Sunday, March 14, 2010

Going Local, Going Original!

Kicking off a marathon month of original works, Bootless Artworks presented Simply Short: An Evening of One Acts. City Theater Company follows up with By George! a collection of short plays by the company’s resident playwright and actor, George Tietze. Rounding off this exciting month, the Delaware Theatre Association will present the daylong DTA Fest at Middletown’s Everett Theater on March 27.

Bootless Artworks’ presentation of Amanda Healy’s Coffee and Rain, directed by Malika Oyetimein, is a drama that unfolds on a New York City street and explores a difficult mother-daughter relationship. The Homeless Man, played by Brooks Banker, controls the setting as he snaps his fingers, adding wise, magical commentary and giving depth to the work.

Joseph Pukastch’s hilarious Nectar provides a window into a support group for those with bizarre sexual fetishes. Andrew Mitchell as Joshua is wildly funny as he exposes his “vegesexual” desire for fruit plates and salads. Puktasch, who also directs the production, has a gift for rich, playful language. He leaves us wondering about the “teasing with a tilapia” and the havoc “otherness” and obsession can wreak in a person’s life.

Prelude to a Kiss is a sweet drama of love gone wrong between a man and his new bride. Artfully pared down to a one-act format by director Rosanne DellAversano, the play is moving as it touches on themes of lost love and innocence. Lindsey Burkland (Rita) was lovely as both the young bride and her “body-snatched” double. Along with Nectar, this Prelude will be presented at the DTA Fest.

In BY GEORGE, Tietze’s short plays are billed as comedies, though some of the material is distinctly dark. He doesn’t shy away from difficult or squirm-worthy subjects. The opening piece, G Dub, directed by Kevin Regan, is a farcical scene of George Washington and his lackeys paddling across the Delaware. As George, Brian Couch is vain and absurd. Like Pukastch, Tiezte gets mileage out of “therapy” theme: In his two-person play A to Z, directed by James Kassees, Kate Brennan is the unloved, misunderstood wife (She) who tries techniques she has learned in couples therapy on her beleaguered husband (He), played by Anthony Bosco. The actors handle Tiezte’s rapid-fire repartee and shifts in power with finesse, and the scene comes to an interesting climax and somewhat unexpected resolution.

Outstanding was Voodoo Barbie, a dark and almost unwieldy comedy, directed by Todd Holtsberry. Melissa Dammeyer’s portrayal of a drunken, abandoned wife (Rachel) is both comical and heart-wrenching. Lucy Charles is wonderful as Margie, the forgotten daughter who acts out scenarios using her forbidden Barbies and serves a commentator on her parents’ pathetic lives. Kevin Regan appears only at the end of the play as the personified voice of Bob, the wretched husband and father who is the drama’s center. His remorse is so complete, his voice so sincere, that we almost wish Rachel would pick up the phone and let him back into their lives.

See DTA Fest:

See Bootless Artworks:

See City Theater Company:

Monday, March 8, 2010

DCAD Makes History with Wilmington's Skyline

On a beautiful bright Saturday morning, 262 people-young and old-gathered on the seventh floor of the Renaissance Centre on King Street to help break the Guinness World Record for “The Most People Contributing to the Same Painting Simultaneously.” Sponsored by the Delaware College of Art and Design, the group effort was coordinated to surpass a record set in 2008 by 152 people in Germany. Jessica Sturgis, the college’s Director of Communications invited me to the event, which was coordinated by Valerie Jermusyk, the school’s Director of Development.

Long strips of paper had been rolled out on the floor and tables in this L-shaped room that boasted a glorious view of entire downtown area. The riverfront, the newly revived LOMA district, the Delaware Memorial Bridge and the Courthouse were visible from this swanky loft-like space. Each person was asked to sign in, take a paintbrush, and wait for directions.

As part of the College’s first ever alumni and family weekend, the event was so well-attended they ran out of standard paintbrushes, and some people had to use the tiny doll-sized ones that came with the miniature watercolor sets given as party favors. Treviss Givens (’09 Animation) was there with his daughter, who was having a wonderful time, along with the other children. A freelance web designer, he was happy to be part of the effort.

As the start time approached, some people became very territorial about their plot of paper. When I tried to squeeze in, a couple told me, “Oh no, you can’t paint here. We’re putting the Chase Center right here on the corner.” Once the start time was announced, everyone was required to paint for three minutes without stopping. When the painting was finished, the experimental band, CoCoSyn performed and everyone enjoyed lunch. Wilmington looks forward to making history!


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Art Loop Scoop: 3.5.10

It was a beautiful Friday night for the March Art Loop in Wilmo—people all over the streets, and it was a fantastic sight! The hubby and I started our night with a quick stop at Kathleen Buckalew's exhibit at Gallery 919. After soaking in her sharp, luminous infrared and inkjet images of the historic site of the Dupont's Powder Mill Hagley, we headed to Wilmington Library for a performance by vocalist/guitarist Jessica Graae and pianist Margaret Darby.

This dynamic duo collaborated on a diverse program including Rodgers & Hammerstein selections from Carousel, works from Brahms as well as Danish composer Carl Nielsen, and finishing with Spanish Renaissance songs. Jessica’s strong yet soothing vocals blended naturally with Margaret’s skilled playing. Their lilting sound carried throughout the expanse of the building, drawing in a solid crowd of patrons as soon as they entered the doors. Four Brahms’ pieces, in German (and how hard is that to sing?), seemed effortless between the two. In Von ewiger Liebe, voice and piano together would grow then subside, ebb and flow like waves. Both women were so expressive in their performances; they drew me into the emotion of each piece and their enjoyment in playing them. I hope we’ll enjoy them on more Loops to come!

Other highlights of Loop night: The artwork of Carl Lightburn, Sr., at the Grand, with my favorite piece, Madrinas Journey. The abstract of mixed greens, browns, and yellows had a shadowy figure at its center, seeming to stand strong against the swirling winds of color.

Onto Christina Cultural Arts Center and the intricately detailed and impactful mixed media/wood images by Tanya Murphy Dodd; welcoming us through the doors was the rhythmic sound of a drumming class going on upstairs.

Next stop: the New Wilmington Art Association Group Exhibition. NWAA shows are always hopping and this one was no exception, drawing a widely varied crowd. Pieces that particularly struck me: Felise Luchansky’s Redemption, a mixed-media piece composed of S&H green stamps, bingo markers & other 50s kitsch; Esteban M. Pilonieta Vera’s A Hunger Artist (Dedication to Kafka), a found art piece including porcelain, mud, hay and—believe it— horse manure! A bonus with this visit: A tour of the soon-to-be-open Shipley Lofts, which provide affordable downtown housing for artists. We saw two semi-complete units, and the huge windows, open layout and exposed brick really gave the feel of a Manhattan loft. The place was packed with onlookers, all excited about the buzz this place is creating.

End of the night found us sharing a bottle of tempranillo and tapas at Orillas, and that, too, was filled to capacity. Wilmingtonians, this truly is an exciting time for the Arts and nightlife in our city!