Archive for June 2012

Welcome Back Intiman

Good news! Intiman is back with a four-play Festival starting July 11. Get your tickets now because the program looks like it will be enticing with first rate writers, directors and actors.

Director Allison Narver takes on Shakespeare’s quintessential love story, “Romeo and Juliet.” Ibsen’s emotional thriller “Hedda Gabler” ought to keep you on the edge of your seats. Seattle’s own Dan Savage has written “Miracle!” in which Helen Steller struggles to find her voice in Seattle’s drag scene. The final play “Dirty Story” by John Patrick Shanley (“Doubt” and “Moonstruck”) is a comedy in which politics and lovers face off.

The Festival runs through Aug. 29. Check out the calendar on info@intiman.org. Tickets are $30 and are available at ticketmaster.com.

Australian Aboriginal Art at Seattle Art Museum

“Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art” is an exhibition of modern works by artists practicing the oldest continuous art form on the planet. For more than 50,000 years native Australians have been depicting their landscape, their ancestors, and their spiritual beliefs on rocks, in sand, on bark, and on their bodies. For less than 70 years they have been creating their art on canvas and making it available to people outside their immediate circle.

In this exhibition, 120 works from the collection of Margaret Levi and Bob Kaplan offer stunning proof of the beauty and artistic merit of this genre. Levi and Kaplan, who became interested in it more than 20 years ago, have promised their entire collection to the museum. That will give SAM one of the most (if not the most) complete Australian assemblages in any museum in this country.

As curator Pam McClusky and her Australian colleague Wally Caruana make clear, we mustn’t think of this as the work of a single culture. Before the intrusion of Europeans to Australia there were 600 different languages spoken by the peoples who inhabited the vast continent. Life ways, religious concepts, resources, and landscapes varied, and the art reflects this diversity.

Some of the paintings, though evolved from traditional tribal and clan art, are surprisingly like our own abstract expressionism. Put some paintings next to works by American minimalist painters and you’d have a hard time determining which is which. Others are unmistakably Australian, depicting emus and kangaroos, symbolic representations of landscape features, and the spiritual life of the people themselves. And of course, many of the works are composed of the thousands of dots that most people associate with Australian aboriginal art.

You’ll see Crocodile Man, Rainbow Serpent, Ibis Man. You’ll see gatherings of women. But note, they don’t look like women, they are depicted by a U shaped symbol. Next to each of them you’ll probably see a digging stick depicted by a symbol that look like cigar, and a carrying bowl that looks like a basketball from above.

In these paintings, are hidden the cosmology of the artists’ communities, the geographic circumstances of their homelands, or the ancestors that protect them. But you can also just look at the works, be swept away by their colors, and fascinated by their patterns. This is an exhibit where aesthetics and worldview come together in joyous harmony.

Through September 2, Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., Seattle (206 654-3100 or www.seattleartmuseum.org)

Seattle Shakespeare Company’s “As You Like It”

Spring time! Birds are nesting; bees are pollinating, and love is in the air! It’s a perfect time to see “As You Like It,” Shakespeare’s most unabashedly love-struck play. And the current production is one of the best I’ve seen.

From the opening to the joyous finale, Director George Mount has made sure that everything is, dare I say it, as you like it. With minimal but effective staging he and Craig B. Wollam have created a Forest of Arden sufficient for chance encounters, large gatherings, and diverse settings.

Doris Black’s costumes ring true whether they are luscious court gowns or simple milkmaid togs. The lighting (Roberta Russell) and sound (Robertson Witmer and Evan Mosher) reinforce mood. The sweet music forms a background for love, fantasy, and forest trysts. And the acting is first class.

Hanna Lass as Rosalind, the sweet young thing who is banished from court and disguises herself as the lad Ganymede, is a master at coquettish eyes, sweet desolation, and bravado. Her role as written is a tad too contrived in the second act, but she does as well as one could with it.

David Pichette as the somewhat wistful Jacques makes the “All the world’s a stage….” speech sound absolutely fresh. I just wish I could name every cast member. Alas, I can’t, but I can say that the whole ensemble captures the mood of the piece and gives it a glow.

Here is love real and imagined, unrequited and fulfilled, and we experience it through the ups and downs of not one but four couples. It is a delectable spring morsel.

Through June 24 by Seattle Shakespeare Company at Center House Theatre in Seattle Center (733-8228 or www.seattleshakespeare.org).