Adair, Hannah Ehrlich, Larkin Ford & Joe Hadden, Michelle Laxalt, and Parker Thornton. In the Whitespec space, the two-artist collaborative of Pinky/MM Bass and Carolyn DeMeritt will display their work, while Amanda Britton commandeers Shedspace. 

“__7th Annual Short Shorts 2019, Jiffy Louvre: Leave Worry Behind__” (Thursday, August 29, 7:30-9 p.m.): An evening of one- to five-minute films selected by guest juror, painter, sculptor, and animator Joseph Peragine, director of the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design at Georgia State University.

!!ZUCKERMAN MUSEUM OF ART
Opened in 2014, the Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art (ZMA) — www.arts.kennesaw.edu/zuckerman — on the Kennesaw State University campus encompasses three exhibition galleries, a collection research center, and a two-story-high glass atrium, which is the most striking feature of the 9,200-square-foot facility designed by Stanley Beaman & Sears. The museum regularly presents works from the university’s 6,000-piece permanent collection along with exhibitions of contemporary works by local, national, and international artists. The ZMA's Fine Arts Satellite Gallery in the Wilson Building features faculty, student, and alumni projects.

“The ZMA team, which has significantly altered in the past year, is proud of what we accomplished in the institution's first five years,” says Teresa Bramlette Reeves, director of curatorial affairs, who will have resigned from her position by the time this article is published. “We routinely presented exhibitions of depth and variety, supported local artists, shared the work of nationally and internationally recognized artists, and produced associated brochures and catalogues.”

The ZMA’s two main fall exhibitions open on Saturday, August 24, with a free reception and special programming from 3-5 p.m. 

"__Painting Who?__" (through December 15) presents a series of paintings by multiple artists, which serve multiple roles and stretch the definition and traditional boundaries of painting. “I see them as alive,” wrote Moira Dryer (1957-1992) about her work, which is featured in the show. “I see them as walking away from the wall. It’s a feeling I have that the work is active, active in our own world, not separate.” The other artists showcased in ''“''Painting Who?” are Jeff Conefry, Gracie Devito, Chris Hood and Wihro Kim.

__"Fruitful Labors__" (through November 10) focuses on strategies and tactics for coping, according to a ZMA press release. Ranging from the absurd to the essential, the tactics include conversation, repetitive labor, intergenerational storytelling, and healing practices. The artwork “reflects our innate fear of uncertainty and the unknown while simultaneously valuing the power of belief in the face of struggle.” Featured artists include Lenka Clayton, Harry Dodge/Stanya Kahn, Shanequa Gay, Stanya Kahn, Michelle Laxalt, Shana Moulton, and Kaitlynn Redell.

{BOX( bg="#8c8dc5" align="left" style="padding:15px;")}
!!::~~#000000:Reject the Box~~::
!!!::~~#000000:Atlanta-based artist-musician Lonnie Holley ruminates on the journey from obscurity to notoriety in the art world.~~::
::{img fileId="21495" desc="desc" max="800"}::

{DIV(class="byline clearfix")}~~#000000:LONNIE HOLLEY~~{DIV}

~~#000000:We struggle too long and some give up.~~

~~#000000:Ridiculed.~~

~~#000000:Criticized.~~

~~#000000:Rejected.~~

~~#000000:Not appreciated in the world.~~

~~#000000:Not appreciated in the art world.~~

~~#000000:We weren’t invited into it.~~

~~#000000:We’ve never really been invited into it.~~

~~#000000:So we had to create our own way of making and seeing the world.~~

~~#000000:I just kept pushing the boundaries of what I thought I was capable of. I kept going.~~

~~#000000:I saw so much material out there that I couldn’t stop.~~

~~#000000:I had so many other issues I had to face in my life that I couldn’t focus on the rejection. Or the criticism. In some ways I had to keep ahead of the criticism.~~

~~#000000:I kept doing my art. And kept reminding myself that my art was the purpose. It was more important than me and my feelings. I had studied and learned so many things just by looking. And listening. And doing. And looking at what ''National Geographic'' and encyclopedias contained.~~

~~#000000:Which came first, the artist or the art?~~

~~#000000:I always say, “Which will you drop first, the baby or the bomb?”~~

~~#000000:Sometimes we are on a journey and we think we are alone. And it’s scary to be alone.~~

~~#000000:But then you find out you are not alone and it gives you power. It makes you work harder.~~

~~#000000:I was not alone. I was not even alone in Alabama. People like Thornton Dial did the same thing. They had to. Mose Tolliver. Arlonzia Pettway and Nettie Young and Mary Lee Bendolph and Rita Mae Pettway and so many others, in Gee’s Bend, did the same thing. They even taught their children, so you have Louisiana Bendolph and she was paying attention. Thornton Dial’s children looked and listened. I hope my children watched, too.~~

~~#000000:Jimmie Lee Sudduth used mud and his fingers to be heard.~~

~~#000000:Ronald Lockett cut tin.~~

~~#000000:Joe Minter, right in Birmingham, had to build an entire African Village in America, to call attention to the fact that he was there. His people were there. Like me, the city tried to condemn his land and make his call go away. He didn’t.~~

~~#000000:Purvis Young in Florida painted and painted and put his paintings on a big wall. Crying out to be heard. “I have a voice,” is all he was trying to say.~~

~~#000000:Ms. Mary T. Smith painted on whatever she could find, even after losing her real voice, and surrounded her house with her work. “HEY, I AM HERE. CAN YOU SEE ME?”~~

~~#000000:Joe Light in Memphis covered his house with paintings and signs. He had something to say.~~

~~#000000:Across town from him, Hawkins Bolden, who couldn’t even see but still wanted to be seen. Even if it was just the birds that would see him.~~

~~#000000:I cried out, too.~~

~~#000000:Sometimes it only takes a few people to listen and look and understand. Bill Arnett heard our calls. And he answered them. Our story exists because he, too, wanted us to be heard. And seen. And appreciated. I thank him all the time for seeing and understanding.~~

~~#000000:I want to be looked at as an American Artist. I didn’t want to be put in categories that made feel lesser than an artist.~~

~~#000000:I was called an outsider. Folk artist. Self-taught. An orphan in a storm. A passionate visionary. All these titles they were giving me, I didn’t want to be called those names. We were always called names.~~

~~#000000:All those names clung to me like an ill-fitting suit.~~

~~#000000:The trail that I took as an artist was pretty well like my whole life. Going up and down the ditches and the creeks. Playing and messing with the debris. Stacking the stones and broken glass. Moving things out of the creek so the water could continue to run. I was like the caretaker of something much bigger than me, when I was a child, and now that I’m an older man, I see the same ditches and walk the same railroad tracks, and I’m in the same alleys, but I see waste material so much different now. I can’t help but be drawn towards making a difference with the material. And hopefully teaching others about our wasteful ways.~~

~~#000000:At one time or another, we were all dismissed. Hopefully those days are over.~~

~~#000000:The artists I mentioned can now be seen all over the country and the world. Most of them are not alive anymore, but their lives and their art lives.~~

~~#000000:In the Metropolitan Museum. The Philadelphia Museum. The Whitney Museum (Joe Minter is in the Whitney Biennial right now). The de Young Museum. The LA County Museum. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. And maybe most importantly, in the High Museum, the Birmingham Museum, the New Orleans Museum, and the other museums in the region that once rejected us.~~

~~#000000:My message to young people trying to make art. Or music. Or write. Or dance. Or whatever. Is this: Believe in yourself. Be true to who you are. Be like a duck and let the water run right off your back. It may take time, but if you are doing something that makes you happy, don’t stop. It takes people time to change. If they want to put you in a box that you don’t fit in, reject the box.~~

~~#000000:And Thumbs Up for Mother Universe.~~
{BOX}
 

{BOX( bg="#f47d5d" align="left" style="padding:15px;")}
!!::~~#000000:Atlanta’s airport art gallery~~::
!!!::~~#000000:A good place to be if your flight is delayed~~::

{DIV(class="byline clearfix")}~~#000000:KEVIN C. MADIGAN~~{DIV}
~~#000000:An exhibit to honor Georgia civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis is one of the first art installations you see when walking into the vast atrium at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Dedicated in April 2019, the “John Lewis — Good Trouble” wall display is a tribute to his life that includes artifacts, photographs, videos, and music. Above the display is a three-dimensional painting by Atlanta-based Cuban artist Alexi Torres titled “The Hero’s Journey” that employs an intricate “basket-weaving” style to portray famous faces and images from the Civil Rights Movement. 
That’s just for starters: Atlanta’s entire airport has become a rich environment for all kinds of art and artists, with multiple installations, displays, galleries, and sculptures throughout the facility, and plenty more are in the works.~~
{img fileId="21493" stylebox="float: left; margin-right:25px;" desc="desc" max="600"}~~#000000:Close to 270,000 passengers use Hartsfield every day. Benjamin Austin, co-manager of the Airport Art Program, told ''CL'' there are advantages to showing art in an airport. “It’s a massive audience that we have. We don’t have to worry if people are going to show up.” He added, “There are a lot of things that are stressful about traveling, and what we’re doing is providing some kind of alleviation from that.” 
An enormous, permanent installation called “Flight Paths” has proved popular with weary travelers. Conceived by the late artist Steven Waldeck and costing more than $4 million, it’s a multisensory walk through a Georgia forest, according to David Vogt, Austin’s colleague. “The sculptural canopy is mostly made of tin,” he said. “Trays of LED lights create the lights of the forest canopy. The sounds of the birds, insects, reptiles, and amphibians are all indigenous to Georgia.” Effects include sun shafts, rain showers, and ceiling videos showing bird species, and the installation evolves as you continue through it, becoming “more reflective of Georgia mountains and deciduous forests,” Vogt said. “You’ll see red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, swallows, and then it transitions to Georgia’s wetlands with species such as ospreys, cranes, and black ducks.” 
He continued, “Part of what the artist was envisioning is the power of memory to connect people to experiences in nature that can soothe and lower blood pressure. The idea is to bring in a bit of nature and hopefully conjure a bit of awe. I think it’s been very successful at that.”
The Transportation Mall where “Flight Paths” is located hosts two other major projects: “Zimbabwe Culture: a Tradition in Stone” was installed in 2001 and features 20 different pieces by 12 prominent Zimbabwean sculptors, and Vogt calls it one of the most significant publicly held collections in the world for this type of art, second only to the country’s National Gallery in Harare. Traditional music accompanies the sculptures as well as images of local wildlife by South African photographer Denny Allen. Two of the works in this permanent exhibit are by Gedion Nyanhongo, a master of the traditional techniques and style of what Zimbabweans call Shona Sculpture. 
The third installation in this part of the airport is “A Walk Through Atlanta History,” a multimedia collaboration with the Atlanta History Center that depicts milestone events in the city’s past. Filmmaker Gary Moss created short historical-reenactment films that are part of the mix. “We were responding to the need to create a sense of place without resorting to cliches like images of the skyline. We wanted much more substance, ” said Vogt. “The History Center helped define the narrative of the chapters in Atlanta’s history.” The “walking museum” features wall murals and displays that showcase eight significant time periods in the life of Atlanta.  
{img fileId="21492" stylebox="float: right; margin-left:25px;" desc="desc" max="400"}Then there is “Youth Art,” one of two projects at the airport featuring art by Georgia students. Vogt said, “We get a lot of positive feedback about this. The work is playful, spontaneous, and over the years quite a few pieces have been purchased by passengers. It’s nice for the students to make a bit of money and get recognition at the world’s busiest airport.”      
“Pushing Portraiture” has been getting a lot of attention too. The rotating exhibits, displayed in four different corridors, combine work from four photographers — Manuel Archain, Rob MacInnis, Ulric Collette, and Laena Wilder — known for extending the limits of contemporary portraiture by using digital manipulation to create surreal or hyperreal effects in their work. Austin said they “wanted to focus on different photographers who all had a quirkier take on portraiture.” He conceded that some of the photos are “a little unsettling” but insisted any art at the airport “has to be visually arresting, otherwise people won’t notice it.” 
Special climate-controlled display cases are used to protect much of the art. “We have UV-laminated glass and filtration systems that create a positive airflow and don’t allow a lot of dust to enter the case. Our newer cases all have that system,” Austin said. 
The process of acquiring commission pieces for Hartsfield begins with identifying sites and then shortlisting artists, Austin said. “Then we’ll either ask those artists to submit proposals for that particular site or we’ll select artists based on past work and qualification. Then we convene a selection panel, and we interview the artists and select one based on their recommendation. For the rotating exhibit program, it’s a mix between getting proposals from entities and us reaching out to people and soliciting proposals from them.” 
Vogt and Austin are busily planning more exhibits for the coming months and years: “In October we’re going to be putting in an impressive exhibit of contemporary art from Haiti. That will run for one year in our display cases on Concourse E,” Vogt said. There will also be works from the late folk artist Eddie Owens Martin, who created a seven-acre art compound called Pasaquan in rural Georgia.
“Next year we will have an artist named Nancy Judd who makes clothing out of recycled materials,” Vogt said. “It’s a more environmentally-themed exhibit. The garments she makes are exquisite, but they are intended to focus on our wasteful consumerism.” 
Ned Kahn, a MacArthur “genius grant” recipient, does environmentally-based work too and has been commissioned to do a large kinetic wind-activated piece on the facade of a new parking deck in College Park. A recurring employee art show is scheduled for later this year, as is a photo exhibit in the atrium in conjunction with the annual Atlanta Celebrates Photography festival.  
Photographer Joel Sartore of National Geographic fame has embarked on a project to document every living species on the planet, and Vogt is hoping to land an exhibition of his work as well. 
As if all that wasn’t enough, Vogt added, “We just passed legislation to contract with artists to create a six-part sculptural installation for a tiered granite step that follows the up escalators to Concourse D.”~~
::{img fileId="21494" desc="desc" max="1000"}::
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  string(35936) " Visual Arts  2019-08-02T18:46:56+00:00 Visual Arts_sm.jpg    fall arts preview 2019 visual arts Galleries and gatherings, plastic and static, memories and narratives 21505  2019-08-04T03:49:21+00:00 Fall Arts Preview 2019: Visual Arts jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris DOUG DELOACH  2019-08-04T03:49:21+00:00 Same as it ever was, the visual arts scene in Atlanta is in a state of flux, particularly at the street level where the West and Southwest flanks of downtown mark the next major front for the newest of the new to appear. With the Goat Farm closing and morphing... SIDEBAR: Reject the Box

SIDEBAR: Atlanta’s airport art gallery

Same as it ever was, the visual arts scene in Atlanta is in a state of flux, particularly at the street level where the West and Southwest flanks of downtown mark the next major front for the newest of the new to appear. With the Goat Farm closing and morphing into who-knows-what; the construction of The MET continuing apace and attracting entities like MINT and Mammal Gallery; and The Bakery executing its inspiring, if sometimes bewilderingly eclectic, strategy with characteristic DIY aplomb (while facing a move in the next year, as the lease on the arts center’s Warner Street building will not be renewed), the west side is the best side for seeking out the edges of Atlanta’s art/art music/art performance scene.

“Atlanta’s strong suit for the 40-something years I’ve been here is how incredibly active the grassroots community is,” says Louise Shaw, curator of the Senser Museum at the Centers for Disease Control and cofounder of Idea Capital, an arts funding group. “People, particularly young people, are continually trying to reinvent the art scene.”

Otherwise, the more things change, the more stalwart venues, such as the High Museum, Atlanta Contemporary, Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, the major arts institutions and fine art galleries, keep moving forward with their respective missions. At the same time, public art, street art, mural painting, and graffiti are exerting a particular influence on the Atlanta art scene for which the city is becoming increasingly recognized nationally and internationally.

“The street art trend is really exciting,” says Shaw. “The work along Edgewood and in Cabbagetown, the Krog Tunnel, these works that stay up for a few months and are then replaced by new work — this kind of activity creates a vibrancy and excitement lacking in many cities.” 

From gleaming white halls and walls to sandblasted slabs of brick and concrete to just about any flat accessible surface with a sightline, Atlanta’s visual artists, curators and gallery owners use whatever means are available to satisfy the muse. That’s how it works.

!!Atlanta Celebrates Photography
Entering its third decade, Atlanta Celebrates Photography (ACP) — www.acpinfo.org — is both an annual festival and the name of the organization responsible for staging the event. Billed as the largest community photography event in America, the 2019 edition of the ACP festival, which begins in mid-September and runs through the end of October, features more than 100 happenings including five lectures, three professional development workshops, a photobook fair, a film series, and numerous exhibits. This panoply of activity takes place at site-specific outdoor installations including the BeltLine, arts facilities, museums, galleries, retail businesses, and special venues spread across metro Atlanta.

“The ACP festival provides a comprehensive platform not only for people to experience our events, but to participate as creators,” says ACP Executive Director Amy Miller. “This allows for a true celebration of all that photography can be — a multifaceted art form with the power to change lives and connect people.”

The ACP has no event facility to call its own. All exhibits, lectures, screenings, and sundry programs are arranged through partnerships with other organizations and institutions. “The beauty of this business model is that the entire city becomes our venue,” Miller says. “The ACP festival raises awareness of arts venues and cultural organizations throughout the city, which creates a rising tide that, hopefully, lifts all boats.”

!!!Highlights of the 2019 Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival include:
The FENCE (Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside Trail): This truly mega-outdoor photo exhibition returns to Atlanta with more than 40 photographers from around the world, selected by a jury of 40 experts from a  global call for entries, spreading the joy of their craft along a 700+-foot-long fence.

ACP Auction Gala (Saturday, September 14): Cocktail reception, open bar, dinner, plus a silent auction at The Landmark honoring Dr. Sarah Kennel, newly installed curator of photography at the High Museum of Art. The auction serves as the primary fundraising event for ACP and the 2019 ACP Festival.

ACP Special Exhibition: Teen Spirit at Mason Fine Art – www.masonfineartandevents.com – (Artists Reception, Thursday, September 19, 6-9 p.m., Exhibition September 19-October 11, free and open to the public). Volunteer photographers, led by ACP co-founder Corinne Adams, guide teens at Scottish Rite and Egleston hospitals in an exploration of identity, including (or in spite of) their diagnosis, through writing and photographic self-portraiture. This exhibition showcases the creative work produced by the teens during the past 12 months.

Photobook Fair (October 4-5): The photo book event of the Southeast at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. For the complete list of exhibitors, artist talks, and book-signings, please visit ACPinfo.org 

Chris Verene’s “Home Movies” (Thursday, October 10): The Landmark Midtown Art Cinema hosts a one-night-only screening of “home movies” (video clips) shot by renowned photographer Chris Verene during the course of documenting his family’s life in rural Illinois, which has been the former Atlantan’s primary subject for the past three decades. A post-screening panel discussion will feature photographer Ashley Reid and Mona Bennett, ambassador of the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, moderated by Felicia Feaster.

In conjunction with the Landmark screening of “Home Movies,” Marcia Wood Gallery – www.marciawoodgallery.com – which represents Verene, will be exhibiting a large selection of the artist’s photographs during the ACP Festival. Verene will be in attendance at the gallery opening in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood on September 18 and closing reception on October 12.

!!Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center
In 2015, the Atlanta Contemporary dropped the “Arts Center” from its name and fully embraced the institutionalized practice of “free admission, every day.” Today, Atlanta Contemporary – www.atlantacontemporary.org – occupies a special position in the arts community not only because of the price of admission to the facility, but also by virtue of its varied offerings, which include showcasing and commissioning new work by emerging artists; diverse educational programs, such as Contemporary Kids, Contemporary Cocktails, and Contemporary Talks; and on-site subsidized studio space for working artists through the Studio Artist Program. Atlanta Contemporary, incidentally, also throws great art parties and openings.

“Any city that is a beacon for tourism and advancement in technology, any city that wants to be recognized as a destination, needs a contemporary art center that advocates for what’s happening today,” says Executive Director Veronica Kessenich.

With the departure of curator Daniel Fuller at the end of June, Kessenich is moving forward with a full slate of previously scheduled fall exhibitions and looking with anticipation toward a new chapter in the evolution of the Westside arts center.

“Daniel was such an integral part of Atlanta Contemporary over the last four and a half years,” says Kessenich. “We will surely miss him and thank him for his leadership and service to Atlanta Contemporary.”

On tap between Saturday, August 24, and Sunday, December 22, are solo exhibitions by Bryan Graf and Emma McMillan, plus Contemporary On-Site projects featuring Coco Hunday, an artist-run exhibition space in Tampa, Florida; Atlanta-based artist Wihro Kim; and Bailey Scieszka who lives and works in Detroit.

In “Landlines,” Bryan Graf explores a range of photographic approaches and subjects, seeking balance or an equivalence between conceptual, visceral, and narrative elements. “The photographs in this show are notes, recordings, observations, and questions from specific places and times,” notes the Atlanta Contemporary press release. “This is an optical research into the debris of the days; a self-portrait of the dust that sculpts us.”

Emma McMillan’s “Project X” is inspired by the work of Atlanta architect John Portman, whose influence on the contours of the Atlanta skyline can scarcely be understated. Appropriating the name of an unrealized 1969 utopian residential building, Project X conjures up the architect’s design theory and manifest legacy in a series of large oil and aquarelle paintings, which are displayed across aluminum scaffolding, creating an immersive environment reminiscent of Portman’s iconic downtown Atlanta structures.

!!EBD4
Coinciding with the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival, EBD4 – www.EBD4.com – an industrial space for creatives in Chamblee, is staging a special “ACP at EBD4” exhibition. “1980’s ATL Portraits of Drag Queens & Club Kids (think RuPaul)” by Al Clayton showcases Clayton’s chronicling of the intersectional-before-it-was-cool club scene in Atlanta back when the local celebrity head count included RuPaul, Larry Tee, LaHoma, Sable Chanel, Charlie Brown, and Spike, among others. 

The exhibition will also display images from Clayton’s landmark 1969 book, Still Hungry in America, along with select images of Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Townes van Zandt, Tammy Wynette and other luminaries from Ken Burns’ documentary Country Music. The Clayton family will have prints from the photographer’s personal collection available, as well as limited edition prints.

Opening: Saturday, October 19, 2019, 6:30. Dance party starts at 8:30, admission $10.

Open House: Wednesday, October 23–Saturday, October 26, 1–5 p.m. or by appointment.

!!Gallery 72
It may come as a surprise to some that the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs has its own art gallery. Opened in 2014, Gallery 72 — www.ocaatlanta.com — is located downtown on the first floor of the 72 Marietta Street building. During the past five years, Gallery 72 has hosted a variety of exhibitions addressing relevant topics ranging from human trafficking, civil and human rights, memory and ritual, to the growth of local arts organizations (e.g., Wonderroot, The Creatives Project) and the rise of hip-hop. 

“Gallery 72 is a space where artists can push the experimental aesthetics of their work, which they may not choose to pursue in more commercial venues,” says gallery director Kevin Sipp. “It is also important that the gallery represents Atlanta as it is now, which is a melting pot of vibrant cultures, political views, and ideas.”

Gallery 72 will host two exhibitions in the fall: In “Reclaim/Proclaim Blandtown” (October 10-November 22), Gregor Turk takes up the subject of a long-neglected Westside Atlanta neighborhood. In the 1950s, the African-American community of Blandtown, which once boasted more than 200 houses, was rezoned to heavy industrial without proper public review. Today, much of the area, which is bisected by the BeltLine, is being rezoned back to residential for rapid redevelopment. Of the four original remaining houses, one was converted by Turk in 2003 into his studio. Comprising wall-mounted sculpture and photography, “Reclaim/Proclaim Blandtown” is part history lesson, part manifesto, and part civic rousing. In 2017, Turk received an Idea Capital grant for developing this project followed by an Artist Project Grant the next year from the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

"Contrapunto: A Latin American Art Collective in Atlanta" (November 28-February 7) celebrates the work of a Latin art collective founded in 2008 by Carlos Solis. In addition to Solis, Contrapunto members, all of whom are based in Atlanta, included in the exhibition are Jorge Arcos, Pedro Fuertes, Catalina Gomez Beuth, Dora López, and Graciela Núñez Bedoya, Their work ranges from surrealist, cubist, and abstract to realist and naturalistic. In Spanish, “contrapunto” usually refers to the musical practice of joining two or more melodies to create harmony while maintaining the individual quality of each player’s contribution.

Says Sipp, “The narratives that fuel Atlanta and its present growth have expanded beyond past narratives to include transcendent global perspectives from all corners of the world.”

!!Hathaway Gallery
::::


Established in 2015 in what is now a thriving Westside neighborhood jam-packed with live-work spaces, restaurants, and entertainment venues, Hathaway Gallery – www.hathawaygallery.com  – strives to “foster and expand the contemporary art collector base in the Southeast through inclusivity and education.” Hathaway’s fall exhibition schedule includes:

“No Place Like Home” (July 20–September 7): A three-person exhibition of works by Jaime Bull, In Kyoung Chun, and Maryam Palizgir. Each of the artists brings a distinctly expressive technique and vision to bear on the idea of “home.” 

“Changing Tides” (September 14–November 9): A solo exhibition featuring the highly kinetic, vividly colorful abstract paintings of Fran O’Neill. 

!!High Museum
In the realm of mainstream visual arts, every major metropolitan city has its leader of the pack. The museum with the largest and deepest collection, the curatorial punch, and the financial wherewithal to make things happen that other institutions can’t and, truth be told, don’t need to match.

In Atlanta, the High Museum of Art – www.high.org – has filled that role since the founding of the Atlanta Art Association (the museum’s organizational precursor) in 1905. In 2019, the sensually curvaceous, gleaming white structure, situated on a gently rising grassy slope at the corner of Peachtree and 16th streets, stands alongside the Alliance Theater and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as one of three pillars girding the Woodruff Arts Center.

In 2018, the High undertook a total reconfiguration of its almost 94,000 square feet of gallery space. The massive makeover allowed for the rearrangement of artwork from the museum’s 16,000-piece permanent collection and the inclusion of a trove of never-before-exhibited artistic treasure. Among those treasures were selections from a 2017 acquisition of visionary folk art from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, which shone new light on the art of Thornton Dial, Sr., Lonnie Holley, Henry Church, Mary T. Smith, and the fabulous quilts created by the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama.


At the end of last year, the High Museum presented Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors,” a wildly popular exhibition seen by 136,000 people before closing in February. For a minute at least, it seemed like Kusama-mania had imbued the museum with a rejuvenating hipness, tagging the joint as being worthy of regular visitation by a new generation or two of art-curious fans.


“We’re always committed to presenting the finest examples of artistic achievement we can get our hands on,” says High Museum director Rand Suffolk.

!!!Three exhibitions distinguish the High Museum’s fall calendar:
“Something Over Something Else,” Romare Bearden’s Profile Series (Sept. 14, 2019– Feb. 2, 2020):

Organized by the High, this touring exhibition brings together dozens of works from Romare Bearden’s “Profile” series for the first time since its debut nearly 40 years ago. A series of collages conjures up the original presentations from 1978 and 1981, which featured accompanying wall texts written by Bearden (who died in 1988) in collaboration with essayist, jazz critic, and novelist Albert Murray.

“A Thousand Crossings,” Sally Mann (Oct. 19, 2019–Feb. 2, 2020): 


One of the preeminent art photographers of the last half-century, Sally Mann (American, born 1951) is a Virginia native whose work is often deeply, sometimes defiantly, rooted in her journey as a Southerner. Notes the High’s press preview: “The exhibition is both a sweeping overview of Mann’s artistic achievement over the past four decades and a focused exploration of how the South emerges in her work as a powerful and provocative force…”


“Figures of Speech,” Virgil Abloh (Nov. 9, 2019–March 8, 2020): 

Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, where it debuted in June, “Figures of Speech” showcases the work of Virgil Abloh, the 39-year-old creative operator at the console of a thoroughly modern matrix enveloping art, music, fashion, and celebrity. The exhibition includes clothing designs for Louis Vuitton (Abloh is the first person of African descent to lead the Parisian fashion house’s ready-to-wear line for men); videos of fashion shows, which have garnered no small amount of viral online attention; and Abloh’s distinctive furniture designs (some for IKEA) and graphic art.

“Each exhibition also complements our permanent collection, adding context and insight across multiple collecting areas,” says Suffolk. “Presenting one of these shows would be exceptional.  Having all three here this fall is extraordinary.”

!!Jackson Fine Art
Widely recognized as one of the most important supporters of contemporary fine art photography in Atlanta and beyond, Jackson Fine Art – www.jacksonfineart.com – caters to artists, collectors, museums and corporate clients with services ranging from curating and managing collections to framing and installing.

For the fall season, Jackson Fine Art is showcasing a large selection of photographs by Sally Mann to supplement her retrospective at the High Museum (see above). Specifically, the exhibit (October 18–December 21) draws heavily from “Remembered Light,” a series that produced a book of photographs documenting painter-sculptor Cy Twombly’s studio in Lexington, Virginia, where both artists grew up.

!!Michael C. Carlos Museum
2019 marks the centennial celebration of the formal establishment of a museum to house Emory University’s collection of art and antiquities, which was relocated in 1919 from the original campus in Oxford, Georgia, to the main campus in Atlanta. In 1985, with the support of local philanthropist Michael C. Carlos, the museum moved into the old law school building following a complete renovation by architect Michael Graves. In 1993, an expanded museum and new conservation laboratory, which also benefited from Carlos’s largesse and Graves’ architectural acumen, opened as the Michael C. Carlos Museum – www.carlos.emory.edu.

Today, the Carlos Museum serves as a repository for more than 16,000 works, including what is arguably the largest ancient art collection in the Southeast. In addition to ancient artifacts from Rome, Egypt, Greece, the Near East, and the Americas; works of Asian art and sub-Saharan African art from the 19th and 20th centuries; and works on paper from the Middle Ages to the present, the museum also presents special exhibitions and educational events open to students of all ages and the general public. “The Carlos Museum’s collection of ancient art is unique in Atlanta and the Southeast, but we’re so much more than mummies,” says Allison Hutton, director of communications and marketing. “The oldest piece in our collection was created around 6,500-6,000 BC and the ‘youngest,’ a print by Tom Hück, was created in 2018, so we have quite a range.”

The museum recently launched SmARTy Packs, which lets families learn about art together in the galleries through hands-on projects. This fall, in conjunction with the exhibition “Through a Glass, Darkly” (see below), the museum will host an engraving workshop with artist Andrew Raftery. 

“Through a Glass, Darkly: Allegory and Faith in Netherlandish Prints from Lucas van Leyden to Rembrandt” (August 31-December 1) considers the form, function, and meaning of allegorical prints produced in the Low Countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) between the 16th and 18th centuries.

“Minor White Unburdened: Photographs from the Collection of Lindsay W. Marshall” (October 12-December 15) features works by Minor White alongside photographs by friends and colleagues including Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Rose Mandel. Accompanying the photographs will be a selection of White’s writings in which he reflects upon his career and lifelong personal struggles with religion, sexuality, and the constitution of the spirit.

!!MODA
In 2011, the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) – www.museumofdesign.org – celebrated its grand relocation to the sleek, stylish, ground-floor confines of Perkins + Will, a renowned architecture firm on Peachtree Street across from the High Museum, with an exhibit titled “Passione Italiana: Design of the Italian Motorcycle.” Since then, MODA has pursued its mission “to advance the understanding and appreciation of design as the convergence of creativity and functionality.”

“MODA is the only design museum in the Southeastern United States, which makes us different from institutions in Atlanta and far beyond,” says Executive Director Laura Flusche. “Our exhibitions and our programs demonstrate that design can inspire change, transform lives, and make the world a better place.”

MODA has mounted exhibitions that celebrate beautiful products (espresso machines, motorcycles), graphic designers and architects (Paul Rand, Eero Saarinen, Louise Fili), wearable technology (biofeedback devices), activist art and craft, urban design, landscape architecture, and food production techniques and distribution methodology. The museum organizes public lectures and educational programs that tackle serious topics and engage the imagination.

“Attendance at MODA has skyrocketed in the past 18 months,” says Flusche. “We’re attracting a young, diverse group of design-lovers who are passionate about social justice and human rights issues and the ways that design can address those things.”

On display at the gallery through Sunday, September 29, is “Wire & Wood: Designing Iconic Guitars”, which explores the basics of guitar design and construction alongside the ways in which musicians use the instrument to shape their public image. Included in the exhibition, curated and designed by W. Todd Vaught, are a number of instruments which have acquired legendary status by virtue of the musicians who wielded them on concert stages around the world.

Among the famed axes on display in “Wire & Wood” are Bo Diddley’s Gretsch 6138, Buck Owens’ Harmony Acoustic, Derek Trucks’ Gibson SG, Jack White’s Diddley Bow (from It Might Get Loud), Junior Brown’s Custom Guit-Steel, Kurt Cobain’s Fender Stratocaster, Steve Vai’s Ibanez EVO, and St. Vincent’s Signature Ernie Ball Music Man.

“Wire & Wood” confronts the age-old conundrum of whether form follows function or vice-versa by first presenting the guitar in its simplest form along with information about the ways in which traditional design elements and materials affect sound. The exhibit then discusses advancements in the luthier’s art, including mass manufacturing and alternative materials, accompanied by stories explaining how and why certain modern guitars are endowed with a status beyond their mere existence.

!!Museum of Contemporary Art  of Georgia
It’s right there in the name: The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA) — www.mocaga.org — collects and archives significant, contemporary works by artists who hail from or reside in the state of Georgia. That said, to provide context and accommodate relational concepts, the museum’s exhibitions include Georgia artists and artists from around the world. 

Co-founded in 2000 by David S. Golden, then president of CGR Advisors, and Annette Cone-Skelton, an accomplished Georgia artist and now President/CEO/Director of MOCA GA, the museum’s collection includes more than 1,000 works by 330 Georgia artists in a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, photography, and installation.

“Before MOCA GA, much of the work being exhibited locally was by artists imported from other urban centers, which did not necessarily acknowledge the narratives that were important to this area,” says Cone-Skelton. “This left a tremendous void in the landscape of arts institutions in Atlanta.”

Consequently, the Atlanta arts community experienced an exodus of talent to cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. MOCA GA stepped into the void with a mission based on programs that create a forum for interchange between artists and the community, and a platform from which to launch local artists and their works into the orbit of the global arts community.  

Recently, Atlanta Contemporary announced Cone-Skelton and Atlanta mixed-media artist Kevin Cole as recipients of the 2019 Nexus Award. The award recognizes “individuals, groups, or organizations that have made significant contributions to the contemporary arts landscape and celebrates local leaders who are instrumental in making Atlanta an exceptionally vibrant arts community.” 

!!!MOCA GA fall schedule:
Tuesday, August 13: Working Artist Project (WAP) Fellow Krista Clark artist talk for “Base Line of Appraisal” exhibition, 6:30-8:30 pm

Thursday, September 5: “Dorothy O’Connor: Scenes” opening reception, 6:30-8:30 pm

Friday, September 6: Public panel and reception for the Latin American Association exhibition (unnamed at press time), 6-9 pm

Friday, September 13: WAP Fellow Myra Greene’s opening reception (unnamed at press time), 6:30-8:30 pm

Tuesday, October 1: WAP Fellow Myra Greene artist talk, 6:30-8:30 pm

Friday & Saturday, October 4-5: MOCA GA hosts the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Photobook Fair

Friday, October 18: MOCA GA hosts the Atlanta Photography Group panel

Friday, November 15: WAP Fellow Cosmo Whyte’s opening reception (unnamed at press time), 6:30-8:30 pm

::::
!!
Opened in 2010 and curated by writer and filmmaker, Robin Bernat, Poem88 – www.poem88.net  – declared a reorganization of its roster of artists. Consequently, 70 percent of the artists on the Poem 88 roster are women while approximately 28 percent represent ethnic or cultural minorities and 42 percent are 50 years of age or older. As a woman-owned business, Poem 88 is committed to supporting and nurturing “a community that is frequently sidelined in today’s contemporary art world.”

“Raymond Goins: Infallible Beauty” (Saturday, September 7–Saturday, October 19): This exhibition will provide an unadorned and decontextualized view of the work of Raymond Goins, a self-taught artist who moves fluidly between the realms of interior design, decorative art, and fine art. 

!!Sandler Hudson Gallery
Established in 1989 by Georgia-born owners Debbie Hudson and Robin Sandler, Sandler Hudson www.sandlerhudson.com  — Gallery specializes in innovative and provocative contemporary art that spans a multitude of disciplines including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video, and new media. For the fall season, Sandler Hudson is presenting three exhibitions:

“Recent Drawings” (June 28–September 14): A group exhibition featuring works by Krista Clark, William Downs, Yanique Norman, and Rocío Rodríguez, “Recent Drawings” explores a variety of mark-making using various instruments, techniques, and mediums.

“JET” (September 20–October 19): Los Angeles-based artist Erin D. Garcia brings his vibrant and colorful paintings to the south for the first time. “JET” will present Garcia’s distinctly rendered varicolored gradient shapes on his largest canvases to date, along with multiple works on paper.

“Blue Distant” (October 25–November 30): A solo exhibition of new paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by Savannah artist Namwon Choi. Choi’s elegantly offbeat works fuse conceptual notions of Eastern and Western art into a wondrously personal vision.

!!SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film
The Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) opened its Midtown Atlanta campus in 2005. Among its prominent facilities is the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film – www.scadfash.org. With nearly 10,000 square feet of exhibition space, SCAD FASH serves as a teaching museum for students and a platform for public presentations of fashion-focused designs, films, gallery talks, and lectures.

“SCAD FASH’s exhibitions and programs are curated in collaboration with world-renowned designers and artists, and are developed to inspire and engage visitors with varied backgrounds, not only fashionistas!” says SCAD’s public relations director Jeanette McWilliams. 

Past exhibitions have featured fashion luminaries, such as Oscar de la Renta, Guo Pei, Mary Katrantzou and Carolina Herrera, and fashionable work including costumes from The Handmaid’s Tale television series (SCAD exhibit ends August 12).

“The public’s interest in fashion has never been more ardent and continues to grow,” says McWilliams. “Last May, our first-ever student runway show sold out almost as quickly as the tickets went online.”

!!!During the fall season, SCAD FASH is hosting three exhibitions:
“Aura and Invention: Alternative Processes in Photography” (September 26–November 14) showcases works by SCAD students and recent alumni from the Atlanta and Savannah campuses. According to a SCAD press release, “Works in this exhibition were chosen for their inventiveness in process and design, by young artists who are pushing the limits and potential for photography in an image-saturated society. Through alternative perspectives in the composition of photography, these artists challenge modes of reproduction, and offer alternatives to a culture of instant production and dissemination of images.”

“Form & Function: Shoe Art by Chris Francis” (August 13–December 8) puts the spotlight on the Los Angeles-based street artist-turned-shoe-designer who learned his trade by consulting with and acquiring vintage machines and tools from immigrant cobblers. Francis credits the punk movement for inspiring the independent design house where he crafts small batches of wildly stylized shoes, many of which have been worn by rock stars including Mötley Crüe’s Mick Mars, Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, and former Runaways guitarist Lita Ford.

Isabelle de Borchgrave exhibition: “w” (October 22–January 12) explores five centuries of fashion through the trompe l’oeil masterpieces of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave. Using paper and paint, de Borchgrave creates sculptural replicas of garments found in early European paintings and collections. The exhibition includes de Borchgrave’s series “Les Ballet Russes,” which interprets costumes designed by Léon Bakst, Giorgio de Chirico, and Pablo Picasso, as well as her “Kaftans” series, which was inspired by the Silk Road textiles of central Asia. The exhibition also includes work by eccentric early 20th-century artist Mariano Fortuny, whose famous Delphos gown debuted in 1907.

!!Whitespace
In a converted 1893 carriage house on Edgewood Avenue behind her Inman Park Victorian residence, Whitespace – ww.whitespace814.com – owner Susan Bridges stages exhibitions of contemporary art along with the occasional chamber ensemble performance. Opened in 2007, Whitespace was the Creative Loafing Reader’s Choice for Best Gallery in 2013.

“On Singing the Body Formless and Electric” (Friday, August 2–Saturday, August 31): In the spirit of poet Walt Whitman’s “I sing the body electric,” Whitespace hosts a tripartite exhibition curated by Atlanta native Lisa Alembik, assistant professor at Perimeter College of Georgia State University on the Clarkston campus. The main gallery will feature eight artist or artist groups, which include Carrie Hawks, Catherine Lucky Chang, Eleanor Aldrich, Hannah Adair, Hannah Ehrlich, Larkin Ford & Joe Hadden, Michelle Laxalt, and Parker Thornton. In the Whitespec space, the two-artist collaborative of Pinky/MM Bass and Carolyn DeMeritt will display their work, while Amanda Britton commandeers Shedspace. 

“7th Annual Short Shorts 2019, Jiffy Louvre: Leave Worry Behind” (Thursday, August 29, 7:30-9 p.m.): An evening of one- to five-minute films selected by guest juror, painter, sculptor, and animator Joseph Peragine, director of the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design at Georgia State University.

!!ZUCKERMAN MUSEUM OF ART
Opened in 2014, the Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art (ZMA) — www.arts.kennesaw.edu/zuckerman — on the Kennesaw State University campus encompasses three exhibition galleries, a collection research center, and a two-story-high glass atrium, which is the most striking feature of the 9,200-square-foot facility designed by Stanley Beaman & Sears. The museum regularly presents works from the university’s 6,000-piece permanent collection along with exhibitions of contemporary works by local, national, and international artists. The ZMA's Fine Arts Satellite Gallery in the Wilson Building features faculty, student, and alumni projects.

“The ZMA team, which has significantly altered in the past year, is proud of what we accomplished in the institution's first five years,” says Teresa Bramlette Reeves, director of curatorial affairs, who will have resigned from her position by the time this article is published. “We routinely presented exhibitions of depth and variety, supported local artists, shared the work of nationally and internationally recognized artists, and produced associated brochures and catalogues.”

The ZMA’s two main fall exhibitions open on Saturday, August 24, with a free reception and special programming from 3-5 p.m. 

"Painting Who?" (through December 15) presents a series of paintings by multiple artists, which serve multiple roles and stretch the definition and traditional boundaries of painting. “I see them as alive,” wrote Moira Dryer (1957-1992) about her work, which is featured in the show. “I see them as walking away from the wall. It’s a feeling I have that the work is active, active in our own world, not separate.” The other artists showcased in “Painting Who?” are Jeff Conefry, Gracie Devito, Chris Hood and Wihro Kim.

"Fruitful Labors" (through November 10) focuses on strategies and tactics for coping, according to a ZMA press release. Ranging from the absurd to the essential, the tactics include conversation, repetitive labor, intergenerational storytelling, and healing practices. The artwork “reflects our innate fear of uncertainty and the unknown while simultaneously valuing the power of belief in the face of struggle.” Featured artists include Lenka Clayton, Harry Dodge/Stanya Kahn, Shanequa Gay, Stanya Kahn, Michelle Laxalt, Shana Moulton, and Kaitlynn Redell.


 


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The Arts Issue, Explore Arts & Culture

Saturday August 3, 2019 11:49 pm EDT
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Since its founding more than 40 years ago, 7 Stages Theatre — www.7stages.org —has been devoted to producing provocative material and confronting difficult subjects..."
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  string(23751) "!!7 Stages
Since its founding more than 40 years ago, 7 Stages Theatre — www.7stages.org —has been devoted to producing provocative material and confronting difficult subjects. At press time, 7 Stages was not ready to announce the production company’s 2019-2020 season schedule. However, three productions by other companies will take place in the 7 Stages Theater in Little Five Points during the next two months. Each play poses tough questions, and focuses on characters facing severe physical, emotional, and moral challenges.

::::
With "Grounded" (August 3-17), Atlanta Theater Club (ATC) – www.atlantatheatreclub.com – is back with another intensely emotional work produced and directed by company founder Rebeca Robles. "Grounded" takes audiences into the mind and soul of a former ace fighter pilot operating military drones from a windowless trailer outside Las Vegas. The Pilot (actress Courtney Moors) watches screens to hunt and kill terrorists all day long and returns to her family each night. As the pressure to track a high-profile target mounts, the boundaries begin to blur between the desert in which she lives and the one she patrols half a world away. Robles, Moors, and seven of ATL’s most accomplished female theater artists are in control of every aspect of this Atlanta premiere including video and projection design, sound and lighting, scenic design, and wardrobe.

For the past seven seasons, Aris — “Atlanta’s stage for Celtic culture” — has brought the Celtic theatrical and literary traditions, mythology, and storytelling from the British Isles to Atlanta. Next month, Aris – Aristheatre.org – presents the Atlanta premiere of "Woman and Scarecrow" by celebrated Irish playwright Marina Carr. Emory University professor Jon Ammerman directs this very intimate play set in a dying woman’s bedroom. In the face of her death, the woman threshes out her life’s truths, sparring with a ridiculous aunt, a cheating husband, and a slippery alter ego. 

On Friday, September 27, The Object Group and 7 Stages Theatre present a sneak peek presentation of Michael Haverty’s adaptation of Albert Camus’ "L’Etranger" (The Outsider). Puppetry and noir/new wave-inspired projected cinema are integrated in an absurd investigation of Camus’ cautionary tale. The original 1942 novel is riddled with messy conflicts between existential philosophy and privileged oppression, sometimes to the apparent blindness of the author. This multimedia experience explodes the story onto stage and screen, allowing insight while tickling the mind and senses. 

!!Actor’s Express
“We seek to jumpstart individual transformations through the shared adventure of our live performances, which range from daringly provocative to audaciously hilarious.” That sentence from the mission statement for Actor’s Express Theatre — www.actors-express.com — says a lot about them — and not just what they want to accomplish as a theatre, but how. The theatre has been pushing emotional envelopes since Chris Coleman founded Actor’s Express in the basement of a church on Clairmont Road 31 years ago. Freddie Ashley has been artistic director since 2007, and few Atlanta theaters are as successful at reflecting the passion, intelligence, and geniality and flair of their leadership.

Ashley also directs most AE dramas, comedies, and musicals that attract sold-out houses night after night. Here are just some of AE’s bravest and most entertaining work of the past dozen seasons: "Stupid Fucking Bird," "Bad Jews," "Murder Ballad," "The Rocky Horror Show," "Six Degrees of Separation," "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson," "Kiss of the Spider Woman," "The Motherfucker with the Hat," "Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them," "Spring Awakening," "Slasher," "Grey Gardens," and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."

Next month, Ashley and another smart AE cast will unveil their 31st season with "Skintight." The Atlanta premiere of "Bad Jews," playwright Joshua Harmon’s latest comedy, pokes fun at America’s obsession with youth, sex, and physical beauty. When Jodi Isaac flies across the country to visit her famous fashion mogul father for his 70th birthday, she finds that her dad’s new boyfriend is a 20-year-old porn star. OK! "Skintight" sounds like a perfect fit for Actor’s Express. 

!!Alliance Theatre
Elton John’s "Aida." "Bring It On: The Musical." "The Color Purple." "The Last Night of Ballyhoo." "The Prom." "Sister Act: The Musical." Twyla Tharp’s "Come Fly Away." 

Can you guess what all these (and many more) hit plays and musicals have in common? They were all first performed at the Alliance Theatre — www.alliancetheatre.org — right here in ATL. Over the past 51 years, the Alliance has premiered more than 100 original productions, launching important American musicals with a strong track record of Broadway, touring, and subsequent productions, including several Tony Award winners. In fact, in 2007, the Alliance won a special Tony Award as Best Regional Theater in America. 

2019-2020 will be their first full season in their lavishly renovated main stage space, which opened late last year. In "Becoming Nancy," the next big musical to premiere at the Alliance, David, a talented high school senior tries out for the school play and is cast as the female lead. It’s 1979, and everyone in his small English suburb is shocked, including David. Should he play the part? Just wait and see. Another sign that "Becoming Nancy" is set to be the Alliance’s next big hit is its director, Tony winner Jerry Mitchell, whose past musical hits include "Pretty Woman," "Kinky Boots," "Legally Blonde," "La Cage Aux Folles," and "Hairspray."

Alliance Artistic Director Susan Booth directs the Off-Broadway hit comedy "Small Mouth Sounds," to be performed downstairs at the Woodruff Arts Center on the intimate Hertz Stage. The play, running from October 4–27, follows six strangers at a five-day silent wellness retreat in the woods. Guided by an unseen guru, each one wrestles with their personal demons as their vows of silence clash with the irresistible human need to connect.

!!Center for Puppetry Arts
It’s hard to think of another Atlanta-based theatrical organization with a greater reputation for excellence and creativity than the Center for Puppetry Arts — www.puppet.org. Just a few years after puppeteer Vincent Anthony stood with Muppet master Jim Henson as they cut the opening-day ribbon in September 1978, the Puppetry Center became one of the most respected and revered creative hives for puppetry in the world. CPA has hosted  dozens of the best puppeteers and puppet theater companies from across Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the Caribbean. The Center’s Museum is now the home of the Henson Collection and its iconic puppets from "Sesame Street," "Labyrinth," "The Dark Crystal," "Fraggle Rock," and Emmet Otter’s "Jug-Band Christmas." 

The fantastic puppet productions conceived and created at CPA have played to sold-out audiences across North America, and Artistic Director Jon Ludwig is widely considered one of the geniuses of the ancient and timeless art form. The shows range from super sweet and cute to deadly serious, even tragic. Some are strange and weird. But no matter what the show or the exhibit or the workshop, kids and grownups of all ages have a blast every time they set foot inside.

This fall, CPA lifts off with "SPACE!," Ludwig’s 2016 song-filled puppet adventure about the cosmos. "SPACE!" employs shadow puppets, hand and rod puppets, black lights, computer animation, and crystal-clear images from NASA and a rap and rock score to explain the entire universe, more or less. From red dwarf stars to the planet Neptune, from comets to black holes, and beyond, Ludwig’s latest rock opera is the perfect way for anyone of any age to celebrate the autumnal equinox.

!!Essential Theatre Play Festival
Since 1999, the annual Essential Theatre Play Festival – www.essentialtheatre.com – which was founded by Atlanta playwright-director Peter Hardy, has premiered 34 new works by 25 different Georgia writers, with many works being restaged by other Atlanta theaters and across the country. The 2019 Festival (July 25–August 24) features three full productions plus four new scripts being heard for the first time in the Bare Essentials Play Reading Series. All performances and readings take place at the West End Performing Arts Center.

July 25-August 24: Peter Hardy directs "Slaying Holofernes" by Emily McClain. The play upsets notions of past/present, fact/fiction, and personal/political as it explores the quest for justice by two women.

August 1-25: Written by Ben Thorpe and directed by Shannon Eubanks, "Babyshower for the Antichrist" takes place on the night of ‘Hell Feast’ as a small, isolated cult prepares for the birth of the Antichrist. Viewer beware: This world premiere contains moments of blood and violence, plus a talking goat.

Thursday, August 15 and Friday, August 16: In "The Attic, creator/performer Aaron Gotlieb explores the things we hold onto and those we leave behind. "

The Bare Essentials Play Reading Series includes "Day of Saturn" by Leviticus Jelks III, directed by Najah Ali (August 3); "Darger Takes a Walk" by Rosalind Sullivan-Lovett, directed by Natalie Fox (August 6); "Waiting for Big Stuff" by Allan Dodson, directed by Kati Grace Brown (August 12); and "The Odds Against Death" by Ted Westby and John D. Babcock III, directed by Bill Murphey (August 21).

!!Horizon Theatre
Eternally young Horizon Theatre — www.horizontheatre.com — founders Lisa and Jeff Adler founded their small (172 cozy seats), independent theater in 1983 and have stayed busy ever since. Year in, year out, they offer a mainstage season of six to eight contemporary plays (almost always local or regional premieres) for diverse Atlanta audiences, a family series for younger audiences, a free outdoor musical in Piedmont Park, and free outdoor performances with Little Five Arts Alive from April through October. They also create new plays from, for, and about Atlanta through their New South Play Festival program, and reach out to new audiences through their New South Young Playwrights Contest and Festival, the Horizon In-School Playwriting Workshops, the Horizon Apprentice Company (early career professionals), the Intern Program (for college students) and the high school theatre program at The New School.

From September 20 through October 27, Horizon will stage one of the most honored plays of the past decade, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." Four years ago, the Broadway production won the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Drama League Award, and five Tony Awards, including Best Play. Lisa Adler and Justin Anderson will co-direct the story of an autistic 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 strikes out on his own, embarking on a daring train ride to London to confront his parent’s past.

!!Kenny Leon’s True Colors
This season will mark a major turning point in the story of another beloved Atlanta theater company. Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon is departing the role of artistic director of the company that he co-founded and that now bears his name. Associate Artistic Director Jamil Jude will take over the position at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company — www.truecolorstheatre.org. Since Leon established True Colors with Jane Bishop in 2002, the theatre has produced over three dozen productions with a focus on black storytelling. They’ve presented several of the best plays by, or adapted from works by, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, August Wilson, Ntozake Shange, Pearl Cleage, and Dominique Morisseau, among many others. 

True Colors’ dedication to black voices in the theater continues September 24 through October 20, when they present the Atlanta premiere of "Paradise Blue," the third play the company has mounted in Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit Trilogy, which includes "Detroit ’67," and "Skeleton Crew." In "Paradise Blue," set in 1949, when Detroit’s white mayor pushed to move African Americans out of Detroit’s Black Bottom neighborhood, a musician named Blue considers selling his family’s once-thriving jazz club. Against a backdrop of gentrification and displacement, Paradise Blue encompasses the pain and suffering that accompany the erasure of black history.

!!Orange Box Theater
In Tucker, a 1,600-square-foot converted warehouse space that seats about 80 people is the staging venue for Orange Box Theater at Mark SQared Studios – www.orangeboxtheater.marksquaredstudiosatlanta.com – which presents innovative takes on classic and new theatrical works by African American artists using nontraditional casting and multimedia effects. In recent years, creative director Karlotta Washington has overseen productions of George C. Wolf’s "The Colored Museum," Michael Frayn’s "Noises Off," and "Purlie," the Tony Award-winning musical comedy based on a play by Ossie Davis.

On multiple days between October 11 and 27, Orange Box Theater will present "Sunset Baby" by Dominique Morisseau. A MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” recipient and Obie-award winning playwright, Morisseau recently became the first African-American woman nominated for a Tony Award in a musical category in 20 years for the Broadway hit "Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations." 

Described in a 2013 New York Times review as a “smart and bracing new play about two generations of urban outlaws,” "Sunset Baby" explores the relationship between Nina, a tough, uncompromising street hustler, and her estranged father, a former black revolutionary who shows up one day seeking reconciliation and a series of letters left with Nina by her mother.

!!Out of Box Theatre
In 2012, Carolyn Choe started Out of Box Theatre – www.outofboxtheatre.com – with the goal of producing superior quality shows without exceeding a smart, practical budget. Taking advantage of the talent and resources at hand in Marietta and the greater metro community, during the past few seasons, Out of Box Theater has established a reputation for challenging, offbeat, and daring theater productions, as well as for developing programs, such as the unBOXed Comedy Class and an internship for college graduates.

This fall, Out of Box Theatre presents "Entertaining Lesbians" (August 2-17), written and directed by the always amusing and topical Topher Payne. The play follows the exploits of Rowena Tuttle, described by Payne as “a cisgender heterosexual white woman who no one finds interesting anymore” as she tries to gain admission to an elite school for her daughter by buddying up with Atlanta’s most powerful lesbian couple.

Running October 4-20, "Evil Dead: The Musical" offers a lyrical take on the notoriously absurd, cult classic horror film by Sam Raimi (Spider-Man Trilogy). For readers unfamiliar with the source material, "Evil Dead" recounts the tribulations of a group of college students who, while spending the weekend in an abandoned cabin in the woods, unwittingly unleash an evil terror, which tries and largely succeeds in killing everyone in unspeakably gruesome ways. Perfect fodder for a musical.

From November 8–17, Topher Payne returns to direct Jordan Harrison’s "The Grown Up," a play about a boy who is given a magical crystal doorknob, which enables him to travel through space and time to see his future life.

!!PULP
Owner Will Eiseman opened the original PULP – www.pulpatlanta.com – a bookstore and gallery specializing in pop culture books and zines, original artwork, cinema art and ephemera, and photography, in Charleston, South Carolina. Since relocating to Midtown Atlanta in the summer of 2018, PULP has hosted exhibitions of cryptozoological art and large-scale street art and murals. In collaboration with Videodrome, rare films are screened on Sundays, while original theatrical performances and live comedy are staged in the store’s Black Box Theatre.

Highlights from the Black Box fall performance season include:

August 23-September 1: "The One Act Spectacular" features four of Atlanta’s top casting agents each directing a one-act play with local film and TV actors.

September 26-28: ATL Sketchfest comprises three separate comedy sketches per night staged over three consecutive nights with a cash prize awarded to “Best in Show” chosen by five anonymous judges. Organizers are also accepting comedy video shorts, which will be shown between live performances.

October 2-17: World premiere of a new stage adaptation of Roger Corman’s ’50s schlock sci-fi classic film, "Attack of the Giant Leeches," written and directed by John Babcock. 

October 25-26: The Phantom Film Festival features a horror-themed short film night of works by local filmmakers on Friday followed on Saturday by a one-night only live stage adaptation of Brian DePalma’s horror musical classic "Phantom of the Paradise."

!!Synchronicity
Synchronicity — www.synchrotheatre.com — produces theatre to spark community connections and uplift the voices of women and girls. Founded in 1997 by four women, Synchronicity presents plays for adults (Bold Voices) and families (Family Series) and offers a wide range of educational programming, including Playmaking for Kids (PFK) summer camps and after-school programs, and their award-winning Playmaking for Girls (PFG) program. Now in its fourth year, the organization’s Stripped Bare: Arts Incubator Project gives artists a space to create and present new work. The series focuses on projects that emphasize words and ideas, with minimal technical elements, and encourages young artists to think about the essentials of theatre (mostly) stripped of intricate sets, lights, props, sound design, and costumes.

From August 1–11, Synchronicity will host a revival of "2 the Left: A Tribute to the Life of Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes." Written and performed by Kerisse Hutchinson, and originally performed as part of the Stripped Bare Arts Incubator Project, this multimedia experience chronicles the life of the most controversial member of the ’90s pop music phenomenon TLC. Thomas W. Jones II directs. Sunday, August 4, there will be a talkback after "2 the Left" with the cast, crew, and members of Lopes’ family. Later this month, Synchronicity will announce two more Stripped Bare projects that will be performed September 10–12 and Nov 12–14. Tickets are free to all Stripped Bare performances, but reservations are required.

Synchronicity’s first full production of the new season is "MacBeth," Erica Schmidt’s bold adaptation of the Bard’s Scottish play running October 4–28. On an autumn afternoon, in an empty lot outside the city, seven girls meet up to perform "Macbeth," using Shakespeare’s original text. It’s not long before the blood fantasy of the play starts to seep into their real lives.

!!Theater Emory
Theater Emory – www.theater.emory.edu – is the Emory University theater department’s resident professional company and the producing organization for Theater Studies. Typically, Theater Emory presents four productions per year.

This fall’s production of "The Nether" (November 1–17), directed by Ibi Ovolabi, promises to be one of most provocative projects ever staged by Theater Emory. Jennifer Haley’s psychological crime thriller draws the audience into a detective’s investigation of a virtual world where pedophiles indulge their fantasies. The investigation sparks questions about ethical behavior as experienced in the imagination and practiced in the “real” world.

“‘The Nether’ questions the way we define something as ‘real,’ which is an idea that has fascinated philosophers for millennia,” says Brent Glenn, artistic director of Theater Emory. “As we approach a time when virtual reality may be as real as our daily lives, discomforting ethical conundrums rise to the surface. "The Nether" forces us to face that discomfort.”

!!Theatrical Outfit
::::
Founded in a converted Virginia Highlands laundromat 43 years ago, Theatrical Outfit — www.theatricaloutfit.org — is Atlanta’s second oldest professional theatre company. The Outfit produced some of its boldest, most provocative work in the ’80s out of the (now long gone) Kress Five & Dime building in Midtown, before it moved downtown in 1999 to the site of the former Herren’s Restaurant, now the Balzer Theatre. 2019-2020 marks another milestone as Atlanta theater legend Tom Key will be stepping down from the position of artistic director after 25 years. Since 1995, Key and The Outfit have had critical and popular success presenting dozens of regional and world premieres, classics, and musicals that explore diversity, equality, ethnicity, race, and faith. Key has taken great pride in programming plays by many of the best writers of the American South, including Ernest Gaines, Horton Foote, Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor, and Tennessee Williams.

Theatrical Outfit begins “Tom’s Farewell Season” with "Our Town" and "The Laramie Project" in repertory from August 27 to September 29. Considered by many to be the greatest American play, Thornton Wilder’s "Our Town" depicts the town of Grover’s Corners in three acts: “Daily Life,” “Love and Marriage,” and “Death and Eternity.” Narrated by a stage manager character and performed with minimal props and sets, Wilder’s classic chronicles the Webb and Gibbs families as their children fall in love, marry, and eventually die. David Crowe will direct.  

In 1998, a university student named Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, beaten, and tied to a prairie fence outside Laramie, Wyoming. When he died days later, the world learned Shepard was targeted because he was gay. In its review of the original production, the New York Times observed, “‘The Laramie Project’ is ‘Our Town’ with a question mark, as in, ‘Could this be our town? It can’t happen here,’ followed immediately by ‘And yet it has.’” Clifton Guterman will direct "The Laramie Project," a play that strives to find the light in a tragedy and to reveal examples of profound compassion in its wake.

!!The Windmill Arts Center
Opened in late 2017, the Windmill Arts Center – www.thewindmillatl.com – in East Point contains an 80-seat “black box” theater plus a 40-seat “white box” space for rent as a gallery, rehearsal space, yoga studio, classroom, or for special events. Converted from a gas station/garage, the arts center now serves as the East Coast headquarters for Vanguard Repertory Company (VanguardRep), which was formed in Los Angeles in 2008 by husband and wife Sam and Elizabeth Ross (who previously lived in Atlanta), Matthew Burgos, and Elisa Blandford. 

From August 2–18, VanguardRep presents the Atlanta premiere of "Br'er Cotton," a contemporary fable about systemic racism by playwright Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm and directed by Burgos. Later in the month (August 29–September 1), The Tiny Theater Company will premiere a one-act adaptation of William Shakespeare’s "Hamlet" featuring live music and dance by an all-black cast with Tiny Theater founder Cydnei Prather directing.
Return to Fall Arts Preview 2019"
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  string(23972) "!!__7 Stages__
Since its founding more than 40 years ago, 7 Stages Theatre — www.7stages.org —has been devoted to producing provocative material and confronting difficult subjects. At press time, 7 Stages was not ready to announce the production company’s 2019-2020 season schedule. However, three productions by other companies will take place in the 7 Stages Theater in Little Five Points during the next two months. Each play poses tough questions, and focuses on characters facing severe physical, emotional, and moral challenges.

::{img fileId="21487" imalign="center" desc="desc" max="800"}::
With "Grounded" (August 3-17), Atlanta Theater Club (ATC) – www.atlantatheatreclub.com – is back with another intensely emotional work produced and directed by company founder Rebeca Robles. "Grounded" takes audiences into the mind and soul of a former ace fighter pilot operating military drones from a windowless trailer outside Las Vegas. The Pilot (actress Courtney Moors) watches screens to hunt and kill terrorists all day long and returns to her family each night. As the pressure to track a high-profile target mounts, the boundaries begin to blur between the desert in which she lives and the one she patrols half a world away. Robles, Moors, and seven of ATL’s most accomplished female theater artists are in control of every aspect of this Atlanta premiere including video and projection design, sound and lighting, scenic design, and wardrobe.

For the past seven seasons, Aris — “Atlanta’s stage for Celtic culture” — has brought the Celtic theatrical and literary traditions, mythology, and storytelling from the British Isles to Atlanta. Next month, Aris – Aristheatre.org – presents the Atlanta premiere of "Woman and Scarecrow" by celebrated Irish playwright Marina Carr. Emory University professor Jon Ammerman directs this very intimate play set in a dying woman’s bedroom. In the face of her death, the woman threshes out her life’s truths, sparring with a ridiculous aunt, a cheating husband, and a slippery alter ego. 

On Friday, September 27, The Object Group and 7 Stages Theatre present a sneak peek presentation of Michael Haverty’s adaptation of Albert Camus’ "L’Etranger" (The Outsider). Puppetry and noir/new wave-inspired projected cinema are integrated in an absurd investigation of Camus’ cautionary tale. The original 1942 novel is riddled with messy conflicts between existential philosophy and privileged oppression, sometimes to the apparent blindness of the author. This multimedia experience explodes the story onto stage and screen, allowing insight while tickling the mind and senses. 

!!__Actor’s Express__
“We seek to jumpstart individual transformations through the shared adventure of our live performances, which range from daringly provocative to audaciously hilarious.” That sentence from the mission statement for Actor’s Express Theatre — www.actors-express.com — says a lot about them — and not just what they want to accomplish as a theatre, but how. The theatre has been pushing emotional envelopes since Chris Coleman founded Actor’s Express in the basement of a church on Clairmont Road 31 years ago. Freddie Ashley has been artistic director since 2007, and few Atlanta theaters are as successful at reflecting the passion, intelligence, and geniality and flair of their leadership.

Ashley also directs most AE dramas, comedies, and musicals that attract sold-out houses night after night. Here are just some of AE’s bravest and most entertaining work of the past dozen seasons: "Stupid Fucking Bird," "Bad Jews," "Murder Ballad," "The Rocky Horror Show," "Six Degrees of Separation," "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson," "Kiss of the Spider Woman," "The Motherfucker with the Hat," "Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them," "Spring Awakening," "Slasher," "Grey Gardens," and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."

Next month, Ashley and another smart AE cast will unveil their 31st season with "Skintight." The Atlanta premiere of "Bad Jews," playwright Joshua Harmon’s latest comedy, pokes fun at America’s obsession with youth, sex, and physical beauty. When Jodi Isaac flies across the country to visit her famous fashion mogul father for his 70th birthday, she finds that her dad’s new boyfriend is a 20-year-old porn star. OK! "Skintight" sounds like a perfect fit for Actor’s Express. 

!!__Alliance Theatre__
Elton John’s "Aida." "Bring It On: The Musical." "The Color Purple." "The Last Night of Ballyhoo." "The Prom." "Sister Act: The Musical." Twyla Tharp’s "Come Fly Away." 

Can you guess what all these (and many more) hit plays and musicals have in common? They were all first performed at the Alliance Theatre — www.alliancetheatre.org — right here in ATL. Over the past 51 years, the Alliance has premiered more than 100 original productions, launching important American musicals with a strong track record of Broadway, touring, and subsequent productions, including several Tony Award winners. In fact, in 2007, the Alliance won a special Tony Award as Best Regional Theater in America. 

2019-2020 will be their first full season in their lavishly renovated main stage space, which opened late last year. In "Becoming Nancy," the next big musical to premiere at the Alliance, David, a talented high school senior tries out for the school play and is cast as the ''female'' lead. It’s 1979, and everyone in his small English suburb is shocked, including David. Should he play the part? Just wait and see. Another sign that "Becoming Nancy" is set to be the Alliance’s next big hit is its director, Tony winner Jerry Mitchell, whose past musical hits include "Pretty Woman," "Kinky Boots," "Legally Blonde," "La Cage Aux Folles," and "Hairspray."

Alliance Artistic Director Susan Booth directs the Off-Broadway hit comedy "Small Mouth Sounds," to be performed downstairs at the Woodruff Arts Center on the intimate Hertz Stage. The play, running from October 4–27, follows six strangers at a five-day silent wellness retreat in the woods. Guided by an unseen guru, each one wrestles with their personal demons as their vows of silence clash with the irresistible human need to connect.

!!__Center for Puppetry Arts__
It’s hard to think of another Atlanta-based theatrical organization with a greater reputation for excellence and creativity than the Center for Puppetry Arts — www.puppet.org. Just a few years after puppeteer Vincent Anthony stood with Muppet master Jim Henson as they cut the opening-day ribbon in September 1978, the Puppetry Center became one of the most respected and revered creative hives for puppetry in the world. CPA has hosted  dozens of the best puppeteers and puppet theater companies from across Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the Caribbean. The Center’s Museum is now the home of the Henson Collection and its iconic puppets from "Sesame Street," "Labyrinth," "The Dark Crystal," "Fraggle Rock," and Emmet Otter’s "Jug-Band Christmas." 

The fantastic puppet productions conceived and created at CPA have played to sold-out audiences across North America, and Artistic Director Jon Ludwig is widely considered one of the geniuses of the ancient and timeless art form. The shows range from super sweet and cute to deadly serious, even tragic. Some are strange and weird. But no matter what the show or the exhibit or the workshop, kids and grownups of all ages have a blast every time they set foot inside.

This fall, CPA lifts off with "SPACE!," Ludwig’s 2016 song-filled puppet adventure about the cosmos. "SPACE!" employs shadow puppets, hand and rod puppets, black lights, computer animation, and crystal-clear images from NASA and a rap and rock score to explain the entire universe, more or less. From red dwarf stars to the planet Neptune, from comets to black holes, and beyond, Ludwig’s latest rock opera is the perfect way for anyone of any age to celebrate the autumnal equinox.

!!__Essential Theatre Play Festival__
Since 1999, the annual Essential Theatre Play Festival – www.essentialtheatre.com – which was founded by Atlanta playwright-director Peter Hardy, has premiered 34 new works by 25 different Georgia writers, with many works being restaged by other Atlanta theaters and across the country. The 2019 Festival (July 25–August 24) features three full productions plus four new scripts being heard for the first time in the Bare Essentials Play Reading Series. All performances and readings take place at the West End Performing Arts Center.

July 25-August 24: Peter Hardy directs "Slaying Holofernes" by Emily McClain. The play upsets notions of past/present, fact/fiction, and personal/political as it explores the quest for justice by two women.

August 1-25: Written by Ben Thorpe and directed by Shannon Eubanks, "Babyshower for the Antichrist" takes place on the night of ‘Hell Feast’ as a small, isolated cult prepares for the birth of the Antichrist. Viewer beware: This world premiere contains moments of blood and violence, plus a talking goat.

Thursday, August 15 and Friday, August 16: In "The Attic, creator/performer Aaron Gotlieb explores the things we hold onto and those we leave behind. "

The Bare Essentials Play Reading Series includes "Day of Saturn" by Leviticus Jelks III, directed by Najah Ali (August 3); "Darger Takes a Walk" by Rosalind Sullivan-Lovett, directed by Natalie Fox (August 6); "Waiting for Big Stuff" by Allan Dodson, directed by Kati Grace Brown (August 12); and "The Odds Against Death" by Ted Westby and John D. Babcock III, directed by Bill Murphey (August 21).

!!__Horizon Theatre__
Eternally young Horizon Theatre — www.horizontheatre.com — founders Lisa and Jeff Adler founded their small (172 cozy seats), independent theater in 1983 and have stayed busy ever since. Year in, year out, they offer a mainstage season of six to eight contemporary plays (almost always local or regional premieres) for diverse Atlanta audiences, a family series for younger audiences, a free outdoor musical in Piedmont Park, and free outdoor performances with Little Five Arts Alive from April through October. They also create new plays from, for, and about Atlanta through their New South Play Festival program, and reach out to new audiences through their New South Young Playwrights Contest and Festival, the Horizon In-School Playwriting Workshops, the Horizon Apprentice Company (early career professionals), the Intern Program (for college students) and the high school theatre program at The New School.

From September 20 through October 27, Horizon will stage one of the most honored plays of the past decade, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." Four years ago, the Broadway production won the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Drama League Award, and five Tony Awards, including Best Play. Lisa Adler and Justin Anderson will co-direct the story of an autistic 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 strikes out on his own, embarking on a daring train ride to London to confront his parent’s past.

!!__Kenny Leon’s True Colors__
This season will mark a major turning point in the story of another beloved Atlanta theater company. Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon is departing the role of artistic director of the company that he co-founded and that now bears his name. Associate Artistic Director Jamil Jude will take over the position at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company — www.truecolorstheatre.org. Since Leon established True Colors with Jane Bishop in 2002, the theatre has produced over three dozen productions with a focus on black storytelling. They’ve presented several of the best plays by, or adapted from works by, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, August Wilson, Ntozake Shange, Pearl Cleage, and Dominique Morisseau, among many others. 

True Colors’ dedication to black voices in the theater continues September 24 through October 20, when they present the Atlanta premiere of "Paradise Blue," the third play the company has mounted in Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit Trilogy, which includes "Detroit ’67," and "Skeleton Crew." In "Paradise Blue," set in 1949, when Detroit’s white mayor pushed to move African Americans out of Detroit’s Black Bottom neighborhood, a musician named Blue considers selling his family’s once-thriving jazz club. Against a backdrop of gentrification and displacement, Paradise Blue encompasses the pain and suffering that accompany the erasure of black history.

!!__Orange Box Theater__
In Tucker, a 1,600-square-foot converted warehouse space that seats about 80 people is the staging venue for Orange Box Theater at Mark SQared Studios – www.orangeboxtheater.marksquaredstudiosatlanta.com – which presents innovative takes on classic and new theatrical works by African American artists using nontraditional casting and multimedia effects. In recent years, creative director Karlotta Washington has overseen productions of George C. Wolf’s "The Colored Museum," Michael Frayn’s "Noises Off," and "Purlie," the Tony Award-winning musical comedy based on a play by Ossie Davis.

On multiple days between October 11 and 27, Orange Box Theater will present "Sunset Baby" by Dominique Morisseau. A MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” recipient and Obie-award winning playwright, Morisseau recently became the first African-American woman nominated for a Tony Award in a musical category in 20 years for the Broadway hit "Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations." 

Described in a 2013 ''New York Times'' review as a “smart and bracing new play about two generations of urban outlaws,” "Sunset Baby" explores the relationship between Nina, a tough, uncompromising street hustler, and her estranged father, a former black revolutionary who shows up one day seeking reconciliation and a series of letters left with Nina by her mother.

!!__Out of Box Theatre__
In 2012, Carolyn Choe started Out of Box Theatre – www.outofboxtheatre.com – with the goal of producing superior quality shows without exceeding a smart, practical budget. Taking advantage of the talent and resources at hand in Marietta and the greater metro community, during the past few seasons, Out of Box Theater has established a reputation for challenging, offbeat, and daring theater productions, as well as for developing programs, such as the unBOXed Comedy Class and an internship for college graduates.

This fall, Out of Box Theatre presents "Entertaining Lesbians" (August 2-17), written and directed by the always amusing and topical Topher Payne. The play follows the exploits of Rowena Tuttle, described by Payne as “a cisgender heterosexual white woman who no one finds interesting anymore” as she tries to gain admission to an elite school for her daughter by buddying up with Atlanta’s most powerful lesbian couple.

Running October 4-20, "Evil Dead: The Musical" offers a lyrical take on the notoriously absurd, cult classic horror film by Sam Raimi (Spider-Man Trilogy). For readers unfamiliar with the source material, "Evil Dead" recounts the tribulations of a group of college students who, while spending the weekend in an abandoned cabin in the woods, unwittingly unleash an evil terror, which tries and largely succeeds in killing everyone in unspeakably gruesome ways. Perfect fodder for a musical.

From November 8–17, Topher Payne returns to direct Jordan Harrison’s "The Grown Up," a play about a boy who is given a magical crystal doorknob, which enables him to travel through space and time to see his future life.

!!__PULP__
Owner Will Eiseman opened the original PULP – www.pulpatlanta.com – a bookstore and gallery specializing in pop culture books and zines, original artwork, cinema art and ephemera, and photography, in Charleston, South Carolina. Since relocating to Midtown Atlanta in the summer of 2018, PULP has hosted exhibitions of cryptozoological art and large-scale street art and murals. In collaboration with Videodrome, rare films are screened on Sundays, while original theatrical performances and live comedy are staged in the store’s Black Box Theatre.

Highlights from the Black Box fall performance season include:

August 23-September 1: "The One Act Spectacular" features four of Atlanta’s top casting agents each directing a one-act play with local film and TV actors.

September 26-28: __ATL Sketchfest__ comprises three separate comedy sketches per night staged over three consecutive nights with a cash prize awarded to “Best in Show” chosen by five anonymous judges. Organizers are also accepting comedy video shorts, which will be shown between live performances.

October 2-17: World premiere of a new stage adaptation of Roger Corman’s ’50s schlock sci-fi classic film, "Attack of the Giant Leeches," written and directed by John Babcock. 

October 25-26: The Phantom Film Festival features a horror-themed short film night of works by local filmmakers on Friday followed on Saturday by a one-night only live stage adaptation of Brian DePalma’s horror musical classic "Phantom of the Paradise."

!!__Synchronicity__
Synchronicity — www.synchrotheatre.com — produces theatre to spark community connections and uplift the voices of women and girls. Founded in 1997 by four women, Synchronicity presents plays for adults (Bold Voices) and families (Family Series) and offers a wide range of educational programming, including Playmaking for Kids (PFK) summer camps and after-school programs, and their award-winning Playmaking for Girls (PFG) program. Now in its fourth year, the organization’s Stripped Bare: Arts Incubator Project gives artists a space to create and present new work. The series focuses on projects that emphasize words and ideas, with minimal technical elements, and encourages young artists to think about the essentials of theatre (mostly) stripped of intricate sets, lights, props, sound design, and costumes.

From August 1–11, Synchronicity will host a revival of "2 the Left: A Tribute to the Life of Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes." Written and performed by Kerisse Hutchinson, and originally performed as part of the Stripped Bare Arts Incubator Project, this multimedia experience chronicles the life of the most controversial member of the ’90s pop music phenomenon TLC. Thomas W. Jones II directs. Sunday, August 4, there will be a talkback after "2 the Left"'' ''with the cast, crew, and members of Lopes’ family. Later this month, Synchronicity will announce two more Stripped Bare projects that will be performed September 10–12 and Nov 12–14. Tickets are free to all Stripped Bare performances, but reservations are required.

Synchronicity’s first full production of the new season is "MacBeth," Erica Schmidt’s bold adaptation of the Bard’s Scottish play running October 4–28. On an autumn afternoon, in an empty lot outside the city, seven girls meet up to perform "Macbeth," using Shakespeare’s original text. It’s not long before the blood fantasy of the play starts to seep into their real lives.

!!__Theater Emory__
Theater Emory – www.theater.emory.edu – is the Emory University theater department’s resident professional company and the producing organization for Theater Studies. Typically, Theater Emory presents four productions per year.

This fall’s production of "The Nether" (November 1–17), directed by Ibi Ovolabi, promises to be one of most provocative projects ever staged by Theater Emory. Jennifer Haley’s psychological crime thriller draws the audience into a detective’s investigation of a virtual world where pedophiles indulge their fantasies. The investigation sparks questions about ethical behavior as experienced in the imagination and practiced in the “real” world.

“‘The Nether’ questions the way we define something as ‘real,’ which is an idea that has fascinated philosophers for millennia,” says Brent Glenn, artistic director of Theater Emory. “As we approach a time when virtual reality may be as real as our daily lives, discomforting ethical conundrums rise to the surface. "The Nether" forces us to face that discomfort.”

!!__Theatrical Outfit__
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Founded in a converted Virginia Highlands laundromat 43 years ago, Theatrical Outfit — www.theatricaloutfit.org — is Atlanta’s second oldest professional theatre company. The Outfit produced some of its boldest, most provocative work in the ’80s out of the (now long gone) Kress Five & Dime building in Midtown, before it moved downtown in 1999 to the site of the former Herren’s Restaurant, now the Balzer Theatre. 2019-2020 marks another milestone as Atlanta theater legend Tom Key will be stepping down from the position of artistic director after 25 years. Since 1995, Key and The Outfit have had critical and popular success presenting dozens of regional and world premieres, classics, and musicals that explore diversity, equality, ethnicity, race, and faith. Key has taken great pride in programming plays by many of the best writers of the American South, including Ernest Gaines, Horton Foote, Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor, and Tennessee Williams.

Theatrical Outfit begins “Tom’s Farewell Season” with "Our Town" and "The Laramie Project" in repertory from August 27 to September 29. Considered by many to be the greatest American play, Thornton Wilder’s "Our Town" depicts the town of Grover’s Corners in three acts: “Daily Life,” “Love and Marriage,” and “Death and Eternity.” Narrated by a stage manager character and performed with minimal props and sets, Wilder’s classic chronicles the Webb and Gibbs families as their children fall in love, marry, and eventually die. David Crowe will direct.  

In 1998, a university student named Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, beaten, and tied to a prairie fence outside Laramie, Wyoming. When he died days later, the world learned Shepard was targeted because he was gay. In its review of the original production, the ''New York Times'' observed, “‘The Laramie Project’ is ‘Our Town’ with a question mark, as in, ‘Could this be our town? It can’t happen here,’ followed immediately by ‘And yet it has.’” Clifton Guterman will direct "The Laramie Project," a play that strives to find the light in a tragedy and to reveal examples of profound compassion in its wake.

!!__The Windmill Arts Center__
Opened in late 2017, the Windmill Arts Center – www.thewindmillatl.com – in East Point contains an 80-seat “black box” theater plus a 40-seat “white box” space for rent as a gallery, rehearsal space, yoga studio, classroom, or for special events. Converted from a gas station/garage, the arts center now serves as the East Coast headquarters for Vanguard Repertory Company (VanguardRep), which was formed in Los Angeles in 2008 by husband and wife Sam and Elizabeth Ross (who previously lived in Atlanta), Matthew Burgos, and Elisa Blandford. 

From August 2–18, VanguardRep presents the Atlanta premiere of "Br'er Cotton," a contemporary fable about systemic racism by playwright Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm and directed by Burgos. Later in the month (August 29–September 1), The Tiny Theater Company will premiere a one-act adaptation of William Shakespeare’s "Hamlet" featuring live music and dance by an all-black cast with Tiny Theater founder Cydnei Prather directing.
((fall arts preview 2019|Return to Fall Arts Preview 2019))"
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  string(24364) " Spotlight&Masks  2019-08-03T01:57:29+00:00 Spotlight&Masks.jpg    fall arts preview 2019 theatre Onstage and off, with actors and puppets, dealing in reality and escape 21516  2019-08-03T01:36:16+00:00 Fall Arts Preview 2019: Theater jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Edward McNally  2019-08-03T01:36:16+00:00 7 Stages

Since its founding more than 40 years ago, 7 Stages Theatre — www.7stages.org —has been devoted to producing provocative material and confronting difficult subjects... !!7 Stages
Since its founding more than 40 years ago, 7 Stages Theatre — www.7stages.org —has been devoted to producing provocative material and confronting difficult subjects. At press time, 7 Stages was not ready to announce the production company’s 2019-2020 season schedule. However, three productions by other companies will take place in the 7 Stages Theater in Little Five Points during the next two months. Each play poses tough questions, and focuses on characters facing severe physical, emotional, and moral challenges.

::::
With "Grounded" (August 3-17), Atlanta Theater Club (ATC) – www.atlantatheatreclub.com – is back with another intensely emotional work produced and directed by company founder Rebeca Robles. "Grounded" takes audiences into the mind and soul of a former ace fighter pilot operating military drones from a windowless trailer outside Las Vegas. The Pilot (actress Courtney Moors) watches screens to hunt and kill terrorists all day long and returns to her family each night. As the pressure to track a high-profile target mounts, the boundaries begin to blur between the desert in which she lives and the one she patrols half a world away. Robles, Moors, and seven of ATL’s most accomplished female theater artists are in control of every aspect of this Atlanta premiere including video and projection design, sound and lighting, scenic design, and wardrobe.

For the past seven seasons, Aris — “Atlanta’s stage for Celtic culture” — has brought the Celtic theatrical and literary traditions, mythology, and storytelling from the British Isles to Atlanta. Next month, Aris – Aristheatre.org – presents the Atlanta premiere of "Woman and Scarecrow" by celebrated Irish playwright Marina Carr. Emory University professor Jon Ammerman directs this very intimate play set in a dying woman’s bedroom. In the face of her death, the woman threshes out her life’s truths, sparring with a ridiculous aunt, a cheating husband, and a slippery alter ego. 

On Friday, September 27, The Object Group and 7 Stages Theatre present a sneak peek presentation of Michael Haverty’s adaptation of Albert Camus’ "L’Etranger" (The Outsider). Puppetry and noir/new wave-inspired projected cinema are integrated in an absurd investigation of Camus’ cautionary tale. The original 1942 novel is riddled with messy conflicts between existential philosophy and privileged oppression, sometimes to the apparent blindness of the author. This multimedia experience explodes the story onto stage and screen, allowing insight while tickling the mind and senses. 

!!Actor’s Express
“We seek to jumpstart individual transformations through the shared adventure of our live performances, which range from daringly provocative to audaciously hilarious.” That sentence from the mission statement for Actor’s Express Theatre — www.actors-express.com — says a lot about them — and not just what they want to accomplish as a theatre, but how. The theatre has been pushing emotional envelopes since Chris Coleman founded Actor’s Express in the basement of a church on Clairmont Road 31 years ago. Freddie Ashley has been artistic director since 2007, and few Atlanta theaters are as successful at reflecting the passion, intelligence, and geniality and flair of their leadership.

Ashley also directs most AE dramas, comedies, and musicals that attract sold-out houses night after night. Here are just some of AE’s bravest and most entertaining work of the past dozen seasons: "Stupid Fucking Bird," "Bad Jews," "Murder Ballad," "The Rocky Horror Show," "Six Degrees of Separation," "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson," "Kiss of the Spider Woman," "The Motherfucker with the Hat," "Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them," "Spring Awakening," "Slasher," "Grey Gardens," and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."

Next month, Ashley and another smart AE cast will unveil their 31st season with "Skintight." The Atlanta premiere of "Bad Jews," playwright Joshua Harmon’s latest comedy, pokes fun at America’s obsession with youth, sex, and physical beauty. When Jodi Isaac flies across the country to visit her famous fashion mogul father for his 70th birthday, she finds that her dad’s new boyfriend is a 20-year-old porn star. OK! "Skintight" sounds like a perfect fit for Actor’s Express. 

!!Alliance Theatre
Elton John’s "Aida." "Bring It On: The Musical." "The Color Purple." "The Last Night of Ballyhoo." "The Prom." "Sister Act: The Musical." Twyla Tharp’s "Come Fly Away." 

Can you guess what all these (and many more) hit plays and musicals have in common? They were all first performed at the Alliance Theatre — www.alliancetheatre.org — right here in ATL. Over the past 51 years, the Alliance has premiered more than 100 original productions, launching important American musicals with a strong track record of Broadway, touring, and subsequent productions, including several Tony Award winners. In fact, in 2007, the Alliance won a special Tony Award as Best Regional Theater in America. 

2019-2020 will be their first full season in their lavishly renovated main stage space, which opened late last year. In "Becoming Nancy," the next big musical to premiere at the Alliance, David, a talented high school senior tries out for the school play and is cast as the female lead. It’s 1979, and everyone in his small English suburb is shocked, including David. Should he play the part? Just wait and see. Another sign that "Becoming Nancy" is set to be the Alliance’s next big hit is its director, Tony winner Jerry Mitchell, whose past musical hits include "Pretty Woman," "Kinky Boots," "Legally Blonde," "La Cage Aux Folles," and "Hairspray."

Alliance Artistic Director Susan Booth directs the Off-Broadway hit comedy "Small Mouth Sounds," to be performed downstairs at the Woodruff Arts Center on the intimate Hertz Stage. The play, running from October 4–27, follows six strangers at a five-day silent wellness retreat in the woods. Guided by an unseen guru, each one wrestles with their personal demons as their vows of silence clash with the irresistible human need to connect.

!!Center for Puppetry Arts
It’s hard to think of another Atlanta-based theatrical organization with a greater reputation for excellence and creativity than the Center for Puppetry Arts — www.puppet.org. Just a few years after puppeteer Vincent Anthony stood with Muppet master Jim Henson as they cut the opening-day ribbon in September 1978, the Puppetry Center became one of the most respected and revered creative hives for puppetry in the world. CPA has hosted  dozens of the best puppeteers and puppet theater companies from across Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the Caribbean. The Center’s Museum is now the home of the Henson Collection and its iconic puppets from "Sesame Street," "Labyrinth," "The Dark Crystal," "Fraggle Rock," and Emmet Otter’s "Jug-Band Christmas." 

The fantastic puppet productions conceived and created at CPA have played to sold-out audiences across North America, and Artistic Director Jon Ludwig is widely considered one of the geniuses of the ancient and timeless art form. The shows range from super sweet and cute to deadly serious, even tragic. Some are strange and weird. But no matter what the show or the exhibit or the workshop, kids and grownups of all ages have a blast every time they set foot inside.

This fall, CPA lifts off with "SPACE!," Ludwig’s 2016 song-filled puppet adventure about the cosmos. "SPACE!" employs shadow puppets, hand and rod puppets, black lights, computer animation, and crystal-clear images from NASA and a rap and rock score to explain the entire universe, more or less. From red dwarf stars to the planet Neptune, from comets to black holes, and beyond, Ludwig’s latest rock opera is the perfect way for anyone of any age to celebrate the autumnal equinox.

!!Essential Theatre Play Festival
Since 1999, the annual Essential Theatre Play Festival – www.essentialtheatre.com – which was founded by Atlanta playwright-director Peter Hardy, has premiered 34 new works by 25 different Georgia writers, with many works being restaged by other Atlanta theaters and across the country. The 2019 Festival (July 25–August 24) features three full productions plus four new scripts being heard for the first time in the Bare Essentials Play Reading Series. All performances and readings take place at the West End Performing Arts Center.

July 25-August 24: Peter Hardy directs "Slaying Holofernes" by Emily McClain. The play upsets notions of past/present, fact/fiction, and personal/political as it explores the quest for justice by two women.

August 1-25: Written by Ben Thorpe and directed by Shannon Eubanks, "Babyshower for the Antichrist" takes place on the night of ‘Hell Feast’ as a small, isolated cult prepares for the birth of the Antichrist. Viewer beware: This world premiere contains moments of blood and violence, plus a talking goat.

Thursday, August 15 and Friday, August 16: In "The Attic, creator/performer Aaron Gotlieb explores the things we hold onto and those we leave behind. "

The Bare Essentials Play Reading Series includes "Day of Saturn" by Leviticus Jelks III, directed by Najah Ali (August 3); "Darger Takes a Walk" by Rosalind Sullivan-Lovett, directed by Natalie Fox (August 6); "Waiting for Big Stuff" by Allan Dodson, directed by Kati Grace Brown (August 12); and "The Odds Against Death" by Ted Westby and John D. Babcock III, directed by Bill Murphey (August 21).

!!Horizon Theatre
Eternally young Horizon Theatre — www.horizontheatre.com — founders Lisa and Jeff Adler founded their small (172 cozy seats), independent theater in 1983 and have stayed busy ever since. Year in, year out, they offer a mainstage season of six to eight contemporary plays (almost always local or regional premieres) for diverse Atlanta audiences, a family series for younger audiences, a free outdoor musical in Piedmont Park, and free outdoor performances with Little Five Arts Alive from April through October. They also create new plays from, for, and about Atlanta through their New South Play Festival program, and reach out to new audiences through their New South Young Playwrights Contest and Festival, the Horizon In-School Playwriting Workshops, the Horizon Apprentice Company (early career professionals), the Intern Program (for college students) and the high school theatre program at The New School.

From September 20 through October 27, Horizon will stage one of the most honored plays of the past decade, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." Four years ago, the Broadway production won the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Drama League Award, and five Tony Awards, including Best Play. Lisa Adler and Justin Anderson will co-direct the story of an autistic 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 strikes out on his own, embarking on a daring train ride to London to confront his parent’s past.

!!Kenny Leon’s True Colors
This season will mark a major turning point in the story of another beloved Atlanta theater company. Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon is departing the role of artistic director of the company that he co-founded and that now bears his name. Associate Artistic Director Jamil Jude will take over the position at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company — www.truecolorstheatre.org. Since Leon established True Colors with Jane Bishop in 2002, the theatre has produced over three dozen productions with a focus on black storytelling. They’ve presented several of the best plays by, or adapted from works by, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, August Wilson, Ntozake Shange, Pearl Cleage, and Dominique Morisseau, among many others. 

True Colors’ dedication to black voices in the theater continues September 24 through October 20, when they present the Atlanta premiere of "Paradise Blue," the third play the company has mounted in Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit Trilogy, which includes "Detroit ’67," and "Skeleton Crew." In "Paradise Blue," set in 1949, when Detroit’s white mayor pushed to move African Americans out of Detroit’s Black Bottom neighborhood, a musician named Blue considers selling his family’s once-thriving jazz club. Against a backdrop of gentrification and displacement, Paradise Blue encompasses the pain and suffering that accompany the erasure of black history.

!!Orange Box Theater
In Tucker, a 1,600-square-foot converted warehouse space that seats about 80 people is the staging venue for Orange Box Theater at Mark SQared Studios – www.orangeboxtheater.marksquaredstudiosatlanta.com – which presents innovative takes on classic and new theatrical works by African American artists using nontraditional casting and multimedia effects. In recent years, creative director Karlotta Washington has overseen productions of George C. Wolf’s "The Colored Museum," Michael Frayn’s "Noises Off," and "Purlie," the Tony Award-winning musical comedy based on a play by Ossie Davis.

On multiple days between October 11 and 27, Orange Box Theater will present "Sunset Baby" by Dominique Morisseau. A MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” recipient and Obie-award winning playwright, Morisseau recently became the first African-American woman nominated for a Tony Award in a musical category in 20 years for the Broadway hit "Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations." 

Described in a 2013 New York Times review as a “smart and bracing new play about two generations of urban outlaws,” "Sunset Baby" explores the relationship between Nina, a tough, uncompromising street hustler, and her estranged father, a former black revolutionary who shows up one day seeking reconciliation and a series of letters left with Nina by her mother.

!!Out of Box Theatre
In 2012, Carolyn Choe started Out of Box Theatre – www.outofboxtheatre.com – with the goal of producing superior quality shows without exceeding a smart, practical budget. Taking advantage of the talent and resources at hand in Marietta and the greater metro community, during the past few seasons, Out of Box Theater has established a reputation for challenging, offbeat, and daring theater productions, as well as for developing programs, such as the unBOXed Comedy Class and an internship for college graduates.

This fall, Out of Box Theatre presents "Entertaining Lesbians" (August 2-17), written and directed by the always amusing and topical Topher Payne. The play follows the exploits of Rowena Tuttle, described by Payne as “a cisgender heterosexual white woman who no one finds interesting anymore” as she tries to gain admission to an elite school for her daughter by buddying up with Atlanta’s most powerful lesbian couple.

Running October 4-20, "Evil Dead: The Musical" offers a lyrical take on the notoriously absurd, cult classic horror film by Sam Raimi (Spider-Man Trilogy). For readers unfamiliar with the source material, "Evil Dead" recounts the tribulations of a group of college students who, while spending the weekend in an abandoned cabin in the woods, unwittingly unleash an evil terror, which tries and largely succeeds in killing everyone in unspeakably gruesome ways. Perfect fodder for a musical.

From November 8–17, Topher Payne returns to direct Jordan Harrison’s "The Grown Up," a play about a boy who is given a magical crystal doorknob, which enables him to travel through space and time to see his future life.

!!PULP
Owner Will Eiseman opened the original PULP – www.pulpatlanta.com – a bookstore and gallery specializing in pop culture books and zines, original artwork, cinema art and ephemera, and photography, in Charleston, South Carolina. Since relocating to Midtown Atlanta in the summer of 2018, PULP has hosted exhibitions of cryptozoological art and large-scale street art and murals. In collaboration with Videodrome, rare films are screened on Sundays, while original theatrical performances and live comedy are staged in the store’s Black Box Theatre.

Highlights from the Black Box fall performance season include:

August 23-September 1: "The One Act Spectacular" features four of Atlanta’s top casting agents each directing a one-act play with local film and TV actors.

September 26-28: ATL Sketchfest comprises three separate comedy sketches per night staged over three consecutive nights with a cash prize awarded to “Best in Show” chosen by five anonymous judges. Organizers are also accepting comedy video shorts, which will be shown between live performances.

October 2-17: World premiere of a new stage adaptation of Roger Corman’s ’50s schlock sci-fi classic film, "Attack of the Giant Leeches," written and directed by John Babcock. 

October 25-26: The Phantom Film Festival features a horror-themed short film night of works by local filmmakers on Friday followed on Saturday by a one-night only live stage adaptation of Brian DePalma’s horror musical classic "Phantom of the Paradise."

!!Synchronicity
Synchronicity — www.synchrotheatre.com — produces theatre to spark community connections and uplift the voices of women and girls. Founded in 1997 by four women, Synchronicity presents plays for adults (Bold Voices) and families (Family Series) and offers a wide range of educational programming, including Playmaking for Kids (PFK) summer camps and after-school programs, and their award-winning Playmaking for Girls (PFG) program. Now in its fourth year, the organization’s Stripped Bare: Arts Incubator Project gives artists a space to create and present new work. The series focuses on projects that emphasize words and ideas, with minimal technical elements, and encourages young artists to think about the essentials of theatre (mostly) stripped of intricate sets, lights, props, sound design, and costumes.

From August 1–11, Synchronicity will host a revival of "2 the Left: A Tribute to the Life of Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes." Written and performed by Kerisse Hutchinson, and originally performed as part of the Stripped Bare Arts Incubator Project, this multimedia experience chronicles the life of the most controversial member of the ’90s pop music phenomenon TLC. Thomas W. Jones II directs. Sunday, August 4, there will be a talkback after "2 the Left" with the cast, crew, and members of Lopes’ family. Later this month, Synchronicity will announce two more Stripped Bare projects that will be performed September 10–12 and Nov 12–14. Tickets are free to all Stripped Bare performances, but reservations are required.

Synchronicity’s first full production of the new season is "MacBeth," Erica Schmidt’s bold adaptation of the Bard’s Scottish play running October 4–28. On an autumn afternoon, in an empty lot outside the city, seven girls meet up to perform "Macbeth," using Shakespeare’s original text. It’s not long before the blood fantasy of the play starts to seep into their real lives.

!!Theater Emory
Theater Emory – www.theater.emory.edu – is the Emory University theater department’s resident professional company and the producing organization for Theater Studies. Typically, Theater Emory presents four productions per year.

This fall’s production of "The Nether" (November 1–17), directed by Ibi Ovolabi, promises to be one of most provocative projects ever staged by Theater Emory. Jennifer Haley’s psychological crime thriller draws the audience into a detective’s investigation of a virtual world where pedophiles indulge their fantasies. The investigation sparks questions about ethical behavior as experienced in the imagination and practiced in the “real” world.

“‘The Nether’ questions the way we define something as ‘real,’ which is an idea that has fascinated philosophers for millennia,” says Brent Glenn, artistic director of Theater Emory. “As we approach a time when virtual reality may be as real as our daily lives, discomforting ethical conundrums rise to the surface. "The Nether" forces us to face that discomfort.”

!!Theatrical Outfit
::::
Founded in a converted Virginia Highlands laundromat 43 years ago, Theatrical Outfit — www.theatricaloutfit.org — is Atlanta’s second oldest professional theatre company. The Outfit produced some of its boldest, most provocative work in the ’80s out of the (now long gone) Kress Five & Dime building in Midtown, before it moved downtown in 1999 to the site of the former Herren’s Restaurant, now the Balzer Theatre. 2019-2020 marks another milestone as Atlanta theater legend Tom Key will be stepping down from the position of artistic director after 25 years. Since 1995, Key and The Outfit have had critical and popular success presenting dozens of regional and world premieres, classics, and musicals that explore diversity, equality, ethnicity, race, and faith. Key has taken great pride in programming plays by many of the best writers of the American South, including Ernest Gaines, Horton Foote, Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor, and Tennessee Williams.

Theatrical Outfit begins “Tom’s Farewell Season” with "Our Town" and "The Laramie Project" in repertory from August 27 to September 29. Considered by many to be the greatest American play, Thornton Wilder’s "Our Town" depicts the town of Grover’s Corners in three acts: “Daily Life,” “Love and Marriage,” and “Death and Eternity.” Narrated by a stage manager character and performed with minimal props and sets, Wilder’s classic chronicles the Webb and Gibbs families as their children fall in love, marry, and eventually die. David Crowe will direct.  

In 1998, a university student named Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, beaten, and tied to a prairie fence outside Laramie, Wyoming. When he died days later, the world learned Shepard was targeted because he was gay. In its review of the original production, the New York Times observed, “‘The Laramie Project’ is ‘Our Town’ with a question mark, as in, ‘Could this be our town? It can’t happen here,’ followed immediately by ‘And yet it has.’” Clifton Guterman will direct "The Laramie Project," a play that strives to find the light in a tragedy and to reveal examples of profound compassion in its wake.

!!The Windmill Arts Center
Opened in late 2017, the Windmill Arts Center – www.thewindmillatl.com – in East Point contains an 80-seat “black box” theater plus a 40-seat “white box” space for rent as a gallery, rehearsal space, yoga studio, classroom, or for special events. Converted from a gas station/garage, the arts center now serves as the East Coast headquarters for Vanguard Repertory Company (VanguardRep), which was formed in Los Angeles in 2008 by husband and wife Sam and Elizabeth Ross (who previously lived in Atlanta), Matthew Burgos, and Elisa Blandford. 

From August 2–18, VanguardRep presents the Atlanta premiere of "Br'er Cotton," a contemporary fable about systemic racism by playwright Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm and directed by Burgos. Later in the month (August 29–September 1), The Tiny Theater Company will premiere a one-act adaptation of William Shakespeare’s "Hamlet" featuring live music and dance by an all-black cast with Tiny Theater founder Cydnei Prather directing.
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The Arts Issue, Explore Arts & Culture

Friday August 2, 2019 09:36 pm EDT
Onstage and off, with actors and puppets, dealing in reality and escape | more...
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  string(467) "It isn’t just the music of dead white guys wearing wigs anymore. Far from it: “Classical music” in the 21st century is enjoying widespread popularity as well as growth in terms of diversity, inclusiveness, and eclecticism. While broad acknowledgment exists among those at the forefront of this transformative shift that more progress is needed before aspirational goals align with reality, classical music has never ceased evolving in accordance with the times."
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  string(29385) "SIDEBAR: Choral Singing and Community

It isn’t just the music of dead white guys wearing wigs anymore. Far from it: “Classical music” in the 21st century is enjoying widespread popularity as well as growth in terms of diversity, inclusiveness, and eclecticism. While broad acknowledgment exists among those at the forefront of this transformative shift that more progress is needed before aspirational goals align with reality, classical music has never ceased evolving in accordance with the times.

The reality is that classical music is becoming more, not less, relevant in the 21st century. Part of that reality concerns the definition of “classical music.” It’s certainly not limited to the Classical period of music and its antecedent Romantic era. Classical music history spans more than a millennium of artistic expression and remains very much a living tradition of thought and practice by composers and performers. Its stylistic nature has changed over time, especially during the last half century, but that change attests in part to the persistent influence of the genre on our rapidly evolving culture: “Classical music” has  always been a highly adaptable species.

In spite of the overwhelming prevalence and commercial economic power of pop music in Western culture, classical music is thriving. In 2018, classical music “was the fastest-growing genre” in sales volume in the United Kingdom, according to figures released by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Last year, sales and streams of classical recordings increased by a little over 10 percent in the UK compared to the previous year — not bad considering a rise of just under 6 percent across all genres. Significantly, sales of classical CDs alone increased by almost 7 percent versus the negative trend in pop and rock. Perhaps because classical music listeners still prefer a physical product, only a quarter of classical music sales in 2018 was handled by streaming services, versus nearly 64 percent streaming for the non-classical market.
These numbers account for various directions taken by “contemporary” classical music makers from concert stage music and film scores to opera and video games. They also reflect the resilient popularity of familiar traditional repertoire by composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Rachmaninoff.

Yet, a cynical observer might ask: Why do we even need classical music in the Hip-Hop Capital of the Universe? Common wisdom says that interest in classical music comes only from a relatively small base. But, says the attentive observer, let’s look at one telling current statistic from our internet-age world:

According to Facebook’s advertising algorithms, one out of every six users between the ages of 21 and 39 located within 50 miles of downtown Atlanta is interested in classical music. That percentage is slightly higher, by about one point, for the 21-to-65 age category, contradicting the notion that “only old people” care about or listen to classical music. Although a minority, that’s still a sizable chunk of the metro area population.

The thousands of attendees who show up in June at Piedmont Park for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) free classical concerts offer further testimony to the local appeal of classical music. Beyond metro Atlanta, the ASO reigns as one of America’s most popular orchestras with 28 Grammy Awards representing some serious street cred.

The cultural milieu of classical and post-classical music in Atlanta encompasses a combination of leading organizations, such as the ASO and the Atlanta Opera, top-level presenters such as Spivey Hall, plus a panoply of interdependent classical and contemporary chamber ensembles, university venues, and adventurous alternative performance spaces. Concurrently, educational programs like the ASO’s Talent Development Program and the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the independent “El Sistema”-inspired Atlanta Music Project, are shaping the diverse landscape of classical music’s future.

The following compendium is a non-exhaustive list of organizations and venues offering readers a few waypoints by which to explore the rich community of classical music in and around Atlanta.

!!ATLANTA BAROQUE ORCHESTRA
The first and longest-running professional Baroque chamber orchestra in the Southeastern United States, the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra (ABO) has been performing continuously since 1998. Today, under the direction of violinist Julie Andrijeski, the ABO – www.atlantabaroque.org – calls Roswell, Georgia, home and also performs as “ensemble-in-residence” at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Buckhead as part of a collaborative arrangement with the Friends of Cathedral Music.

This fall, the Cathedral Schola, directed by Dale Adelmann, will join forces with the ABO on Friday, October 11, at the Cathedral of St. Philip, and on Saturday, October 12, at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Roswell, to perform J.S. Bach’s Magnificat paired with the famed German composer’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major. Both concerts will feature the ABO wielding period instruments in pursuit of a historically-informed rendering of Bach’s music as the maestro himself might have heard it.

!!ATLANTA CHAMBER PLAYERS
Founded in 1976 by pianist Paula Peace, the Atlanta Chamber Players (ACP) – www.atlantachamberplayers.com – has earned a national reputation as a pioneering chamber group. A mixed ensemble of strings, winds, and piano, the ACP’s broad repertoire includes traditional masterpieces and contemporary classics. The current artistic director of the ensemble is pianist Elizabeth Pridgen.

In 2009, the ACP’s long-standing commitment to performing the music of living American composers led to the formation of Rapido!, a national composition competition supported by the Antinori Foundation.

The ACP’s 2019-2020 season opens on Sunday, October 13, at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, performing works by Clara Schumann for the 200th anniversary of her birth, plus a clarinet trio by Atlanta composer Tommy Joe Anderson featuring clarinetist Laura Ardan.

On Tuesday, November 19, the ACP performs at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse, premiering a new work by last year’s Rapido! winner Brian Nabors.

!!ATLANTA CONTEMPORARY ENSEMBLE
The Atlanta Contemporary Ensemble (ACE) – www.atlce.org – is a mixed chamber orchestra specializing in avant-garde works by living composers in performances that combine live music with choreography by Sukha Artists, a contemporary dance company headquartered in Avondale. The ACE holds an annual open call for scores. September 1 is the deadline for submissions to be considered for the ACE’s “Electric Eve” concert in April as part of the 2020 SoundNOW music festival. ACE is seeking three pieces between 5-7 minutes, scored for modern dancers and small mixed chamber ensemble. The music must reflect and draw inspiration from paintings by Atlanta artist Krista M. Jones.

ACE executive director Tracy Woodard is also artistic director and violinist of the string quartet Cantos y Cuentos, which will soon announce its fall concert schedule. Amy Wilson, who conducts the ACE, also serves as music director of the Atlanta Philharmonic Orchestra.

!!ATLANTA GAY MEN’S CHORUS
Inspired by the formation of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus four years earlier, the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus (AGMC) – www.voicesofnote.org/agmc – was founded in 1981 by Jeffrey McIntyre, becoming the first such chorus in the South. Today, under the direction of Donald Milton III, the AGMC remains committed to “changing hearts and minds through music.”

In 2012, the AGMC formed Voices of Note, Inc. under which the chorus and any future programs would operate. With the launching in 2013 of the Atlanta Women’s Project (now the Atlanta Women’s Chorus) – www.voicesofnote.org/awc – Voices of Note expanded its community leadership as an organization devoted to diversity and excellence in vocal performance.

This season’s AGMC holiday concerts take place on Friday and Saturday, December 6 and 7, at the Cathedral of St. Philip. The AWC, under the artistic direction of Melissa Arasi, will present a concert (program TBA) on Saturday, December 14, at Grace United Methodist Church.

!!THE ATLANTA OPERA

A growing presence and influence in the national and international operatic world, the Atlanta Opera – www.atlantaopera.org – celebrates its 40th anniversary in the 2019-2020 season. Under General and Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun, the Atlanta Opera has grown from a very good regional company into a dynamic, creative force, widely acclaimed for bringing operas large and small, popular and obscure, to 21st-century audiences. By reimagining the classics and introducing new works to metro audiences, the Atlanta Opera has expanded the audience for the grandest of the performing arts to an unprecedented degree.


“In our 40th anniversary season, we’re producing our largest Discoveries season yet; these operas are smaller in scope but big on impact, especially Frida,” says Zvulun.

Frida is the story of the Mexican icon Frida Kahlo, which will be performed at Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center at City Springs in October. A fantastical multifaceted theatrical production, Frida includes pantomime, puppetry, movement, and vocal performers. The music is a bright and spicy blend of mariachi, tango, zarzuela, ragtime, 1930s jazz, and vaudeville. Reflective of the Atlanta Opera’s commitment to broadening its repertoire and attracting a wider audience, scheduled in March is the Gershwin brothers’ (George and Ira) larger-than-life operatic musical, Porgy and Bess.

In May 2020, Giacomo Puccini’s masterwork Madame Butterfly returns to the stage with all the drama and spectacle of classic Italian operas. In addition, the main stage season includes Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola and a new production of Richard Strauss’ Salome. The 2020 Discoveries series closes with Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied, which recounts the story of the longest-held prisoner of war in American history.

With four main stage productions at the Cobb Energy Centre and two innovative Discoveries series productions at other venues, plus community and educational outreach programs, the Atlanta Opera fosters a welcome combination of forward-thinking artistic vision and smart business acumen. By providing an environment in which emerging artists work alongside internationally acclaimed professionals, the Atlanta Opera Studio provides a launching pad for talented singers and creatives who represent the next generation of opera stars.

In partnership with The Home Depot Foundation, the Atlanta Opera offers an award-winning Veterans Program, which makes it possible for veterans and current military servicemen and women to attend all main stage productions for free.

!!ATLANTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

The 2019-2020 season marks the 75th anniversary of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) – www.atlantasymphony.org – which has unquestionably earned a place among the city’s “major league teams,” regardless of category.


“This season is both a celebration of our rich history and a time to look to the future and our next 75 years,” says ASO Executive Director Jennifer Barlament.

Superstar violinist Joshua Bell opens the Delta classical subscription series with concerts on Friday and Saturday, September 20-21. Music Director Robert Spano will conduct the program, which will include Henryk Wieniawski’s “Violin Concerto No. 2” and the “Concerto for Orchestra” by Jennifer Higdon, an Atlanta-raised, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer long-championed by Spano.

Throughout the season, top guest artists and long-time friends of the ASO will join in the celebration, including violinist Midori, pianist Emanuel Ax, and pianist André Watts. For a special one-night-only performance on March 11, former music director Yoel Levi returns to Symphony Hall to conduct the ASO with the incomparable violinist Itzhak Perlman as featured soloist.

The subscription season also includes world premieres of works by Atlanta composer Richard Prior and up-and-coming Rapido! composition contest winner Brian Nabors on Thursday, November 21, and Friday, November 23.

On Thursday, November 14, and Saturday, November 16, the ASO with Chorus and guest artists will perform and record live Gustav Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 8 (the “Symphony of a Thousand”) with Spano conducting. Also on the program is Carl Orff’s compelling Carmina Burana under the baton of principal guest conductor Donald Runnicles. The season wraps up with an Atlanta first: a three-day festival featuring Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde performed one act per evening over three successive evenings, Thursday–Saturday, June 11–14.

The 75th anniversary season marks a pivotal point in the ASO’s history. It’s a time to reflect on past successes, including a score of Grammy awards, but also to envision the orchestra’s values, mission, and audience. The ASO just hired a new chief artistic officer, Elena Dubinets, whose job description includes creating new streams of programming aimed at increasing the breadth and diversity of the ASO’s repertoire, artists and audience, and broadening the orchestra’s footprint in the metro Atlanta community. The ASO is also actively searching for a new music director to replace Robert Spano, who will step down from his post at the end of the 2020-2021 season.

!!ATLANTA YOUNG SINGERS
In 1975, Stephen J. Ortlip founded the Young Singers of Callanwolde in an era when the idea of boys and girls singing together in a community choir was rare. Today, the Atlanta Young Singers – www.aysc.org – directed by Paige Mathis, remains a leader in the national children’s choir movement.

On November 23, in partnership with the Morehouse College Glee Club, the AYS will present a “Young Men’s Power Sing” workshop for boys, culminating in a concert at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center. On successive Fridays, December 14 and 21, the AYS will present the 44th annual “Music of the Holidays” concert at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church.

 The AYS is just part of Atlanta’s broad, diverse community of young persons’ choirs, which includes the Gwinnett Young Singers – gwinnettyoungsingers.com – Spivey Hall Children’s Choir – www.clayton.edu/spiveyhall/shccprogram – Atlanta Boy Choir – www.atlantaboychoir.org – Georgia Boy Choir – georgiaboychoir.org – and choirs of the Atlanta Music Project – www.atlantamusicproject.org.

!!BENT FREQUENCY

Atlanta’s premiere contemporary music ensemble, Bent Frequency – www.bentfrequency.com – brings the avant-garde to life through adventurous and socially conscious programming, cross-disciplinary collaborations, and community engagement. As champions of work by historically underrepresented composers — women, composers of color, and LGBTQIA+ — Bent Frequency plays a vital role in expanding the breadth and scope of contemporary music while challenging audiences with fresh new voices and sounds.


In recent years Bent Frequency co-founders Jan Berry Baker and Stuart Gerber have overseen highly adventurous programs including traditionally staged concerts and solo recitals, operatic works, performances on the Atlanta Streetcar, and a concert at Historic Fourth Ward Park involving 111 bicycle-mounted community performers.

Confirmed dates and locations for Bent Frequency’s 2019-2020 season, which opens in October, were not available at press time. In December, the ensemble will reprise its participatory street-crowd performance of Phil Kline’s “Unsilent Night,” this year in Hapeville.

!!  CORO VOCATI
John H. Dickson is the founding artistic director and conductor of Coro Vocati – www.corovocati.org – recognized as “one of Atlanta’s most accomplished professional chamber choirs.”  Most recently, the group attracted public and critical attention at the end of June with a presentation of “Considering Matthew Shepard” at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center.

Coro Vocati kicks off its 2019-20 season with “Can You Hear Me?” which focuses on giving voice to the voiceless and disenfranchised through musical selections from around the world. Performances will take place at First United Methodist Church of Marietta on Saturday, September 28, and Morningside Presbyterian Church on Sunday, September 29.

The “global” theme continues through the holidays with a program titled “Christmas with Coro: Carols Around the World” on Friday and Saturday, December 14-15. Venue TBA.

!!GEORGIA TECH SCHOOL OF MUSIC
The Georgia Tech School of Music – www.music.gatech.edu – cultivates a rich legacy of musical traditions and develops cutting-edge technologies to help define the music landscape of the future.

The annual Margaret Guthman New Instrument Competition showcases next-generation musical instruments, concluding with a concert performed on the submitted instruments. Research at Georgia Tech has produced a pair of robotic musicians, Shimi and Shimon, and spawned the development of prosthetic hands and arms, which allow amputees to play musical instruments.

 On Friday, November 15, and Sunday, November 17, at the Ferst Center for the Arts, the Georgia Tech School of Music and Law Institute of Arts and Technology at the University of Denver join forces to present the world premiere of Four Seasons Double Concerto. Inspired by Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Zhou Jiaojiao’s composition will be performed by an operatic soprano, guest instrumentalists, and the Georgia Tech Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Chaowen Ting.

!!GEORGIAN CHAMBER PLAYERS
With a roster based around principal string players of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Georgian Chamber Players (GCP) – www.georgianchamberplayers.org – defines classical chamber music in Atlanta. The ensemble’s season opens Sunday, November 3, at the acoustically fine Kellett Chapel of Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Buckhead. On the GCP roster for the concert are violinists David Coucheron and Julianne Lee, violist Reid Harris, cellist Christopher Rex, and pianists Julie Coucheron and Elizabeth Pridgen, plus a pair of “mystery guest performers.” Insiders report the as-yet-unknown guest performers will soon be playing important roles at the top level of Atlanta’s classical music scene.

!!GSU SCHOOL OF MUSIC
The Georgia State University School of Music – www.music.gsu.edu – includes among its downtown complex of buildings two important music venues: the Rialto Center for the Arts and the Florence Kopleff Recital Hall. The Rialto Center – www.rialto.gsu.edu – is a 900-seat performance facility well suited to touring performing artists and the School’s larger ensembles and performance projects. Kopleff Recital Hall, which sits adjacent to Hurt Park, is a more intimate 400-seat hall ideally configured for chamber and solo performances. The Rialto has its own eclectic, multidisciplinary series, which ventures into genres far afield from the classical programming that predominates at the Kopleff facility.

This fall’s “Rialto Series” includes musical performers as diverse as Red Baraat, a “Bollywood funky party band,” which plays North Indian bhangra, a popular style that mixes elements of hip-hop, jazz, and punk (October 12); and the legendary empress of soul Gladys Knight (November 10). Also scheduled are the Ailey II dance troupe on Saturday, October 26, comedy acts, visual art shows, and even video gaming events. The Rialto will also serve as the venue for Atlanta’s annual “Celtic Christmas” show, which combines Celtic music, dance, and poetry (Saturday-Sunday, December 21-22).

On the classical side, the GSU School of Music’s “Signature Series” features self-produced concerts divided between Kopleff Recital Hall and the Rialto Center for the Arts. In addition to the GSU orchestra, symphonic bands, jazz bands, and choruses, more specialized groups, such as a saxophone ensemble and percussion ensemble, offer opportunities to hear newer and more adventurous repertoire.

Ensemble-in-residence Bent Frequency has become one of the most active and visible contemporary ensembles in the Southeast. In the same vein, the neoPhonia New Music Ensemble, with its flexible instrumentation and mixed roster comprised of GSU faculty, students, and local professional musicians, champions the music of established contemporary composers, performs important chamber works from the late 20th and early 21st century, and premiers new works by emerging young composers.

The annual SoundNOW Festival, held in April, which showcases Atlanta-based composers and performers of contemporary music, largely centers around Kopleff Recital Hall and other parts the GSU campus, as well as edgy, alternative venues across Atlanta.

!!  PEACHTREE STRING QUARTET
Formed in 2012 by violinist/artistic director Christopher Pulgram, the Peachtree String Quartet (PSQ) – www.peachtreestringquartet.org  – enters its eighth season with a lineup that includes Pulgram, violinist Sissi Yuqing Zhang, violist Yang-Yoon Kim, and cellist Thomas Carpenter — all four members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

During the 2019-2020 season, the PSQ will celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday with the “Better Be Beethoven” concert series, which runs on three Sundays (October 6, January 12, and March 15). The concerts at the intimate Garden Hills Recreation Center will feature one Beethoven string quartet each from the composer’s early, middle, and late periods: opus 18, opus 74 and the glorious opus 132.

The concerts will also include works by Joseph Haydn, Edvard Grieg, Luigi Boccherini, and Arvo Part. In addition to the Garden Hills series, PSQ will perform around the metro area and Georgia.

!!RIVERSIDE CHAMBER PLAYERS
Based in Roswell, Riverside Chamber Players (RCP) – www.riversidechamberplayers.org – brings high-quality classical music to the suburban North Fulton region with accessible quality programming. The RCP’s season opens Sunday, November 3, at their home venue, the Unitarian Universalist Metro Atlanta North congregation (UUMAN), with a concert featuring Anton Arensky’s String Quartet No. 2, which is scored for an unusual combination of violin, viola, and two cellos.

On Sunday, March 8, 2020, the RCP will host a concert featuring works by finalists in the RCP String Quartet Commission Award competition, which challenges Georgia college students to compose music for standard string quartet. Judges for the award are ASO Music Director Robert Spano, ASO bassist and RCP Composer-in-Residence Michael Kurth, and RCP Artistic Director and cellist Joel Dallow.

!!SCHWARTZ CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS
The Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, including its 800-seat Emerson Concert Hall is the flagship complex of Emory University’s “Arts Village.” – www.arts.emory.edu. The 2019-2020 edition of the Flora Glenn Candler Series promises to “celebrate cultural connections” with top-tier programming and guest artists.

“Music is one of the beautiful things we share around the world — my hope is this coming season provides our audience the opportunity for new and meaningful shared experiences celebrating this commonality,” says Rachael Brightwell, managing director of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. “The 2019-2020 Candler concert series celebrates the ways in which music brings people together.”

The famed Kronos Quartet opens the Candler series on Saturday, September 14, bringing their “Music for Change” project to the Schwartz Center. “It’s going to leave our audience asking new questions of themselves about our similarities and our differences,” remarks Brightwell.
On Friday, October 18, a Candler series concert features acclaimed jazz pianist Brad Mehldau and classical tenor Ian Bostridge performing together in a recital that acknowledges their different musical backgrounds and shared musical affinities. On Sunday, November 3, mezzo-soprano Joyce Didonato brings her “In War & Peace: Harmony through Music” program to the Schwartz. The program examines the chaotic world in which we live in today, raising the question, “How do you find your joy, how do you find your peace?”

Although the concert isn’t until spring 2020, it’s well worth noting that, on Friday, April 10, ASO music director and pianist Robert Spano and internationally acclaimed, Macon-born violinist Robert McDuffie will perform a special recital of Brahms and Beethoven to close the Candler series season.

Beyond the Candler series, Emory has more to offer. The Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta is the largest and most active organization of its kind in the Southeast, building new audiences through a wide variety of performances and teaching activities. The 2019-2020 season will include the first half of the “Beethoven 2020” project, a celebration of the composer’s 250th birth year, which includes all 32 of his piano sonatas performed consecutively; the complete works for piano and violin and piano and cello; and the complete cycle of Beethoven’s string quartets performed by Emory’s award-winning string quartet in residence, the Vega String Quartet, in six concerts over the course of 2020.

!!SPELMAN & MOREHOUSE COLLEGE GLEE CLUBS
The Morehouse College Glee Club – www.morehouse.edu/academics/music/concert.html – directed by Dr. David Morrow (see sidebar), is the official choral group of Morehouse College. Founded in 1911, the Glee Club has a long tradition of significant public appearances, having performed at Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral, President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration, Super Bowl XXVIII, and the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The Glee Club participates annually in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s “Christmas with the ASO” concerts.

The Spelman College Glee Club – www.spelman.edu/academics/majors-and-programs/music/ensembles/glee-club/schedule – directed by Dr. Kevin Johnson, has maintained a reputation for choral excellence since 1925. The Glee Club’s repertoire draws from sacred and secular choral literature for women’s voices with a particular focus on traditional spirituals, African American composers, and music from many cultures, plus commissioned works. The Glee Club has performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, renowned opera singer Jessye Norman, and in 2016 at the White House for President Barack Obama.

!!SPIVEY HALL
The crown jewel of metro-Atlanta’s classical music venues, Spivey Hall – www.spiveyhall.org  – is unmatched in its combination of pristine acoustics, consistently excellent programming, and roster of outstanding guest artists. Located on the campus of Clayton State University in the city of Morrow on Atlanta’s suburban south side, the 400-seat hall sports a pair of complementary Hamburg Steinway concert grand pianos, plus the esteemed Albert Schweitzer Memorial Organ. Ample free parking in front of the Hall adds convenience to the wonderful experience inside the facility.

While Spivey Hall regularly presents leading classical, jazz, and popular music stars, the venue is also known for introducing promising emerging talents to Atlanta audiences. For the city’s classical music cognoscenti, Spivey Hall is the luxury vehicle of choice.

The Dover and Escher string quartets kick off Spivey Hall’s 29th concert season with music by Joseph Haydn and Paul Hindemith, then join forces for one of chamber music’s most exhilarating masterworks, the Octet for Strings composed by the 16-year-old wunderkind Felix Mendelssohn. Returning favorites include Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt in an all-Bach program, celebrated young British “wizard of the piano” Benjamin Grosvenor, and the Takács Quartet, entering its 45th season as one of the world’s leading string quartets.

The glorious voice of Georgia-born Metropolitan Opera star mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton returns for her second Spivey Hall recital in December. In February, Grammy Award-winning Juilliard School faculty organist Paul Jacobs performs on the magnificent Albert Schweitzer Memorial Organ.
The Spivey Hall jazz calendar includes a quintet led by pianist Kenny Barron, the Christian Sands High Wire Trio, and vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. For lighter fare, Spivey Hall offers the tongue-in-cheek high spirits of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain; the Swingles vocal ensemble (with a Christmas program, Winter Tales); and guitarist Miloš Karadaglić, known for popular interpretations of classical Spanish repertoire and original arrangements of Beatles tunes.

Making their Atlanta premieres are the dynamic husband-and-wife piano duo Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung; the golden-voiced British soprano Mary Bevan; and the captivating Ukrainian piano virtuoso, Alexander Romanovsky performing music by Frederic Chopin.


 

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  string(36298) "[#Choral_Singing_and_Community|SIDEBAR: Choral Singing and Community]

It isn’t just the music of dead white guys wearing wigs anymore. Far from it: “Classical music” in the 21st century is enjoying widespread popularity as well as growth in terms of diversity, inclusiveness, and eclecticism. While broad acknowledgment exists among those at the forefront of this transformative shift that more progress is needed before aspirational goals align with reality, classical music has never ceased evolving in accordance with the times.

The reality is that classical music is becoming more, not less, relevant in the 21st century. Part of that reality concerns the definition of “classical music.” It’s certainly not limited to the Classical period of music and its antecedent Romantic era. Classical music history spans more than a millennium of artistic expression and remains very much a living tradition of thought and practice by composers and performers. Its stylistic nature has changed over time, especially during the last half century, but that change attests in part to the persistent influence of the genre on our rapidly evolving culture: “Classical music” has  always been a highly adaptable species.

In spite of the overwhelming prevalence and commercial economic power of pop music in Western culture, classical music is thriving. In 2018, classical music “was the fastest-growing genre” in sales volume in the United Kingdom, according to figures released by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Last year, sales and streams of classical recordings increased by a little over 10 percent in the UK compared to the previous year — not bad considering a rise of just under 6 percent across all genres. Significantly, sales of classical CDs alone increased by almost 7 percent versus the negative trend in pop and rock. Perhaps because classical music listeners still prefer a physical product, only a quarter of classical music sales in 2018 was handled by streaming services, versus nearly 64 percent streaming for the non-classical market.
These numbers account for various directions taken by “contemporary” classical music makers from concert stage music and film scores to opera and video games. They also reflect the resilient popularity of familiar traditional repertoire by composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Rachmaninoff.

Yet, a cynical observer might ask: Why do we even need classical music in the Hip-Hop Capital of the Universe? Common wisdom says that interest in classical music comes only from a relatively small base. But, says the attentive observer, let’s look at one telling current statistic from our internet-age world:

According to Facebook’s advertising algorithms, one out of every six users between the ages of 21 and 39 located within 50 miles of downtown Atlanta is interested in classical music. That percentage is slightly higher, by about one point, for the 21-to-65 age category, contradicting the notion that “only old people” care about or listen to classical music. Although a minority, that’s still a sizable chunk of the metro area population.

The thousands of attendees who show up in June at Piedmont Park for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) free classical concerts offer further testimony to the local appeal of classical music. Beyond metro Atlanta, the ASO reigns as one of America’s most popular orchestras with 28 Grammy Awards representing some serious street cred.

The cultural milieu of classical and post-classical music in Atlanta encompasses a combination of leading organizations, such as the ASO and the Atlanta Opera, top-level presenters such as Spivey Hall, plus a panoply of interdependent classical and contemporary chamber ensembles, university venues, and adventurous alternative performance spaces. Concurrently, educational programs like the ASO’s Talent Development Program and the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the independent “El Sistema”-inspired Atlanta Music Project, are shaping the diverse landscape of classical music’s future.

The following compendium is a non-exhaustive list of organizations and venues offering readers a few waypoints by which to explore the rich community of classical music in and around Atlanta.

!!__ATLANTA BAROQUE ORCHESTRA__
The first and longest-running professional Baroque chamber orchestra in the Southeastern United States, the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra (ABO) has been performing continuously since 1998. Today, under the direction of violinist Julie Andrijeski, the ABO – www.atlantabaroque.org – calls Roswell, Georgia, home and also performs as “ensemble-in-residence” at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Buckhead as part of a collaborative arrangement with the Friends of Cathedral Music.

This fall, the Cathedral Schola, directed by Dale Adelmann, will join forces with the ABO on Friday, October 11, at the Cathedral of St. Philip, and on Saturday, October 12, at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Roswell, to perform J.S. Bach’s ''Magnificat'' paired with the famed German composer’s ''Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major''. Both concerts will feature the ABO wielding period instruments in pursuit of a historically-informed rendering of Bach’s music as the maestro himself might have heard it.

!!__ATLANTA CHAMBER PLAYERS__
Founded in 1976 by pianist Paula Peace, the Atlanta Chamber Players (ACP) – www.atlantachamberplayers.com – has earned a national reputation as a pioneering chamber group. A mixed ensemble of strings, winds, and piano, the ACP’s broad repertoire includes traditional masterpieces and contemporary classics. The current artistic director of the ensemble is pianist Elizabeth Pridgen.

In 2009, the ACP’s long-standing commitment to performing the music of living American composers led to the formation of Rapido!, a national composition competition supported by the Antinori Foundation.

The ACP’s 2019-2020 season opens on Sunday, October 13, at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, performing works by Clara Schumann for the 200th anniversary of her birth, plus a clarinet trio by Atlanta composer Tommy Joe Anderson featuring clarinetist Laura Ardan.

On Tuesday, November 19, the ACP performs at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse, premiering a new work by last year’s Rapido! winner Brian Nabors.

!!__ATLANTA CONTEMPORARY ENSEMBLE__
The Atlanta Contemporary Ensemble (ACE) – www.atlce.org – is a mixed chamber orchestra specializing in avant-garde works by living composers in performances that combine live music with choreography by Sukha Artists, a contemporary dance company headquartered in Avondale. The ACE holds an annual open call for scores. September 1 is the deadline for submissions to be considered for the ACE’s “Electric Eve” concert in April as part of the 2020 SoundNOW music festival. ACE is seeking three pieces between 5-7 minutes, scored for modern dancers and small mixed chamber ensemble. The music must reflect and draw inspiration from paintings by Atlanta artist Krista M. Jones.

ACE executive director Tracy Woodard is also artistic director and violinist of the string quartet Cantos y Cuentos, which will soon announce its fall concert schedule. Amy Wilson, who conducts the ACE, also serves as music director of the Atlanta Philharmonic Orchestra.

!!__ATLANTA GAY MEN’S CHORUS__
Inspired by the formation of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus four years earlier, the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus (AGMC) – www.voicesofnote.org/agmc – was founded in 1981 by Jeffrey McIntyre, becoming the first such chorus in the South. Today, under the direction of Donald Milton III, the AGMC remains committed to “changing hearts and minds through music.”

In 2012, the AGMC formed Voices of Note, Inc. under which the chorus and any future programs would operate. With the launching in 2013 of the Atlanta Women’s Project (now the Atlanta Women’s Chorus) – www.voicesofnote.org/awc – Voices of Note expanded its community leadership as an organization devoted to diversity and excellence in vocal performance.

This season’s AGMC holiday concerts take place on Friday and Saturday, December 6 and 7, at the Cathedral of St. Philip. The AWC, under the artistic direction of Melissa Arasi, will present a concert (program TBA) on Saturday, December 14, at Grace United Methodist Church.

!!__THE ATLANTA OPERA__
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A growing presence and influence in the national and international operatic world, the Atlanta Opera – www.atlantaopera.org – celebrates its 40th anniversary in the 2019-2020 season. Under General and Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun, the Atlanta Opera has grown from a very good regional company into a dynamic, creative force, widely acclaimed for bringing operas large and small, popular and obscure, to 21st-century audiences. By reimagining the classics and introducing new works to metro audiences, the Atlanta Opera has expanded the audience for the grandest of the performing arts to an unprecedented degree.


“In our 40th anniversary season, we’re producing our largest Discoveries season yet; these operas are smaller in scope but big on impact, especially ''Frida'',” says Zvulun.

''Frida'' is the story of the Mexican icon Frida Kahlo, which will be performed at Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center at City Springs in October. A fantastical multifaceted theatrical production, ''Frida'' includes pantomime, puppetry, movement, and vocal performers. The music is a bright and spicy blend of mariachi, tango, zarzuela, ragtime, 1930s jazz, and vaudeville. Reflective of the Atlanta Opera’s commitment to broadening its repertoire and attracting a wider audience, scheduled in March is the Gershwin brothers’ (George and Ira) larger-than-life operatic musical, ''Porgy and Bess''.

In May 2020, Giacomo Puccini’s masterwork ''Madame Butterfly'' returns to the stage with all the drama and spectacle of classic Italian operas. In addition, the main stage season includes Gioachino Rossini’s ''La Cenerentola'' and a new production of Richard Strauss’ ''Salome''. The 2020 Discoveries series closes with Tom Cipullo’s ''Glory Denied'', which recounts the story of the longest-held prisoner of war in American history.

With four main stage productions at the Cobb Energy Centre and two innovative Discoveries series productions at other venues, plus community and educational outreach programs, the Atlanta Opera fosters a welcome combination of forward-thinking artistic vision and smart business acumen. By providing an environment in which emerging artists work alongside internationally acclaimed professionals, the Atlanta Opera Studio provides a launching pad for talented singers and creatives who represent the next generation of opera stars.

In partnership with The Home Depot Foundation, the Atlanta Opera offers an award-winning Veterans Program, which makes it possible for veterans and current military servicemen and women to attend all main stage productions for free.

!!__ATLANTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA__
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The 2019-2020 season marks the 75th anniversary of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) – www.atlantasymphony.org – which has unquestionably earned a place among the city’s “major league teams,” regardless of category.


“This season is both a celebration of our rich history and a time to look to the future and our next 75 years,” says ASO Executive Director Jennifer Barlament.

Superstar violinist Joshua Bell opens the Delta classical subscription series with concerts on Friday and Saturday, September 20-21. Music Director Robert Spano will conduct the program, which will include Henryk Wieniawski’s “Violin Concerto No. 2” and the “Concerto for Orchestra” by Jennifer Higdon, an Atlanta-raised, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer long-championed by Spano.

Throughout the season, top guest artists and long-time friends of the ASO will join in the celebration, including violinist Midori, pianist Emanuel Ax, and pianist André Watts. For a special one-night-only performance on March 11, former music director Yoel Levi returns to Symphony Hall to conduct the ASO with the incomparable violinist Itzhak Perlman as featured soloist.

The subscription season also includes world premieres of works by Atlanta composer Richard Prior and up-and-coming Rapido! composition contest winner Brian Nabors on Thursday, November 21, and Friday, November 23.

On Thursday, November 14, and Saturday, November 16, the ASO with Chorus and guest artists will perform and record live Gustav Mahler’s monumental ''Symphony No. 8'' (the “Symphony of a Thousand”) with Spano conducting. Also on the program is Carl Orff’s compelling ''Carmina Burana'' under the baton of principal guest conductor Donald Runnicles. The season wraps up with an Atlanta first: a three-day festival featuring Richard Wagner’s opera ''Tristan und Isolde'' performed one act per evening over three successive evenings, Thursday–Saturday, June 11–14.

The 75th anniversary season marks a pivotal point in the ASO’s history. It’s a time to reflect on past successes, including a score of Grammy awards, but also to envision the orchestra’s values, mission, and audience. The ASO just hired a new chief artistic officer, Elena Dubinets, whose job description includes creating new streams of programming aimed at increasing the breadth and diversity of the ASO’s repertoire, artists and audience, and broadening the orchestra’s footprint in the metro Atlanta community. The ASO is also actively searching for a new music director to replace Robert Spano, who will step down from his post at the end of the 2020-2021 season.

!!__ATLANTA YOUNG SINGERS__
In 1975, Stephen J. Ortlip founded the Young Singers of Callanwolde in an era when the idea of boys and girls singing together in a community choir was rare. Today, the Atlanta Young Singers – www.aysc.org – directed by Paige Mathis, remains a leader in the national children’s choir movement.

On November 23, in partnership with the Morehouse College Glee Club, the AYS will present a “Young Men’s Power Sing” workshop for boys, culminating in a concert at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center. On successive Fridays, December 14 and 21, the AYS will present the 44th annual “Music of the Holidays” concert at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church.

 The AYS is just part of Atlanta’s broad, diverse community of young persons’ choirs, which includes the Gwinnett Young Singers – gwinnettyoungsingers.com – Spivey Hall Children’s Choir – www.clayton.edu/spiveyhall/shccprogram – Atlanta Boy Choir – www.atlantaboychoir.org – Georgia Boy Choir – georgiaboychoir.org – and choirs of the Atlanta Music Project – www.atlantamusicproject.org.

!!__BENT FREQUENCY__
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Atlanta’s premiere contemporary music ensemble, Bent Frequency – www.bentfrequency.com – brings the avant-garde to life through adventurous and socially conscious programming, cross-disciplinary collaborations, and community engagement. As champions of work by historically underrepresented composers — women, composers of color, and LGBTQIA+ — Bent Frequency plays a vital role in expanding the breadth and scope of contemporary music while challenging audiences with fresh new voices and sounds.


In recent years Bent Frequency co-founders Jan Berry Baker and Stuart Gerber have overseen highly adventurous programs including traditionally staged concerts and solo recitals, operatic works, performances on the Atlanta Streetcar, and a concert at Historic Fourth Ward Park involving 111 bicycle-mounted community performers.

Confirmed dates and locations for Bent Frequency’s 2019-2020 season, which opens in October, were not available at press time. In December, the ensemble will reprise its participatory street-crowd performance of Phil Kline’s “Unsilent Night,” this year in Hapeville.

!! %%% __CORO VOCATI__
John H. Dickson is the founding artistic director and conductor of Coro Vocati – www.corovocati.org – recognized as “one of Atlanta’s most accomplished professional chamber choirs.”  Most recently, the group attracted public and critical attention at the end of June with a presentation of “Considering Matthew Shepard” at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center.

Coro Vocati kicks off its 2019-20 season with “Can You Hear Me?” which focuses on giving voice to the voiceless and disenfranchised through musical selections from around the world. Performances will take place at First United Methodist Church of Marietta on Saturday, September 28, and Morningside Presbyterian Church on Sunday, September 29.

The “global” theme continues through the holidays with a program titled “Christmas with Coro: Carols Around the World” on Friday and Saturday, December 14-15. Venue TBA.

!!__GEORGIA TECH SCHOOL OF MUSIC__
The Georgia Tech School of Music – www.music.gatech.edu – cultivates a rich legacy of musical traditions and develops cutting-edge technologies to help define the music landscape of the future.

The annual Margaret Guthman New Instrument Competition showcases next-generation musical instruments, concluding with a concert performed on the submitted instruments. Research at Georgia Tech has produced a pair of robotic musicians, Shimi and Shimon, and spawned the development of prosthetic hands and arms, which allow amputees to play musical instruments.

 On Friday, November 15, and Sunday, November 17, at the Ferst Center for the Arts, the Georgia Tech School of Music and Law Institute of Arts and Technology at the University of Denver join forces to present the world premiere of ''Four Seasons Double Concerto''. Inspired by Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Zhou Jiaojiao’s composition will be performed by an operatic soprano, guest instrumentalists, and the Georgia Tech Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Chaowen Ting.

!!__GEORGIAN CHAMBER PLAYERS__
With a roster based around principal string players of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Georgian Chamber Players (GCP) – www.georgianchamberplayers.org – defines classical chamber music in Atlanta. The ensemble’s season opens Sunday, November 3, at the acoustically fine Kellett Chapel of Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Buckhead. On the GCP roster for the concert are violinists David Coucheron and Julianne Lee, violist Reid Harris, cellist Christopher Rex, and pianists Julie Coucheron and Elizabeth Pridgen, plus a pair of “mystery guest performers.” Insiders report the as-yet-unknown guest performers will soon be playing important roles at the top level of Atlanta’s classical music scene.

!!__GSU SCHOOL OF MUSIC__
The Georgia State University School of Music – www.music.gsu.edu – includes among its downtown complex of buildings two important music venues: the Rialto Center for the Arts and the Florence Kopleff Recital Hall. The Rialto Center – www.rialto.gsu.edu – is a 900-seat performance facility well suited to touring performing artists and the School’s larger ensembles and performance projects. Kopleff Recital Hall, which sits adjacent to Hurt Park, is a more intimate 400-seat hall ideally configured for chamber and solo performances. The Rialto has its own eclectic, multidisciplinary series, which ventures into genres far afield from the classical programming that predominates at the Kopleff facility.

This fall’s “Rialto Series” includes musical performers as diverse as Red Baraat, a “Bollywood funky party band,” which plays North Indian bhangra, a popular style that mixes elements of hip-hop, jazz, and punk (October 12); and the legendary empress of soul Gladys Knight (November 10). Also scheduled are the Ailey II dance troupe on Saturday, October 26, comedy acts, visual art shows, and even video gaming events. The Rialto will also serve as the venue for Atlanta’s annual “Celtic Christmas” show, which combines Celtic music, dance, and poetry (Saturday-Sunday, December 21-22).

On the classical side, the GSU School of Music’s “Signature Series” features self-produced concerts divided between Kopleff Recital Hall and the Rialto Center for the Arts. In addition to the GSU orchestra, symphonic bands, jazz bands, and choruses, more specialized groups, such as a saxophone ensemble and percussion ensemble, offer opportunities to hear newer and more adventurous repertoire.

Ensemble-in-residence Bent Frequency has become one of the most active and visible contemporary ensembles in the Southeast. In the same vein, the neoPhonia New Music Ensemble, with its flexible instrumentation and mixed roster comprised of GSU faculty, students, and local professional musicians, champions the music of established contemporary composers, performs important chamber works from the late 20th and early 21st century, and premiers new works by emerging young composers.

The annual SoundNOW Festival, held in April, which showcases Atlanta-based composers and performers of contemporary music, largely centers around Kopleff Recital Hall and other parts the GSU campus, as well as edgy, alternative venues across Atlanta.

!! %%% __PEACHTREE STRING QUARTET__
Formed in 2012 by violinist/artistic director Christopher Pulgram, the Peachtree String Quartet (PSQ) – www.peachtreestringquartet.org  – enters its eighth season with a lineup that includes Pulgram, violinist Sissi Yuqing Zhang, violist Yang-Yoon Kim, and cellist Thomas Carpenter — all four members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

During the 2019-2020 season, the PSQ will celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday with the “Better Be Beethoven” concert series, which runs on three Sundays (October 6, January 12, and March 15). The concerts at the intimate Garden Hills Recreation Center will feature one Beethoven string quartet each from the composer’s early, middle, and late periods: opus 18, opus 74 and the glorious opus 132.

The concerts will also include works by Joseph Haydn, Edvard Grieg, Luigi Boccherini, and Arvo Part. In addition to the Garden Hills series, PSQ will perform around the metro area and Georgia.

!!__RIVERSIDE CHAMBER PLAYERS__
Based in Roswell, Riverside Chamber Players (RCP) – www.riversidechamberplayers.org – brings high-quality classical music to the suburban North Fulton region with accessible quality programming. The RCP’s season opens Sunday, November 3, at their home venue, the Unitarian Universalist Metro Atlanta North congregation (UUMAN), with a concert featuring Anton Arensky’s ''String Quartet No. 2'', which is scored for an unusual combination of violin, viola, and two cellos.

On Sunday, March 8, 2020, the RCP will host a concert featuring works by finalists in the RCP String Quartet Commission Award competition, which challenges Georgia college students to compose music for standard string quartet. Judges for the award are ASO Music Director Robert Spano, ASO bassist and RCP Composer-in-Residence Michael Kurth, and RCP Artistic Director and cellist Joel Dallow.

!!__SCHWARTZ CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS__
The Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, including its 800-seat Emerson Concert Hall is the flagship complex of Emory University’s “Arts Village.” – www.arts.emory.edu. The 2019-2020 edition of the Flora Glenn Candler Series promises to “celebrate cultural connections” with top-tier programming and guest artists.

“Music is one of the beautiful things we share around the world — my hope is this coming season provides our audience the opportunity for new and meaningful shared experiences celebrating this commonality,” says Rachael Brightwell, managing director of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. “The 2019-2020 Candler concert series celebrates the ways in which music brings people together.”

The famed Kronos Quartet opens the Candler series on Saturday, September 14, bringing their “Music for Change” project to the Schwartz Center. “It’s going to leave our audience asking new questions of themselves about our similarities and our differences,” remarks Brightwell.
On Friday, October 18, a Candler series concert features acclaimed jazz pianist Brad Mehldau and classical tenor Ian Bostridge performing together in a recital that acknowledges their different musical backgrounds and shared musical affinities. On Sunday, November 3, mezzo-soprano Joyce Didonato brings her “In War & Peace: Harmony through Music” program to the Schwartz. The program examines the chaotic world in which we live in today, raising the question, “How do you find your joy, how do you find your peace?”

Although the concert isn’t until spring 2020, it’s well worth noting that, on Friday, April 10, ASO music director and pianist Robert Spano and internationally acclaimed, Macon-born violinist Robert McDuffie will perform a special recital of Brahms and Beethoven to close the Candler series season.

Beyond the Candler series, Emory has more to offer. The Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta is the largest and most active organization of its kind in the Southeast, building new audiences through a wide variety of performances and teaching activities. The 2019-2020 season will include the first half of the “Beethoven 2020” project, a celebration of the composer’s 250th birth year, which includes all 32 of his piano sonatas performed consecutively; the complete works for piano and violin and piano and cello; and the complete cycle of Beethoven’s string quartets performed by Emory’s award-winning string quartet in residence, the Vega String Quartet, in six concerts over the course of 2020.

!!__SPELMAN & MOREHOUSE COLLEGE GLEE CLUBS__
The Morehouse College Glee Club – www.morehouse.edu/academics/music/concert.html – directed by Dr. David Morrow (see sidebar), is the official choral group of Morehouse College. Founded in 1911, the Glee Club has a long tradition of significant public appearances, having performed at Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral, President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration, Super Bowl XXVIII, and the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The Glee Club participates annually in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s “Christmas with the ASO” concerts.

The Spelman College Glee Club – www.spelman.edu/academics/majors-and-programs/music/ensembles/glee-club/schedule – directed by Dr. Kevin Johnson, has maintained a reputation for choral excellence since 1925. The Glee Club’s repertoire draws from sacred and secular choral literature for women’s voices with a particular focus on traditional spirituals, African American composers, and music from many cultures, plus commissioned works. The Glee Club has performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, renowned opera singer Jessye Norman, and in 2016 at the White House for President Barack Obama.

!!__SPIVEY HALL__
The crown jewel of metro-Atlanta’s classical music venues, Spivey Hall – www.spiveyhall.org  – is unmatched in its combination of pristine acoustics, consistently excellent programming, and roster of outstanding guest artists. Located on the campus of Clayton State University in the city of Morrow on Atlanta’s suburban south side, the 400-seat hall sports a pair of complementary Hamburg Steinway concert grand pianos, plus the esteemed Albert Schweitzer Memorial Organ. Ample free parking in front of the Hall adds convenience to the wonderful experience inside the facility.

While Spivey Hall regularly presents leading classical, jazz, and popular music stars, the venue is also known for introducing promising emerging talents to Atlanta audiences. For the city’s classical music cognoscenti, Spivey Hall is the luxury vehicle of choice.

The Dover and Escher string quartets kick off Spivey Hall’s 29th concert season with music by Joseph Haydn and Paul Hindemith, then join forces for one of chamber music’s most exhilarating masterworks, the Octet for Strings composed by the 16-year-old wunderkind Felix Mendelssohn. Returning favorites include Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt in an all-Bach program, celebrated young British “wizard of the piano” Benjamin Grosvenor, and the Takács Quartet, entering its 45th season as one of the world’s leading string quartets.

The glorious voice of Georgia-born Metropolitan Opera star mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton returns for her second Spivey Hall recital in December. In February, Grammy Award-winning Juilliard School faculty organist Paul Jacobs performs on the magnificent Albert Schweitzer Memorial Organ.
The Spivey Hall jazz calendar includes a quintet led by pianist Kenny Barron, the Christian Sands High Wire Trio, and vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. For lighter fare, Spivey Hall offers the tongue-in-cheek high spirits of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain; the Swingles vocal ensemble (with a Christmas program, ''Winter Tales''); and guitarist Miloš Karadaglić, known for popular interpretations of classical Spanish repertoire and original arrangements of Beatles tunes.

Making their Atlanta premieres are the dynamic husband-and-wife piano duo Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung; the golden-voiced British soprano Mary Bevan; and the captivating Ukrainian piano virtuoso, Alexander Romanovsky performing music by Frederic Chopin.

{BOX( bg="#f47c5b")}
!!::~~#000000:Choral Singing and Community~~::
!!!::~~#000000:Celebrating hope and a sense of triumph~~::
::{img fileId="21483" desc="desc" max="600"}::
{DIV(class="byline clearfix")}__~~#000000:DAVID MORROW__~~{DIV}
~~#000000:Choral music has many reasons for being. It is the music where people just bring themselves and the voice included in their body to rehearsals and performances. The resulting music is for enjoyment, for function, for healing, for unification, and more. Regardless of the quality, most of us can sing, and we sing more confidently together.~~

~~#000000:Chorus America’s 2019 Chorus Impact Study highlights the impact exerted on your life by singing, which includes personal and community benefits. The study shows that more than 54 million Americans sing in choruses. In addition, the study found that singers in choral organizations tend to be more civically involved and culturally accepting. These days, choral concerts are more often centered on a theme, which varies in terms of musical characteristics, text, or underlying subject. There is a growing trend toward creating more socially conscious themes, which foster performances that are not only enjoyable, but also contain cultural, social, or political relevance that leads to awareness, support, and empathy toward a specific idea or culture.~~

~~#000000:As director of the Morehouse College Glee Club at a historically African American College for men, the music I have chosen for us to sing has ranged from works by classical composers from all eras to music created or influenced by African and African-American composers. Sometimes, the music has a dual effect. For example, the textual and cultural relevance of arrangements of African American spirituals adds enjoyment or appreciation of musical ingredients, such as melody, rhythm, and harmony.~~

~~#000000:Recently, we have been singing a very special work called ''Seven Last Words of the Unarmed'' by Atlanta composer Joel Thompson. A young African American who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Emory University, Thompson is currently studying composition at Yale University. Written in 2015, ''Seven Last Words of the Unarmed'' is a seven-movement work for male chorus and orchestra set to the last words of six unarmed African American men and one unarmed youngster who were killed by individuals in law enforcement. The following are the texts used:~~

~~#000000:• Kenneth Chamberlain: “Officers, why do you have your guns out?”
• Trayvon Martin: “What are you following me for?”
• Amadou Diallo: “Mom, I’m going to college.”
• Michael Brown: “I don’t have a gun! STOP!”
• Oscar Grant: “You shot me!”
• John Crawford: “It’s not real.”
• Eric Garner: “I can’t breathe.”~~

~~#000000:The piece uses contemporary musical devices, such as cluster chords and intentional dissonances, but also draws on older resources including fugue and references to the medieval tune ''L’homme armé'' ''doibt on doubter'' (“The armed man must be feared”). Thompson calls his work a “sonic diary entry,” which chronicles the circumstances surrounding these deaths and their aftermath. Where others have expressed fear, anger, and dismay, the composer poured his emotions into creating this music as a means to get beyond his feeling that the color of his skin was a “capital offense.”~~

~~#000000:''Seven Last Words of the Unarmed'' was premiered and championed by Dr. Eugene Rogers, who directed the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club in both the chamber and full orchestra versions of the work. This past March, the Morehouse College Glee Club was invited by Dr. Amanda Springer, CEO of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, to join with the men of the Florida A&M University Choir in a performance of this piece. In preparation, we performed Thompson’s piece with a chamber orchestra in February and toured with the work.~~

~~#000000:Thompson’s piece is musically and emotionally challenging. The rhythmic and vocal demands are at an advanced level, which requires care and commitment. For the Morehouse College Glee Club, ''Seven Last Words of the Unarmed'' became very emotional for the students (and for me). As African American men, we are so close to the subject matter, while singing, we sometimes cannot help but think, “That could have been me.” That perspective made for genuine, heartfelt performances.~~

~~#000000:While on tour we were fortunate to have with us Mr. John Russell, our bus driver, who ''never'' misses a concert. In many ways he was our “proud parent” in the audience who paid attention to the way audiences reacted to this piece. While many found Thompson’s work poignant and powerful, others found it divisive and were angered by it.~~

~~#000000:After one concert, Mr. Russell told me that a few audience members walked out, stating, “I didn’t come here to hear any protest music.” I was sorry to hear about that reaction, yet I was satisfied they were at least talking about it. The Tallahassee Symphony concert was followed by a panel discussion, which included the chief of police, the composer, and two board members. During the discussion, the audience came to understand that the music affected them in a way that brought us together to listen to each other’s perspectives.~~

~~#000000:Thompson’s work is musically and socially relevant, as well as sharply insightful. In an address at the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, speaking of jazz and blues, “. . .if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph. This is triumphant music.”~~
{img fileId="21482" stylebox="float:right; margin-left:25px;" desc="desc" max="300"}~~#000000:Joel Thompson’s ''Seven Last Words of the Unarmed'' embodies King’s statement. It imbues the words of these seven men with humanity. We begin to see them as real people and not just news reports, which make us numb to each other. Only then can we move toward the triumphant and decide to make the “hard realities” better. We look forward to singing ''Seven Last Words of the Unarmed''. I am proud to be part of the choral arts, a medium by which we can entertain, enrich, engage, and create community consciousness.~~
{BOX}
 

((fall arts preview 2019|Return to Fall Arts Preview 2019))"
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  string(30258) " Cello  2019-08-02T18:46:02+00:00 Cello_sm.jpg    fall arts preview 2019 Symphonic, Choral, Chamber Music (Classical & Contemporary), Opera 21498  2019-08-02T21:33:27+00:00 Fall Arts Preview 2019: Classical Music jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Mark Gresham  2019-08-02T21:33:27+00:00 It isn’t just the music of dead white guys wearing wigs anymore. Far from it: “Classical music” in the 21st century is enjoying widespread popularity as well as growth in terms of diversity, inclusiveness, and eclecticism. While broad acknowledgment exists among those at the forefront of this transformative shift that more progress is needed before aspirational goals align with reality, classical music has never ceased evolving in accordance with the times. SIDEBAR: Choral Singing and Community

It isn’t just the music of dead white guys wearing wigs anymore. Far from it: “Classical music” in the 21st century is enjoying widespread popularity as well as growth in terms of diversity, inclusiveness, and eclecticism. While broad acknowledgment exists among those at the forefront of this transformative shift that more progress is needed before aspirational goals align with reality, classical music has never ceased evolving in accordance with the times.

The reality is that classical music is becoming more, not less, relevant in the 21st century. Part of that reality concerns the definition of “classical music.” It’s certainly not limited to the Classical period of music and its antecedent Romantic era. Classical music history spans more than a millennium of artistic expression and remains very much a living tradition of thought and practice by composers and performers. Its stylistic nature has changed over time, especially during the last half century, but that change attests in part to the persistent influence of the genre on our rapidly evolving culture: “Classical music” has  always been a highly adaptable species.

In spite of the overwhelming prevalence and commercial economic power of pop music in Western culture, classical music is thriving. In 2018, classical music “was the fastest-growing genre” in sales volume in the United Kingdom, according to figures released by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Last year, sales and streams of classical recordings increased by a little over 10 percent in the UK compared to the previous year — not bad considering a rise of just under 6 percent across all genres. Significantly, sales of classical CDs alone increased by almost 7 percent versus the negative trend in pop and rock. Perhaps because classical music listeners still prefer a physical product, only a quarter of classical music sales in 2018 was handled by streaming services, versus nearly 64 percent streaming for the non-classical market.
These numbers account for various directions taken by “contemporary” classical music makers from concert stage music and film scores to opera and video games. They also reflect the resilient popularity of familiar traditional repertoire by composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Rachmaninoff.

Yet, a cynical observer might ask: Why do we even need classical music in the Hip-Hop Capital of the Universe? Common wisdom says that interest in classical music comes only from a relatively small base. But, says the attentive observer, let’s look at one telling current statistic from our internet-age world:

According to Facebook’s advertising algorithms, one out of every six users between the ages of 21 and 39 located within 50 miles of downtown Atlanta is interested in classical music. That percentage is slightly higher, by about one point, for the 21-to-65 age category, contradicting the notion that “only old people” care about or listen to classical music. Although a minority, that’s still a sizable chunk of the metro area population.

The thousands of attendees who show up in June at Piedmont Park for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) free classical concerts offer further testimony to the local appeal of classical music. Beyond metro Atlanta, the ASO reigns as one of America’s most popular orchestras with 28 Grammy Awards representing some serious street cred.

The cultural milieu of classical and post-classical music in Atlanta encompasses a combination of leading organizations, such as the ASO and the Atlanta Opera, top-level presenters such as Spivey Hall, plus a panoply of interdependent classical and contemporary chamber ensembles, university venues, and adventurous alternative performance spaces. Concurrently, educational programs like the ASO’s Talent Development Program and the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the independent “El Sistema”-inspired Atlanta Music Project, are shaping the diverse landscape of classical music’s future.

The following compendium is a non-exhaustive list of organizations and venues offering readers a few waypoints by which to explore the rich community of classical music in and around Atlanta.

!!ATLANTA BAROQUE ORCHESTRA
The first and longest-running professional Baroque chamber orchestra in the Southeastern United States, the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra (ABO) has been performing continuously since 1998. Today, under the direction of violinist Julie Andrijeski, the ABO – www.atlantabaroque.org – calls Roswell, Georgia, home and also performs as “ensemble-in-residence” at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Buckhead as part of a collaborative arrangement with the Friends of Cathedral Music.

This fall, the Cathedral Schola, directed by Dale Adelmann, will join forces with the ABO on Friday, October 11, at the Cathedral of St. Philip, and on Saturday, October 12, at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Roswell, to perform J.S. Bach’s Magnificat paired with the famed German composer’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major. Both concerts will feature the ABO wielding period instruments in pursuit of a historically-informed rendering of Bach’s music as the maestro himself might have heard it.

!!ATLANTA CHAMBER PLAYERS
Founded in 1976 by pianist Paula Peace, the Atlanta Chamber Players (ACP) – www.atlantachamberplayers.com – has earned a national reputation as a pioneering chamber group. A mixed ensemble of strings, winds, and piano, the ACP’s broad repertoire includes traditional masterpieces and contemporary classics. The current artistic director of the ensemble is pianist Elizabeth Pridgen.

In 2009, the ACP’s long-standing commitment to performing the music of living American composers led to the formation of Rapido!, a national composition competition supported by the Antinori Foundation.

The ACP’s 2019-2020 season opens on Sunday, October 13, at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, performing works by Clara Schumann for the 200th anniversary of her birth, plus a clarinet trio by Atlanta composer Tommy Joe Anderson featuring clarinetist Laura Ardan.

On Tuesday, November 19, the ACP performs at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse, premiering a new work by last year’s Rapido! winner Brian Nabors.

!!ATLANTA CONTEMPORARY ENSEMBLE
The Atlanta Contemporary Ensemble (ACE) – www.atlce.org – is a mixed chamber orchestra specializing in avant-garde works by living composers in performances that combine live music with choreography by Sukha Artists, a contemporary dance company headquartered in Avondale. The ACE holds an annual open call for scores. September 1 is the deadline for submissions to be considered for the ACE’s “Electric Eve” concert in April as part of the 2020 SoundNOW music festival. ACE is seeking three pieces between 5-7 minutes, scored for modern dancers and small mixed chamber ensemble. The music must reflect and draw inspiration from paintings by Atlanta artist Krista M. Jones.

ACE executive director Tracy Woodard is also artistic director and violinist of the string quartet Cantos y Cuentos, which will soon announce its fall concert schedule. Amy Wilson, who conducts the ACE, also serves as music director of the Atlanta Philharmonic Orchestra.

!!ATLANTA GAY MEN’S CHORUS
Inspired by the formation of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus four years earlier, the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus (AGMC) – www.voicesofnote.org/agmc – was founded in 1981 by Jeffrey McIntyre, becoming the first such chorus in the South. Today, under the direction of Donald Milton III, the AGMC remains committed to “changing hearts and minds through music.”

In 2012, the AGMC formed Voices of Note, Inc. under which the chorus and any future programs would operate. With the launching in 2013 of the Atlanta Women’s Project (now the Atlanta Women’s Chorus) – www.voicesofnote.org/awc – Voices of Note expanded its community leadership as an organization devoted to diversity and excellence in vocal performance.

This season’s AGMC holiday concerts take place on Friday and Saturday, December 6 and 7, at the Cathedral of St. Philip. The AWC, under the artistic direction of Melissa Arasi, will present a concert (program TBA) on Saturday, December 14, at Grace United Methodist Church.

!!THE ATLANTA OPERA

A growing presence and influence in the national and international operatic world, the Atlanta Opera – www.atlantaopera.org – celebrates its 40th anniversary in the 2019-2020 season. Under General and Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun, the Atlanta Opera has grown from a very good regional company into a dynamic, creative force, widely acclaimed for bringing operas large and small, popular and obscure, to 21st-century audiences. By reimagining the classics and introducing new works to metro audiences, the Atlanta Opera has expanded the audience for the grandest of the performing arts to an unprecedented degree.


“In our 40th anniversary season, we’re producing our largest Discoveries season yet; these operas are smaller in scope but big on impact, especially Frida,” says Zvulun.

Frida is the story of the Mexican icon Frida Kahlo, which will be performed at Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center at City Springs in October. A fantastical multifaceted theatrical production, Frida includes pantomime, puppetry, movement, and vocal performers. The music is a bright and spicy blend of mariachi, tango, zarzuela, ragtime, 1930s jazz, and vaudeville. Reflective of the Atlanta Opera’s commitment to broadening its repertoire and attracting a wider audience, scheduled in March is the Gershwin brothers’ (George and Ira) larger-than-life operatic musical, Porgy and Bess.

In May 2020, Giacomo Puccini’s masterwork Madame Butterfly returns to the stage with all the drama and spectacle of classic Italian operas. In addition, the main stage season includes Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola and a new production of Richard Strauss’ Salome. The 2020 Discoveries series closes with Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied, which recounts the story of the longest-held prisoner of war in American history.

With four main stage productions at the Cobb Energy Centre and two innovative Discoveries series productions at other venues, plus community and educational outreach programs, the Atlanta Opera fosters a welcome combination of forward-thinking artistic vision and smart business acumen. By providing an environment in which emerging artists work alongside internationally acclaimed professionals, the Atlanta Opera Studio provides a launching pad for talented singers and creatives who represent the next generation of opera stars.

In partnership with The Home Depot Foundation, the Atlanta Opera offers an award-winning Veterans Program, which makes it possible for veterans and current military servicemen and women to attend all main stage productions for free.

!!ATLANTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

The 2019-2020 season marks the 75th anniversary of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) – www.atlantasymphony.org – which has unquestionably earned a place among the city’s “major league teams,” regardless of category.


“This season is both a celebration of our rich history and a time to look to the future and our next 75 years,” says ASO Executive Director Jennifer Barlament.

Superstar violinist Joshua Bell opens the Delta classical subscription series with concerts on Friday and Saturday, September 20-21. Music Director Robert Spano will conduct the program, which will include Henryk Wieniawski’s “Violin Concerto No. 2” and the “Concerto for Orchestra” by Jennifer Higdon, an Atlanta-raised, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer long-championed by Spano.

Throughout the season, top guest artists and long-time friends of the ASO will join in the celebration, including violinist Midori, pianist Emanuel Ax, and pianist André Watts. For a special one-night-only performance on March 11, former music director Yoel Levi returns to Symphony Hall to conduct the ASO with the incomparable violinist Itzhak Perlman as featured soloist.

The subscription season also includes world premieres of works by Atlanta composer Richard Prior and up-and-coming Rapido! composition contest winner Brian Nabors on Thursday, November 21, and Friday, November 23.

On Thursday, November 14, and Saturday, November 16, the ASO with Chorus and guest artists will perform and record live Gustav Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 8 (the “Symphony of a Thousand”) with Spano conducting. Also on the program is Carl Orff’s compelling Carmina Burana under the baton of principal guest conductor Donald Runnicles. The season wraps up with an Atlanta first: a three-day festival featuring Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde performed one act per evening over three successive evenings, Thursday–Saturday, June 11–14.

The 75th anniversary season marks a pivotal point in the ASO’s history. It’s a time to reflect on past successes, including a score of Grammy awards, but also to envision the orchestra’s values, mission, and audience. The ASO just hired a new chief artistic officer, Elena Dubinets, whose job description includes creating new streams of programming aimed at increasing the breadth and diversity of the ASO’s repertoire, artists and audience, and broadening the orchestra’s footprint in the metro Atlanta community. The ASO is also actively searching for a new music director to replace Robert Spano, who will step down from his post at the end of the 2020-2021 season.

!!ATLANTA YOUNG SINGERS
In 1975, Stephen J. Ortlip founded the Young Singers of Callanwolde in an era when the idea of boys and girls singing together in a community choir was rare. Today, the Atlanta Young Singers – www.aysc.org – directed by Paige Mathis, remains a leader in the national children’s choir movement.

On November 23, in partnership with the Morehouse College Glee Club, the AYS will present a “Young Men’s Power Sing” workshop for boys, culminating in a concert at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center. On successive Fridays, December 14 and 21, the AYS will present the 44th annual “Music of the Holidays” concert at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church.

 The AYS is just part of Atlanta’s broad, diverse community of young persons’ choirs, which includes the Gwinnett Young Singers – gwinnettyoungsingers.com – Spivey Hall Children’s Choir – www.clayton.edu/spiveyhall/shccprogram – Atlanta Boy Choir – www.atlantaboychoir.org – Georgia Boy Choir – georgiaboychoir.org – and choirs of the Atlanta Music Project – www.atlantamusicproject.org.

!!BENT FREQUENCY

Atlanta’s premiere contemporary music ensemble, Bent Frequency – www.bentfrequency.com – brings the avant-garde to life through adventurous and socially conscious programming, cross-disciplinary collaborations, and community engagement. As champions of work by historically underrepresented composers — women, composers of color, and LGBTQIA+ — Bent Frequency plays a vital role in expanding the breadth and scope of contemporary music while challenging audiences with fresh new voices and sounds.


In recent years Bent Frequency co-founders Jan Berry Baker and Stuart Gerber have overseen highly adventurous programs including traditionally staged concerts and solo recitals, operatic works, performances on the Atlanta Streetcar, and a concert at Historic Fourth Ward Park involving 111 bicycle-mounted community performers.

Confirmed dates and locations for Bent Frequency’s 2019-2020 season, which opens in October, were not available at press time. In December, the ensemble will reprise its participatory street-crowd performance of Phil Kline’s “Unsilent Night,” this year in Hapeville.

!!  CORO VOCATI
John H. Dickson is the founding artistic director and conductor of Coro Vocati – www.corovocati.org – recognized as “one of Atlanta’s most accomplished professional chamber choirs.”  Most recently, the group attracted public and critical attention at the end of June with a presentation of “Considering Matthew Shepard” at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center.

Coro Vocati kicks off its 2019-20 season with “Can You Hear Me?” which focuses on giving voice to the voiceless and disenfranchised through musical selections from around the world. Performances will take place at First United Methodist Church of Marietta on Saturday, September 28, and Morningside Presbyterian Church on Sunday, September 29.

The “global” theme continues through the holidays with a program titled “Christmas with Coro: Carols Around the World” on Friday and Saturday, December 14-15. Venue TBA.

!!GEORGIA TECH SCHOOL OF MUSIC
The Georgia Tech School of Music – www.music.gatech.edu – cultivates a rich legacy of musical traditions and develops cutting-edge technologies to help define the music landscape of the future.

The annual Margaret Guthman New Instrument Competition showcases next-generation musical instruments, concluding with a concert performed on the submitted instruments. Research at Georgia Tech has produced a pair of robotic musicians, Shimi and Shimon, and spawned the development of prosthetic hands and arms, which allow amputees to play musical instruments.

 On Friday, November 15, and Sunday, November 17, at the Ferst Center for the Arts, the Georgia Tech School of Music and Law Institute of Arts and Technology at the University of Denver join forces to present the world premiere of Four Seasons Double Concerto. Inspired by Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Zhou Jiaojiao’s composition will be performed by an operatic soprano, guest instrumentalists, and the Georgia Tech Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Chaowen Ting.

!!GEORGIAN CHAMBER PLAYERS
With a roster based around principal string players of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Georgian Chamber Players (GCP) – www.georgianchamberplayers.org – defines classical chamber music in Atlanta. The ensemble’s season opens Sunday, November 3, at the acoustically fine Kellett Chapel of Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Buckhead. On the GCP roster for the concert are violinists David Coucheron and Julianne Lee, violist Reid Harris, cellist Christopher Rex, and pianists Julie Coucheron and Elizabeth Pridgen, plus a pair of “mystery guest performers.” Insiders report the as-yet-unknown guest performers will soon be playing important roles at the top level of Atlanta’s classical music scene.

!!GSU SCHOOL OF MUSIC
The Georgia State University School of Music – www.music.gsu.edu – includes among its downtown complex of buildings two important music venues: the Rialto Center for the Arts and the Florence Kopleff Recital Hall. The Rialto Center – www.rialto.gsu.edu – is a 900-seat performance facility well suited to touring performing artists and the School’s larger ensembles and performance projects. Kopleff Recital Hall, which sits adjacent to Hurt Park, is a more intimate 400-seat hall ideally configured for chamber and solo performances. The Rialto has its own eclectic, multidisciplinary series, which ventures into genres far afield from the classical programming that predominates at the Kopleff facility.

This fall’s “Rialto Series” includes musical performers as diverse as Red Baraat, a “Bollywood funky party band,” which plays North Indian bhangra, a popular style that mixes elements of hip-hop, jazz, and punk (October 12); and the legendary empress of soul Gladys Knight (November 10). Also scheduled are the Ailey II dance troupe on Saturday, October 26, comedy acts, visual art shows, and even video gaming events. The Rialto will also serve as the venue for Atlanta’s annual “Celtic Christmas” show, which combines Celtic music, dance, and poetry (Saturday-Sunday, December 21-22).

On the classical side, the GSU School of Music’s “Signature Series” features self-produced concerts divided between Kopleff Recital Hall and the Rialto Center for the Arts. In addition to the GSU orchestra, symphonic bands, jazz bands, and choruses, more specialized groups, such as a saxophone ensemble and percussion ensemble, offer opportunities to hear newer and more adventurous repertoire.

Ensemble-in-residence Bent Frequency has become one of the most active and visible contemporary ensembles in the Southeast. In the same vein, the neoPhonia New Music Ensemble, with its flexible instrumentation and mixed roster comprised of GSU faculty, students, and local professional musicians, champions the music of established contemporary composers, performs important chamber works from the late 20th and early 21st century, and premiers new works by emerging young composers.

The annual SoundNOW Festival, held in April, which showcases Atlanta-based composers and performers of contemporary music, largely centers around Kopleff Recital Hall and other parts the GSU campus, as well as edgy, alternative venues across Atlanta.

!!  PEACHTREE STRING QUARTET
Formed in 2012 by violinist/artistic director Christopher Pulgram, the Peachtree String Quartet (PSQ) – www.peachtreestringquartet.org  – enters its eighth season with a lineup that includes Pulgram, violinist Sissi Yuqing Zhang, violist Yang-Yoon Kim, and cellist Thomas Carpenter — all four members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

During the 2019-2020 season, the PSQ will celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday with the “Better Be Beethoven” concert series, which runs on three Sundays (October 6, January 12, and March 15). The concerts at the intimate Garden Hills Recreation Center will feature one Beethoven string quartet each from the composer’s early, middle, and late periods: opus 18, opus 74 and the glorious opus 132.

The concerts will also include works by Joseph Haydn, Edvard Grieg, Luigi Boccherini, and Arvo Part. In addition to the Garden Hills series, PSQ will perform around the metro area and Georgia.

!!RIVERSIDE CHAMBER PLAYERS
Based in Roswell, Riverside Chamber Players (RCP) – www.riversidechamberplayers.org – brings high-quality classical music to the suburban North Fulton region with accessible quality programming. The RCP’s season opens Sunday, November 3, at their home venue, the Unitarian Universalist Metro Atlanta North congregation (UUMAN), with a concert featuring Anton Arensky’s String Quartet No. 2, which is scored for an unusual combination of violin, viola, and two cellos.

On Sunday, March 8, 2020, the RCP will host a concert featuring works by finalists in the RCP String Quartet Commission Award competition, which challenges Georgia college students to compose music for standard string quartet. Judges for the award are ASO Music Director Robert Spano, ASO bassist and RCP Composer-in-Residence Michael Kurth, and RCP Artistic Director and cellist Joel Dallow.

!!SCHWARTZ CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS
The Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, including its 800-seat Emerson Concert Hall is the flagship complex of Emory University’s “Arts Village.” – www.arts.emory.edu. The 2019-2020 edition of the Flora Glenn Candler Series promises to “celebrate cultural connections” with top-tier programming and guest artists.

“Music is one of the beautiful things we share around the world — my hope is this coming season provides our audience the opportunity for new and meaningful shared experiences celebrating this commonality,” says Rachael Brightwell, managing director of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. “The 2019-2020 Candler concert series celebrates the ways in which music brings people together.”

The famed Kronos Quartet opens the Candler series on Saturday, September 14, bringing their “Music for Change” project to the Schwartz Center. “It’s going to leave our audience asking new questions of themselves about our similarities and our differences,” remarks Brightwell.
On Friday, October 18, a Candler series concert features acclaimed jazz pianist Brad Mehldau and classical tenor Ian Bostridge performing together in a recital that acknowledges their different musical backgrounds and shared musical affinities. On Sunday, November 3, mezzo-soprano Joyce Didonato brings her “In War & Peace: Harmony through Music” program to the Schwartz. The program examines the chaotic world in which we live in today, raising the question, “How do you find your joy, how do you find your peace?”

Although the concert isn’t until spring 2020, it’s well worth noting that, on Friday, April 10, ASO music director and pianist Robert Spano and internationally acclaimed, Macon-born violinist Robert McDuffie will perform a special recital of Brahms and Beethoven to close the Candler series season.

Beyond the Candler series, Emory has more to offer. The Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta is the largest and most active organization of its kind in the Southeast, building new audiences through a wide variety of performances and teaching activities. The 2019-2020 season will include the first half of the “Beethoven 2020” project, a celebration of the composer’s 250th birth year, which includes all 32 of his piano sonatas performed consecutively; the complete works for piano and violin and piano and cello; and the complete cycle of Beethoven’s string quartets performed by Emory’s award-winning string quartet in residence, the Vega String Quartet, in six concerts over the course of 2020.

!!SPELMAN & MOREHOUSE COLLEGE GLEE CLUBS
The Morehouse College Glee Club – www.morehouse.edu/academics/music/concert.html – directed by Dr. David Morrow (see sidebar), is the official choral group of Morehouse College. Founded in 1911, the Glee Club has a long tradition of significant public appearances, having performed at Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral, President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration, Super Bowl XXVIII, and the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The Glee Club participates annually in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s “Christmas with the ASO” concerts.

The Spelman College Glee Club – www.spelman.edu/academics/majors-and-programs/music/ensembles/glee-club/schedule – directed by Dr. Kevin Johnson, has maintained a reputation for choral excellence since 1925. The Glee Club’s repertoire draws from sacred and secular choral literature for women’s voices with a particular focus on traditional spirituals, African American composers, and music from many cultures, plus commissioned works. The Glee Club has performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, renowned opera singer Jessye Norman, and in 2016 at the White House for President Barack Obama.

!!SPIVEY HALL
The crown jewel of metro-Atlanta’s classical music venues, Spivey Hall – www.spiveyhall.org  – is unmatched in its combination of pristine acoustics, consistently excellent programming, and roster of outstanding guest artists. Located on the campus of Clayton State University in the city of Morrow on Atlanta’s suburban south side, the 400-seat hall sports a pair of complementary Hamburg Steinway concert grand pianos, plus the esteemed Albert Schweitzer Memorial Organ. Ample free parking in front of the Hall adds convenience to the wonderful experience inside the facility.

While Spivey Hall regularly presents leading classical, jazz, and popular music stars, the venue is also known for introducing promising emerging talents to Atlanta audiences. For the city’s classical music cognoscenti, Spivey Hall is the luxury vehicle of choice.

The Dover and Escher string quartets kick off Spivey Hall’s 29th concert season with music by Joseph Haydn and Paul Hindemith, then join forces for one of chamber music’s most exhilarating masterworks, the Octet for Strings composed by the 16-year-old wunderkind Felix Mendelssohn. Returning favorites include Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt in an all-Bach program, celebrated young British “wizard of the piano” Benjamin Grosvenor, and the Takács Quartet, entering its 45th season as one of the world’s leading string quartets.

The glorious voice of Georgia-born Metropolitan Opera star mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton returns for her second Spivey Hall recital in December. In February, Grammy Award-winning Juilliard School faculty organist Paul Jacobs performs on the magnificent Albert Schweitzer Memorial Organ.
The Spivey Hall jazz calendar includes a quintet led by pianist Kenny Barron, the Christian Sands High Wire Trio, and vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. For lighter fare, Spivey Hall offers the tongue-in-cheek high spirits of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain; the Swingles vocal ensemble (with a Christmas program, Winter Tales); and guitarist Miloš Karadaglić, known for popular interpretations of classical Spanish repertoire and original arrangements of Beatles tunes.

Making their Atlanta premieres are the dynamic husband-and-wife piano duo Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung; the golden-voiced British soprano Mary Bevan; and the captivating Ukrainian piano virtuoso, Alexander Romanovsky performing music by Frederic Chopin.


 

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The Arts Issue, Cover Story

Friday August 2, 2019 05:33 pm EDT
Symphonic, Choral, Chamber Music (Classical & Contemporary), Opera | more...

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