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A young playwright named Katherine Harroff uses a journalism-like approach to finding stories for the stage. She aims to use San Diegans’ stories to create a deeper understanding of human experiences, like rejection and finding family. As we learn in our Q&A, she found both in her latest play, “Deconstruction of a Drag Queen,” which opened at the 10th Avenue Theatre last weekend. Harroff is one of the founders of a small theater company, Circle Circle dot dot. The company’s name harkens to a children’s rhyme about cooties, which fits the experience of up-and-comers in San Diego’s theater scene, she said:

… there’s a group of younger artists who are trying to find themselves and when you’re trying to find yourself you tend to feel like a reject. So it comes from that a little bit, the idea of starting and having cooties and being rejected.

Local dancer Anthony Diaz’s personal experience bolsters Harroff’s point about the common challenge to be accepted and approach family as an adult. Diaz’s drag persona Grace Towers provided some inspiration for the play. He switched his major from pre-med to dance halfway through his studies at UC San Diego, leaving his relationship with his parents “still in the works.” (Gay San Diego)

Katherine Harroff (center) took inspiration for her new play from the real-life experiences of San Diego drag queens. Photo by Rich Soublet, courtesy of Circle Circle dot dot.

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

Inside the Craft

• Most stage productions use what’s known as a “stage bible” to keep track of props, movement directions and scripts at every point of the production. A new app called Stage Write attempts to allow directors and choreographers to do the same thing on an iPad instead of a giant three-ring binder. The app is being used as the cast rehearses for the upcoming “The Scottsboro Boys” production at The Old Globe. (Wall Street Journal)

Sitar hero Ravi Shankar was awarded a $16,420 grant by the Grammy Foundation to help preserve and digitize some notable performances from “two of the most prolific points” in the Indian music legend’s career. Shankar just turned 92 and has lived in Encinitas for years. (U-T San Diego)

• Music blogger Lenny Gonzalez featured a five-part series about twin brothers Jared and Jonathan Mattson, who’ve been developing their guitar and drum jazz duo called the Mattson 2 for several years. One of the videos explores Jonathan’s experience studying music at UC San Diego, where he learned from renowned percussionist Steven Schick to perceive a more conceptual role for drums.

• Working on a $700 costume budget, designer Alina Bokovikova created about 60 costume pieces for Moxie Theatre’s current play, “A Man, A Wife, and His Hat.” When a play’s title references a costume piece, is there pressure to make that piece extra-special? Bokovikova talked to the playwright and decided to choose a simple fedora, leaving room for audience guesses about why the hat is singular. “Anybody can do crazy,” Bokovikova told the U-T San Diego in its look at her work as a costume designer. “And then you can do crazier. It’s really harder to make it simple than (to make it) more complicated.”

• Critic Charlene Baldridge loved that play at Moxie, calling its cast “marvelous” and its direction “wise.” (North County Times)

• The Old Globe will return to its two-person leadership style, pairing a managing director on the business/administration side with an artistic director in charge of choosing plays and leading the theater’s artistic development. The theater’s most recent chief, Lou Spisto, manned both sides under the title CEO/Executive Producer, but the theater’s longtime model before that was the split business and artistic roles. (U-T San Diego)

Happening Here:

• Floral designers will showcase their handiwork inspired by the San Diego Museum of Art’s masterpieces in the museum’s annual “Art Alive” event this weekend. Kathy Wright has been participating for years — she’ll be using tulips to interpret a Dutch painting this year. (Balboa Park Beat blog)

• Organizers of a month-long celebration of Edgar Allen Poe hope to make the literary giant’s work ubiquitous in San Diego. As Tony Perry reports, they captured at least one commuter’s attention with an open-air reading in Santee: “Ladonna Maki, an unemployed waitress, stepped off the San Diego trolley on Saturday afternoon and quite unexpectedly encountered the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe.” (Los Angeles Times)

• Meanwhile, our commentaries from people involved in that “The Big Read: Shades of Poe” festival continue. The city’s organist Carol Williams writes about finding parallels in the writings of Poe and some of her favorite composers, Chopin and Mendelssohn, among them.

• Chef Gage is a DJ, an event producer, an Indian food chef, and soon, a food-truck proprietor, serving only “healthy vegan and vegetarian food.” (CityBeat)

• You have a few more days to check out the Mingei Museum’s “Craft Revolution” exhibition, part of the Getty’s gigantic regional confab of Southern California art in the decades following World War II called “Pacific Standard Time.” Over a dozen other PST shows are still open at museums in the Los Angeles area, too. (L.A. Times)

• Some veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder are finding help through practicing an ancient meditation technique called “Mantram Repetition,” which some are learning at the VA Medical Center in La Jolla. A research nurse scientist at the VA said the system is “looking for integrative therapies where you can combine the complementary types of things with traditional medicine.” (KPBS)

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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.

Kelly Bennett

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

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