CULTURE KLASH: Playing Off Stage and On

By on November 8, 2016

A much needed dose of comic relief and more.

What rings true

What happens when the person sitting at the next café table over won’t answer his incessantly ringing cell phone?

That’s the premise of Riot Act Inc.’s latest production, Dead Man’s Cell Phone by MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Sarah Ruhl. Turns out, Gordon is dead and Jean can’t help herself from answering the phone. In so doing, she talks to Gordon’s relatives, his mistress, and other characters. Their stories cause her to fall a bit in love with Gordon, which may or may not be a problem, not simply because he is deceased.

“It’s about what happens when you break in on someone’s life,” explained director Deborah Supowit.

As a director, Supowit says she loves to mine interactions between people for what they reveal. “I like looking at the way people get to know one another and have expectations for one another, and whether or not they live up to those expectations.”

Supowit said her cast is exceptional and praised lead Anne-Marie Wells as amazingly funny and sad in the role of Jean. Other cast members include Henry Raynor Williams as Gordon, Riot Act veterans Marlene Lang, Lynne Matthews, Garett Austin, as well as newcomer Mary O’Malley.

Riot Act Inc. presents Dead Man’s Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl, opening 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, November 10-17 at Dancers’ Workshop Studio 1. $12 students/seniors or $15 adults at riotactinc.org or at the door.

Play with clay

Thursday night’s Mix’d Media event at the National Museum of Wildlife Art features the work of sculptor Sandy Scott. Scott’s realistic bronze sculptures capture wildlife in all their guises—from taking flight to taking a nap—and her ducks, bison, and other iconic Western animals are rife with personality. Though realism guides her, she sometimes stretches things a bit, as in the leg of a frog, to accentuate some aspect of an animal’s nature.

An accomplished artist in her field, Scott won the award of excellence at the Society of Animal Artists Exhibition, the Ellen P. Speyer Award at the National Academy of Design in New York, and numerous other accolades.

The Lander-based artist will be on hand to lead interactive clay sculpting activity, meaning: be prepared to get your hands dirty. Scott says she values teaching as a source of inspiration and discipline. Thursday’s event offers amateurs a unique chance to learn from a master.

As with all Mix’d Media events, the food and drink is also a highlight. Gather restaurant’s debut catering effort, Palates, will serve venison sliders and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Meanwhile Jackson Hole Stillworks will be mixing their wickedly delicious cocktails.

Mix’d Media takes place 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, November 10 at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Free admission.

Souper Bowl

Over the hill in Driggs, Teton Arts hosts its annual fundraising Souper Bowl event Thursday. Gather at the Driggs Community Center to purchase locally made ceramic bowls and try tasty soups on the spot.

Teton Arts Board Chair Mona Monroe said the Souper Bowl has helped the organization to deepen and broaden its reach. “Not only do we offer the use of professional quality equipment to local artists, but also we attract world class visiting artists to the valley,” Monroe said.

The Teton Arts Center provides a variety of art classes.  All you need to do, Monroe said, is sign up for a class and bring your hands and imagination.

In past years up to 40 different kinds of soup have been available, and there is no limit to how much you can eat for your $25 contribution. The People’s Choice Soup award winner will receive a special art trophy. Big Hole Brass performs for the bowl.

Teton Arts hosts the Souper Bowl from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, November 10 at the Driggs Community Center. $25 per bowl per adult, $10 for kids. $40 for a bowl and a Teton Arts membership. tetonartscouncil.com.

Laugh your aff off

If you haven’t treated yourself to a Laff Staff improv comedy show, you really must! This Friday and Saturday see Morgan Graham, Brian Lenz, Josh Griffith, Kjera Strom-Henrie, Jackie Hart, Mel Paradis, Chris Staron and Nick Staron incite off-the-cuff laughs based on audience suggestions.

The Planet caught up with veteran Laff Staffer Strom-Henrie to prod her about performing with the troupe.

“I like the way the spontaneity stretches my brain,” she said. “All my preconceived ideas have to go and make room for what is right now. The audience brings such energy and an expectation of laughter that we’re guaranteed a good time. It’s always a wonderful mix of loyal fans and brave new folks. I also love spending time with the Staff, and each show we push ourselves to try new things.”

Strom-Henrie said that on a recent visit to Seattle she attended a reaffirming improv comedy show. “It assured me that the Laff Staff is consistently producing authentic and super silly entertainment.”

The Laff Staff  performs 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, November 11 and 12 in the Black Box Theater at the Center for the Arts. $10 from jhcenterforthearts.com. PJH

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About Meg Daly

Meg Daly is a freelance writer and arts instigator. She grew up in Jackson in the 1970s and 80s, when there were fewer fences, but less culture. Follow Meg on Twitter @MegDaly1

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