UCSB A&L Announces House Calls II

By Steven Libowitz   |   January 28, 2021

Just What the Doctor Ordered

UCSB Arts & Lectures has announced the winter series of House Calls, a slate of intimate, interactive virtual events to replace the live performances that were canceled due to the ongoing COVID pandemic. Yvon Chouinard, founder and its philosopher-king of the Ventura-based Patagonia, kicks off the series on February 9 with a moderated conversation also featuring clips from Patagonia’s recent film, Public Trust. Also on the calendar are American cellist Alisa Weilerstein and Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan (February 12), chefs Samin Nosrat and Yotam Ottolenghi (February 28), author and bookstore owner Ann Patchett (March 7), MacArthur “Genius” mandolinist-composer Chris Thile (March 9), cultural bridge-building singer-songwriter Sonia De Los Santos (March 13) and two-star Michelin chef José Andrés (March 14). 

The winter quarter also features two free week-long family music events. Jazz for Young People with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra can be seen on demand February 4-11 while Sonia De Los Santos’ En Casa con Sonia is available March 13-20. 

Meanwhile the next Race for Justice virtual event on February 2 could easily fall under the entertainment category, as Anna Deavere Smith has been a remarkably successful actress with indelible roles in The West Wing and Nurse Jackie among her credits. But Smith also employs her singular brand of theater to explore issues of community, character and diversity in America, among the reasons she earned a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” for creating “a new form of theatre – a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie.” Smith will present “Notes From the Field / Snapshots: Portraits of a World in Transition,” the culmination of an extensive residency working with students and faculty in the UCSB Department of Theater and Dance.  

Tickets for each of the events are $10 for community members (save for the family music events), and can be viewed online at https://artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.

Share Your SBCC Tales

The SBCC Theatre Arts Department is seeking story submissions from the SBCC faculty, staff, and students for SBCC Stories, a planned streamed production in the ever-expanding series of Personal Stories that once fell under the umbrella of Speaking of Stories. SBCC adjunct instructor Maggie Mixsell, who has helmed all of the SOS and Personal Stories shows, will select the stories and direct the performances slated to take place in late February. The deadline to submit written personal stories of no more than 1,400 words – whimsical, poignant, comical, surprising, or what have you – is February 5. Visit www.sbcc.edu for information and the submission form. 

Art Matters

In his talk dubbed “The 500 Faces of Teotihuacan,” Matthew Robb, the chief curator at UCLA’s Fowler Museum, will dive into how the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan dominated Mesoamerica though a complex mixture of religious, economic, and military power from 100 BCE to 600 CE. As a city, Teotihuacan presented a unique and unprecedented environment for its inhabitants, drawn from all over Mesoamerica, to become citizens of a unique urban experiment. It did this through the deployment of specific kinds of objects and images in specific kinds of architectural and spatial contexts. Robb’s talk explores one of Teotihuacan’s most famous object types – enigmatic stone faces that seem to represent the city’s physical and material ideals. It is a tale of two canons: the modern canon of these objects, from their earliest discoveries in the 18th century to their presence in museum displays and private collections around the world, and the ancient canon of these objects as their makers might have understood it. Reserve tickets to the free talk at 3 pm on Thursday, February 4, at www.sbma.net.

Closer to home and our own time, the Summer Solstice Celebration board of directors, staff, and artists are looking for theme suggestions as they begin to cook up festivities and programming for the annual Summer Solstice Celebration amid the still pervasive pandemic. Last year, with COVID-19 restrictions in place, events centered on a virtual parade and festival. Members of the community are invited to come up with their own creative ideas for a theme for this year’s 47th annual celebration of the longest day of the year. Submit your thoughts by January 29 via Facebook (www.facebook.com/SBSolstice), Instagram (@summersolsticesb), or email (solstice@solsticeparade.com). 

Media, Technology, and Politics Under Pressure

Carsey-Wolf Center’s latest effort in its commitment to film and media research is a series of three virtual roundtables in which the participants will explore the past, present and future of media in the wake of both the anxieties, and the new opportunities, of our current moment. The key questions that will guide the discussions include: What possibilities, responsibilities, and obligations gather around film and media study in a historical moment defined by the pressures of racism, the global health pandemic, and subsequent challenges to notions of community, belonging, and purpose? Also, how might we better understand our current time by reflecting on the past, present, and future of media, including cinema, television, and wireless technologies?

The series launches on Tuesday, February 2, with “1920/2020,” reflecting on the historical and material changes in cinematic and public spaces after the 1918 influenza pandemic, and what that might imply for a direction for our current crisis. What is at stake when media become involved in efforts to protect against disease or mechanize comfort? What can we learn from an earlier pandemic about the anxieties of our own time, including fears of crowds, enclosed spaces, and social interactions? CWC director Patrice Petromoderates the roundtable discussion featuring Stephen Groening (University of Washington), Maggie Hennefeld (University of Minnesota – Twin Cities), Brian Jacobson (California Institute of Technology), and Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee). 

Also scheduled are “TV in the Age of Pandemic” on Tuesday, February 9, with Victoria E. Johnson (UC Irvine), Reese Peck (College of Staten Island, CUNY), Samantha Sheppard (Cornell), and Kristen Warner(University of Alabama), and “The New Ethereality” on Thursday, February 18, featuring Marisa Duarte(Arizona State University), Shannon Mattern (New School for Social Research), and Rahul Mukherjee(University of Pennsylvania). 

Also from CWC this week is a selection of short films about intersex life as part of the center’s Subversives series. The evening will examine how intersex people navigate their everyday lives through screening and discussions of two short films focused on intersex lives: Aubree Bernier-Clarke’s A Normal Girl (2019), which documents the remarkable journey of the activist Pidgeon Pagonis in their quest for medical nonconformity and bodily self-determination, and River Gallo’s Ponyboi (2019), which centers on the experience of a young intersex sex worker struggling to navigate the terrains of intimacy, identity, and survival. 

A Normal Girl director Aubree Bernier-Clarke and activist-producer-subject Pidgeon Pagonis, and Ponyboiwriter-director-actor River Gallo join moderator UCSB Film and Media Studies’ Xiuhe Zhang for a virtual discussion at 4 pm on Thursday, February 4. Screening links will be provided. Visit www.carseywolf.ucsb.edu to register for the free CWC events. 

Focus on Film: Oscar Hopefuls 

Rachel Brosnahan earned Emmy and Golden Globe Awards for her portrayal of Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a wisecracking New York City housewife who discovers she has a knack for stand-up comedy in the hit Netflix series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel set in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Now, in the new film I’m Your Woman, Brosnahan has moved up about a decade-and-a-half to play another housewife, Jean, albeit in a movie with a very different tone. Jean and her baby are forced to go on the run after her thieving husband betrays his partners in this film described as a female take on crime dramas of the 1970s that still finds Brosnahan embodying a character who discovers what it takes to claim your life as your own. The actress, writer-director Julia Hart and co-screenwriter Jordan Horowitz joined SBIFF executive director Roger Durling shortly after I’m Your Woman hit Amazon Prime last December.

Earlier this month, Durling also hosted a Q&A session with Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, the co-directors of Wolfwalkers, a new animated fantasy adventure film directed that serves as the third installment in Moore’s “Irish Folklore Trilogy” following The Secret of Kells (2009) and Song of the Sea (2014), both of which were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. The same fate likely awaits Wolfwalkers, which can be screened on Apple TV+, as it has received widespread universal acclaim from critics for every aspect of the film. 

Folks who have been thumbing their noses at COVID by continuing to pack the volleyball courts at East Beach this winter might find some evening’s entertainment by watching LEAP, which chronicles the career and legacy of Lang Ping, the five-time world women volleyball champion from China. After her unparalleled success as a player, Lang Ping flirted with controversy when she coached the U.S. women volleyball team against China in Beijing between stints coaching the Chinese women’s national volleyball team, which is why some consider the female equivalent of Santa Barbara-raised three-time gold medal volleyball star Karch Kiraly, who, ironically, is currently the head coach of the United States women’s national volleyball team. LEAP, China’s official entry for the 93rd Academy Awards this year, is available on Amazon Prime. Lang Ping is played by Gong Li, the veteran actress who starred in three of the four Oscar-nominated Chinese language films in history; she joined SBIFF senior programmer Mickey Duzdevich to talk about the film earlier this month. 

Those three are part of at least a dozen more Q&A sessions with filmmakers from current Oscar-hopeful available to screen on SBIFF’s YouTube channel. 

SBIFF Film Talk

The 2016 short drama Surrogate finds two estranged best friends reaching a breaking point when one serves as the pregnancy surrogate for the other. Writer, director, and star of the two-character film Olivia Hamilton – who has been married to writer-director Damien Chazelle of La La Land and Whiplash fame since 2018 – joins a SBIFF programmer to chat about the movie at 6 pm Thursday, January 28, over Zoom. Visit www.sbiff.org/filmtalk to register and find the link to screen the film. 


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