Gobble It Up
PCPA previews America’s annual fall feast two month’s early with Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play, the second in its new series of staged reading previews of relatively new works of current interest. The “bitingly funny satire” find good intentions colliding with absurd assumptions as a troupe of supposedly racially awakened white teaching artists are tasked with devising a school pageant about the first Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage month. FastHorse is a Native American playwright who specializes in Native American dramas involving issues with indigenous people in American society and the intersection with theater. Hailed as a “rambunctious and edgy satire of wokeness,” The Thanksgiving Play, which has been performed across the country, including at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, roasts America’s Turkey Day, political correctness, and casting and “hypocracy” in the theater itself. The live Zoom shows featuring PCPA resident artists and others stream at 7 pm Saturday and 1:30 pm Sunday, September 26-27, and tickets cost $5. A talkback with the actors, directors, and FastHorse follows. Visit www.pcpa.org/InterPlay.html.
On deck in PCPA’s Talkback Thursdays portion of its Plays On! virtual events is a September 24 conversation with 2009 graduate William Hodgeson, who recently played Romeo in Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s production of Romeo and Juliet and starred in the original company of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. A chat with PCPA alumni and founders of the YHT Theatre Company Brandon Jones Mooney, Tré Scott,and Nansi Dwendi – whose Young Hot Thespians company carries the mission “To bring theatre to places where it isn’t usually common” – streams live on October 1. Both events premiere at 7 pm on PCPA’s Facebook Live page. (www.facebook.com/pacificconservatorytheatre). All of the previous Talkback Thursdays conversations are also archived there.
More Streaming Strings
In addition to the UCSB A&L show streaming on September 24, Billy Strings and his band will be performing live from the famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre at 6 pm two days later, on Saturday, September 26. Strings and Co. will play three full sets of music to a crowdless venue via nugs.tv and Cinematics for their first-ever headlining performance at the outdoor Colorado concert space. The video production, which will utilize the latest Red Digital Cinema, Blackmagic Design & DJI Drone 6k cameras mixed with the 7C Cinema live style, will treat viewers to a one-of-a-kind 4K Ultra Cinematic live music experience. The concert takes place just one day short of the one-year anniversary of the release of Strings’ latest album HOME. Fans may purchase live video streams for the show for $19.99, which includes unlimited on-demand access for 48 hours, at https://nugs.tv/live-webcasts/5,1125/Billy-Strings-09-2020-Red-Rocks-Amphitheatre-Morrison-CO.html.
Los Angeles-based artist Edgar Arceneaux, who investigates historical patterns through drawings, installations and multimedia events, largely eschews linear logic in favor of wordplay and visual associations to reveal how language, technology, and systems of ordering produce reality as much as describe them. Seemingly disparate elements, such as science fiction, civil rights era speeches, techno music, and the crumbling architecture of Detroit, find a new synchronicity in the artist’s hands, ultimately pointing to larger historical forces such as the rise of the surveillance state.
Arceneaux engages in a wide ranging and informal virtual conversation with the audience from 12-1 pm on Thursday, September 24, sharing his thoughts about his art, current and past projects and how we construct history and memory in a racially divided country in the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s “Detroit Riots, Black Lives Matter, and The Collision of Art and Politics.”
Also from SBMA: “Your Good Pictures: Trends in Popular Photography,” with Kim Beil, whose new book Good Pictures: A History of Popular Photography, traces 50 stylistic trends through 175 years of photographic practice. In the first half of her live Zoom conversation from 5 pm to 6 pm on Monday, September 28, the art history professor at Stanford University discusses elements of contemporary photos that seem inarguably good, such as angles for selfies, or the best lighting for portraits, showing that these judgments are actually recent developments that overturn decades of previous advice on how to make good pictures. Part two features Beil commenting on pictures submitted in advance by the audience, placing family photos (1880-1980) in the context of photo history.
Register for either of the free Zoom events at www.tickets.sbma.net.
Classical Corner: Symphony Soundings
The Santa Barbara Symphony’s September episode of its Sundays with The Symphony series – airing at 3:30 pm on September 27 – not only shines a spotlight on its own musicians with a 30-minute program of pop-up performances featuring alumnus and guest artists but also offers a special visit with Lisa Vroman, the Broadway star who will be featured in the opening night singing Gershwin, Berlin, Lloyd-Weber in the intimate style of cabaret to kick off the upcoming seven-concert subscription series. Check this space for a preview of the full season of pandemic-pivoted performances featuring concerts streamed live over the Internet from the Granada on the originally scheduled weekends starting October 17.
Visit the symphony’s new website at www.thesymphony.org for all the livestream information, new digital content, and to sign up for “Notes from Nir: 7 Stories in 7 Days.”
Also of note: the Santa Barbara Symphony and Westmont College have announced a strategic partnership to strengthen the organizations’ ability to bring music education to local school children while creating a pipeline to provide continuing musical opportunities in the community. The collaboration includes newly developed, innovative virtual, and socially distanced curriculum. The model enables the college and orchestra to connect the different phases of music education, from elementary school students up to college students, with the professional symphony.
Meanwhile, Camerata Pacifica, perhaps the area’s earliest adopter of virtual programming in the path of the pandemic, marked a milestone last Sunday when the chamber music ensemble presented the 26th episode of its “Concerts @ Home” series, representing six months of sharing specially curated excerpts from its 25-plus years of programming. The one-hour events stream live at 10 am each Sunday on YouTube and Facebook and are immediately archived on Camerata Pacifica’s YouTube channel. Visit https://cameratapacifica.org/see-hear/concerts-at-home.
Re-visiting Pop Music from the Previous Pandemic
Coping with COVID is most certainly a challenge, but can you imagine what life was like 100 years ago when influenza swept the land? Even before the novel coronavirus arrived, local Lompoc singer-actor Diana Diaz Boadella had set her sights on taking a look backwards at singing some of the great popular songs and reading aloud a few secret love letters from the last pandemic and the World War I era. She performed a program for the Lompoc Museum for one of their annual banquets, at the Pasadena Library Tuesday Musicale, and for the Oneonta Club which celebrated the centennial Armistice Day, celebrating the end of World War 1.
Now Boadella, who recently played the leading roles of Rosalie in School of Rock with Santa Barbara School of Performing Arts, and Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with SBCC’s Continuing Education’s Theater Eclectic, is putting together a similar century-old program for Arroyo Grande’s Clark Center that will run on its YouTube channel this weekend. Among the songs she’ll perform in the “Songs & Stories from the Last Pandemic & World War 1” concert at 6 pm on Saturday, September 26, are “Over There,” “For Me And My Gal,” “K-K-K-Katy,” “Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag And Smile Smile Smile,” and “Keep the Home Fires Burning.” Admission is free, although donations are requested, with proceeds split between Boadella and the Clark Center. Visit https://clarkcenter.org/event/diana-diaz-pop-songs-of-ww1, and watch the show on https://www.youtube.com/user/clarkcenterperfarts or www.facebook.com/ClarkCenter.
Rubicon Wrapping Up
Rubicon Theatre Company’s September Blitz comes to a close this week with a flurry of final virtual shows. The Ballad of Juan José is a wild satire in which the titular Mexican immigrant has a feverish dream while studying for his American citizenship exam. A parade of characters ranging from Sacagawea to Teddy Roosevelt to Jackie Robinson take him on a mind-bending, hilarious, and poignant trip through American history in the play written by Richard Montoya that was developed by the famed Culture Clash company. Shana Cooper directed the L.A. Theatre Works production – recorded in Los Angeles before a live audience at The James Bridges Theater UCLA in 2014 – that streams for free through November 5. RTC’s own “Voices of America: Songs and Stories of Conflict, Crisis, Hope, and Healing,” a timely variety show of readings and performances that streamed live on Independence Day 2020, will be available to view once again on September 26 & 27, or on demand through September 29. Journey of the Noble Gnarble, a touching story that teaches the importance of positivity and determination and featuring students aged 5 to 12 from Rubicon’s Stinky Feet Theatre Workshop, gets another airing at 2 pm on September 26, before the final event of the fundraising effort from 5 pm to 12 midnight on Wednesday, September 30 brings together more than a dozen company regular and special guests to close out the campaign. All of the events are free, save for Gnarble. Visit www.rubicontheatre.org/allrise.