Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fine Arts Night at UACCH

I am directing a one-act play at the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope to be performed at a larger show opening at 7 p.m. the evenings of March 9 and 10, 2012 in Rapert Auditorium. We are calling the event “Fine Arts Night” or “FAN” at UACCH since we will begin with a silent auction art show, followed by a brief musical program and a poetry reading. The evenings will culminate with our play, “The Apple,” by Jimmy Brunelle. We are currently rehearsing and planning for the evenings. Tickets are $4 for students and $5 for others and may be purchased at the college or at the door.

The one-act is a zany satire set in an art museum. When the curtain opens, a custodian is speaking to an imaginary audience about her prowess as an artist. “Someday,” she says, “the art I produce will exceed these paintings and sculptures you see displayed here. I just have not found my medium yet.” Her monologue is interrupted by a nervous young man who breezes through the museum saying, “Hey, gotta pen? Need a pen. Gimme a pen.” There is an exchange between those two that ends when an announcement comes on the speaker calling for a clean-up in another part of the museum. This comes just as the custodian is about to take a bite from a large red apple. But she does not have time to continue, so she puts the fruit down on a sculpture display pedestal to save it for later.

When she exits, the art critics enter and begin to evaluate the apple as if it were a piece of art and the satire is underway. During the half-hour or so it takes for the drama to unfold, there is truly funny dialogue and action that leave the audience considering the true nature of art. Is anyone’s interpretation of art valid? Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Does art cause action or mere aesthetic contemplation? These profound questions are treated with downright quirkiness in the play, so that the audience is not only entertained but somewhat enlightened by the questions about art that are answered only in the minds of the spectators.

There are some truly talented actors involved with the play. We have one faculty member playing the role of Elvis and he will be the delight of the evenings with his spontaneous song to the apple and his inane rap song he creates to remain relevant in popular culture. Further, we plan to have some cameo appearances by well-known people from the college and from the community.

I have been involved in college and community dramatic productions for close to half a century and I have never had any more fun than I am having with this one-act. At first blush, the play seems silly and even juvenile. But we soon realize that those features are part of the satire, part of the transparent silliness of much art criticism. The ancient rhetorician Horace proclaimed that truly good drama must be both entertaining and enlightening. By his standard, “The Apple” is truly good drama.

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