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SUNDAY, AUGUST 15, 2010 Reading Anna Deavere Smith Actress-playwright


Anna Deavere Smith writes and performs what you might call oral documentaries — plays constructed from interviews, us- ing direct quotes. (She’ll be at Arena Stage Dec. 31 through Feb. 13 with her newest work, “Let Me Down Easy,” on health care and assorted struggles.) The written word doesn’t figure much in her art: “What turns me on the most is listening to people talk,” says the Baltimore-born artist. “I look at people as walking narratives.” But years ago, it was a book


that sparked her interest in the voices of this country: Jack Ker- ouac’s experimental anthem “On


Marin Alsop


the Road.” “It has had a great influence on me,” Smith says, “inspiring me to absorb America in all the great beauty that it has.” Another book that has stayed with her is “Dibs in Search of Self,” by child-therapy pioneer Virginia M. Axline, the 1986 chronicle of her treatment of an emotionally disturbed boy. “It really grabbed me in a deep


way,” says Smith. “That book taught me about the possibility of change in a human being, if you can find a partner who has


something to add to the struggle that you have.” The illumination of the unexpected is what Smith seeks in books now, especially when she’s in the ed- iting process, trying to winnow hundreds of interviews down to 90 minutes of theater. Take the provocative


insights in Edward P. Jones’s “The Known World”: “I loved it because of his extraordinary ability to move in and out of dif- ferent stories and different times,” Smith says of the Wash- ington novelist, “and for the really remarkable images he came up with, to look at other


human beings and at his own struggle.” “That’s the unifying factor in


what I find useful,” Smith con- tinues. “If someone is original.” It’s that flash of uniqueness, she says, that gives her the courage to make her own creative mark. “When we go to other books or other art forms, what we’re try- ing to do is to loosen up the tight frames we have put around our work,” Smith says. “We realize that we are stopped. And what we need is to loosen that up and come away with a different per- spective entirely that allows us to make a different choice. I call it the oh-I-see! moment. Then you have a new energy charge, and you can follow another trail.”


Judy Hansen


Music Director, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra


“I wish I had a little more time to read,” Marin Alsop confesses with a laugh. It’s festival season and she’s traveling a lot. But luck- ily, books are portable pleasures. Alsop recently read “The Rest Is Noise,” by New Yorker music critic Alex Ross. It wasn’t pure- ly curiosity that led her to Ross’s treatise on 20th-centu- ry


music;


she read it “in anticipa-


tion of doing some work based on the book in London.” The rest of that, however, is silence: Alsop said she wasn’t allowed to reveal details of the project.


A book she did want to discuss is Tim Brown’s “Change by De- sign: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation.” She was so intrigued by his work — using “design as a tool to change the world” — that she arranged to meet Brown, and invited him to conduct workshops with the Bal- timore Symphony last spring. “We keep thinking about how we can implement his techniques and his philosophies as we think about redesigning the Baltimore Symphony,” Alsop says. She cites principles such as “engaging everyone in the creative process, so that it doesn’t just emanate from the top tier. . . . It’s a whole organizational approach to think- ing and creativity.”


She credits the book with in- spiring one of her more interest- ing acts: a program last winter called “Rusty Musicians With the BSO,” which invited amateurs to play with the orchestra. Good design is good business — and good for everyone. “Change by Design,” says Alsop, “is what got me thinking about reviewing our traditional struc- tures.”


This Week at Wolf Trap AN EVENING WITH


LYLE LOVETT AND HIS LARGE BAND TUES., AUGUST 17; 7:30 PM


FINAL PERFORMANCES TODAY! 2 PM & 8 PM The hilarious MGM film is now a smash hit musical!


DISCOUNT 4-PACK PRICING AVAILABLE ONLINE


CARPENTER SPECIAL GUEST: ELIZA GILKYSON


MARY CHAPIN


THURS., AUGUST 19; 8 PM LAWN ONLY


THE IRISH TENORS


TONY BENNETT Iconic jazz vocalist FRI., AUGUST 27; 8 PM


AN EVENING WITH


DOO-WOP SHOW STARRING:


THE ULTIMATE


FINBAR WRIGHT, ANTHONY KEARNS & RONAN TYNAN


Sentimental classics “Danny Boy,” “The Irish Rover,” and more FRI., AUGUST 20; 8 PM


THE TEMPTATIONS THE FOUR TOPS “My Girl,” “Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” and others! SAT., AUGUST 21; 8 PM


GRANT LEIGHTON


GREAT BIG SEA Spirited folk-rockers SUN., AUGUST 22; 8 PM


AN EVENING WITH


GABRIELA SPECIAL GUEST: XAVIER RUDD


RODRIGO Y Fast-paced


flamenco guitar fused with rock TUES., AUGUST 24; 8 PM


ANITA BAKER SPECIAL GUEST:


VANCE GILBERT Sensual R&B songstress


THURS., AUGUST 26; 8 PM TAKE METRO TO WOLF TRAP!


THE SOUND OF MUSIC MUSIC BY RICHARD RODGERS LYRICS BY OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II BOOK BY HOWARD LINDSAY & RUSSEL CROUSE


TUES.–SUN., AUGUST 31– SEPTEMBER 5; 8 PM WEEKEND MATINEES; 2 PM


CHARLIE THOMAS, FORMER LEAD SINGER OF


SHIRLEY ALSTON-REEVES, ORIGINAL LEAD SINGER OFTHE SHIRELLES


THE DRIFTERS


THE FLAMINGOS FEATURING TERRY JOHNSON


JAY SIEGAL & THE TOKENS WITH THEIR SPECIAL GUEST JAY TRAYNOR OF


JAY & THE AMERICANS


EUGENE PITT & THE JIVE FIVE CATHY JEAN & THE ROOMMATES


THE VOGUES FEATURING BILL BURKETTE & HUGH GEYER DADDY G, THE JARMELS & THE RAMA LAMA BIG BAND SAT., AUGUST 28; 8 PM


DONNA SUMMER “Last Dance,” “She Works Hard for the Money,” “Hot Stuff,” and other hits


SUN., AUGUST 29; 8 PM


AL JARREAU & THE GEORGE DUKE TRIO SPECIAL GUEST: MARCUS MILLER


TUTU REVISITED THE MUSIC OFMILES DAVIS FEATURED GUEST ARTIST: CHRISTIAN SCOTT An all-star night of jazz WED., AUGUST 18; 8 PM


THE LORD OF THE RINGS


THERETURN OF THE KING


CITY CHOIR OF WASHINGTON


COMPLETE FILM IN HD!


LIVE ORCHESTRA AND SOLOISTS


U.S. PREMIERE WITH HUGE SCREENS IN-HOUSE AND ON THE LAWN FRI. & SAT., SEPTEMBER 10 & 11; 7:30 PM


JACKSON BROWNE WITH DAVID LINDLEY


Quintessential singer/songwriter behind “DoctorMy


Eyes” and “Running onEmpty”


SUN ., SEPTEMBER 12; 8 PM LAWN ONLY


ABBA—THE MUSIC Disco is back with a tribute to the greatest pop group of all time with spot-on performances of


“Dancing Queen,” “Fernando,” “Mamma Mia!,” and more FRI., SEPTEMBER 17; 8 PM


ACROBATS FROM CHINA Premier Chinese troupe presents breathtaking


acrobatics, music, and dance SAT., SEPTEMBER 18; 7 PM


PLUS Jeff Daniels, Roger McGuinn, and more are ON SALE NOW at The Barns, Wolf Trap’s indoor venue!


TheWolf Trap Express Bus, supported in part by Heineken USA, runs fromthe West Falls Church Metro; go to www.wolftrap.org/visit for more information.


GOLDEN DRAGON


FINAL10PERFORMANCES! MUST END AUGUST 22! OPERA HOUSE


ONLINE: kennedy-center.org CHARGE BY PHONE: (202) 467-4600


VISIT: Kennedy Center Box Office TTY: (202) 416-8524


Theater at the Kennedy Center is presented with the generous support of Stephen and Christine Schwarzman. Mary Poppins is made possible through the generosity of The Adrienne Arsht Musical Theater Fund.


Disney and CAMERON


MACKINTOSH present


Costume designer


Judy Hansen dates her eye for fashion all the way back to the very first book she could read by herself: P.D. Eastman’s ode to the action verb, “Go, Dog, Go!” Now, dig deep into the memory bank: Remember the recurring theme of the poodle and her hats, the last of which (spoiler alert!) was trimmed with flowerpots and fishing rods? “Seriously, who didn’t love that


DOMINIC BRACCO II FOR THE WASHINGTON POST


hat? I loved that hat!” says Han- sen. She’s since fully thrown her lot in with the world of color and action, designing costumes that move. Hansen works exclusively with dance companies, including Dana Tai Soon Burgess, Dakshina and the Washington Ballet. “I was a real literary kid. I spent all my time in the library,” she says. “And it was always the clothing I noticed.” A piece of fin- ery mentioned in Louisa May Al- cott’s “Little Women” intrigued her: a “cloud of illusion” used by one character to update an old dress. “I wanted to know what it was. It haunted me until I was like 20, and I figured out it was tulle. I’d go into fabric stores in New York and say, do you have ‘il- lusion’?” Perhaps, Hansen muses, that explains her passion for


tulle-layered tutus: “I’m now surrounded by the cloud of illu- sion!” More recently, Han- sen, who also volun- teers at the annual Stone Ridge used book sale, has plunged into the heady emo- tional worlds of British novelist Ian McEwan. His “On Chesil Beach,” in fact, turns on a ward- robe malfunction: the stuck zip- per of the new bride’s going-away dress, which disrupts her wed- ding night and, indeed, the rest of her life.


KLMNO


E3


HELAYNE SEIDMAN FOR THE WASHINGTON POST


“That dress must’ve been horrible, ’cause it’s British, from the ’60s,” says Hansen, with the hauteur of a pastry chef appraising a no-bake pie. “It was probably left over from the war.” Yet whether she ad- mires a book’s fashion era or not, when she’s stuck for a design,


Hansen says she can count on reading to help her think more clearly. “You have to take a step back and lose yourself in some- thing else in order to get where you want to go. That’s what I look for in books: to really get lost,” she says. “Then the solution comes to the surface.”


PREMIER SPONSOR 2010 WOLF TRAP SUMMER SEASON


Giuseppe Verdi Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball)


Sep11, 14,16, 17,19m,20, 22,25 All performances in the Kennedy Center Opera House In Italian with English supertitles


www.dc-opera.org 202.295.2400 • 800.US.OPERA


Wheelchair accessible seating is available in all price categories for all operas. Call 202.295.2400 or email adacoordinator@dc-opera.org. Media Sponsors Choose your own seats online


©Disney/CML


Un Ballo in Maschera photo © Michal Daniel, for Minnesota Opera


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