The Invisible Hand

Ensemble Theatre's production of The Invisible Hand, April 12-29. Courtesy photo.

Ensemble Theatre’s production of The Invisible Hand, April 12-29. Courtesy photo.

Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) (in a co-production with the English Theatre Frankfurt) presents a witty and provocative new thriller, The Invisible Hand, written by Ayad Akhtar (Disgraced) and directed by Jonathan Fox. The Invisible Hand begins previews on Thursday, April 12, opens on Saturday, April 14, and runs through Sunday, April 29 at The New Vic, 33 W. Victoria St. in Santa Barbara. The production will then transfer to the English Theatre Frankfurt on May 9.

Set in Pakistan, American investment banker Nick Bright is kidnapped by an extremist organization and held for a $10 million ransom. When his company refuses to meet the terrorists’ demands, Bright convinces his captors that he can manipulate the stock market to meet his own ransom. Capitalism intersects with Islamic fanaticism in a race against time in this heart-pounding thriller by the Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright, novelist, and screenwriter Akhtar.

John Tufts and Mujahid Abdul-Rashid in ETC's production of "The Invisible Hand," photo by David Bazemore.

John Tufts and Mujahid Abdul-Rashid in ETC’s production of “The Invisible Hand,” photo by David Bazemore.

“Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar is one of the most compelling writers working today and we are so fortunate to be presenting this high-voltage thriller,” says Ensemble Theatre Company Artistic Director Jonathan Fox. “Our subscribers and audiences are in for quite the ride as money and religious devotion collide with devastating consequences.  We’re delighted that it brings a great cast to Santa Barbara, and to once again partner with the English Theatre of Frankfurt.”

John Tufts, who wowed area audiences in ETC’s 2016 production of I Am My Own Wife (a production that transferred to Laguna Playhouse), returns to Santa Barbara to play the role of Nick Bright. He recently played multiple roles in an acclaimed New York production of Pride and Prejudice. Jameal Ali, who plays the volatile Pakistani kidnapper Bashir, starred in the original New York production.  Rounding out the cast are Mujahid Abdul-Rashid and Sarang Sharma.

There are several special events and promotions associated with the production:

  • Book Club, April 18, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.: Scripts are now available for checkout at the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu St. Join other theatre-goers for a lively discussion about the play from a literary and dramatic perspective. FREE! 
  • Pre-Show Talk, April 18 & 25,  at 7:15 p.m.: Join guests in the courtyard of The New Vic for an informative and insightful discussion about the play before you see it, sure to enhance your theatrical experience.
  • Martini Night, April  20, at 7:15 p.m., performance at 8 p.m.: Free to ticket holders. Come early to enjoy a complimentary martini and mingle before the show.
  • Talk Back, April 26: Meet the cast after the show and discuss the production.

Tickets are available here.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 11, 2018.

UCSB Arts Walk

UCSB’s Department of MusicDepartment of Theater and DanceDepartment of ArtCollege of Creative StudiesArt, Design & Architecture MuseumMultiCultural Center and Library to host an open house of visual & performing arts

UCSB presents the inaugural UCSB Arts Walk on Wednesday, April 11, from 4:30-8 p.m. at various locations across the campus. The event gives students, faculty, staff and community members the opportunity to visit galleries and studios, watch preview performances and behind-the-scenes rehearsals, and participate in programming designed to highlight the artistic creativity and talent of the UCSB community. Best of all, everything is free of charge.

The Art, Design, & Architecture Museum has several exhibitions on display, including Chiura Obata: An American Modern, UCSB Campus Architecture: Design and Social Change, Jane Gottlieb Photographs France, and Keith Puccinelli. In addition, the museum hosts a Kitchell Architecture and Design lecture at 6 p.m., featuring UCSB Associate Campus Architect, Dennis Whelan. Whelan recounts the history of UC Santa Barbara campus planning and design, in conjunction with the Museum’s exhibition.

Image by Jane Gottlieb, currently on view at UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

Image by Jane Gottlieb, currently on view at UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

Highlights from the Department of Music include an open rehearsal of a faculty duet featuring cellist Jennifer Kloetzel and pianist Robert Koenig, plus performances by members of the Chamber Choir, Music of India Ensemble, Flute Choir, Jazz Combos, Middle East Ensemble, Chamber Players, Clarinet Choir, Gamelan Ensemble, and more. Guests can interact directly with performers during Q&A sessions following several of the events, such as a performance of scenes from UCSB Opera Theatre’s February production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and composition graduate student Brandon J. Rolle’s electro-acoustic music exhibition.

The Department of Theater and Dance also presents a wide variety of performances, open rehearsals, and exhibitions, including an open rehearsal for the department’s upcoming production of Cabaret (May 25-June 3), as well as performances by UCSB Dance BFA students in outdoor spaces surrounding the Theater and Dance buildings. The UCSB Dance Company and Freshmen Dance Company presents a special concert in the Old Ballet Studio (HSSB), while exhibitions showcasing puppets and work by UCSB Design students are also on display. Interactive playwright showcase stations will give guests the unique opportunity to work with student playwrights to compose novelty pieces on the spot.

On view from the Department of Art are multiple exhibitions of student work in the Art Building #534 and at the Red Barn Project Space in the Old Gym, Building #479, (near the bus loop by the Pollock Theater). Highlights include an exhibit of senior artwork in the GlassBox Gallery in Arts 1328, and from 7 p.m. on, Windows—a sampler of videos from Maya Gurantz’s “Intermediate Digital Video” class projected from the second story windows of Arts 2220, overlooking the bike path. In the Red Barn Project Space, UCSB Womanhouse Collective presents SHE-DEN, an intersectional, multi-media group exhibit exploring the place of women in contemporary art and culture.

The MultiCultural Center’s lounge features an exhibition by UCSB graduate student Andrew Morrison, entitled “Indian Heritage,” a Native American art exhibition that compliments his film, Great Walls of Indian Heritage. This exhibit speaks to all walks of life, its genesis is from the red road, and the American Indian Student Association inspires its vitality. The exhibit is on display in the MultiCultural Center Lounge through June 15, with an opening reception on April 12 at 6 p.m.

The College of Creative Studies (CCS), which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary during the current academic year, offers a glimpse into the work of the College’s Art, Music Composition, and Writing and Literature students in the CCS Gallery and the Old Little Theater. An exhibition of student artwork fills the CCS Gallery, while the Old Little Theater’s programming includes performances of Music Composition students’ original pieces as well as readings from Writing & Literature students and faculty.

Event link: https://www.library.ucsb.edu/artswalk

Directions and parking information: https://www.library.ucsb.edu/directions-parking

Campus map: http://www.aw.id.ucsb.edu/maps/ucsbmap.html

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 9, 2018.

 

Compañía Nacional de Danza

Compañía Nacional de Danza, photo by Jesús Vallinas.

Compañía Nacional de Danza, photo by Jesús Vallinas.

The illustrious Compañía Nacional de Danza (CND), Spain’s national dance company, returns to Santa Barbara with a work that is a statement of its compelling artistic direction. Presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures for two nights—March 6-7, both at 8 p.m. at The Granada Theatre (1214 State St.)—Johan Inger’s Carmen is a visionary retelling of mythic and universal elements of passion and violence.

This contemporary presentation of Carmen, a classic opera first performed in 1875, had its debut in 2015 and won the coveted Benois de la Danse prize for choreography in 2016. It tells the tale through the eyes of a child, with its heroine a courageous and modern woman, the mountains of Ronda reimagined as poor suburbs, the military now senior executives and the bullfighter recast as a movie star.

This Santa Barbara premiere marks one of only three cities in the U.S. presenting this magnificent story ballet.

Compañía Nacional de Danza, photo by Jesús Vallinas.

Compañía Nacional de Danza, photo by Jesús Vallinas.

When Inger was asked to create a new version of Carmen, himself being Swedish and Carmen a piece with a strong Spanish nature, he faced a challenge. But it was also a great opportunity. He strips tale to its most fundamental themes, introducing the perspective of a child to reveal the universal appeal of the story.

“There is a certain mystery within this character,” explains Inger. “It could be any kid; it could be Don José when he was a boy, and it could be a young Michaela or Carmen and José’s unborn child. It could even be ourselves, with our very first goodness wounded due to a violent experience that, though brief, has had a negative impact in our lives and our ability to interact with others forever.”

For tickets and more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805/893-3535 or visit ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu, or contact The Granada Theatre at 805/899-2222 or granadasb.org.

In addition to the performances on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the company also presents, in collaboration with Gustafson Dance, a Community Dance Class with Compañía Nacional de Danza on Monday, March 5, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Gustafson Dance, 2285 Las Positas Rd. Observers are welcome. Call 805/563-3262 to register. 

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 2, 2018.

PuppetPalooza Kick-Off Fundraiser

Come play with the puppets this weekend when PuppetPalooza Central—Museum and Theatre  celebrates their opening with a fundraiser extravaganza on Saturday, January 27, from 4-7 p.m. in Paseo Nuevo.

The festivities  honor Santa Barbara’s beloved anchorman John Palminteri and the KEYT News Channel 3 team for going above and beyond with their coverage of the Thomas Fire and aftermath in Santa Barbara County. A special  “John Palminteri Puppet” will perform live with “The Palm.”

The Muppets will headline the Puppetpalooza Festival on Mar. 2 at the Marjorie Luke Theatre. Courtesy photo.

The Muppets will headline the Puppetpalooza Festival on Mar. 2 at the Marjorie Luke Theatre. Courtesy photo.

Guests also will enjoy a showcase of the puppetry attractions coming to PuppetPalooza, as well as live performances, and and light bites and beverages.

“We hope our joyous festival filled with music, puppets, families and fun can bring renewed hope and laughter to our entire community after a winter season that has been difficult for everyone and tragic for too many,” states festival creator Mitchell Kriegman. “Honoring those in our community who have been reporting about our tireless first responders and informing all of us about these pressing events seemed like the best way to kick off our festival.”

Featured at the fundraiser, and on display throughout the season at PuppetPalooza Central, is noted puppeteer—and Vice Chair and Director of Dance of the UCSB Theater and Dance Department—Christina McCarthy and her handcrafted puppets. 

The Paseo Nuevo headquarters also features the regional debut screenings of Handmade Puppet Dreams presented by Heather Henson, the daughter of legendary puppeteer Jim Henson. Handmade Puppet Dreams is a traveling film series that promotes independent artists exploring their handmade craft specifically for the screen. 

Fundraiser tickets are $25 and are available for purchase online here or at PuppetPalooza Central in Paseo Nuevo (301 Paseo Nuevo). For more information, visit puppetpaloozasb.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 25, 2018.

Val Kilmer Presents Cinema Twain LIVE

Val Kilmer as "Citizen Twain," courtesy photo.

Val Kilmer as “Citizen Twain,” courtesy photo.

Val Kilmer will be at the Lobero Theatre this Friday night (Jun. 30) at 8 p.m. to present a screening of his play about Mark Twain. The one-man show, Citizen Twain, played to sold-out houses at several performing arts venues in Los Angeles.

Kilmer transforms himself into Twain in a comedic and moving performance based on the life of the man, Samuel Clemens, and of course his writings as Mark Twain. From his thoughts on politics (including his famous disdain for the U.S. Congress), to his family and ultimately his faith and God, Twain spins a series of yarns with his timeless satire and incomparable wit.

Kilmer will conduct a question and answer period with the audience following the screening.

The Lobero Theatre is located at 33 E. Canon Perdido St.

Special meet and greet tickets are still on sale at the Lobero Box Office and here.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on June 28, 2017.

Cavalia’s Odysseo is One Wild Ride

Odyesseo "Freedom," photo by Jak Wonderly.

Odyesseo “Freedom,” photo by Jak Wonderly.

If you’re looking for a perfect way to entertain the whole family this holiday season, Cavalia‘s new Odysseo show is just the ticket.

Odyesseo "The Fairies," photo by Pascal Ratthe.

Odyesseo “The Fairies,” photo by Pascal Ratthe.

This magical spectacle blends jaw-dropping equestrian artistry with Cirque du Soleil level acrobatics and music, as well as beautiful costumes and incredible set design. It’s really quite a magical experience, and well worth the drive to Irvine, where it’s playing through January 8 (under a giant White Big Top at the junction of the I-405 & the SR-133).

Odyesseo "Finale," photo by Lynne Glazze.

Odyesseo “Finale,” photo by Lynne Glazze.

The production is so unique that it’s hard to describe. “Odysseo marries the equestrian arts, stage arts and high-tech theatrical effects at never-before-seen levels. A veritable revolution in live performance, Odysseo comprises a list of superlatives: the world’s largest touring production and traveling big top, the biggest stage, the most beautiful visual effects, and the largest number of horses at liberty,” according to the promoters.

For once, they aren’t exaggerating in the least.

Odyesseo "Carosello," photo by Dan Harper.

Odyesseo “Carosello,” photo by Dan Harper.

The 65 horses and 48 artists who star in the show take you on a journey into a dreamy world of the planet’s most unforgettable landscapes. This is a show you won’t soon forget. For tickets and information visit www.cavalia.net/Irvine‎.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Odyesseo "The Angels," photo by Andrew Miller.

Odyesseo “The Angels,” photo by Andrew Miller.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 4, 2016.

Editor’s Pick: The Producers

The-Producers

Courtesy photo

I’ve been a fan of The Producers since my childhood friend (and Santa Barbara local) Cady Huffman originated the part of Ulla and won a Tony Award for it in 2001. This Mel Brooks hit musical is still one of the funniest shows around. Just thinking about the geriatric Old Betties dance number with their walkers is enough to make me laugh. If you haven’t seen it before, you’re in for a treat! | Feb. 16–17, 7:30 p.m. The Granada Theatre, 1214 State St. 805/899-2222, granadasb.org.

–Leslie Dinaberg

This story originally appeared in the winter 2015/16 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Impro Theatre’s Twilight Zone UnScripted

Twilight Zone UnScripted, courtesy photo

Twilight Zone UnScripted, courtesy photo

From the folks that brought us last spring’s laugh-out-loud hilarious performance of Impro Theatre’s Jane Austen UnScripted, Instant Karma Improv Comedy brings the group back to town with their wildly popular Twilight Zone UnScripted, directed by Jo McGinley and Stephen Kearin.

Hailed as “the greatest improvisational theatre company in the world,” Impro Theatre’s Twilight Zone UnScripted creates four brand new, completely improvised episodes at each performance—all in the style of the classic TV series The Twilight Zone.

The critically acclaimed ensemble returns with an eerie, macabre, entirely spontaneous show that begins with a single audience suggestion. From the darkest corners of reality, to the realm of the unexplained, Twilight Zone UnScripted enters a dimension of pure imagination whilst paying homage to Rod Serling’s award-winning sci-fi series.

Once they receive the audience suggestion, the lights go out, the theme music begins, and they, like you, enter into another dimension—a dimension known only as… Twilight Zone… UnScripted.

Performances are Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20-21 at 8 p.m., at Center Stage Theater, in Paseo Nuevo, upstairs at the intersection of Chapala and De La Guerra Streets. For tickets, please call 805/963-0408 or visit, centerstagetheater.org.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Twilight Zone UnScripted: Trailer “Fear” from Impro Theatre on Vimeo.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on November 18, 2015.

Ensemble Theater Company and K-9 Pals Partner for Pets

K-9 Pals and ETC are partnering to promote pet adoptions. Courtesy photo.

K-9 Pals and ETC are partnering to promote pet adoptions. Courtesy photo.

In conjunction with promoting the new comedy, The Best Brothersin which dog ownership is featured prominently—Ensemble Theatre Company has partnered with local nonprofit dog adoption agency, K-9 Pals, to raise awareness about the growing need for homes for dogs in Santa Barbara.

The Best Brothers, playing now through December 21 at the New Vic, focuses on estranged brothers who are forced to come together in the wake of their mothers untimely, yet hilarious, death. While reconciling their mother’s estate, one point of contention raises its head over and over again: who will care for mom’s beloved Italian Greyhound, Enzo? Enzo represents the unconditional love that can come from a dog, even during times of great distress and upheaval in life. This idea, that a dog can change a person’s life, led to the inevitable teamwork between ETC and K-9.

K-9 Pals finds homes for dogs after an owner’s death, and offers a safe environment for sheltering, feeding and training dogs who are waiting for homes. More than 1,200 dogs are taken into Santa Barbara shelters each year. As part of the awareness partnership, K-9 Pals has brought dogs in need of adoption to the New Vic before each matinee performance of The Best Brothers – December 21 is the final event. Adoption events begin one hour prior to the performance. The public is welcome to attend the adoption events, socialize with the dogs, and learn more about the adoption process. A ticket to the play is not required.

K-9 Pals and ETC are partnering to promote pet adoptions. Courtesy photo.

K-9 Pals and ETC are partnering to promote pet adoptions. Courtesy photo.

For more information about K-9 Pals, including steps in the adoption process and how to donate, visit www.k-9pals.org. To purchase tickets to The Best Brothers, contact the Ensemble Theatre Company Box Office at 805/965-5400, or visit www.etcsb.org. The theater is located at 33 W. Victoria St.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 17, 2014.