It’s one of the most iconic plays of all time, and a new version of it is coming to Chapel Hill.
PlayMakers Repertory Company is staging Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters,” newly translated by Libby Appel, beginning Wednesday, January 20, and running through Sunday, February 7. The show will be directed by Vivienne Benesch, who recently took over from Joseph Haj as PlayMakers’ new producing artistic director.
“Three Sisters” is the story of Olga, Masha and Irina, sisters living in a provincial Russian town who yearn to move to Moscow but never quite seem to make it there. Benesch actually agreed to direct it even before she knew she’d be taking over as artistic director. “Life and art sometimes play the very best tricks on us,” she says. “I cannot think of a more perfect work to engage in at this moment than Chekhov’s vibrant meditation on the nature of time, love and our unexpected journey through life.”
Vivienne Benesch spoke with Aaron Keck on WCHL.
For a full schedule, information about related special events, and a link to purchase tickets, visit PlayMakersRep.org.http://chapelboro.com/news/arts/three-sisters-arrive-at-playmakers-say-theyll-reach-moscow-soon
This Saturday, December 19, Durham’s Carolina Theatre plays host to the annual holiday concert by Voices, the Chapel Hill Chorus. It’s their first time ever in the Carolina Theatre.
The show begins at 8 pm. It’s called “Rejoice This Night,” featuring familiar carols and works by seven composers.
Voices Chapel Hill is a 130-voice chorus; it performs two concerts each year, one in May and the annual holiday concert in December.
Sue Klausmeyer is the conductor and artistic director of Voices Chapel Hill. She spoke Friday with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.
Get tickets online at CarolinaTheatre.org.
Visit VoicesChapelHill.org to learn more about the chorus.http://chapelboro.com/news/arts/voices-chapel-hill-heads-to-durham-for-holiday-concert
Every fall, Chapel Hill is treated to the Festifall Arts Festival.
But, earlier in October, the 43rd annual Festifall Arts Festival was cancelled due to the threat of severe weather. It was the first time that Festifall has been cancelled. Up until 1995, the Town of Chapel Hill reserved a rain date for the event each year for the following Sunday. But, the event grew in size and complexity. This made the logistics and expense of a rain date not feasible for the Town, artists, entertainers, and contractors.
But, despite Festifall’s cancellation, the Town of Chapel Hill has found a way to bring the popular event back.
Immerse yourself in the arts with the Festifall virtual artist market. You can browse and shop with the unique vendors of Festifall online until Friday, October 23.
This one of a kind event will feature over 30 artisans from all over the South representing the finest in painting, photography, jewelry, glass, ceramics, wood, metal, fiber and mixed media artworks.
Amanda Fletcher, Supervisor of Festivals and Community Celebrations with the Town of Chapel Hill says:
“Festifall may have been cancelled, but the fun isn’t over! We wanted to give our talented artists from our juried show the opportunity to showcase their work and promote their business with our online community. Artists have been very receptive to the idea and have created some great discounts and products for our patrons!”
Debi L. Drew, a participating artist stated:
“After the considerate cancellation of Festifall, due to inclement weather and safety concerns for the public and artists, Chapel Hill’s Festifall team has come up with a superb opportunity for all involved. The Online Market gives us a new venue to showcase our uniquely handcrafted items to the community. What a wonderful solution!”
But, that is not all.
Mark your calendars. Chapel Hill Parks & Recreation will promote a Festival in the Park event on Saturday, November 14, from 12pm-4pm, featuring Live Entertainment, Food Trucks and some of your favorite community arts organizations.
“Hundreds of park patrons and soccer leagues players are already scheduled to be at the park on this date, and we plan to build on that momentum, to invite the community to join us for a park take over and community event.”
See list of vendors and performers here.
Presented by Food Lion, the Food Lion Better Bus will make a stop in the park too, with shopping cart races and free park survival kits full of great foods and snacks for everyone. Don’t miss all the fun, and join us for a Festival in the Park at Southern Community Park!http://chapelboro.com/featured/chapel-hill-keeps-festifall-2015-alive
It’s a play about four young writers who sign up for a master class taught by a legendary novelist, as performed by four young actors who are currently studying under the man playing the writer. Hold on to your hats.
PlayMakers Repertory Company‘s 2015-16 mainstage season continues with “Seminar,” an acclaimed 2011 comedy by Theresa Rebeck. (Rebeck is the creator of the NBC show “Smash” and a former writer/producer for “NYPD Blue” and “Law and Order,” among many other credits; her plays have been compared favorably with Neil Simon’s.) It stars PlayMakers vet Ray Dooley as the aforementioned legendary novelist; Dooley is also the head of UNC’s Professional Actor Training Program, so he’s very familiar with the mentor role. (Though he says he doesn’t perform it in quite the same way as his character.)
The show opens on Wednesday, October 14, and runs through November 1 in the Paul Green Theatre on Country Club Road. It’s directed by Michael Dove, a Helen Hayes Award winner who serves as artistic director at the Forum Theatre in Washington, DC.
Ray Dooley spoke about “Seminar” with WCHL’s Aaron Keck this week.
For ticket information and a schedule of related special events, visit this page on PlayMakersRep.org.http://chapelboro.com/news/arts/master-class-seminar-at-playmakers
Sunday, October 18, UNC will play host to the 2015 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, featuring an art exhibition and performances by military veterans from around the country.
The annual festival got its start in 1981 and travels to a different city each year – but this will be its first-ever stop in North Carolina. It’s a project of the Veterans Affairs Department: VA hospitals nationwide hold local arts events, with the top performers being invited to appear in the national festival.
More than 120 vets will be in Chapel Hill for this year’s festival. It begins at noon with an art exhibit in Gerrard Hall, followed by a show at 2 pm on the stage at Memorial Hall.
NVCAF Host-Site Coordinator Jillian Thompson and veteran performer Dolores Day (a singer-guitarist) joined Aaron Keck on WCHL this week to talk about the festival.
Tickets to the Memorial Hall show are free. To order them in advance, call 919-286-0411, extension 6070.
Theater season has begun in Chapel Hill!
PlayMakers Repertory Company kicks off its mainstage season on Wednesday with “Disgraced,” a Pulitzer-winning comedy-drama by Ayad Akhtar about an upwardly mobile Pakistani-American lawyer who finds himself confronted with his Muslim heritage. “Disgraced” won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013; it’s also won an Obie Award and a Tony nomination.
Shishir Kurup is directing PlayMakers’ production at the invite of former artistic director Joseph Haj. A member of Los Angeles’ Cornerstone Theatre Company, Kurup is a veteran of numerous films and TV shows and he’s performed and directed at theaters across the country, from New York to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Describing the play as a “roller coaster,” Kurup says it’s particularly timely for Chapel Hill, in the wake of the recent murders of three Muslim students earlier this year. Theater, he says – and especially comedy – offers a way for people and communities to confront deep-seated and difficult issues they otherwise might not be willing to engage.
Shishir Kurup spoke on Monday with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.
The show runs through Sunday, October 4, with special events scheduled throughout the run. Visit PlayMakersRep.org for more details and ticket info.http://chapelboro.com/news/arts/playmakers-opens-mainstage-season-with-disgraced
Director Jules James told “The Art Spot’s” Jeri Lynn Schulke the program is almost like a mixed-tape.
“It’s got to have some sort of sense of organization, as well as some sort of larger story that you want to tell the audience,” James said. “Not that every play means something immediately next to one another, but they’re going to mean something because they’re put next to one another.”
This year’s “10 By 10″ features a whole new set.
Performances are at 3 p.m. Sunday, and Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.http://chapelboro.com/news/arts/the-artscenter-features-theatrical-mixed-tape
There are many kinds of heroes. There are the ones who make the news, who emerge in a crisis and do something extraordinary; there are the ones who stand up and cry out against injustice, even at the risk of their livelihoods and lives…and then there are the quiet heroes, the ones who go about their business, the ones you never really see. They face their adversities, sometimes with courage, sometimes with resignation, sometimes with anguish and bitterness and rage – but they face them, always, and the world turns on, just a little easier, just a little better.
I’m thinking about heroes this week. On Sunday WCHL hosted our big annual luncheon for all the folks we’ve recognized as Hometown Heroes throughout the year; outgoing fire chief Dan Jones delivered a terrific speech about the heroism he sees every day and the value of “paying it forward.” We recognize all kinds of heroes – sometimes the special ones who come through in a crisis, but more often than not the everyday heroes, the quiet heroes, the firefighters and police officers and community builders and teachers and volunteers.
Down in Alabama, it’s not so quiet. It’s the 50th anniversary of the Selma marches, and there are thousands of people there now – including many from our own community – remembering the stand those marchers took in 1965, the risks they assumed, the sacrifices they made, the lives they gave, calling for justice even as the blows rained down around them. Heroism.
So it’s fitting that both of our local theater companies, PlayMakers at UNC and Deep Dish at University Mall, are running plays about heroism this month: the World War I classic “Journey’s End” at Deep Dish and the Henrik Ibsen/Arthur Miller collab “An Enemy of the People” at PlayMakers. Both shows are essential: challenging, troubling, disturbing, and difficult, but essential nonetheless. Check them out.
“Enemy of the People” is about a loud hero, albeit one who maybe didn’t intend to be. Thomas Stockmann (Broadway vet Michael Bryan French) is the official physician of a small town whose economy hinges on a single tourist attraction – a public health spa with water from a local spring. But the water is contaminated, Stockmann discovers, with germs from a tannery upstream. The town must know! But the mayor (fellow Broadway vet Anthony Newfield) cares more about the economy – the local muckraking newspaperman (Benjamin Curns) is a sellout – the business leader (Jeffrey Blair Cornell) refuses to upset the established order – and the nameless rabble of townsfolk are easily convinced that Stockmann’s just a malicious agitator. He’ll stand alone – the sole voice for justice and truth in a vicious and misguided world. Henrik Ibsen wrote the play as a critique of mob rule in a democracy; Arthur Miller adapted it into English as an allegory of those heroes who stood up to Joe McCarthy in the 1940s and 50s. (And its cultural reach extends even further: the struggle between the corrupt mayor and the sole-voice-of-reason scientist reminded me of “Jaws,” and indeed “Jaws” was reportedly inspired by this play.)
Meanwhile across town, “Journey’s End” takes us to the trenches of World War I, where six British officers are barracked just before a major German assault. Osborne (Eric Carl) is the “uncle” of the group, who keeps the rest sane – especially Stanhope (Gus Allen), a brilliant officer who’s having trouble keeping it together. Osborne and Stanhope are quiet heroes, caring for others before themselves, doing their best to soldier through, put on brave faces, and not let on that they too are afraid, anxious, bitter. In contrast to Stockmann of “Enemy,” who stands alone, Osborne and Stanhope and their fellow officers stand together – knowing that if one falters, the rest will fall. (Like “Enemy,” “Journey’s End” is historically significant: along with “All Quiet on the Western Front,” it’s one of the first pieces of literature to depict war realistically, without all the glorious/patriotic overtones you so often see. Playwright R.C. Sherriff was himself a WWI vet; he said he simply wanted to show the war as it was.)
You’ll want to see both before their runs are up. At Deep Dish, scenic designer Michael Allen has created a stunning recreation of a WWI barracks; you can smell the wood as you enter the theater. Carl’s stellar performance as the kindly Osborne holds the show together, bolstered by terrific supporting turns from Carl Martin as the unflappable Trotter and David Hudson (also great in DD’s “Life Is A Dream”) as Mason the cook. At PlayMakers, director Tom Quaintance makes full use of the versatile stage (the dark ending is particularly spectacular) and French and Newfield anchor the show as the main antagonists. (Did I mention their characters are also brothers?)
But it’s the celebration of heroism that stands out. It’s easier to cheer for Stockmann, the loud hero of “Enemy” who stands up to injustice – on opening night, the woman sitting next to me kept nodding her head and saying “Yes!” when the character was delivering his choicest lines. He’s a whistleblower, a crusader for truth, and we all like unfairly maligned whistleblowers and crusaders for truth. Then again, Stockmann is also a deeply flawed character in a way that “Journey’s” heroes are not: he’s prideful, stubborn, a blowhard, a hard-head, willing to throw his family into the line of fire even when offered an easy way to withdraw quietly and let the truth come out on its own. We sympathize with him, we might pity him, but we probably don’t like him. The heroes of “Journey” are more pristine: Osborne is fiercely other-regarding and quietly self-sacrificing; Stanhope is less sympathetic – given to drinking and angry outbursts – but we know it’s only the strain of war that’s made him that way. They’re not the sort of rah-rah heroes you stand up and shout for, like Stockmann is – but their quiet bravery is every bit as heroic as Stockmann’s brash stand. Maybe more so.
In the end, though, it’s not the fictional heroes on stage that matter so much as the real ones in the audience. “Journey” and “Enemy” both hold up a mirror to us as spectators and force us to examine ourselves: how heroic are we? In “Journey’s End” we see all kinds of soldiers, from the gung-ho and brave to the cowardly. (“Coward” here is a relative term: all the soldiers are terrified of war; it’s merely a question of how they handle it.) Where on the spectrum would we fall? In “Enemy” the mirror rises in an even more dramatic way: partway through the second act, the actors very purposefully look the audience in the eyes and give them the chance to speak out against the injustices they’re seeing on stage. (You’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s a palpable moment.) In that moment, the fate of the characters is in our hands: we could stand up, we could raise our fists, we could shout. It would alter the rest of the show, of course, but we could do it! But of course we don’t. We’re angered by the injustice, but we don’t speak. We’re just the audience. We’re there to observe. It’s not our place. It would upset the order of things. And we’d never upset the order of things. It’s a nice, respectable theater, after all. This isn’t Rocky Horror…
And so the moment passes, and the injustice proceeds.
And when the lights go up we stand and give a rousing, rah-rah ovation to the cast.
“Journey’s End” runs at Deep Dish from now through March 21; visit DeepDishTheater.org for showtimes and ticket info. “Enemy of the People” runs at PlayMakers through March 15; visit PlayMakersRep.org for showtimes and ticket info.http://chapelboro.com/lifestyle/arts-entertainment/heroism-quiet-and-loud-at-deep-dish-and-playmakers
They’ve been together for more than 40 years, they’ve been regular guests on “A Prairie Home Companion,” they’ve been covered by Kathy Mattea and Mary Chapin Carpenter and Emmylou Harris and more – and on Friday at 8:00 pm, the singer/songwriters Robin and Linda Williams will take the stage at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro.
WCHL’s Aaron Keck spoke with Robin and Linda on “Aaron in the Afternoon” Wednesday – and played the song “On and On” from their latest album, “Back 40.”
Carrboro is known for a quaint, quirky vibe that inspires artists of all stripes. Now, a group called Creative Carrboro is exploring if the town should formalize the way it supports the arts.
“Is an arts district something that we want to do? Obviously Carrboro has a very rich and full arts culture, but do we need to put some organization around that, some structure? Do we need to take it to the next level? So that has been our mission, to investigate that,” says Carrboro Economic Development Director Annette Stone.
Town officials are partnering with the ArtsCenter and other stakeholders figure out the best ways to nurture the creative community. Art Menuis says that support is vital because while arts are proving a huge draw for the town, increased demand is driving up real estate prices, and some fear that could drive out the working artists and small business owners.
“How do we keep creative businesses, the creative community and creative economy strong in Carrboro given all the pressures? Carrboro is such an incredibly desirable place to live, so how do we keep it affordable instead of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs?”
This Saturday, the organizers of Creative Carrboro want to hear your ideas.
They’re hosting an information gathering and sharing event from 10 a.m. until noon at Carrboro Town Hall.
“What’s exciting about Saturday morning is it’s a much more informal opportunity for citizens and residents to interact with the committee members, check out the information we’ve been gathering first-hand and give us their feedback on key questions,” says Menius.