Potomac Theatre Project and Beethoven Concert Series Highlight 1998-1999 Middlebury College Arts Program

The Potomac Theatre Project and a series of six concerts featuring the full cycle of Beethoven’s string quartets are highlights of a rich array of cultural events that make up the 1998-1999 Middlebury College arts program.

After a dozen years of producing in the Washington, D.C. area, the Potomac Theatre Project (PTP) will make its first appearance at Middlebury College this September with three performances of C.P. Tayor’s “Good” on Sept. 18-19. Founded by Middlebury College Associate Professors of Theatre Cheryl Faraone and Richard Romagnoli and their colleague Jim Petosa, PTP is the professional affiliate of the College’s theatre program, with over 30 productions to its credit.

Since 1987, more than 100 Middlebury students have received their first taste of professional theatre as actors, designers, stage managers and administrators with PTP, working with established New York and D.C. area artists.

Directed by Jim Petosa, “Good” charts the descent of a university professor into the moral quicksand of Hitler’s Germany.

Music lovers will enjoy another highlight of the Middlebury College arts program when the Takács Quartet-recent winners of Gramophone magazine’s prize for best chamber music recording of the year-performs the full cycle of Beethoven’s string quartets. The six-part concert series begins on Oct. 7 and concludes on April 10.

Along with theatre and concerts, there are museum exhibits, workshops for children and their families, films, dance performances and lectures. Ranging from an exhibit of prints by 16th-century Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder and lectures by film critic Molly Haskell and The New York Times drama critic Mel Gussow to a dance performance by the Bebe Miller Company, cultural events at the College offer activities for every artistic taste-often for free or at a low cost.

“We feel the 1998-1999 arts program is a strong one and we’re eager to share it with the public,” said Susan Stockton, director of the Middlebury College Center for the Arts. “We’re also pleased that College subsidies have kept our ticket prices at the same low rates we offered last year.”

Along with PTP’s “Good” and the Beethoven concerts, the upcoming Middlebury College Concert Series offers a wide variety of artists, both new and familiar to the Center for the Arts. New last season, reserved seating for higher profile events will stay in effect.

Included in BBC Music Magazine’s 1997 list of the world’s greatest musicians, Leila Josefowicz, a member of a new generation of remarkable young violinists, will perform on Sept. 23. In March, the Canadian Brass will appear, incorporating virtuosic talent, gorgeous sound, a wide-ranging repertoire, and brilliant arrangements. Also in March the popular Cyrus Chestnut Trio will return to campus. People magazine praised jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut for his “orchestral command of the keyboard and a sophisticated sense of swing.”

Additional theatre productions by visiting artists, faculty and students also will take place throughout the academic year, offering drama, comedy and love. Combining film, video, and interviews, “Execution of Justice” by Emily Mann is a drama that emerges directly from the trial of San Francisco City Supervisor Dan White for the 1978 murders of Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk.

Shakespeare’s eternal outsiders, sidelined in Hamlet and sidelined in life, occupy center stage in “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” Tom Stoppard’s most-produced work, which will be performed April 1-3. “A Month in the Country” by Ivan Turgenev, which explores romantic love and the power of the unconscious, will be presented from April 29-May 1.

Dance enthusiasts will enjoy one of the highlights of the season when the Bebe Miller Company appears on Sept. 28-29 as part of the Concert Series. The company will perform “Going to the Wall,” which features eight dancers in a kinetic examination of cultural identity, a highly physical road map for bypassing local politics and heading straight for the bone. The company also will perform “Blessed,” about which The Village Voice, commented “…Sweating, grinning, breathing hard…the excellent dancers of “Blessed” propel themselves to a state of grace.”

On Jan. 22-23, the College’s own Dance Company of Middlebury will present an evening-length work based on images, themes and questions from Middlebury Assistant Instructor of Dance Peter Schmitz’s l998 work, “Dream Boxes.” Part of a three-year project, “Dream Boxes” features original music composed by Michael Chorney, lighting design by Jennifer Ponder, and scenic design by Boston-based visual artist Ann Kearsley.

At the Middlebury College Museum of Art, photography exhibits will serve as bookends to a year of exhibits that include 16 th-century prints, American paintings and printmaking.

Continuing through Oct. 31, “Talbot M. Brewer and Walker Evans: A Family Affair” represents the inaugural exhibition of work that is new to the history of photography. Brewer’s work captures the same images-crammed store-window displays and billboards among them-for which his wife’s brother, documentary photographer Walker Evans, is famous. Five of Evans’ works also are included in the exhibit. Later in the academic year, opening on April 8, “The Big Picture: Large-Format Photography” will present contemporary photographers who work on the scale of wall murals.

Workshops for families and their children, lectures, and slide presentations will accompany the exhibit “The Printed World of Pieter Bruegel the Elder,” which opens Jan. 9. Landscapes, seascapes, biblical stories, parables, allegories, lusty villagers, and monstrous creatures borrowed from his predecessor Hieronymus Bosch are the 16th-century Flemish artist’s subjects. Though he himself etched only one print (The Rabbit Hunt, included in the exhibition), his work was often translated by other well-known and highly regarded 16th-century artists. Sixty-five extraordinary works are included in this exhibition. Also on Jan. 9, “American Paintings from the Shelburne Museum” will open.

Organized by Texas Tech University, “Colorprint USA,” which opens Nov. 7, features one printmaker from each of the 50 United States. Middlebury Professor of Studio Art David Bumbeck represents Vermont.

The College Street Film/Video Series presents recent and historic, American and foreign films in 35 millimeter shown at no charge. Highlights of the series include a lecture by film critic Molly Haskell and a tribute to Hispanic cinema. The series offers such films as “The Sweet Hereafter,” winner of the Palm D’Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, which examines a lawyer as he arrives in a small town and attempts to win compensation for survivors of a school bus accident. Other films include “Fallen Angels,” a quirky comedy directed by Wong Kar-Wai about a hit man divided between his underworld superior and a young punkette, and “Kundun,” Martin Scorsese’s chronicle of the early years of the Dalai Lama.

Molly Haskell, who will lecture on “Movies: Whose Fantasies are We Seeing?” on Nov. 4, is a widely celebrated film critic and scholar. Her articles and essays have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Film Comment, American Film, The Village Voice, and Psychology Today.

Tickets, Program and Dinner Information

Information, tickets for all music, theatre and dance performances, a free four-color 1998-1999 Middlebury College arts calendar, or the free bimonthly newsletter, Arts at Middlebury College, are all available through the box office at 802-443-6433. Patrons can visit the Center for the Arts on the web at http://www.middlebury.edu/arts.

Museum exhibition information is available by mail or by calling 802-443-5007. Hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, noon-5 p.m.

The College Street Film/Video Series offers a rich array of films presented from Sept. 19 through May 1. Films are shown twice on Saturdays, once at 3 p.m. and again at 8 p.m. in Middlebury College’s Dana Auditorium in the Sunderland Language Center on College Street.

Patrons hungry for both food and the arts also can contact the box office at 802-443-6433 to make the required reservations for pre-performance dinner at the Rehearsals Cafe in the Center for the Arts. Dinner is available only before select performances.