April Is For The Arts At The Library

March 14, 2008

April is a time of renewal and reinvention–not in the garden, at the Essex Library! We have a month full of terrific arts programming going on in April: Jenny Tripp’s The Write Stuff program for kids, Victoria Murphy’s Sonnet Programs for adults, the one-woman play The Secret Life Of Louisa May Alcott, and the launch of the Essex Opera Club. That might be enough for some but not for us. In addition to all of the above, Jenny Tripp is continuing her documentary series with 4 fabulous, upbeat films on Sundays at 7p.m. in April:

Ballets Russes : Part history, part love letter, Ballets Russes may be the most purely delightful documentary in years. The movie follows the birth of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in the early 1930s, an event that eventually led–after years of exhilarating experiments, bitter artistic battles, and exhausting tours–to the establishment of modern ballet around the world. Ballet Russes combines astonishing film footage of fantastical ballets (featuring extravagant sets designed by Salvador Dali and costumes by Henri Matisse) and interviews with surviving dancers in their 70s, 80s, and 90s (ranging from Dame Alicia Markova, who was a prima ballerina with the original Ballet Russe under impresario Sergei Diaghilev, to Yvonne Craig, who went on to become Batgirl in the ’60s tv show Batman); the result is a breathtaking range of scholarship and depth of feeling. The heart of the film is the dancers themselves, who are sly, thoughtful, gossipy, and amazingly youthful in spirit–even the most difficult times are discussed with humor and honesty. Ballet fans will find this an essential document, while anyone who’s never even thought of going to ballet will be completely caught up in these dancers’ passion and wonder.” Amazon.com

Sing Faster: The Stagehands’ Ring Cycle : “Winner of the prestigious Filmmaker’s Trophy at Sundance, SING FASTER is a spirited and comical behind-the-scenes look at Richard Wagner’s beloved “Ring Cycle,” one of the most ambitious and spectacular operas in history. In the tradition of “Noises Off,” this acclaimed film from Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Jon Else tells the story of Wagner’s epic masterpiece entirely from the point of view of the opera’s unsung heroes – the union stagehands.

Night after night at the San Francisco Opera, a majestic universe of trolls, giants, and magic mountains comes alive before audiences. But when the stage dims, another spectacle unfolds as the highly-skilled stagehands maneuver 1000-pound set pieces in near darkness, with a meticulous choreography no less intricate than that of the opera’s. While the mythical Valkyries on stage seem an improbable counterpart to the stagehands, at the heart of the film is a surprising connection between Wagner’s Norse mythology and the sensibilities of these working people. And as the stage crew offers their own animated interpretation of the “Ring Cycle,” this hilarious and ultimately moving film becomes a meditation on the most basic of human themes: love, greed, power, and redemption.” Amazon.com

Who The #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?: “When Teri Horton, a 73-year-old former long-haul truck driver with an eighth grade education bought a painting in a thrift shop for five dollars, she didn’t know that it would pit her against the most powerful people in the art community and perhaps forever change the way art is authenticated around the world. Who The #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? is a rollicking adventure that documents a 15-year war with the art world’s inner circle, lifts the veil on how art is bought and sold in America and introduces audiences to the funny, profane and utterly unforgettable Teri Horton.” Amazon.com

Life After Tomorrow: ” The award winning Life After Tomorrow, a film by Julie Stevens and Gil Cates, Jr., reunites more than 40 women who played orphans in the original Broadway production of Annie and reveals the highs and lows of their experiences as child actresses in a cultural phenomenon. Once the curtain came down, many found it could be a hard-knock-life, fraught with out-of-control stage mothers, separation anxiety, and worst of all, pubescent growth spurts that could find the moppets being replaced by smaller, younger editions just waiting in the wings. As one cast member in the film remarks, The younger ones are coming to take your place and you’re 12. It’s not like you are getting downsized at 50…you’re 12!. While their lives moved on, the impact of the experience remains. Features behind-the-curtain footage from the original Broadway production and performances with the re-united orphans.” Amazon.com