‘Girlstar’ premieres at Signature Theatre

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

PHOTO CREDIT: Donna Migliaccio. hoto by Christopher Mueller.

Photo courtesy of Donna Migliaccio

By Jae O’Connor

Signature Theatre in Shirlington has always tried to take their audiences to new worlds with their premiere shows. They try to do things that have never been done before, especially when a play is edgy or niche in nature. So it is no surprise that the Signature Theatre is featuring not one, but two world premiere plays: “Cake-Off” and “Girlstar,” the latter of which is a musical for all ages, especially youths and teens who aspire for greatness.

“Girlstar” is the story of a record producer named Daniella who gives a magic potion to her niece, Tina, to transform her into the perfect pop star. Director Eric Schaeffer describes Daniella as “a mix between Miranda from ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and Cruella de Vil from ‘101 Dalmatians’” and compares the original songs and score to Alan Menken. Schaeffer believes that Northern Virginia is the perfect place for “Girlstar” to start its journey and believes it will be huge, possibly making it all the way to Broadway. “Ten to 20 years ago, you couldn’t make a living [in theatre] in this area, but now there [are] so many opportunities that you can,” Schaeffer says. “There is a great talent pool here, which allows new and challenging things like ‘Girlstar.’”

Oct. 13-Nov. 15
Signature Theatre
4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington

A must-see: The Manhattan Short Film Festival premieres here in NoVA

Posted by Editorial / Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Photo courtesy of Manhattan Short

Photo courtesy of Manhattan Short

 By Nelia Dashiell

This weekend, Old Ox Brewery will be hosting the 18th Annual Manhattan Short Film Festival. Manhattan Short first began in 1998 on the side of a truck in New York City. It has now grown immensely, branching out over six continents with thousands of film-lovers watching these short films in the same week. This year this worldwide festival is taking place in our local area of Ashburn.

At this film festival, the audience is the judge. Upon entrance at the venue, guests will receive a voting card and vote for one of the films they believe deserves to win. After tallying up all the votes from all venues, the winner will be announced on Oct. 5 on the Manhattan Short website. The 10 countries and films to be debuted this year are “Listen” (Finland), “Dad In Mum” (France), “Bear Story” (Chile), “Forever Over” (Germany), “Shok” (Kosovo), “Grounded”(France), “Sundown” (Turkey),  “Patch” (Switzerland), “El Camino Solo” (USA) and “Bis Gleich” (Germany).

So why Ashburn this year? Graham Burns, one of the four owners of Old Ox Brewery, says it was not by chance. Being a huge fan of this film festival, Burns would travel a whole hour to Winchester to see these films in years past. This year, he noticed the same situation and decided to take it upon himself to host the festival at his family owned brewery.

“Knowing that the festival is not limited to traditional movie venues, I contacted Nicholas Mason, the director of Manhattan Short, and asked if he would consider our brewery as a venue. Obviously, he would. So here we are.”

Come grab a pint and check out the festival this weekend Oct. 2-3 at 8 p.m. at Old Ox Brewery. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at oldoxbrewery.com.

Five Northern Virginia Oktoberfests you should plan to attend

Posted by Editorial / Friday, October 2nd, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Capitol City Brewing Company Oktoberfest has been rescheduled to Oct. 11. The event for this weekend has been canceled due to inclement weather.

Week 1 - Vienna Oktoberfest

Photo courtesy of James E. Sweeney Photography

By Nelia Dashiell & Jae O’Connor

1.  Vienna Oktoberfest

Oct. 3, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. // The Vienna Oktoberfest is an annual event filled to the brim with beer, wine, food, music, vendors and tons of family friendly activities—all with free admission. There will be a variety of live music, children’s activities (including a moon bounce and climbing wall) and plenty of German-inspired food and adult beverages. / Historic Church Street in Vienna: Between Center Street and Mill Street, including the Town Green and the Caboose Parking Lot; 703-648-3290; Free

2.  Capitol City Brewing Company Oktoberfest

Oct. 11, noon-7 p.m. // Celebrate Capitol City Brewing Company’s 15th annual mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest with over 60 breweries and authentic German food and music. / Capitol City Brewing Company: 4001 Campbell Ave., Shirlington; 703-578-3888; $30 to sample beer, free to attend

3.  Oktoberfest Reston

Oct. 10, noon-11 p.m. Oct. 11,  11 a.m.-8 p.m. // Come out to Reston to join its ninth year hosting Oktoberfest. There will be live performances and a display of traditional German music and dancers featured throughout the Reston streets. This will definitely be a fun-filled event for all ages. / 11900 Market St., Reston; Free

4.  Northern Virginia BrewFest

Oct. 17-18, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. // Northern Virginia BrewFest is one of the area’s largest beer festivals, and it is not to be missed. With over 50 local and regional breweries, you’re guaranteed to find a new brew to love. There will also be plenty of activities and music for the entire family. / Bull Run Regional Park: 7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville; $35 for adults, $10 for designated drivers, free for children under 16

5.  Lindsay VW Oktoberfest & Car Show

Oct. 18, 1-4 p.m.  // Join Sterling for the third annual Lindsay VW Oktoberfest. The theme for this year is German engineering. Come out to see the Volkswagen car show, which asks the guests to be the judges. Also, each attendee will have a chance to enter a raffle and win a selection of prizes. There will be a wide selection of food, local breweries and music. / 22455 Lindsay Cars Court, Sterling; Free

5 not-to-miss-events in October

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Edited by Raquel DeSouza

Photo courtesy of Mount Vernon

Photo courtesy of Mount Vernon

1Mount Vernon Fall Wine Festival & Sunset Tour
Taste wine from over 15 Virginia wineries, listen to live blues music, meet George and Martha Washington and learn about the president’s aspirations of making wine. Then take a night tour and see where vino was once stored in the basement. / Oct. 2-4



Washington D.C. Halloween Pub Crawl
Children are not the only ones who can look forward to All Hallows’ Eve. Join friends and dress up in your favorite costume as you visit some of the most popular nightlife spots in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. Tickets cost just $1 for one day or $3 for the whole weekend, drinks not included. / Oct. 30-Nov. 1 


Photo courtesy  of GMU Center for the Arts

Photo courtesy of GMU Center for the Arts

3 ‘Dracula’


Watch a sci-fi classic on the scariest night of the year. L.A. Theatre Works is presenting “Dracula” at George Mason University Center for the Arts. The horror and intrigue of the vampire, Count Dracula, will be brought to life with the radio theater company’s live readings narrating the characters’ diary entries and letters. / Oct. 31


Courtesy of Washington West Film Festival

Courtesy of Washington West Film Festival

‘The Sound of Music’
Fifty years ago actress Julie Andrews won our hearts as the nun named Maria in “The Sound of Music.” The Washington West Film Festival will honor the anniversary with a showing of the musical at The Barns at Wolf Trap. Experience all kinds of nostalgia while singing along with the Von Trapp family. / Oct. 24


Photo courtesy of Mount Vernon

Photo courtesy of Mount Vernon

5 Fredericksburg Area Wine Festival

The 25th anniversary of the festival will have a theme of “Silver and Bling,” so deck out in all things shiny and sparkly. There will be over 100 types of Virginia wines from 10 wineries, a beer garden and live entertainment. / Oct. 3-4

The Canvas Clash: An all-out art war in Woodbridge

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, September 29th, 2015


(9-30) Canvas Clash RicoArt1

Photo courtesy of Maspaz

By Jae O’Connor

Art isn’t just what hangs in a museum; art is everywhere and everything. Art is spread amongst a wide range of forms and media, including graffiti, cartoons, tattoos and imaginative landscapes. This Saturday, Oct. 3, Sijang Korean-Mexican Tacos invites the public to witness a live art battle at the FearCliff Indoor Skate Park in Woodbridge. This art battle will be a great opportunity for artists of the area to gather under one roof and network, says Chris Fitzner, founder and owner of Sijang Tacos. The tacos will be coprepared by the La Tingeria Food Truck of Arlington. Although this is not the first Art Battle Sijang has sponsored, the Canvas Clash will be the biggest so far.

Photo courtesy of Jamfunziez

The Canvas Clash will feature four artists: Rico “Maspaz,” Superwaxx, Alberto “Tokatattoos” and Sean “Jamfunziez.” They will each be challenged to create a work of art to a surprise theme. Each artist will provide their own media of choice, and Sijang Tacos will provide the canvases. DJ Strikestone will play music while spectators enjoy tacos, skate around the park and watch the artists working on their masterpieces. After 90 minutes of hard work, the audience will get to choose which artist is the winner of the Canvas Clash.

Photo courtesy of Tokatattoos

Photo courtesy of Tokatattoos


Fitzner originally opened Sijang as an event caterer and intended to focus solely on food but almost immediately decided to take a more creative approach by hosting his own events that feature art battles in the Northern Virginia area. “There is definitely a lot of talent around here,” Fitzner said. He believes these events give artists and art-lovers a chance to experience something new and interact in an offline setting. Fitzner plans on having multiple Canvas Clash events throughout the year, although the venues may hop around Northern Virginia.

(9-30) Canvas Clash superwaxx2

Photo courtesy of Superwaxx


The Canvas Clash
FearCliff Indoor Skate Park
14500 Jefferson Davis Highway, Woodbridge
Oct. 3, 5-9 p.m.

A natural duo

Posted by Editorial / Friday, September 25th, 2015

Photo courtesy of Wendy Schobert.

Photo courtesy of Wendy Schobert.

By Nelia Dashiell

The Arts in the Village Gallery hosts two incredible artists during the month of September. Watercolor artist Wendy Schobert and coppersmithing artist Anne Jordan will both be featured in the gallery’s “A Natural Flair” exhibit. The exhibit will feature both artists and their unique pieces of art, which portray an aspect of nature in each of their respective forms. We were able to take a moment with both of the artists and ask them more about their work, inspiration, and future plans.

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Guide to a Week of Literature

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Fall for the Book returns Sept. 27-Oct. 3 with a slate of impressive authors.

By Cameron Mellin


Courtesy of houghton mifflin harcourt (‘The Things They Carried’); Courtesy of Random House (‘The Paris Wife’ and ‘outlander’)courtesy of Jen Brooks (‘In a World Just Right’); Courtesy of New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc (‘The Witch Hunter’); Courtesy of Penguin Random House (‘A Lesson Before Dying’)

Back for its 16th season, George Mason University’s Fall for the Book is set to inspire another year’s worth of bookworms. A weeklong regional festival, FFTB brings writer and reader together via discussions with accomplished authors, literary workshops for the kids and dramatic interpretations of the source material, fueling the next generation of authors from nonfiction to poetry and everywhere in between.

The literary lineup is endless, but we have done the grunt work for you by narrowing down the festival’s must-see events certain to inspire your own novel (be it five or 10 years in the making, we won’t judge) or simply a curling up next to the fire with a good read and cup of chamomile as the weather cools.


Diana Gabaldon (Courtesy of Ellena Loughlin); Ernest J. Gaines (courtesy of Steven Forster); Dorianne Laux (Courtesy of John Campbell; Paula McLain (courtesy of Nina Subin); Tim O’Brien (courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); Peter Straub (courtesy of Jerry Bauer); Jen Brooks (courtesy of Jen Brooks)

The Headliners

Sunday, Sept. 27
Kick off the festival with Diana Gabaldon, international best-selling author of the “Outlander” series beloved by teens and adults alike, who will be accepting the Mason Award, presented to an author whose work resonates with the wide-reaching public, at George Mason’s Center for the Arts.

Monday, Sept. 28
Sponsored by the Mason Reads program, a GMU initiative encouraging students to engage with one another through literature, MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Ernest J. Gaines will discuss his book “A Lesson before Dying.” A popular read amongst high school classrooms, Gaines’ novel explores themes of mortality, injustice and the confrontation of racism in the pre-civil rights South.

Friday, Oct. 2
Craft beer and creative arts haven Epicure Cafe hosts an evening of award-winning poetry. Poet Jeff Baker, the winner of the 2014 Idaho Prize for Poetry, and Dorianne Laux, whose most recent collection, “The Book of Men,” won the Paterson Prize, will both read. Poet Jeff Millar, described as “an authority of hard won experience” by the Prairie Schooner, will follow up with work from his collection “Blue Rust.”

Saturday, Oct. 3
Paula McLain, author of the New York Times best-seller “The Paris Wife,” the story of Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley in Jazz Age France, will read at GMU’s Harris Theater and discuss her latest work, “Circling the Sun.”

Saturday, Oct. 3
After McLain, stick around for the big finish when Tim O’Brien, Pulitzer Prize finalist and award-winning author of “The Things They Carried,” accepts the festival’s highest honor, The Fairfax Prize. O’Brien will discuss his experiences in Vietnam with NPR critic Alan Cheuse as well as his career as a novelist and literary philanthropist.


For the Kids

Wednesday, Sept. 30
Get the kids in the Halloween spirit with horror author Peter Straub, who has won a slew of Bram Stoker awards for superior achievement in scary storytelling. He will be reading from his collection of spooky stories at McLean’s Alden Theater at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 3
Young adult authors Jen Brooks, Virginia Boecker and Jean Marie Thorne will lead writing workshops in tandem with literary organization Freshman Fifteen for ages 12 and up. The writers will read from their tween-adored novels, giving kids one-on-one interaction with the authors and a chance to learn the ins and outs of becoming a writer.


q&a With tim o’brien

Tim O’Brien would wrap up studying around midnight, finished with his graduate coursework for the day—which at Harvard was anything but light—and close his textbook in the pursuit of a passion he had maintained from childhood.

“I’d write from somewhere around midnight to 4 a.m.,” says O’Brien. “You can’t be a dabbler to become a writer. You have to approach it the same way you would solving a Rubik’s cube: lots of practice … doing so every day,” no matter if it’s a late night in Cambridge or a year serving in the Vietnam War. The latter inspired O’Brien’s most famous work, “The Things They Carried,” which chronicles the lives of Alpha Company both during and after Vietnam. The work became a testament to the ideology and values of 20th-century America.

We sat down with O’Brien, recipient of this year’s Fairfax Prize presented by Fall for the Book, to talk about his award-winning work and the life that inspired it.

What do you think it is about ”The Things They Carried” that makes it so significant?
I think the readers tend to put themselves in the shoes of characters, whatever book they’re reading. They look at things from the perspective of their own experiences. A 19-year-old college student who may never be in war can understand what it means to be lonely and confused.

Would you say the work is a cross between fiction and your own experiences?
Everything a writer ever writes about is truth. Something brings you to write what you are writing. My motives for writing “The Things They Carried” are not limited to war. I was a soldier for a year of my life; I’m not really interested in bullets, bombs and military tactics. I never have been, but I am interested in how the human heart responds to terror and confusion. I was trying to answer the questions of “Why am I here? How will I keep my sanity? Will I ever cease with the bitterness and cynicism that war is accompanied with?” That’s what I tried to explore with the novel, in both the characters and myself.

When did you know you were going to make a career of being an author?
The daydream of wanting to be a writer collided with Vietnam, and I had to write. It wasn’t a question of wanting to … in a way you could say that no matter what story you are working on, it is a kind of therapy. For me it’s a lot more than that. It has to do with trying to make a beautiful piece of art out of life experience. Life is chaotic, random and often incredibly mysterious. We’d don’t know why we do the things we do all the time, but in a novel you can shape and try to understand as you’re writing what you can’t when you are living your life.

So what’s your endgame for your writing?
The object of my writing is to make a beautiful, harmonious piece of art, one that moves people’s emotions and focuses them in a fierce kind of way to help us all heal, and to translate those 26 letters we as writers have to work with to the reader so they can understand the world of not only the novel but the person behind it.

O’Brien will be accepting the Fairfax Prize October 3.


(September 2015)



The Music of Life

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Footwerk debuts new album, performs at JamBrew Festival. 

By Cameron Mellin

Photo courtesy of Effective Immediately PR

Photo courtesy of Effective Immediately PR

A 2012 Craigslist ad brought Footwerk together when hip-hop lyricist Kyle Higginbotham was in search of a band and discovered, with the help of five other DMV musicians, a sound somewhere between the go-go melodies of Andre 3000 and soulful passion of Mary J. Blige.

“It was natural,” according to Higginbotham, who knew from the artists’ first jam session that what they had was a group determined to stretch their musical boundaries. They did just that with their June 2015 release, “Casual Encounters,” an album meant to resonate with its listener just as the songs themselves connect with the musicians who wrote them. “It’s life, whatever is going on,” Higginbotham says in response to what inspires his writing. “And the concept behind [the album] is this idea of social media consuming us, to where it’s rare to have real encounters with people anymore.”

Through their live shows, dubbed “no strings attached” performances, Footwerk has always maintained a sense of connection, of “real encounters” with their fan base as Higginbotham states. “We allow the mood of the venue to determine where the show heads. … We toured with [D.C.-area band] SOJA for a time, and the audience loved our intimate, interactive style.”

What you see is what you get with Footwerk, whose latest album is set to a lively instrumental backdrop and maintains a tone of powerful emotion. Songs such as “Eva,” written by the mononymous bass player Fern about his daughter, provide the album honesty while the R&B-infused “Clean my Soul” is designed to “snap you back to a place in time,” according to Higginbotham, where hardship and heartache was the reality. “I find [when struggling to find inspiration] that is life’s way of telling you to live a little more,” he says. Every live show is a chance to express a feeling near and dear to the heart, where the “emotions can’t help but come through on stage.”

Don’t believe the hype? See for yourself Sept. 18 when Footwerk performs at Herndon’s free to the public JamBrew Concert Series.

‘Angel Soldier Dance Sublime’: Collaborative art exhibit comes to Torpedo Factory

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Photo courtesy of Anya Antonovych.

Photo courtesy of Anya Antonovych.

By Grace Ann Brew

Starting on Sept. 10, four female artists will present photographs, drawings, sculptures and a dance performance that reflect their own experiences as female artists, mothers and warriors. Sam Jones, Anya Antonovych, Heather Lyon and Kari Van Tine create a dialogue between the feminine and the masculine with their exhibit, “Angel Soldier Dance Sublime.”

Each artist uses both feminine and masculine elements in her work. “I believe it’s a very feminine engagement with the materials,” Jones says of her glass sculpture. “I’m using my nondominant hand to draw, and in my dominant hand I have a torch that is melting my glass rod. As I’m making the work, I’m subverting my own control at every level. What I end up doing is just surrendering to the process.”

Lyon similarly describes the process of wrapping her sculptures made of rebar (industrial steel), sequins and cloth. “The rebar is quite masculine. It’s rational, industrial and linear. Then the treatment of the surface of the rebar is much more feminine. It’s a very repetitive action of wrapping, which for me really connects to other ways of making that have a traditionally feminine approach, like knitting, sewing and binding.”

Antonovych created her photographs in a unique way. “These were all photographs that I took by accident on my iPhone,” Antonovych says. “I got really interested in them because they were very rich and sensual images. In the end they are presented in a very ordered form, and it’s almost like I’m trying to domesticate the intuitive through a presentation that is much more logical and masculine.”

While these three women’s pieces are on display at the Target Gallery, dancer and artist Kari Van Tine will perform an improvised dance in reaction to the work. As a part of her dance, she will be drawing on a 7-by-15-foot cotton paper on the floor with her body. “I will be physically tying together the relationships between the other elements in the space,” Van Tine explains. “In my role as the dancer, artist, warrior and angel, I will be mapping out and creating a lasting element of something that is actually moment to moment.”

Van Tine will begin her piece on Tuesday, Sept. 15, and will continue to add to it through the following Wednesday, Sept. 16. She uses a combination of soft, feminine dance with more aggressive, masculine martial arts movements to express the relationship between the feminine and the masculine.

“I’m teasing apart how it feels to hold the strength and power of being feminine while also masculine,” Van Tine says. “I’m at play with these elements, but while I’m working, I’m also being clear that they are distinct elements and will not be blended together.”

These female artists are interested in concepts of femininity in a post-feminist world and what it means to be a mother, an artist and a woman. Lyon says, “The feminist courses at schools taught me that there was only one way to be a feminist and that was to reject anything related to domesticity. I found that really restrictive. After I had a child, I got a lot of flak from people saying I couldn’t be a successful artist and a mother, so now I’m really trying to embrace both parts of my life.”

Jones, who had a similar experience, says: “I’m not going to apologize for having a baby and being an artist. I’m not trying to fight something here; I just want to exist. I want to be part of the conversation.”

Join Jones, Antonovych, Lyon and Van Tine in their exploration of femininity and view their representations of the female warrior by visiting the Target Gallery Sept. 10-Oct. 18. The opening reception takes place on Sept. 10, and there will be a curator talk with Anya Antonovych at 7 p.m.

 “Angel Soldier Dance Sublime”
Torpedo Factory Art Center
105 N. Union St., Alexandria
Sept. 10-Oct. 18; Opening reception Sept 10, 6-8 p.m.

Get outside and get into nature centers

Posted by Editorial / Friday, September 4th, 2015

Photo courtesy of panco971/shutterstock.com

Photo courtesy of panco971/shutterstock.com

By Micaela Williamson

Summer might be over, but there are always options for outdoor play in NoVA. Now is the time to take advantage of the great outdoors before days get short. With trails, animal encounters and environmental-focused family programs, budding naturalists will enjoy spending time at these nature centers.

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