Alexis Nelson

Cabaret at PlayMakers

“In here, life is beautiful,” says our host, or “Emcee,” for the evening as he ushers us away from our troubles and into a glitzy, lascivious place where politics are a trifle—a bore—and the party, it seems, need never end. “Yes, it’s going to be that kind of show,” he adds. The crowd laughs, but it turns out it is that kind of show—in more ways than one. It’s a bawdy burlesque featuring sex, sequins, song, and intrigue. It’s also the kind of show where the message, the solemnity, and the nuance are never far from the surface. The...

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'Of Two Minds' Tackles Mental Illness

The film shifts in and out of stories of pain, hope, connectivity, isolation, and struggle—following various adults who are afflicted with, but not defined by, bipolar disorder. “Of Two Minds” was directed by Lisa Klein and her husband Doug Blush. After premiering at the Cleveland International Film Festival last April, the documentary has been shown throughout the country—at various festivals. The film arrived in Chapel Hill last Wednesday for a one-time showing at the Varsity theater. A full house gathered for the free event, which was followed by a panel discussion and question-and-answer session. The film was created in...

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Spring Breakers, Defined

The film opens to a montage of butts, boobs, beer funnels, and blissfully dreamy yet hard-edged debauchery. Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” overlays the revelry. The song swells like a techno lullaby, declaring, with a sweetness, “You don’t need to hide my friend/For I am just like you,” and then crashes cathartically onto a scratchily-screamed, urgently-felt “Yes, Oh my god!” One can’t really make out the lyrics—heard only is the desperate yet strangely joyous refrain. Spring Breakers’ director, Harmony Korine, has been described by many as unflaggingly—even indulgently bizarre. This film has been hyped as something potentially alienating—a...

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Light Sensitive at Nasher

Immediately upon entering the exhibit, one is greeted by images at once recognizable and disorienting. The photographs in “Light Sensitive” are not merely beautifully captured or distilled moments in time. Rather, they are hyper-consciously manufactured artistic works. In this exhibit the idea of photography as an unbiased portal into reality interacts powerfully with the more interesting notion that the photographer creates his or her own fiction from scraps and trappings of the real. The photography exhibit “Light Sensitive” opened at Duke’s Nasher museum February 14th and will run through May 12th. The show features over 100 works gathered from...

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Poppins Pops at DPAC

I may have sighed audibly (and grimaced a bit dramatically) when, early in the play, the curtain did not rise to reveal Mrs. Banks, sash across her body, recounting her exploits with the suffragettes or singing “we’re clearly soldiers in petticoats.” However, I was slowly pacified as the show’s undeniable freshness and charm, along with its ultimate loyalty to the overarching spirit of the original film, became evident. Some things are altered—some things are left out—but the play works. Mary Poppins, the Broadway musical now running at the Durham Performing Arts Center, is lovely, whimsical entertainment for adults and...

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More Love at Ackland

Echoes of “I love you” resound, each with a different inflection, when anyone passes through the museum’s doorway. It is an appropriate way to introduce an exhibit that exchanges the safety blanket of irony or inaccessibility for an urge toward earnestness, participation, and connection that at times may feel uncomfortable. The Ackland’s new exhibit, “More Love: Art, Politics and Sharing Since the 1990s” is organized by the consulting curator Claire Schneider. The exhibit opened Friday, February 1st and will run through March 31st. Love is at once strategy, inspiration, and subject in the Ackland’s new contemporary art exhibit. The show is fairly expansive—featuring forty-eight artworks by thirty-two contemporary artists, and many of the works are interactive or participatory in some way. Moving through the exhibit, one is continually drawn into a dialogue about love as both a strategy and a destination. Schneider says she was interested in doing a serious, complex exhibit about love that would speak to the art world in a timely manner while also remaining overridingly populist and accessible. “Artists have been representing and using love in their works since the beginning of time,” Schneider said. “This show wants to investigate what contemporary artists are saying about it.” Considering that the conceptual theme of the show is so broad, Schneider has done an admirable job creating a cohesive, organized exhibit that is ambitious and eclectic yet...

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