March 07, 2017
This January, UtahPresents showcased one of the most talked about theatre experiences of the year - Taylor Mac’s “A 24 Decade History of Popular Music.” The performance was part of UtahPresents’ mission to provide a diverse range of perspectives and voices in our community and world.
Taylor Mac, Photo credit: Kevin Yatarola
Mac, who has created internationally award-winning performance events that both
provoke and embrace his audiences, used his 24-hour concert in New York to
examine American history through the lens of popular music of each decade. The
day-long concert was a critical success, evoking strong responses from
audiences and media alike. Mac was named to the Out 100 2016, calling the performance, “the greatest theatrical
feat ever.” Wesley Morris, critic-at-large for the New York Times hailed the
performance as one “one of the great experiences of my life. I’ve slept on it
and I’m sure.”
Equal parts community organizer, Elizabethan fool, and bedazzled bon vivant, judy (Mac’s preferred pronoun), brought the decades of 1956-1976 to the stage at Kingsbury Hall. As the kickoff to MLK week at the University of Utah, these decades covered the music of the Civil Rights Movement through Stonewall Riots, and examined the struggle for equality that dominated the era. Through his vulnerability and compassion, the audience was moved by Mac’s message of how to be better, do better, work harder, and love more.
One audience member called the experience, "a social experiment and history lesson through art and music - an enlightenment that all things should be loved and appreciated by all beings.”
UtahPresents’ performers are selected for their commitment to community engagement in addition to their artistic excellence. As part of his residency in Utah, Taylor Mac and the show’s director, Niegel Smith, participated in a discussion with University of Utah diversity scholars about using art for social justice, while dissecting the experiences the students had at the performance. Mac's costume designer, Machine Dazzle, conducted a costuming master class for theatre students, exploring his work with Taylor and the 24-hour concert. The leader of Mac’s performing assistants (the dandy minions), Timothy White Eagle, also guest lectured for the Department of Theatre, teaching a class on ritual performance. Mac and Smith, along with choreographer Bill. T. Jones, joined KUER’s Doug Fabrizio for the David P. Gardner Lecture, discussing how they use their art forms for activism, which was rebroadcast on Radio West.
The dandy minions with Taylor Mac
Performances like Taylor Mac and the corresponding community engagement events are how UtahPresents brings Salt Lake County residents together to exchange ideas about important issues and strengthen understanding about the diversity right here in our community. For more information about our upcoming performances and community engagement events, visit UtahPresents.org.
Dennis Busch is the development specialist at UtahPresents. When he’s not at the theatre, he enjoys traveling, entertaining, and playing with his dog.
March 03, 2017
Fresh, spring greens and radishes: that's what March brings, no matter whether it comes in like a lion or goes out like a lamb! The ground is thawing and shoots are sprouting, so it's time to start getting our hands dirty in earnest. All of Wasatch Community Garden’s programs are already out in the dirt getting their 2017 season started.
The crew at the GREEN TEAM Farm have been marching forth into farm season, with nearly 4,500 starts in soil blocks happily growing in the nursery greenhouse. Three inches of compost made last fall have been top dressed onto the front 3/4 acre, cool crops have been sown, and now the focus is on building the rest of the beds on the rear half of the farm. With some mighty cold days in February hopefully behind us, we'll begin harvesting this month and hopefully declare it spring!
The School Garden Program is in full swing! They are getting their students outside planting their gardens, are doing taste tests, and while the weather is still variable, they are doing garden inspired art projects inside. If you have always wanted to be a part of WCG's School Garden Program, your wait is over! Head over to the School Garden Program's page on our website, and download an application.
The Community Education program has got a slew of amazing workshops coming up and the Youth Program has opened up our summer camp registrations. Due to popular demand, we're offering most of our summer camps as full day experiences through partnering with other organizations so check out our offerings!
Finally, the Community Garden program working on starting not one, but two new community gardens this spring! Both our 9-Line Garden and our garden at Whedon Farm in Draper need lots of energy and volunteers so contact us to get involved.
We are looking forward to another delicious gardening season with our community, and are eager to get away from the office and out in garden!
Benjamin Luks-Morgan is the Outreach and Volunteer Director for Wasatch Community Gardens.
February 28, 2017
2 winners have been chosen to win tickets to HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING (March 10 - March 25) at The Empress Theatre.
The Empress Theatre is funded in part by Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks.
February 22, 2017
Springtime is filled with fun and literacy at Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum! We’re kicking off the season with a full day of reading, play, and Dr. Seuss!
Discovery Gateway will turn into Seussville on March 2, complete with Seuss-tastic classes, a Hop on Pop Jump-a-Thon, a Dr. Seuss & Friends photo booth, and more! Plus, there will be special surprise visits from the one- and- only Cat in the Hat!
Also on March 2, Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum will open the new Reading Nook to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday. The Reading Nook features several iconic pieces from the museum’s original location on Beck Street, including the jumbo light switch and giant chair with a pencil ladder from the Sizewise gallery. These treasured pieces from our collection have been re-imagined to create the perfect reading space. The pencil ladder is now home to the Take a Book, Leave a Book Library program, a partnership with Salt Lake City Public Library and KUED PBS Kids. We encourage families to bring in a book for another family to enjoy in exchange for a new book to take home. Through this program, it is our mission to put a book in the hands of every child and cultivate a lifelong love of reading.
The best part? It’s absolutely free! Guests can enjoy a free day in the museum thanks to the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) program. Don’t miss this fun day of play and literacy!
The Reading Nook
also features information about Salt Lake County’s participation in the
national Talking is Teaching initiative dedicated to
closing the word gap and supporting families of young children to learn
together in any language through talking, singing, reading, writing and playing
every day! Discovery Gateway is a proud
contributing partner of this initiative, and we
hope to see families
engaged in these activities throughout the museum and incorporate these
principles at home as well!
Kristin Jahne is the Marketing Coordinator at Discovery Gateway Children's Museum. When she’s not fixing member issues or analyzing data, you can find her interacting with patrons around the museum or helping plan events for DG members. Laura Cotter, Operations Manager, is our resident wordsmith and crafted the title phrase.
February 21, 2017
One winner has been chosen to receive four free tickets to Treasure Island at Utah Children's Theatre. Utah Children's Theatre is partially funded through a grant from Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks.
February 13, 2017
Chelsea Kauffman is a recent graduate from the SUU Master of Fine Arts, Arts Administration program. Nominated by her supervisor from a summer internship at Repertory Dance Theatre, they were excited and inspired by Chelsea’s “authenticity, engagement, innovation, vision and effectiveness.” She was able to accomplish a massive amount for RDT and clearly left a lasting, positive impression through her work there. We are honored to present her with our first Outstanding Salt Lake Emerging Arts Professional award.
Here is more about our award winner, Chelsea:
When did you fall in love with the arts?
I grew up in a home full of a passion for music, creativity, and talent. I sang, played the saxophone and guitar, and danced. At 14, I discovered theater and it was then that I truly fell in love with the arts. Being involved in theatre and music provided me with a safe space to be myself, feel comforted, and have a home and a family to support me.
How have you seen the positive effects of the arts in your life or in the Salt Lake County?
When I was 14 my family was struggling financially and ended up homeless for quite some time. From there, I faced foster care, my parents' divorce, and my mother's severe depression. I struggled to believe in myself and do my best, but the arts inspired me to change my stars. The arts changes lives. It provided me with peace, community and hope. I owe it to the arts that I am still here today.
What do you imagine the arts community could look like in Salt Lake?
I hope that the arts become available and life-changing for low-income families and particularly for those fighting emotional battles. I know there are many economic, political, spiritual, and economic challenges for the lives of many in Salt Lake. The arts provide a refuge. It is a gathering place for understanding, comfort, and unity. I believe the arts can be an answer for many who are lost and alone.
What are some steps for getting there?
To get there, we can open our doors and reach out to organizations that fight for those who feel lost and alone. To do this, we must be accessible and provide a place of welcome. This does not just include attendance to our performances and galleries, but the importance of the arts in life at an early age, how it can transform learning, and its ability to prompt expression and discussion about our lives. The arts can help us find and apply answers.
How has your work impacted the Salt Lake community?
My work in the Salt Lake community hasn't gone on for very long but my story and passion has driven me forward. Because of my life experiences, I am able to look at things from the outside and see the forest from the trees. With this, I apply my organizational skills and become a power house that challenges and pushes organizations to reach their full potential. I analyze every facet of arts administration in hopes that we continue to fulfill our mission as we move towards our vision. I know that my story is an example of the strength of the arts and my skills are what keeps them doing the good that they do.
What energizes you in your work? What is your purpose?
I am energized by new things and challenges as I love to learn and understand life a bit more. In my work, I hope to magnify the many purposes of the arts, my passion for the arts, and I hope to give back to the community what the arts have given me.
Describe a time when you took a risk. What inspired you to take that risk? And what was the result?
I took quite a risk attending graduate school. Accumulating student loan debt and taking time off of a consistent income was something that frightened me financially. I refused to repeat the past. Additionally, there is a misconception that going into the arts will yield little financial reward. I knew that if I didn't do what I loved, I would regret it for most of my life. I didn't want to sacrifice my heart and passion because of my fears. The arts helped me defeat my fears once and it will continue to give me comfort. Graduate school was a sacrifice. I was truly blessed by a supportive husband that helped me complete my studies without worrying about finances. In the end, I survived. I finished graduate school. And now I have a wealth of arts administration knowledge and experience to advance the work and my personal mission of the arts.
Chelsea was interviewed by Rachel Cook.
Rachel Cook is a Masters Candidate with SUU Arts Administration and a member of the Salt Lake Emerging Arts Professionals advisory committee. She loves art, the mountains, and spends her spare time with her husband.
February 09, 2017
Pygmalion Theatre Company’s season continues with “Eleemosynary,” by Lee Blessing, directed by Jeremy Chase, which plays Feb. 24 through March 11. The show stars Barb Gandy, Tracie Merrill and Sydney Shoell.
“Eleemosynary,” which premiered in 1985, follows the relationships between three generations of women. The word ‘eleemosynary’ itself plays a significant part in the plot.
The play probes into the delicate relationship of three singular women: the grandmother, Dorothea, who has sought to assert her independence through strong-willed eccentricity; her brilliant daughter, Artie (Artemis), who has fled the stifling domination of her mother; and Artie’s daughter, Echo, a child of exceptional intellect—and sensitivity—whom Artie has abandoned to an upbringing by Dorothea.
As the play begins, Dorothea has suffered a stroke, and while Echo has reestablished contact with her mother, it is only through extended telephone conversations, during which real issues are skirted and their talk is mostly about the precocious Echo's single-minded domination of a national spelling contest. But, in the end, both Artie and Echo come to accept their mutual need and summon the courage to try, at last, to build a life together - despite the risks and terrors that this holds for both of them after so many years of alienation.
Director Chase says he was drawn to the show because he has always enjoyed scripts with small casts, sharply drawn characters, and “not much else,” he said. “‘Eleemosynary’ fits that bill. These three characters have wonderful, challenging stories for the cast to inhabit and explore. I love words and a significant aspect of this play is about the love of language, and how that is part of a family bond. Language as knowledge.”
He added that he has long been a fan of Blessing. “He's one of the great American playwrights of the latter part of the 20th century,” Chase said. “His love of language and choice of subject matter has always fascinated me. He's also economical, creating small yet rich worlds for theater folk to play in.”
Chase said the show fits in with the company mission statement of producing plays which reflect issues, concerns, and shared experiences in the lives of women.
“These characters represent three generations of driven, intelligent women,” he said. “They also break the mold of what's to be expected of them and how they find their way in the world. Their voices are aligned to the mission and spirit of the company.”
Barb Gandy, who plays Dorothea, said she was drawn to the show for many reasons. “The script is beautifully written; the roles are a dream for an actor; Jeremy (director) has a great passion for the play -- always a big plus when considering investment into a production,” Gandy said.
She added of the character she plays: “Dorothea, my role, is strong, decisive in amazing ways, and has a unique world view. She is unexpected and therein lies her eccentricity. I'm really excited.
“Beyond bringing the script and these characters to life, I'm excited to explore these very complex relationships and why the women make the choices they do with huge ramifications to the family dynamic.”
Gandy said she also appreciates, simply, the words. “Finally, the language that highlights fantastic words should appeal to anyone that is literary as most theatre audiences are,” she said. “I mean, how often does one get to relish words like Bijouterie, Glunch, and the title, Eleemosynary?
Merrill, who plays Artie, a biochemist, jokes she was initially drawn to the challenge of learning to say the word ‘eleemosynary.’ She adds that she is a lover of personal stories. “It’s beautiful storytelling that involves complicated family, relationships and a quirky journey of growing and healing.”
Having been in numerous Pygmalion shows, Merrill said she is excited to get in the room and begin rehearsals, which began Monday. “Nerves morph into excitement, and the time for exploration begins,” she said. “I’m excited to work with this great group of artists, and attempt to discover what is the driving force that has led these three women from one decision to the next.”
Shoell, who plays Echo, said this is her first time working for Pygmalion and she is interested in working for a theatre company that has such a focus on the stories of women. “This show in particular interested me because of how intriguing and complex this family dynamic is,” she said. “Also, because I am always interested in people that have a passion and all three of these women fight for their passions.”
Shoell added that she, too, is excited for the language of the show. “I am also very excited to spell things, which is a bit odd,” she said. “I have always been a terrible speller and rattling off a word like eleemosynary makes me want to invite my second-grade teacher to gloat.”
Who: Pygmalion Productions Theatre Company
When: Feb. 24 through March 11. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. with an extra matinee March 11 at 2 p.m.
Where: Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Black Box Theatre, 138 W. 300 South
Tickets: $15-$20 from (801) 355.ARTS (2787) or Artsaltlake.org
Daisy Blake grew up in Bath, England and is a trained journalist, as well as studying theatre, film and television at Bristol University. Her journalism training is from Hastings, England. She worked for the "Bath Chronicle," a daily morning newspaper, as education reporter from 1999 to 2001. She also wrote a monthly column for another English newspaper during this time, which she continued after she moved to Utah. After her move, she was a professional actor for seven years, then went back to her first love as arts writer for "IN This Week," a weekly entertainment publication from "The Salt Lake Tribune." She worked there until 2012 and continues to write on a freelance basis for the "Tribune." During that time, she won a Society of Professional Journalists' award for one of her theatre reviews. Daisy joined "Gephardt Daily" in November 2014, and is now proud to be content manager. Daisy also does PR and is on the board for Pygmalion Theatre Company, and is proud to have been in four of their shows, too.
February 07, 2017
Winners have been chosen for this giveaway from the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art.
Stay tuned for more opportunities.
January 31, 2017
Winners have been chosen for this giveaway from NOVA Chamber Music Series. Stay tuned for the next ZAP Ticket Tuesday!
January 24, 2017
2 winners have been chosen for this giveaway from Empress Theatre. Congrats to Bart in West Jordan and Nicole F. in Salt Lake City!