Art in and of the moment
Andy Warhol, among others, in the UV
The arts in the mostly serene, some say bucolic, Upper Valley are anything but. Theater, book, and visual arts are grappling with some of the world’s big gritty issues that permeate even small-town life.
Sweat by Lynn Nottage will open on March 8 at Northern Stage in White River Junction, Vermont. Set in what was once reported to be “the poorest town in America,” “Sweat is a heart-wrenching portrait of the human cost of the decline in manufacturing that shines a light on working class communities that often feel left behind. . . Cynthia, a factory worker in Reading, PA . . . shocks her friends and co-workers by applying for a position in the factory’s management. Globalization and automation bring massive cuts to the factory, unraveling decades-old friendships and exposing the racial fault lines of the town. Can the union strike hold or will everyone have to fend for themselves?” Sweat won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. On stage through March 26. Pay what you can previews on March 8 and 9.
Politics and religion. Who continues to investigate Christian nationalism? Author and Dartmouth professor Jeff Sharlet, that’s who. Reviews are pouring in for his The Undertow: Scenes From a Slow Civil War. The Los Angeles Times includes it in its “10 books to add to your reading list.” But even better, Sharlet tweets: “There are reviews and then there are *reviews.* You spend years on a book then someone *reads* it, invoking a writer who made you a writer 30 years past.” That writer is Joan Didion. Says Elizabeth D. Samet in The American Scholar:
“Jeff Sharlet’s new book, The Undertow, plunged me into a vertiginous fever-dream. It induced a physiological response similar to the one I experienced while reading Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem. Both books are mood-altering, mind-altering odysseys; both set forth visions of a weird and roiling body politic.”
You may want to get a copy, preferably from a local, independently owned bookstore.
Just what is The Lifespan of a Fact? The play by Jeremy Kareken opened on March 2 at Shaker Bridge Theater in Enfield, NH. “Jim Fingal is a fresh-out-of-Harvard fact checker for a prominent but sinking New York magazine. John D’Agata is a talented writer with a transcendent essay about the suicide of a teenage boy – an essay that could save the magazine from collapse. When Jim is assigned to fact check D’Agata’s essay, the two come head-to-head in a story exploding with blistering comedy and timely relevance.” Based on a true story; one theatre company advertised it as particularly appealing “for fans of The Newsroom and The West Wing.” On stage through March 19.
And Andy Warhol—forever associated with finding the art in a Campbell’s soup can and a box of Brillo pads—never goes out of style. The irresistible meme (top) reinterprets his late 20th century message for the early 21st. Warhol is coming soon to the Hall Art Foundation in Reading, Vermont in an exhibition, Small Is Beautiful. “The largest work presented here is Twenty Fuscia Maos (1979), which measures 39 x 38 inches and portrays an iconic reversal (or negative) image of Chairman Mao Zedong repeated 20 times. The smallest work is Roy Lichtenstein (1967), a portrait of Warhol’s Pop Art contemporary which measures just 5 ½ x 4 inches. Altogether, the 100 works presented in “Small is Beautiful” provide a comprehensive retrospective of the paintings of Andy Warhol, but in small scale.” On view from May 13 to November 26, 2023.
More information is available by clicking on the links, where applicable, which are underlined. Quoted text in part from Northern Stage press release, Shaker Bridge and Hall Art Foundation websites, The American Scholar.
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And in case you are wondering . . . Susan B. Apel shuttered a lifelong career as a law professor to continue an interest (since kindergarten) in writing. Her freelance business, The Next Word, includes literary and feature writing; her work has appeared in a variety of lit mags and other publications including Art New England, The Woven Tale Press, The Arts Fuse, and Persimmon Tree. She connects with her neighbors through Artful, her blog about arts and culture in the Upper Valley. She’s in love with the written word.