“…You don’t have to tell me about sadomasochism,” the young actress going after a rather juicy part tells the director she’s auditioning for in Venus in Fur, now making its highly-charged Tennessee debut courtesy of the Music City Theatre Company. “I’m in the theater.”
The actress uttering that funny and truthful observation is Vanda (Carrie Jennings), a determined young woman who comes better prepared for her audition with director Thomas (Bradley Moore) than she initially reveals. Thomas has adapted Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 erotic novella ”Venus in Furs” into a new play; at the outset he laments there are no modern women right for the lead role, but Vanda’s last-minute arrival upsets that smug assessment.
After that, you'll likely be craving ... sausage. Last week we stumbled upon what may become the post-theater hangout that every city needs: Viener Fest, the new German-themed restaurant on the edge of Centennial Park at 117 28th Ave. N. Not only did we find the proprietor is Jeffrey Ellis, longtime Nashville theater correspondent for BroadwayWorld.com, we found the joint staffed almost entirely with theater people. The server had just left a successful run in Nashville Shakespeare's Macbeth; another staffer had just produced Circle's well-reviewed production of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson.
Ellis tells us he hopes to decorate the walls with caricatures of local theater folk, an idea we heartily applaud. We also endorse the three-wurst sampler with marbled rye bread and sauerkraut for $8, as well as what may be the best app we've had in ages: a basket of warm, soft pretzel bites accompanied by pungent-sweet mustard. (Read Chris Chamberlain's account on our sister food blog Bites.) Gosh, if only there were some plays this weekend with Germany-related content. ...
Those of us familiar with the mass transit systems in New York, Chicago or L.A. know that the Poetry in Motion program is a much needed break from the commercial monotony we're all subjected to through bus and train advertisements. Instead of ads for beers and weird local aestheticians, you can get schooled on intimate, insightful poems. And even when you hate them, you've still got something fun to talk about with strangers on your morning commute.
Nashville's Metro Arts is doing Poetry in Motion one better — they're turning the program into a contest. The winning poems will be featured in buses that run throughout the city, and we'll be listing each of them here on Country Life throughout the month of April, which is National Poetry Month. From Metro Arts' press release:
Metro Arts, Nashville Metro Transit Authority (MTA) and Nashville Scene have teamed up to bring the Poetry Society of America’s Poetry in Motion® program to Nashville for the second year.
Created in 1992, Poetry in Motion® was designed to showcase classic and contemporary poetry in public transit vehicles. The program has appeared in more than 30 cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.
Emerging and established poets in Nashville are invited to submit entries to be considered for the 2013 program. Ten finalists will be selected whose poems will be printed and displayed in MTA buses to be read by MTA’s 800,000 riders during the month of April, which is National Poetry Month.
Entry guidelines for the contest are below. Good luck!
Remember last spring, when the honky-tonks of Lower Broadway were deluged with hundreds of revelers in Sailor Moon attire? No, we don't have a Fleet Week on the Cumberland — that was many Nashvillians' introduction to the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention, or MTAC. Started in 1999 as an 11th-hour addition to a Pokemon card tournament, MTAC has grown from just 300 lovers of Japanese animation and related cultural phenomena to last year's record-setting turnout of 7,200.
That number is expected to swell close to 9,000 next month when MTAC sets up its "Devil's Dozen" celebration March 29-31 at the Nashville Convention Center and Renaissance Nashville Hotel. MTAC PR manager Nicholas Qualls attributes the convention's growth to several factors, from "the continued popularization of anime and geek culture" to "ongoing outreach by our staff and congoers to the fandom communities of Middle Tennessee and beyond."
It's also gotten a boost from the simultaneous Full Moon Tattoo and Horror Festival at the same location, which proved last year that pro wrestlers and dudes in foam-rubber monster suits go together like Diamond Dallas Page and, er, dudes in foam-rubber monster suits. For lovers of geek culture in all its permutations, the MTAC/Full Moon collision proved a perfect storm of all-night gaming, cosplay, fashion shows, screenings, panels, autograph sessions, raucous concerts and downtown revelry.
Attracting those like Qualls who "got into anime during the late-'90s/early-'00s Cartoon Network era, with shows like Dragonball Z, Gundam, Rurouni Kenshin, and so on," MTAC offers a chance to relive the days of college anime clubs and Fullmetal Alchemist marathons. Passes range from $20 to $45 depending on number of days; the convention has posted its guest list, a roster of voice actors and other talents who are largely unfamiliar to outsiders but established favorites to fans. Check it out below.
No, really. You could.
Nashville Fashion Week is just around the corner, and MACS | AMAX is on the hunt for aspiring models to make their catwalk debut this year. Don't think you're a model? Well, if you're tall, skinny and gorgeous and you've been training heavily — i.e., perfecting your pout on your Instagram selfies — you should totally apply.
No experience is necessary (again, INSTAGRAM TRAINING!! I know many of you out there have been practicing), but you must be female (sorry, boys) between the ages of 12-20, at least 5'7, size 0-6, and have proof of parental consent if you're under 18. You should also possess the ability to walk gracefully in ridiculous shoes, or I will laugh at you when you fall on the runway (as long as you don't get hurt). More rules here.
If you think you've got the look, you should submit an online application here by noon on March 15, or show up at Opry Mills on Saturday, March 16, from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. Finalists will be selected and the winner named on Monday, March 18, 2013.
The winner will receive a prize package that includes: a $1,000 modeling contract with MACS | AMAX; the opportunity to walk in Nashville Fashion Week 2013 shows; the opportunity to meet with an agent from a top 10 New York modeling agency; and a photo shoot with a top Nashville photographer.
For more info, visit www.NashvilleFashionWeek.com.
Local music fans may be familiar with The Golden Sounds, the brainchild of musician and songwriter Todd Evans. In September, I wrote a Critics' Pick about the latest Golden Sounds album, The Fireflies Were Right. I'm a fan.
Evans is starring in a new film by Seth Christian called Discover Kasper, and he also contributed some of the music. From the Kickstarter page:
This is a story of a guy who's bitter. He's bored. He's a little "off." And, even though he longs to, he can't seem to find himself.
There are many short films out there about "identity", "discovery" or a sense of belonging, but there are 2 qualities about this film that are unique. The first is the character study. Kasper has Asperger's Syndrome and OCD. Which does not make any generalizations about these conditions, its simply a part of who Kasper is. He's desperate, and he goes to the extreme of trying to create a friendship in a stuffed animal, only to discover a truth about himself.
Secondly, even though there have been a few films out there involving a stuffed animal friendship scenario or similar, this character is not animated. He is a real stuffed animal firefly named Loki that was custom made for the film who becomes an objective catalyst through Kasper's journey—but the battle is all in Kasper's mind. Its whimsical, audacious and melancholy.
Fireflies. I'm sensing a recurring theme here.
The Kickstarter campaign ends Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 1:22 p.m. Central Time. They're still a fair bit shy of the $5,000 goal, so if you feel motivated, get in there before it's too late!
For those of us given permanent restraining orders under the law of gravity, Traces is a thing of near-constant wonder. The touring attraction featuring members of Montreal's acrobatic troupe Les 7 Doigts de la Main plays at TPAC's Jackson Hall through Sunday, and it opened last night to an audience that will likely be much bigger and louder by tonight's performance.
That seems crucial, as the show works better as a kind of street-theater piece gone uptown than a splashy Cirque du Soleil fantasia. The seven cast members — Mason Ames, Valérie Benoît-Charbonneau, Mathieu Cloutier, Bradley Henderson, Philippe Normand-Jenny, Lucas Boutin and LJ Marles — fed off the audience's energy the way they would if they were passing the hat on a crowded city sidewalk. Except the currency here is enthusiasm: The more patrons hollered, the more risky and frisky the performers became. It took some time last night for the cast to build much audience rapport — and to be fair, the show is more athletic and impressive than high-spirited — but by night's end, hundreds of gasps in unison were gratifyingly common.
This month's installment feature four storytellers, including journalist Bobby Allyn, comedian Will Copeland, Scene contributor/professional curmudgeon Sean Maloney and headliner Daniel Frazier, who is possibly the folksiest human being ever to walk the planet. The proof of that is in his recently released record, Daniel Frazier Speaks vol. 1, in which Frazier sounds like a Spring Hill campfire personified.
As always, in addition to the professionals, audience members have an opportunity to tell their own stories by putting their name in the hat. If you're chosen, you have four minutes to tell your best story and win a prize. (The prize is polite applause.) At the last show, an audience member stole the whole thing with a hilarious story about being arrested for a DUI, despite being the stone-sober designated driver.
Doors open around 7:30 p.m., with the show kicking off at 8 p.m. The show is totally free, but I'm sure the baristas wouldn't mind if you bought a beer or something (and tipped well).
[A]s that Times piece on Nashville suggested, that’s the thing about trendiness, or at least the perception of it—it’s usually driven by the popular media and young people, two groups whose experience with the more interesting things in life isn’t often what one would call comprehensive. Setting aside the way it treated thinly supported proclamations from media cousins as news, what the story really did was pull back the curtain on the forces that determine whether or not some town gets hyped as an It City: advertisers and out-of-towners. For an otherwise fine-but-nothing-special town to break into the zeitgeist, it must first attract the affirmation of outsiders, then the cash flow of sponsors.
Like another Nashvillian I know, I don't disagree with that premise, especially the part about outside validation — I just could do without the pompous delivery. But hey, if it gives you a rage boner to spill ink hating on something that's beneath you to even talk about, even though you are, have at It!
Donald Davis uses amazing special effects to dazzle, entrance and engage audiences — they’re called “words.” The product of deep roots in North Carolina’s mountain country, champion storyteller and retired Methodist minister Davis belongs to a tradition that predates the Internet, TV, movies and radio, when the tale-spinner on the front porch was the unplugged equivalent of premium cable. And more: Storytellers of Davis’ lineage remain repositories of centuries-old folklore and family histories, carrying the thread of entire communities.
Maybe that sounds dry, but if you’ve ever had a stranger start up a conversation, then looked up to see that three hours had breezed by in a seeming eyeblink, you need to make Davis’ acquaintance. Davis is a hot ticket on the nationwide storytelling circuit, his renown spread by books and tapes; his free performance 7 p.m. tonight at the JT Moore Middle School Library, 4425 Granny White Pk., is a gift to cash-strapped families looking for a night’s entertainment.
An artist's work builds on itself — piece by piece, show by show — and every season of innovation is inevitably followed by a period of reflection, renewal and starting over with new perspectives and intentions. Native Tennessean Patrick DeGuira's Signs, Patterns, Animals exhibited at Vanderbilt University's Sarratt Gallery last fall. The show featured a number of the monochromatic text paintings he'd debuted in his 2011 show When Past Becomes Afterwards at Zeitgeist, but it also included older work, so the whole thing felt like a mini-retrospective. Whether that show was a purposeful summary or simply a piecemeal presentation that matched recent efforts with old favorites, it feels like a good time to find out more about where DeGuira may be headed next.
The artist will be speaking tonight at Watkins in room 804 at 9 p.m. When I previewed the Sarratt show for the Scene, I talked about DeGuira's commitment to craftsmanship as well as his penchant for personal subject matter. He also — admirably — jumps between media as his impulses demand, and while there is always meaning to be found in the work, it's not always clear exactly what personal meaning the work holds for DeGuira. This presentation will likely offer some insights along those lines.
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AGGGHHHH that last picture!
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