Fall Arts Preview
By Collin Kelley & Sydia Bell
September historically marks the beginning of the 2011-2012 arts season in Atlanta, and as you’ll see over the next few pages, there is plenty to be excited about. For this year’s preview, we picked shows, concerts and exhibitions we’re excited about, and you can also visit AtlantaPlanIt.com to get more suggestions for arts and culture.
When executive director Freddie Ashley sent out an emergency call in February that the future of Actor’s Express (actors-express.com) was in jeopardy, the community responded. Ashley said $200,000 was needed by the summer to present the 2011-12 season. In mid-August, Ashley said 80 percent of the fundraising goal had been met and the season is going forward.
The new season opens with the massive Broadway hit musical Spring Awakening, which continues through Oct. 1. “It was a perfect choice to open the season,” Ashley said. “It’s contemporary, audacious and very much about what Actor’s Express does as a company.”
Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, about a abandoned children surviving on an isolated farm in middle American, runs from Oct. 27 to Nov. 26. “The play was one of the big hits of the Humana Festival and received standing ovations after every performance,” Ashley said.
Coming later in the season is Next Fall, about a gay man who loses his partner in a tragic accident and must turn to his deeply religious parents for answers; a revival of Tennessee William’s Night of the Iguana; and the musical version of the campy 70s film Xanadu, which Ashley said will make a “perfect summer show” to close the season.
The new season is already underway at Theatrical Outfit (theatricaloutfit.org) with the world premiere of Calvin Alexander Ramsey’s The Green Book, a controversial and compelling story based on fact about a code book used by traveling African-Americans in the Jim Crow era that listed safe lodgings, services and restaurants. The play centers on Holocaust survivor who refuses to stay in a segregated hotel and uses The Green Book to find other lodgings. He’s pitted against a black man who wants segregation to continue because he’s making money off the book. The play continues through Sept. 11.
Artistic Director Tom Key said the rest of the season is shaping up to be one of TO’s best. From Oct. 12 to Nov. 6, Freud’s Last Session by Mark St. Germain see the famed psychoanalyst clash with C.S. Lewis over love, sex, and the existence of God. “It’s a very moving play, watching these two men find their compassion for each other. It’s also very funny.”
In February, the Tony Award-winning Red, about abstract painter Mark Rothko working with his assistant to complete the color panels at the Four Seasons restaurant. In April, children of all ages will delight at the stage production of Madeline L’eEngle’s sci-fi classic, A Wrinkle in Time.
“We already have a design team working on the show,” Key said. “They are coming up with ways to trigger the imagination.”
More Theatre Picks: We’re excited about the Alliance Theatre’s (alliancetheatre.org) staging of Cold War drama Golda’s Balcony (Oct. 12-30), which pits the late Israeli prime minister against Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in this Cold War drama and the southeast premiere of the Tony Award-winning hit, God of Carnage (Jan. 11-29). At Synchronicity Theatre (synchrotheatre.com) Sarah Ruhl’s celebrated comedy, In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play (Sept. 29 – Oct. 30), is the simple story of a husband and wife in the Victorian era, who are given a strange new object to help enliven their love life. 7 Stages (7stages.org) welcomes performance artist Tim Miller for his new one man show Lay of the Land (Nov. 10-13), while Horizon Theatre (horizontheatre.com) presents the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Ruined (Sept. 16 – Oct. 16).
The Center for Puppetry Arts (puppet.org) has started its season with The Ugly Duckling (which continues through Sept. 18). Adapted and directed by Michael Haverty, the show features music and puppetry, performed live by a two-person cast, and is specially created to engage younger audiences.
Based on the beloved classic by Hans Christian Andersen, The Ugly Duckling follows a young bird who simply doesn’t fit in with the other ducks in the pond. Helped by some friendly forest sprites, the duckling sets out to explore the wonders of the pond.
“I want kids and adults to just have a really good time! Dance to the music, laugh with the silly Forest Sprites, and cheer when the Duckling discovers he’s a swan,” said Artistic Associate Michael Haverty.
Artistic Director Jon Ladwig also encouraged patrons to buy tickets now for Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, which is back after last year’s premiere sold out all 91 performances.
More Picks for Kids: Last season’s other surprise hit was Theatre du Reve’s (theatredureve.com) adaptation of the classic French film, The Red Balloon. It will be back Jan. 26 – Feb. 12 at 7 Stages.
Rialto Center for the Arts (rialtocenter.org) 2011-2012 marks its 15th anniversary with a unique mix of the best jazz, world music, dance, and more. Georgia State University renovated the 95-year-old theatre, spurring the revitalization of the Fairlie-Poplar district in downtown.
The birthday season will be a year-long celebration with performance-related events featuring local artists and scholars, in-depth master classes, thought-provoking talks, and more. Patrons will find that each and every evening of the Rialto’s upcoming season will be an experience to celebrate arts and culture in the heart of the city.
The season opens Saturday, Oct. 22, 8 p.m. with A Night in Treme: The Musical Majesty of New Orleans featuring Kermit Ruffins, Soul Rebels Brass Band and more.
Over at the Woodruff Arts Center, the Atlanta Symphony (atlantasymphony.org) kicks off the season Sept. 22-25 with Robert Spano conducting Beethoven’s 9th and Wagner’s Ring. Guests include soprano Christine Brewer and the ASO Chorus. Joshua Bell will perform Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto Sept. 30 – Oct. 2.
More Music Picks: For pop fans, British sensation Adele will be at The Fox Theatre (foxtheatre.org) on Oct. 16 in support of her album multi-platinum album 21, which has gone to number 1 in more than 20 countries. The DeKalb Symphony Orchestra (dekalbsymphony.com) also has an impressive line-up this season at venues around the community. The season kicks off Sept. 27 with special guest violinist Ciaschini at the Marvin Cole Auditorium in Clarkston.
The Atlanta Ballet (atlantaballet.com) has a year of creative collaborations, unexpected stories and work produced by some of the world’s most influential choreographers lined up for the 2011-12 season.
The season begins Oct. 21-23 with prominent choreographer James Kudelka’s The Four Seasons, a story of youth, discovery, and living to the fullest while exploring the passage of every man’s life.
This year most monumental collaboration is the world premiere of The Princess and The Goblin (Feb. 10-19) co-produced by Atlanta Ballet and Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet and created by one of the world’s greatest living choreographers, Twyla Tharp. Incorporating a cast of professional dancers and children to depict a fairy tale featuring a courageous young girl as she confronts the trails of coming with age, Tharp said the new show is a project 20 years in the making.
More Dance Picks: CORE Performance Company (coredance.org) celebrates its 25th anniversary with the premiere of two new dance works – The Point and The Moment Between – at Decatur High School’s new auditorium stage on Sept. 9 -10.
The High Museum of Art (high.org) will stage another blockbuster exhibition, Picasso To Warhol, in conjunction with New York’s Museum of Modern Art from Oct. 15 to April 29. More than 100 world-famous works will be assembled for this show.
Besides the exhibition namesakes, there will also be iconic work by Henri Matisse, Constantin Brancusi, Piet Mondrian, Fernand Léger, Marcel Duchamp, Giorgio De Chirico, Joan Miró, Romare Bearden, Alexander Calder, Jackson Pollock, Louise Bourgeois and Jasper Johns.
More Visual Art Picks: MODA – Museum of Design Atlanta (museumofdesign.org) will host Graphic Intervention: 25 Years of International AIDS Posters from Oct. 2 – Jan. 1. The posters offer an overview of strategies employed by government agencies, community activists, grassroots organizations and motivated citizens to educate the world about HIV/AIDS. Blocks of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which is housed here in Atlanta, will be on rotation throughout the exhibition period.