Liz Bradshaw, curator of The Loft at UC San Diego.
Jim Hebert, theater critic at the U-T San Diego.
ST. JOHN: You're listening to Midday Edition here on KPBS. I'm Alison St. John in for Maureen Cavanaugh. From old favorites like Man of La
Mancha to new plays at The Old Globe and the La Jolla playhouse, and a working urban food tour, we have plenty of suggestions for what you could do this summer weekend in San Diego. And here with me for weekend preview today, we have Liz Bradshaw, curator of the loft at UC San Diego.
ST. JOHN: And Jim Hebert, theatre critic at UT San Diego.
HEBERT: Thanks for having me.
ST. JOHN: There's a new play called divine rivalry, which sounds like it has an interesting premise.
HEBERT: That's right. It's actually based on a historical incident involving Leonardo Da Vini, and Michael Angelo, the artists from the renaissance. In 1904 these two were brought together.
ST. JOHN: So that's based on a true story?
HEBERT: It is. They were brought together to kind of compete with each other in painting murals in this Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. And so the play takes off from that. It's a fictionalized version of what happened, but it involves a lot of political intrigue and all that stuff.
ST. JOHN: Machiavelli plays a role in this, right?
HEBERT: Right. So in real life, he was the guy who signed the documents to make this competition happen. And he becomes a character in the play who sort of, as you might expect, from the name he was making at the time, he got enveloped in all these political machinations. There's a quote from the script where he says there are worse things in life than to be known as an adjective.
ST. JOHN: Yes, yes!
HEBERT: Which is how we know him now.
ST. JOHN: So tell us about the playwright. He's got some politics in his background too, right?
HEBERT: He does! Michael Kramer actually wrote the play with another writer. He was for a long time the political columnist for time magazine. And was very involved in a lot of the stories going on during the Clinton administration, a very big name in those circles, and happened to be married at one point to a attorney general nominee who got caught up in one of the nannygate controversies, so he was on both sides of the news who decided he wanted to take a total left turn and start doing plays.
ST. JOHN: He might have an interesting take on writing about politics.
HEBERT: For sure.
ST. JOHN: There is a local connection to this play too, right?
HEBERT: Yeah, just by coincidence, but it's a close connection. There's a researcher at UCSD, Mauricio sera sine, and he has been leading a quest to find this painting, the battle of Anghiari, he believes it's hidden in this room, that it's been there in Florence for the past 500 years, and that -- they have been using these high-tech techniques to try to find this work, and it's been a controversial thing in Florence, actually. And at UCSD just a couple weeks ago, they presented the latest findings on it. They haven't found the painting, but they believe they found indications that it exists.
ST. JOHN: Fascinating. So this is a west coast premiere, right?
HEBERT: It is.
ST. JOHN: Tell us about the cast and the production.
HEBERT: It features miles Anderson, who you might remember from the globe Shakespeare festival, who is a fantastic actor. Ewan McGregor is in it as well. Shawn lions --
ST. JOHN: Does he speak with a Scottish accent?
HEBERT: I don't think so. I think it is in English rather than Italian, which will help me. And the director is Michael BRADSHAW who has a play on Broadway right now called the Best Man, so he's a prominent guy.
ST. JOHN: If you want to find out more about it, our own Angela Carone has written a story about it for the radio, and that's going to air tomorrow. That'll give you a bit more of an idea about this brand-new play at The Old Globe. It begins previews on Saturday, called divine rivalry. Okay, so now Liz, we have a couple of art and music events happening for a very good cause starting with an art auction on Saturday. Tell us about that.
BRADSHAW: The museum school of San Diego are holding kind of a big fundraising event this weekend called Bam. With the fact that they're facing about $450 per people cuts for the upcoming year in their programs, they've decided to kick up their fundraising a notch, and are really looking to attract a wider audience than your average bake sale might get. So they've got a whole array of art and music events over the weekend, and they're hoping to invite everybody in San Diego to come and join them and raise enough money to cover the educational programming for the school. On Saturday, it's a visual arts show and auction at the jet gallery in little Italy. And there's an auction featuring the work of more than 30 local artists. And in addition to that, there's going to be original art by museum students as well. One of these artists featured is Marcus Ramirez, who's the artist behind the famous toy and horse sculpture. It was the kind of famous Troy horse and sculpture based on that with two heads, so it was initially created and built to sit across the border spanning Mexico and America.
ST. JOHN: Oh, yes! That's not one of the pieces?
BRADSHAW: That's not, but the artist is one of the featured artists in this, and his piece is combining photography and postcard art. So that'll be a great one to check out.
ST. JOHN: And some of the works will be for sale?
BRADSHAW: Yeah, painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics, costume jewelry, silk screen prints, and the works from the museum school classes include paintings, a tissue paper dragon, and water color works as well. And a small beaded VW bug will be up for auction as well. It says small, so we'll see. You'll have to check it out for yourself.
[ LAUGHTER ]
ST. JOHN: Then on Sunday, you've got some prominent local musicians at the Casbah.
BRADSHAW: It's a matinee show on Sunday. Of the silent comedy, then rob Crowe of Pinback, along with little white teeth. So a whole host of favorites for this afternoon show. Of the doors open at 3:00. Rob Crowe, he's promising to do 40 songs in 30 minutes.
ST. JOHN: Whew!
BRADSHAW: That is value for money. That's worth a fund raiser, I'd say.
[ LAUGHTER ]
ST. JOHN: And also we have a little sound from one of the bands that's going to be playing Sunday. Little white teeth.
(Audio Recording Played)
ST. JOHN: Okay, that's the little white teeth, singing at a benefit at the Casbah on Sunday for the museum school. Tell us a bit more about the museum school.
BRADSHAW: Right. Actually ironically, I'll tell you that one of the bassists and the vocalists in the band we just heard is also a director and teacher at the school.
ST. JOHN: Oh, really! Very talented! Yeah.
BRADSHAW: But the museum school is a tuition free public charter school in San Diego. It serves kids from kindergarten through seventh grade from all over the city. They work on projects, lots of arts, music, movement and medium arts are part of their regular curriculum. So stuff that often goes missed and underfunded. It's a really great cause for education.
ST. JOHN: For kids, yeah, really. So that's Bam, benefit of arts and music, happening on Saturday night with the art auction at the jet gallery in little Italy. And the live music at the Casbah a daytime show.
HEBERT: I think rob Crowe has been in, like, 40 bands in 30 minutes.
BRADSHAW: There's a good chance, I think.
[ LAUGHTER ]
ST. JOHN: So Jim, let's talk about a musical which is making its debut next week at the La Jolla playhouse called the nightingale.
HEBERT: Well, are it's based on the Hans Christian Andersen fable. It's about this Chinese emperor who in his kingdom there's a nightingale that becomes known for singing this incredibly beautiful song, and then someone sends the emperor a mechanical nightingale that he thinks is even better, so he neglects the real nightingale, and it becomes -- it turns into this -- there are a lot of different interpretations to it as far as --
ST. JOHN: But sort of getting sucked into the wonders of technology perhaps -- the natural world.
HEBERT: Yeah, right
ST. JOHN: Okay. So talk about the collaboration between the composer and the writer.
HEBERT: Duncan sheik, and Steven waiter, who were the creators of spring awakening. And this is really their first collaboration of note since that project. So it's been five years. They have been here separately in San Diego on different projects, but the first time they're getting another for a whole new thing.
ST. JOHN: This is a page to stage workshop. What is that exactly?
HEBERT: It's a program, basically a workshop program that La Jolla playhouse has been doing for a number of years that gives artists the chance to develop a piece kind of in a little bit of a safety zone of being able to change the work as the production proceeds and get audience input and really get a sense of what they want to do with it. And it's actually produced two major shows at least, one of which, I am my own wife, won the Pulitzer prize, and then Peter and the Starcatcher was another stage production, which is on Broadway right now.
ST. JOHN: So this begins on Tuesday, and the audience might be able to give their input and see a completely different show in August when it ends.
HEBERT: Absolutely, absolutely.
ST. JOHN: Interesting.
HEBERT: So it's very much a work in progress.
ST. JOHN: This is the nightingale which begins Tuesday and runs through August 5th at the La Jolla playhouse. Now, food, Liz, there's a fun way for people to work up an appetite this weekend. Tell us about nosh San Diego.
BRADSHAW: I was pretty excited when I saw this, especially knowing that I could walk there, then walk around and walk back home and walk off all the food! Nosh San Diego is a new company started had year by a girl from Encinitas, Julie emit, turned south park, Golden Hill, and Northpark native. It's an urban walking food tour in the different areas of town. It's three hours, and it takes in a variety of different restaurants and specialty shops in our local area. It just sounded like a brilliant new way to get to know a local area, support local businesses, meet some new people, and eat some delicious food along the way.
ST. JOHN: What a great idea! Only how do you manage to save your appetite for the next place? Tell us where some of the places are.
BRADSHAW: There's currently two different tours that are being operated. A Northpark tour and a south park tour. They're both later on in the day and they both take in five different spots. So in Northpark, you're hitting places like the linkery, and heaven sent desserts. Then you're going to cafe Madeline, stone brewing, and vagabond down there. There's usually beer or wine included, dessert, and lots of interesting places.
ST. JOHN: But it's just one a day?
BRADSHAW: Exactly. So Northpark on Friday, south park is on Sunday, and then June and July, they're offering a bit of a discount on the tours as well.
ST. JOHN: How much does it cost?
BRADSHAW: They cost $46.75, it covers your food and drink in each place. And then additionally a small portion of each ticket sold will be donated to San Diego root sustainable food project, which is a local nonprofit that helps promote awareness about local farming.
ST. JOHN: So Jim, you don't have to walk to go see this next one. You just sit in your seat and watch it. It's a musical favorite, man of la Mancha. How long has this play been around? Seems like forever.
HEBERT: I just wanted to mention, I may have said that Ewan McGregor was in divine rivalry. That's actually Ewan Morton. He played boy George in the show taboo on Broadway.
ST. JOHN: So people might remember that.
BRADSHAW: I was getting quite excited there for a second.
[ LAUGHTER ]
HEBERT: I know, I know. But man of la Mancha has been around since the 1960s. Super popular musical, and became a movie.
ST. JOHN: It's got that amazing songs.
HEBERT: Impossible dream which ist one that people remember most. It's a landmark piece, it's very interesting because it's a play within a play. So it's got a pretty sophisticated structure to it. And it's being done at signet coming up. Actually the third time that Sean Murray, the director will have done this show over the course of his career.
ST. JOHN: So he's going to be really experienced in this role, right?
HEBERT: Right, I talked to him a few days ago, and it was really interesting to hear about how the idea of the role, this lead role that he's playing, has evolved for him. He played it at age 17 for the first time at Poway high school, even though the character is more like 50. Now he's actually that age. He played it again at age 40 at north coast rep when he was leading that theatre. And he keeps coming back to it. Of it's sort of as a way to gauge where he is in life and in art.
ST. JOHN: It is a wonderful musical. Now, what is bloc print something.
BRADSHAW: It's a form of printing that's thousands and thousands of years old, and the artists often use wood, and they carve out the negative spaces of the picture they want to transfer onto paper or fabric or like a stamp. So they have to do it in reverse, which is pretty interesting. So then it comes the right way up on whatever you're printing.
ST. JOHN: Okay. And who's leading this workshop?
BRADSHAW: It's being led by local San Diego artist called Wade co-Minnow ski. He's known for his ocean-inspired art, he's a painter with an emphasis on everything kind of waves, ocean, beach lifestyle, lots of Polynesian, Hawaiian inspired art, and he has a gallery with Erin Chang.
ST. JOHN: You don't have to be a kid to enjoy this kind of stuff.
BRADSHAW: Definitely not. It's super fun. Each participant, while you don't get to make your own wood block and do the printing, but Wade is going to be talking about the process, and you can pick out from the wood blocks he's brought with him, which you would like to use, and literally have your own piece of art created on either a T-shirt or a bag or a sarong, whatever you like.
ST. JOHN: Do people have to bring their own T-shirts?
BRADSHAW: You don't have to, no. Materials cost $30, which covers a T-shirt. Or it's just $20 if you want to supply your own garment.
ST. JOHN: Great. That's on Saturday at bliss 101 in Encinitas. Thank you both so much for coming in.