Tag Archive | "Guild Hall"

Before Lincoln Center Run, Big Apple Circus Premieres at Guild Hall in East Hampton

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unnamed-13By Sam Mason-Jones

Catch the preview of the new show from the unruly Big Apple Circus, which will descend on East Hampton’s Guild Hall for a one-off show of laughter, stunts and dancing dogs. The group will perform “Metamorphosis” at the East End venue on Sunday, August 24, at 5:30 p.m., before settling into an extended run at New York City’s Lincoln Center.

For one night only, the John Drew Theater’s stage will be transformed into a big top, directed by ringmaster John Kennedy Kane. Mr. Kane will be joined by a series of friends, including Francesco, the clown from France, the foot-juggling Anastasini family and Jenny Vidbel with her performing dogs. The night of transformations, acrobatics and laughter will be accompanied by live music from the Big Apple Circus Band, led by Rob Slowik.

Tickets for the show start at $48 for balcony seats and $70 for orchestra seats, while tickets for a pre-show VIP reception start at $120. Tickets are available from the box office at (631) 324-4050 or from guildhall.org. Guild Hall is located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton.

East End Weekend: Highlights of What to Do August 15 to 17

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"Pont de Tournelle" by Stephen Wilkes is on view at the Tulla Booth Gallery in Sag Harbor.

“Pont de Tournelle” by Stephen Wilkes is on view at the Tulla Booth Gallery in Sag Harbor.

By Tessa Raebeck

Art, films, and alternative energy; there’s plenty to do on the East End this weekend:

 

“Water 2014″ opens at the Tulla Booth Gallery in Sag Harbor on Saturday, August 16, with an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m.

The annual exhibition features contemporary and classic photography “depicting life in and around the most powerful force of nature,” said the gallery. Dan Jones, Karine Laval, Herb Friedman, John Magarites, Blair Seagram, Tulla Booth, Anne Gabriele and Jay Hoops will show their work at the gallery, which is located at 66 Main Street in Sag Harbor.

 

Furthering on your water weekend, visit the Parrish Art Museum for the Maritime Film Festival, a 70-minute screening of short film selections, on Friday, August 15, at 7 p.m.

The program includes a brief talk by artist Duke Riley, a live musical performance and a special sampling of Sag Harbor Rum.

The Parrish Art Museum is located at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For more information, call (631) 283-2118.

 

Hosted by Alec Baldwin, the Hamptons International Film Festival presents “Last Days in Vietnam,” on Saturday, August 16, at 7:30 p.m.

The documentary, produced and directed by Rory Kennedy,  follows United States soldiers during the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War, when the North Vietnamese Army was closing in on Saigon as the South Vietnamese resistance crumbled.

A question and answer session will follow the screening, which will be held at Guild Hall, located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information, call the box office at (631) 324-4050.

 

The East End Climate Action Network will host its first annual Sustainability and Renewable Energy Fair on Saturday, August 16, from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the grounds of Miss Amelia’s Cottage in Amagansett Village.

The event features exhibitions from leading companies in the sustainability and renewable energy fields, as well as informal lectures from energy and environment experts, local food and fun games and other activities for kids. Local artists will perform at the end of the day.

Tony award-winning John Glover will read "The Tempest" at two outdoor performances for the new Bay Street Shakespeare Initiative.

Tony award-winning John Glover will read “The Tempest” at two outdoor performances for the new Bay Street Shakespeare Initiative.

There will also be opportunities to get involved in local sustainability and climate change efforts, including solar energy consultations, beach clean-ups and membership sign-ups for local environmental groups. For more information, visit Renewable Energy Long Island.

 

Celebrating the launch of The Bay Street Shakespeare Initiative, Bay Street Theater will present two outdoor staged readings of The Tempest starring Tony award-winner John Glover as Prospero, on August 16 and 17.

On Saturday, the first performance is a VIP benefit held on a private waterfront estate on Shelter Island. The evening, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails followed by a 7 p.m. reading, includes a reception with the cast.

Sunday’s reading, which is open to the community free of charge, also starts at 7 p.m. at a thus far undisclosed location. There will be bleacher seating, although guests are encouraged to bring chairs, picnics and blankets. The reading will take place as the sun sets, with the stars coming out as Mr. Glover reads Shakespeare’s most beloved plays.

For more information, call the Bay Street box office at (631) 725-9500.

East End Weekend: Highlights of What to Do August 1 to 3

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"Reclining Blue" by Christine Matthäi is on view at the Monika Olko Gallery In Sag Harbor.

“Reclining Blue” by Christine Matthäi is on view at the Monika Olko Gallery In Sag Harbor.

By Tessa Raebeck

The roads are clogged, the beaches are packed and somehow August has arrived. You know what that means? There’s even more to do this weekend! Have some highlights on us:

 

The Neo-Political Cowgirls latest performance “VOYEUR” opened Thursday, July 31, and will run performances August 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9. An inside/out theatre installation on-site at Parsons Blacksmith Shop in Springs, “VOYEUR” examines friendship, womanhood and the boundaries of theatre. Click here for the full story and here for more information and tickets.

"SPLASH" by Kia Andrea Pedersen.

“SPLASH” by Kia Andrea Pedersen.

 

Saturday at the Monika Olko Gallery in Sag Harbor, friends, Shelter Island residents and fellow artists Christine Matthäi and Kia Andrea Pederson will showcase their latest work. Originally from Germany, Ms. Matthäi specializes in abstract photography. Ms. Pederson uses more earthy mediums. In the exhibition, “The Call of the Sea,” their work is joined together by its shared celebration of the ocean.

An opening reception will be held at the gallery, located at 95 Main Street in Sag Harbor, on Saturday, August 2, from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibit will be on view through August 22.

 

East Hampton welcomes David Sedaris, widely considered to be one of his generation’s best writers,
who will be hosting an evening at Guild Hall on Sunday, August 3. The humorist authored such bestsellers as “Naked,” “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim,” and “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.”

For more information, click here.

The evening starts at 8 p.m. and will be followed by a book signing. Guild Hall is located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. Click here for tickets.

 

The Peconic Land Trust’s major event, Through Farms and Fields, is Sunday, August 3. The benefit features a country supper at hte property of Peconic Land Trust board member Richard Hogan and Carron Sherry, on historic Ward’s Point on Shelter Island. It will honor the conservation philanthropy of Barbara J. Slifka. There is an online auction, as well as a silent auction that will be held the night of the event.

Writer David Sedaris to Perform in East Hampton

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David Sedaris, author of “Me Talk Pretty One Day”, will be at Guild Hall on Sunday, August 3. Photo credit Hugh Hamrick

Critically acclaimed writer and humorist David Sedaris, often lauded as one of the best writers of his generation, is coming to the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall in East Hampton on Sunday, August 3.

Mr. Sedaris caught his first big break on NPR in 1992 when he was invited to read an essay on “Morning Edition.” “The SantaLand Diaries” is the author’s firsthand account of his experience working as a Christmas elf at Macy’s, complete with tales of crazy parents, howling children, Santas stuck in character and a healthy serving of self-deprecation. The story begins as he applies for the job and talks about the high hopes he had when he first moved to New York, imagining himself as the writer of his favorite soap opera: “But instead, I’m applying for a job as an elf. Instead, someone will say, ‘What’s that shoe size again?’ and hand me a pair of seven and a half slippers, the toes of which curl to a point. Even worse is the very real possibility that I will not be hired, that I couldn’t even find work as an elf. That’s when you know you’re a failure.”

The broadcast of “The SantaLand Diaries” in December has now become an annual fixture on NPR’s schedule.

Mr. Sedaris is also the author of “Me Talk Pretty One Day”—a collection of lively and comical essays about the difficulties and amusing, often embarrassing, anecdotes of living in a foreign country. The audio version of his latest book, “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls,” was nominated for a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album in 2014.

An Evening with David Sedaris is at 8 p.m. on Sunday, August 3. Guild Hall is located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. A book signing will follow. Tickets range in price from $48 to $150. For more information, visit guildhall.org or davidsedarisbooks.com.

Diana Vreeland Ruled the Fashion World by Changing It

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Diana Vreeland in the New York City she shared with her husband Thomas. Mrs. Vreeland had Billy Baldwin decorate the apartment exclusively in red. She said, "I want this place to look like a garden, but a garden in hell." Photo courtesy Guild Hall.

Diana Vreeland in the New York City she shared with her husband Thomas. Mrs. Vreeland had Billy Baldwin decorate the apartment exclusively in red. She said, “I want this place to look like a garden, but a garden in hell.” Photo by Horst P. Horst.

By Tessa Raebeck

For half a century, Diana Vreeland, the longtime editor of Vogue magazine, was at the helm of the fashion world. She played a major role in transforming the industry from commonplace, conforming trends that rotated by the decade into iconic statements that helped celebrities blossom, recognized international contributions and enabled women to wear—and show—their personality.

“The fashion world changes all the time. You can even see the approaching revolution in clothes; you can see and feel everything in clothes,” Mrs. Vreeland, who died in 1989, once said.

In “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel,” a 2011 documentary being screened at Guild Hall in East Hampton on Monday, July 21, Mrs. Vreeland’s life and career is celebrated through a fitting selection of celebrity interviews, groundbreaking images and her trademark outlandish statements.

“She was about ideas and about the magic of fashion,” art critic John Richardson says in the film.

Diana Vreeland's office at Vogue. Photograph by James Karales.

Diana Vreeland’s office at Vogue. Photograph by James Karales.

The documentary was directed and produced by Mrs. Vreeland’s granddaughter-in-law Lisa Immordino Vreeland, Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt and Frédéric Tcheng. It was honored as an official selection at both the Venice International Film Festival and the Telluride Film Festival.

“I wanted to understand Mrs. Vreeland’s relevance,” first-time director Ms. Immordino Vreeland wrote in an email July 12. “As someone who worked in fashion for many years, I always knew about her, but only knew about her extroverted personality. What I discovered was a woman that had such depth and used fashion to communicate a philosophical message.”

Often called the “Empress of Fashion,” Mrs. Vreeland ruled the fashion world during some of its most transformative decades—which were transformative in large part due to her contributions. Her work coincided with the civil rights and women’s rights movements; she launched Twiggy, advised Jackie Onassis on her signature style and featured in Vogue the first portrait ever taken of Mick Jagger.

“Mrs. Vreeland really brought us into a modern period and knew that fashion and the world were on their way to something much more global,” fashion designer Anna Sui says in the film.

“Diana was just so far ahead,” writer Bob Colacello adds. “I mean, it wasn’t just about fashion; it was about art, it was about music and it was about society—it was all woven together.”

“She would say, you’re not supposed to give people what they want; you’re supposed to give them what they don’t know they want yet,” he added.

After moving to New York City in 1936 to follow her husband Thomas’s banking career, Mrs. Vreeland began working as a columnist for Harper’s Bazaar, a job she was asked to take on after the editor Carmel Snow noticed her style.

She stayed at the magazine until 1962, and then went on to join Vogue, where she was editor-in-chief until 1971. Following her stint leading the world’s premiere fashion magazine, Mrs. Vreeland was a consultant to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She died in New York City in 1989 of a heart attack.

“There is no one in fashion who is like Mrs. Vreeland or anyone historically who can come close to her,” Ms. Immordino Vreeland said. “Her success in the world of fashion was the ability to give a message to people to seek for an inner meaning in life, not to accept the status quo and to push themselves to dream about the impossible. She encouraged curiosity and wanted people to be driven to passion. There are many very famous and iconic names in fashion, but none who continue to inspire people like Mrs. Vreeland.”

The film uses transcription from tapes George Plimpton recorded of his conversations with Mrs. Vreeland when they were preparing her autobiography as narration.

Mrs. Vreeland had a skill in finding the special and unique qualities in people and, rather than hiding them in the name of societal obedience, celebrating and emphasizing those distinctions.

“She saw things in people before they saw it themselves,” fashion designer Diana Von Furstenberg says in the film.

“She celebrated Barbara Streisand’s nose. She would push their faults, make it the most beautiful thing about them,” added Joel Schumacher, a director, screenwriter and producer known for films like “The Phantom of the Opera” and “St. Elmo’s Fire.”

Mrs. Vreeland spent time at the Factory and Studio 54, rubbing elbows with Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson and Cher.

“All these people invented themselves,” Mrs. Vreeland says in the film. “Naturally, as the editor, I was there to help them along.”

“Vreeland inspired them, she had a very strong impact on them,” Calvin Klein says in the documentary.

Angelica Huston adds of her friend, “She made it okay for women to be outlandish and extraordinary.”

“Mrs. Vreeland, in a very unique manner, used fashion to dictate a way of life,” wrote Mrs. Immordino Vreeland. “For her, what was paramount in life was the freedom to ‘dare’ and she wanted everyone to do that. For her, the “outlandish and extraordinary” was an expression of the ability to be free and brave enough to do what you dream about doing.”

“Mrs. Vreeland believed in the celebration of life and in taking on everything,” the director added. “She felt that the impossible was possible to conquer if you had the belief in yourself and you had the possibility to dream; that was her motivation…She used fashion to tell a story of being unique, of standing out and of believing in oneself.”

In Mrs. Vreeland’s own words: “There’s only one really good life and that’s the life that you know you want and you make it yourself.”

The film will be screened at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street in East Hampton, on Monday, July 21, at 7 p.m. A panel discussion with filmmaker Lisa Immordino Vreeland and China Machado will follow. For more information or tickets ($15; $13 for members), call (631) 324-4050 or visit guildhall.org.

 

On View in East Hampton: FAPE Fills American Embassies with Art

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"View Points" by William Wegman, with his dog Penny, 2005.

“View Points” by William Wegman, with his dog Penny, 2005. Part of the FAPE collection now on view at Guild Hall.

By Tessa Raebeck

Art needs no language to be understood; it communicates without spoken word.

This is the idea behind FAPE, the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies, which aims to promote unity and open communication across cultures and countries by putting artwork in United States embassies across the world.

Honoring the long connection between American artists and the East End, the first comprehensive exhibition of FAPE’s collection is opening Saturday, June 28, at Guild Hall in East Hampton. It will be on view through July 27.

FAPE started in 1989 with Frank Stella’s donation of enough prints of “The Symphony” to be sent to every American embassy. It has grown to include the work of noted artists such as Chuck Close, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg.

“For the first time, the public will have the rare opportunity to view works commissioned by and donated to FAPE by some of this country’s most iconic artists in a concentrated setting,” said FAPE Chairman Jo Carole Lauder in a press release. “We celebrate these artists’ generosity and the places they hold in the history of American art.”

“Jo Carole Lauder asked me if I wanted to do something and of course I said yes, because it’s a really good thing,” said William Wegman, a FAPE artist known for his books and photos of his pet Weimaraners, the tall and thin gray dogs that were originally bred and used by royalty for hunting. “Also, Jo Carole is a really good supporter of the arts and anything she recommends tends to be worthwhile.”

Mr. Wegman is currently focusing on geometric shapes and sculpture in his photos.

“One of my dogs, Topper, is such a magnificent piece of sculpture and he likes being on top of things,” he explained. “So, I’m accommodating him—I usually do change according to the dogs.”

The first dog he photographed was Man Ray, who became so popular the Village Voice named him “Man of the Year” in 1982. Since then, he’s photographed Fay, her daughter Batty who “was very narcoleptic and could care less,” and an assortment of other Weimaraner personalities.

Batty, he said, “was willing to do anything, but had this sort of whatever attitude, was very comic where Fay was kind of scary and serious.”

“So, when I was casting my first children’s book, Fay became both the Fairy Godmother and the Evil Stepmother and Batty became Cinderella,” he added.

Fay’s firstborn son, Chundo, resembled a prince, but could also be a wolf, as in Mr. Wegman’s well-known 1993 book, “Little Red Riding Hood.”

Chundo, said the artist, was “named after the biggest person I ever met in the south of Chile on a trip I made back in the ’80s.”

After that came Chip, Batty’s son, who was “incredibly handsome and kind of sad looking, so in a lot of my books he became this kind of wistful boyish figure that things happen to.”

Chip’s son Bobbin was “much more scary looking and looked really quite evil, even though he wasn’t. He just had a very severe, humorless face.”

One of Mr. Wegman’s current dogs, Penny, who is featured in the FAPE exhibition, was on the cover of National Geographic. He was asked to create a photo to accompany a February 2012 article on the dog genome.

Penny, who wore dozens of wigs and costumes for the photo shoot, was his best worker, “probably the only dog I never once had to reprimand,” he said.

“She was really remarkable, very still and had this sort of inner quiet to her,” added Mr. Wegman. “Unless there was a thunderstorm and then she disappeared.”

Throughout the exhibition, Guild Hall is hosting panels with the artists, curators and FAPE personnel. Guest Curator Robert Starr, chairman of FAPE’s Professional Fine Arts Committee and dean of the Yale School of Art, is moderating the opening panel on Saturday, June 28, from 3 to 4 p.m.

Panelists include artists Tina Barney, Lynda Benglis, Mr. Close, Joel Shapiro and Carrie Mae Weems. Two additional panels will be held Sunday, July 20, and Sunday, July 27, at 11 a.m.

Lynda Benglis. Untitled (Half Sphere). 2007. Cast bronze. 37.5 x 36 x 17.5 in. Part of the FAPE collection on view at Guild Hall.

Lynda Benglis. Untitled (Half Sphere). 2007. Cast bronze. 37.5 x 36 x 17.5 in. Part of the FAPE collection on view at Guild Hall.

Ms. Benglis first made waves when she burst onto the art scene in the ‘70s. In an ad for Artforum in 1974, she posed naked with a giant fake penis, aiming to mock both artists and feminists who take themselves too seriously, as well as the idea of sexuality. Needless to say, it caused some backlash.

Today, Ms. Benglis splits her time between several art studios from India to New Mexico, working on different projects at each and returning to her home in East Hampton for grounding.

“This is my thinking place and my home,” she said Friday, sitting with her dachshund Pi surrounded by a green jungle of trees on her back deck in the Northwest Woods.

“Their mission,” she said of FAPE, “is to get arts into the public sphere—particularly for peaceful means—to encourage a kind of communication with other countries and embassies and make things more relaxed.”

“We’re a small world now and art is nonviolent, nonpolitical,” she said, adding, “The art’s really about communication and that’s why we have an embassy project, that’s why we have FAPE.”

The opening reception of FAPE’s exhibition is Saturday, June 28, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Guild Hall, located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information, call (631) 324-0806 or visit guildhall.org.

SummerDocs Series Returns to Guild Hall

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“Life Itself”, a documentary about film critic Roger Ebert (left), kicks off the Hamptons Internation Film Festival’s SummerDocs season this weekend. Photo courtesy Magnolia Pictures. Photo credit Kevin Horan.

By Mara Certic

Since its inception in 2009, the Hamptons Film Festival’s SummerDocs series has screened dozens of documentaries—four of which have gone on to win Academy Awards.

Curated by artistic director David Nugent and board member Alec Baldwin, the series screens four new documentaries over the summer, each one followed by a Q&A hosted by Mr. Baldwin with either the director or a subject of the film.

“He and David Nugent watched them all and made the determination,” said Anne Chaisson, executive director of the HIFF. “It’s really about finding the best that’s out there.”

The series kicks off at Guild Hall on Saturday, June 21, with “Life Itself,” based on the memoir of the same name written by highly regarded film critic Roger Ebert. The film has a slew of executive producers, including Martin Scorcese, and was directed by Steve James, who rose to fame in the early ‘90s when his film “Hoop Dreams” was named “best movie of 1994” and given “two thumbs up” by none other than Siskel and Ebert.

The film chronicles the life of the writer and critic: From his accidental entry into journalism to revolutionizing the business of film criticism and winning a Pulitzer Prize, “Life Itself” also shows a glimpse into Mr. Ebert’s battle with cancer.

In 2002, Mr. Ebert was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer, which resulted in the removal of his lower jaw and his inability to speak for the last seven years of his life.

“He’s a soldier of cinema who cannot even speak anymore, and he plows on and that touches my heart very deeply,” filmmaker Werner Herzog says of Mr. Ebert in the film.

“Life Itself” received rave reviews after its world and European premieres at the Sundance and Cannes film festivals. “Very moved by Steve James’s “Life Itself“ Roger Ebert doc at Sundance” tweeted Kenneth Turan, Film critic for the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio.

This Saturday’s screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Mr. Ebert’s widow, trial attorney Chaz Ebert. The film will be released on July 4 in the United States and distributed by Magnolia Pictures.

The second film in the series will be shown on Friday, July 25. “Keep on Keepin’ on” is the directorial debut of Australian Al Hicks; it documents the unlikely and meaningful relationship between Justin Kaulflin, a 23-year-old blind piano prodigy, and his mentor, jazz-legend and trumpeting great Clark Terry, “CT,” whose past pupils have included Miles Davis and Quincy Jones.

The combination of Mr. Terry’s failing health and Mr. Kaulflin’s debilitating nerves invoke a nostalgic poignancy throughout the film, critics have said. During one scene, Mr. Terry lies in bed using an oxygen tube on as he critiques Mr. Kaulflin, who plays next to him. Mr. Terry laughs as Mr. Kaulflin masters a fast-paced ditty, and adds “Thank God for you,” as he looks at his mentee.

The emotional tale premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April and won several awards, including the Best New Documentary Director award for Mr. Hicks. The Australian director will be at Guild Hall for a Q&A after his film’s July 25 screening.

“We’re so happy that we have this program and we have this traction,” Ms. Chaisson said in a phone interview last week. “And the festival is well known in the industry. It’s pretty great.” Two other documentaries that have yet to be announced will complete the SummerDocs series in the month of August.

Aspiring directors will get another chance to create their first masterpieces this summer in the HIFF’s Student Filmmaking classes, which will run both from Guild Hall and the Southampton Arts Center.

The board of the HIFF will keep cinephiles entertained all summer with weekly outdoor screenings of retrospective blockbusters at the Southampton Arts Center from June 27 until the weekend before Labor Day. The weekend of August 22 to 24 will see HIFF’s first Family Film Festival, which will screen approximately seven films, Ms. Chaisson said.

The tickets for the SummerDocs series cost $21 for members, $23 general admission. The films begin at 8 p.m. and each is followed by a Q&A hosted by Alec Baldwin. Guild Hall is located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information visit guildhall.org or call 324-0806.

 

 

Rothko on Stage: ‘Red’ to Open at Guild Hall in East Hampton

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Left: Victor Slezak as Mark Rothko and Christian Scheider as his assistant Ken. Photo by Brian Leaver.

Left: Victor Slezak as Mark Rothko and Christian Scheider as his assistant Ken. Photo by Brian Leaver.

By Tessa Raebeck

The job of the artist assistant is to stretch canvases, mix paint, grab coffee and, in many cases, serve as the sounding board and mellowing counterpart to the boss’ eccentricity.

Such is the case in “Red,” a Tony-Award winning two-man play by John Logan centered on the relationship between the renowned postwar American artist Mark Rothko and his young assistant, Ken. Produced by Guild Hall in association with Ellen J. Myers, the play, which premiered in 2009, will open on the John Drew Theatre stage Wednesday, May 21.

Directed by Sag Harbor’s Stephen Hamilton, noted for his recent shows at the John Drew Theatre including Martin McDonough’s “The Cripple of Inishmann” and Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanda,” “Red” stars Victor Slezak as Rothko and Christian Scheider as Ken.

Victor Slezak as Mark Rothko. Photo by Brian Leaver.

Victor Slezak as Mark Rothko. Photo by Brian Leaver.

“The discussion that takes place between them, the action between them is a debate about commerce and art, about humanity,” Mr. Hamilton said of the main characters. “It’s about art and humanity, it’s about the importance and meaning of art in our life.”

Of Russian Jewish descent, Rothko, unlike many other artists, rose to prominence during his own lifetime and was at the apex of his career during the play’s two-year span, from 1958 to 1959.

At the time his inventive young assistant Ken comes to work with him, Rothko has just received an unheard of public commission for $35,000, the equivalent of about $2 million in today’s market, from the Four Seasons Restaurant to create murals, now known as the Seagram murals. The entire play takes place in the studio at 222 Bowery in New York City where the murals were created.

Although he himself rejected the term, Rothko was classified alongside his contemporaries Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock as “one of the most famous abstract expressionists in the New York school,” according to Mr. Hamilton.

Pop artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns were just coming into prominence in the late 1950s, much to the chagrin of Rothko.

“All of these artists are just starting to get recognized and that whole movement—it was a big shift between the expressionists and this time,” said Mr. Hamilton. “And its reaction to that—Mark Rothko is a bigger than life character, whose impressions and whose very deep feeling about the meaning of art in the world comes to stark contrast with what he thinks is the complete sort of obliteration of that psyche.”

“There is no such thing as good painting about nothing,” Rothko once said.

Pop artists were critiquing the art world of Rothko, essentially making fun of its gravity.

“It’s on the theme of seriousness,” said Mr. Scheider, a Sagaponack native and a young up-and-coming actor who plays the role of Ken. “Seriousness in art, seriousness in what you say, seriousness in what you live. Meaning Rothko was very much somebody who felt himself to be an outsider in American culture for a long time—until, of course, he became sort of a pillar of that culture, but that happened later—and so, throughout his whole life he dealt with this—I’m not going to say insecurity, because in fact he had a lot of security in himself—but a doubt as to whether there were people that could look at his paintings. He didn’t know if people were going to be moved by them.”

“So, much of what Ken does in the play is through the course of it, he sort of proves it possible that one can develop an appreciation for an abstract painting as a lay person,” he added. “So in a way he’s kind of a foil, but Ken in his own way is an artist.”

Although Ken is a painter, he’s not making art when he works with Rothko. He’s supporting the artist by grabbing food and cigarettes and doing the busy work. Throughout the play, he complements Rothko’s long-winded monologues with one-word, monosyllabic answers.

“What do you see?” Rothko will often ask.

“Red,” replies Ken.

Rothko will rage, stomping around the room, slinging packets of paint at his assistant, who will, in turn, pick up the packets, toss the artist a cigarette and clean up after his rage.

“Rothko’s right at the height of his powers right now, 1958-59, there’s nobody painting like him. He has achieved his mature style that you recognize from Rothko and yet he knows that that energy, that life force—right around the corner is the diminution of that force. He’s not in the greatest health and he knows that he’s right at the apex of his career, there’s nowhere else to go,” said Mr. Hamilton.

The youthful energy of Ken collides with the threat of dead-end maturity felt by Rothko, setting off their conflict in moments of both humorous dialogue and pure tension.

“One of the central questions in the play is, ‘What do you see?” Mr. Scheider said. “Which, of course, is whatever you see, I mean there’s no right answer… but for Rothko, he was trying to make people weep, which is hard to do with blocks of color, but somehow he managed.”

Mr. Scheider said the mentorship, intentional or not, of Rothko on Ken correlates to his own experience working with Mr. Slezak, a veteran actor who has been performing regularly on stage, films and television for 40 years.

“He’s a seasoned actor and is bringing a kind of gravitas to this role that is really impressive and inspiring because he’s the kind of actor who can live a character,” said Mr. Hamilton, adding, “He can really bring this character to life and same with Christian [Scheider], they’re both doing a fantastic job.”

“For me, as a young actor working with a much more experienced actor, there’s a lot of overlap between the rehearsal process and the play, it’s actually very useful,” said Mr. Scheider. “As a young person, [I am] honored to be given this responsibility.”

“Ken, over the course of the play, becomes a better artist by having just been with him.” Mr. Scheider said. “They have very different intentions in their work and yet Rothko instilled in him a kind of fearlessness…to take himself seriously.”

In Rothko’s words: “Art to me is an anecdote of the spirit, and the only means of making concrete the purpose of its varied quickness and stillness.”

“Red” runs from Wednesdays through Sundays from May 21, through June 8 at 8 p.m. at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street in East Hampton. Tickets are $35 for general admission, $33 for members and $10 for students. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 324-4050 or visit guildhall.org.

Art and War: Alexander Russo Shares His Experience as a World War II Combat Artist

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“Combat Artist: A Journal of Love and War” by Alexander Russo cover.

“Combat Artist: A Journal of Love and War” by Alexander Russo cover.

By Tessa Raebeck

Art and combat don’t often go hand in hand, but for Alexander Russo they are forever linked.

Mr. Russo will visit Guild Hall Saturday to sign and read from his book, “Combat Artist: A Journal of Love and War,” a straightforward account of his time spent in the Naval Reserve, serving with Naval Intelligence as a combat artist during World War II.

The first and youngest personnel to volunteer and engage in the Naval landings in Sicily and Normandy, Mr. Russo is now Professor Emeritus at Hood College in Maryland and is the former Dean of the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C.

The graphic results of Mr. Russo’s time spent in combat form part of the navy’s Historical Records of World War II. In the book, the veteran also explores the growth of the artist following the war, in his struggle to continue a career in fine arts.

A reception with the author is Saturday, May 17 at 1:30 p.m., followed by a reading and book signing from 2 to 3 p.m. at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information, call 324-0806 or visit guildhall.org.

Color, Melody and Clock Elves to Grace the Stage in Hampton Ballet Theatre School’s “Cinderella”

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Dancers perfect their style in a dress rehearsal at the Hampton Ballet Theatre School last week. Photo by Adam Baronella.

Dancers perfect their style in a dress rehearsal at the Hampton Ballet Theatre School last week. Photo by Adam Baranello.

By Tessa Raebeck

Since its completion in 1945, Sergei Prokofiev’s “Cinderella” suite has been performed hundreds of times across the globe, but rarely has it involved such cute grasshoppers.

This weekend, the Hampton Ballet Theatre School (HBTS) will revitalize the classic ballet, one of the famed Russian composer’s most celebrated compositions, in four performances at Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater. About 70 dancers, from bright-eyed four-year-olds to seasoned adult professionals, will grace the stage in the lively and melodious spring ballet.

In its eighth year of bringing dance to the East End, HBTS is returning to “Cinderella,” last presented by the company in 2011, with a few new twists.

Ninth grader Rose Kelly will play the lead role of Cinderella this weekend. Photo by Adam Baronello.

Ninth grader Rose Kelly will play the lead role of Cinderella this weekend. Photo by Adam Baranello.

The original dancers have grown up and the choreography has evolved with them; this weekend will mark the first time many of the company’s ballerinas perform en pointe throughout the entire ballet. When en pointe, a female ballet dancer supports all of her body weight with the tips of her fully extended vertical feet. The dancer must train and practice for years to develop the strength and technique required to do so.

“My goal for this ballet,” said Sara Jo Strickland, executive director and choreographer of HBTS, “was to really develop the older dancers at the core of the ballet and they’ve really done their job. I’m really proud of them.”

Known for its jubilant music and lush scenery, “Cinderella” is one of the most celebrated compositions of Mr. Prokofiev, a Russian composer, pianist and conductor and one of the major composers of the 20th century. Written upon his return home after a long absence following the Russian Revolution, the ballet was first staged in 1940, set aside during the height of World War II, and completed in 1945, premiering at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

“The older dancers all had very important roles and they all worked so hard,” Ms. Strickland said Sunday during a short lull in rehearsal time. “They really pulled the level of the dancing from our Nutcracker up by two or three steps.”

A student of Ms. Strickland’s since she was just two, 15-year-old Rose Kelly will dance the lead role of Cinderella.

“It’s one of my first dancers to do something so big, so I’m very excited,” Ms. Strickland said.

Rose will perform two distinct characterizations of Cinderella: the ragged, abused servant girl worrying her way across the stage and the beautiful vision of grace yearned for by the prince.

Partnering for the first time—a major accomplishment for a ballet dancer of any age—Rose is dancing with guest artist Nick Peregrino, a professional dancer with Ballet Fleming in Philadelphia.

“This is a huge challenge for her,” said Ms. Strickland. “It’s a big step for her at this age in her career…She far exceeded my expectations, she just worked so hard to learn all these new things.”

Other veteran HBTS dancers performing en pointe include Abigail Hubbell, who will play the iconic Fairy Godmother, and her twin sister Caitlin, the Spring Fairy. The seasons are a pivotal part of Prokofiev’s adaptation and their corresponding fairies are all accomplished roles.

Winter fairies include Falon Attias, Grace Dreher and Vincenzo James Harty. Vincenzo, a young man who has been dancing with Ms. Strickland, Rose, Caitlin and Abigail for years, will also play the comical role of Jester along with the Hubbell sisters.

Falon, Jade Diskin, Grace, Rachel Grindle, Jillian Hear and Samantha Prince will dance as Summer Fairies and Kelsey Casey, Devon Friedman, Hudson Galardi-Troy, Katie Nordlinger and Emma Silvera are Fall Fairies.

A few of the Clock Elves get into character at a Hampton Ballet Theatre School dress rehearsal last week. Photo by Adam Baranello.

A few of the Clock Elves get into character at a Hampton Ballet Theatre School dress rehearsal last week. Photo by Adam Baranello.

The antics of Prunella and Esmerelda, the evil stepsisters played by Beatrice de Groot and Maggie Ryan, provide some comical—albeit evil—relief.

HBTS’ production features roles Prokofiev added to the traditional fairy tale, such as the grasshoppers and dragonflies, or the “little creatures of the forest,” as Ms. Strickland calls the group of four and five-year-olds who scurry across the stage.

Guest artists Adam and Gail Baranello, teachers at HBTS who also own A&G Dance Company, will play Cinderella’s father and evil stepmother.

During the second act, the royal ball where Cinderella first catches the prince’s eye, the ballet evolves from the comic first act into a romantic presentation, said Ms. Strickland.

“I think people will be very excited and surprised because if you have followed us for a long time and watched the girls grow up, you’re really going to see the difference in this production,” Ms. Strickland said.

The Hampton Ballet Theatre School’s production of “Cinderella” is Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 1 and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street in East Hampton. Advanced tickets are $20 for children under 12 and $25 for adults. Tickets on the performance days are $25 for children under 12 and $30 for adults. To reserve tickets, call 888-933-4287 or visit hamptonballettheatreschool.com. For more information, call 237-4810 or email hbtstickets@gmail.com.