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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Theater & Dance Week: Lives, live on stage

Posted by on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 2:24 PM

mural of Pauli Murray by Brett Cook
  • mural of Pauli Murray by Brett Cook
It’s the week regional theater takes a turn to the biographical—sometimes even performed by the original cast.

At UNC-Chapel Hill, the SOLO TAKES ON festival returns for its second season of striking autobiographical solo shows, before a Duke Human Rights Center contingent in cooperation with the award-winning regional theater troupe Hidden Voices unearth one of the most famous and influential Durhamites in recent history—and the one you've most likely never heard of—in TO BUY THE SUN: THE CHALLENGE OF PAULI MURRAY.

Jeffrey Blair Cornell
  • Jeffrey Blair Cornell
We’re particularly interested in seeing Jeffery Blair Cornell’s take on the historically unrepentant—and closeted until death—conservative ideologue Roy Cohn, now that Playmakers Rep is finally getting around to staging Tony Kushner's epic ANGELS IN AMERICA. And in their midst, emerging playwright Monica Byrne rips the lid off the passions of a late-night college bio lab in Manbites Dog’s dark comedy, NIGHTWORK.

(Wait—that last one? Not so biographical. At least, let's hope. Make plans to see it anyway.)

More shows, after the jump.

Modern dance aficionados migrate to Raleigh this weekend for our region's stop in the 20th Anniversary Tour of the NORTH CAROLINA DANCE FESTIVAL. The three-day encampment at Meredith College features:

Friday: new work from Gaspard & Dancers, ALBAN ELVED, festival founder Jan Van Dyke and host Carol Kyles Finley

Saturday: a state-crossing conference including Raleigh's Code f.a.d., Winston-Salem's 87 Dance, E.E. Motion out of Charlotte and Ashley Suttlar Martin from Southport

Sunday: a festival of student companies including Enloe High School's unbelievably strong—but possibly endangered—program, Inis Cairde School of Irish Dance, Cary's Infinity Ballet and work from the festival's host company, Meredith Dance Theatre

...What, still jonesing? Fine: two more events, just a little bit on the down low:

Theater fans can actually help new works be created when The Playground, a new confederation of upcoming regional playwrights and theater artists, concludes their LOVE! SEX! VIOLENCE! LAUGHTER! tour of works in progress at Common Ground Theater Saturday at 7:30. See scenes from plays still being written, leavened by live music and dance, and then respond to what you've seen—with the playwrights themselves—afterward.

Vampire_Sonnets.jpg
I caught the tour last weekend in Raleigh. The works are diverse, interesting; though clearly in various stages of development, the best are quite strong. After, the exchange of insights with the audience was lively, useful. It's a rare experience: Aside from UNC's Process Series, how many times does the audience get to speak back to a work that's made them think?

Admission's free, but they'll pass the hat.

Saturday afternoon, actor/director Paul Paliyenko and Anya Russian will do a benefit reading of David Nelson Bradsher's 2010 verse drama, THE VAMPIRE SONNETS for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Show's at 1 p.m. at Burning Coal Theater.

Bradsher's twist on the meme with the fangs is actually served straight up in the title: the entire work is composed in Shakespearean sonnets. Samples of the work are on the book's Facebook page. Tickets are $20 with all proceeds going to Make-A-Wish; a full tea will be served between the program's acts.

See you at the shows.

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