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Arts and Culture (All)

Do you think watching three men silently eat olives would be funny? In Art, it is hysterical.

Dignity Players opens its 2013-2014 season — dedicated to the Power of Art — with Yasmina Reza’s 1998 Tony Award-winning comedy Art.
    Art is a 90-minute one-act comedy about relationships, truth, white lies and, of course, the meaning and value of art.
    Serge (Kevin Wallace) has splurged (wildly!) on a piece of modern art. His friend Marc (Tom Newbrough) is appalled, both by the price and the work, an entirely white canvas decorated with white lines. Yvan (James Gallagher), another friend, tries to mediate the conflict between them but gets caught in the middle.
    Director Clarice Clewell, who has an affinity for productions of thoughtful comedies populated by small casts (she directed Stones in His Pockets at Dignity Players and Trying at Colonial Players) has assembled an experienced, versatile and talented onstage crew. Off-stage she has also nurtured other talents as some volunteers take new theatrical off-stage roles joining others who are veterans.
    The single set by Laurie Nolan is sparse as it has to represent all three men’s apartments. The single change made to connote differences in the apartments is the choice of one piece of art, representing each man’s different sensibilities.
    Sound designer Jim Reiter (whose program notes are so whimsical they deserve mention) noted that the three actors in this production are “the Mount Rushmore of actors in Annapolis.” The reference is accurate in terms of craggy faces but misleading in terms of stoic stoniness.
    All three are keenly adept at using takes, double-takes and audience asides to highlight the comedy of words. Expressions run the gamut and amok. Do you think watching three men silently eat olives would be funny? In their hands, it is hysterical.
    Kevin Wallace shows us a Serge who is by turns mesmerized, delighted and awed by his new artistic purchase. He is hurt and pained by his friends’ lack of appreciation and understanding of why this piece of art is so important to him. Wallace conveys all this with expressive facial contortions and by a stance with arms constantly akimbo or crossed.
    Tom Newbrough’s Marc is a more tightly coiled character. But watch out for those arching eyebrows that give away his true feelings and bring us into his world. While Newbrough is the catalyst of the conflict, he is also the stabilizing center of this swirling trio.
    James Gallagher’s Yvan, who has the flashiest monologue, transcends emotions as he gallops from disbelief to confusion to patronizing agreement to hurt angst, landing on pained bafflement until all ultimately ends well. Gallagher gives the most introspective and self-absorbed performance, punctuated by the funniest of droll expressions.
    Together they make Art both thoughtful and funny.

Playing Th-Sa Sept. 19-21 & 26-28 at 8pm; Su Sept. 22 at 3pm at Dignity Players, Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis: $20 w/age and Th discount: 410-266-8044 x 127; www.dignityplayers.org.

Interspecies relationships have shaped history

Brian Fagan, anthropologist and scholar (professor at the University of California Santa Barbara), is the author of this and other interesting and deeply researched books in the field of archeology. The complexity of relationships in his family menagerie inspired The Intimate Bond’s history of how humans and animals have interacted from the Ice Age to modern times.
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Colonial Players awards $1,000 to 2015 contest winner Mark Costello

Over 67 years, The Colonial Players of Annapolis has made its reputation by producing top-quality plays and musicals like The Liar, which earned the British Embassy’s 2015 Ruby Griffith Award as the best overall community theater production in the Washington-Baltimore area.
    The all-volunteer company also encourages new works. Since 1973 it has sponsored a biennial Promising Playwright competition. 2015’s winner was in the spotlight last weekend.
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See the world according to young artists

“Write plays that matter,” playwright Terrence McNally admonishes. “Raise the stakes. Shout, yell, holler, but make yourself heard. … Speak from the heart about the things that matter most.” This sage advice for aspiring dramatists comes from one of the best contemporary American playwrights.
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How Eddie McGowan made a local stop on the Celtic circuit

There may be nothing quite as rousing as men in kilts wailing away on bagpipes — at least to Eddie McGowan.
    A group of bagpipers walked into a bar, and he was smitten. “I knew I had to learn how to play,” says McGowan, whose appreciation of all things Celtic has grown into the Annapolis Irish Festival.
    Back in 2010, McGowan talked a few bands into coming to Annapolis for a weekend of music.
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Bay Weekly’s Summer Reading Guide

A good book can take us farther than an airplane, keep us otherwise occupied longer than a week away from home and cost far less than any vacation. True, I’d rather be reading my book on a sandy beach with an ocean breeze. But even on my own back deck, lolling my cushy birthday chaise, a good book, a summer’s day and a cool drink make a vacation.
    In that spirit, the Bay Weekly family of readers offers its annual summer reading special.

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More cool tips for hot summer fun

Summer brings local favorites and nationally known artists to Chesapeake Country for open-air concerts.
    Hear music al fresco almost every night of summer at Chesapeake Beach Resort, with concerts ranging from $5 for local bands to $39 for Martha and the Vandellas June 10. The acts play under the half-shell bandstand. Food and drink sold separately.
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Kudos to Blondie’s Baking Company

We at Bay Weekly were thrilled to celebrate our 22nd birthday last Thursday with an open house in our Annapolis office. The centerpiece of this celebration each year is the cake.
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The Autobiography of Alice Dunnigan

Cove Point is getting attention for more than its great views, good fishing or the controversial topic of natural gas import and export.
    Thanks to Carol McCabe Booker — a Cove Point resident for three decades — the bump in the Bay in southern Calvert County is becoming a research center on black journalism pioneers.
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Is artistic talent genetic or a matter of upbringing? Father-daughter painters Peter and Lisa Egeli say “Yes”

You probably know families with a run of talent. History is full of them, in both pure brainery and in hands-on and physical achievements, from sports to art, music to politics.
    It makes you wonder. Does talent follow bloodlines?
    Father Peter Egeli and daughter Lisa Egeil, a pair of Southern Maryland painters, are just two in a family deeply rooted in the arts.
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