This week on WKNO's Local Color I recommended the New Moon theater company's 'Night Mother at TheatreWorks and Crazy for You at Theatre Memphis. And I somehow got roped into talking about the Steve Miller Band.
I like this project so much because it makes theater useful. It encourages artists to consider how we impact our landscapes and how those landscapes, in turn, impact us. It helps us understand the meaning of community on both the micro, and macro scale. And it also gets live theater outside of the institutions that define the state of the art for better and for worse.
Memphis has fantastic landmarks and a rich history crammed tic-tight with cultural contributions and terrible conflict. An every-other-year festival that aims to sift through past conflicts while also looking at what it means to live in Memphis today has a lot of potential to grow audiences, and could create bridges and foster partnerships between performing artists and groups like UrbanArt and Memphis Heritage.
Also, if Intermission Impossible had a fat travel budget I would have attended this conference about the value of converting abandoned buildings into performing arts spaces. All a Memphian has to do is look at areas like South Main, Broad Ave., and the Edge to understand that the transformative power of an artists' community isn't some risky theory that requires years and years of cost prohibitive testing. Memphis is rich in empty, unused spaces and those spaces function like cancer cells in a community, helping to encourage decay and decline. Art may not be the cure in every case, but it's a proven antidote to further deterioration.
I've always loved the idea of community theater which is something our "community theaters" provide in only the most nominal sense. Real community theater is more likely to be found in church basements, and backyards. But what would happen if there were more neighborhood spaces dedicated to live performance? Would such a thing result in even more revivals of The Odd Couple or would we begin to see the flavor of the neighborhoods reflected in the offerings? It's impossible to know, of course, but worth thinking about.
We're in that limbo period between seasons when there are only a few openings to blog about. So I thought it might be fun to take this time to look beyond Shelby Co. and, perhaps, into the future. Thoughts?
In 1942 Vaughn got her big break opening act for Ella Fitzgerald at Harlem's Apollo Theatre. She was only 18. The concert at the Hattiloo finds Hunter working with a three-piece band and some special guests.
It was like American Idol. But for conductors.
Roger Kalia, a native of New York and music director of the Columbus Symphony in Indiana took the second prize.
The three winners split over $11,000 in prize money and in October the three will return to Memphis to conduct pieces by Dvorak, Hindemith and Ravel with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.
UPDATE: I've temporarily made these videos private. The musician's union only allows two minute clips, so I need to edit these down a bit. I don't know why I thought the competition would be different. Duh. Sorry.