It’s hard to picture all of the work behind the scenes to create a world premiere musical, especially when you’re just trying to lose yourself in the story unfolding on stage. The La Jolla Playhouse hired an artist from New York City to spend two weeks in technical rehearsals for the new show, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” to shed new perspective on the energy between cast, crew and directors.

We’ve got a peek at some of the drawings the artist, Michael Arthur, created while he was here.

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

Happening Here

• The San Diego Zoo’s baby panda is 100 days old and has a new name: Xiao Liwu. That translates to “Little Gift” in English. Stay classy, little gift. (NBC 7 San Diego)

• The San Diego Opera went in a very cool direction for posters for its upcoming season. The company hired poster designer and artist R. Black to create original posters for each of the five productions the company is mounting, along with an overall 2013 season image. You can see all six here.

Black made some artwork for the Occupy movement last year, and in some interviews afterward he remarked he wanted to design an opera poster. San Diego Opera’s Edward Wilensky jumped, the U-T reports. Wilensky commissioned the artist for the six posters:

“My promise was — and whether I achieved it or not, I’m not sure — was opera awesomeness,” Black told the U-T. “However I could convey the awesomeness of opera, that’s what I was going to focus on.”

— More ‘Yoshimi’: Co-creator and director Des McAnuff tried to sum it up for KPBS. “It’s really about a young woman heroically battling her own body and yet part of it takes place on a Martian landscape,” he said.

The Playhouse pulled some top local scientists together with McAnuff and artistic director Christopher Ashley for a chat last weekend about the overlaps between art and science. I talked about that discussion and the art opening for new work by scientist-painter Kelsey Brookes on KPBS. (We interviewed Brookes about his new work a few weeks ago.)

• The U-T posted new video of rehearsals for “Yoshimi,” which has its formal opening night this weekend. Theater critic James Hebert has your rundown of what else is on local stages.

• Local jazz pianist Joshua White announced he’ll be playing in an intriguing program at CSU San Marcos on Wednesday, connecting music with religious traditions from around the world.

• And the Bach Collegium, an ensemble specializing in historically informed performances of centuries-old music, started holding free concerts once a month. The next one is Wednesday at noon. (U-T)

Time, Space and Locals

• A new documentary by a local TV journalist features the work of U.S. nun Mother Antonia Brenner in a Tijuana prison. (U-T)

Fences have come down from around the hedge artwork by renowned artist Robert Irwin that we’ve been following at the new federal courthouse downtown. A Facebook commenter added a note: “Just keep in mind that all the plant life needs time to grow and flourish before it looks its best.”

• Surf photography is popular but it’s rare for a photographer to be published regularly. A 27-year-old local photographer is in that top echelon; Todd Glaser is a staff photographer at Surfer magazine. Here are some of his images. (San Diego Magazine)

• To this theater observer, casting seems hard. Consider this very particular actress that local theater company Mo’olelo is looking for:

Latina actress age range 20s-40s to play seven different characters both male and female ranging from age 6 to 53. Characters include 2 Amish children victims of the shooting, the male gunman and his wife, Hispanic local grocery clerk, male scholar on Amish culture, and a female resident of Nickel Mines. Strong character and dialect skills needed. Pennsylvania Dutch German, Spanish, and American dialects.

• The ‘80s-music-infused musical “miXtape” is finally closing, after more than two years on stage downtown at Lamb’s Player’s Theatre. “It currently holds the distinction of being the longest continuous local run of any theater piece that originated in San Diego,” writes the U-T’s Hebert.

• The Museum of Man is considering what it would take to open the California Tower for visitors to climb its staircase. (U-T)

• The U-T’s James Chute dove into my friend Wes Bruce’s exhibit at Lux Art Institute in Encinitas. The project involves hundreds of slips of paper, book pages and photographs, all contained in a structure Bruce built that leaves them somewhat vulnerable to rain and wind this winter. The papers, Bruce said, are precious, and “the most important things” he knows:

“When I do an illustration on one, I’m usually really, really picky about which page I pull out. It feels like I’m pulling a page out of the Bible or the Koran and drawing on it. So to set out these poems and then know there’s going to be rain coming through is nerve-racking. It’s something I don’t want to do. But at the same time I desperately want to do it.”

• Local artist Matthew Hebert mixes “furniture making, conceptual art, geeky robotics, 3D printing and other contemporary technologies.” He’s been especially fascinated lately by the 3D printer that San Diego State University, where he teaches, just bought. (KCET)

• Moonlighter alert: KUSI’s investigator-in-chief Michael Turko isn’t just about exposing corruption. He’s a luthier, building stringed instruments like guitars and violins, according to CityBeat. I wonder if he plays, too — maybe he and I could have a journalist-fiddler duel.

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

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

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