Friday, July 17, 2015

Behind the Scenes at the Opera House: Ralitza Patcheva

We're very excited to continue Chamber at the Church next week with award-winning pianist Ralitza Patcheva. The Washington Post rightly calls her a "phenomenon," but does The Washington Post also know which cartoon character Ralitza feels most akin to? Because now we all do...

Where did you grow up?

In Sofia, which is the capital city of Bulgaria.

How would your elementary school classmates remember you?

Well, I studied with the same group of people all the way until high school (this is how things worked in Bulgaria when I was in school). So, their memories of me might be fresher than elementary school.

Name four fictional characters with whom you'd be okay being stuck in an elevator. Why them?

If I had a choice, I would prefer it not to be an elevator, but...Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities, since I feel his story remains untold in this grand book. So, you know how elevators and train compartments make people tell things they would never otherwise think of telling? I think he is a great character and I wish to know more about him than the book has given me.

Someone resourceful like Emil of Loneberga (by Astrid Lindgren) would be fun, because he might actually come up with a way to get the elevator moving. When he gets locked up in the wood shed after doing something naughty he makes little people sculptures out of spare pieces of wood, so he is never bored (aka never boring).

Now leaving the world of fiction and going to the world of music, I would love to be stuck in an elevator with either Robert Schumann or J. S. Bach. Or Brahms. Or Mozart. Or Ravel. Or Liszt. many of those composers were so fascinating. It would definitely be time well spent. But definitely Schumann and Bach first.

If you were a cartoon character, which cartoon character would you be?
Curious George.

When did you fall in love with music?

It is hard to pinpoint this moment, as falling and being in love with music is an ever ongoing, expanding puzzle. But it must have started early on - my mom played a recording of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto (another composer I would be happy to sit with in an elevator) when I was little, or even before I was born, and I love listening to this piece to this day. I sat through a live performance of Richard Strauss' opera Salome when I was four and do not remember being bored, so this must have gotten me interested in both music and theater, and, of course, opera. And I remember hearing for the first time in my life Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony (#6) when I was 7 or 8 yo, and although I do not have much of a memory of the quiet movements, I remember vividly the sense of absolute catharsis after hearing the Storm movement.

Don't miss Ralitza's A Room with a Symphony: Fascinated by Nature at the Burnt Cove Church next Tuesday, July 21, at 7 pm!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Behind the Scenes at the Opera House: Matt Hurley

We're thrilled to have Matt Hurley back in Stonington this summer! You may have seen him in last summer's Romeo & Juliet and R & J & Z, and you still have two weekends worth of performances to catch him in The Seagull before he transforms himself from an aspiring Russian playwright to a gentleman of 1980's Stonington in this summer's production of The Merry Wives of Windsor. First, though, take some time to get to know Matt in all his cootie-purveying-cat/rabbit-hybrid-with-007-ambitions glory.....

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Bangor, actually.

How would you elementary school classmates remember you?

My elementary school classmates would probably remember me as trying to make the teachers laugh by making animal noises in the back of the room and trying to kiss the girls during recess to give them cooties.....clearly I haven't grown up much since!

Name four fictional characters with whom you'd be okay being stuck in an elevator. Why them?

Holden Caufield - the world's first hipster. 

Hamlet - Just to meet the man of my favorite play and to ask did he actually see the ghost?

Indiana Jones - He'd find a crazy way for us to escape the elevator and then take me on a rafting trip down the Ganges. 

James Bond - teach me the ways sir...teach me the ways....

If you were a cartoon character, which cartoon character would you be?

This is a tough one but I think I would be a mix somewhere between Garfield and Bugs Bunny.  Not quite as lazy but also not quite as witty.

When did you fall in love with theatre?

A complicated question for me to answer but I'll try.  It took me some time to embrace theater.  I liked being on stage and getting laughs and all that but I never truly "loved" it and realized the power of it untill much later in my career.  Unpopular to say, but its true.  I was in a production of Richard II in Los Angeles playing a "banner holder" and during the deposition scene where the king loses his crown, the actor playing the king, David Melville, looked at me with such conviction and loss and defeat and humor in his playing of it, that I burst into tears and then realized I absolutely love what I do and now know what can be possible on stage.

Don't miss out on either of Matt's performances this summer... and be sure to say hi if you see him around town!

Forging Memories

Remembering What Never Happened * Bridgman|Packer Dance

"Remembering is always also a form of imagining."
Siri Hustvedt

There is a connection between memory and creation. In an article for Smithsonian Magazine, Greg Miller describes the process by which we "make" memories:
"Scientists have long known that recording a memory requires adjusting the connections between neurons. Each memory tweaks some tiny subset of the neurons in the brain (the human brain has 100 billion neurons in all), changing the way they communicate."
In other words, the act of remembering something literally changes the connections in your brain - and thereby changes that very memory. And since remembering involves telling yourself the story of an event or moment, each act of remembering contains within in it the seed of a new creation or moment in time.

As I sat this evening watching Remembering What Never Happened, a world premiere performance from Bridgman|Packer Dance, this idea kept spiraling through my thoughts. I would see Myrna dancing a duet with images of herself from a moment ago, the time lag creating a strange poignancy, or Art's movements echoing down an endless line of projected Arts - and I had the strangest sense of being dropped into my own memories.

We've all been there, I think: we've chased the lover or loved one who is vanishing; we've tried to hold the memory of someone lost so close that it felt like we were imprinting it on our bodies; we've found ourselves staring at a funhouse mirror of our own repeated mistakes coming back at us. And yet, when Bridgman|Packer explore these feelings in front of us, we can see both our own specific examples of moments, and also a much larger story about the very deliberate creation process we undertake as we pack away and then unpack our memories.

In the piece, which runs through Sunday, July 19th at the Opera House, Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer explore and explode what it means to remember, to dream, to create. Using a fascinating blend of pre-recorded footage and live camera capture with simultaneous video projection, the pair are able to physicalize the sense of being lost in your own memories - of feeling a familiar path behind you and yet seeing the ghost traces of other paths that you might just as easily have taken.

Throwback Thursday

IMG_1158 copyBridgman|Packer Dance stunned audiences with their 2013 production of Voyeur.
Art and Myrna are back in Stonington with TWO amazing new productions….Remembering What Never Happened and TRUCK, along with an exciting interactive on-stage installation during their intermissions. Don’t miss it!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What did you think of THE SEAGULL?

Thank you for coming to The Seagull at Ames Farm!

What did you think of the performance?  Let us know in the comments!

And remember, Bridgman | Packer Dance return to the Opera House this weekend with two new performances.

See you at the theatre!