Was the first Carpinteria Sea Glass Festival a success? You could ask the two lines of eager people that stretched down Linden Avenue and then around each corner of the block, just waiting to get into the marketplace.
Or you could ask the 800 people who rolled through the building in just one hour, looking at all sort of handmade jewelry.
Somebody back in the mists of time – maybe it was a teacher – said, “There is no such thing as a stupid question.” It’s in this spirit of feedback and inquisitiveness that Weslie Ching has started up the Crit series at Center Stage Theater. This free event is a chance for performance arts fans and the curious to see five new works in their zygotic form, and after each work they will be invited to give their opinions. The first installment is called “Crit 001.” (She hopes there’ll be a series that at least goes to double digits.)
“After a show everybody congratulates you and that’s great,” Ms. Ching says. “But I really wanted to create a place where somebody could give feedback that would’t necessarily be positive.”
When Brent Anderson was at UCSB he sang in the ensemble known as Schubertians, singing classical lieder. And while his career path took him into insurance and finance, he still yearned for the power of song, something at the same time more challenging than 18th century classical vocal works and less rarified.
His answer would be barbershop quartet.
“To be a solo singer is one thing, but to blend and harmonize with three other people is another, very complex, thing,” he says. “When I first discovered barbershop I thought it was fun. But then I discovered it was as challenging as anything I’d ever sung.” He quotes rock musician Ben Folds, who called barbershop the “black belt of vocal jazz.”
Not everybody in theater gets a second chance, either with a role or a production. But for the three actors and one director behind “Pvt. Wars,” which comes to Center Stage Theater tonight, they get an opportunity to return to a show from years ago.
These three actors, Sean O’Shea, George Coe, and Sean Jackson, along with Bill Egan, their director, mounted James McLure’s play two years ago at Plaza Playhouse in Carpinteria. Mr. McLure’s play, which started as a one-act in 1979 then got rewritten as a two-act years later, features three Vietnam vets in a VA hospital, all dealing with PTSD. But it’s also funny, a character study of the ways humans cope with trauma, try to make connections, and concoct strategies to get through the day. It’s an anti-war play that doesn’t mention the war, but just honestly looks at the people left in its aftermath.
“Indoor/Outdoor” is a play wherein humans play cats and intermingle with other humans who play their owners, but before you conjure up visions of a certain Andrew Lloyd Webber musical with make-up and furry costumes, it’s not like that.
Instead, there’s little in appearance to tell the difference between the two, as the cats walk upright and dress like humans, but in Kenny Finkle’s comedy its the obsessions, distractions and attitudes that quickly set them apart.
This Saturday, Center Stage Theater celebrates its 25th anniversary with an evening of hors d’oervres, cocktails and special performances from Alma de Mexico, Santa Barbara Silver Follies, Proboscis Theater Company, and more, with the intent to raise $25,000 for capital improvements to improve the theater for another quarter century.
The evening celebrates Santa Barbara’s premiere black box theater, which was wrangled into existence by the Santa Barbara City Council and County Arts Commission in 1990 as part of a deal with the original builders of the Paseo Nuevo mall. Yes, they could have those two prime blocks of Santa Barbara retail real estate, but they had to give back to the arts with an art museum (now the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara) and a theater. Through the mall’s many owners – and despite each owner’s attempts to skirt funding according to one of Center Stage’s founders Tom Hinshaw – the Center Stage Theater has remained, providing a needed space for local arts.
Is there a split between becoming famous through YouTube and becoming famous the traditional way (gigs, festivals, talk shows)? The rise and success of violinist, dancer, and electronic music maven Lindsey Stirling may be confusing to some, but the proof is not in the pudding but in the Santa Barbara Bowl this week where she is headlining.
Here’s the potted version of Ms. Stirling’s rise to fame. A violinist with no outlet for her art turns to YouTube and starts her own channel in 2007. Raised Mormon, she attends Brigham Young University in Utah to pursue film, does the missionary thing in New York City, continues to play violin in small bands and refuses to just stand there playing. Instead she dances and plays at the same time.
Noches de Ronda, one of Old Spanish Day’s oldest traditions, opened for a three-night run at the Courthouse Sunken Garden on Thursday.
A two-hour program of flamenco and folklorico dance and music is a treat for both the ear and eye and represents the differing Latin influences on Santa Barbara history, from the Spanish explorers to the Mexican and Californio residents.
No matter the origin, the evening is filled with stunning outfits and poetic dancing. The Sunken Garden fills with families and friends, sitting in beach chairs and covered in blankets against the damp night air.
There’s a chance to see the fruits of an intensive summer workshop of dance this weekend, and no, it has nothing to do with Fiesta. Instead, Gustafson Dance’s Two-Week Junior Intensive program brings an evening of Broadway hits to the Lobero. And while many a parent and family member will be there, the event is open to the public.
Gustafson Dance is the official school of State Street Ballet. Allison Gustafson is director of the dance school and Rodney Gustafson is artistic director of State Street Ballet.
The Santa Barbara Bowl has rarely seen a full orchestra on its stage, although Monday night’s visit by the New York Philharmonic proved it can not only fit everybody, but the sound – at least for those not up in the gods- was excellent. Why don’t we do this more often?
That just might be the plan with this event that was arranged through Music Academy of the West, which is the first in the NY Phil’s Global Academy initiative. Maestro Alan Gilbert, since taking over the baton at the New York Philharmonic in 2009, has set about reshaping the orchestra for the 21st century. During his tenure, which will be up in 2017 as per his contract, he’s dusted off what was regarded as a stuffy institution and introduced an element of play. He’s reintroduced audiences to composers like Charles Ives, who still may be too radical for the subscriber base.