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Culture Lust On Morning Edition: ‘The Revenger’s Tragedy’ and MoPA’s ‘State of Mind’

Audio

Aired 2/12/10

Culture Lust's Angela Carone talks with Morning Edition's Dwane Brown and Pamela Davis about two plays at the La Jolla Playhouse and the new photography exhibit at the Museum of Photographic Arts.

DWANE BROWN: The campus of the La Jolla Playhouse is home to some innovative work this weekend, as is the Museum of Photographic Arts. Here to share her recommendations for your weekend is KPBS arts and culture producer Angela Carone. I see your recommendations have nothing to do with Valentine' s Day?

ANGELA CARONE: Actually, all of these are good Valentine's day options, and we highlight some good dining options on the KPBS Culture Lust blog, but I wanted to focus on stuff that I've seen recently that I'm really excited about – stuff that everyone – single or coupled up- can enjoy.

DWANE BROWN: Ok, well it sounds like you're excited about what's happening at the La Jolla Playhouse, namely "Aurélia's Oratorio." This work seems to be getting all kinds of buzz.

ANGELA CARONE: Yes, it really is and deservedly so. It's such a charming piece of theater. It incorporates circus arts, vaudeville, dance and surrealism. Aurelia of the title is Aurélia Thierrée and she grew up in the circus, her parents started a small circus troupe in France that became very popular and is said to have inspired Cirque de Soleil. And Thierrée's mother actually came up with this show and directs it.

PAMELA DAVIS: What should people expect if they go see it?

ANGELA CARONE: They should expect to be surprised. It's only 70 minutes long and is made up of a series of short vignettes and each has this surprising element to it. Thierrée likes to upend all expectations so the world of the show is kind of topsy turvy. For example, at one point, a kite begins to move across the stage floor and then all of a sudden Thierrée emerges from the curtain flying through the air as if the kite is flying her. It's one surprising, clever moment after another.

PAMELA DAVIS: The other play at the Playhouse will appeal to reality tv fans? That sounds a little unusual for theater.

ANGELA CARONE: Yes, the other play marries the reality TV world, "Jersey Shore" and the like, with a 17th century play known for its vicious satire and violence called "The Revenger's Tragedy." This marriage is the brainchild of director Christopher Ashley, who is the artistic director at The La Jolla Playhouse. Here he's directing grad students from UCSD's nationally ranked theater program.

The play opens tonight so I haven't seen it yet, but I did get a sneak peek at the set and it includes monitors that show four different camera angles of what's happening on the stage. And there are cameras moving around, and it's a mulit-tiered stage.

The whole production is innovative, but there's a long tradition of taking classics and setting them in contemporary times, you know, like Hamlet as a western. And "The Revenger's Tragedy" as a reality tv show does not seem like an unreasonable stretch, given the irreverent tone of the play.

So if you're in the mood for some exciting experimental theater, then you want to see "The Revenger's Tragedy."

DWANE BROWN: You also want to recommend the latest exhibit at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. It's called "State of Mind: A California Invitational" and it's a group show?

One of the photographs in "State of Mind: A California Invitational" by Susan Anderson. "Jacklyn" (from the series High Glitz), 2009. © Susan Anderson
Enlarge this image

Above: One of the photographs in "State of Mind: A California Invitational" by Susan Anderson. "Jacklyn" (from the series High Glitz), 2009. © Susan Anderson

ANGELA CARONE: It is, an invitation went out to curators and gallery owners throughout the state to nominate photographers for this show. The MoPA staff then selected 22 of the best photographers in that bunch to participate.

And these are not necessarily photographers who use California as their subject, though some do. Rather they're photographers living and working here, so it's really meant to show what is happening in contemporary photography in California.

PAMELA DAVIS: You wanted to tell us about the work of one photographers in the show, her name is Soo Kim?

ANGELA CARONE: Yes, there's a lot of compelling photography in this exhibit but I was particularly taken with the work of a Korean-born Californian named Soo Kim. You know the travel photos you see of crowded rooftops – taken from above in an urban setting?

Well Kim takes images like those and then hand cuts them, almost like a woodcut, removing bits and pieces – and then she layers the photographs one on top of the other. The effect adds depth and a kind of vitality and pulse to the image.

I also like the process because this hand-cutting is tremendously detailed and time-consuming which is in direct contrast to the fast paced world of digital photography where everyone has a camera and is quickly making photographs.

So her work is interesting on a number of levels. And in fact, all of the photographers in this show have been working in the medium for years and they work with intention and have conceptual ideas driving their photography. It's really a good survey show.

DWANE BROWN: You can find out more about the exhibit at MoPA and other recommendations for your weekend on Angela's Culture Lust blog on KPBS.org.

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