Arts Report: A Stomach for Pressure

 

“Still feeling nauseous.”

That was the most frequently repeated phrase in Seema Sueko’s account of how she was feeling on Friday, the day the play she’s directing, “How I Got That Story,” opened. We’ve been embedded as she and her team at Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company have been rehearsing for weeks.

Their preparation led up to Friday, when theater critics and a sold-out Opening Night crowd arrived at the 10th Avenue Theatre to watch actors Brian Bielawski and Greg Watanabe whirl them through absurd situations and characters that portray the confusion and fog of war.

Also this week in our series, we learned how costume designer Jeannie Galioto approached the challenge of costuming the 21 characters the two men cover in quick-moving scenes.

 

One key challenge: Some of the characters Watanabe plays are women, like the prostitute Li whose dress is in the photograph above. Says Galioto:

I am keeping my fingers crossed that this dress holds up for the run because of being ripped off every show! It looks really fantastic in the show and when you see Greg in silhouette in the dress he has a female form because of the padding I added.

Here’s what the critics said:

• Jim Hebert at the U-T San Diego praises the production as “an exhilarating showcase of performance versatility.”

• Jeff Smith at San Diego Reader criticizes the play, saying the “staging prefers the cute to the dramatic.”

• Jean Lowerison, writing for San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, lauds the two actors’ work: “Bielawski is utterly convincing as the eager-beaver reporter” and of Watanabe,”What a performance!”

And Sueko reports today that “The nausea has dissipated!

You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly compilation of the region’s arts and culture news.

Happening Here

• What would it sound like if you wrote music in love, or as you were going mad, or both? Those questions get at some theories tied to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, the one often referred to as his “Immortal Beloved” symphony, since some letters he wrote to an unnamed lover were dated within weeks of finishing the symphony.

In our video, watch the San Diego Symphony in rehearsal last week for the piece, and hear Nuvi Mehta explain why he thinks it’s useful to learn about the composer’s life experience as you listen to the music. Mehta dressed up as Beethoven in a performance on Thursday.

Writing for the U-T, critic James Chute was a fan of the way the symphony played the Beethoven on Friday. The other pieces on the program? Not so much.

• High Tech High students are learning how to tell stories through sound in Margaret Noble’s class. (Noble is an artist and teacher we’ve featured for her collaborations of art with math.) KPBS interviewed some of the storytellers about their decisions, and you can listen to all of their pieces here.

• The Museum of Art posted info about its upcoming Summer Salon Series, which this year will center around questions of navigating news, fiction, myths, propaganda and the barrage of information and opinion. Artists can apply to be featured in the salon; the deadline is March 19.

We visited the salon last year and Lorraine Graham included it in her survey of the local literary scene at our Meeting of the Minds last month.

• Southern California museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, are weaving Latin American art more intentionally into their programming than museums have traditionally done, reports the L.A. Times.

• Once the artistic head of Sledgehammer Theatre here, Kirsten Brandt will be at the San Diego Repertory Theatre this summer to direct “Zoot Suit” by Luis Valdez, a theater figure “considered the father of Chicano theater.” (U-T)

Outside Art

• The plans San Diegans are discussing for the waterfront should include a performing arts center, argues Kevin Chaisson in a letter to the editor in the U-T. Chaisson is the former head of the Performing Arts League, the nonprofit that runs that Arts Tix Booth near Horton Plaza.

• I don’t get why these videos are called “naked,” but the UC system is putting together some great video looks at the art on campuses, including the Stuart Collection at UC San Diego. Here’s one that looks at artist Do Ho Suh’s “Fallen Star” piece, the crooked house installed on the edge of an engineering building, and gives a really nice overview of the rest of the collection.

• A local theater company chose to use the original, offensive language written into the play based on Mark Twain’s “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” A few schools are refusing to come watch the play. What do you think? (CBS 8)

• The collection of plays that put audience members in the backseat of various cars will continue through this weekend after being scheduled to close last week. La Jolla Playhouse’s “Car Plays” are part of its emphasis on taking theater out of its normal boundaries. “San Diego audiences have a voracious appetite for unique theatrical experiences,” said Playhouse artistic chief Christopher Ashley. (North County Times)

See how the whole thing works in Angela Carone’s television piece about the plays. (KPBS)

• Dubbed “opera’s coolest soprano” by The New York Times, soprano Danielle de Niese stopped by the beach in Coronado for a photo shoot for the U-T. De Niese is in town to sing in San Diego Opera’s “Don Pasquale,” opening this weekend. (U-T)

• The violin I played for eight years before it broke beyond reasonable repair two years ago was included in a show of objects that signify loss, absence and the passing of time. Exhibited at Helmuth Projects in a loft downtown, the show was curated by my friend Angella d’Avignon. Susan Myrland blogged about the show for the U-T.

• When he’s not telling KUSI viewers what’s happening with the weather, meteorologist Dave Scott is playing trombone and singing with his “New Slide Quartet.” He has a concert coming up this weekend. (San Diego Reader)

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Kelly Bennett is the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach her directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531. Or you can keep up with her on Twitter @kellyrbennett or on Facebook.

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Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. You can reach her directly at kelly@vosd.org.

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