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Ever since a basement potluck brought together a bevy of local groups and characters to mount a new production of the “Odyssey,” I’ve been intrigued. In the waning hours before the play took the stage last weekend, director Lear deBessonet took her eyes away from the green-wigged, turquoise-gowned ladies for a few minutes to reflect.
The rehearsals involved so many people who aren’t used to performing in a professional theater, yielding important reminders that theater should spark “moments of collective awe.”
Many of which there were on Friday, when the play opened to a full house. When I woke up Saturday morning still thinking about the play the night before, I knew I had to write about it. Here’s a snippet:
I think the thing that really captured my imagination was this intersecting of groups and neighborhoods and races and specialties. The way an institution like the Globe — an important, prestigious, national institution — sought in this effort to define itself in the neighborhood of San Diego. The way dozens of people who likely never see plays there, perhaps didn’t even understand what the Globe even is, could not only come but be in the production….
And the way the story, presented with hip-hop interludes and eerie kids’ singing and a unicycle and green-wigged ladies, suggests to us that there’s more to living in a place than taking care of just ourselves.
In an interview with the North County Times, deBessonet talked about the venture as widening the pool for “who is invited to the party.”
You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly compilation of the region’s arts and culture news.
Made in San Diego:
• Predating the flash mob craze by several years, the Trolley Dances just commemorated its 13th year of featuring new dance pieces set specifically in locations along the trolley route. Local theater critic Pat Launer rounded up her favorites. (Santee Patch)
• How will a tiny but mighty local theater “shoehorn” a musical — “with 13 actors playing some 54 characters — into a 49-seat theater about the size of some people’s kitchens?” Theater critic James Hebert looks at Ion Theatre’s upcoming musical, a first for the company. (U-T)
• Modeling themselves after the renowned Venezuelan music program El Sistema, which birthed the L.A. Philharmonic’s Gustavo Dudamel, the San Diego Youth Symphony’s Community Opus project and its Tijuana counterpart hope to change the way their neighborhoods and communities look, through music.
Says one dad in a U-T feature story on the two programs: “Most of these kids, you would never see them even talk to each other in school — now they are together all the time. They sit together, they share lunch together. And us as parents, we’re getting together for barbecues, outings, birthdays. This program is really changing our lives.”
I’m very interested to learn more about this part of the effort: The Youth Symphony has teamed up with some researchers and neuroscientists to track progress “that could provide more definitive, empirical data regarding the program’s influence.” (U-T)
• As Diversionary Theatre’s “Edward II” closed last weekend, its director contemplated the depth of the local theater scene for Behind the Scene TV.
• What about how independent artists survive? Some turn to crowd-funding, using sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, to make a pitch to their friends, fans and families to help them make a particular project. CityBeat rounded up some local projects in film, music and mustard (yep) that are seeking this kind of support.
You can also search “San Diego” on Kickstarter to see other local projects that hope you’ll pitch in.
• UCSD’s 18th project in its Stuart Collection of public sculpture will implant a miniature house at an angle, seven stories up.
• Vista native and Broadway veteran Eric Kunze was “perfectly cast” as the star of the San Diego Musical Theatre production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” (Pomerado News)
• He taught George Harrison to play the sitar in the ’60s, and now Indian musician Ravi Shankar, who’s lived in Encinitas since 1992, is “91-going-on-19” and playing his first hometown concert in a few years, coming up this weekend in Escondido. (U-T)
• A look at some of the most exciting jazz concerts coming up in San Diego this fall. (U-T)
• After running a gallery in Beijing for 12 years, a gallerist wants to bring the explosion in Chinese art to Del Mar. (Del Mar Times)
• He didn’t want to just take her word for it: Actor LeVar Burton got a crash course in glass-blowing when he came through Balboa Park last week to shoot an upcoming segment for his iPad app version of his hit show, Reading Rainbow. (CityBeat)
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