Essential DC, History, Interviews, Life in the Capital, Opinion, Special Events, Sports Fix, The Features, They Make DC, We Love Arts

Local Indigenous Artist Showcases the Racism of Redskin

(c) Gregg Deal

(c) Gregg Deal

Those who think the continuing movement to change the name of the local pro football team is a waste of time and trivial were clearly not at the recent Art All Night event here in the District. Secreted in one corner of the venue was local Indigenous artist Gregg Deal. His project, “Redskin,” took on the racial overtones of the team moniker and projected it at his audience.

What he, nor spectators or his helpers predicted was just how pointed it ended up being.

Deal first let me know of the project in early September. What initially struck me about his proposed performance piece was the fact he was willingly subjecting himself to some serious abuse. Natives in the area–as well as those protesting football games elsewhere in the country–have always been subjected to abuses by team fans, especially if they’re open about their opposition to the name. (Witness the reactions by fans, as recalled by several Natives, during a recent taping for The Daily Show.)

So why do it, especially in an art venue? “As people of color, or more specifically, Indigenous people, we deal with something called microaggression. It’s the needle pricks in our general American society and culture that says or does things that are offensive to Natives. They’re called ‘microaggression’ because they are passive aggressive enough to get by your average person, but still aggressive,” said Deal. “For example, when I worked at the National Museum of American Indian in 2004-2005, someone asked me if I still lived in a Tipi. This would be microaggression because it’s an insane questions that is based on stereotypes, but it’s also a statement about what this person believes quantifies me as an Indigenous person.”

The term ‘redskin,’ painted faces and faux headdresses, drunken war chants – these are all examples of microaggression. Deal’s performance piece was meant to use all of these abuses, commonly found in tailgate parties at FedEx Field and used by team fans around the world, over an eight-hour period. “I ended up calling it after just over four hours,” said Deal. “All of us–my friends who were helping me and myself–were just mentally and psychologically drained from the experience.”

Bryce Huebner, an Associate Professor at Georgetown University, was one of Deal’s assistants who played a part of one of the abusive fans. “I said things that I would never say in real life, in hopes of making it clear how ugly and harmful the casual racism against indigenous people in the United States is,” he said. “I was struck by how difficult it was to start playing that role, when I arrived my heart was pounding and I could hardly speak; but more troubling by far was the fact that it became easy to continue as I started to play off of the other actors. There’s an important lesson there: if you surround yourself with people who espouse hostile attitudes, it’s much easier to adopt those attitudes yourself.”

Deal said a lot of the audience mentioned to him how truly real it felt, watching it unfold, and he agreed. “After it got rolling, the invective felt truly real, like a few situations I’ve found myself in around the District.” When I mentioned that a Huffington Post review said it was unauthentic because he had used his friends as the antagonists, Deal laughed. “They should’ve been in my place, then. It certainly felt real to me.”

Deal (seated) in the middle of his "Redskin" performance. (c) Darby

Deal (seated) in the middle of his “Redskin” performance. (c) Darby

Tara Houska, a board member of Not Your Mascots and a big proponent of the name change movement in the District, was one of the audience members. “The experience of watching Indigenous-based racism being hurled at a Native was difficult, to say the least,” she said. “Some of those phrases hit too close to home, and brought me back to moments in which I’ve experienced racism. At times, it was hard to keep in mind that it was a performance. I wanted to yell at the antagonizers to back off, and felt the hurt Gregg must have been feeling.”

Both Houska and Deal were also participants in the recent Daily Show segment that showed a panel of team fans and a panel of Indigenous people who, after separate discussions, confronted each other through the show’s direction. The segment has had mixed reaction in the press, with a lot of sympathy generated for the four white fans (who all self-identified as some fraction of various tribes, but with no real knowledge of their heritage – or, in one case, how generational fractions work). The incidents taped at FedEx field later between some of the Native panelists (specifically, the 1491s) and fans weren’t shown, which is unfortunate.

“Honestly, both the Daily Show and my art performance felt very similar,” said Deal. “The racism against Indigenous people in this country is so ingrained it it’s culture that the only way a team could exist as a mascot (which is defined as a clown, a court jester, by the way…nice ‘honor’) in the first place. The Washington Redskins–and other Indian mascots–are a really good illustration of not only how disconnected America is from it’s own history, but how disconnected it is from the issue of equality towards Indigenous people is. We are literally sitting on an issue where a significant amount of this country’s Indigenous are saying ‘it’s offensive’ and the answer is ‘no, it’s not offensive at all!'”

Gregg Deal with "Colonialism"

Gregg Deal with “A Nice Can of Colonialism”

Deal went on to say the whole movement to change the name isn’t really about offense, but about equality. “What you’re looking at is the tip of a very big iceberg of issues that are simply illustrated by this specific issue. The fact that we don’t seem to own our identity enough for someone to allow us to assert that identity appropriately, but that a corporate sports team is making billions from our image and likeness and has the audacity to fly it under the flag of honor is insanity,” he said. “Let’s be honest here, it’s not about honor, tradition, or any other lame excuse Dan or his constituents are saying. It’s about money, and the fans have all bought into supporting one of this country’s financial top one percent.”

Houska felt that Deal’s passion really came through in his performance piece, and she applauded him for taking a stand in such a public way. “I think it was a very in-your-face method to get locals aware that Natives experience racism, including the racist imagery and name of the Washington team,” she said. “We have all experienced being belittled and told to ‘get over it.’ I hope that people walked away with a sense of understanding that microaggression is a very real and damaging thing. And how it feels to be deluged by caricatured Natives via the Washington football team and having no say in it, despite being the subject of that caricature.”

Deal agreed. “I believe the term REDSKIN, if it belongs anywhere…it belongs to Indigenous people. In the same way the Black community essentially own the N-word,” he said. “While there are different schools of thought on that word and it’s usage in the Black community, it’s understood that if you use that word outside the Black community, you’re a certain type of person. The word ‘redskin’ belongs to us, and it’s not up to [non-Indigenous people] how it’s used.”

For more information on the name change social media movement, visit Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry, Not Your Mascots, or follow the #changethename hashtag on Twitter.

Special Events

Fourth of July Fireworks Info

You feel that? It’s the anticipation of the Independence Day National Fireworks! One of the greatest things about living in DC is getting to see the fireworks fly against a backdrop of national monuments, and it’s easily one of my favorite yearly events. Over the years I’ve imparted my knowledge of the event to help improve our readers’ experience. You can get some advice on what to expect; some great viewing locations around the area; and even some photo advice for taking your own firework images.

I have very little new to add this year, so just read (or reread) my posts from years past. I highly encourage everyone to go and see the fireworks, so ignore that inner pessimist that’s telling you to “avoid the crowds.” Go forth and celebrate the independence of our country by seeing a small part of it blown up!

And if you’re going out to take photos, get some inspiration from previous firework displays: 2011, 2012, and 2013!

Entertainment, Special Events, The Features

A 2014 Helen Hayes Awards (Drama Prom) Diary

Helen Hayes Awards 2014

Last night marked the 30th anniversary of the Helen Hayes Awards, and theatreWashington spared no expense in creating a blow-out bash. The annual celebration of Washington DC Theatre, aka Drama Prom, sported a new format and venue. Moving from the Warner Theatre to the National Building Museum gave the awards ceremony a much more casual feel as patrons mingled about throughout the three-act show. Victor Shargai received the Helen Hayes Tribute and Woolly Mammoth’s Stupid Fucking Bird, Ford & Signature’s Hello Dolly!, and Olney Theatre Center’s A Chorus Line went home with Best Resident Play and Musical honors.

However if you want a complete list of the winners you can find those here. Instead I offer you a tradition now four years running: my complete breakdown of my day (and night) with Helen (and others).

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Adventures, Entertainment, Essential DC, Fun & Games, Life in the Capital, Special Events, The District

DC’s 2014 Sweet Sixteen – Cast Your Vote

In the spirit of March Madness, we’ve decided to create our own Sweet Sixteen bracket to find out who (or what) you think should be DC’s 2014 champion. Culled from a rather large author submitted list, these sixteen contestants represent the heart and soul (and headslaps) of our fair city. We’ve randomly paired them up in eight killer match ups where you get to decide who makes it to the Elite Eight. Voting goes until tomorrow night (the 27th at 12am) with the next round opening up on the 28th.

#1 The DC Music Scene: The 9:30 Club, Black Cat (mainstage and red room), DC9, Rock N’ Hotel, U Street Music Hall, Gypsy Sally’s, Patty Boom Boom, Echo Stage, Flash, DAR, The Hamilton….I could and should go on but there are just WAY too many awesome DC music venues to list. You want an intimate show? You got it. You want a sell out ~20,000 person experience? Done. You want to get your dancing sweat on in a darkish, light parade? Boom! And it’s not just that they’re great places to see music, it’s that they bring in an utterly fantastic array of acts. On any given night, there are nationally known groups, up-and-comers, awesome cover bands and true indie artists showing us their stuff. What. To. Choose?!!!! Did I mention that the venues have awesome food and drink, and that they’re staff are some of the coolest people in DC?


#16 Swachos at American Ice CompanyThe concept is a simple one, but it’s the execution that makes this salty bar favorite into something that I crave. The house-made queso is rich but not too thick, the jalapeños are spicy, but not overwhelming, and the house pickle brine they’re steeped in has just the right balance of sugar and vinegar to bring out their playful flavor. And then the pork. Oh the pork. The shredded pork is the king’s crown atop this marvelous plate. Wash it down with a DC Brau Citizen and a Bulleit Rye pickleback, and you have my favorite bar meal in the entirety of the city on a warm spring day on their patio. This is a reminder that simple can be good all on its own, when executed with diligence and care.

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Music, Special Events, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Krist Novoselic Plays ‘Royals’ with The Cowards Choir & The Beanstalk Library

Photo Credit: Roxplotion

Photo Credit: roXplotion /// Pictured: Krist Novoselic (left) and Andy Zipf of The Cowards Choir (right).

DC rockers The Cowards Choir and The Beanstalk Library got to add another rock and roll story to their journals this week: performing with Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic.

The instrumental cover collaboration of Lorde’s Grammy-winning song ‘Royals’ happened on Sunday, March 9 at a FairVote event hosted by Republic in Takoma Park. The performance – which featured Novoselic on accordion – has since been mentioned by several musical outlets online including Pitchfork, Stereogum, and Rolling Stone.

But how did these two DC-based bands land one of the most unique gigs of their professional lives thus far? Continue reading

Interviews, Special Events, The Features

Vincent Musi and Exotic Pets, By Way of National Geographic

Vincent J. Musi, courtesy National Geographic

Vincent J. Musi, courtesy National Geographic

Tomorrow night, veteran photographer Vincent J. Musi will take the stage at the National Geographic Museum. He’ll be discussing his latest story in the April 2014 magazine, “Exotic Pets,” where he explored the deep connections some people have with creatures not found in the corner pet store. He’ll be sharing images and stories from this assignment and other forays into the world of animals. Speaking of animals, if you’re a dog lover or a cat lover, check out the They always have informative articles for your favorite pets.

We’ll be giving away a pair of tickets to the show, so leave a comment below, using your first name and a valid email address; we’ll draw the winner before noon tomorrow. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. and parking is free at the museum’s garage after 6 p.m. for those attending the program.

Musi took a moment to answer some of our questions about his work and the project.

How did you approach the Exotic Pets project?

My goal was to offer a voice to people who had experience with exotic animals in a straightforward and non-judgmental way. These are folks who tend to get marginalized in what can be very sensational coverage by the press. I was looking for diversity in experience, animals, and opinions. Anyone who had a direct relationship with an exotic animal.

What was the most unusual pairing or situation you came across?

A breeder of jungle cat hybrids in Florida had a huge Tortoise, Canada Goose and a Pot Bellied Pig as her personal pets. Nothing can prepare you for the site of a Mountain Lion lounging pool-side at a brick ranch house or a white-tailed deer with her own bedroom.

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Entertainment, Essential DC, Special Events

Share Your DC with LiveArt in a Day

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Get ready to share your love for DC. On Saturday, April 5 at the Anacostia Arts Center, We Love DC is joining collaborative theater company LiveArtDC in holding the first annual LiveArt in a Day. We want your ideas to help create this unique presentation of five 10-minute plays that will be written overnight by local playwrights, rehearsed the next day, and performed twice that night only.

LiveArt in a Day will feature two performances of the plays, at 7pm and 9pm, in addition to three sets by local bands The Iris Bell, South Rail, and Clarence Buffalo, and a silent auction. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. All proceeds from the evening will benefit LiveArtDC (that rhymes with “Give Art DC”), a DC-based company of artists who believe in the power of collaboration to create engaging stories for theater. You may have seen their inaugural show I Heart Hummels at the Capital Fringe Festival. Now it’s your chance to join in the collaborative fun.

During the LiveArt in a Day event, plays will explore the sites, personalities and events that make DC the special place it is. But, we need your ideas to make it happen.

What are your quintessential DC experiences, the stories that make living here so unique? What locations or personalities would you want a play built around? How about that time you entered the annual High Heel Race? Or pelted an ex at the Dupont Circle Snowball Fight? Proposed at the DC World War I Memorial? Cried at the Eastern Market fire? Sat next to Kojo Nnamdi at the Kennedy Center? Started a family in Brookland? Shadowed Ian MacKaye at the Black Cat? There are so many possibilities. From simply telling us your favorite landmark or your favorite local character, to sharing more complex stories, we want to hear them all.

Share your ideas on We Love DC in the comment section below with Leave a Reply, or tweet your ideas with hashtag #liveart24 to @liveartdc. We’ll select the most promising and creative ideas for the LiveArt in a Day playwrights to choose from, and they’ll craft their plays from your themes.

Your love for DC, your life in DC. All in a day. Let’s go.

Get Out & About, Interviews, People, Special Events, The Features

Speeding Through the Appalachians With Jennifer Pharr Davis

Every year, hundreds of hikers attempt to traverse the 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail that stretches from Georgia to Maine. The typical journey takes at least four months. In 2011, long-distance hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis accomplished it in a little over 46 days. She became the trail’s overall speed record holder and the first woman to do so.

Thursday evening, Davis visits the National Geographic Museum to share her story about this incredible achievement. National Geographic is giving away a pair of tickets to a lucky WeLoveDC reader for the event. (See the end of the article for instructions on how to enter.) Davis sat down with WeLoveDC to talk about her accomplishment and time on the trail.

What inspired you to attempt the fastest hike of the Trail?

I had hiked the trail twice before, once in 2005 as a traditional thru-hike taking 4 months, and again in 2008 where I tried to set a new women’s record. I did that, hiking the trail in 58 days and averaging 38 miles per day. But coming off Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia where I finished my hike, I knew instantly that I had a lot left in the tank and that I hadn’t pushed myself to the max. So I immediately starting contemplating the possibility of doing it faster and of possibly trying to break the overall record of 47 days.

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Education, Interviews, People, Special Events, The Features

Meet Travelers Who Make a Difference

Every year, National Geographic celebrates individuals who travel the globe with passion and purpose. These travelers represent a style of travel, motivation, or method that informs and inspires us to either Should You Drive Or Should You Fly. Last year, more than 1,500 nominations were sent in to National Geographic Traveler for their annual Travelers of the Year award. The magazine staff selected those who turned trips into opportunities to assist with conservation efforts, connect with local cultures, volunteer, challenge themselves, deepen familial and community bonds, and engage the world in a meaningful way .

This Thursday, National Geographic will host a discussion with seven of their 2013 winners. And WeLoveDC wants to send one of our readers to this insightful program with a pair of tickets to the program and reception!

Panelists at the evening program will be Hilda and John Denham, who established the Pacuare Nature Reserve in Costa Rica to protect turtle nesting areas; Alison Wright, a photojournalist who launched the Faces of Hope Fund to provide medical assistance, education, and aid to children around the globe; Shannon O’Donnell, who began Grassroots Volunteering, a database of volunteering and sustainable tourism opportunities; Molly Burke and Muyambi Muyambi, founders of Bicycles Against Poverty in Uganda; and Tracey Friley, a youth travel advocate who began the Passport Party Project for helping underserved girls get their first passports.

These travelers went a step beyond a simple vacation and strive to make a difference through their journey, trough the Extraordinary Caravanning Destinations You Must Visit too. Often, it is an experience, sight, or object that inspires their change of direction. “I traveled several times to Costa Rica during the eighties to see the turtles and went to many beaches on both Pacific and Caribbean coasts,” said Hilda Denham. “I was fascinated by what I saw but was shocked by the poaching that was going on everywhere. Legislation came too late, and has always been ineffective.”

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Entertainment, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Van Gogh Repetitions at The Phillips Collection

Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles, 1889, Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Vincent van Gogh, The Bedroom at Arles, October 1889. Oil on canvas, 22 11/16 x 29 1/8 in. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. © RMN-Grand Palais/Hervé Lewandowski/Art Resource, NY.

If all you got from it was the opportunity to stand in front of Vincent van Gogh’s heartbreakingly beautiful painting The Bedroom in Arles, the upcoming exhibition at The Phillips Collection would be well worth the visit. After all, this will be DC’s first van Gogh exhibition in fifteen years, and the first in the Phillips’ history.

There’s more, however. This exhibit is an exquisite study of the artist’s process.

In 1889, Vincent van Gogh set up his easel on a village road and hastily painted an oil sketch of the scene on an improvised canvas of stretched fabric. Later that year he would paint it again, on a proper canvas sent by his brother Theo. Continue reading

Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

October 2013 at National Geographic

As the Society continues its celebration, Nat Geo Live’s offerings reflect the Society’s history of connecting audiences to people and places that inspire us to care about the planet. To that end, the Museum continues our monthly drawings for a two readers to win a pair of tickets each to a program of their choice in October. To enter, just comment below with what two programs you’d most like to see; make sure you use your first name and a valid email address. On Thursday, October 3, we’ll randomly draw two names from the comment list.

Here is what’s being offered this month.

Wildest Africa ($24)
10/15, 7:30 pm
Leading wildlife photojournalist Michael “Nick” Nichols reports on the struggle to preserve Africa’s wild animals. Nichols, National Geographic’s Editor-at-Large for photography, has been working with African elephants for more than 20 years. He also talks about his coverage of the Serengeti lions from the August 2013 National Geographic, which took him two years to document. Nichols shares new video, audio, anecdotes and photographs captured with cutting-edge technology.

Beyond the Yellow Border Tour ($40)
10/16, 7 pm
Mark Collins Jenkins, former National Geographic Society archivist/historian and author of National Geographic 125 Years, takes an in-depth look at the history of the Society in the Museum’s exhibition, “A New Age of Exploration.” Cocktails and light fare are included.

A Passion for Photography ($30)
10/17, 7 pm
Meet seven extraordinary photographers whose work has influenced global change, as showcased in the October 2013 special issue of National Geographic magazine. The evening features David Guttenfelder with a look at North Korea’s closed society; portrait artist Martin Schoeller with a photo essay on how our growing diversity is changing the face of America; photojournalist Marcus Bleasdale with a report on conflict minerals; wildlife photographer Joel Sartore with a look at zoos’ role in the fight against extinction; camera obscura photographer Abelardo Morell melting boundaries between landscape and dreamscape; photojournalist James Estrin on the future of photography; and James Balog, whose Extreme Ice Survey is documenting the global loss of glacial ice.

Curating Women of Vision Tour ($35)
10/29, 7 pm
How does Senior Photo Editor Elizabeth Krist choose from among thousands of National Geographic photos to create an exhibition showcasing the work of 11 groundbreaking female photographers? Learn about the work that goes into curating the new “Women of Vision” exhibition debuting in the National Geographic Museum’s 17th Street Gallery on Oct. 10. Cocktails and light fare are included.

All events take place at National Geographic’s Washington DC headquarters. Tickets may be purchased online, via telephone at (202) 857-7700 or in person at the National Geographic ticket office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets must be purchased by Sept. 20 to ensure guaranteed Early Bird Pricing. Free parking is available in the National Geographic underground garage for programs that begin after 6 p.m.

Education, Special Events, The Features

September 2013 at National Geographic Live (including a drawing!)

Courtesy National Geographic

Courtesy National Geographic

We’re now in our fourth year partnering with the National Geographic Museum and their Nat Geo Live series of programming. They’ve kicked it up a notch this year to help celebrate the organization’s 125 years. The wide-ranging lineup over the next few months includes theatrical performances, explorer talks, holiday concerts, film screenings, new “Inside the Geographic” tours and even a Scottish whisky tasting. As the Society continues its celebration, Nat Geo Live’s offerings reflect the Society’s history of connecting audiences to people and places that inspire us to care about the planet.

“We’re excited to have such a stellar and diverse roster of talent joining us in Washington this fall,” said Gregory McGruder, vice president for Public Programs at National Geographic. “National Geographic Live is proud to continue its tradition of transporting Washingtonians on virtual adventures across the globe, via the powerful words, images and performances presented at these influential events at our headquarters.”

The Museum has graciously continued our monthly drawings for a two readers to win a pair of tickets each to a program of their choice. To enter, just comment below with what two programs you’d most like to see; make sure you use your first name and a valid email address. On Wednesday, September 4 we’ll randomly draw two names from the comment list.

Here is what’s being offered this month.

Bell ($30+)
Sept 12 – 21 (Thurs/Fri 7:30 pm; Sat 2 and 7:30 pm)
This one-man play, written by Jim Lehrer, directed by Jeremy Skidmore and starring Rick Foucheux, reveals the extraordinary life of Alexander Graham Bell. Best known for his invention of the telephone, the play shows many other facets of this daring, disorganized genius. He was a deeply committed family man, teacher of the deaf, holder of 47 patents and National Geographic’s second president.

Bird Walk Adventure: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens & National Arboretum ($150; Not Eligible for Drawing)
Sept 21, 9 am – 4 pm
Join National Geographic author, artist and resident bird expert Jonathan Alderfer on an urban birding adventure. After breakfast at the Society and a private viewing of the exhibition “A New Age of Exploration,” guests travel to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens by coach to observe waterfowl and migratory birds. After a picnic lunch at the National Arboretum, they return to National Geographic for a signed copy of Alderfer’s most recent book, National Geographic Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America.

Discovering the Photo Archives Tour ($100; Not Eligible for Drawing)
Sept 26, 7 pm.
When someone needs an archival photograph at National Geographic, Bill Bonner is the man to call. He manages the Image Collection photo archive of more than 10 million images, including silver gelatin prints, original paintings and priceless private collections. Join Bonner for a tour of the National Geographic archives and a private viewing of the exhibition “A New Age of Exploration.”

The Best Job in the World ($12)
Sept 30, 7:30 pm
See the world premiere of the National Geographic Channel special National Geographic Photographers: The Best Job in the World and get an insider look at photography at National Geographic through the eyes of photographer Cory Richards as he travels to a remote mountain range in Antarctica to cover a climbing expedition for National Geographic magazine. The film features interviews with several of the Society’s most celebrated photographers. The screening will be followed by a discussion with photographer Mark Thiessen and executive producer Pamela Wells.

The Lens of Adventure ($24)
Oct 2, 7:30 pm
Award-winning National Geographic Channel filmmaker Bryan Smith shares gripping moments from his assignments documenting extreme sports in the world’s most challenging environments. He has repeatedly tested the limits while producing films like “The Man Who Could Fly,” about free climber and BASE jumper Dean Potter, and “Alaska Wing Men,” following Alaskan bush pilots on critical missions.

All events take place in Grosvenor Auditorium at National Geographic’s Washington headquarters. Tickets may be purchased online, via telephone at (202) 857-7700 or in person at the National Geographic ticket office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets must be purchased by Sept. 20 to ensure guaranteed Early Bird Pricing. Free parking is available in the National Geographic underground garage for programs that begin after 6 p.m.

History, Special Events, The Features

Fifty Years Later, the Dream Is Still Relevant

Fifty years ago today, the “moral leader of our country” (as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was introduced) delivered an astonishing, nation-changing message. It challenged all of us to re-examine our collective national conscience and dare to dream.

“I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'”

I think we can all agree there’s still work to be done. But without King’s tremendous address to the quarter-million people before him on the National Mall, a speech that was broadcast to the country, our work would be much, much harder.

King broke the dam, shattered the glass wall. Because of his words, his actions and those of the Civil Rights Movement, our country is a better place. Please take a moment today and read King’s words, let them soak into you. They’re still relevant today, regardless of color, creed, and any other descriptor you can think of that crafts a barrier to equality.

My thanks to Dr. King and all of the men and women who’ve fought for freedom, justice, and equality in this country over the course of history.

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Entertainment, Special Events, We Love Arts

Fringe 2013: Week Three in Review

It’s been one wild ride for our intrepid team as we immersed ourselves in the Capital Fringe Festival this year. Here are the last few shows for Patrick and Joanna from the final weekend, and look for everyone’s final thoughts on the whole festival experience later. We need a theater detox first. Buttons off!

Recapped: OkStupid’s Secret Math Lab, Nephrectomy, Legal Tender, A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup

OkStupid’s Secret Math Lab
Reviewer: Patrick

As a sad, lonely reviewer I’m often asked, “Patrick, have you ever tried online dating?” Of course I have. I believe almost everybody in today’s digital generation has tried online dating to varying degrees of success. In a world of online pizza delivery, instant navigation, and the answer to almost any trivia answer right at our fingertips, why can’t we figure out a way to streamline love? Continue reading

Entertainment, Special Events, We Love Arts

Fringe 2013: Week Two in Review (Part 3)

Sex, politics, and social media invites make for a very “official DC” finish to our week two round up of the Capital Fringe Festival. Ok, there are also puppets and Shakespeare. Work with it! Soldier through our previous reviews with Patrick, Joanna, Kristin, and Jenn, and look for our final thoughts on the whole mad business next week.

Recapped: The Clocks, STATUS – A Social Media Experiment, Romeo & Juliet, Married Sex, The Politician

The Clocks
Reviewer: Jenn

Not A Robot Theatre Company’s mission is to “explore the possibilities and conflicts that arise from human and object interactions.” That pretty much sold me on attending their performance of The Clocks. It’s a shame that the venue they’ve been slotted into is the very traditional Studio 4, because this mash-up of sound, projection, and puppetry really ought to be in a challenging industrial space that disorients the viewer into a dreamlike state. But, don’t let that be a block to your suspension of disbelief. Jacy Barber and Jason Patrick Wells have created something unique, a delicately quirky exploration of memory that’s performed with the straightforward naivete of children’s purposeful games of make-believe. And it is challenging. At first I didn’t know what to make of the poker-faced duo and their cardboard cutouts, the repetitive movements, the sad puppet who slowly became more real than anything else. By the time the two slow-dance with all the awkward charm of youth, you realize that you’ve accepted their world of childlike simplicity. Despite having to work against the space to create the intended immersive world of magic and pain, The Clocks is a very interesting theatrical experiment.  Continue reading

Entertainment, Special Events, We Love Arts

Fringe 2013: Week Two in Review (Part 2)

Continuing on with our coverage of the Capital Fringe Festival‘s second week with Patrick, Joanna, Kristin, and Jenn getting splattered by blood and learning how to dance naked under hot sweaty lights. It’s Fringe, people, what else do you expect?

Recapped: Dementia Melodies: “It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over,” Polaroid Stories, 43 and a 1/2: The Greatest Deaths of Shakespeare’s Tragedies, I tried to be normal once, it didn’t take., A Guide to Dancing Naked, Social Media Expert

Dementia Melodies: “It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over” 
Reviewer: Joanna

Solo performer Steve Little presents some of the lessons he’s learned from playing music in the dementia ward of an elder care home. I may be biased because of my own experience singing in the geriatric psychiatric ward of a hospital, but I found his stories incredibly touching. While comedic moments poke fun at aging and our own fear of death, more serious tales question the connection between music and mortality. Continue reading

Entertainment, Special Events, We Love Arts

Fringe 2013: Week Two in Review

Are you fringe-ified yet? The Capital Fringe Festival is well underway, and our weekly round-ups continue. Check in with Patrick, Joanna, Kristin, and Jenn as they tweet on the fly and share their thoughts on this year’s experimental madness. If last week didn’t stop them from indulging in sweaty, passionate theater, then nothing will.

Recapped: A Commedia Romeo and Juliet, The Elephant in My Closet, The Afflicted, What’s in the BOX?!, The Tragical Mirth of Marriage & Love: Short Scenes by Anton Chekhov, How to Have It All: The Musical 

A Commedia Romeo and Juliet
Reviewer: Joanna

Commedia dell’Arte company Faction of Fools doesn’t disappoint with this comedic retelling of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, which captures the notable funny moments in the Bard’s original work while adding a commedia flair that promises a lot of laughs. In an ambitious attempt to play all characters with only five actors, the small cast moves constantly and never lets the energy waver. At the same time, this adaptation retains Shakespeare’s tragic ending and stays true to the original text. So while it’s not the most original show at Fringe this year, it’s certainly one of most entertaining.

The Elephant in My Closet
Reviewer: Jenn

David Lee Nelson has a shocking revelation for his father. As he builds up his courage to reveal the ultimate filial divide, the audience squirms in sympathy with this likable, appealing actor. He has a guilty secret. He’s turned to the other side. Continue reading

Entertainment, Special Events, We Love Arts

Fringe 2013: Week One in Review (Part Three)

Earlier today we brought you parts one and two of our first week of Fringe, with Patrick, Joanna, Kristin and Jenn yapping about theater as usual. At long last, it’s the final installment, at least for this week’s go-around. Time for a beer. Hit the tent.

Recapped: Mark Twain’s Riverboat Extravaganza!, Violent Delights: A Shakespearean Brawl-esque Sideshow, Recovery, 21 King, Pitchin’ the Tent: Tia Nina Live at Baldacchino

Mark Twain’s Riverboat Extravaganza!
Reviewer: Jenn

Easily the wittiest, most enjoyable show I’ve seen at Fringe so far, Pointless Theatre’s romp through the tall tales of American history mixes Vaudeville with puppetry to create something quite unique, not to mention, truly hilarious. I laughed from the pre-show interactions right on through to the end, and even sniffled a bit – who really can stay dry-eyed through the story of John Henry struggling against the evil might of the Industrial Revolution? You cry too, people, I know you do! Continue reading

Entertainment, Special Events, We Love Arts

Fringe 2013: Week One in Review (Part Two)

After a quick bite at the Baldacchino Gypsy Tent catching up with part one of our first week of Fringe reviews (I personally vouch for the hamburger), it’s time to dive back in with Patrick, Joanna, Kristin and Jenn.

Recapped: H Street Housewives, Lore, Double Freakquency, Tragedy Averted, Big River (and Other Wayfaring Ballets), Tell-Tale

H Street Housewives
Reviewer: Patrick

With a show title like that you will certainly get some local pre-festival buzz. Nothing like pandering to DC residents: it’s as effective as pandering to theater people at Fringe. While there are a lot of DC-centric jokes including gluten-free free-range food obsessions, overachieving professionals, and the odd love for Whole Foods and Cheesecake Factory, there’s not a whole lot about the show that’s unique to H Street. Continue reading