The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
For years, the theater in the Lexington Public Library downtown has been a venue for plays, films, talks, music and candidate debates.
This month, the renamed Will Stamps Farish Fund Theater at Central Library is reintroducing itself with numerous upgrades, from the dressing rooms backstage to the technology in the control room. The $537,288 renovation to the theater and its lobby, including a $100,000 endowment for maintenance of the 12-year-old Foucault Pendulum and Ceiling Clock, was funded primarily with grants from the W. Paul and Lucille Caudill Little Foundation Inc. and the William Stamps Farish Fund, and several other donors.
“In the 12 years I’ve been here, this is the biggest donation to the library that I have heard of,” said media relations coordinator Doug Tattershall. “This was a huge undertaking to do this not with public funds but with private donations.”
Folks will have ample opportunity to check out the facilities thanks to an April calendar full of presentations, from concerts to theater to film screenings and discussions. The list of performers includes local favorites such as self-proclaimed “honky-tonk soul” artists Coralee and the Townies and comedian Etta May, movies such as Coal Miner’s Daughter and several foreign films, and groups such as Accents Publishing.
Library director Ann Hammond says the renovation was done purposefully, with extensive consultations with the arts community about what their needs would be in a new performance venue.
“They wanted the equipment to be more comprehensive, more up-to-date,” Hammond says. “They had, basically, VHS technology. So now we’ve got Blu-ray, we’ve got all kinds of ability to project and to record.”
Jim Chandler, director of support services, points out that all the systems may be operated from iPads, so a technical director could sit in the theater and make adjustments rather than hoping what he or she is seeing or hearing in the booth is the same as what the audience is experiencing.
Hammond said groups also wanted the theater’s heating and air-conditioning systems addressed, both in terms of climate control and noise, and they wanted better backstage accommodations and more stage access from backstage. All of those things have been dealt with, Hammond says.
For the audience, seats have been staggered to allow better stage views, and there are cup holders. Food and drink will be allowed in the theater because a rubberized compound has replaced carpeting on the floor.
“We’re going to be a little friendlier to people who come in and use the theater,” Hammond says.
And in the changing world of libraries, an asset like a theater is very important, she says.
“A library’s greatest place in society is to be that leveling force, that place where you can come and you know you’re going to be welcome and you don’t have to pay an entry fee, and you get help with your information needs, you can attend a program, you can take class, you can come hang out and have a sense of community,” she says. “That’s what we’re hoping to create here. We want to be a welcoming space for the entire community, and with the theater, with the art gallery, with all the other provisions that the library offers, I think we’re doing that.”
Rolling Stone is primarily known as a music magazine, but Kentucky seems to have a habit of getting its movie stars on the cover.
This week, Louisville’s Jennifer Lawrence, star of blockbuster The Hunger Games, joins that list which includes Johnny Depp (numerous times) and George Clooney. Like most Stone interviews, the online excerpt of Josh Eells story indicates this will be a … ahem … revealing tale. (Note to Jen: When you shout the F-bomb into your cell phone while talking to a Stone scribe, you are on the record.)
But for a woman who is building a reputation for playing gritty heroines, she has to appreciate Stone’s declaration that she is “America’s Kick-Ass Sweetheart.” Just remember that the folks at Kentucky for Kentucky beat the pop culture icon to the punch when they declared Lawrence and her Kentuckian co-star Josh Hutcherson “Kick-Ass Kentuckians.”
The story is in the April 12 issue of Rolling Stone, due on newsstands Friday.
SPOILER ALERT: If you have not watched the March 27, 2012 episode of Justified but intend to, do not read further.
All eyes are on Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies) now that he is out of jail.
His next move is obvious: He wants his late mother’s money. So does Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). So does the law, i.e. Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and his associates. Mags (played by Emmy-winner Margo Martindale) died at the end of last season, but it appears her influence will last all the way to the end of this one.
That’s OK. We like having her around in spirit. And I’m starting to think maybe the Emmy voters oughta pay attention to the way Davies is playing Mags’ boy. There also oughta be an award for the hairstylist who gets Davies hair to do whatever it is it’s doing.
Anyway, in addition a lot of people watching Dickie, a lot of people also want him dead. So this week’s episode, Measures, has Dickie playing a dangerous game trying to line up allies to help him get the money from Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson), who has it hidden up in Noble’s Holler somewhere.
Memphis pot dealer and critic Rodney Dunham (Mickey Jones) is his first attempted ally, but a meeting with him goes pretty much nowhere, and it turns out Dunham worked with Marshals Gutterson (Jacob Pitts) and Brooks (Erica Tazel) to locate the cash — or so they think.
It’s great to have Rachel in the story, because she always seems to run into some racist, sexist pig that ends up sorry he ever met her.
Anyway, when working with Dunham falls apart, Dickie turns to Limehouse’s henchman Erroll (Demetrius Grosse) who seems game, but tells Dickie he’s going to have to get help from Boyd who wants the money and he wants to kill Dickie — slowly. Dickie needs to live by that X-Files mantra: Trust no one.
Dickie and Quarles (Neal McDonough) wouldn’t seem to have too much in common, but Quarles has also lined up a long list of people who want him dead, including the Detroit mobster Tonin (Adam Arkin) who sent him to Kentucky in the first place. Tonin, we are told, carries a human ear — how Blue Velvet – around in his pocket and will occasionally pull it out and talk into it. I’m sort of afraid we might see this before the season ends.
Anyway, Duffy (Jere Burns) sensing Quarles is on his way out, contacts Tonin asking to take over Quarles operation. Duffy will have to prove himself, Tonin says, by killing Quarles. Duffy doesn’t come across as quite that level of criminal.
Quarles, meanwhile, pursued by two of Tonin’s goons that Raylan and Art (Nick Searcy) quickly neutralize, heads down to Harlan to try to scare up some cash by threatening outgoing Sheriff Napier (David Andrews), killing two drug dealers and trying to pass their goods off to Limehouse. But Limehouse deals in money, not drugs. So in an attempt to convert the drugs into cash, Quarles walks right into a trap set by Boyd, and as the episode closes, he is chained up naked in Boyd’s brothel.
And everyone is still looking for Mags’ millions.
Measures was sort of a Raylan-lite episode, though it began with an entertaining exchange between him and his new flame, Lindsey (Jenn Lyon), and the Detroit mobsters. But he spends most of his time with Art, which is always fun.
The revealed location of the money is a church, which most everyone knows is a ruse, including Raylan.
As he leaves the Lexington marshal’s office, Raylan tells Art that he’s going to Harlan, and if he trips over $3 million, he’ll bring it back.
Knowing Raylan, he probably will.
Madonna went on a bit of a media blitz early in this still-young year with her Golden Globe Award win for best song in her film W/E and her terrific stand as the Super Bowl half-time show. Too bad she didn’t already have her new album, MDNA, on the market because it would have given those high-profile stands a stronger current context .
It is somewhat stunning to consider the once-scandalous siren is now 53 with more than half of her life spent in a very bright spotlight. MDNA delivers reminders of her past glories and how debilitating that spotlight can be.
The album starts with what feels like a little nod to her original fans, the children of the 1980s, in Girl Gone Wild. In the chorus she sings, “Girls they just wanna have some fun,” and you have to wonder if it’s a nod to Cyndi Lauper, the Top 40 pop princess she was often compared to in the 1980s, like people later argued over Britney Spears vs. Christina Aguilera and now Lady Gaga vs. Katy Perry.
Madonna has made a career out of good and bad — brilliant artistry with sometimes baffling public and private decisions. MDNA gives us an example in a nutshell with how she addresses her divorce from filmmaker Guy Ritchie. There’s the lovely and convicting Love Spent, which drops the marriage vows on her ex’s head with a sentiment that she feels used. Then there’s the aggressive dance number Gang Bang, which is every bit as disturbing its title act.
MDNA continues the 21st century dance-floor orientation Madonna steered toward with 2000′s Music. That is somewhat to say, do not push play looking for another Like a Virgin or Like a Prayer, though you may hear some interesting echoes of her past.
“I’m a sinner, I like it that way,” she sings on I’m a Sinner, a track where she seems to make peace with some of her earlier hits that put her at odds with religious leaders. Where some of those songs and imagery of the ’80s and ’90s seemed searching, Madonna seems comfortable with herself and God now. For those of us who’ve stayed with her, watching Madonna’s perspective evolve is almost as interesting as her musical development.
Madge does dance music really well, particularly in the hands of producers like William Orbit, the man who helped redefine her with Ray of Light. But songs like Love Spent and Masterpiece, the Golden Globe winner from W/E, are effective reminders that as much as Madonna loves the dance floor, she has a gift for slower fare that she’s never totally embraced.
MDNA is not a completely satisfying album, but then few of her albums are. But there are great and memorable moments, for better and worse, that are worth a listen. While many stars lit during the ’80s now simply put on the hits, Madonna still has something to say, and she says it in a way that’s relevant to the 21st century, whoever her listeners may be.
Who knows if it was the basketball gods, music gods or, oh, fortune that led the Eastern Kentucky University Center for the Arts to schedule a performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana by the University of Kentucky Symphony and the Lexington Singers for Friday night. But it’s hard to think of a more perfect lead in to the titanic clash will take place Saturday in New Orleans when the University of Kentucky plays the University of Louisville in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final Four.
If you are thinking, “Huh?,” trust me, you probably know more about this than you assume.
Carmina Burana is a cantata by Carl Orff based on 24 poems and songs from a medieval collection of the same name. The principal way most everyone knows the piece is by the chorus O Fortuna, which has to be a contender for most appropriated classical work in pop culture, particularly if someone wants to illustrate something like, oh, mortal conflict.
As Time magazine described it (with our locally-relevant thoughts in the parenthesis): “It’s the go-to piece for any director or editor who wants to ramp up the drama (if that is possible, in this case) or conflict (intrastate basketball rivals in the basketball state; one team coached by the turncoat coach who once led the other team to a championship) or doom (what Louisville faces Saturday evening).
The piece begins with a shout, then a slow, ominous ramp up by the chorus, culminating in a thunderous crash of percussion and a vocal gale that brings to mind images such as hordes of enemy soldiers spilling over a mountainside — for our purposes, we’ll imagine them wearing a certain shade of blue.
University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra director John Nardolillo says the piece should be well known to UK sports fans because, “The UK football team uses it for their player introductions. So UK fans already have that big piece from Carmina Burana in their ear as being connected with the excitement of UK athletics.”
The piece has also been appropriated by movies from The Hunt for Red October to the opening-credit sequence for Jackass: The Movie (click the Time link to see that), on the Fox series Glee to set up the conflict between Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) and Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), by numerous wrestling and ultimate fighting programs and participants, and commercial campaigns for products such as Gatorade.
Nardolillo says that part of O Fortuna’s greatness is that it is so easily appropriated.
“You hear it over an over again in every different context, and it has resonance and meaning over and over again in all different situations for all different people in all different circumstances,” Nardolillo says. “That’s what makes it a universally great piece of music.”
Most people don’t know and really don’t care what the Latin text says. But Nardolillo points out it has relevance to a sporting event.
“The text talks about the wheel of fortune going around, first you’re up and then you’re down and you’re hoping to come back up again,” Nardolillo says. “It has all that going on, and somehow, if you listen to it, you sort of hear that going on even if you don’t know what the words are. You still get the sensation of the excitement of what could happen.
“With an athletic competition, you have that element of you’re hoping for good fortune, but it could turn out to be a disaster at the last second.”
Nardolillo confirms the scheduling of the performance and the Final Four are total coincidences, saying he and Lexington Singers director Jefferson Johnson and EKU Center director Deb Hoskins were simply working to select a piece that would show off the new concert hall that opened in September.
But Nardolillo says the looming competition may add a little spice to Friday’s performance. The symphony shares a number of performers who also play with the UK Pep Band.
“Our kids are basketball fans and Kentucky fans,” Narolillo says. “All the kids that are playing the piece that are fans of the team will have the same association fans have.”
Studio Players’ annual summer musical will be Betsy Kelso and David Nehls’ The Great American Trailer Park Musical. Hailed by the New York Sun as Desperate Housewives meets South Park, the show’s website says it is about “agoraphobia, adultery, ’80s nostalgia, spray cheese, road kill, hysterical pregnancy, kleptomania, strippers, flan and disco,” all of which take place in a North Florida mobile home park. The show is set to run July 12 to Aug. 5 at the Carriage House Theatre on West Bell Court.
Auditions are 6:30 p.m. April 2 and 3 and 2 p.m. April 7. They will consist of cold readings from the script. Auditioners can bring a prepared song or musical selection, or one will be taught at the auditions. Auditions are open to men and women ages 18 and older. For more information, call director Tonda Fields at (859) 230-9605 or visit Studioplayers.org.
Image from theatreguildvaldosta.com.
New Editions Gallery and the American Academy of Equine Art are presenting a series of equine art events in April featuring artists that have worked with the Kentucky Derby, the Breeder’s Cup and other prestigious tracks and events.
■ Spindletop Hall, 3414 Iron Works Pike, will host a “Tea with the Artists” from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. April 12, featuring 2011 Breeder’s Cup artist Jaime Corum, Derby artist Lesley Humphrey and longtime equine photographer John Stephen Hockensmith. Topics will include Corum’s life-size painting of Zenyatta, navigating corporate commissions and distinctions between high-quality photographs and the many prints that are on the market. The talk will be followed by a viewing of the American Academy of Equine Art’s invitational exhibit. Tickets will be available for $35 through the academy and Spindletop.
■ Artists Attic at Victorian Square, Broadway at Main Street, will present Painting Horses With a Passion, a demonstration by Humphrey, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 13. She will talk about her techniques for representational art and personal expression. The event, which includes a one-hour lunch break, is free.
■ New Editions Gallery, 807 Euclid Avenue, will host a reception for its exhibit of works by Corum and Humphrey from 5 to 8 p.m. April 14.
For reservations to the April 12 or 13 events, email email@example.com or call (859) 266-2766.
Despite revelations that significant portions of Mike Daisey’s The Agony and Ecstacy of Steve Jobs were fabricated, Actors Guild of Lexington is going ahead with a production of the play, albeit in an altered form.
“We are very well aware of the controversy, obviously, and we are going to incorporate it head on into our production,” Actors Guild artistic director Eric Seale said Thursday afternoon. ”Since we have the right to adapt the script, we will make the necessary changes and provide new material that deals directly with the controversy.”
For the past two seasons, Actors Guild has delayed announcing the final production of its season so it can have an opportunity to choose plays that address current events and culture. March 13, the theater announced it would produce Daisey’s play that covers the biography of late Apple founder Steve Jobs and conditions in Chinese factories that Daisey had visited.
The Chinese factory portion of the show was presented on the public radio program This American Life in January in an episode called Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory. In the program, Daisey recounted experiences such as meeting underage workers and workers exposed to hazardous materials and situations in factories that manufacture products such as iPads and iPhones.
Last Friday, This American Life announced it was retracting that episode following revelations by the public radio program Marketplace that Daisey had fabricated a number of elements in the show that had been presented as fact. In last weekend’s This American Life episode, Retraction, host Ira Glass apologized for the story and shortcuts that were taken that he said allowed erroneous material to get on the air. He also interviewed Daisey, who conceded the piece was not entirely factual but stopped short of saying he lied.
In a statement posted on his blog, Daisey said, “There is nothing in this controversy that contests the facts in my work about the nature of Chinese manufacturing. Nothing. I think we all know if there was, Ira would have brought it up.”
Seale said that while the veracity of the piece has been challenged, he thinks the story of the Chinese factories and the story of Jobs, which was not part of the This American Life presentation, are important to tell. He said there is now also the story of the truth and what role it plays in theater. He did say he had considered cancelling the show, and he suspended ticket sales for it while he and others involved contemplated what to do.
“At the end of the day, is it a compelling piece of theater? That’s what I wanted to answer the most, because that’s what I am supposed to do, that’s what I’m supposed to be putting on,” said Seale, who has also conferred with theaters in Minneapolis and Lafayette, La., that had planned productions of the show.
The play is a monologue, which Seale will perform under the direction of Lexington Children’s Theatre director Larry Snipes, May 10-20 at Actors Guild’s South Elkhorn Theatre.
Seale said that in the production, it will be clear to audiences what portions of the show have been challenged or proven false.
With the controversy, Seale said The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs may be an even more compelling piece of theater now.
“This story is still going on,” Seale said. “Who knows what may come out between now and the time the show goes up, and even while its going.”
Though Louisvillian Jennifer Lawrence is the Oscar nominee among The Hunger Games leading actors, Josh Hutcherson is the old hand at movies. According to the Internet Movie Database, the 19-year-old actor has been performing on camera since a 2002 TV movie called Becoming Glen, the same year he appeared on an episode of ER, though fellow Kentuckian George Clooney had already left the show by then.
In particular, while big, physically demanding spectacles were new to Lawrence, Hutcherson had been through that mill several times with films such as Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) and Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005).
“It definitely has some physical elements that I’m kind of used to ion a shoot,” Hutcherson said in a March 4 phone interview. “The story is something like I’ve never read before, let alone done. So in that respect, it was something brand new to me.
“I just got done shooting Journey to the Mysterious Island right before that was running around in a jungle trying to survive. This was just running around in a forest trying to survive.”
Asked if he prefers a jungle or forest, he chose forest, in part because he said being from Kentucky, it’s a more familiar environment.
As for his co-star and fellow Kentuckian, he said, “She did great. She literally didn’t have one day off, except the weekends, obviously, for the entire shoot. Everybody else had a few days off here and there, but she worked every single day.
“She was amazing. To come to the set every single day with the same energy and enthusiasm for her job that she did is so impressive. She’s so humble and down to earth and real, and it was an honor to talk to her.”
Hutcherson did get the worst of things in one instance. Wednesday night, on The Late Show with David Letterman, he recounted how Lawrence gave him a concussion when she kicked him in the temple while practicing fight choreography.
Click the play button above to hear our entire interview with Josh Hutcherson.
- Kentucky-born Hunger Games stars already know their lives won’t be the same
- Album review: The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond
- Kentucky Hunger Games stars find stark difference: She’s Louisville fan, he roots for UK
- Review: Adaptation from teen novel is a winning mix of violence and drama
The Governor’s office and the Kentucky Arts Council have put out a call for Kentucky artists to submit works for the annual Derby exhibit in the Capitol Rotunda.
The theme for this year’s exhibit, April 25 to May 16, is “Kentucky landscapes.” All Kentucky artists are eligible. The works must be two dimensional, completed within the past four years and not exceed 36 inches in width or 25 pounds. Artists selected are responsible for transporting their work to the Kentucky Arts Council offices in Frankfort and they have the choice as to whether they want to offer works for sale. There is no commission taken on sales.
The application deadline is March 29. Click here for the digital application form. Artists accepted into the show will be notified April 5.
For more information, contact Heidi Caudill at Heidi.Caudill@ky.gov .
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich