• 2018-19 DCPA Theatre Company season: In with the old ... and the new

    by John Moore | Apr 01, 2018
    Chris Coleman offers a play-by-play look at the 2018-19 DCPA Theatre Company season, his first as the company's new Artistic Director. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Coleman's 40th anniversary season includes two world premieres, Tolstoy and an African-American Oklahoma!

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Incoming DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Chris Coleman has announced a 40th anniversary season he believes both honors the company’s past and boldly steps into the future — and in some intriguing examples, at the same time.

    Coleman will return to the company’s roots by presenting its third Rodgers and Hammerstein musical following previous stagings of Carousel and South Pacific. But Coleman is promising a fresh new look at Oklahoma! by telling the beloved story of a spirited rivalry between local farmers and cowboys from a mostly African-American perspective. Similarly, Coleman will offer adaptations of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and W. Somerset Maugham’s The Constant Wife, stories of women overcoming great societal barriers that may strike audiences as remarkably contemporary.

    A Last Night 800 1“It’s incredibly exciting to imagine what you want your first season at an organization to be,” said Coleman, who assumes his full-time Denver duties in May. "This company has long been known as a place where you can do really big, interesting, meaty, dramatic literature. One of the things that's exciting to me is to do something really traditional and then follow that with something that is brand new and edgy. That collision of styles and voices is really juicy to me.”

    Pictured above: Valerie Curtis-Newton, left, will return to again direct 2017 Colorado New Play Summit offering 'Last Night and the Night Before' on the mainstage season. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Coleman covers the traditional-to-edgy gamut with the announcement of both an eight-play Theatre Company season that includes three classics and two world premieres, as well as an innovative five-play slate from the company's adventurous Off-Center wing.  

    nataki-garrettWhen Coleman was named Artistic Director in November, he promised programming that will further the DCPA’s efforts to diversify its audiences, champion local storytelling and give voice to underserved communities. All five of the other mainstage directors he named today are women — and three of the playwrights are women or persons of color. Four if you count Off-Center's commission of a planned immersive hip-hop piece from This is Modern Art co-writer Idris Goodwin.
      

    The mainstage season includes two world-premiere plays: Donnetta Lavinia GraysLast Night and the Night Before, which was featured at the company’s 2017 Colorado New Play Summit, and Itamar MosesThe Whistleblower. With the exception of A Christmas Carol, which returns for a 26th year, every playwright and source writer (even Tolstoy) will be new to Theatre Company audiences except Nottage, whose Ruined was one of the most celebrated productions in company history In 2011.

    The Off-Center offerings, said Curator Charlie Miller, will complement the Theatre Company season and tell exciting stories in unconventional ways. “From original micro plays to new theatrical experiments to a large-scale immersive hip-hop show, Off-Center will take audiences into unexpected Denver spaces and showcase local artists, stories, and communities,” he said.

    Take a deeper dive into each play on the 2018-19 season

    The Theatre Company debuted on New Year’s Eve 1979 with The Caucasian Chalk Circle, starring Tyne Daly. Coleman says there is special significance to this being the 40th anniversary season because the company is old enough to have built an significant canon but also young enough to still have staff, artists and audience members who have been here all along — a lot of them.

    "As we step into the next chapter of the Theatre Company’s history, it's inspiring and energizing to look back on the extraordinary body of work that this company has brought to the region over the last 40 seasons," Coleman said. "What's really vivid to me is how many people have been around from Day 1. There are so many people who are really invested in the history and the future of this organization. So, to me, that's worth celebrating. And I view that as a launching pad for me.

    These playwrights and directors are the cream of the crop, and I look forward to the conversations these works will open up with the Denver community."

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Meet new Theatre Company Artistc Director Chris Coleman


    Chris Coleman 2018-19 season announcement


    2018-19 DCPA Theatre Company season at a glance:

    • Aug. 24-Sept. 30: Vietgone (Ricketson Theatre) DEEPER DIVE
    • Sept. 7-Oct. 14: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (Stage Theatre) DEEPER DIVE
    • Sept. 21-Oct. 21: The Constant Wife (Space Theatre) DEEPER DIVE
    • Nov. 21-Dec. 24: A Christmas Carol (Stage Theatre) DEEPER DIVE
    • Jan. 18-Feb. 24, 2019: Last Night and the Night Before (Ricketson Theatre) DEEPER DIVE
    • Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2019: Anna Karenina (Stage Theatre) DEEPER DIVE
    • Feb. 8-March 10, 2019: The Whistleblower (Space Theatre) DEEPER DIVE
    • April 26-May 26, 2019: Sweat (Space Theatre) DEEPER DIVE

    DCPA Theatre Company tickets and subscriptions: New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Subscription packages are now available online at denvercenter.org or by calling 303-893-4100. Subscribers enjoy 30 percent off savings, free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to added attractions, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed. Single ticket on-sale date will be announced at a later time. BUY ONLINE

    2018-19 Off-Center season at a glance:

    • July 11-Aug. 22: Mixed Taste: Tag team lectures on unrelated topics (Wednesdays only, with MCA Denver, Seawell Ballroom)
    • Oct. 23-Nov. 18: Bite-Size: An evening of micro theatre (at BookBar)
    • Nov. 23-Dec. 24: The SantaLand Diaries (with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company at The Jones)
    • March 2019: Powered by Off-Center (The Jones)
    • Dates TBA: Untitled Immersive Hip-Hop Show

    Off-Center ticket information: The single ticket on-sale date for all Off-Center productions will be announced at a later time. Subscriptions are not available for Off-Center shows.


    2018-19 THEATRE COMPANY SEASON: Title by title

    (Descriptions provided by DCPA Theatre Company)

    Vietgone

    • Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2016 VietgoneBy Qui Nguyen
    • Original music by Shane Rettig
    • Directed by Seema Sueko
    • Aug. 24-Sept. 30, 2018 (Opens Aug. 31)
    • Ricketson Theatre
    • Glance: This rap-spitting, pop culture-crusted dramedy is an ode to the real-life courtship of Playwright Qui Nguyen’s parents. Forced to leave their country during the height of the Vietnam War, two refugees find themselves at the same relocation camp in Arkansas – the land of Harleys, hot dogs and “howdy!” Before they find their way into each other’s arms, they’ll have to blaze a trail in their weird new world and leave behind the baggage they didn’t pack. Jump on this emotional ride for an adventure that hums with excitement as it hops across time and around the globe through the highs and lows of love.
    • Fun fact: Qui Nguyen is the self-described geeky playwright behind She Kills Monsters, which addressed stereotypes and social issues through the game “Dungeons and Dragons.”
    • Take a deeper dive into Vietgone

    (Pictured: Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2016 production of 'Vietgone,' courtesy Oregon Shakespeare Festival.)

    Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

    • Oklahoma!Music by Richard Rodgers; book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
    • Based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs
    • Original Dances by Agnes de Mille
    • Directed by Chris Coleman
    • Sept. 7-Oct. 14, 2018 (Opens Sept. 14)
    • Stage Theatre
    • Glance: With a spring in their step and a song in their hearts, cowboys, farmers and travelling salesmen alike have chased their destinies to a land that promises everything they could hope for: love, opportunity and a brighter future. The first collaboration by the legendary team of Rodgers and Hammerstein became a landmark musical for its rollicking music and stunning dance numbers, and this joyful presentation will solidify why it has stood the test of time. New DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Chris Coleman makes his DCPA directorial debut with this production, and he will set the story in one of the 50 all-African-American towns in the early days of the Oklahoma Territory. Discover an overlooked piece of American history as one small community stakes its claim on a place full of hope. The choreographer will be Dominique Kelley, a dancer in the film La La Land and the musical Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk.
    • Fun fact: Oklahoma! opened on Broadway at the St. James Theatre 75 years ago Saturday, and the cast of the Denver-born Frozen marked the anniversary with a curtain-call singalong that you can watch at this YouTube link.
    • Take a deeper dive into Oklahoma!

    The Constant Wife

    • The Constant WifeBy W. Somerset Maugham
    • Directed by Shelley Butler
    • Sept. 21-Oct. 21, 2018 (Opens Sept. 28)
    • Space Theatre
    • Glance: As the intelligent, charming housewife of a successful doctor, Constance Middleton cheerfully plays her traditional role. But she knows far more than she’s willing to let on. This cheeky satire pokes holes in the expectations of relationships, fidelity and social roles that were just as relevant in the 1920s as they are today. Featuring an infectiously plucky heroine at the helm, The Constant Wife takes joy in the imperfections of life and applauds those who elude the strict confines of society to discover true happiness. DCPA alum Shelley Butler (Human Error, The Most Deserving) returns to direct this contagious comedy.Fun fact: Variety calls Maugham’s protagonist “a perverse protofeminist — and an antecedent to the women of “Desperate Housewives” and “Sex and the City.”
    • Take a deeper dive into The Constant Wife

    A Christmas Carol

    • Sam Gregory A Christmas Carol. By Charles Dickens
    • Adapted by Richard Hellesen
    • Music by David de Berry
    • Directed by Melissa Rain Anderson
    • Nov. 21-Dec. 24, 2018 (Opens Nov. 29)
    • Stage Theatre
    • Glance: Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, the Theatre Company’s joyous and opulent seasonal offering now in its 26th year traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations. Note: This is an added attraction, not part of the Theatre Company subscription season.
    • Fun fact: Denver favorite Sam Gregory is scheduled to return for a third time as Scrooge.
    • Take a deeper dive into A Christmas Carol

    Last Night and the Night Before (world premiere)

    • Summit. Last Night. Donnetta By Donnetta Lavinia Grays
    • Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton
    • Jan. 18-Feb. 24, 2019 (Opens January 25)
    • Ricketson Theatre
    • Glance: When Monique and her 10-year-old daughter Samantha show up unexpectedly on her sister’s Brooklyn doorstep, it shakes up Rachel and her partner Nadima’s orderly New York lifestyle. Monique is on the run from deep trouble and brings their family’s Southern roots with her, grabbing hold of Rachel’s life more ferociously than she could have ever imagined. Poetic, powerful and remarkably funny, Last Night and the Night Before play explores the struggle between the responsibilities that are expected of us and the choices we actually end up making.
    • Fun fact: This play was featured in the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. Its original title was simply, Sam. The new title references a line from the children’s game "Last night and the night before, I met my baby at the candy store."
    • Take a deeper dive into Last Night and the Night Before


    Anna Karenina

    • TC-web-Season-Ann-400x3003By Kevin McKeon, adapted from the novel by Leo Tolstoy
    • Directed by Artistic Director Chris Coleman
    • Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2019 (Opens Feb. 1)
    • Stage Theatre
    • Glance: Love holds the power to bind us together or tear us apart, and no one knows better than Countess Anna Karenina. As a noblewoman and socialite, her glamorous lifestyle shrouds her unhappy marriage. But everything changes when she meets the dashing army officer Count Vronsky. She risks her social status, marriage, friends and family for the thrill of forbidden love. Anna Karenina uses the romantic backdrop of Tsarist Russia to tell a turbulent tale of passion and betrayal, dreams chased and lost, and the consequences of getting swept off your feet. Helmed by Artistic Director Chris Coleman, this lush, modern adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece brings the opulent setting and heart-wrenching story to life.
    • Fun fact: The play was made into a 2012 movie adapted by Tom Stoppard and featuring Keira Knightley and Jude Law.
    • Take a deeper dive into Anna Karenina


    The Whistleblower (world premiere)

    • itamarmoses whistleblowerBy Itamar Moses (pictured right)
    • Directed by TBA
    • Feb. 8-March 10, 2019 (Opens Feb. 15)
    • Space Theatre
    • Glance: For screenwriter Eli, an offer to finally create his own TV show should be the ultimate culmination of his goals, but instead shocks him into wondering why he had those dreams in the first place. Armed with a new sense of spiritual clarity, he sets out on a quest to serve up some hard truths to his coworkers, family, exes and friends. What could possibly go wrong? A lively world premiere about the lies we tell to protect ourselves  and how the tiniest gestures can have deep impact on those around us. Written by Itamar Moses, the award-winning author of the musical The Band’s Visit, currently on Broadway.
    • Fun facts: The Whistleblower was first introduced as a staged reading at South Coast Repertory’s 2015 Pacific Playwrights Festival in Costa Mesa, Calif. — alongside Vietgone. Also, Moses was an Executive Story Editor for HBO's "Boardwalk Empire."
    • Take a deeper dive into The Whistleblower

    Sweat

    • TC-web-Season-Ann-400x3004By Lynn Nottage
    • Directed by Nataki Garrett
    • April 26-May 26, 2019 (Opens May 3)
    • Space Theatre
    • Glance: For the people of poverty-stricken Reading, Pa., work is so much more than a paycheck – it’s the glue that holds the town together. The floor of their central factory is where lifelong friendships are made, where love blossoms and where family members work side-by-side. But as layoffs become the new norm and a cheaper workforce threatens the viability of the local union, the threads that once kept the community together begin to fray. Sweat is an “extraordinarily moving drama,” said The New York Times, that powerfully contrasts life’s happiest highs with the heart-wrenching struggles of survival. Using warm humor and deep empathy, this 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner from Lynn Nottage (Ruined) paints a moving portrait of today’s working-class America in decline.
    • Fun fact: Nottage developed her play through interviews with actual former steelworkers in Reading.
    • Take a deeper dive into Sweat

    2018-19 OFF-CENTER SEASON: Title by title

    Mixed Taste: Tag team lectures on unrelated topics

    • Mixed Taste Aug 9Co-presentation with MCA Denver
    • July 11-Aug. 22, 2018 (Wednesdays only)
    • Seawell Ballroom
    • Glance: Returning for a second summer series, even mismatched subjects find common ground in this fun lecture forum that can go pretty much anywhere. Two speakers get 20 minutes each to enlighten you on unrelated topics, but can’t make any connections to each other. Ideas start to blend afterward, when audience members ask questions to both speakers and anything goes.
    • Fun fact: One clever example from last year’s series: “Wild West mail delivery and post-conceptual art.” Last year’s series emcee Suzi Q. Smith wrote a poem during each performance and read them at the end of every evening.
     

    Bite-Size: An evening of micro theatre

    • 2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS Gary Grundie Meridith C. GrundeiCreated and directed by Meridith Crosley Grundei
    • Oct. 23-Nov. 18, 2018
    • At BookBar, 4280 Tennyson St.
    • Glance:
    • Bite-Size brings you five short plays with bookish twists performed in and around BookBar, an independent bookstore and wine bar in the Tennyson Street Arts District. Grab tapas and drinks between the short performances of original works by Colorado-based artists. There is no better way to see a variety of local playwrights and performers in one place. Whether you’re a theatre geek, a bookworm or on the hunt for an off-beat night out, this evening will leave you eager to crack into a fresh hard-cover and dream up some tales of your own.
    • Fun fact: Director Meridith Grundei, a 2017 True West Award winner, packed up a used R.V. and hit the road with her husband and daughter in 2017 to travel the United States and Mexico for a year.


    The SantaLand Diaries

    • A Santaland Diaries Michael BouchardCo-presentation with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    • By David Sedaris, adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello
    • Directed by Stephen Weitz
    • Nov. 23-Dec. 24, 2018 (Opens Nov. 25)
    • The Jones Theatre
    • Glance: This acclaimed one-man show is based on David Sedaris’ best-selling memoir about his curmudgeonly experience working as a Macy’s SantaLand elf, once again featuring Michael Bouchard and Luke Sorge as David, and his devilish Macy’s persona, Crumpet the Elf. Think holiday shopping is brutal? Try being on the receiving end of Macy’s SantaLand madness in a pair of pointy shoes. This twisted tale is the cure for the common Christmas show and the perfect excuse to take a break from it all.
    • Fun fact: 2018-19 will mark the 10th anniversary of BETC’s annual holiday staging, the last seven in partnership with Off-Center. That will equal The Bug Theatre’s run of 10 seasonal The SantaLand Diaries starring Gary Culig.

    Powered by Off-Center

    • March 2019
    • The Jones Theatre
    • Glance: Discover your next favorite Colorado performer as they debut new work at the Denver Center. Off-Center is offering the spotlight to local creators of all kinds as they get their projects off the ground with the support of our team. We’re giving our local artistic community a new place to play and a platform to experiment, engage and excite us all. Performance dates and participating artists to be announced.

    Untitled Immersive Hip-Hop Show

    • Idris Goodwin 160Written by Idris Goodwin
    • Directed by Jenny Koons
    • Glance: Following the hit experiential shows Sweet & Lucky and The Wild Party, Off-Center is cooking up its next large-scale immersive adventure. Off-Center has commissioned playwright Idris Goodwin and New York-based director Jenny Koons (Burn All Night at American Repertory Theatre) to create a one-of-a-kind new hip-hop-inspired event. Title, location, dates, and details to be announced.
    • Fun fact: Goodwin is the director and co-writer of This is Modern Art, currently playing through April 15 in The Jones Theatre.

    Note: Due to the nature of live performance, all productions, prices and dates are subject to change.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Read Suzi Q. Smith's original 'Mixed Taste' poems here

    by John Moore | Jul 20, 2017
    Suzy Q Smith
    Suzi Q. Smith at the inaugural 'Mixed Taste' in the Seawell Ballroom on July 5. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     

    'Know which voice to listen to
    when it’s time to fly,
    when it’s time to land.
    '

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Mixed Taste is a weekly tag-team lecture series that paired playfully unrelated topics on Wednesday nights throughout the summer in the Denver Center's Seawell Ballroom. The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is now collaborating on the popular series with Off-Center, the Denver Center's most unconventional programming arm

    Read more: Mixed Taste walks the talk to the Seawell Ballroom

    Local slam poet Suzi Q. Smith was the series emcee. As part of the fun, she created an original poem as each evening progressed to connect the dots between two featured but seemingly unrelated topics. She read them at the end of each night, and we have been publishing them here throughout the summer.

    Read our previous interview with Mixed Taste emcee Suzi Q. Smith

    On Glimmer and Flight

    Aug. 23
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture Topics: Air Traffic Control and Drag Queen Activism
    Lecturers: Bruce Goetz and Shirley Delta Blow

    There are so many ways to approach a runway.
    Fast, heavy as a skilled boxer’s glove;
    Precise as a jeweled manicure
    or a highlighted cheekbone;
    Clumsy as the first time in heels.
    It takes time, coordination, and practice
    to get it right.

    Last Suzi QWhat I love about the airport
    is the vastness of possibility:
    every terminal filled with dreams and stories,
    beginnings and long kisses goodbye,
    every face choreographed
    into magnificent ballet – and who
    serves more face
    than drag queens?
    Every wink
    and eyebrow raise
    is worth at least
    56 square miles of
    absolutely.

    We must remember that certainty
    when we find ourselves mid-flight
    in what could be chaos.
    Listen: there is a small voice lending us direction –

    stay here,
    come closer,
    not yet,
    aim higher,
    the runway is yours, darling –

    and if we listen, that voice keeps us from disaster.
    Step to the front
    while flashing lights sing
    in reverence to your every eyelash.
    Sashay when they wave you on,
    ignore the flailing arms
    that offer you no welcome.

    Know which voice to listen to
    when it’s time to fly,
    when it’s time to land,
    know who keeps you safe,
    keeps you airborne amidst roaring winds
    that would have your wings
    if you let them.

    Let your pride swell.
    When you hear the sky calling, fly.
    Stay fly
    and flying,
    let the breath of those who love you
    be your wind,
    let their voices be your beacon.

    You, brilliant shimmer,
    land on that runway
    like you mean it.


    On Perspective and Relativity

    Aug. 16
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: P.T. Barnum and Infinity
    Lecturers: Kathy Maher and Diane Davis


    I first used the term “infinity” as a means
    to compound an insult
    on some schoolyard playground, as in

                “you’re ugly”
                “your mama’s ugly”
                “you’re ugly times a million”
                “your ugly times INFINITY”

    until
    my Sunday School teacher said infinity
    was like carrying a bucket of water
    from the Atlantic Ocean
    to the Pacific Ocean,
    pouring it in, refilling the bucket
    and carrying it back,
    repeating this process until all of one ocean
    had been poured into the other entirely,
    and I stopped using it then
    as a weapon.

    It seemed a cruel use of vocabulary.
    Speaking of cruelty, I can’t help but weep
    when I consider the life of Joice Heth
    whose body, even in death, was someone else’s spectacle,
    whose suffering was no less than infinite,
    heavy as endless buckets of water colliding into a gulf
    a grand showcase of laughing waves, crashing the shore
    and winking at the grains of sand for their pretense of grandiosity.

    Maybe it is all perspective, bending with time.
    Is time a line, or a circle?
    Are we standing at zero or infinity?
    Is it ingenuity or exploitation?
    Is an elaborate hoax to be scorned or celebrated?

    Neither the sand nor the stars are infinite,
    but they offer a grand show.
    A brilliant display of possibility,
    a quantifiable image to lend this vast vocabulary
    to the dream of something greater.

    And what is greater, more infinite, than our dreams?
    Are we not the most stunning display of blue and bite?
    The most illustrious outpour of story and song?

    May we learn from our history.
    May we transform our finite breath
    into a stunning cascade of tomorrows,
    may we build a world of infinite compassion, courage and creativity –
    I believe it will be the greatest show on earth,
    to infinity

    (and beyond).



    On Bob and booze

    Aug. 9
    A Meet the Cast Bianca Mikahn 600Written by Guest Host Bianca Mikahn
    (Pictured right in May 2016)
    Lecture Topics: Prohibition and Bob Ross
    Lecturers: Jason Hanson and Doug Blandy 

    Bob was once drunk off power
    off his hands and all they could spill

    Thirty years before
    maybe his family would have been driven
    by his bust 'em up demeanor
    to the voting polls
    But then Bob got hooked on painting’s joy

    I wonder
    before he fermented his feelings into
    the nectar of inspiration
    Was his voice
    a rough and burning moonshine
    a howling across brand new highways
    while false McCoys raced in the distance
    How many distillations did it take
    to find the perfect smoky earthy pitch
    lulling so many of us to comfort
    like a perfectly aged red

    Mr Ross is famed for saying
    “there are no mistakes”
    I wonder had he witnessed to the
    dehydrated hypocrisy and
    Overreaching amendment which was the eighteenth
    Would he have maintained his floating
    and free demeanor
    Or would he revive his famed military fire
    for access to the saloon

    Mixed Taste Aug 9Maybe his only intoxication was the palette
    Most likely he would have found a
    favored speakeasy
    (which should be called Bob Rosses
    if time continuum allowed)
    A single malt
    Maybe a dear friend

    Bob Ross was my bartender
    the first to fill my cup with color
    and affirmation
    Replete with seasoned ice and
    landscapes which burned so good going down
    Temperance comes from the Latin word
    temperar which means to restrain
    Tempera is a form of paint and means
    to paint in distemper
    May we generate a toast
    to the eschewing of prohibition’s temperance
    less temperar renders us
    each of us little burgeoning Bobs
    Missing our happy little trees and forgetting
    there are no mistakes
    Just happy accidents



    On Growth and Dirt 

    Aug. 2
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Asparagus and Money Laundering
    Lecturers: Carol O'Meara and Micah Schwalb

    To grow asparagus, it must be planted deeply,
    like an oil drum full of money.
    It helps to have good real estate to bury it in.
    It takes patience and skill to get it right,
    with a nose for detail that must be studied.
    Maybe banks are the best place to begin
    the sprouts, they always have plenty
    of dirt.

    The Romans had a love
    for asparagus as well as coin,
    as both have been known
    as aphrodisiacs, both have led to
    suspicions and secrets, both traceable
    if you know where to sniff.

    I love asparagus. 
    Once, I ate marinated asparagus at a party.
    It was so magical that I decided to recreate the dish at home.
    Asparagus? Check.
    Herbs, seasonings, oil, vinegar? Check.
    I placed the ingredients in a casserole dish
    and covered, then promptly
    forgot about it.
    For days.
    Several days.
    Several long, hot, summer days.

    When I remembered,
    I excitedly removed the lid, ready to delight
    in my first attempt at marinated asparagus, and
    BEHOLD!
    The worst smell I have ever experienced –
    the kind of smell that expands the realms of imagination,
    so bad that my brain had to activate new functions
    just to accurately perceive this level of awful.

    I grabbed the dish and ran outside to throw it in the dumpster –
    the asparagus,
    the spices,
    the oils and vinegars,
    and the glass dish they’d been conspiring in.
    No amount of laundering would have saved it.
    The crime was so dreadful
    that I had to hide the evidence.

    I fled the scene, packed up my daughter,
    and stayed with family that night
    because the scene was too ghastly to remain.

    The word “asparagus” comes from a Persian word
    meaning “shoot” or “sprout.”
    I imagine I asparagussed my way out the back door
    on that fateful day.

    While it was once know for its reproductive effects,
    I have yet to reproduce the marinated asparagus since then,
    the evidence of the failed attempt left an unmistakable mark.

    Both money and asparagus involve a bit of dirt,
    a fair amount of work, but when done well
    can sustain us for generations.

    May all of our harvests be fair and clean. 


    On Ways and Words

    July 26
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Giant Flutes and Celestial Navigation
    Lecturers: Akio Lis and Jim Cook

    I’ve heard that in Australia,
    Aboriginal tribes used to navigate their land
    through music.  Each place had its own song.

    Charlie.jpg_largeI’ve heard it said that
    while any person can learn to play a note,
    it takes a true musician to know why to play a note, and when,
    how to navigate a song and draw its map.

    The earth spins at nearly 1,000 miles per hour,
    so fast it almost feels like we’ve always been still.
    Sound travels at nearly 800 miles per hour,
    so fast it feels eternal, like we’ve always known this music.

    Do you ever think about the fact that we are in space
    right now? Do you wonder why?
    Are we what happens when the momentum of
    sound and orbit collide?
    Does the weight and gravity
    of our instruments help us to know
    where our momentum means something?

    When we look at the center or
    the surface of the earth
    and move toward the distant
    celestial lights twinkling their hello
    (or goodbye, as the case may be),
    is it reasonable to still feel lost?

    Is it reasonable
    to bellow into the dark
    and hope your breath will be enough
    to carry you toward home?
    The way that wind holds a sail,
    our breath carries notes
    and we are transported.

    I’ve heard conflicting tales
    about the Pied Piper, and who he lured away
    with a hypnotizing flute.
    Music has always moved us,
    even if we don’t know where its glinting guides us,
    it is natural to follow what might still be light.



    On Science and Magic

    July 19 By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Telekinesis and Sauerkraut
    Lecturers: Professor Phelyx and Mara and Willow King

    We train our kids to wash their hands
    with potions
    made by people who want to sell us something.
    We all have a lot to unlearn.

    One kiss is an exchange
    of 8 million bacteria
    invisible, moving beings
    that could kill us
    or heal us,
    we all know kisses can go either way.

    It’s amazing, the magic
    we do with our mouths & minds,
    break down
    or be broken – I don’t think I understand
    the difference between magic and science,
    when the same botulism that can kill us
    can also stop stories
    a living face might tell,
    I suppose it’s a bit of both – wielding nature,
    being wielded by it.

    Maybe everything is cultural –
    time, science, magic, movement –
    like food, fermenting into medicine,
    breaking and becoming more whole.
    They say seeds break open to sprout.
    They say people who are married for a long time
    start to look alike.

    Maybe it is like sauerkraut –
    the more time we spend together, the better we get.
    Maybe science and magic are the same thing.
    Either theory requires a bit of faith,
    even when we see it, even when we taste it.
    Maybe it’s all in our minds,
    or maybe only the best parts of each
    survive.


    On Language and Justice

    July 12
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Esperanto and Trial by Jury
    Lecturers: Orlando Raola and Fred Bloom

    I have never served on a jury. 

    Have been left to share my opinions on stages,
    and especially on twitter, which is

    fine,
    I guess.

    Somehow, I have never been invited to the party

    no one else wants to go to.
    I mean – I’d be a good juror, I think.
    I’ve seen like every single episode of Law & Order at least twice.
    And Ally McBeal, The Practice, and pretty much every courtroom drama
    that Netflix has to offer.

    When it comes to the wisdom of crowds,
    the finders of facts, even standing in unpopular opinions,
    I feel like I’d make a strong candidate.

    My friends roll their eyes at being called for jury duty . . .

    again,
    while I raise my hand, eager and polite
    as any wallflower
    wanting to dance.

    Meanwhile, it sounds like jury duty is sometimes
    A LITERAL PARTY!

    Maybe I want it so bad
    because I believe in the weight of words,
    the intention and design of each syllable.

    How our languages shape fate,
    words as heavy as “guilty” or “not guilty”,
    of course we should speak in planned language
    when our words change lives.

    I saw an article yesterday about a family
    who was drowning in the Atlantic Ocean
    until the people on the beach formed an 80-person chain
    to bring them safely to shore.

    Imagine if we all used the power of our words
    in the same tongue.
    If we all spoke together, listened and understood.
    I imagine the harmony would make me weep,
    I imagine the volume would shake the ground,
    if we knew the weight of our words,
    imagine how heavy we could be.



    On History and Movement

    July 5
    By Suzi Q. Smith
    Lecture topics: Wild West mail delivery and post-conceptual art
    Lecturers: Adam Lerner (pictured right) and Nataki Garrett

    July 4, 1776, some of my ancestors were enslaved.
    One of my ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence.
    What conversations they must be having in my unexpected blood,
    emancipated and armed like Stagecoach Mary.
    How unprepared they must have been for such “mixed taste.”

    Adam Lerner Sometimes, the most essential stories are the impossible truths, born of need.
    Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention.
    Stagecoach Mary was one of the Wild West’s urgent needs:
    her shotgun,
    her six horses,
    her mule named Moses
    and if her story ain’t a burning bush
    clearing our way, maybe we are ready
    for some post-conceptual belief
    and art;
    stasis has never saved us.

    Watch how we grow wild as sagebrush,
    how we perpetuate our own movement like tumbleweed,
    how we find new ways to show the unseen
    as a means to survive.
    See how our manifestation stays migrating,
    maybe home has always been a moving target, the place
    where we are best heard.
    See how we make new language of color and moment.

    I come from a long line of wild westerners.
    Some who were enslaved and fled.
    Some who were desperately poor and fled.
    Some who’ve been here since forever ever ever ever.
    All of them finding new ways to survive.

    We are people who learn to make what we need.
    We are people who pour ourselves over horizons in unmistakable color.
    We both find, and have always been, the frontier.
    What is art if not us?
    If not the impossible conversations in my blood?
    In this room?

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • MCA Denver, Off-Center bringing 'Mixed Taste' to Denver Center

    by John Moore | Feb 27, 2017

    Mixed Taste
    Last year, Mixed Taste espoused the virtues of Merle Haggard and "The History of Dinner." The popular summer series moves to the Seawell ballroom in July. 


    The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts are officially a mixed match. 

    MCA Denver and the DCPA's adventurous Off-Center wing have formed a partnership to present Mixed Taste: Tag Team Lectures on Unrelated Topics throughout the summer at the Denver Center's Seawell Ballroom.

    Adam Lerner Mixed TasteMixed Taste, conceived by MCA Denver’s Adam Lerner, pairs two speakers addressing  completely unrelated subjects, followed by questions from the audience. During the first part of the program, no connections are allowed between the topics. But during the Q&A, anything can happen.

    The partnership begins on July 5 and will continue on Wednesday nights through Aug. 23.

    “Having nurtured Mixed Taste for over 10 years, the program is ready for its next level of growth, and I believe Off-Center is the perfect partner to help us take it there,” said Lerner, MCA Denver’s Director and Chief Animator. "Off-Center produces the kind of smart and quirky programming in the theater world that we strive to create in the art world. We’re excited to see what happens when we work together.”

    Charlie Miller, curator of Off-Center, is a fan of Mixed Tape because, he said, "it is an inherently theatrical format that is always engaging, surprising and fun - everything we strive for in an Off-Center experience. We are excited to partner with MCA Denver to give Mixed Taste its next life at the Denver Center.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Lerner originated Mixed Taste in 2004 in an empty storefront in the Belmar shopping center in Lakewood. In 2009, when he took the helm at MCA Denver he moved the program to downtown Denver. The program has been imitated from Boston to Mexico City. It has been discussed in various museum studies books and is regarded by many as the forefront of innovative cultural education programming.

    Past Mixed Taste lecture topics have included:

    • Walt Whitman and Whole Hog Cooking
    • Existentialism and Giant Vegetables
    • Parkour and Bollywood
    • Gospel Music and Zebra Sharks
    • Tequila and Dark Matter in the Universe

    The full lineup for the summer series will be announced at a later date.

    Travelers of the Lost Dimension coming to Stanley Marketplace

POPULAR POSTS
 
ABOUT THE EDITOR
John Moore
John Moore
Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.