My friends: It seems like only eight months ago that I last peered into the near to mid-term future of the region's performing arts. Look! There it is in black and white, on page 45 of the September 11, 2002 issue across from the Kroger ad: "Future Facts, by Byron Woods."
Reread the sheet, and marvel: Every show predicted in that fall preview--every single one--was actually produced in this region within three months of the publication date!
Friends, if you have to ask me how I do it, I surely cannot tell you.
Now, a sacred vow--and The Independent's editorial pay scale--forbids me from profiting in any way from my unique gifts. Still, having heard the call, it is once again clear: People will need Direction, Guidance and Advice for the Uncertain Times to come. That, or someplace they can at least catch a decent show on a Saturday night.
I have that knowledge.
As we squint once more into The Future, let's focus first on a couple of shows whose expiration dates aren't all that far from now.
As they will say one day at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, "May I have the binoculars, please ...."
I first predict that 5 Chick Posse will rock the house with their first full night of postmodern dance this Friday and Saturday at Raleigh's Peace College. Individually, the Seven which are Five--dancer/choreographers Beth Wright, Julee Snyder, Dena Guvetis, Lindsey Greene, Susan Quinn, Tiffany Rhynard and Courtney Greer--have commanded more than a few accolades apiece from the only local newspaper that's paid attention to local modern dance over the past two years. Here the crew revisits recent individual works for the most part, while pulling a new trick or two out of the collective hat.
After making choreographers Rhynard, Wright and Robin Harris look good in recent years, Unfinished Business, Dena Guvetis' first opus as a choreographer, demonstrates considerable promise. In it, Klugh Jordan, Wright and Greene form three enigmatic corners of a square, standing with eyes closed. Do they represent individual women, or attributes of one--childlike joy, helplessness, sensuous affection? Susan Quinn's character looks to them to help her become the one who will occupy the empty fourth corner in this dance metaphor.
By contrast, Beth Wright's Preview is a brief snippet from larger things to come, as Wright extends her range, crafting hard seduction from music by Blackalicious. And while Courtney Greer's added more to her freestyle biography, Chopped Southern Girl, we still leave it feeling we've only seen the first section of a larger work in progress--and can't wait for more.
Meanwhile, the solo in the atmospheric last movement of Lindsey Greene's A Movie by Godot seems lit by memory alone. Tiffany Rhynard's Anatomy of Heart: Diagram #1 presents us with funny and conflicting psychological maps. Julee Snyder probes waiting rooms in In Transit, while Susan Quinn repeats her Hitchcock satire, Fully Furnished.
At least they named them right. Admit it: Stitch and Lucky sounds like a couple of guys you might expect to see hanging around near the bus station in downtown Raleigh, "working," in the lively words of the Artsplosure 03 Web site, "for pocket change from passers-by" (www.artsplosure.org/citymarket.html).
But guess what? They're some of the stars of "Busker Fair," one of the headlining acts of this year's Artsplosure, which erupts this Saturday and Sunday, kicking off the summer outdoor performance season. Apparently festival planners have opted to update the gritty brand of urban street performance already taking place in the Moore Square area with earlier versions from Jolly Old England. Or Hell's Kitchen. Or both.
According to his Web site, Stitch will either "perform 40 minutes of tight subtle comedy" or "simply show up, eat and leave" (www.donthavea.com /show.html), while both Lucky and Rob Torres' teensy online movies (at www.luckyshow.net/video.html and www.funeeestuff.com/suitcase.mov), feature moving footage of men deftly juggling a single hat. See and believe!
Meanwhile, according to his Web site, Paul Miller will be "sharing moments with strangers; the way life should be" (www.flowcircus.com/rovinget.htm). OK, gotcha ... And unwary festivalgoers should also be on the lookout for Mike Wood, who'll be throwing food at passers-by with a novelty item called a "cabbage catapult." No, really: www.90poundweakling.com/main.html.
Other street acts will include mime, fire eating, sword swallowing, pickpocketing and three-card monte. Just kidding on those last two.
And if agent provocateur Louis St. Lewis can patch things up with the powers that be in downtown Raleigh, there simply must be more hope for the Middle East. St. Lewis, you may remember, infuriated the homophobic Raleigh politburo of the time, by waiting until thousands of 1997 Artsplosure posters went up across town before revealing that his model for it was actually Raleigh's mayor at the time, Paul Coble. Joking! The model was actually an unidentified man in drag, something the City Council of the time apparently had extreme difficulty countenancing in any form.
The dear boy's back--at least, St. Lewis is--with a new poster. According to the Artsplosure Web site (www.artsplosure.org/preview.html), he'll be autographing copies of both his '97 magnum opus and this year's model sometime during the weekend.
Now, that's what I call a comeback.
Further traveler's advisories are available at www.artsplosure.org.
Arguably the major performing arts event of the summer is the American Dance Festival on the Duke University Campus. The early news is the festival's 70th anniversary season is the most diverse in recent years, focusing primarily on international dance. Our in-depth coverage on that begins June 5.
But it's not too soon to reveal that, in a marked break with the past, this year's festival will present talent from near home as well as far abroad. Recently, regional talent of genuine promise had been regularly overlooked by ADF programmers.
This year, the festival opened its doors to North Carolina choreographers, offering berths in an unjuried series of showcases running Tuesdays and Thursdays before the Festival mainstage shows, at 6:30 p.m. Opening Acts will feature hour-long performances from some of North Carolina's finest and most intriguing dance names. And the price is right: They can't make it cheaper than free.
The June 12 kickoff features Cornelia Kip Lee, 2 Near the Edge and Asheville's Terpsichore Theater of Dance. On June 17, our own Alyssa Ghirardelli joins Greensboro's Jan Van Dyke Dance Group and the Winston-Salem ninjas of Alban Elved Dance Company. Tuesday, June 24 features local heroes Choreo Collective and Andrews Arts of Greensboro.
July 3, Melissa Chris shares the stage with Julee Snyder and Amy Chavasse, while Tiffany Rhynard gets her due with JD Project on the lawn in front of Duke Chapel, Thursday, July 10. Laura Thomasson, Beth Wright and Boone's X Factor close the series on July 15.
More evidence for the proposition that regional theater is actually that good: Burning Coal Theatre Company has been invited to bring its production of Tom Stoppard's Travesties to Charleston's Spoleto Festival, one of the largest international arts festivals in the United States.
Our initial review--and the Indy's end of year awards--praised Rebecca Holderness' direction, the acting ensemble, and designer Morag Charlton's set in what we called at the time "the chewiest show of the year." Stoppard's script is based on the historical fact that dadaist Tristan Tzara, James Joyce and Karl Marx were all living in Zurich during the year 1916. What would have happened, he wondered, if they met--in a library, of course--one fine day?
You can catch the Coals at Sandhills Repertory in Pinehurst May 15-18, before they bow in Charleston, May 23-June 1. The Spoleto Web site has all the details: www.piccolospoleto.com.
Closer to home, Broadway Series South presents the professional touring version of Saturday Night Fever: The Musical, June 3-8, while N.C. State's TheatreFest makes a trilogy of Agatha Christie's The Hollow, Ira Levin's Death Trap and the comedy Funny Money, May 29-June 29. Carlota Santana's Flamenco Vivo troupe brings a revival of Luz y Sombra and Zapateado plus the new work Bailes de Ida y Vuelta to Durham's Carolina Theatre, May 29 and 30.
The Carrboro ArtsCenter presents its first Black Playwright Festival this summer. Victor Sejour's The Brown Overcoat and Douglas Turner Ward's Happy Ending will play in repertoire with Contribution by Ted Shine and What Lot's Wife Saw by Rita Disroe, June 12-22.
As previously mentioned, North Carolina Theater's ticket-buyers will contribute to the von Trapp Children's first acting lessons when they headline The Sound of Music at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, July 11-20. Finally, let's close the future with another laugh: Actors Comedy Lab's courageous staging of bad boy David Lindsey-Abaire's Wonder of the World, at N.C. State's Thompson Studio Theater, June 11-26.