Palo Alto Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - July 9, 2010

Worth a look

Theater

'The Wanderings of Odysseus'

It's required reading in many college classes, but even classics majors may have a difficult time trying to imagine Homer's "Odyssey" — with its many locales and mythical beings — as a dramatic stage work. But now, thanks to Stanford Summer Theater, the Odyssey will come to life onstage in a dramatic interpretation entitled "The Wanderings of Odysseus."

Oliver Taplin, who originally translated Homer's work into "The Wanderings of Odysseus" for a Mark Taper Forum production at the Getty Villa in Malibu, has re-teamed with the production's original director, SST artistic director Rush Rehm. SST's production will feature entirely new staging, including live percussion. The story recounts Greek hero Odysseus' 20-year quest to get home after the Trojan War — a journey that tests his wit and strength against fantastic creatures such as the Sirens, Calypso, and Cyclops.

The play opens on Thursday, July 22, at 7 p.m. and will be performed Thursdays through Sundays through Aug. 15 at Stanford's 80-seat Nitery Theater, 514 Lasuen Mall. Times vary. Tickets are $20 general and $10 for students.

The annual Stanford Summer Theatre festival also includes a free Monday-night film series, showing versions of Homerian epic at 7 p.m. in Stanford's Annenberg Auditorium. The series begins with the 2004 film "Troy" on July 12 and runs through Aug. 9.

Also planned are free staged readings of other Homer adaptations, and a July 31 symposium on "Homer and Performance" with lectures, performances, readings and a panel discussion. For details, go to summertheater.stanford.edu or call 650-725-5838.

Interactive theater

Do you ever watch a scene in a play and want to yell, "Cut!" (Or, "Brava!") This month, Palo Alto playwright Ellen Cassidy is giving audiences a chance to chime in on her new play, "Single Gay Man."

Cassidy has scheduled several free readings of her play at Know Knew Books at 415 S. California Ave. in Palo Alto. On July 10 at 8 p.m. and July 17 at 4 p.m., the Open Source Theatre Company will perform several versions of a single scene, showing how it was developed from draft to final form. Audience members will be encouraged to ask questions and give feedback. On July 24 at 4 p.m., the play will be performed in its entirety.

Cassidy, a Stanford University graduate who has interned at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, describes "Single Gay Man" as "a drama about sexuality, identity and betrayal." It was performed last year at Stanford. For more information, call 484-880-5384.

Art

Alan McGee's photos

The images are nearly impossible to decipher at first glance — bizarre, black-and-white patterns of circles and jagged edges — but Alan McGee's photographs are anything but imaginary. In the exhibit "Tafoni — Accentuating the Negative," now on display at Portola Art Gallery at the Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park, McGee captures a rare geological formation and examines it through the negative photographic print, making something already wondrous completely out of this world.

Tafoni are the honeycomb formations and caverns formed into sandstone rocks by the long weathering process. They exist in only a few places in the world, including Castle Rock State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains where McGee took his camera.

McGee says tafoni are incredibly difficult to photograph due to their dark surroundings and steep slopes, so he decided to make the negatives of his black-and-white photographs into the art itself. White becomes black and black becomes white, and "only middle gray remains unchanged," McGee said. The resulting images depict almost alien geologic conditions, strange and yet completely real.

The exhibition will be on display Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through July 31 at the Portola Art Gallery, 75 Arbor Road, Menlo Park. A reception will be held Saturday, July 10, from 1 to 4 p.m. Go to portolaartgallery.com or call 650-321-0220.

Music

Tuck & Patti

The Stanford Jazz Festival may import talent from all over the place for its summertime concerts, but organizers didn't have to look far for the Menlo Park duo Tuck & Patti.

With Tuck Andress playing guitar and Patti Cathcart singing, the resulting sound is a mix of jazz, pop, folk and soul. Stanford Jazz organizers say the couple's last performance there is still talked about as a highlight of the 2006 season.

This weekend, the married twosome play at Stanford's Dinkelspiel Auditorium at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 10. They've got a dozen albums' worth of tunes to choose from.

Tickets are $36 general and $22 for students. For more information, go to stanfordjazz.org or call 650-736-0324.

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