Did feminism really change anything? Do we even want it to? Over 50 years after Betty Friedan helped spark a second wave with The Feminine Mystique, we're still arguing about the morality of birth control and telling young women to “spend far more time planning for your husband than for your career.” (Gag.) As it happens, a fiercely funny, Pulitzer-nominated play is onstage right now in Albuquerque, tackling questions like these without resorting to flimsy stereotypes or strident manifestos. Rapture, Blister, Burn at the Aux Dog Theatre isn't just clever—it's nuanced, thoughtful and uproarious. I asked Aux Dog's producing artistic director Victoria Liberatori about the play, whose run comes to a close this weekend.
Let's start off with a biggie: The Aux Dog website asks, "Are you afraid of the F word?" and insists this "is not a 'feminist' play." Why shouldn't audiences be afraid of the lady-problems in Rapture, Blister, Burn, and how soul-crushingly sad is it that you even have to explain that?
Victoria Liberatori: Feminism has always gotten a bad rep as a man-hating, humorless, strident political movement for unfulfilled upper-class women. Was any movement for civil rights a laugh riot? However untrue, that label has stuck and, if anything, Rapture, Blister, Burn seeks to dispel those misperceptions and succeeds in debunking the dreary women's libber image. The show is funny, sexy and not at all preachy. Yes, it's sad that the image was falsely created and promoted by anti-feminist forces in the media, government and business. It's also shocking that we're still fighting the same battles today for equal pay, for access to abortion and for equal representation in our government, on corporate boards and in the media.
The New York Times says Rapture, Blister, Burn contains "a joke about pornography and Google maps — believe it or not — that’s worth the ticket price alone." What do you think is the key to the humor in this play?
VL: Unflinching honesty in the eye of hypocrisy and the fact that the real wisdom comes from the mouth of the youngest character in the play, Avery, a 21-year-old. The playwright, Gina Gionfriddo, has brilliantly interwoven the perspectives of three generations of women and that of the sole man in the play. When these points-of-view clash there are great comedic explosions!
Tell me a little about what your actors bring to their roles in the Aux Dog rendition of Rapture, Blister, Burn. What would you most like Albuquerque audiences to take away?
VL: The actors all do an amazing job of inhabiting these funny, neurotic, complex characters, yet they bring their own unique personal qualities to the roles. Our Catherine, played by Sheridan Johnson, is a high-strung academic rock star; Gwen, played by Jessica Osbourne, is a dreamy stay-at-home mom who feels she deserves more; Don, played by Ryan Montenery, is an attractive, charming slacker who settles for being a dean at a fourth-rate college; Avery, played by Sara Rosenthal, is a 21-year-old prophet of sorts who wants to be a reality TV star; and Alice, played by Gail Spidle, is Catherine's mother who just wants her daughter to be happy no matter how much must be compromised. The characters in this play are so rich in nuance and depth. What a joy to work with our director, Kristine Holtvedt, on them.
The take-away, I suppose, although I hope the play touches each audience member in a way that resonates for them, is that the grass is not always greener in someone else's garden and that we simply cannot reclaim the past no matter how much we want it. Creating a life that's happy isn't easy, but we must try.
And finally, what are you most excited about on Aux Dog's horizon?
VL: Launching our new Shakespeare classes with Jerry Ferraccio and our new acting classes with Jessica Osbourne in our new space, the AUX BOX next door to the Aux Dog. Solidifying our Aux Dog Theatre Company of actors, designers and production personnel, and building on the incredible success we had in 2013! Expanding our audience base and taking on new, challenging projects that excite us and our audiences is always a goal.
We see the intersection between human and machine getting airtime everywhere in pop culture these days, from Her’s husky-voiced operating system to “Almost Human,” the futuristic police procedural in which cop is partnered with android. But dancer and choreographer Cathy Weis has been delving into themes of humanity, technology and physicality for decades in a way that can still startle an audience jaded by ever-present CGI special effects. Live video feeds, monitors, projections, and camera dollies insert the inescapably electronic into dance’s ephemeral physical reality. Figures are repeated, amplified and shown from odd perspectives. But this is no grim exercise in theory—Weis’ brand of genius includes a sense of humor, like in one past show when the artist’s head kibitzed from a b&w television passed to the stage by the audience. Weis, who previously visited the North Fourth Art Center (4904 Fourth Street NW) in 2006, returns to Albuquerque this weekend for An Evening Back at North Fourth with N4th’s Buen Viaje Dance Company. Tickets are $8 for students and seniors, $10 for everyone else. Call 344-4542 or visit vsartsnm.org soon, because there are just two performances: tomorrow, March 7, and Saturday, March 8, at 8pm. N4th Theater • Fri Mar 7 • 8-9pm • $8-$10 • View on Alibi calendar
It might be counterintuitive, but limitations have a way of making us do more. On Twitter, the 140-character cap has been a boon to comedians who must hone their insights into the pithiest of possible zingers. From haiku to terza rima, poetry shows that language arranged in deliberate forms and bounded by rules can make for expressions that long outlive their creators. Enter PechaKucha, a 21st-century antidote to the wandering, self-indulgent unrestraint of old-timey PowerPoint presentations. By using just 20 slides for 20 seconds apiece, PechaKucha presenters clock in at under seven minutes while maintaining the freedom to convey real information and tantalizing ideas.
Now three local organizations are putting the format to excellent use. Tomorrow at 7pm, CityLab joins UNM School of Architecture and Planning and 516 Arts to spark conversation about the future of Albuquerque. Students from various community- and architecture-related programs will share their thoughts on the physical and social realities of our city at the CityLab space (505 Central NW). As part of 516 Arts’ ongoing Heart of the City project, the evening continues a line of inquiry about what Albuquerque’s “urban core” reveals about “the heart and soul of the city.” Join your friendly neighborhood visionaries for this free glimpse into ABQ not just as it stands right now, but as it might transform in the coming years. CityLab • Thu Feb 27 • 7pm • FREE • View on Alibi calendar
And the blue ribbon for a whizz-bang good time goes to Emerge ABQ, who’ve assembled a night of artistry at full tilt, “inspired by the talent shows and science fairs of our youth.” For ShowOff 3.0: Hypothesis Unknown, the arts council volunteers have corralled a heady array of entertainers, booths, exhibits and participatory projects into Downtown venue ArtBar (119 Gold SW). Look for the Amsterdam Ham Collective and their cabine photographique, talented aerialist Kaeti Frady in graceful contortions, an installation from Hand Eye Collective, plus music, dance, poetry, silk screen printing and quasi-science projects. RSVP at bit.ly/emergeabq for free entry, or buy a monthly membership to ArtBar for five bucks at the door. But consider pitching in a bit more—the organizers suggest $15—because 75 percent of contributions will go to the National Institute of Flamenco, still recovering from that craptacular fire last December. Nurture the arts and hobnob with the doers, movers and shakers at this 21-and-up event tomorrow at 7:30pm. ArtBar • Fri Feb 21 • 7:30pm • Donations accepted • View on Alibi calendar
Perhaps you’re actually in the market for a thousand-dollar etching. (If so, this is your lucky month.) Or maybe you’re more like, “Upon which exotic flavor of ramen shall I be feasting tonight?” It really doesn’t matter. Because world-class fine art—for all its exquisite technique and rarefied materials—exists for the same reason as any art: to be appreciated. And right here, in nearby Nob Hill, Matrix Fine Art (3812 Central SE) is showcasing the work of two brilliant Japanese artists for the benefit of all and sundry.
Ando Shinji’s delicate and meticulous botanicals, imbued with swaths of soft color through a paper-fusing technique called chine-collé, have made him and his prints internationally revered. Takahiko Hayashi’s abstracts are very different but equally impressive, churning, swirling and coiling with lines, simple shapes and often luminous color. Both artists are flying in from Japan for the First Friday reception tomorrow, from 5 to 8pm, which means you have the chance to mingle with living, breathing masters and appreciate their skill up close. Besides, a little bit of beauty always makes the ramen tastier. Matrix Fine Art • Fri Feb 7 • 5-8pm • FREE • ALL-AGES! • View on Alibi calendar
Here’s a sweet thought: Keep a little love in your heart (and your community) this Valentine’s Day by shopping early and buying local. Don’t wait until you’re on your way home from work on Feb. 14 to buy your beloved a box of drugstore chocolates and a Garfield card; instead, swing by Factory on 5th this weekend to find a perfect one-of-a-kind gift that’ll speak volumes about your true feelings. The Valentine’s Day Art Market takes place this Saturday, Feb. 1, from 10am to 5pm and Sunday, Feb. 2, from noon to 5pm in the 5G Gallery (1715 Fifth Street NW). With over 30 local makers participating, you’ll find goodies like unusual vessels repurposed as terrariums containing locally-sourced plants by Lucca and Lenny Designs; natural soaps, lotions and other scrumptious body products from Sunshine Garden; baskets woven from recycled irrigation tubing by Full Circle Baskets and Accessories; and, of course, nommable treats from Elixir Boutique Chocolates. Come make a party of it—the market’s opening reception tonight from 7 to 10pm, includes Sage Harrington and the Happy Gland Band, fire spinners from the New Mexico Burning Man Chapter, Sebastiano’s and Rustic food trucks, Pop Fizz Palatería and more. 5G Gallery • Fri Jan 31 • 7-10pm • FREE • View on Alibi calendar
Laila Weeks knows something about making an impact. The artist, whose work has been hanging on the white-bricked walls of Downtown coffee destination Zendo (413 Second Street SW), doesn't aim to dazzle you with a zillion colors and an encyclopedia of obscure techniques. Her current collection uses only one color—an eyeball-scorching shade of red acrylic—and a bit of ink and acid-etched metal. And yet it's impossible not to stare.
Part of what makes her simple abstract pieces so interesting is a telescoping sense of size. The drawings are just 4.5 in. by 4.5 in., displaying small, cell-like shapes and almost-organic forms in black ink on white paper. That sea of red paint nearly swallows up the tiny structures.
Then there are the etchings. Weeks explains that they're achieved “by a process of a resist being adhered to the plate, an acid bath being poured onto the plate, and the acid eating away the zinc coating, exposing the rustable steel beneath.” At 48 in. by 48 in., the galvanized steel sheets find those organic structures stretched and amplified, surging along on shimmering waves of reflective metal.
“Scale,” Weeks acknowledges, “is one topic at hand.”
Experience her work in person at the show's closing reception on Friday, Jan. 31, from 6 to 8pm. Austin Morrell will be on hand to provide live ambient music, and there'll be a raffle and snacks to settle your nerves if you get too lost among the art.
“Alibi: Let’s Break Each Other’s Hearts” by Damien DeMenno, 2011’s first place winner
Love may be multidimensional, but art is about distilling vast and unwieldy concepts down to their essence. At least, that's a definition for art I just now made up because it fits the point I'm trying to make: that Alibi's 11th Annual Valentine's Day Card Contest has gone all digital.
This year, we entreat you to squeeze your affectionate sentiments, your romantic compulsions and your fancy flirts down to two dimensions. We're looking for Valentine's Day cards on the theme of Famous Lovers—think King Kong to Fay Wray or Mia Farrow to Woody Allen. Make something all-digital or take a great photo of a physical object. Past winners have delighted us with a whole range of styles, from the sweetly cynical to the smartly sappy, so we're game for anything that shoots a Cupid's arrow straight to our sardonic little hearts.
HOW YOU DO:
• Send your digital entries as image files (JPEG, PNG, PDF, etc.) to email@example.com by 4pm on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
Die Roten Punkte are ready to rock their lipstick-smeared, white-painted faces off for your viewing pleasure. The irreverent loudmouths behind impossibly catchy tracks like “Ich Bin Nicht Ein Roboter (I Am A Lion)” and “Burger Store Dinosaur” are bringing their show Super Musician to Tricklock Company’s celebrated Revolutions Festival tomorrow night and Saturday night at 8pm. Combining cabaret, Kraftwerk and “Flight of the Conchords” with a healthy dose of family dysfunction, Die Roten Punkte’s farcical Europop shtick has endeared them to fans across the globe.
If they remind you of the White Stripes, it’s not exactly an accident—their band name translates to “the Red Dots,” and Astrid and Otto claim to be orphaned siblings from Germany. Melodramatic and improbable origin story, check! Catch Die Roten Punkte at UNM’s Experimental Theatre X (inside Popejoy at 203 Cornell SE) starting Friday. Tickets are $20 (youth/student/senior) and $25 (everyone else); see tricklock.com/revolutions for more info. UNM's Experimental Theatre, Center for the Arts • Fri Jan 17 • 8pm • $20-$25 • View on Alibi calendar
and never scavenged food from dumpsters, who like you
and never stood in welfare lines, who like you
while gleaning misery topics from The New York Times.
–excerpt from “Set This Book on Fire!”
Jimmy Santiago Baca is one of New Mexico's treasures—the living, breathing kind. Born in Santa Fe, he spent five years in prison back in the '70s on drug charges. Since then, with as words sharp and clear as a knife, he's become an award-winning poet and a powerful voice for social justice.
His new collection of selected poems, Singing at the Gates, opens with an author's note that delves energetically into his broken youth, how his “work with words, like a blacksmith on his anvil, was slowly breaking the tangible attachments to my criminal and illiterate past and creating—through writing and language and reading books—a paradigm shift.” For anyone who's ever had their life changed through art or words, Jimmy Santiago Baca is a poet that speaks your language. See him at Bookworks tomorrow at 3pm.