From The Editor

Marginal Arts Festival Parade: An Inside Look

Dan Smith

Marginal Arts Festival’s official orchestra.
Botticelli Baby arrives with her cupcake …
… and the blue thing followed.
Marginal Arts Festival Founder Brian Counihan.
Modern transportation.
Cat Woman … of a sort.
The beautiful Viking Charisse Surayya.
Community High leads the parade.
Pepper-spray cop John Pike and his Chicken.
Artist Eric Fitzpatrick and Pearlie Mae Fu.
Kara, Evan and Oscar Smith photographing my granddaughter, Madeline, riding with Pearlie Mae.
Bugle boy.
The queen and his wife.
Viking Jeffrey Rigdon and his pretty daughter Kimberly.
Katherine Devine finishes off her mermaid.
Kimberly Rigdon toots her horn.
Crochet girls.
Grandbuddy Madeline and her buddy Pearl Fu (that’d be Pearlie Mae to some of us).
Jeff Pulls Madeline and Pearl.
Robin  Barnhill and a head celebrate “Occupy.”
Vikings, Queens and Princesses.
We all smelled a rat.
Hitching a ride on mama.
Tracy Wassmer and Alisa Downey look fetching.
An irresistible young dancer.

Today’s Marginal Arts Festival Mardi Gras Parade in downtown was an exercise in artistic chaos and anarchy and it was lovely.
The parade had about 30 entries, mostly creatively decorated people and occasionally a large animal, political poster, Queen of Hearts and her Princess and even Vikings. It was the kind of event that has marked MEF as one of Roanoke’s premier goofball events, full of art, fun and laughter.
The little girl having so much fun in the photos with Pearl Fu is my grandbuddy Madeline. We both had a grand time.

 

Rich Text Area Toolbar Bold (Ctrl / Alt + Shift + B) Italic (Ctrl / Alt + Shift + I) Strikethrough (Alt + Shift + D) Unordered list (Alt + Shift + U) Ordered list (Alt + Shift + O) Blockquote (Alt + Shift + Q) Align Left (Alt + Shift + L) Align Center (Alt + Shift + C) Align Right (Alt + Shift + R) Insert/edit link (Alt + Shift + A) Unlink (Alt + Shift + S) Insert More Tag (Alt + Shift + T) Proofread Writing Toggle fullscreen mode (Alt + Shift + G) Show/Hide Kitchen Sink (Alt + Shift + Z) Add a Category to your Page or Post Format Heading 2 ▼ Underline Align Full (Alt + Shift + J) Select text color ▼ Paste as Plain Text Paste from Word Remove formatting Insert custom character Outdent Indent Undo (Ctrl + Z) Redo (Ctrl + Y) Help (Alt + Shift + H) Marginal Arts Festival Parade: An Inside Look Dan Smith Marginal Arts Festival’s official orchestra.   Botticelli Baby arrives with her cupcake …   … and the blue thing followed. Marginal Arts Festival Founder Brian Counihan. Modern transportation.   Cat Woman … of a sort.   The beautiful Viking Charisse Surayya.   Community High leads the parade.   Pepper-spray cop John Pike and his Chicken.   Artist Eric Fitzpatrick and Pearlie Mae Fu.   Kara, Evan and Oscar Smith photographing my granddaughter, Madeline, riding with Pearlie Mae.   Bugle boy. The queen and his wife. Viking Jeffrey Rigdon and his pretty daughter Kimberly.   Katherine Devine finishes off her mermaid.   Kimberly Rigdon toots her horn.   Crochet girls.   Grandbuddy Madeline and her buddy Pearl Fu (that’d be Pearlie Mae to some of us).   Jeff Pulls Madeline and Pearl. Robin  Barnhill and a head celebrate “Occupy.”   Vikings, Queens and Princesses.   We all smelled a rat.   Hitching a ride on mama.   Tracy Wassmer and Alisa Downey look fetching.   An irresistible young dancer.   Today’s Marginal Arts Festival Mardi Gras Parade in downtown was an exercise in artistic chaos and anarchy and it was lovely. The parade had about 30 entries, mostly creatively decorated people and occasionally a large animal, political poster, Queen of Hearts and her Princess and even Vikings. It was the kind of event that has marked MEF as one of Roanoke’s premier goofball events, full of art, fun and laughter. The little girl having so much fun in the photos with Pearl Fu is my grandbuddy Madeline. We both had a grand time.   Path : div  » h2  » a

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Theater review: ‘Arctic Circle’ is a chaotic yet coherent romantic ride

By Nona Nelson 981-3402 for the Roanoke Times

 A strong cast and smart writing warms “The Arctic Circle (and a recipe for Swedish Pancakes),” now playing at Mill Mountain Theatre’s Waldron Stage in Roanoke.

The play, part of the Marginal Arts Festival, is a random series of events in a woman’s troubled love life.

Samantha Macher, a master’s of fine arts playwright at Hollins University and the playwright-in-residence at the SkyPilot Theatre in Los Angeles, takes her main character, Elin, on a chaotic ride through romance, from adolescence to college to adulthood, back and then forward again.

The disconnected string of events revolves around the immature but incurably romantic woman; at times comedic, at times poetic, but perpetually moving, Elin’s world is a blur of personal relationships that always seem to fall short of her expectations.

Susanna Young is Elin, an American woman of Swedish heritage with a passion for love, coffee and Swedish pancakes with lingonberry butter (the promised recipe for the pancakes is in the playbill, so be sure to get one at the door). The play has minimal staging — only a table, a bench and two chairs — and there are no props, so all the action relies the pantomime skills of Young and her two cast mates and the deft descriptions of the narrator.

Chad Runyon plays Elin’s emotionally vapid husband; Drew Dowdy plays her many boyfriends, her lone girlfriend, and a couple of baristas; Todd Ristau narrates. Shay Mullins provides musical accompaniment with a ukulele.

The actors do a splendid job of illustrating Elin’s entanglements. Young plays the part with the perfect mix of dramatic flair and comedic timing and reminds me, in appearance and talent, of actress Elisabeth Moss of television’s “The West Wing” and “Mad Men.”

Dowdy, an experienced local actor, is superb in his multiple roles that include men — Elin’s worthless high school boyfriend, her college crushes and an unavailable artist she lusts for — and women — Elin’s lesbian girlfriend as well as an American and a Swedish barista.

Runyon brings the right amount of chilly reserve to his role as Elin’s husband, and Ristau, dressed to match the lead character, keeps the story moving as Elin’s alter ego, the narrator.

Director Bob Moss’ pacing and Macher’s fresh dialogue draw the audience into Elin’s dysfunction. Ristau, as the omnipotent narrator, explains the transitions and adds a sense of time and context, so the randomness of the episodes, which could have easily digressed into chaos, flows smoothly into a coherent story.

While the play deals with serious topics of love, respect and trust, it is also funny — although I admit the part where I laughed the most occurred while Young is conversing in Swedish with Dowdy, because their accents reminded me of my favorite Muppet. Adult language and themes should be considered if parents want to bring young children to the remaining three performances.

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Ophelia

Mixed-media ‘Ophelia’ thrilling, heartbreaking

By Nona Nelson 981-3402 for the Roanoke Times.

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“Bellocq’s Ophelia”

Photos come to life in the Hollins Theatre production of “Bellocq’s Ophelia,” a play based on a collection of poems by Hollins alum and Pulitzer Prize-winner Natasha Trethewey. The play is also a feature of this year’s Marginal Arts Festival, which kicked off Thursday.

Trethewey’s lyrical prose was adapted for the stage by Ernest Zulia, T.J. Anderson and Lexi Mondot. The play is set in New Orleans’ Storyville, the city’s infamous legalized red light district.

At the beginning of the last century, Creole photographer E.J. Bellocq had a favorite muse, a woman Trethewey names Ophelia. The gaze of this biracial woman, beautiful and demure yet strong and confident, staring from the aging photos, inspired Trethewey to create an achingly tender and disturbing and sensual tale of survival and the dignity of women, particularly for women of color, despite their lack of social status.

The story is told through a series of journal entries and letters from Ophelia to her friend and teacher, Constance. Dance and music, jazz, blues and Southern spiritual gospel, and video — including projections of Trethewey’s poetry and Bellocq’s (pronounced Bell-lock) photographs — support the cast.

Sarah Ingel plays Ophelia, an educated daughter of a white man and a black woman, who came to New Orleans from Mississippi seeking honest work and a better life. Faced with no job opportunities (“No one needs a girl,” she hears repeatedly) and possible homelessness, she is taken in by Countess P (Lisa Gabourel), a kindly madam running an upscale brothel that features “black women in white skin.”

Ophelia writes home, shares what stories she can about her life — there are some “desires I cannot commit to paper” — and sends money to her mother, played by Helena Brown.

When she becomes the muse of the photographer, she begins to envision a new life — one of “freedom of memory; of the white space of forgetting” what she has had to do to survive. She becomes an apprentice photographer, buying a Kodak with her savings, and finds an artistic outlet and a measure of freedom behind the lens.

Adult themes and images are handled tastefully. The 90-minute production is thrilling, heartbreaking and thought-provoking. The synergy of music, dance and poetry is captivating and the performances are memorable.

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