EDITOR’S NOTE: For a detailed preview of The Post Office, see The Utah Review’s accompanying feature.
Ever experience the fatigue of using social media outlets but for fear of missing out (FOMO) on the latest trends you cannot escape the digital compulsion?
For the eighth edition of the Rose Exposed, the six resident companies of the Rose Wagner Center for Performing Arts in downtown Salt Lake City have picked #TRENDING as its theme for a hour-long program of new short works that will help audience members experience the JOMO (joy of missing out) while being entertained without the need for social media. During the fast-paced program, audience members will glimpse evidence of why these companies are among the top influencers in the city’s arts and cultural scene.
The performance will take place Saturday, Aug. 24, at 8 p.m. in the Jeanné Wagner Theatre at the Rose. Premieres of these short works will be presented by the center’s resident companies — Plan-B Theatre, PYGmalion Theatre Company, Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Repertory Dance Theatre and SB Dance. This year’s theme completes a trio of sorts: in 2017, the theme was The Sky Is Falling! and last year, it was Breaking News! Some works have been created in advance while others will be developed on the day of the performance but all will be presented to audiences for the first time.
ROSE CROSSING MURAL
This year’s Rose Exposed event offers two bonuses. At 6 p.m., a new Rose Crossing mural will be unveiled. The artist is Jann Haworth, one of the best known creators in the British Pop Art movement. Haworth, who lives and works in Salt Lake City, became well known as the co-designer of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. In addition to numerous international shows and exhibitions, she has created large-scale works for the city including the SLC Pepper mural on 400 West between 200 South and 300 South, the Dennis Hopper mural at Pictureline and the traveling exhibit Work In Progress.
She is assisted by Alex Johnstone. The project also is sponsored by THE BLOCKS, Salt Lake’s Cultural Core.
In an interview with The Utah Review, Haworth says, “Like so many projects I work on, it’s very collaborative and there are many overriding concerns.” Even before considering what the eventual design would look like, Haworth addressed the practicalities prior to creating the image.
This new mural is an experiment with various points to observe, as it will be painted on the crossing across the street, leading to the performing arts center. The durability of the paint is one factor, and Haworth says she will monitor it regularly to see when it will need to be retouched. The most common paints recommended for such outdoor projects include Sherwin Williams and Ennis Flint. That also is a point being considered.
Safety was a major factor, considering the implications for drivers, cyclists, scooter riders and pedestrians. “We asked ourselves what trouble would it cause,” Haworth adds. This particular stretch of 300 South (more popularly known as Broadway – a fitting name Haworth believes, given the location of the Rose) is busy throughout the day for all types of traffic. Consequently, Haworth’s design is focused on not confusing drivers while ensuring that photo opportunities (for example, a selfie spot) will not endanger pedestrians and others who use the crossing.
Likewise, the concept evolved with meticulous conceptualizing. The Rose is a major center of cultural life for Haworth, as it is for many other residents and visitors who look for local arts and entertainment that define the city’s unique sense of place. Her daughter (Daisy Blake) and son-in-law (Jay Perry) are actors who have performed at the Rose. She has designed costumes for Plan-B Theatre and has attended many performances of the Rose’s resident companies along with Sundance Film Festival screenings and shows by other groups such as Samba Fogo.
Haworth initially thought a red carpet on the approach would be ideal but then realized that drivers might be confused by any marking with a conventional traffic color so she decided to go for pink. It is a versatile color symbolizing diverse community themes relating to the Rose and other causes (including cancer awareness). The signifying potential of roses became apparent, as she contemplated how to incorporate spotlight images. She found that three intersecting spotlights could create the image of a flower and from that point the final specifications evolved.
Haworth explains that the design had to be “fairly simple,” especially as she feels responsible for whatever restoration the mural will need, depending upon the wear and tear of traffic and weathering effects. The colors are two pink shades, green and red while the center of the rose (which will measure between 12 and 14 feet in diameter) is white. The petals represent the composite parts signifying the different performing arts companies and the community. Green leaves are on the flower’s four corners. The flower’s white center will be an ideal spot for photographs. There is a green stem on one side. The pink carpet between the hatch marks on the street will run 60 feet and measure five feet in width.
THE POST OFFICE
Another bonus this year is that tickets for the Rose Exposed will entitle audience members to attend the premiere of The Post Office (see the accompanying feature at The Utah Review in the link at the top), a new 55-minute play by Melissa Leilani Larson. She adapted it from the 1912 classic of the same name by Nobel Prize laureate Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). The play – a masterful civic collaboration of Plan-B Theatre, the Granite School District, Gandhi Alliance for Peace and the United Nations Association of Utah – also is a companion piece to the United Nations Civil Society Conference, which will convene Aug. 26-28 in SLC. Audience members can attend either the 4 p.m. or 7 p.m. performance in the Rose’s Black Box Theatre.
ROSE EXPOSED #TRENDING
Handling the responsibilities for providing the music that will be the genesis for each company’s Rose Exposed piece will be Peter Klimo, a Hungarian-American pianist who was a finalist in the 2018 Bachauer International Artists Competition. Klimo is the collaborator for each #TRENDING performance, offering music of Hungarian composers Bela Bartók, Franz Liszt and Ernő Dohnányi, with additional works from Beethoven.
PYGmalion will present “Utah Trending” through various periods, as short segments of two to three minutes each that are interspersed between the works of other artists. They will include #Music, #News, #Fashion for 1857, 1897, 1947, 1997, 2017 and 2047. The piece is for one actor, featuring Tamara Johnson Howell, written by Julie Jensen, and directed by Fran Pruyn.
Riffing on Liszt’s Transcendental Etude No. 12 “Chasse-neige,” Bombastic Blue, a new 10-minute play by Olivia Custodio, emphasizes the perilous risks of forgoing the news that really should matter in favor of the click-bait temptations of social media trivialities. Set in the “very, very near future” in an underground bomb shelter, the play features three characters: a young woman who is not dumb even though some might mistake her because of her “it girl” cred; a middle-aged white man who compulsively shares political content on Facebook and a thirty-something black woman who is a survivor of the apocalypse.
Custodio has a flair for the darker edges of comedy and the compact script evinces it immediately. The title comes from a lipstick color the “it girl” purchased for a costume party. She proclaims, “It was $26, which seemed ridiculous, but my roommate said, ‘It’s not the end of the world if you never wear it again.’ And here we are! The end of the world and I’m wearing it.” That is more than sufficient to give a sense of Custodio’s wickedly smart tone in this piece.
Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company will create work during the day prior to the performance. Daniel Charon, artistic director, will set three duets to Bartók’s Three Burlesques, featuring the company’s six dancers. Likewise, Repertory Dance Theatre’s dancers and artistic staff, led by Nicholas Cendese, will set a new dance piece to Beethoven’s Sonata in A major Op. 2 No. 2. SB Dance will follow its signature style of dance theater in creating a piece inspired by Lizst’s Benediction de Dieu dans la solitude, signifying the trends that truly never disappear from our radar.
For ticket information, see the Rose Exposed website.