Fall's Best Bets for Arts in St. Louis
Don't listen to the thermometer and its 90+ degree readings this week. Fall is right around the corner. Really! And so is another exciting season of St. Louis theater, gallery openings and other art happenings. Plan ahead with our annual Fall Arts Guide below...
Encountering the City: The Urban Experience in Contemporary Art
Much like pornography, everybody knows bad architecture when they see it. You may not have the language necessary to explain why you hate it, but artists do. Encountering the City: The Urban Experience in Contemporary Art, the new exhibition at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum on Washington University's campus (1 Brookings Drive; 314-935-4523 or kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu) features artwork that responds to the built environment. Some of the work is critical, addressing the areas in which the architect has failed on an artistic level, but much of it is a more open response to the subject. Artists such as Franz Ackermann, Isa Genzken and Sarah Morris examine the materials used in construction, the concept of place and space, and the ways these buildings will be inhabited. Encountering the City opens Friday, September 12, and remains open every day but Tuesday, through Sunday, January 4, 2015. Admission is free. — Paul Friswold
All in the Timing
Playwright David Ives made his name with All in the Timing when it debuted 21 years ago. Timing is actually a compendium of short one-act comedies, or mini-plays. You could think of it as "theatrical tapas," which is the apt way a New York Times writer put it; that menu description suits the fare well. Each playlet sets up a situation, introduces a theme and ends on a purposely unresolved note. No pretty bows here to tie up in neat packages — they're neither needed nor wanted. Instead, Ives parlays high-flown verbal acuity, gutbucket physical humor, academic allusions and jokes that land all over the map into an overall pattern of gusto and conceptual élan. St. Louis Actors' Studio has a go at All in the Timing at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday (September 19 through October 5) at the Gaslight Theater (358 North Boyle Avenue; 314-458-2978 or www.stlas.org). Tickets are $25 to $30. — Alex Weir
Bonnie & Clyde
So the banks have failed, your government is frozen and the future seems to be nothing but bread lines and misery. How do you scratch financial security out of that dirt? If you're young and daring, perhaps you feel like the best way is just to take the things you want, like Bonnie and Clyde. Frank Wildhorn, Don Black and Ivan Menchell's musical Bonnie & Clyde recasts the gun-loving young couple as a couple of visionaries who see that notoriety and fame are different sides of the same coin — and if you have enough coins, you're rich. New Line Theatre opens its 24th season with this grim twist on Romeo and Juliet. Performances of Bonnie & Clyde take place at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (October 2 through 25) at the Washington University South Campus Theatre (6501 Clayton Road, Richmond Heights; 314-534-1111 or www.newlinetheatre.com). Tickets are $15 to $25.— Paul Friswold
Sophocles' plays have remained in production for more than 2,000 years because they continue to reflect the human experience, as in his Antigone. Antigone is the sister of Polyneices, who has until recently been the leader of one side of Thebes' civil war. He and Eteocles killed each other in battle, and the new ruler of Thebes, Creon, decrees that Polyneices' body will remain unburied where it fell. This contravenes religious law, but Creon believes it's a just punishment for Polyneices' actions in leading the civil disobedience. Antigone secretly buries her brother's body because she believes the law of the gods outweighs the laws of man, but in doing so sets herself against Creon in a war of wills and of words. Civil unrest, bodies lying in streets, fights over religious versus secular law — all Antigone needs is to change a few names and it becomes a collection of the last year's headlines. Upstream Theater presents David Slavitt's new translation of Antigone at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday (October 10 through 25) at the Kranzberg Arts Center (501 North Grand Boulevard; 314-863-4999 or www.upstreamtheater.org). There is one performance at 3 p.m. Sunday, October 26. Tickets are $20 to $30.— Paul Friswold
Atua: Sacred Gods from Polynesia
Correction: This article initially had the wrong opening date for Atua.
Don't look now but the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park (314-721-0072 or www.slam.org) has the scoop of scoops. And if it's too modest to crow about it we'll do the shouting, as this is truly a special occasion. "This" is Atua: Sacred Gods from Polynesia, a brand-new exhibit organized by the National Gallery of Australia. What's so notable about this show is that SLAM is the exhibit's sole venue in the entire United States. Featuring 60-plus iconic Polynesian sculptures on loan from museums and private collections around the world, Atua: Sacred Gods from Polynesia focuses a meticulous lens on the intimate relationship between objects of art and Polynesian constructs of atua, such as gods, ancestors and spirit beings. The artworks are studied as material embodiments of the eternal ethereal — atua, or spirit. This exclusive American residency is open Tuesday through Sunday (October 12 through January 4, 2015), and tickets are $6 to $12. Admission is free on Friday. — Alex Weir
Much Ado about Nothing
The marriage industry in this country is a hydra, ever-reproducing and growing. Is it more or less reassuring to know that it's been this way since the 1600s? In William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, a marriage is manufactured because a group of friends can't wait for a previously arranged marriage to take place at the end of the week. Claudia and Hero are the happy couple gettin' hitched, and it is their mutual friends who decide that Benedick and Beatrice should also tie the knot. The fact that both of them hate the institution of marriage only makes the game sweeter for the players, while their unbridled egotism is what makes their downfall entertaining for the audience. The B-plot involves a relentless, if slightly dim, officer of the law — Dogberry by name — attempting to crack the case of the malcontents who attempt to ruin all these marriages before they take place. St. Louis Shakespeare continues its 30th season victory lap of the Shakespearian cycle with Much Ado About Nothing. Performances take place at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (October 17 through 25), 2 p.m. Sunday, October 19, and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 23, at the Florissant Civic Center Theatre (1 James E. Eagan Drive, Florissant; 314-361-5664 or www.stlshakespeare.org). Tickets are $15 to $20. — Paul Friswold
David Scheinmann Josef Brown and Amanda Leigh Cobb in Dirty Dancing the Musical.
In the dark days of the late '80s, Dirty Dancing was the closest thing to a big-budget musical Hollywood had produced in years. It's a coming-of-age story in which the hero is a heroine, it has a soundtrack packed with oldies (and a couple newies — looking at you, "She's Like the Wind") and a heaping helping of dance numbers. Little wonder that the film has been reworked into a big-budget musical, albeit one that still leans heavily on its dancers to tell the story. Frances Houseman — Baby to her friends and family — goes to the Catskills and falls in love with the dreamy resort dance instructor, Johnny Castle. She also falls in love with the sensual, high-energy dancing the staff of the hotel practice after-hours — it's definitely not cotillion approved. Learning to dance this way helps her break away from rules and familial expectations, and also teaches her how to make a dramatic entrance; that big dance finale with the lift and the passionate embrace is a justifiably famous movie moment. Dirty Dancing the Musical opens the U.S. Bank Broadway Series at the Fox Theatre. The show is performed Tuesday through Sunday (October 21 through November 2) at the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard; 314-534-1111 or www.fabulousfox.com). Tickets are $25 to $95.
— Paul Friswold
Arabesque: The Mist
A recurring element in science fiction is the widespread use of a universal language — you know, like the idiomatic English everyone spoke in Star Wars, but with more slang. But that language already exists in the form of dance. Sure, a few hand gestures are construed differently from culture to culture, but the broad strokes of emotional expression translate fairly neatly across nationalities. Arabesque, the first private contemporary dance company based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, uses dance to tell the world about the cyclical nature of Vietnamese rice farming in its piece The Mist. Rice requires intensive labor in wet conditions, and it comes with a host of rhythmic movements that lend themselves to dance. The Mist uses the traditions of the growing year in a manner that honors Vietnam's traditional agrarian methods through the conventions of a modern dance company. Arabesque performs The Mist at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, October 25, at the Edison Theatre on Washington University's campus (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-935-6543 or www.edison.wustl.edu). Tickets are $20 to $36.— Paul Friswold
The Louisiana Purchase: Making St. Louis, Remaking America
We have Thomas Jefferson to thank for the fact that we're writing this in English for an audience of English speakers, within a region and nation where English most certainly is not the only language spoken but is the dominant one. Were it not for a certain colossal real estate deal transacted in 1803, we could well be writing this piece en francais; Jefferson's shrewd bargaining is why we've been sticking with anglais 'round these parts ever since. This massive land acquisition doubled the republic's size overnight and decisively transformed St. Louis into an American city. A new exhibit at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org) tells the back-story. The Louisiana Purchase: Making St. Louis, Remaking America recounts familiar events with the advantage of the loan of documents from the National Archives, as well as artifacts from the museum's own collections. The exhibit is free and runs from Saturday, October 25, through Sunday, April 19, 2015. — Alex Weir
Continue on for November events...