After This, The Deluge: SBIFF’S FRENCH FILM SERIES THE WAVE COMES TO THE RIVIERA

"Not My Type (Pas Son Genre

“Not My Type (Pas Son Genre

The Wave is rolling toward our shores this week, a five-day, 11-film mini-film fest put on by Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Intended as a mid-year fundraiser for SBIFF, it features in its first year a focus on France and French directors, with other countries slotted for following years. So why France as the first choice?

“French cinema is very popular among our audience,” says SBIFF programmer Mickey Duzdevich, meaning Santa Barbara in general. He points to the success of the French films that screen in SBIFF’s Showcase series at Plaza de Oro every Wednesday. “Those films are the ones that sell out.” And at the last SBIFF, French films sold more tickets. Who knew Santa Barbara were such Francophiles? Quelle surprise!

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Time Traveler – ELEMENTS THEATER COLLECTIVE STAGES VIRGINIA WOOLF’S ‘ORLANDO’ AS A POP-UP

The "Orlando" cast, clockwise from left, Stephanie Farnum, Rob Grayson, Erika Leachman, Morgan Altenhoff and Tess Plant-Thomas

The “Orlando” cast, clockwise from left, Stephanie Farnum, Rob Grayson, Erika Leachman, Morgan Altenhoff and Tess Plant-Thomas

When Virginia Woolf published her gender-bending, time-traveling novel “Orlando” in 1928, her contemporaries initially put it down as frivolous, a distraction from the more serious work she was writing. And so it seemed doomed for decades to not be considered alongside novels like “To the Lighthouse.” That is until Sally Potter’s 1992 film version with Tilda Swinton revealed the story to be much more than fluff. “Orlando,” in a sparkling new adaptation by playwright Sarah Ruhl, continues the ascension of this work, and it closes Elements Theater Collective’s current season, starting tonight and playing in pop-up in several locations.

“This season our theme has been gender and sexuality,” says director Mary Plant-Thomas, who is marking this production as her last before she moves to San Francisco. “So it was a very explicit choice … But I also see that the play shares other core ideas with our plays, like time travel. I think that’s less a choice and more that we really value choosing new works that are also accessible.”

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Silver Screen, Summer Nights: UCSB Arts & Lecture’s free screening series highlights Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd

"Girl Shy"

“Girl Shy”

In January, UCSB Arts&Lectures screened Harold Lloyd’s “Safety Last” at the Granada with pianist Michael Mortilla accompanying. “It was a non-stop laugh-fest the entire time,” A&L’s Roman Baratiak says. “All ages were there and it was super inspiring … People gasped.” Mr. Baratiak is referring to the infamous 20-minute sequence where Lloyd scales the outside of a building and at one point winds up hanging from a clock.

Mr. Baratiak took that inspiration and has made classic silent comedy the theme for this year’s Summer Film Series, which screens both at Campbell Hall and at the Courthouse’s Sunken Gardens. Last year’s Hitchcock series got the biggest crowds in the Summer Series and it was time to make things a bit more fun. So for the fifth annual event, A&L will be screening two films each, from Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, with extra shorts thrown in for good measure.

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Pretty Poison: SBCC opens season with ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’

From left, Leslie Ann Story, Christopher Lee Shortand Linda MacNeal in The Theatre Group at SBCC's production of "Arsenic and Old Lace"

From left, Leslie Ann Story, Christopher Lee Shortand Linda MacNeal in The Theatre
Group at SBCC’s production of “Arsenic and Old Lace”

When writer Joseph Kesselring first imagined the story of “Arsenic and Old Lace” he saw it more as a Gothic tale, based on a notorious case of the time where the owner of a boarding house poisoned guests to get their pensions. But, rumor has it, Broadway producers Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse convinced Kesselring to make it a comedy and so he did. The play is now a classic, community theaters everywhere still putting on productions, including SBCC’s Theater Group, who premiere the comedy this coming Wednesday.

In the play, the Brewster family is largely composed of homicidal maniacs except for the youngest, drama critic Mortimer Brewster (Jay Carlander), who comes home to marry the girl he loves, fend off police, and wonder how he’s related to everybody else. The heads of the house are two spinster aunts who murder lonely old men with elderberry wine laced with arsenic, helped by Mortimer’s brother (Christopher Lee Short) who is under the delusion he is Theodore Roosevelt and helps dig the graves for their victims. There’s a murderous older brother, too (John Bridle) who is living with a botched plastic surgery job to hide from the police.

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Flamenco Fire: Savannah Fuentes bring La Luna Nueva to Center Stage

Flamenco dancer Savannah Fuentes

Flamenco dancer Savannah Fuentes

This is a tale of two cities, Seattle and Vancouver. In the latter there is a bustling flamenco community, with funding, three schools, and small clubs having shows every week.

The former … not so much. There are no clubs. The main international stars don’t get booked. And this is the city where Savannah Fuentes has hung her shingle to bring flamenco — the dancing, the guitar, the singing — to the populace. After all, she was born in Seattle to a Puerto Rican dad and an Irish mom, and she’s gonna turn the culture around, she swears.

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Left gets it right: SBMA SHOW HIGHLIGHTS RECENT CONTEMPORARY ACQUISITIONS

'Mr. President,'Llyn FoulkesSanta Barbara Museum of Art photos

‘Mr. President,’Llyn Foulkes

Santa Barbara Museum of Art photos

The work of a museum is done behind closed doors, away from the public. We see the austere, carefully considered, hung and lit works in echoing galleries. Nothing of the work that is done during installation is shown to us, nor is the bureaucracy, paperwork, and deal-making that happens in the simple act of accepting new works into a permanent collection. (Not that we’d want to see this anyway.)

The benefit of all that work is on display now through Sept. 14, at Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s “Left Coast: Recent Acquisitions of Contemporary Art.” Curated by Julie Joyce, it’s a grab-bag of mostly California-based artists, mostly living, and shows the breadth not just of our particular brand of art, but the eclectic nature of Ms. Joyce’s curatorial eye. From painting and drawing to photography and sculpture, there’s a lot represented here, and a lot of work that has not been seen until now.

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Lightning Strikes … again and again: FROM HUMBLE ORIGINS TO MAJOR FESTIVAL PLAYERS, LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE IS BACK

Just look at the top three headlining bands playing at this Memorial Day Weekend’s Lightning in a Bottle and you can get some sense of how this once-tiny festival has matured. There’s electronic duo Phantogram, Swedish popstars Little Dragon, and one of the godfathers of EDM (that’s electronic Dance Music to the uninitiated) Moby. From a tiny birthday celebration in the forests of Los Angeles, to up above Santa Barbara County in our own hills, to the mountains of Santa Ana, this verdant, pocket-sized Burning Man-like festival has been a victim of its success, moving on to another location as attendance threatened to spill over the boundaries.

Though it started as a private party in 2000, it was really the 2006 move to Live Oak Campground off of the 154 freeway that got the three Flemming brothers, who go by the event name of DoLab, imagining the Festival as bigger than its humble beginnings.

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The Dragon that Roared: WITH FOUR ACCLAIMED ALBUMS, SWEDEN’S LITTLE DRAGON IS ONE OF HIGHLIGHTS

Little Dragon will headline the Lightning main stage Saturday night

Little Dragon will headline the Lightning main stage Saturday night

Little Dragon is exactly the kind of group to play at Lightning in a Bottle during its transition period. They are not DJs and they are not laptop electronic noodlers. But this Swedish band uses the sounds of Electronic Dance Music, or EDM, as one color among many on their palette, and they incorporate just as much hip hop as they do jazz, R&B, glitch, rock, and ’80s textures. With singer Yukimi Nagano’s soulful voice the common thread through all of Little Dragon’s discography, the band has constantly evolved over its four albums, culminating in the dark tones of this year’s “Nabuma Rubberband.”

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All Together Now: AT MCASB, MARINELLA SENATORE INVITES COMMUNITIES TO MAKE THEIR OWN ART

'Piccolo Caos (Little Chaos)Museum ofContemporary ArtS anta Barbara photos

‘Piccolo Caos (Little Chaos)

Museum ofContemporary ArtS anta Barbara photos

When talking to artist Marinella Senatore, whose show “Building Communities” is currently up at Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, aka MCASB, the word “ethics” comes up several times. In her participatory works, she acts as a sort of producer, overseeing the creation of a work — be it an opera, or a film, or a series of photos — with the participation of people from small towns and inner cites around Europe.

“I’m critical and skeptical about many public projects,” she says. “Sometimes I think the role of the artist is abusive. They are using the energy of the people for their own cause. From the beginning they already have a clear idea of what they want to make and won’t change anything.”

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Layers Upon Layers: ENSEMBLE THEATRE’S ‘RED’ BRINGS ABSTRACT PAINTER MARK ROTHKO TO PRICKLY LIFE

Matt Gottlieb, left, as Rothko and Shaun Anthony as his assistant. Ken, in "Red"

Matt Gottlieb, left, as Rothko and Shaun Anthony as his assistant. Ken, in “Red”

Director Brian Schnipper is telling us about abstract artist Mark Rothko, the subject of his upcoming play at Ensemble Theatre, “Red.”

“With Rothko’s murals, there’s so many layers and he used very thin paint. You can see the top layer and the second layer and maybe the third, but beyond that— and Rothko said he sometime painted 26 layers. Even art historians say you can’t tell where certain paints start. They can’t understand his techniques. Sometimes he’d burn the canvas with turpentine, they know that, but as to the layers, they don’t know how.”

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