Virginia Film Festival on the horizen


Virginia Film Festival to return to Charlottesville November 6-9 with more than 100 films and stellar lineup of special guests including Hal Holbrook, Jenna Elfman, Barry Levinson, Frank Langella, Richard Roundtree, Katie Couric, Patrick Wilson, and Jasmine Guy

2014 Festival To Open with World Premiere of Virginia-Themed and Made Big Stone Gap And Feature Live Performance of Legendary Actor Hal Holbrook’s Enduring One-Man Show Mark Twain Tonight!

Wide-Ranging Program To Include Top Festival Circuit Titles Wild,Foxcatcher, The Imitation Game, and Mr. Turner – Plus Dynamic New Discoveries, Powerful Documentaries, Timeless Classics.

The above is information from the VFF website. For more information on this years festival click here. This should be a stellar film festival this year so get your tickets now!

WNRN Culture Connection Oct 13 – 19

The leaves are showing color here is central Virginia and that means: All things apple and the Live Arts Gala is coming soon. Here are a few things I found that might help you get your culture on this week…

On Thursday you can Groove to the jazz stylings of the Bruce Sullivan Trio as part of nonprofit VMFA’s Jazz- Cafe series in Richmond.

Then on Saturday you can indulge in a local favorite treat during the 18th Annual Apple Butter Festival at Wades Mill in Raphine. GLENN WILSON will be stirring up some wonderful old timey Apple Butter in his copper pot and You can take a turn at the stirrer if you like.

On Saturday night you can enter a world of martinis, tuxedos, exotic locales, and amazing gadgetry when nonprofit Live Arts presents its annual Gala, Party Galore. Warning: Espionage, intrigue, and absurdly complicated chase scenes will ensue.

For information about these events click on the links embedded in the text above or go to, click on the features bar then on Culture Connection.

Apple Butter with apples

Full Disclosure:  I will be performing as a Russian Assassin during the Live Arts Gala in a couple of James Bond skits.  Hope to see you there.


A big THANK YOU  to everyone who volunteered and donated during the WNRN fund drive last week!



The Culture Maven

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WNRN Culture Connection for October 6 – 12

You can indulge in a fantastic wine dinner for the arts, a play about a different kind of love triangle and celebrate Columbus Day by decorating cookies or zip-lining this week in Central Virginia.  To get the skinny on these events, click on the links below the event titles or you can listen to this week’s Culture Connection by clicking the features bar at and searching Culture Connection.

Noel Coward’s Design for Living at RTP:

Columbus Day Celebrations at Wintergreen:

New City Arts Wine Diner at Blenheim:

The Cast of Design for Living at Richmond Triangle Players

The Cast of Design for Living at Richmond Triangle Players

Have a fantastic week and get out there do some hiking, pick some apples and get some culture.



The Culture Maven

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Cville Sabroso coming up this weekend

This Saturday is the Second Annual Latin American Festival of Performance Visual Arts & Food will be at the McGuffy Center in Charlottesville from 11am – 6pm.

Here is the link for more information:

This week’s WNRN Culture Connection

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Here are three really cool things to do this week to get your culture fix: Artist, Peter Traub’s Woodear exhibit, Firehouse Theatre Companies production of WAIT UNTIL DARK and a performance by the Sobel 4tet.  So get out there and get cultured, y’all.

To learn more about the featured events, click on the links below.  You can hear a podcast at just click on “features” then “Culture Connections” to find it.

Woodear exhibit at UVA:

Sobel 4tet at Rockfish Lounge:

Wait Until Dark:

Have a fantastically cultured week!


The Culture Maven

Publicity photo for Wait Until Dark at Firehouse

Publicity photo for Wait Until Dark at Firehouse

Festivals, festivals and more festivals in Central Virginia

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It is officially Festival season here is Central Virginia with another successful Lockin’ just ended, this week Monticello, Staunton Performing Arts Center and Charlottesville Chamber Music all have festivals that include a food and gardening, performing and fine arts and well, chamber music (as you may have guessed) themes.

For information about these events, click on the associated links below.  

Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival:


Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello:


Pac’n the Streets Festival in Staunton:

So much fun to be had so have some and get out there and get cultured.


The Culture Maven

Heirloom foods available for tasting at the Heritage Harvest Festival

Heirloom foods available for tasting at the Heritage Harvest Festival

Peter Traub’s Woodear at UVA’s Ruffin Gallery

woodear_postcard_sqrI am very excited to announce that a large scale solo exhibit of my piece,WoodEar, will show at Ruffin Gallery from August 29th to October 3rd, 2014. The August 29th opening, which will run on a Final Friday from 5:30 – 7:30, will include live choreography with multiple dancers directed by UVa ChoreographerKatie Schetlick. The installation will also include new digital and fixed media pieces with significant contributions by my collaborator, New York-based sculptor and video artist, Jennifer Lauren Smith. The piece will present several large-scale projections in the darkened gallery space, surrounded by 4.1 channels of live sound.

WoodEar was funded with a very generous grant from the UVa Arts Council, which enabled me bring in Jennifer and Katie to collaborate, as well as to purchase a significant amount of technical gear to re-imagine the piece at its largest scale to date.

The Final Friday event is open to the public and will include free hors d’oeuvres and drinks.

WNRN Culture Connection features H2O, a tour of Byrd Park and a Mountain Music and Dance Festival

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Summer decided to make a serious hot, humid statement just when most swimming pools closed and we should all be thinking about fall. But what the heck, I found some fun ways to get the heat off your brain this week with a play called  H2O, a Mountain Music and Dance Festival and an informative walking tour (because only crazy people run in this sort of weather- though we love them too) of one of my favorite parts of Richmond.

To learn more about this week’s featured events, click on the links provided below.  To hear a podcast of the actual Culture Connection, click here to go to the post at

Walking tour of Byrd Park:

5th Wall Theatre’s production of  H2O:

Rockbridge Mountain Music and Dance Festival:


Stay cool.


The Culture Maven

This Week’s WNRN Culture Connection: The Symphony, Cyrano and grape stomping

Vacations are over and the calendar is beginning to fill up but this is a great week to get cultured in Central Virginia with a little Symphony, Cyrano and a grape harvest festival.

To learn more about these events, click on the links provided.  To hear this week’s Culture Connection, click here.

Harvest Festival:


Richmond Symphony Evening Concert:


Cyrano de Bergerac:


John Harrell as Cyrano in ASC's Cyrano de Bergerac

John Harrell as Cyrano in ASC’s Cyrano de Bergerac

Read my Culturenuts blog post about Cyrano by clicking here.

Have a wonderful week and get out there and get cultured.



The Culture Maven

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A performance of a lifetime: Cyrano at American Shakespeare Center


                                         John Harrell as Cyrano de Bergerac- photo by Lindsey Walters

I have stopped reviewing plays because I want to simply encourage artists of all levels to make art for the love of it if not for any other reason and so this is not a review. I am writing this post because last night I witnessed a performance so rare in the world that this morning I awoke crying from the honest beauty of it and knew I would not rest unless I shared my thoughts. 

I am referring to John Harrell’s performance as Cyrano in the Edmond Rostand version of Cyrano de Bergerac (translated by anthony Burgess) at the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriar’s playhouse.

I adore the American Shakespeare Theatre.  I think it is one of the best Shakespeare companies on this planet and most likely the Universe. I love how this company performs Shakespeare in the purest manner – without lighting effects, without electronic sound, with the house lights up to afford maximum audience participation, without scenery and with very few props- because it allows the focus to be on the words which was how Shakespeare’s plays were intended to be produced. It is like how movies from the 40’s and 50’s were filmed to be presented on a big screen and when one is able to see Casablanca or The Wizard of Oz at say, The Byrd Theatre in Richmond or some other un-altered movie palace, it is experienced completely differently than on a smaller screen.  But I digress…

When ASC produces plays from later era’s it can be challenging to interpret them as magically as Shakespearian one’s because the shows were written to be presented differently.  But this version of Cyrano works, no, thrives in these staging conditions largely due to Harrell’s brilliant interpretation of the character and flawless delivery of the text.

What I mean is: I usually like every show I see at ASC. Some are merely good, most are great and a few are spectacular but only twice have I witnessed hallmark performances.* The first was Benjamin Curns’ delivery of the best portrayal of Richard III I have yet to see and now Harrell’s definition of Cyrano played as though the part were written for him alone.

Part of the joy of this production is Jim Warren’s direction which seems to have matured from what sometimes is heavy handed goofiness to a more subtle and effective comedic touch.  There is just enough goofiness to keep the audience laughing without distracting from the beauty of the love story – for example: Chris Johnston’s fat actor (Montfleury) rolling about the stage aka Madonna’s Like a Virgin MTV Music Awards moment  (BTW: Johnston was fabulous in the role), Gregory Jon Phelps foppishness as Viconte de Valvert and Alison Glenzer’s whiney Sister Martha along with other bits with other roles.

But back to Harrell…

The audience was riveted. Harrell is always good in his roles.  He is a longtime veteran of ASC and knows his stuff. But he just IS Cyrano. A master of his craft and yet giving to his fellow players. Every pang of Cyrano’s insecurity, rush of exuberance, twinge of jealousy, glow of bravado, heartstring pluck of self- sacrifice and warm ray of hope of winning Roxanne for his own was clearly felt by all in attendance. To be present for his performance was glorious from his quick delivery of quips to Montfleury at the show’s start to the last gasp of “panache” at the end.  

My one regret is that I waited this long to see the show otherwise I would be back again and again. This is the kind of thing that happens RARELY so check the ASC schedule and get to this show before it is merely theatre legend. 

*Please note that I have not seen every show at ASC and there may have been other performances as fabulous unknown to me.

PS: McBeth and Comedy of Errors are also exceptional productions so you might just want to make a weekend of it and see all three shows.  MB 

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