Intersections 2011: A guide to the festival's first weekend
- Furia Flamenco performs Sunday night at 7:30 p.m.
Mary Hall Surface thinks she can beat the frites at Granville Moore’s.
Oh, she hasn’t said that. Not in so many words. But when the artistic director of the Atlas Performing Arts Center’s second annual Intersections New America Arts Festival, which begins tonight, talks about how she hopes to lure 10,000 attendees over three consecutive weekends down to the beautifully restored former cinema that is the Atlas, and then use wine, free live music, and good vibes to keep them there in between performances by a rainbow coalition of established and emerging actors, dancers, storytellers, and — there’s no nice way to say this — slam poets, it’s pretty clear she intends to eat Granville’s moules .
(I don’t mean that she is literally going to order some delicious Granville mussels, enjoy and then pay for them. That's exactly what they would want her to do! I mean that in the crush-your-enemies, see-them-driven-before-you sense.)
Admittedly, when I use the word diversity in a discussion of the H Street Corridor, I’m usually talking about Granville’s selection of Belgian beers or the fact that the jukebox there has Patsy Cline and TV on the Radio. Surface thinks bigger than that. She says she went through about 100 artists’ proposals to come with the 45 or so she’s programmed for the second iteration of the festival that drew 6,000 people last year, when the first of its three weekends happened beneath two feet of snow.
“The mantra of the festival is ‘where arts merge and cultures meet,’” Surface says. “We asked for works that reach across lines of disciplines, so there’s an intersection of art forms, or an intersection of the ages of the performers or the cultures of the performers.”
The celebration begins in earnest at 6:30 p.m., past quitting time on a Friday even in this town, when multi-instrumentalist Mattias Kraemer performs the first of many free “Cafe Concerts” in the Atlas’s Kogod Lobby. SpeakeasyDC’s show Mixed, Blended, Shaken & Stirred: Stories About Today’s American Family ($18) starts half an hour later. The popular mostly-true-stories, told-without-notes (very like The Moth) troupe returns from last year with a collection of tales celebrating the way the monochrome two-parent household has mutated into something more, well, American. Speakeasy’s performances sold out at the the first Intersections festival last year, so this is no time for indecision.
If modern-day farce is more to your taste, Jennifer L. Nelson’s 24/7/365 is playing upstairs at the Lang Theatre at 7:30 (and Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 2 p.m., $30/$15 for students). Though billed as an exploration of what it would mean to feel satisfied every moment of our lives, it struck me when I saw it the weekend before last more as an update on Shakespearean comedy, particularly As You Like It and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There’re a bunch of city-folk out in the woods for the weekend, two couples in love and a lot of absurd plot twists, and one character ends up in a tree for about a third of the play...I dunno, maybe I’m reaching with the Shakespeare thing. Surely he’d have done cell-phones-in-the-toilet jokes if 4G coverage in Elizabethan England had been better. The couple who may or may not being trying to rescue their marriage during this weekend getaway is comprised of an African-American woman and a Danish man. The fact of their interracial coupling is never remarked upon, so I suppose that’s an intersection of cultures. Nelson, the playwright, is also the director of Mirandy and Brother Wind, an adaptation of Patricia C. McKissack and Jerry Pinkney’s 1988 book that has already had a run at Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo. But by the time the play ends Trio Caliente will already have lit into their set of Brazilian jazz, flamenco music, and multinational pop. ($20, drinks and hors d’ouevres included.) I expect they will play “Baila Me.”
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