Don’t worry… your summer may have been different but Austin Shakespeare is here to make sure you get your regular dose of The Bard! This month, the classical theater group’s teen company — Young Shakespeare, that is — brings you ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona,’ streamed from Zilker Hillside Theatre to your screens Wednesday, October 7 at 7:00pm. And you can get your ticket right now!
Austin Shakespeare’s tuition-based intensive summer program for students aged 12 to 19 typically produces an imaginative performance in The Curtain Theatre, Austin’s own Elizabethan replica theater space (yes, it really exists!), host to several historical community theatre groups. Since theatre is looking a little bit different right now, Young Shakespeare has partnered up with familiar friend Zilker Hillside Theatre and presents ‘2 Gents’ in coordination with the City of Austin’s Artist Access Program.
After masked and socially-distant rehearsals, Young Shakespeare has filmed the production in Zilker without an audience. But setting this Shakespearean tale in the psychedelic ’60s & ’70s isn’t the only surprise — the production promises several more. “Young Shakespeare is always an exciting adventure,” says Director Ann Ciccolella. “This year is no different.”
Inspired by music from Galt MacDermot, who wrote the rock musical HAIR, the production is a blast from the past with costume design inspired by the 1970s from Cecelia Gay. ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’ features many of Shakespeare’s comedic staples, including a woman in male disguise, a best-friend rivalry over the same love interest, plus a servant and his comic dog.
How can I watch?
Glad you asked! Tickets are available now. You’ll receive a special link for the stream via email, taking place October 7 at 7pm on YouTube.
Who’s in the cast?
Trained by theatre professionals alongside Artistic Director Ann Ciccolella and Associate Director Gwendolyn Kelso, Young Shakespeare’s actors hail from across the Greater Austin area and beyond.
Ben Frey, Proteus, an amorous gentleman
Gabriel Cruz, Valentine, the other amorous gentleman
Campbell Collins, Julia
Elanor Walter, the captivating Sylvia
Richard White, the humorous Eglamour
Madelyn Reed, Antonio
Mercy Olguin, the Duchess
Sarah Wells, Launce, the clown
Jackson Childs, the bumbling Speed
Athena Eugene, Panthino
Vittoria Magi, the witty Host
But how has the young cast dealt with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? Ah… that is… the recent pandemic-driven changes in process and format?
“In addition to being incredibly talented, this cast has been flexible and supportive through what has been one of the most disrupted seasons ever,” said original co-director Nancy Eyermann. “This talented group has not missed a beat. They are as energized, engaging, and fun to watch on screen as they are live on stage.”
I want to know more about Austin Shakespeare
You’ll love exploring imaginative worlds with this company, which features surprising and entertaining heightened-language productions at the our Rollins Studio Theatre as a Long Center Resident Company, as well as Shakespeare in Zilker Park.
The only professional classical theater company in Central Texas, this group stages performances that are fresh, bold, imaginative, thought-provoking and eminently accessible — connecting truths of the past with the challenges and possibilities of today.
In 2018, Austin Shakespeare was honored with a grant from the prestigious Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Arts Innovation and Management (AIM) program. And during the Covid shutdown, the group has also pivoted to offer virtual performances as well as creative development programs.
Austin Shakespeare is a participating partner of the Artist Access Program, part of the City of Austin’s Division of Museums and Cultural Programs through the Austin Parks and Recreation Department. Visit austintexas.gove/artistaccess for more info.
This week’s Mid-Week Intermission comes from Long Center partner and friend David Spencer, Hancock Center H-E-B’s Center Store Leader. With H-E-B’s excellent history in community work, we wanted to hear from David about their partnership with United Way and how his life looks a little different now. Stick with us for some playlist recos, too!
Hi there! I’m David Spencer, Center Store Leader at the Hancock Center H-E-B. Most days, you’ll find me on the sales floor talking with customers and doing whatever it takes to make their H-E-B experience a great one! In addition to my store assignment, I’ve also been involved with H-E-B’s United Way Campaign for the last ten years.
Over the years, I’ve served as an In-Store Coordinator at multiple stores and had the opportunity to be the Loaned Executive to United Way back in 2014. This is a program where H-E-B places one of its Partners (employees) at the United Way office for 3 to 4 months and we assist the United Way staff with their capital campaign while H-E-B pays our salary. It was the most fulfilling thing I’ve had the opportunity to do in my H-E-B career and I’m thankful to work for a company that is so committed to its community.
For the last 5 years I’ve helped coordinate H-E-B’s Central Texas Campaign which includes all H-E-B Partners in our region. I’ve worked with several great H-E-B Partners on the campaign, but my friend Angela Adams has been there with me during every campaign and I can’t imagine doing it without her. Last year our Central Texas H-E-B Partners donated almost 1.5 million dollars to United Way, which makes it the largest employee giving campaign in Central Texas
Our Partners are incredibly caring and generous and those dollars come from Partners who are your cashiers, baggers, meat cutters, and every other Partner you see while shopping in our stores. Normally, we have unique and special in-person United Way Meetings where Partners share stories about how United Way has helped them or their family or friends during a rough time in their lives. This year, because of COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, our campaign is digital/online for the first time and we’re in the middle of it right now.
My New Normal
Unlike most Austinites, my work environment hasn’t shifted to home as our stores have been open for business during the pandemic. But my life outside of work has certainly changed. Normally, I love doing happy hour with friends and visiting breweries such as St. Elmo, Live Oak, and Austin Beerworks. I love live music and regularly attend concerts and shows in Austin or at cool venues across the country. That’s obviously on hold. My last concert in Austin was Amanda Shires at Antone’s on February 28th — I miss live music so much!
To compensate, I do my own happy hour on my deck overlooking Barton Creek. My favorite happy hour foods are, of course, from H-E-B! I absolutely love our in-store made tortilla chips paired with our in-store made guacamole. A new addition is queso from Fresa’s, which we sell at our stores to help our local restaurants and pass along all of the proceeds back to them. It’s the best queso I’ve ever had!
The Best Things I’ve Heard This Week
I now get my music fix by listening to my headphones instead of seeing my favorite artists live. The best things I’ve heard this week are:
This is the new album by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.
By Over the Rhine, this album was released 17 years ago on August 19th and is one of my favorite albums of all time. If you want to know how it feels in your soul to grow up and live in the Midwest, listen to this. It’s hauntingly beautiful.
“REMIND ME TOMORROW”
The latest by Sharron Van Etten. This album came out in 2019 and has been stuck in my head ever since I saw her at an Austin City Limits Taping last September.
“THE DEEPEST END, LIVE IN CONCERT”
By Gov’t Mule, this was recorded in New Orleans in 203 as a tribute to the band’s late bassist Alan Woody who died in 2000.
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It’s no secret that the way Austin creates art has changed drastically in the last six months. So naturally, at the Long Center, we’ve been fascinated by the ways creativity is booming and blooming (plus, how we can help). Our next Long Center Create Virtual Event with Andrea Ariel Dance Theatre is a perfect example of this, and it’s streaming for free, live on LC’s Facebook September 12th at 8pm! Don’t be shy — AADT’s dancers will be live on chat talking about the experience, as well as composer Graham Reynolds.
REIMAGINE, the contemporary dance work from the dance company of choreographer Andrea Ariel (AADT), was not only supposed to premiere in our Rollins Studio Theatre live last May, but was also a celebration of AADT’s 30th Anniversary. With rehearsals being suspended and performances postponed, Andrea realized she would have to reimagine REIMAGINE for the virtual stage, instead.
So how do you create a virtual contemporary dance piece?
With creativity and ingenuity, of course! It also helps if you have great music to dance to. REIMAGINE was to be an evening of dance and live music that reinvented and weaved AADT’s past repertoire with new choreography all set to scores by composer and bandleader Graham Reynolds. As a long-time collaborator of Andrea Ariel, reuniting for AADT’s 30th Anniversary was a no-brainer.
“Over all these years we were both developing our work, and there are many threads of Graham’s compositions that are part of my work during that time,” Andrea says. “I thought it would be interesting to reimagine older works and create new ones to a selection of scores that resonated with these connections.”
Though Graham won’t be performing live with Alexis Buffum on violin and Nora Karakousoglou on cello as originally planned, you’ll still get that punchy, quirky Reynolds experience paired with Andrea’s signature choreo.
Over three months during shelter-in-place, the company rehearsed virtually to re-create selected pieces from REIMAGINE in the dancers’ private homes and environments where they then filmed the work. While some of the dances aligned well for a virtual re-creation, others not so much.
REIMAGINE: 30 YEARS | REIMAGINED brings four re-creations together with a look at a few past repertoire pieces through archival excerpts and the company’s pre-COVID rehearsal footage (because who can resist some behind-the-scenes content?). The 45-minute premiere, edited by Colin Lowry, aims to also virtually re-create that live show experience, moving seamlessly from one piece to the next.
What does virtual contemporary dance look like?
This piece explores the isolation we’ve all been feeling lately. Live, this section would have limited dancers to an individual 8ft. x 8ft. space, growing and overlapping as the pieces progressed. The uncanny relevance of this piece in our current situation lent it well to re-creating the first section in a room in the dancers’ homes.
This one moves from isolation to patterns the comings and goings of daily life, exploring random crossings that lead to interactions and connections with each other. On the shelter-in-place stage, the choreography had dancers create their own “vectors” — paths that are connected with each other through clever editing. “Crossings,” “Home,”and a fourth re-creation “Stripping Away” use music from Graham Reynolds originally composed for AADT’s “Geometry of Proximity” (2012).
This is a fun, short, delight set to Grahams “The Pencil Song.”
Other works included in the virtual program are Andrea’s signature solo from 1990, “Broken Head,” and “Life’s a Circus” (1996). These pieces bring together archival excerpts and pre-COVID rehearsal footage for a look inside the re-staging process to new scores by Reynolds.
How can I tune in?
Head to our Long Center Facebook page on Saturday night, September 12 — no Facebook account needed. The show’ll start at 8:00pm CT, but we’ll give you a few minutes to get situated before it starts.
Come with your questions! AADT’s dancers plus composer Graham Reynolds will be live in the chat window to talk with you about the pieces as well as what it’s been like filming from home, getting extra creative with space, and reimagining contemporary dance for the here and now.
See you Saturday night — enjoy this Post-It Experiment #3 from the AADT team while you wait!
This virtual event is free to view. Donations to AADT are welcome on their website, with 20% of all donations received by Andrea Ariel Dance Theatre from the premiere going to Austin Justice Coalition & Black Arts Matters.
REIMAGINE: 30 YEARS | REIMAGINED was created in collaboration with dancers Whitney O’Baugh, Luis Ordaz Gutiérrez, Ceci Proeger, Rebecca McLindon Blanchard, Kevin Armstrong, Sandie Donzica and video editor Colin Lowry.
This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.
Well aren’t you a sight for sore eyes!
Yep, it’s the Long Center — that futuristic-looking building on the riverbank that always has something going on. We know it’s been a hot minute since we’ve seen each other, and though we’ve let our hair grow out and gotten new glasses while we’ve been apart, we know there’s still a connection here.
After all, you’ve definitely brought your kids to our front lawn for an all-day, bubble-bursting, live-music experience, or staged your own outdoor disco long after the rest of the city’s gone to bed.
You definitely know that big open space with the columns because that’s where you go to roller skate with your roommates instead of studying. Or, perhaps our window wall and multi-colored tiles are currently in the background of a framed photo or two, or even making a guest appearance on your feed.
You’re probably familiar with sitting alongside thousands of fellow Austinites, blanket in tow, looking up to spot your first firework on the Fourth. You even came back the next day for a picnic to make the holiday weekend last a little longer.
You know the excitement of getting that yearly, larger-than-life candy cane photo op because ’tis the season. You’ve even lent us your free time to help countless newcomers find their perfect seat (Center Mezz gets our vote), or put in a full day and night of back-breaking work to make sure the show goes on as planned.
You’ve stood in line for hours to get your book signed by your fave photographer who never goes on tour, or to exchange a few words and a joke with a cult movie star. This is also where you probably got a glimpse of President Obama, or you were super pleased to see your number-one skyline view cameo on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
This is also where your best friends surprised you with an outdoor movie for your 30th birthday, or had a first date that didn’t go as bad as you thought it might. It’s probably where you had your first taste of trailer food while waving to find your friend in the crowd before the headlining band started.
Some of you will never forget seeing Elvis twirl and jive live in concert back when we were the Palmer Auditorium, or how great it felt to walk across the stage at your high school graduation. Now, you can’t believe your ears as the sold-out crowd goes wild as your aspiring young artist takes the stage for the first — but certainly not the last — time.
You created us, Austin, and we can’t wait to give back. ????
We’ve been going through our photo archives lately and thought you might wanna see, too! So we asked our good friend and go-to freelance photographer Suzanne Cordeiro to pick out some of her favorites from over the years. Enjoy!
GAHSMTA (NOW THE HELLER AWARDS FOR YOUNG ARTISTS!)
I have been privileged to photograph every single Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards show and what I absolutely love about this event is the energy. Each year, students dress to the nines to come and experience exciting musical performances from each of the Austin area high schools while cheering ecstatically for their own. The energy is pure magic! Most of the students love posing for the camera, resulting in some amazingly energetic and fun images.
Everyone, young and the old, loves bubbles! It’s no wonder that Bubblepalooza is always a joy to shoot. This annual free celebration attracts families of all ages and the folks at the Long Center go above and beyond to provide some amazing family-centric activities, games, music, and yummy food trucks. For a photographer, Bubblepalooza is a dream because everyone is so happy and full of smiles. The front lawn spills over with happy families. What a great way to stay cool on a hot summer day!
Having the opportunity to hear renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz speak about her craft was an absolute thrill. The work of this living legend spans well over 40 years and it was more than a little surreal for me to photograph someone I consider to be one of the best photographers in the world. Coming home with a beautifully autographed book that now sits on my living room coffee table was an added bonus.
SANTA ON THE TERRACE
With the magnificent Austin skyline as its backdrop, there is no better place to document your family’s holiday memories than during the Long Center’s “Santa on the Terrace” event. I remember my own kids being absolutely terrified by the idea of sitting on Santa’s knee, so I can’t help but smile when I see other children start screaming the second it’s their turn. Knowing the effort that goes in to getting these little ones all dressed up only to have them totally meltdown is pretty hysterical. Although they won’t walk away with the ideal photo that they envisioned, the shot they do receive will become a joyful and cherished memory.
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON
Neil deGrasse Tyson makes regular appearances at the Long Center and I always look forward to photographing his Meet & Greet sessions. I’ve shot many of these types of events but what makes his special is the time and care he puts into each brief meeting. He listens to stories, interacts with everyone, and ensures that each photo is special and fun. It is especially cute to watch him kneel down to connect with his younger audience at their eye level.
Football and dogs — what more can a photographer ask for! With Nulo Pet Foods sponsoring this Texas Football official watch party, families were encouraged to bring their furry friends. It was a blast seeing the Long Center lawn overflowing with puppies! Texas Cheer and Longhorn mascot “Hook ‘Em” engaged with the revelers and posed for selfies. The Austin skyline served as a backdrop for the huge outdoor screen and an abundance of food trucks was available for snacks and drinks. What a fantastic way to watch a game!
FIT KIDS FEST
Filled with fun activities promoting active children and healthy eating, capturing images of the Long Center’s Fit Kids Fest was an absolute blast! The Long Center puts on a number of these free events geared towards families and the staff go out of their way to provide fun and entertainment for people of all ages. What I enjoyed the most at this particular event was watching the staff participate and encourage families to join in on the various activities. So much fun!
LONG CENTER 10TH ANNIVERSARY w/ THE AVETT BROTHERS & ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL
It was such an honor to celebrate the Long Center’s first decade with exciting performances by The Avett Brothers and Texas swing legend Asleep at the Wheel. Although I’m not part of the official staff, I’ve been honored to have been a part of many of the Long Center’s events, celebrations, and milestones. Celebrating and capturing images of their 10th Anniversary was a joy and this event was pure class. I am so proud of the work that they do.
Suzanne Cordeiro is an Austin-based freelance editorial and commercial photographer with over 10 years of industry experience. Suzanne’s service-oriented and creative approach has made her a favorite photographer for events across Austin and beyond, as well as a contributor to international news & media publications. Check her out on social media @suzannecordeiro, or visit her site to book her to cover your next event!
This week’s Mid-Week Intermission features our friend Stephen Mills, Artistic Director and Choreographer for Ballet Austin. Read on to see how BA’s dancers are staying connected and how Stephen’s been spending time outside of the studio.
Hi, I’m Stephen Mills.
I am the artistic leader of Ballet Austin, one of the three Founding Resident Companies of the Long Center. To say this is an unusual time would be an understatement. So many people are suffering as a result of the pandemic and job loss. The country is also having a rich and consequential conversation about racial justice and equality. I am concerned and interested in all these issues but with a particular focus on the ways they affect artists of all mediums and the people behind the scenes you do not see who make it possible.
So far, we at Ballet Austin have missed two of our performance series since March 2020 and have cancelled our September performances as well. Dance is an intimate and collaborative experience that requires people be together. As a company of dancers, we deeply miss sharing class every morning and spending the day creating and preparing work to share with the community. We miss taking the work to the Long Center and collaborating with our talented and devoted crew to further develop the seamless performances you see. Finally, we miss the communication we as artists have with the audience, because that is the dialogue that closes the loop, thus allowing us to start again.
We also miss the sound of children in our building as they excitedly prepare to engage in the art of ballet through the Ballet Austin Academy. We miss the opportunity to take our art into the schools of Austin and beyond.
We at Ballet Austin have been volunteering to help with food drives organized by the Austin branch of Black Women in Business. The organization’s founder/CEO, Rose Smith and her colleague, Briana Murphy, are doing wonderful work in the community and have allowed us to participate. Before the pandemic food insecurity was a large problem in Austin and has been exponentially magnified over the past six months.
Personally, the shutdown has allowed me time to focus on reflection and learning. Presently, I am reading Isabel Wilkerson’s devastating book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. It is an amazing and clear perspective on racism in America.
I have watched everything there is to watch on Netflix and Hulu. Some of my favorites have included comedies such as Insecure, Ramy, and the reality show Indian Matchmaking. I have also been moved by Ava Duvernay’s haunting film When They See Us.
Having time away from my studio has allowed me extra time to wrestle with my continuous battle with the French language. I think I finally have the upper hand.
That being said, I anxiously look forward to being back in the studio with dancers, laughing, talking, debating, and focusing on the subject of art. And I would remind everyone to WEAR YOUR MASK!!!!!! It’s the simplest thing we can do to help.
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POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 1, 2020 BY LONG
This week, we’re all about what we miss most about hosting events right now — YOU. So we’re turning things upside down to show how much live experiences, concerts, theatrical productions, and gatherings mean to us, while highlighting ALL the individuals that make our industry and our city what it is.
Time to RESTART the Arts Because #WeMakeEvents
Tonight’s red lights will make sure that you definitely won’t miss our building if you drive by… by design.
It’s no secret that arts & culture represents a critical part of our creative economy (and the un-creative economy, for that matter), so tonight buildings and landmarks across the nation are lit up to raise public awareness that the live events industry is on Red Alert for its very survival and to urge our civic leaders to act now.
But the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our favorite activities goes much further than our gathering spaces and our concert halls. It has also monumentally impacted the individual creatives that work within the industry — meaning the designers, technicians, programmers, stagehands, production professionals, musicians, composers, equipment shops, box office workers, and others that add whimsy to the experiences we love.
#RedAlertRESTART Long Center ring beam // lighting design by Michelle Lehman
You Didn’t Attend this #EmptyEvent
Last Friday, a host of individuals and vendors from around town came together to stage an Empty Event installation on our H-E-B Terrace as a silent, unattended reminder of the powerful emptiness we are all experiencing.
As one of several events throughout the nation created by the Texas Live Events Coalition, this team pulled back the curtain on this hard-hit industry. Let’s use our voices to gain support for the 12 million individuals that make live events happen!
Here’s the list of creators, designers, and artists that put this ghost event together… Meritage Events (Producer), Roadway Productions (Stage), Fidelis Lighting & Sound (Lighting/Visual), Big House Sound (Audio), Townsley Designs (Decor/Props), Shag Carpet Prop Rentals & Green Dot (Decor/Table Top), BoothEasy (Photobooth), Full Spectrum Ice (Ice Sculpture), Premiere Events (Rentals), American Color Labs (Banner Printing), Nikkos Worldwide (Transportation/Vehicles), Jerry Hays Photography (Photography & Drone), BoothEasy (Photography & Detail Shots), Consone Studios (Videography).
Austin Empty Event on August 28, 2020 – Event Photography by BoothEasy LLC (BoothEasy Photo Booth Company) – http://www.bootheasy.com
Why does our team do what they do?
Throughout the fall, we’ll re-introduce you to the Long Center team you already know and love with some faces that you probably haven’t seen before. Plus, who doesn’t love a behind-the-scenes look at showbiz?
So what got our team into the events & production industry, and what’s extraordinary about presenting live events in Austin, Texas? Don’t worry — we asked, and here’s a sneak peek for you.
“I have been involved in live events since childhood. I remember my first time taking the stage at a community theatre and seeing everyone backstage move in a rhythmic pattern to prepare props, actors, and scene changes. It was mesmerizing to my young eyes and from that point forward I have always found a way to be involved in creating live events. It is incredibly fulfilling to see audiences drift from their daily life to a place that brings them joy, community, and inspiration.
Austin is filled with creatives and thoughtfully engaged audiences ready to experience the various artistic mediums available throughout the city. I feel incredibly fortunate to help create those experiences at one of the many venues that call Austin home.“
— Sarah, Senior Manager of Event Services
“I’ve always had interest in live entertainment. Growing up my options were gospel choirs and school plays — which only made me want more. As an adult, I have had the opportunity to experience a wide range of live arts events that have given me a true appreciation for “live entertainment.”
Austin has been known as a place that people of different backgrounds, but similar interests could gather to enjoy the talents of others. This, plus the variety of live arts events offered, makes Austin extraordinary.“
— Debra, House Manager
Stay tuned…we’re working on some cool & safe things for the fall-ish months!