In “Time Flies,” four time travelers wander from their births back to the beginning of the universe and forward to the end of time. Along the way, they stage a hip hop tribute to a famous clock maker and engage in a bout of bare-knuckle boxing.In other words, it’s a typical absurdist Le Petomane show. Co-producing artistic director Kyle Ware says this play is a study in anachronism, with philosophical undercurrents.“What does our time here mean? What are we doing with the time we have on this planet? But there’s also absurd dances and ridiculous songs so it’s hopefully poignant yet ridiculously over the top at the same time,” says Ware.Le Petomane plays are written and directed by the members of the ensemble. Like most Le Petomane shows, features original song and dance numbers and a nonlinear narrative.“It’s pretty absurd in its construction," says Ware. "It does not go from start to finish in any way.”The play is the ensemble’s season opener, but don’t expect details on all of their upcoming shows just yet. They will reprise last year’s hit “Five Things” for the Slant Culture Fest in November, but their spring shows remain unwritten, as they will until about six weeks from opening night. “Time Flies” opens Thursday and runs through September 15 The Bard’s Town.
Today on Byline, WFPL's arts and humanities reporter Erin Keane spent some time with new artistic director of Actors Theatre of Louisville, Les Waters.Keane talks with Waters about his background and experience, what he hopes to achieve in Louisville, the first production of the new season, and his curatorial decisions behind the productions for the 2012-13 season.
The Kentucky Arts Council announced today that they will continue to match funds raised by arts organizations through the online project crowdfunding platform Power2Give. The council will match funds, up to $10,000 per project, in fiscal year 2013.Last fiscal year, the Council gave $50,000 in matching funds to 17 projects. This year, $100,000 will be made available to double the funds raised through the online service. To qualify for Kentucky Arts Council matching funds, projects must be sponsored by organizations participating in the Kentucky Arts Partners program. A list of participating organizations is available in PDF.Power2Give is hosted in Kentucky by the Fund for the Arts. Like popular crowdfunding platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Power2Give is designed to help nonprofit organizations raise funds for specific projects.
Actors Theatre of Louisville will kick off its new season next week with a contemporary production of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet," directed by Louisville native and former Actors Theatre apprentice Tony Speciale.Speciale was a member of the 1998-99 acting apprentice company. He returned to Actors Theater in the 2000 Humana Festival of New American Plays for a role in Charles Mee’s “Big Love.” The director was Les Waters. Fast forward twelve years and Waters has invited Speciale back to direct the first play in his first season as artistic director.Speciale is the associate artistic director of New York’s Classic Stage Company, where he directs Shakespeare and other classics. His strategy for keeping historic work fresh is to approach every production like a brand new script. “Don’t take anything for granted, try to read it with a fresh perspective, and all of the preconceived notions we might think we have of a play, what if we tried to strip that away and surprise ourselves with what the meaning is?” says Speciale.His production of “Romeo and Juliet” is set in an affluent suburb. The Montagues are old money, while the Capulets are a little flashier—think “The Real Housewives of Fair Verona.” Actors Theatre enlisted Christian Frederickson, formerly of Rachel’s, to compose an atmospheric techno score.These contemporary details don’t alter the nature of Shakespeare’s play, which is as much about the families of Verona as it is about Romeo and Juliet.“It’s the most famous love story ever told, but it’s also a play about bad parenting and it’s about materialism and the things you pass on to your children,” he says.Speciale says the backyard set—complete with swimming pool—becomes nightmarish by the second act, when the threat of violence becomes very real.“It’s a very violent culture, and part of the story of Romeo and Juliet is how that violence permeates every aspect of these characters’ lives,” says Speciale. “Romeo and Juliet are these two young lovers who are 17, 18, who find this spark amidst this very violent culture. They try to survive but the violence takes over everything.”“Romeo and Juliet” goes into previews Tuesday. The play opens September 6 and runs through September 26.
Wendell Berry, Helen Keller, Malcolm X and Eleanor Roosevelt are just a few of the prominent figures whose portraits have been painted by artist Robert Shetterly for his Americans Who Tell the Truth series, a portrait exhibit celebrating courageous citizens who have spoken out for democracy and human rights.Forty paintings from Shetterly's collection will go on display at the Muhammad Ali Center Saturday, including a new portrait of civil rights activist Anne Braden that will be unveiled at Metro Hall this afternoon. Each portrait includes a significant quote from the subject.Jeanie Kahnke, the Ali Center’s vice president for communications, says the exhibit celebrates a profound sense of citizenship and a commitment to seeking and speaking the truth.“I think it’s a great reminder for adults that there are many people from our history who have stood for the truth and in turn have paved the way for all Americans to really carve out a better world,” says Kahnke.“This is about a profound sense of citizenship, and looking at the words others before us have said and did, and how they conducted themselves all for the purpose of truth,” she adds. Muhammad Ali’s portrait, with a quote about his refusal to be drafted into the Vietnam War, will also be included in the exhibit, which runs through November 11.
A new book about Kentucky’s minor league baseball teams is out. Written by journalist Katya Cengel, “Bluegrass Baseball” (University of Nebraska Press) is an intimate look inside the 2010 baseball season, starring Kentucky’s minor league teams: the Lexington Legends, the Bowling Green Hot Rods, the Florence Freedom and the Louisville Bats. The book documents the highs and lows of the players, groundskeepers, managers and fans of the game’s smaller outfits. It’s not all kooky promotions and dancing mascots. Life in the minor leagues isn’t easy for the players—the punishing schedules can exact significant physical and emotional tolls. But Cengel also discovered how hard it can be to be a fan.“You can’t really root for your team, especially for the Louisville Bats," she says. "Towards September, when the major league teams can add to their roster, they’re going to take a lot of those guys who are doing really well, and so the playoffs are there but they’re left with not the same team.”Cengel started the project when writing a Bats story for The Courier-Journal, where she worked as a staff features writer for eight years. She found herself intrigued by the transient lives of the players and the intense pressures of the minor leagues, where players are either on their way up or on their way down.“There’s always that hope that you’re just one phone call away from the majors, but you’re also one phone call away from being released and that’s it, that's your dream, so it's exciting but it's also heartbreaking,” said Cengel."They’re all so young, too," she adds. "Every night, you have to perform. So you can have a good game Monday night, and come back Tuesday and you’re tired and not doing so well and they’re like well, maybe we’re taking you out of the starting rotation."Cengel will read from and sign copies of "Bluegrass Baseball" at the following events in Louisville and Lexington this week: Wednesday, Aug. 29 Carmichael's Bookstore2720 Frankfort Ave. Louisville, KY7 p.m.Thursday, Aug. 30Morris Book Shop882 E. High St.Lexington, KY5:30 p.m.Friday, Aug. 31Lexington Legends gameWhitaker Bank Ballpark7-10 p.m.Saturday, Sept. 1Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory800 W. Main St.Louisville, KY10 a.m.-2 p.m.Sunday, Sept. 2Louisville Bats gameSlugger Field6-9 p.m.
The Kentucky Opera announced today that the organization ended the year with a budget surplus. This is the third season under general director David Roth that the Opera has come out ahead.The season was marked by controversy over how the Opera filled its orchestra pit during the prolonged labor dispute between Louisville Orchestra musicians and management. That controversy, which included labor protests during the spring production of "The Merry Widow," apparently had little impact on the Opera's bottom line. From the Opera's release:While KO presented the Brown-Forman 2011/12 Season without canceling one performance, General Director David Roth says, “The challenges KO had to overcome last season were unprecedented in our industry. We wish to thank all of our patrons for supporting us while we worked to overcome those challenges. We also wish to thank the musicians, management and board of the LO for coming together in April this year and reaching an agreement that guarantees live music for the 60th anniversary season of KO”.The Opera contracted separately with LO musicians for their 2011-12 season opener "Carmen," which reportedly cost the Opera about $33,500 more than they had budgeted under the previous Orchestra contract. The Opera then scaled back to piano and harpsichord for "The Marriage of Figaro" and opened the pit to 35 non-union musicians for February's "The Merry Widow," a series of decisions that led to Orchestra players nominating the Opera for the American Federation of Musicians' "international unfair list." They were released from the list shortly after the Orchestra players and management reached an agreement in April, ending the year-long standoff. The Kentucky Opera opens its 2012-13 season September 21 with Puccini's "Tosca." The Louisville Orchestra, working under a one-year bridge contract, will play for the Opera's entire season, which runs through February.
Dysfunction in the English royal family plays out against a backdrop of treason and civil war in “The Lion in Winter." Actor's Choice theater company opens James Goldman’s award-winning historical drama this week. The year is 1183, and King Henry II has called a Christmas court. He’s allowed his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, out of prison for the occasion. He needs to name an heir to secure an alliance with France. Will it be Richard (later known as the Lionheart), treacherous Geoffrey or Henry's favorite, John? Goldman adapted his play into anAcademy Award-winning 1968 film starring Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole. “The Lion in Winter” opens Thursday and runs through September 9 at the Henry Clay Theatre, inside the Henry Clay Building. Kathi E.B. Ellis has wanted to direct “The Lion in Winter” for years because it brings together her twin passions, theater and history. The characters are based on royalty, but the story imagines the how and why behind the dates and names. "Goldman's script is a brilliant combination of some pretty good historical fact, some plausible wonderings about what could have happened and what might have happened when you put these powerful and volatile personalities together," says Ellis. "Once you go sufficiently far back (in history), it's kind of shrouded in mystery." Ellis says the play is appealing to fans of both history and family drama alike.“Yes, they happened to be kings and queens and princes and princesses that actually lived, but if you strip away that and look at the family, the somewhat dysfunctionally extended family dynamics, these are human emotions we al know and recognize,” she says.And unlike classical historical dramas, “The Lion in Winter” is written in fairly accessible language. “The language is really clever, and it has a richness to it, but it’s definitely 20th century American prose," says Ellis. "It isn’t classically heightened.”
The city of Jeffersonville, Ind., has formed a study committee on public art. The committee will lay the groundwork for a new public art initiative. City council member-at-large Nathan Samuel hopes a public art initiative will help rally Jeffersonville citizens and leaders around a positive cause.“I think Jeffersonville suffers from a self-esteem problem," says Samuel. "We don’t give ourselves enough credit for what we have here.”Nine community members have joined Samuel on the study committee. They’re taking inventory of existing art sites throughout the city and identifying potential opportunities for new projects. In December, they will deliver the information to the city council, with the hope that a new action committee will take the next steps in promoting existing sites and commissioning new artwork.“This is a group of folks who have agreed to do a lot of the grunt work and trench work of trying to document and inventory what we have and what else we could have and where it might go, then pass the ball off to the next group,” he says.Samuel says the next steps, raising funds and commissioning art, will be taken by a new committee formed after the first of next year.“The intent is not to have this funded by the city with tax dollars but to use the city’s influence to help draw in private dollars, grant dollars, maybe some city dollars help initiate something, but to truly make this more from a community perspective,” says Samuel.The committee’s next open meeting is August 30 at 6 p.m. in Jeffersonville City Hall. The city is asking for public input through an online art survey.
Life-long civil rights activist Anne Braden’s life and work are the subject of a new documentary from Appalshop. “Anne Braden: Southern Patriot” will premiere at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage Sunday at 3 p.m.Braden, who died in 2006, lived most of her adult life in Louisville, where she and her husband Carl Braden were active in the civil rights and social justice movements. Braden is best known for her involvement in the Wade Case, a 1954 housing integration plan that led to the Bradens being charged with sedition. Carl Braden spent eight months in prison before the Supreme Court invalidated state sedition laws and the remainder of the charges were dropped. Her 1958 memoir of the Wade Case, "The Wall Between," was a finalist for the National Book Award.Anne Lewis and Mimi Pickering began filming the documentary in 2004, using Braden's work as a lens to examine the ideas that fueled her passion for social justice. They continued after the Louisville activist’s death in 2006, using archival footage and interviews with her colleagues in the civil rights and anti-racism movements.Braden’s early anti-racism work was charged with controversy. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. praised her as “eloquent and prophetic” in his 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Later, Braden would be honored by organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, who bestowed the Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty on Braden in 1989. Pickering says Braden received such honors reluctantly.“She said she was beginning to worry that she wasn’t effective anymore because people were starting to applaud her rather than shun her,” says Pickering.Braden continued to dedicate her life to civil rights, even after overt segregation practices were outlawed, advocating for victims of violence, school busing and fair housing. Braden lectured at the University of Louisville, where the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research opened in 2007.“She said she really felt like the work the civil rights movement did broke what was basically a police state in the South, but she felt strongly that racism was still very prevalent in our society and was systematic,” says Pickering. "Even though people can eat where they want and those kinds of things, there are still many issues underlying our society and the way it functions." Pickering will answer questions about the film and Braden’s work and life after the screening. Guests who knew and worked with Braden will also be invited to speak. The event is free and open to the public.
Two-hundred twenty-five students from 43 counties across Kentucky make up the Governor’s School for the Arts class of 2012. Students spend three weeks on Transylvania University's campus immersed in the study of one of nine disciplines, from architecture to musical theater. They start with performances at morning assembly and go until curfew, creating ensemble pieces, solo work and interdisciplinary projects. Carrie Nath taught drama at GSA for three years before taking the reins as executive director last year. She’s taught in nearly every state in the country, and she says GSA is among the strongest arts programs she’s worked for. This summer marks 25 years for the program.Nath speaks here with WFPL's Erin Keane on Byline.