Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Fearless Weekend of Comedy Started with a Buzz

By Guest Blogger, Michelle DiMarino

Playing to an intimate crowd, City Theater Company’s Fearless Improv kicked off their busy four-show weekend at the Buzz Ware Village Center on Friday night.

The group welcomed the audience with beat boxing and freestyling in a delightfully “Bad Rap,” immediately reassuring the crowd that they had made the correct decision in spending their Friday evening with Wilmington’s only improv team. 

After soliciting a series of adjectives and professions from the audience (the improv favorite “proctologist” included), the group began a round of “Party Quirks.” The party host hilariously struggled to guess her eclectic guest list: a dyslexic bongo player, kinky engineer and damp proctologist. In the skit “New Choice,” two members of Fearless Improv conversed and were interrupted by a third member who shouted new choice when the spoken word was not to his liking. Beginning as two women talking about their children playing in a treehouse, the conversation skipped from bananas to boogers to Red Robin’s endless fries. 

At this point in the show, the audience was ready and willing to follow the improv team down any winding road they wandered. A song which began as an ode to retirement and ended as a request for cream cheese at a bagel shop. In one skit, a couple describing scenes from their vacation to snow covered Buffalo, NY transitioned from a football huddle to a stampede at Walmart. Starting as a scene from an Olympic volleyball game, a round of “Freeze Tag” jumped to the conjuring of magic spells. However, the skit “La Ronde” perfectly encapsulated the raucous randomness of the evening.

In “La Ronde,” characters move in and out the scene, but never change as in other improv skits such as “Freeze Tag.” This allows the characters to develop and the team to illustrate their ability to play off each other, which Fearless Improv achieved with much success. Two members began as birds, contemplating the lack of freedom yet comfort found within the bars of their cage. Others floated in and out of the scene as the birds’ owner and son, a disgruntled neighbor, and animal right’s activist/Grammy-winning musician Sarah McLachlan. The audience learned of one bird’s compulsion to eat when anxious and the limits of the songstress’ love of animals. Truly, the skit was the climax of the show.

By the final skit, a recap of the evening sung over the chords of a blues tune, it was apparent that the show was filled with unanticipated swerves in topic. However, that is the essence of great improv, which Fearless Improv skillfully accomplished.

For information about Fearless Improv’s upcoming performances, visit http://city-theater.org/fearlessimprov.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Delaware Art Museum's 19th-Century American Art Galleries Reopen to the Public November 28

Release and photos courtesy of The Delaware Art Museum

The Delaware Art Museum is pleased to unveil its renovated and re-installed 18th- and 19th-Century American Art galleries — Galleries 1, 2, and 3 — to the public on Friday, November 28 from 10:00am-4:00pm.  Just in time for the holiday season, the beautifully redesigned space will display over 50 works of art, including many permanent collection objects that have not been on view for over 10 years. As part of this re-installation, the galleries will highlight 150 years of portraiture, sculpture, landscape painting, still life, and history painting.

"I am excited to be able to present our local Wilmington history within the context of the dynamic national art scene," explains Heather Campbell Coyle, Curator of American Art at the Delaware Art Museum. "The product of more than two years of research and planning, the redesigned space gives us the opportunity to showcase the Museum's outstanding collection of American art to the local community, visitors, and school groups in new and exciting ways."

The first gallery presents portraits that span 1757 through 1856, featuring familiar favorites by Benjamin West (1738-1820), Thomas Sully (1783-1872), and Raphaelle Peale (1774-1825). Two images of Delawarean women, five-year-old Anna Walraven (1846-1927) and Sally Ann Ross Paynter (1812-1866), will also be on view. These portraits, all produced within a 50-mile radius of the Delaware Art Museum, reflect the aspirations and accomplishments of local families.

The second gallery introduces landscape painting, which became very popular during the mid-1800s. The loan of Michele Felice Cornè's romantic overmantel painting (circa 1800), which hung at Mount Cuba Center in recent decades, provides a prelude to the meticulous landscape paintings of the Hudson River School. These evocative landscapes are joined by history paintings, sculptures, and a luscious still life by Severin Roesen (1815-1872).

In the third gallery, the story of landscape painting continues with works by George Inness (1825-1894) and John Twachtman (1853-1902), which now hang near an early painting by Robert Henri (1865-1929) and a pair of etchings by Thomas Moran (1837-1926) and local printmaker Robert Shaw (1859-1912). One wall has been hung salon-style, creating an interesting juxtaposition of 16 works of art from the Museum's 12,500-object permanent collection and select loans.

In November 2013, the Museum underwent a major renovation and reinstallation of its gallery dedicated to contemporary American art, which nearly doubled the amount of objects on view from the permanent collection. The reinterpretation of the permanent collection galleries allows the Museum to find new ways to present its history and material culture to visitors of all ages.

See www.delart.org.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Nathan the Wise" Delaware Premiere at Drama League

The Delaware Premiere of a controversial and inspiring drama will open for a short run this weekend at the Wilmington Drama League.

Nathan the Wise tells the story of Jews, Muslims and Christians who discover how to live in peace. It is a parable of timely interest, considering continuing unrest in the Mideast, yet it was written during the Enlightment in 1779 and is set six centuries before that, in Jerusalem. The three main characters are Nathan, a Jewish merchant; Saladin, the Muslim sultan who ruled over much of the Mideast; and an unnamed Christian templar participating in what is now called the third crusade.

“This play was banned and burned in Nazi Germany – and was the first play performed in Berlin after the end of World War II,” said director Pat van Catledge of the work, which was written in German by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. The Drama League production uses a modern translation. The Nazis banned it because the title character is Jewish.

To help capture the power of the play, there will be a discussion after the Nov. 16 performance. A study guide will be available for a performance scheduled just for high school students.

“Theater, at its noblest, is great storytelling which takes us out of our current situation and enables us to better understand who we are – individually and in relationship with others. That’s exactly what Nathan the Wise does,” van Catledge said. “This is a story of love and hope in a precarious world; of restoration after deep loss and suffering; of friendships that overcome biases and prejudices; of humor and mistaken identities."

Nathan the Wise runs November 13-16, at the Wilmington Drama League. Performances are at 8:00pm November 13 through 15 with a 2:00pm matinee on November 16. Tickets are $17.