Richmond soon will be home to one of the largest festivals for American Indian film on the East Coast.
Organizers clinched the deal for the American Indian Film Festival of Virginia after an “idea meeting” on the last day of the 24th annual French Film Festival last year.
Already, the festival has attracted support from the Virginia Film Office and legendary “Godfather” film director, Francis Ford Coppola, who is tentatively planning to attend the inaugural event at the Byrd Theatre, scheduled for Nov. 17-19.
“This will be the event on the East Coast for Native American film, a high-level, red-carpeted event,” says Peter Kirkpatrick, longtime organizer of the French Film Festival, who also is advising and will serve as a board member for the new festival.
While he will serve as “distant counselor,” Kirkpatrick says, “the Native American film community and Virginia tribes have the agency in this and are bringing this to us.”
Assistant Chief Brad Brown of the Pamunkey tribe told Style there is a lot of excitement around the festival and that a majority of the 11 recognized American Indian tribes in Virginia are on board with the project.
Among festival guests will be three of the most important names in American Indian filmmaking: actor and stuntman George Aguilar, who also serves on the board of the French Film Festival; actor, director and writer Georgina Lightning, who will present her film “Older Than America,” featuring Bradley Cooper; and award-winning director and producer, Chris Eyre (“Smoke Signals”).
They also will serve as creative programming directors for the festival, which is unlike any other on the East Coast, organizers say. A free, sneak-preview announcement event in the Byrd Theatre will be held Feb. 5 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. featuring the main guests. "It's Super Bowl Sunday, so we will make sure we end before the game," adds Brown.
The Coppola connection stems from the legendary director reaching out to the Pamunkey tribe to use an American Indian name, Werowocomoco -- which some call the original capital of Virginia -- for a restaurant in his Virginia Dare Winery in Geyersville, California. The tribe gave permission but also mentioned the film festival coming to Richmond.
“Coppola is a big Native American history buff,” Kirkpatrick says, “so he said this was important and to please count on him as a sponsor and a couple of months ago he cut them a check.” He added that Coppola said he had circled the date on his calendar and hoped to attend the festival.
Assistant Chief Brown added that Coppola had done a lot of research on the Pamunkey tribe: "He immediately showed interest and said he would not use the name unless he had our blessing. We think its a good possibility he will be here and possibly visit Werowocomoco [near the north bank of the York River in what is now Gloucester County]."
So how did this all come about so quickly? Kirkpatrick says that Aguilar held a masterclass at last year’s French Film Festival to discuss how American Indian actors are treated on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Some of the chiefs turned out for it,” Kirkpatrick says. “We had a meeting with Andy Edmunds from the Film Office and did a Skype meeting with Georgina Lightning and Chris Eyre, about whether there would be interest [in a future festival]. So it really grew from that Skype meeting.”
Edmunds, director of the Virginia Film Office, said his organization was excited to support and promote this unique film festival that shares a point of view about a culture that is "compelling but often misunderstood."
"Filmmaking is all about point of view," Edmunds said by e-mail. "Bringing different cultures together through the celebration of cinema is always a good thing."
There are 11 recognized Virginia tribes, Kirkpatrick says, and eight have attended meetings about the festival. Style has reached out to other participants and will update this story as we hear back.
There is no excuse to miss the propulsive charms of the Afro-Zen Allstars this week. There is a sequence of performances celebrating the release of their debut CD, “Greatest Hits.”
The movable feast starts Friday night at their familiar haunt, Carytown’s Garden Grove Brewery. Saturday afternoon they shift down the street for an in-store performance at Plan Nine Records. Saturday night they are at The Broadberry opening for NoBS! Brass’ Ten Year Anniversary extravaganza. (An apt pairing, the bands share a certain ethos, and NoBS! players occasionally join the Afro-Zen lineup.) And if you manage to let those gigs slip through your fingers, there is another chance next Thursday at VMFA.
Whatever the venue, the band is well worth your time. Led by George M. Lowe, with a shimmering cross-section of some of the city’s most adventurous players, the band evokes Golden Age of Ethiopian music. It was a brief, blazing creative scene in “swinging Addis Ababa” where jazz, pop, soul and folk music commingled brilliantly. The songs survived being snuffed out by the depressingly inevitable military coup.
Performed live, they are both exotic and danceable, with sinuous modal guitar lines, funk-tinged horns and polyrhythmic percussion. If at first it seems unfamiliar to your ears, don’t worry. Your feet will know what to do.
Friday, Jan. 13 *CD Release Party
Garden Grove Brewery, 3445 W Cary St.
8pm-11pm no cover
Saturday, Jan. 14 *CD Release
Plan 9 Records in Carytown
Pick up your new copy of 'Greatest Hits' at a special in-store performance! from 1pm-2:30pm.
Saturday, Jan. 14 *CD Release
The Broadberry, 2729 W Broad St.
Opening for No BS! Brass 10 Year Anniversary, 9pm. $10
Thursday, Jan. 19 *CD Release
Jazz Cafe - Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 200 North Boulevard
6 p.m.- 9 p.m. no cover
It may come as a bit of a surprise to learn that Lisa Kotula, a familiar face on the Richmond stage, was once hesitant to audition for straight plays.
Kotula, who started out with a degree in vocal performance from Mary Washington University, worked her way into musical theater thanks to her ability to hit the high notes.
"I wasn't trained as an actor," she says. "But I learned on my feet. I saw what other actors were doing, and I picked and pulled from my experiences with them."
Kotula's dedication to the Richmond theater community has long been evident through her performances but also her service. Since 2006 Kotula has edited and distributed "The Richmond Marquee," a newsletter about local theater for patrons and artists alike. In October, Kotula ended her tenure on the 5th Wall Theater Board of Directors because she's a mom to a 15-year-old baseball player with aspirations of joining a college team. Kotula wants to be at every single game.
"Motherhood is really my focus right now," she says. That seems to be true in her life onstage as well as off. "I've had the opportunity to be some great moms recently," Kotula says, referring to the roles she's been landing lately. Musing on aging away from those young ingénue roles to becoming a mother and portraying a mother onstage, Kotula laughs. "It's a lot more fun to play more of a character role," she says.
Most recently, Kotula portrayed Nese Gillman, mother to the protagonist of Irene Ziegler's "The Little Lion" at Swift Creek Mill. "Portraying a real person in history was a great honor," Kotula says, "She was a courageous woman, all about her family, and she gave her life to save them. That was a real highlight, and to bring a dear friend's words to life made it a truly wonderful experience."
In order to devote as much time to her family as possible, Kotula has placed a limit on when she can do stage shows for now--only in the offseason--and 5th Wall's production of Rebecca Gilman's "Luna Gale" just happened to fall in that time frame. "It was so serendipitous," Kotula says.
She had been hoping for a chance to audition for the play since last summer, when she first heard about "Luna Gale," at a preview party hosted by 5th Wall Artistic Director Carol Piersol. "It's a really beautifully written script, which was what caught my attention immediately," Kotula says. "When I saw the character of the mother, I just thought, I have to audition for this play."
Written by Rebecca Gilman, "Luna Gale" tells the gripping, heartbreaking story of a family in crisis and the social worker whose decisions and judgments will determine so many futures. "It's so clever," Kotula says, "So relevant. It is right now."
5th Wall Theatre's production of "Luna Gale," staged at RVA Event Space, 7 E. 3rd St., runs from Jan. 12 - Feb. 4. Tickets are $28.
On Deck:> Jan. 12 is also opening night for "The Top of Bravery," based on the life of vaudeville performer and comedian Bert Williams. Produced by Quill in partnership with the African American Repertory Theatre of Virginia and staged at the Richmond Triangle Playhouse, 1300 Altamont Ave.
There’s a big 'ole hole in the flo at the Broadberry.
The mid-sized concert venue near the corner of Boulevard and Broad Street, known for booking a diverse mix of indie rock, jamband, metal and hip-hop shows, is closed while owners install new bathrooms near the entrance to the venue. The club will keep the current bathroom located to the right of the stage.
“We just wanted to increase the customer experience,” owner and booker Lucas Fritz says. “Whenever the room was full you used to have to trek through the crowd to the bathroom [near the stage]. Now you can stay by the stage to use the bathroom, or use the ones in back.”
Workers are in the process of digging a trench the length of the bar to run a sewer line and water lines from the back of the venue to the front, then framing out the two bathrooms. Owners also recently updated the sound system, Fritz says.
The venue will have a grand re-opening the weekend of Jan. 13-15, featuring such features big shows as Wrinkle Neck Mules with Sarah White (Friday, Jan. 13), No BS Brass 10-Year Anniversary show with Afro Zen All-Stars (Saturday, Jan. 14) and closing out the nonstop party weekend with local metal faves Municipal Waste and Inter Arma (Sunday, Jan. 15) plus Deceased, Left Cross and Cruelsifix.
Really, what better way to totally break in new bathrooms then a Municipal Waste show? Those new toilets will be rocking back and forth in a frightened, fetal ball position by night’s end.
If you're a fan of National Public Radio, you know that underwriting voice: Smooth, calm, reassuring, female. And usually saying "Support for NPR comes from . . ."
Well, there's a new voice in town. As of Nov. 28, a deep, male baritone voice is being featured as one of NPR's underwriting talents. It belongs to a local instructor in the Department of African-American Studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences at VCU, Chioke I'Anson.
According to the University Public Affairs Office, I'Anson has joined Jessica Hansen as one of NPR's two underwriting voices, after attending a storytelling workshop at NPR in June to pitch his forthcoming podcast “Do Over,” which is based around the idea of traveling back to any point in time. The press release notes the idea "was one of only three shows in the country to win funding from the NPR Story Lab, NPR’s idea hub that creates pilots for radio programs, launches new podcasts and introduces new voices to the public radio network."
Here's more from Brian McNeil with University Public Affairs:.
After I’Anson and his team gave a presentation at the workshop, Israel Smith, NPR’s director of promotion and audience development, approached I’Anson and told him that he liked the way he sounded and that they should keep in touch.
“A short time after that he had me audition and then shopped the tape around to the relevant decision-makers,” I’Anson said. “He told me the news in a morning phone call and I immediately went into a state of delirium.”
“I recorded a bank of underwriting credits in November, which began to play the week after Thanksgiving after the hourly newscast,” he added. “I get texts from friends every time they hear me telling listeners about PajamaGram.”
In addition to his work for NPR and the “Do Over” podcast, I’Anson served as community producer for the Richmond-based public radio project “UnMonumental” which launched in 2016 with VCU alumna Kelley Libby.
In the spring, I’Anson will teach a special African-American studies course on podcasting called “Podcasting While Black,” which will use the rhetorical strategies of figures such as Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglas and Audre Lorde as starting points to develop students’ broadcast “voices” that they will use in a podcast pilot they will develop over the course of the semester.
His university webpage gives a little more insight:
"Chioke is interested primarily in global humanitarianism and development. His dissertation is focused on the humanitarian ideologies that westerners often carry into the global south. Several philosophical perspectives are utilized in his research, including those from Black existentialism, African philosophy, and German idealism. Chioke is also interested in feminism and motorcycle studies.
It's nearly Christmas and you've neglected to spend hours shopping for those music lovers in your life.
Fear not - Lockn festival ticket receipts print from home:
Earlier this month, organizers Peter Shapiro and Dave Frey announced 2017 returning acts like Widespread Panic and Gov't Mule, along with festival newcomers The Avett Brothers, Brandie Carlile (slated to play last year but did not perform), and a long list of festival favorites.
Lockn 2017 is set to deliver predictably jam band-focused acts and a true-to-its-origins lineup. The four-day event will take place between Aug. 24-27 at Oak Ridge Farm in Arrington, Virginia.
Most notable is Phil Lesh, who along with Keller Williams has played the festival every year since it began, and will be performing a 40th anniversary set of "Terrapin Station" with The Terrapin Family Band.
Four day passes range from early bird general admission ($259), to VIP ($849), and a wide array of lodging and camping options on-site and at the nearby Wintergreen Resort. In past years, single-day and two-day passes have been offered a couple months before the event, but there's no guarantee these will be available in Lockn's fifth trip to Oak Ridge.
Toss these tickets in any stocking and watch the faces of your friends and family light up with the happiness found in summertime mountain air.
Full lineup (in order of announcement):
The Avett Brothers
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead
JJ Grey & Mofro
Eric Krasno Band
John Butler Trio
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
Marcus King Band
The String Cheese Incident
Keller Williams’ Grateful Gospel
Phil Lesh & Friends
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band
As 2016 rambles to its cacophonous close, there is a renewed sense of urgency in the performing arts world. Sure, the masses are enjoying the familiar, calming charms of Richmond Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” or the amusing distractions of Virginia Rep’s “A Christmas Story” or “The Charitable Sisterhood Christmas Spectacular.”
But as the staging of “After Orlando” at Richmond Triangle Players last week indicates, local directors and playwrights are looking for ways to capture the current zeitgeist and dramatize it onstage with an immediacy unique to theater. The RTP event was the local realization of an international action that hopes to continue the conversations around LGBT rights and domestic terrorism that were started after the horrible shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub back in June.
One of the organizers of the international effort, Caridad Svich, said that she feels compelled to be “[m]aking some healing art, some fiery art, some work that says we can rise up from and through collective mourning.”
As the dustup around the cast of “Hamilton” directly addressing Vice President-Elect Mike Pence several weeks ago indicates, theater has the freedom and flexibility to respond to and interact with the world like no other art form. In my conversations with local theater pros, they would like to seize this moment to raise live theater to a renewed level of relevance by increasing awareness and inspiring change. One way stage productions can do this is through giving voice to individuals who feel marginalized, oppressed or simply misunderstood. Firehouse Theatre is starting off next year with one such performance, staging “I love you in spite of” on Sunday, Jan. 9. Performer/playwright Em Allison will relate the challenges of her teen and pre-teen years, many stemming from dealing with her critically ill mother.
Expect more similarly intense, enlightening and empowering productions in 2017.
In the meantime, the end of the year presents two wildly different opportunities to celebrate the holidays. Tonight at 8 p.m., the Firehouse offers “A Stripmas Carol: A Burlesque Retelling of ‘A Christmas Carol’.” Burlesque productions have increased in popularity in Richmond over the past couple of years and this show hopes to melt away any lingering Christmas chill.
If you’ve ever wanted to spend New Year’s Eve with a Broadway star, Richmond Triangle Players offers that opportunity with “An Intimate Evening with Emily Skinner” on Dec. 31. Skinner, who has been an NYC staple for decades and scored a Tony nom as the costar of “Side Show,” brings her “Broadway My Way” cabaret that she’s performed around the country back to her hometown. The event will have both an early and a late show with the later one including champagne for toasting the New Year.
Footlights will be huddling by the fire roasting chestnuts for the next couple of weeks, returning on Jan. 8 rested and ready for the New Year.
Running: “Scrooge in Rouge” continues delighting audiences at Richmond Triangle Players until this Thursday, Dec. 22. Virginia Rep’s Christmas shows both continue until New Year’s Day and Swift Creek Mill’s heart remains in Texas with “A Tuna Christmas” until Jan. 7.
What happens when you take a bunch of Ultimate Elvis Tribute contest winners from 2009, 2013, and 2015 and bring them to Richmond to kick off the King's birthday celebration? Things get real . . . sweaty.
The award-winning theatrical attraction Elvis Lives: The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Event" will be stopping at Richmond Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Arts Center on Tuesday, March 7.
Presented by Jam Theatricals, the multi-media live musical is a co-production of On Stage Touring's Legends in Concert division and producing partner, Elvis Presley's Graceland.
A bit about the show itself from a press release:
"Elvis Lives" is a journey across Elvis’ life featuring winners and finalists from Elvis Presley Enterprise’s (EPE) annual worldwide Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest™, each representing Elvis during different stages of his career. The tour marks the third time in the production’s six-year history that all three Elvis tribute artists are top winners of the contest. Bill Cherry, Dean Z and Jay Dupuis from 2009, 2013 and 2014 have reunited as the featured touring cast of ELVIS LIVES during the initial leg of the 2017 tour. They will be joined by a live band, back-up singers and dancers, along with an Ann-Margret tribute artist. The upcoming tour will see more songs added to the set list, including “Return to Sender,” “Bossa Nova,” and more. As a co-producer of the tour, Graceland is providing rarely seen restored video and photo assets from its Graceland Archives to enhance the production. The 2017 tour will feature new media direct from Graceland, never before seen on an ELVIS LIVES tour. Fans can expect to see new material and Elvis memorabilia provided.
Tickets go on sale to the public Monday, Dec. 19 at 10 a.m. and can be purchased online at BroadwayInRichmond.com, at Dominion Arts Center and Altria Theater box offices and by phone 1-800-514-3849.
Now for the real motivation behind this post, have a blue Christmas, yo.
The historic Byrd Theatre announced in a press conference on Tuesday that it will be raising its ticket prices from $1.99 to $4 for second run films, effective Jan. 1.
[Updated] The theater also announced much-needed new seat renovations should be ready by second quarter 2017, which roughly fits the guideline proposed several years ago.
The Foundation also announced that credit cards will now also be accepted as payment and they will be working on an online system.
Choreography commonly refers to action that happens onstage. But in some special circumstances, the action behind the scenes has to be choreographed as well.
Swift Creek Mill's "A Tuna Christmas" is one of those situations. In this holiday-themed visit to tiny Tuna, Texas, just two actors, Richard Koch and John Hagadorn, play all of the town's residents. Pulling that off requires literally dozens of quick costume changes, potentially hampering the flow of the show if not for the carefully synchronized work of two hardworking assistants known as dressers.
"For some changes, the time we have to get Richard or John out of one costume and into the next is so tight that we definitely had to choreograph our steps," explains Alia Radabaugh, who, along with Vicki McLeod, works as a dresser for "Tuna." "There are opportunities for a variety of mishaps otherwise."
McLeod generally assists Koch, who happens to be her husband, while Radabaugh focuses on Hagadorn. But sometimes, they have to double-up on an actor. "Richard has four or five more changes than John," says Radabaugh. "And for a couple of them, Vicki has to work on his top half with a shirt, jacket and wig while I am changing boots and tucking in pants."
Radabaugh's ten years as a seamstress at the Mill makes her the perfect dresser. She worked with costume designer Maura Lynch Cravey in crafting the clothes for "Tuna," often making the customizations required to facilitate quick changes. "I can often see in real time what's needed and suggest that maybe some Velcro should go here or maybe this should be one piece instead of two," says Radabaugh. "Maura and I work together very closely and, for decisions that don't affect the design, I have some discretion."
Her experience also landed her an ongoing gig as a dresser for the Broadway in Richmond touring shows that come through town, like "Elf the Musical" that is closing today. But that experience is a lot different than "Tuna." "I've done some shows with big casts like 'The Lion King' or 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,'" she says. "I'm mostly making sure costume pieces are where they're supposed to be, almost like a maid picking up after the actors. For 'Tuna,' Vicki and I are moving the entire show, either preparing for a change or actually making one."
Radabaugh is largely self-taught as a seamstress, hired to work for the summer shows at Dogwood Dell after volunteering there in high school. She has progressed to acting as costume designer for shows like last year's "The Secret Garden" produced by SPARC and a recent production of "Smile" at the Appomattox Regional Governor's School. She says there's nothing like the excitement of actually working a show, though. "There is a kind of secret world backstage," she says. "For every five people on stage, there could be 15 milling about in the wings. It's one of the coolest things that people don't realize about theater."
Running: Just like the holiday sales, local stage productions start closing down next weekend. The last performance of Whistle Stop's “Little Women” will be Dec. 16 out in Ashland and the color drains from “Scrooge in Rouge” at Richmond Triangle Players on Dec. 17. You'll have until New Year's Day to catch the Virginia Rep shows “The Charitable Sisterhood Christmas Spectacular” and “A Christmas Story” while “A Tuna Christmas” celebrates at Swift Creek Mill until Jan. 7.