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Sometimes I feel like I need a translator when watching Shakespeare plays. Most opera productions come with captions that run on digital screens above the stage. But this kind of artistic interpretation might not be on your radar: translating what’s happening on a theater stage to an audience that can’t hear.

Local writer Maya Kroth penned a vivid look at the interpreters hired by local theaters to turn the theatrical experience into something that makes sense for a deaf person. Kroth’s Union-Tribune story includes a bunch of fascinating glimpses into the work of these unsung fixtures in the theater scene:

While some things (like iambic pentameter) are bound to be lost in translation, certain other literary devices don’t have to be. … [Just] as spoken rhymes comprise words that sound alike, signed rhymes are built from hand shapes that look alike.

Tooting their horns:

• They’re the orchestra’s “stuntmen,” the players whose instrument, the French horn, is the most exposed sound in the bunch. To be one of these five local musicians, a “certain fearlessness is required,” writes the U-T’s James Chute.

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• UCSD artist/architect Teddy Cruz was selected as one of 52 fellows in the fifth annual program run by the national arts advocacy organization United States Artists.

• Local dance leader John Malashock was touted in the Los Angeles Times’ list of “faces to watch” in 2011 (click to number nine on this page).

• From Wheat Thins commercials to a Lifetime movie about women detectives, San Diego provided backdrops and settings for many television and film shoots, reported Cathy Anderson, head of the San Diego Film Commission, on

• Local guitar giant Taylor Guitars has grown from a company launched in 1974 with a $10,000 loan to a powerhouse earning $70 million a year (U-T). I got to meet the man who oversees neck and body construction at the company’s El Cajon headquarters a couple of years ago.

A look behind, a look ahead:

• A bovine-loving music librarian, a dog-painting school district employee and a bartending ballerina: these are some of the local art-makers we’ve met in the last few months. Their work and lives provide a great lens for viewing the art and drama of making art in San Diego.

The local arts arenas buzzed this week with end-of-year roundups and looks ahead to the events coming in 2011. I’ve only been on the arts beat since September, so I found the roundups below interesting and instructive.

Space closed, space opened:

• Many galleries, museums and theater operators across the region grappled with dwindling resources in 2010, including Solana Beach’s Ordover Gallery. The North County Times’ Pam Kragen included that and scores more details from the past year in her meticulous roundup.

• But new places opened, too, like the East Village artists’ haven, Space 4 Art. KPBS’s Angela Carone included that event and many more in her excellent roundup of news, successes, new faces and controversies.

• I included the trouble at the Birch North Park Theatre as one of the arts storylines we’ll be following in the coming months. And along the lines of Space 4 Art, we also want to know about arts organizations that are expanding, opening or finding new spaces. If you have any ideas you think I should look into, drop me a line.

The show had to go on:

• The local theater scene attracted several lists of highs and lows from local critics. The NCT’s Pam Kragen‘s top pick was The Madness of George III at The Old Globe, while the U-T’s James Hebert liked Ruined at La Jolla Playhouse. CityBeat’s Marty Westlin went with Cygnet Theatre Company’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street for his top pick.

• Best local jazz stories, memories and shows; as well as pop concerts and albums. (U-T’s George Varga)

What’s on tap:

• The show Memphis, developed and premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2008, returns to San Diego this year as part of the Broadway/San Diego season. The show won the 2010 Tony Award for best musical.

• Local artist Roman de Salvo will have his sculptural art featured in Ruocco Park, a new park on West Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway. And that sailor’s kiss statue may be in San Diego to stay, CityBeat’s Kinsee Morlan reports.

• CityBeat’s also calling for entries for its annual review of demos from local bands.

Hanging by a tie:

A quirky bit of art-in-the-open popped up along Sunset Cliffs Boulevard (OB Rag): An Ocean Beach artist has tied at least six dozen neckties to a street sign, to which Point Loma resident August Felando added his own necktie.

“It’s from Nordstrom’s, but I didn’t like it,” Felando told the U-T (see the video). “My wife bought it for me, but I didn’t like it, so it’s here.”

Public art: A place for unwanted Christmas gifts? Perhaps we’ll see more Windsor knots pop up around the county this post-holiday week.

Please contact Kelly Bennett directly at or 619.325.0531 and follow her on Twitter: @kellyrbennett.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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