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the Long Center, from Inside the Ring

Category Archives: Goings-On

amplify

The Long Center is taking part in Amplify Austina community-wide 24-hour giving festival. The goal was to raise $1,000,000 in 24 hours, and as of press time, the total stood at over $1.7 million, with more than 4 hours left to go. The money raised will  benefit over 300 Central Texas nonprofits.

We live in an incredible city. Very few places can boast of all that Austin offers its residents each day through culture, arts, entertainment, festivals, and that special brand of weird that can’t be found anywhere else. And yet, it wouldn’t be the place we love without the strong sense of community fostered in our city by the hundreds of non-profit organizations that call Austin home.

During this giving campaign, donations will be accepted through Amplify Austin’s secure website, AmplifyATX.org. Donors are allowed to choose whichever organization they wish to support, and may submit donations from $25 and up.

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Who knew that the Long Center is a non-profit organization?

The Long Center is one of a handful of non-profit live entertainment venues in Austin. Contrary to popular belief, the Long Center is funded by private citizens and corporations in Austin and receives limited city funding.  Community donations are the life-blood of our organization, illustrated by the $1 million in small donations the Long Center receives each year.

Thanks to the support received from the community, the Long Center has the opportunity to give back in many exciting ways. The Long Center not only sponsors community initiatives and educational programs to support local artists, local children, and charitable organizations, but also serves as a home for Austin community members to nurture and inspire creativity.

Donations received from Amplify Austin will allow the Long Center to go even further in sustaining and supporting our Austin community. A donation of only $25 makes it possible for another child to experience the wonder and magic of live performing arts in a state-of-the-art facility.

It is truly the community’s generosity and commitment to the arts that fuels the Long Center’s continued success. Check out the Amplify Austin website, and help us keep Central Texas the best place to live as we raise $1 million to support our community!

Donate to the Long Center through Amplify Austin.

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Words of Wisdom from Charlie Ross, Creator of One-Man Star Wars Trilogy


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Charles Ross, star of One-Man Star Wars Trilogy, is performing his one-man act of the entire original Star Wars Trilogy this weekend at the Long Center! We asked Charlie just how he came up with the idea for his original show, and this is what he told us:

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This is me, at the age of eight years old. Not much of an achiever, as you can see by my total lack of merit badges.

Okay, I lie. I did receive one badge for house keeping- there’s a vacuum on it. It’s about as prestigious as the “Breathes Oxygen”, “Carbon Based Life Form”, and “Takes Up 3 Dimensional Space” badge.

Now, if you look very closely at my face you’ll notice the glazed look of a boy who knows too much about Star Wars.  My head is somewhere off in space.

At this time, I lived on a farm, in a far, far away, remote-ish, part of Canada.The TV and radio reception at our farmhouse was even worse than my badge count. Our entertainment came from Winter sports, books, a record player and a VCR. The videos we had were the original Star Wars, the Blue Lagoon, and the eight part miniseries of James Clavell’s novel Shogun (except we were missing the last 20 minutes of the last episode).

Now- it doesn’t take Eagle Scout to figure out- that nine times out of ten, when I chose something to watch, it was Star Wars– sorry Brooke. After three years of watching the film an incredible amount of times, we moved away from the farm, to an artsy little mountain town called Nelson. It was there that I discovered Acting. Behavior that used to get me kicked out of class suddenly had some value- I wasn’t being a disruptive jerk- I was a budding Thespian.

Flash-forward fifteen years later, I was a University grad with a BFA in Acting. I was living the bohemian, poverty-line life of an actor, and I longed to gain some autonomy with my “career”. The question was how? The answer was a one-man show.

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It’s all very involved, but in not so many words I put together my One Man Star Wars with my best friend and colleague, TJ Dawe. TJ had already written, performed and toured a couple autobiographical solo shows- he was the only person I trusted to work with. Plus, he knew Star Wars.

Once my show felt ready, I toured it on the North American Fringe Festival circuit. At the end of my tour, I was invited to perform in Chicago, at the Noble Fool Comedy Theatre.

Suddenly, stuff started to get pretty serious. The media liked my show’s concept: one hour, one man, three films, no props, no costumes, and no set. Then “POOF!” Lucasfilm contacts me: what’s going on? I respond: please don’t kill me?

They didn’t. Instead, they invite me to come perform at Star Wars convention. The little Boy Scout who couldn’t earn a merit badge for anything, suddenly found himself as an adult, performing for 4000 hardcore Star Wars fans per show.Once my show felt ready, I toured it on the North American Fringe Festival circuit.

At the end of my tour, I was invited to perform in Chicago, at the Noble Fool Comedy Theatre. Suddenly, stuff started to get pretty serious. The media liked my show’s concept: one hour, one man, three films, no props, no costumes, and no set. Then “POOF!” Lucasfilm contacts me: what’s going on? I respond: please don’t kill me?

To hell with your badges! I keep this picture to remind myself that while it may be worth a thousand words, none of them would describe who I am on the inside. I turned one person’s idea of a “waste of time” into “career research”.

I was a definitely terrible scout, but I’m a kick ass dreamer.

Charles Ross, Creator and Performer of One-Man Star Wars Trilogy now at the Long Center. 

For Tickets and more information about One-Man Star Wars Trilogy at the Long Center. 

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Long Center Marketing Intern Mari Stoner plays the character “Elisabeth” in the upcoming University of Texas  opera production, LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES by Philip Glass.

Opera, like most things, has its stigmas in modern culture. Although some say opera is a dying art form, perhaps it is simply in the process of evolving to reflect the times. As opera continues to search for its place in our fast-paced, technology-based culture, it becomes necessary to make it accessible to future audiences.  For me, a masters student in opera at the University of Texas Butler Opera Center, one of my goals is to promote opera through my performing.

I have received a fantastic opportunity to do this via my portrayal of the character “Elisabeth” in UT’s winter opera opening this Friday – Les enfants terribles by Philip Glass. This opera is in no way your traditional Mozart or Puccini opera. It is a bit more avant-garde, a bit more bizarre, and has incredible potential to attract a diverse audience.

Les enfants terribles or “The Terrible Children” is adapted from a novel written in 1929 by Jean Cocteau. The story centers on Paul and Elisabeth, a brother and sister living essentially unsupervised in Paris in the early 20th century. Abandoned by their alcoholic father and uncared for by their invalid mother, they spend their time living in their shared bedroom and engaging in a game of hypnotism to escape their mundane reality. Two other characters enter the picture as the show goes on: Gerard, Paul’s school friend, and Agathe, an orphan that Elisabeth meets when she secures a job with a seamstress. Before the children realize what is happening, desire and jealousy creep in among them, and suddenly the harmless game becomes a reality from which there is no escape. Consumed by hate in her struggle for power, Elisabeth must find a way to maintain control, even if that means she and her brother must die.

Both the music and staging for Les enfants terribles are unconventional with regard to standard opera. Composer Philip Glass conceived of the piece to be a dance-opera, in which a singer and a dancer portray the emotions of each character on stage simultaneously. Stage Director David Toro manages this hybrid art form by establishing the dancer characters as manifestations of the singers’ subconscious thoughts. From a musical perspective, the work presents challenges not found in standard opera repertoire. Glass’ music tends to incorporate repetition and a level of unpredictability that make it surprisingly complicated despite fairly simple musical textures.  According to Maestro Kelly Kuo, each of the twenty scenes in the opera present a “tableau of emotion” musically and dramatically rather than driving forward an actual progression in time. This assessment seems to match Philip Glass’ own perspective on Les enfants terribles:

“Here, time stands still. There is only music, and the movement of children through space.”

Opera buff or not, expect the unexpected with the Butler School of Music production Les enfants terribles, playing this weekend at the University of Texas McCullough Theater on Friday, February 22nd and Sunday, February 24th at 7:30 pm.

-Mari Stoner
Long Center Marketing Intern
 
FOR TICKETS AND MORE INFORMATION.

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Editor’s Note: Long Center Resident Company Austin Shakespeare, a professional, award-winning theatre company, presents Noel’s Coward provocative comedy, Design For Living, February 6-24 in the Long Center’s Rollins Studio Theater.

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It’s difficult for us to realize the extent of the daring nature of Design for Living. Premiering in 1933, its treatment of sexuality in loving relationships was provocative for the time. Using a three-way love affair as the core of the plot, much of the play would still be considered eyebrow-raising today. Michael Miller plays the lead role of “Leo” in the production, and he also starred as “Mr. Darcy” in Austin Shakespeare’s recent production of Pride & Prejudice.

Ann Ciccolella: What does Noel Coward’s Design for Living say to you about relationships?

The play presents an aspect of human relationships that isn’t often discussed and may not be fully understood but, for all that, is similar to the situations in which many people do find themselves. Though our society values and presents coupling as the dominant and only acceptable mode of romantic relationship, Design For Living asks, “What do you do when you love more than one person at once?” But then, going further, it asks, “What happens when the people you love return your love but also love each other?” You might have stumbled on similar stories on Jerry Springer or Maury Povich, but I guarantee, the participants there didn’t explore their situation with nearly the amount of wit, intelligence, honesty (& healthy teeth) as these characters.

Why did you want to act in this play?

noel cowardI was excited to do the show because I’ve loved Noel Coward for years. I had the best time years ago doing two different productions of his Hay Fever in which I played the same character both times. I love his wit, language, music, elan and the fact that he was obviously, if not openly, gay (and therefore a kind of role model for me). And then there was the chance to work with Ann Ciccolella, Helen Merino & Michael Dalmon again. And although he signed on after I was cast, the addition of Martin Burke took that ‘triple treat’ and made it a treat to the fourth power.

What surprised you about the work?

designforlivingWhat has surprised me is the depth of the play. I think the common conception of Coward (definitely what comes to my mind, at least) is that of the urbane, quick-witted sophisticate. And there is that – the language is unlike any other writer’s and the humor singularly Coward’s. However, this can make him seem a little “too cute for school.” But the play is rife with honestly presented conflict and searing heartbreak. And then he gives the audience this challenge  – Design For Living starts where many plays, movies, TV shows, etc. end. In other words, without giving away too much, the first act ends where most other dramas end, but Coward keeps drilling deeper as he lets the characters continue to explore just how far their love for each other can go. And therefore, this play is far more surprising and courageous, I think, than most any other you could see.

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Editor’s Note: Guest blogger Beth Burns is the Master of Company and Theatrical Deviser for The Hidden Room Theater in Austin, Texas.

We all sat there, mouths agape, heads tilted.  I suspect I looked like I’d just tasted something I couldn’t describe.  Suddenly, actor Robert Matney started to laugh.  Then we all did, and with great appreciation.  We’d just learned our first magic trick.InvisibleInc18Web

Invisible, Inc. is a crackling play by Paul Menzer about feuding magicians in depression-era New York.  It’s absolutely filled with twists, turns, and lots of magic.  I fell instantly in love with the script, but was also a bit baffled by how we could make these illusions come to life.   Our magic consultant JD Stewart (http://jd-stewart.com) quickly got on the task, and began training our performers on how to make magic real.   Now almost a year later, our actors look like pros, and as I watch them, I still feel a sense of amazement. InvisibleInc15Web

How do we do it?  We’ll never tell.  We took a magician’s oath of secrecy with JD when we got started, and we simply can’t divulge.  But we urge you to join us January 11-20, and see if you find yourself in the same puzzled position the Invisible, Inc. team found ourselves in a year ago, as you enjoy this snappy, sexy noire mystery.  Come see us before we disappear into thin air.

PrintStarring Robert Matney, Liz Fisher, Joseph Garlock, Todd Kassens, Julia Lorenz-Olson, Laurence Pears.  Featuring an original score played almost-live nightly by Graham Reynolds.  Directed by Beth Burns, set by Ia Enstera, costumes by Jamie Urban, lights by Megan Reilly, and props by Justin Cox.  Livestream show closing night at www.hiddenroomtheatre.com.

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On a particularly sweltering Saturday this past August, I sat decompressing after a very successful event the Long Center had hosted that morning on the City Terrace. Bubblepalooza!, a brand-new free event, featured an environment of open play  combined with the sweet sounds of Kiddie Rock. Over 3000 men, women, and children dropped by in just three hours. We were all overwhelmed by the response.

For the purpose of this tale, the term “decompressing” means to sit elated with friends and their children who had attended the event, brainstorming additions to the immediately conceived second annual Bubblepalooza!, all the while trying to grasp the awesomeness of what had happened that morning. There were just so many smiling faces! At one point, while reiterating my disbelief of the sheer volume of little bubble blowers that came out to participate, my friend asked me why I was so surprised.

It had been just eight months since the Long Center presented a company from the United Kingdom named Architects of Air and their amazing Luminarium, an enormous inflated structure that at first glance looks like a futuristic bounce-house village. From the moment I saw it, I knew Austin had to have it. It was the first big project I ever stuck my neck out for as an arts programmer, but the gamble paid off in spades. In just seven days, more than 8500 Austinites young and old had experienced the Luminarium, many happily waiting multiple hours for the opportunity. The friends I was “decompressing” with that afternoon had all taken their children to experience the “Mirazozo,” as this particular Luminarium was named. One friend shared something that took me over the edge from elated to completely blown away: her son, who was just three-years-old back in January, still talks about his trip to the Mirazozo almost a whole year later.

Long Center Programming Manager Karen Jantsch stands in front of Architects of Air’s “Mirazozo”

For me, the satisfaction of being a programmer comes with bringing Austin not just the things they want to see and experience but also the things they don’t even know they want. The response to the Mirazozo solidified this notion for me, and for that I will always be grateful. It also reminded me just how powerful experiences can be as a young child. As they say, “with great power comes great responsibility,” so I’m making it my responsibility to ensure that a whole new host of Austinites get to experience the Luminarium first hand. It is my absolute pleasure to announce that this January the Long Center’s West Lawn will host this sensory experience of color and light once more. This time, we’ll be presenting the company’s 25th Anniversary structure “Exxopolis”. Like with all things Long Center, we’re working hard to make the experience even better than last year, so I hope you’ll make a note on your calendar to visit us January 19-27 for what I promise will be an unforgettable experience. Stay tuned for more details!

– Karen Jantsch, Programming Manager
The Long Center

For more photos and information about Architects of Air’s Luminaria, visit Architects-of-Air.com.

A photo from the inside of Architects of Air’s “Mirazozo.”

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So long summer, hello slightly-less-warm season called autumn. Cooler days hint at the change in seasons, with rainy afternoons offering plenty of time for reflection.  This summer I worked with the Long Center as the Development Intern. Innovation and adventure reign here, which explains why my favorite memories of this summer are of our brand new series, All Summer Long. These events were created by the inventive minds of the staff and executed within mere weeks: seven FREE events encompassing dance, art, music, food and fun for the whole Austin community. Over 8,500 people attended the events throughout the summer.

Rhythm on Stage featured four nights of free dance lessons on the Meredith Family Stage, from Country Western to Swing, Bollywood, and Salsa. Hundreds of people filled the stage to learn new moves from the Austin musicians and dance instructors who collaborated in these wonderful events. I joined in too, and I’m confident that I could Two Step my way across Texas now.

Hundreds visited the Long Center for Rhythm On Stage, a free summer dance series.

Over 3,000 people attended BubblePalooza to enjoy bubbles, crafty fun, and treats. Chalk art covered the City Terrace as kids enjoyed a visit by the Bubble Professor and music by fantastic kiddie-rock bands. Thousands more dropped by for the first two Trailer Food Tuesdays, where food trucks and live entertainment created a foodie’s paradise outdoors.

BubblePalooza brought over 3,000 to the Long Center City Terrace for family fun, live music, treats, and of course — bubbles.

The good news is it’s not over! I’m still here at the Long Center and there are more free community events ahead. Trailer Food Tuesdays continues on the last Tuesday of the month through November. And I recently joined the Long Center family as the Development Associate. As the newest member of the Development team, I’d like to personally thank all of you for your support! It is our mission to reach the community with memorable and engaging events, which we couldn’t accomplish without wonderful volunteers and generous contributions. I’m glad to be working with a group of people who have shown such care and enthusiasm for Austin’s community.

-Amanda Turley, Development Associate
The Long Center

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