Posted by Editorial / Thursday, February 26th, 2015
By Matthew Tracy
Fairfax may be a great place to settle down, but it’s also a hotbed for rock music. Take it from alternative rock band His Dream of Lions, whose five members came together through the local Fairfax music scene in February 2012.
“There were quite a few pop, punk, pop rock kind of bands (in the area), and it was difficult to make yourself known any other way than to just play shows,” says the band’s singer, Seth Coggeshall.
“My first time ever singing in front of people was at Jammin’ Java, which was huge for me,” Coggeshall says. “So we just have a lot of history with them. We have a lot of good memories there, and we played with a lot of incredible bands at Jammin’ Java.”
The band continued playing at venues like Jammin’ Java, determinedly captivating more and more locals with their energetic performances.
“It took a while for people to be like, ‘maybe these guys are different,’” says Coggeshall. “(Now) we have a lot of friends that we still have today and we will always have just from coming up in this area and doing it the way that all bands start out doing it, just playing a ton of shows.”
His Dream of Lions have accomplished a lot in the three years since they started playing together. They released their debut record, “Part One,” last March. Its opening track, “Novel,” climbed to number seven on both the New Music Weekly Top 40 and Hot 100 Singles charts.
“It’s a lot of work, but when it pays off, it really pays off,” says Coggeshall.
His Dream of Lions have tailored the story of their determination and success into their music’s message. They use their music to inspire all of their fans to follow their dreams.
“Really when it comes down to it, your life is truly your own,” says Coggeshall. “Whatever that one thing is that you’ve always wanted, there’s no better time to go for it than right now.”
Now the band is tracking a new single, with an accompanying music video coming out later this spring. After that, they plan to continue touring and spreading their hopeful message to all of their fans.
Local audiences will have a chance to see His Dream of Lions when they perform at Jammin’ Java this Saturday at 8 p.m.
Visit Jammin’ Java’s webpage for show and ticket information.
For more information on the band, visit His Dream of Lions’ Facebook page.
Posted by Editorial / Thursday, February 26th, 2015
By Victoria Gaffney
The ever unique and inventive Synetic Theater has brought its 11th wordless Shakespeare production to the stage. Director Paata Tskikurishvili transforms “Much Ado About Nothing,” Shakespeare’s comedy of love, witty banter and verbal sparring, into an innovative visual show by setting it in 1950s Las Vegas. The Synetic performers—bikers and showgirls, complete with sleek black leather jackets, cool blue jeans and swing dresses—make Shakespeare’s timeless tale come alive with sparkling dance numbers and dynamic nonverbal acting.
Georgian artists Paata and Irina Tskikurishvili founded Synetic Theater together, debuting with their first wordless Shakespeare production of “Hamlet” in 2002. Their theater’s name comes from a combination of the words “synthesis” and “kinetic,” which captures their company’s interest in blending various art forms and incorporating a powerful sense of movement. This emphasis on motion is central to their productions.
Synetic’s approach to Shakespeare is often met with skepticism, and director Paata readily admits that theirs is a wholly unique and unusual method. He is careful to point out, however, that “art has endless possibilities.” Shakespeare in particular, he explains, has inspired artists across disciplines and mediums internationally. Shakespeare’s broad influence leads to questions of translation both of the text itself and of ways to artistically retell and reinvent the story. “Theatrical language” Paata explains, extends beyond words: “It’s visuals; it’s symbolism; it’s music; it’s action; it’s dance; it’s pantomime.” Synetic’s focus is on what Paata calls visual storytelling.
With each production, Paata finds a particular approach or angle to take on the story. No setting is off-limits. He usually tries to find something unusual about the play. “King Lear” was set in a post-apocalyptic world, “Twelfth Night” took place in the roaring twenties, and the entire set of “Romeo and Juliet,” curiously, was set in a clock, a decision Paata made since time is referenced 172 times in the play. He explains that because he is from Eastern Europe his technique is different; sometimes he arrives at something very abstract and surreal, but he tries to combine his approach with an American style.
In each play, Paata tries to find a concept that captures the story. After he has his initial take, he works with other members of the production team and they discuss the mood of each scene. For “Much Ado About Nothing” he worked with composer Konstantine Lortkipanidze, who has worked on a number of Synetic productions in the past. After discussing the mood, or what Paata calls the color of the scene, Lortkipanidze composes music that fits with Paata’s theme. The music is almost entirely instrumental.
“When I do productions without text, music becomes the text so to speak,” Paata says. “Music becomes the score, becomes the script for the actors.” He often jokes that the production isn’t a musical but a “movesical” because of its great emphasis on movement.
In “Much Ado About Nothing,” all the characters are the same. Beatrice and Benedick, rather than sparring verbally, communicate through movement and expression. The original begins with soldiers returning from war, which inspired Paata to set his production in the 1950s. The aftermath of World War II, coupled with the danger of possible nuclear warfare, was very central to the second half of the 1940s and the next decade. In the 1950s, Paata says, “new movement was invented, new dance, new sounds, Elvis Presley, rock ‘n’ roll.” Paata says, “It was kind of a new era, and the story fits so well.”
With all of its productions, Synetic tries to synthesize various art forms; Paata calls this “an artistic melting pot.” He feels wordless productions really showcase the “power of surreal and abstract storytelling.” He explains that about 90 percent of Synetic actors were actors first and then taught how to move; they all have the ability to create an “emotional flow” that runs through the production.
Paata creates wordless productions of Shakespeare partly because he feels it’s important to keep up with the times. With advents in technology, things are changing rapidly. The movies are changing, he says, so “why not the theater?” At Synetic Paata is always asking himself: “What is tomorrow’s theater? What is the contemporary approach?” Paata’s wordless Shakespeare is simply a retelling of the same story. The setting may be different, but the story and the characters are all there.
Ticket Information (through March 22):
Wednesday-Saturday 8 p.m., $15-$100
Sunday 2 p.m., $15-$100
Theater at Crystal City
1800 South Bell St.
Arlington, VA 22202
Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
By Matthew Tracy
Most people know “Poker Face.” They know that Lady Gaga wants to “hold ‘em like they do in Texas, please.” And in Falls Church, folk band The Big Cheese holds ‘em like they do in Virginia.
The Big Cheese’s tagline is “‘Cripple Creek’ meets Lady Gaga.” Using old time folk tunes, they put a special twist on pop classics such as “Poker Face.”
Bandleader Larry Rice gives the lowdown on their music: “The oldest tune that we play is from the 1500s,” he says. “It’s a really old folk tune, but it’s a cool melody. It’s timeless. We take old songs, and we sort of mash them up.”
Rice’s music career began in a band with his brother when he was growing up in Falls Church. He then went on to cofound country rock band Flatbush in Cleveland and made a name for himself in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
Flatbush released two 45s and an LP during its time together. One tune, “Snug as a Bug in a Rug,” became a Cleveland radio hit in 1979, yet Flatbush broke up soon after this success. Rice chose to continue with music, making a part-time gig as a music teacher in Falls Church his full-time passion.
Just eight years ago Rice formed The Big Cheese with his former mandolin student Julie Anne Greene and his daughters Lea Mae Camarda and Shannon Rice, who is on performance hiatus while serving in the Navy.
“I’d have to say it’s just as fun (as Flatbush); it’s just different,” says Larry Rice.
Fans can tell they have a fun time from the humor of recent novelty tunes like “Redneck Cappuccino,” a song about Mountain Dew, and “Harvey,” which is about what Rice calls a fierce “ninja cat.” And one thing that makes The Big Cheese different is its members’ variety of tastes.
“Shannon is a little more modern. Julie’s into traditional; she’s into bluegrass in particular as a mandolin player,” Rice says. “And it’s sort of a democratic band. Everybody picks the song they want to do.”
The band also stands out in its choice of instruments. “(Lea Mae Carda) plays the (mountain) dulcimer, and literally a crowd gathers round because most people have never seen one,” Rice says. “It’s a very traditional sound, but when you put it into some newer music, it’s kind of a cool tune.”
The Big Cheese uses ten different acoustic instruments, giving them vibrancy other local bands lack.
“All our instruments are acoustic,” Rice says. “But mixed together with more modern approaches, it’s really neat music.”
Audiences can see Larry Rice perform with Lea Mae Carda and three of his fiddle students Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Epicure Cafe in Fairfax in anticipation of the band’s “Live Culture” CD release party on March 28.
Posted by Editorial / Thursday, February 19th, 2015
By Victoria Gaffney
Tom Prewitt, artistic director of WSC Avant Bard, is putting a new spin on the Shakespearean wartime tragedy of love and deceit. In a production that runs through March 1 at Theatre on the Run, “Othello” is set in the modern context of the Middle East. Prewitt adds an additional maritime twist by enclosing the characters in a claustrophobic man-tower submarine for the duration of the play. Prewitt explains that the majority of military encounters in Shakespeare’s time were at sea. By creating this unique setting, he hopes that people will be able to see the show with a fresh perspective.
This production hones in on a particular effect of war, PTSD. Prewitt explains that Othello, who has been a soldier since the age of 7, has had a life of war which lasted until nine months before the play’s beginning. Prewitt and his team collaborated with community partners who work with veterans experiencing PTSD and traumatic brain injury. If we look at the psychological changes—Othello’s jealousy and anger and the behavior of other characters—within a contemporary context, Prewitt explains, “those all sound like classic symptoms of PTSD.”
By setting the characters in the “very enclosed, claustrophobic container” in the submarine, Prewitt says, “I wanted to explore not only what the influence and the impact of traumatic stress would have on individuals but also what kind of impact it would have on the community.” Prewitt says he wanted to see how this community, which comprises military, family members and civilian advisors, would respond to the subversion of one of their own members. Iago, the classic villain, is described by everyone as honest. Prewitt explains, “It’s as if they cannot conceive that one of their own could possibly be up to such a level of malevolent no-good that they just overlook that possibility until it’s way too late.”
In terms of structure, the production is true to Shakespeare’s original with only minor cuts for timing purposes. This production curiously takes Iago’s last lines in the play and puts them in the beginning as well, which gives the show a “wraparound, bookend structure,” says Prewitt. He wanted to leave the villain’s infamous words “hanging in the air” so that the central questions concerning the nature of evil and Iago’s motivations frame the play.
In finding his approach, Prewitt explains, “I start out by reading the play hundreds of times and reading it in different ways, reading single scenes, comparing different scenes, comparing scenes out of order.” Once he has discovered his direction, he looks for designers that can help him tell the story in a fresh light. For “Othello,” the set designer is Joseph Muscumeci, the costume designer is Elizabeth Ennis, the lighting designer is Colin Dieck and the sound team is Lean and Hungry Theater.
WSC Avant Bard offers “unscripted afterchats” following Sunday matinees. In light of Black History Month, this Sunday’s chat will focus on race in the play. The discussion, “Race and Racism in Othello,” will feature Chuck Young who plays Othello and Frank Britton who plays Iago, as well as Caleen Sinnette Jennings who is a professor at George Washington University, a playwright, and an actress.
On March 22, Lean and Hungry Theater will be recording a live, one-hour audio version of the play at Artisphere.
Ticket Information (through March 1):
Thursday-Friday 7:30 p.m., $30
Saturday 2 p.m., pay what you can
Saturday 7:30 p.m., $35
Sunday 2 p.m., $35
Sunday Unscripted Afterchat 4:50 p.m., free
Theatre on the Run
Cultural Affairs Building
3700 S. Four Mile Run Drive
Arlington, VA 22206
Lean and Hungry Production (March 22):
Sunday 6 p.m., $15-20
1101 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22209
Posted by Editorial / Monday, February 16th, 2015
By Sophia Rutti
NextStop Theatre is putting on a production that is nothing if not unique. “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” is a regional premiere in Northern Virginia that won’t soon be forgotten.
The production runs from Feb. 12 through March 1, and tickets are $28. Director Lorraine Magee took the time to give us a little insight into her upcoming production.
Posted by Editorial / Monday, February 9th, 2015
By Sophia Rutti
With Valentine’s Day being smack-dab in the middle of the weekend, it casts a huge heart-shaped shadow over all the other entertainment options. But Valentine’s isn’t the only thing happening this weekend: It is also President’s Day Weekend.
For most of us, that means a long weekend and time to relax, but we tend to forget the spirit behind President’s Day.
President’s Day was initially a celebration of George Washington’s birthday on Feb. 22 but was then moved to the third Monday in February in an effort to give American workers more three-day weekends. Thank you, Mr. Washington. This year the celebration falls on Feb.16.
As the father of our country, Washington’s birthday deserves to be celebrated. So get off the couch, stop rewatching Parks and Recreation, and go celebrate with the rest of our country.
Here are a few ways to celebrate in the area:
Posted by Editorial / Friday, February 6th, 2015
This season chocolate is the gift of love, but at area events it takes on the form of art. —Lynn Norusis
28th Annual Chocolates Galore & More
Supporting the Loudoun County YMCA, the 28th Annual Chocolates Galore & More event not only allows participants to donate to a worthy cause, it also allows them to indulge in the artistic chocolate creations of area chefs— Lansdowne Resort’s executive dessert chefs, Eggspectations, The Chocolate Chick and Grandale Farm—during a night of competition. There will be free-flowing champagne, hors d’oeuvres and desserts, silent auction and live music and dancing.
Chocolate Lover’s Festival
City of Fairfax
The City of Fairfax is turned over to those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth with a weekend filled with chocolate decadence. The two-day event includes everything from samples and demonstrations to a chocolate challenge for both professionals and amateurs, art contest and the pancake breakfast hosted by the Kiwanis Club. The historic buildings are open to the public; historic re-enactments will take place; and the children can participate in activities such as a craft show, fairy tale-base mock trial and more.
Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015
By Sophia Rutti
For all the modern movie lovers out there it’s time to try something new, something a little less explosive, something a little more…well, silent.
The Alden is presenting a “Classics of the Silent Screen” night on Feb. 4, at 7:30 p.m.
There will be a showing of cinema’s very first cowboy “Broncho Billy” Anderson in his film “Shootin’ Mad” (1918) before a showing of “The Tollgate”(1920) that stars William S. Hart the “Clint Eastwood of silent film”.
The films may be silent, but the event certainly will not be. Composer Ben Model will be accompanying the film by improvising a live score on the piano and Bruce Lawton, a film historian and preservationist, will give background and history about the movies.
“They are both silent-film experts, and audiences get the chance to ask questions of them following the screening. Their love for the material is contagious, and their enthusiasm makes silent films accessible to everyone. ” Tickets are $12 for non-residents and $8 for MCC district residents.
Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015
Edited by Lynn Norusis
1George Washington Birthday Parade
Visit Old Town Alexandria and join in on one of the largest parades celebrating our founding father. The one-mile route hosts nearly 3,500 participants as they wind through the streets of the city. / Feb. 16
2‘Alice in Wonderland’
The Emmy-nominated troupe, Pushcart Players, delights young audience members with a retelling of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale of tea parties, rabbit holes and mad hatters. / Feb. 28
3TechQuest: Eye in the Sky Game
Kids ages 10-14 can learn the role of an intelligence analyst in the Cold War by trying to find a missing plane through information they gather about four objects in Udvar-Hazy. Very hands-on, the program involves secret codes and ciphers and includes hands-on activities for the kids. / Feb. 7, 13, 14 and 21
4Chinese New Year
Bob Brown brings his puppets along to Franklin Park Arts Center to celebrate the Chinese New Year, the year of the sheep. There will be crafts and refreshments to accompany the Pandamonium show at 3 p.m. / Feb. 21
Steven Roslonek, the 15-year veteran of children’s music and the man behind SteveSongs, has played his blend of silly, entertaining and educational song stories and melodies at renown venues such as The Kennedy Center, Wolftrap, Fenway Park and even a show at the White House. He now brings his act to Jammin Java for one day only. / Feb. 14
Bedtime is the time for creative minds as Imagination Stage takes audience members to the room of make believe with dancing fish, fantastical creatures and sock dance concerts. This interactive show will have children up and exploring their imagination. / Feb. 19-21
716th Annual Clarendon Alliance Annual Mardi Gras Parade & Bayou Bakery Block Party
The streets of Clarendon turn over to the festivities of Mardi Gras with music, dancing and floats. Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery is also getting into the fun with a block party for the entire family. The New Orleans chef will serve up Muff-a-lottas, Andouille and shrimp gumbo, BB King Cake and more. Carnival costumes are suggested as there will be prizes awarded throughout the night. / Feb. 17