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Archive for February, 2012

Culture notes: Lots of singing, dancing in Theater of Stars season; N.Y. auditions set for Leon-directed Tupac musical

THEATER
Theater of the Stars’ 60th season

Atlanta theater producers continue to feed the metro area’s apparently unquenchable thirst for musicals. After Broadway Across America trumpeted a song-and-dance-dominated 2012-13 slate last week, Theater of the Stars has announced its coming season at the Fox Theatre this week that’s also heavy on musicals: “The Producers” (July 24-29), “Peter Pan” starring Cathy Rigby (Aug. 7-12) , the Atlanta debut of “The Addams Family” (Aug. 14-19), “The King and I” (Sept. 5-11) and “Mary Poppins” (April 2-7, 2013). In a special (non-musical) presentation, Blue Man Group returns Jan. 15-20, 2013. Tickets: 404-252-8960, www.theaterofthestars.com. HOWARD POUSNER

Leon’s ‘Holler’ makes audition call
Though it hasn’t been officially announced, it’s looking like a go for “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” a Broadway musical featuring lyrics and music by Tupac Shakur, to be directed by Atlantan Kenny Leon. An open call is scheduled March 10 in New York, according …

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Another financial distress signal from Theatre in the Square

In what has now become a familiar fund-raising tune, Theatre in the Square in Marietta is trying to raise enough funds to stay afloat.

The 30-year-old troupe is trying to come up with $60,000 by March 16, said artistic director and theater co-founder Palmer Wells. The full theater board will meet on March 16 to determine whether the theater will present a 31st season or whether it will close for good if the money isn’t secured.

The theater launched an emergency fund-raising drive last year with the goal of raising $350,000 by the end of 2011, with additional $400,000 by the end of June to clear its debt. Wells said the theater has raised around $375,000 so far.

The short-term $60,000 challenge was issued by board chair Mike Russell earlier this month to fellow board members. The money would be to meet payroll and other immediate expenses. Russell reiterated that challenge on Monday during a special meeting of the Marietta City Council to discuss the financial challenges facing …

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‘The Rebel Wife’ By Taylor M. Polites

Book Review
Fiction
“The Rebel Wife”
By Taylor M. Polites
Simon & Schuster; 304 pages; $25

By Gina Webb

rebelwifeThe best historical novel is the one we forget is a historical novel. Kind of like Scarlett O’Hara’s curtain outfit: We knew she looked gorgeous, the fabric and cut were stunning, but the only thing left of the original drapes when she sashayed off to see Rhett was a little fading from where the sun once hit them.

Taylor M. Polites pulls off just such sleight of hand in his gloriously gothic, moody post-Civil War novel, “The Rebel Wife, ” set in Alabama during the long hot summer of 1873.

It’s all here — an expertly packaged history lesson about the massive social and economic upheaval that was Reconstruction, where fortunes changed hands, the word “freedom” lost its meaning, and Yankees weren’t the only enemies of “the sons and daughters of the defeated South.” But Polites has concealed it as cleverly as Scarlett turned those drawing-room portieres into a fancy new dress …

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Culture notes: Exhibit on women and WWII at KSU; Commerce launches folk-fine art festival

EXHIBIT
Women and WWII
Keyed to Women’s History Month, the Kennesaw State University Museum of History and Holocaust Education will open the exhibition “Beyond Rosie: Women in World War II,” on Thursday, exploring the conflict’s impact on everyday social, cultural and economic realities of women in the U.S. A public opening reception, 12:30-2 p.m., features speakers including Jane Tucker, who worked as a welder at the Savannah shipyards during the war years. KSU Center, 3333 Busbee Drive, Kennesaw. 770-420-4699, www.kennesaw.edu/historymuseum. HOWARD POUSNER

EVENTS
New Commerce festival

More than 60 folk-style and studio artists will be presented at the Folk to Fine Arts Festival and Expo, a three-day event launching Friday at the Commerce Civic Center. Among the participating artists are painter John “Cornbread” Anderson and potter Roger Corn. Stan “Potteryman” Clark, a fixture at Folk Fest every summer, will be among the vendors. 5-10 p.m. Friday ($15, includes light …

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Culture notes: Spelman Museum leader to co-curate in Havana; High names ‘12 Driskell Prize winner

VISUAL ART
From Spelman to Havana

Spelman College Museum of Fine Art director Andrea Barnwell Brownlee has been selected to co-curate an exhibit in May at the Havana Biennial. It marks the first time in its 28-year history that the Cuban contemporary art exhibition has selected a U.S. curatorial team to exhibit.

Brownlee will join Valerie Cassel Oliver, senior curator at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, in remounting the exhibit “Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970.” The 2007 show documented two generations of women artists of the African Diaspora working in film and video.

In Havana, the reconfigured show will feature eight artists, including Berni Searle, Lorna Simpson and Carrie Mae Weems. Information: www.spelmanmuseum.org (click: Upcoming Exhibitions). HOWARD POUSNER

New York artist wins 2012 Driskell Prize
The High Museum of Art has named New York artist Rashid Johnson as the 2012 recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize. Named …

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Michael Simanga to lead National Black Arts Festival

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

The National Black Arts Festival on Friday announced that former Fulton County Arts & Culture director Michael Simanga will become its executive director. A 32-year Atlanta resident, Detroit native Simanga replaces Neil Barclay, who resigned in November.

Simanga’s charge is to “create a new strategic direction, based upon a new business model,” according to an NBAF statement, and to begin planning the NBAF’s 25th anniversary celebration in 2013.

“Michael is mindful of the changing times and conditions that arts organizations face, and will work to complete the transition and develop a new business model for NBAF,” board chair Evern Cooper Epps said.

Founded in 1987, NBAF originally was focused on presenting a sprawling summer festival. In recent years, the organization has pushed to become a year-round presenter. Difficult fund-raising during the recession impeded that progress somewhat and caused Barclay, who arrived in 2009 after leading …

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Culture notes: Atlanta Film Festival has Georgia in mind; Young Audiences hosting Mad Hatter family event Saturday

MOVIES
Peach-flavored lineup

Promising more Georgia-connected movies than in any of its 36 years, the Atlanta Film Festival has released a handful of titles coming March 23-April 1 to Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema and other cinemas:

  • “John Portman: A Life of Building,” a documentary on the Atlanta architect.
  • “AKA Blondie,” an intimate portrait of the infamous Clermont Lounge exotic dancer.
  • “Hurry Up and Wait,” a documentary about Atlanta based band Gringo Star.
  • “That’s What She Said,” a narrative starring Anne Heche and directed by “True Blood” actress Carrie Preston, a Macon native.
  • “V/H/S,” a horror anthology by six rising directors, partly filmed in Georgia, that recently played the Sundance Film Festival.

Information: 404-352-4225, www.atlantafilmfestival.com. HOWARD POUSNER

EVENT
‘Mad’ about fun

Arts-in-education providers to Georgia schools, the Woodruff Arts Center’s Young Audiences division presents its annual public Mad Hatter celebration (ideal for ages …

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An appreciation: Georgia folk potter Harold “Bull” Hewell, 1926-2012

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

Gillsville potter Harold Hewell was known by the nickname “Bull” because he was so strong and productive he could produce a room full of pottery in a day.

Hewell, the patriarch of one of Georgia’s oldest pottery-making clans, with seven generations having passed down knowledge of  the craft since 1850, died Feb. 14 at age 85.

In John Burrison’s “Brothers in Clay: The Story of Georgia Folk Pottery,” the definitive tome on the grassroots tradition, Harold Hewell spoke about the early expectations of his father, Maryland “Bud” Hewell (1891-1964): “I think he had it in mind he wanted all his boys to be potters… I have three brothers, and we’ve all kept our hands in the business. We must have been born with clay in our veins.”

That seems to have remained true of descendants that have followed Harold Hewell into the family business. Other potters working or learning the craft at Hewell’s Pottery, on Ga. 52 in Gillsville, 12 miles east of …

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Theatre in the Square makes more cuts as managing director departs

With long-time Theatre in the Square managing director Raye Varney resigning this week, staffer Susan Reid will fill the role in an interim capacity, board chairman Mike Russell has announced. The position will not be immediately filled to cut overhead, Russell added, and the Marietta troupe’s producing director Palmer Wells also has agreed to work without pay until the funding outlook improves. The theater is attempting to raise $750,000 by June 30 that would help retire its debt and secure operating funds for the current fiscal year. HOWARD POUSNER

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Theatre in the Square managing director Varney resigns

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

Raye Varney, managing director of Theatre in the Square, has announced her departure from the 30-year-old Marietta theater, which has been fighting to retire a deficit.

In a vaguely worded e-mail sent Tuesday night, Varney wrote that she was resigning to ”move on to new challenges.”

In response to questions from the AJC, Varney e-mailed a statement Wednesday morning: “I have stepped down from my post … It is my hope that the loss of my salary will allow my team to remain employed longer. I wish the very best for Theatre in the Square and feel fortunate to have worked for over six years to help lead it through both good times and bad. Finally, I encourage all those who love the arts to support their local arts organization with their talents and their resources.”

Last September, the company issued an SOS to supporters in which producing director Palmer Wells said it was “on the brink of financial disaster” due to $187,000 in accumulated …

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