Tag Archives: Greek myth

Beyond the Bastille

Prise de la Bastille by Henri Paul Perrault, 1928

France celebrates Bastille Day on July 14, the day in 1789 that revolutionaries seized the Bastille in Paris, starting the French Revolution that ushered in the French Republic. The Bastille was a medieval fortress built to protect Paris, but 18th century monarchs used it as a political prison. Bastille Day has been a national holiday in France since 1880.

For American theater-goers, the French revolution conjures images of the musical “Les Miserables,” based on one of Victor Hugo’s many novels. It’s being performed Jan 20-29, 2012 by Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale — which has enlisted Jon Gentry, associate artist with Childsplay in Tempe, to direct the work.

Before Hugo finished “Les Miserables” (1862), he wrote “Notre-Dame de Paris” — better known to Americans as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” A stage adaptation is being performed Sept 9-25 by Theater Works’ Youth Works in Peoria.

You can enjoy a taste of France this month at the Phoenix Art Museum — which presents “Theatre de la Mode,” an exhibit of mid-20th century French fashion design, through July 31. Featured garments were created for one-third human size mannequins using couture fabrics and details, then placed within elaborate stage sets.

Theatre de la Mode” originated in Paris following World War II as French fashion designers, jewelers, shoemakers, milliners and hairdressers united to raise war relief funds and reinvigorate their industries. Three of 12 scenes on exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum are from the historic 1945 collection. And works by French artists are part of the museum’s permanent European collection.

The French Language Program in the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University will host the “2012 Women in French Conference” Feb 24-25, 2012 — highlighting “the influence, representation, presence and achievement of French and Francophone women from the Middle Ages through the 21st Century.”

Two of five works being performed by Arizona Opera during their 2011-12 season will be sung in French with English subtitles. A new production of “Faust” designed by Bernard Uzan reimagines “Faust” in modern times — trading village fair for nightclub. “Orfeo ed Euridice” is the retelling of a Greek myth featuring sets by New York’s John Conklin.

Paris Opera Ballet will perform in Chicago, Washington D.C. and New York next year as part of their first North American tour in more than a decade. The New York Times reports that Paris Opera Ballet will perform “Suite en Blanc,” “L’Arlésienne,” “Bolero,” “Giselle” and Pina Bausch’s version of “Orpheus and Eurydice.”

If your arts organization has upcoming offerings with a French flair, please comment below to let our readers know. Merci!


Note: To enjoy the flavor of France with younger children, read Le Petit Prince (first published in 1943) or Histoire de Babar (first published in 1931)

Coming up: Fun with arts fundraisers, Ode to Christopher Robin, Film meets journalism, Cinderella tales


Definition of a dream

Call those babysitters! The 2011 Phoenix Fringe Festival starts tonight!

Many of us wake up every day in warm, secure houses with pantries full of food and closets brimming with clothes. We dream of smarter phones, faster computers, bigger television screens.

But the dreams of homeless teens are very different. You can get a rare glimpse into the lives of homeless youth in Phoenix by attending a play titled “Definition of a Dream.”

It’s being presented April 1-3 by homeless youth who developed the original work in conjunction with Sarah Sullivan and the Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development. The Center describes the work as follows:

“Through the artistic experience, young people take their stories to the stage, looking to change the conversation about homelessness in Phoenix, one show at a time. This year’s play takes a look at dreams — the dreams we have for ourselves, for the people in our lives and our community as a whole.”

“Definition of a Dream” asks a powerful question: “What are the things we have to fight for and against to make these dreams a reality?”

The play is one of many thought-provoking works being presented as part of the Phoenix Fringe Festival, which runs April 1-10 at various downtown Phoenix venues.

Tickets for tonight’s performance of “Definition of a Dream” were not available online when I checked Friday afternoon, but tickets for the Sat, April 2 (5:30pm) and Sun, April 3 (8pm) performances may still be out there — but don’t delay in checking the Phoenix Fringe Festival website if you’d like to attend this or other works.

“Definition of a Dream” is being performed at “Modified Arts” at 407 E. Roosevelt in Phoenix. Additional venues for 2011 Phoenix Fringe Festival performances (most appropriate only for mature audiences) include Phoenix Theatre: Little Theatre, Third Street Theatre, Soul Invictus, Bragg’s Pie Factory and Space 55.

You can check out the full “Fringe” schedule (which also includes after-parties and such) at www.phxfringe.org. After reviewing the schedule the other day, I noticed that there are works dealing with religion, sexuality, border issues and a whole lot more. Even Greek myth and Shakespeare manage to get in the game.

Several “Fringe” works, including “Twisted: Greeting Card Moments Gone Bad” by “Tom T. and Twisted Tidings,” are presented by a single artist. Some are presented by local artists, others by artists from other regions (including Australia). A few include students from Arizona State University.

You can get a good feel for the festival by considering the titles of some of the pieces being performed. Schreibstuck. Oppressed. Borders and Bridges. Hamlet Machine. The Panic Opera Sacraments. Too Close to the Sun. Your Teacher Never Told You….

There’s even “Confessions of a Mormon Boy,” which may hold special appeal for those of you who, like myself, have yet to snag tickets to the new Broadway musical titled “The Book of Mormon” (billed by some as an atheist love song to believers).

The Phoenix Fringe Festival is an edgy, off-the-beaten-path experience that’s fun for date nights, outings with friends or solo adventures. Think of it as a way to up the job numbers for all those babysitters out there.

Consider an afternoon, evening or weekend out with the “Fringe.” You might be offended. You might be educated. You might be inspired. But I doubt you’ll be bored. It’s a great way to explore our smaller community theater venues, enjoy affordable performance art and meet folks who probably wouldn’t recognize a remote control if they saw one.

— Lynn

Note: Attend the Phoenix Fringe Festival and you can save $10 off your ticket to “Liz Lerman Dance Exchange: The Matter of Origins” Monday, April 11, at ASU Gammage (use the code FRINGE when ordering tix from the ASU Gammage box office or 480-965-3434).

Coming up: Jellly bean dreams, Chicago envy?

Bark if you love art

ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer” runs a “Person of the Week” piece each Friday evening. Their most recent honoree was Esperanza Spalding, a young jazz musician who captured the “Artist of the Year” award during the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards.

Their story shared a bit about Spalding’s background — noting that her decision to make music came at the tender age of five after she saw and heard cellist Yo-Yo Ma perform on the PBS television show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

It reminded me at first of watching Yo-Yo Ma receive our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, earlier in the week. He looked like a kid who arrived at school one day only to discover it had been transformed into a giant candy factory.

Check out PBS' "Martha Speaks" this week for new episodes with an arts focus

But then I remembered an e-mail that recently came my way — about a PBS television show titled “Martha Speaks.”

It features a talking dog named Martha who’ll be introducing young viewers (and their cats) to a wonderful thing called arts and culture this week (Feb 21-25).

The show is based on the works of New Jersey author and illustrator Susan Meddaugh, for whom “Martha” was once a family pet (of the non-verbal variety).

Apparently Martha has something to say about all sorts of art-related topics — from theater and classical music to Greek myths and opera. I’m all for it, since the show also promotes language development and other skills children will need one day as they journey through a world where myths abound.

The show’s stated “educational goal” is teaching new words to children ages 4 to 7. This is a great relief to those of us who’ve tired of hearing children utter unsavory words gleaned from older sibs or even prime time television offerings.

"Martha Speaks" couples words with art on PBS this week

There are, of course, other means for expanding one’s vocabulary.

Just this evening I learned from a television talk show host that “paralepsis” refers to a rhetorical strategy of raising a point by appearing to pass over it.

Can’t wait to hear Martha use that one in a sentence.

I’m utterly convinced that children learn language best by interacting with others who use language. The “Talking Elmo” doll is a fine start, but word play is really the purview of parents.

I’m glad there’s public television, offering tools for parents and teachers who do society’s most imporant work — assuring literacy for future generations.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about the many fun and fascinating characters of “Martha Speaks.”

Coming up: Abe Lincoln meets modern dance