My latest for Open Culture is about the Smithsonian’s collection of Charles Darwin’s writings, many of which survived because he gave it to his kids to draw on.
My latest for Open Culture is here: David Lynch offers a MA course in creativity and meditation (in Iowa).
While many choreographers would look to a 50th anniversary tour to program a greatest hits package, Twyla Tharp, who will be at The Granada Theatre tonight, does the opposite in a career of bold moves. Instead she’s created an evening of two new works. “Preludes and Fugues” raids the extensive pieces in J.S. Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier” and bears the influences of all those that came before her in modern dance: Merce Cunningham, Jerome Robbins, Martha Graham and George Balanchine. And “Yowzie” turns from classical to jazz, with bright costumes and a soundtrack of early ragtime and jazz.
“Preludes” is “the world as it ought to be,” she says, “and Yowzie is the world as it is.” Ms. Tharp is quoting herself, and it’s a phrase that graces the evening’s program in her artistic statement. That tension between fantasy and reality has long been part of her work.
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival honored movie star, writer, activist and feminist icon Jane Fonda at its annual fundraiser Saturday with the 10th annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film.
The black-tie gala at the Bacara Resort & Spa recognized the iconic movie star in much the same way as the honors and tribute evenings that make up the February festival’s week-plus schedule.
The Santa Barbara LOL Comedy Festival was new last year, but quickly ingratiated itself into Santa Barbara’s increasingly crowded arts fest scene with six nights of stand-up comedy, most of them filmed for cable TV. One of those specials was for Brad Williams, the “little person” comedian – though he’ll gladly call himself a dwarf or a midget, and more about that nomenclature later – who got his big chance to have a full-hour set recorded last year at the Lobero Theatre for Showtime.
Mr. Williams loved it so much that not only is he coming back this year, but he’s the “Ringmaster” of his own show next Friday, bringing on his own favorite – yet still unknown – fellow comedians.
Adam Barruch is on to something that might be new in both the world of theater and the world of dance. Mr. Barruch’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” is not a dance interpretation of the musical. Neither is it Mr. Sondheim’s musical with extra dance numbers. Sitting in on the rehearsals at the Lobero Theatre – Diane Vapnek and her DANCEworks secured the space as a gift for his residency – it’s hard to say what Mr. Barruch’s “Todd” will finally become until tonight’s premiere.
William D. Popp plays Sweeney Todd, yet he’s often working alongside the other dancers singing about himself in the third person. These are concepts, not characters, to be possessed by at will. There’s something primal about it, like Mr. Barruch has gone back to druidic times, thinking more of blood sacrifice, and less dreadful about human meat pies.
It’s been 10 years since Damien Marley, youngest of the Bob Marley sons and nicknamed “Jr. Gong,” exploded onto the scene with “Welcome to Jamrock,” fulfilling the promise of his first two albums and sending his album gold. And man, has that decade passed quickly.
“I was just thinking about that myself,” said Marley during a phone interview. “And I had the same sentiment that you do. It feels like yesterday. Time moves real quick.”
Then 27 years old, now 37, Damien is bringing the Catch a Fire tour to the Santa Barbara Bowl tonight. Along with his brother Stephen “Ragga” Marley, the evening features reggae legend Barrington Levy, Morgan Heritage, Tarrus Riley, Jo Mersa and Black Am I, along with DJ sets by Kingston 12, Shinehead and Papalote.
By the time you read this, you’ll know that Ian Bagg, one of the finalists in the popular NBC show “Last Comic Standing,” did not win . . . a fact that he’s been sharing on his Twitter feed for some time now. But it doesn’t matter, because along with Michael Palascak, Dominique, Andy Erikson and Clayton English, Mr. Bagg has made it onto the Last Comic Standing tour that pulls into Chumash Casino Resort on Thursday.
It’s part of a whopping 78-date, 90-day tour that ends just before New Years, and will introduce these already seasoned comics to a much wider audience.
Many theatergoers’ hearts were broken last year with the unexpected closing down of Circle Bar B Dinner Theater. After 40 years, Susie and David Couch’s creation was in the black and pulling in regulars from as far south as Orange County, but the ranch that hosted their small theater decided to go in different directions.
But the Couches have a new name – Prism Productions – and a new lease on theatrical life. And the venue, Timbers, is also coming back from hibernation. The woodsy Winchester Canyon restaurant and bar was built in 1952, using wood from the Goleta pier once bombed by the Japanese in World War II. Since 2004 it has fallen into disrepair. But HJL Group, the restaurant company behind Arch Rock Fish and The Marquee, are bringing it back. The Goodland Supper Club, as the Couches are calling this three-play series, will be one of its early entertainment options.