Music by Jeff Lusk and Davis Fancher Design by Chad Irwin
Reasons for Falling is a modern retelling of the Icarus myth. Continue reading “Leslie Barker, Reasons for Falling” »
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Reasons for Falling is a modern retelling of the Icarus myth. Continue reading “Leslie Barker, Reasons for Falling” »
An accomplished local director, Leslie Ann Barker loves music and theater in equal proportion. She has a B. A. in Theater, an M.F.A. in Directing, has taught, directed and conceived. But mostly, Leslie wishes to proclaim beauty through all that she does. She currently works at Theater Memphis as Director of Outreach and helps to run an after school arts program at Caritas Village in Binghampton. Most recently, her play Reasons for Falling: A Story of Icarus was honored by the Mississippi Theatre Association’s Playwriting Competition. It is scheduled to open the 2013-2014 Voices of the South season. Her online resume can be found here.
“A Separation is a film in which every important character tries to live a good life within the boundaries of the same religion. That this leads them into disharmony and brings them up before a judge is because no list of rules can account for human feelings.”
“A deceptive, Hitchcockian mystery whose clues are laid out so carefully you’ll probably miss them, and a complex philosophical fable.”
“A rigorously honest movie about the difficulties of being honest, a film that tries to be truthful about the slipperiness of truth. [It will] leave a knot of ethical and philosophical questions that may make the walk home from the theater as argumentative as the film itself.”
Piece written and performed for the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis.
copyright 2013 (SESAC)
Continuum fellow, Ben Hight, composed this piece for the birth of his daughter, Lucy Hight. The piece was performed by his wife, Julie Hight, at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis.
“I have seen ’8 1/2′ over and over again, and my appreciation only deepens. It does what is almost impossible: Fellini is a magician who discusses, reveals, explains and deconstructs his tricks, while still fooling us with them.”
— Roger Ebert
“It’s about the inability in all of us to make sense of our lives, put it all together and come up with something meaningful.”
— Desson Howe
Closely associated with the sculptor’s virtuosity, and an emblem of the Baroque, is the inscrutable masterpiece Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, completed in 1652 for Rome’s Cornaro Chapel. Speculatively, the choice of mystical subject matter for the chapel is the influence of a book by the Spanish priest and theologian Igantius Loyola. In Spiritual Exercises, Loyola recommended an ecclesiastical tactic for encouraging faith among the laity: the depiction of “spiritual experiences,” the theologian argued, would enlarge struggling dedication and awe. Bernini’s Ecstasy stages the religious vision of the future Carmelite nun, Teresa of Avila, which resulted in her conversion. According to her own account, the young woman was visited by a not very tall but “very beautiful angel” whose “face was so aflame that he appeared to be one of the highest ranks of angels” “In his hands,” Teresa recounted,
I saw a great golden spear, and at the iron tip there appeared to be a point of fire. This he plunged into my heart several times so that it penetrated my entrails. When he pulled it out I felt that he took them with it, and left me utterly consumed by the great love of God. The pain was so severe that it made me utter several moans. The sweetness caused by this intense pain is so extreme that one can not possibly wish it to cease…This is not a physical but a spiritual pain, though the body has some share in it — even a considerable share.
Perhaps this is a miraculous revelation; perhaps it is a sign one has been single too long. In any case, the story could not have been better suited to the sculptor or his patrons, Cardinal Federico Cornaro and his family. Inside a vaulted recess of the chapel, Bernini mounted a characteristically ornate marble proscenium which showcased the two figures; an event watched, or more correctly disregarded, by the Cornaro family assembled at balcony-like prayer altars at either side of the stage — and celebrated, from the chapel’s ceiling, by a ribbon of angelic beings. A painted trompe l’oeil ceiling enlarges the heavenly vision. Ecstasy is the sculptor’s mature art, a literal retelling, perhaps parody, of Bernini’s dramatic influences.
At the center of the false proscenium, the saint, attended by the angel and fanned by carved beams of falling light, lounges on a cloud which appears to float above the paneled shallow stage. The petite angel has recently alit with an arrow, and Teresa’s form drops in ecstasy, a melting accentuated by the layered eddies of a nun’s rough habit: lips parted, her head rolls backward without support, arms and legs falling forlornly in the crags of the mass supporting her. The angel, who is decoratively wrapped in a gauzy material, smiles professionally as he readies the arrow for another attack.
Bernini’s scene is clearly tinged with a certain Freudian awkwardness. But it is unfortunate that this quality, instead of attributed to our natural quickness toward innuendo, has become for some commentators a real property of the work. Assessing Bernini’s depiction against the historical facts (as reported by St. Teresa), it is obvious instead that the Ecstasy is a faithful transcript of its purported events. As a work of art, it is also the most efficient and direct expression of Teresa’s bizarre account, elucidating the saint’s experience with unusual clarity.
Formally, the Ecstasy is a masterpiece. More than ever, Bernini has succeeded in creating a real event; the sculpture is suffused with all the intimacy, accident, and power of a genuine unfolding. The proscenium tightly frames the figures of Teresa and the angel, and our access to the scene comes as a glimpse — as if into a small room, or an open door — of the figures illuminated by a secret window. Bernini’s use of the walls and ceiling lends the larger configuration definite shape: further, the high reliefs create a circular flow drawing the eye inexorably back to the pivotal scene. It is clear that the artistic subjects and purposes of the Baroque church at times displayed an ecclesiastical self-obsession, and a minimum of importance or essentiality. Bernini’s scene is strange, and patently minor. His tremendous execution, meanwhile, confers on his subject emotional power and an awesome significance, a seductive enlargement of a contemporary fable. The performance achieves the proselytic motive of its era, the sculpture still pulling a cult following centuries later.
Continuum fellow, Cindy Beebe was just announced as a nominee for the prestigious Puschart Prize, an annual anthology of the very best of poetry, short fiction, and creative essays printed in literary journals over the past year (nominated in December, the anthology is announced in June the following year). Each journal nominates 6 pieces every year to the Pushcart panel for adjudication representing the 6 best pieces the editors believed were published in their journal over the whole year. Generally less than 3% of all submissions make it into print to begin with. Cindy’s nomination puts her into an elite category. Continue reading “Cindy Beebe Nominated for 2012 Pushcart Prize” »
Bernini’s fascination with motion and his observational acuity were providentially complemented by an astonishing technical virtuosity; the sculptor’s facility with marble contributes much to both the dynamism and naturalness of his work. Human muscles, skin, and fabric contain detailed realism, and not only move in principle, but appear to move, displaying all their natural properties folded or straining. It is possible for the eyes to act like hands and in considering the artist’s figures we are again, like theater-watchers, drawn into a vicarious experience of weight, sensation, and motion.
Bernini’s dashing portrait of Francesco d’Este (1651) — who billows and appears to have posed before a wind machine — is sumptuously tactile: the curls of the wig roll, and the thick cloak is drawn tighter around d’Este. Although admiration for Bernini’s technical facility often suffers under the realization that the master craftsman Giuliano Finelli assisted the sculptor, Finelli, who carved the hair and leaves of Daphne and Apollo — as well, presumably, other elements — is said to have been underpaid by his superior Bernini, and left the workshop in exasperation in 1629. At the very least, historical record of Bernini’s practices suggests what can already be guessed: that in the history of art Bernini’s technical ability was rare.
For years, Louis XIV, engrossed in the completion of the Louvre, had attempted to entice the sculptor to France for an architectural consultation. In 1665, when Bernini finally left — later to complete a bust of the king instead — gawkers lined the sculptor’s route through Europe.
A young man in his mid-twenties, Bernini had already accomplished much before his arrival to St. Peter’s. Work had begun on Apollo and Daphne (1625), and the artist’s David (1623), a commission of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, was already complete. Continue reading “Bernini and the Baroque, Part II: The Theatrical and the Candid Moment” »