Last night I attended Valhalla, the kick-off production of Essential Theatre's 10th anniversary season of local and world premiere plays. Valhalla was kind of an odd duck, juxtaposing the life of Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria (Topher Payne) with an impulsive, gay Texan (Matt Felten) in the 1930s and 1940s. Playwright Paul Rudnick tends to be something of a one-liner machine, so the play's relentless quippiness at times concealed its more complex ideas. It reminds me of the joke in Raising Arizona that was called a "way-homer," "because you only get it on the way home." I'll have more to say about Valhalla later.
For such a small theater company, Essential is particularly proactive about using the viral video powers of the Internet. Just like last year, Essential Theatre's web site presents video previews (mostly interview-based) for its three shows running in repertory: the time-shifting comedy Valhalla; the crime-and-celebrity drama After Ashley by Gina Gionfriddo (opening July 2); and West of Eden, a comedy about Adam and Eve at middle age by Letitia Sweitzer (opening July 8). Here's the clip for Valhalla; for the others, just click on the titles.
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In a display of ambition that seems positively, well, Shakespearean, The New American Shakespeare Tavern has announced that it will stage 15 plays between this August and next June for its 2008-2009 season. That's a staggeringly busy schedule for a company that has no second stage, requiring constant performance.
In prior years the Tavern has staged "August Three-peat" repertory remounts of shows from earlier in the year, a concept tweaked for Two Months of Four Plays, with this August seeing returns of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night and King John. (I reviewed the 2006 production of Complete here).
After Antony and Cleopatra in October, the Tavern stages the rarely-seen threesome of Henry VI, Parts I, II and III. Incidentally, I happened to see Artistic Director Jeffrey Watkins at Essential Theatre's Valhalla last night, and asked him if they considered including Richard III with the Henry plays, since it's basically a sequel to or conclusion of that cycle. Watkins said that they did, but that four plays would be too demanding to put on essentially all at once, but that in the 2009-2010 season, the Tavern might stage Richard III and bring the Henry VIs back.
We've got a ton of free passes to see tonight's screening of Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson, which I review in the next issue, at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. (Hint: I likey.) Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. One huge caveat: The promoters of these screenings always encourage folks to get there early, as these passes don't guarantee admittance, and they're often over-booked. Just FYI. You can pick up the passes at the front desk of our offices in the Northyards office complex. (Use Google maps; it's most reliable for directions. Call 404-688-5623 if you get lost.) We close our doors at 5 p.m. sharp.
Also, check out Cliff Bostock's excellent tribute to Hunter S. Thompson on the occasion of the journalist's passing back in 2005, in his "Headcase" column. And here's the official trailer
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(Photo courtesy Magnolia Pictures)
SILVER APPLES emerged from New York in 1967 with a rhythmic sound that was too revolutionary for the times. Forty years later, the name still carries a lot of weight among music heads who have an ear for true genius. Silver Apples opted for oscillators rather than guitars. And with these futuristic tools the group surfs the sine waves, carving out deep, psychedelic grooves that are as addictive today as they were when Bob Dylan and the Beatles were young men. The show Mon., JUNE 30, offers a rare live performance from a group that changed the world of electronic music. $12. 9:30 p.m. The Earl, 488 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.
(Photo courtesy Gifted Children)
1) Stephen Wing signs and discusses Free Ralph! An Evolutionary Fable at Wordsmiths Books.
2) Elli Perry, Hammer Down and Martha's Trouble perform at Smith's Olde Bar.
3) A (new) Genre Landscape continues at Brownwood Park.
4) Silver Apples perform at the Earl.
5) SCAD professor Karen-Sam Norgard's Perishable Constructions continues at Trois Gallery.
(Image by Karen-Sam Norgard)
Atlanta folk music duo Rising Appalachia has cheerfully woven topics of cultural evolution and fusion into its music, bringing the message around the world with its aural globe trotting. Siblings Leah and Chloe Smith take a more direct approach to encouraging themes of social evolution and responsibility when they host the third annual CONCRETE PANDEMONIUM Sun., JUNE 29. Billed as an "urban throwdown," the topsy-turvy evening features a genre-bucking combination of local art and activism in an earnest attempt to bring the two together in a happy, and hopefully not short-lived, marriage. Scheduled appearances include spoken-word artists Theresa Davis and Stefen Miko of Art Amuk, the Atlanta Circus Art Community, Feminist Outlawz, Alternate Roots, a recycled-fabric fashion show and more. 9 p.m. $5-$25. Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery, 290 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Suite 8. 404-522-0655. www.eyedrum.org.
(Photo by Chad Hess)
1) Rising Appalachia hosts and headlines Concrete Pandemonium at Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery.
2) Zoroaster headlines Corndogorama's final day at Lenny's Bar.
3) Monsters inhabit Atlanta in The Monster Show at Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery.
4) Colbie Caillat performs at the Variety Playhouse.
5) REO Speedwagon and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts perform at Chastain Park.
(Photo © Chad Hess)
It's been half a decade since R. Land's last major promenade in the public arena, but the multimedia painter, sculptor and illustrator returns Sat., JUNE 28, with SUMMERLAND, a new passel of outlandish images in the heart of Little Five Points. Land's thumbprint has been heavy in Atlanta's hipper ZIP codes his signature grotesqueries have delivered the one-two punch to diners' eyeballs at El Myr and to revelers at Buckhead's Tongue and Groove. The current show, in the now unnamed former Soul Kiss building at 1154 Euclid Ave., promises more R. Land faves, as well as a slate of collaborative works. He's not spilling the beans on exactly who he'll bring on, but former collaborators have included graffiti artist Hense, the Rev. Howard Finster and the East Atlanta Kids Club. Music and a souvenir shop complete the mix. Through July 31. $5. Opening reception, 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., noon-6 p.m.; Mon.-Fri., by appointment only. 1154 Euclid Ave. 404-525-0905. www.rlandart.com.
(R.Land/Photo Frank Mullen)
1) Celebrate artist R. Land's Atlanta return with Summerland.
3) Hear Oxford Collapse and Frightened Rabbit at Drunken Unicorn.
3) Visit Findley Plaza Art Fair, presented by the Little Five Points Art Association.
4) Learn about figurative ceramics and mixed-media sculptures from artist Jody Mooney at Indigo Sky Community Gallery.
5) Find out who the finest firefighter chef is at the Firefighter Grill-Off in Woodstock.
(Image by R. Land)
Sunday offers us the first-ever Georgia Author Book Bash, presented by Atlanta magazine and the Literary Center of the Margaret Mitchell House. The event will take place from 4-7 p.m. at the Margaret Mitchell House. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 members. Guests can schmooze with the LL (local literati) on the front lawn and wrestle them to the grass for an autograph. There'll be hors d'oeuvres, live jazz (as opposed to dead jazz) and a cash bar.
One question: How the hell is anyone going to be able to meet and greet 50 authors, much less get their John Hancock on their books? Good luck trying.
The Big 50 in attendance is about as impressive a list of local authors as you'll find this side of the AJC Decatur Book Festival, and even then. The names are so obvious and familiar, I'm almost embarrassed to mention them although it does give me an excuse to provide cool hyperlinks to coverage of several of them. For example, there's former CL Fiction Contest judges Joshilyn Jackson and David Fulmer, as well as Mike Luckovich, Bill Osinski, Ferrol Sams, Goldie Taylor and Tina McElroy Ansa. And of course there's CL's own Hollis Gillespie, whose new book, Trailer Trashed: My Dubious Efforts Toward Upward Mobility, is due out Aug. 1.
It's also a chance to check out our sleeper pick, Gay and Lesbian Atlanta, by Wesley Chenault and Stacy Braukman of the Atlanta History Center for Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series. It's quite the trip down memory lane, broken down into four chapters/epochs: "Unconventional Lives and Ambiguous Identities: 1900-1940," "Quiet Accommodation: 1940-1970," "Parties, Politics, and Pride: 1970-1990" and "Collective Power and Culture Wars: 1990-2000." Nice way to get in some infotainment before next week's Atlanta Pride.
(Image courtesy Arcadia Publishing)
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