Art Matters Best Of Mia's Cloud

Lisa Jo Rudy interacts with Mia in the Woods Hole Theatre Company’s production of “Mia’s Cloud,” a thought-provoking play by Gary Vacon of Falmouth.

“You have the best job.”

I have been told this numerous times and I don’t argue with it. I do have the best job. I meet talented and passionate people. I go to fantastic performances. What’s not to like?

The entertainment pages of many newspapers contain “best of” lists this time of year but because I can’t definitively say that I went to every play produced on the Upper Cape in 2019, it doesn’t feel right to hazard a “best of” compilation. The year definitely had its highlights, though. Here are a few:

The most thought-provoking play I saw this year was “Mia’s Cloud,” written by Gary Vacon of Falmouth and performed by the Woods Hole Theater Company. It brought home with alarming clarity how insidious artificial intelligence is. Yes, I’m talking to you, Alexa.

Another favorite performance was the Falmouth Theater Guild’s musical version of “9 to 5.” Most shows require two strong leads; this show called for three strong women and one evil boss. Jenn Perrault, Bonnie Fairbanks, Jodi Edwards and Peter Cook, all veterans of the FTG stage, were up to the task—the results still make me smile just thinking back on it.

Music performances are often staged as benefits for great causes. I was honored to meet singer, songwriter and musician Sarah Swain, who organized the first Cape Cod Women’s Music Festival in 2012 after losing her mom to ovarian cancer. The festival continues to showcase female talent and raises money for the Cape Wellness Collaborative.

Our very own Crooked Coast got in on the music festival scene with Coast-Fest this August at the Falmouth Band Shell. In addition to Crooked Coast, Nth Power, Naomi Westwater, Quadrafunk, The Quins and Joe Sambo all performed. One dollar from every ticket sold to the event went to support the Falmouth Band Parents organization.

The Falmouth Art Center’s retrospective of work by portrait artist Zada Clarke proved that sometimes artists who make the most-lasting impressions aren’t necessarily the most-famous ones.

Some of the best participatory art was the Cahoon Museum of American Art’s “The Blue Trees” exhibit, specifically the afternoon when the public was invited to help paint saplings and mingle with the artist, Konstantin Dimopoulos.

Highfield Hall put Cape Cod on the map in terms of interactive art with the region’s first-ever Stickwork sculpture, “A Passing Fancy” by environmental artist Patrick Dougherty.

Best books by local authors that I didn’t think I would enjoy but ended up not being able to put down included “North Harbor” by Kennedy Hudner and “Itchiwan” by J.J. Cunis.

The memoir “Wild Game” made me realize that some kids had way more interesting lives growing up than I did. Only a few years older than myself, Adrienne Brodeur witnessed firsthand the decades-long affair between her mother and her father’s best friend, not only knowing about the affair but actively helping to organize trysts. All I had to organize when I was 14 was my homework.

My favorite interview with an honest-to-goodness famous person was with John Ford Coley in anticipation of his Melody Tent concert. Mr. Coley is one half of the Texas group England Dan and John Ford Coley, the duo responsible for many a soft rock 1970s hit, including “Nights Are Forever Without You,” “Love Is The Answer,” and “We’ll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again.” When I was younger I thought the lyric to “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” was, “I’m not talking about my linen” when in reality it’s “I’m not talking about moving in.” As a kid I wondered why the singer wanted to invite a girl over to help him with his laundry.

Most enjoyable interview with a local musician would have to have been with drummer Lewis “Binky” Anderson, whose walk down memory lane in regards to former venues for night life in Falmouth I thoroughly enjoyed.

Over the course of the year I was also lucky enough to get to interview many local artists. The one that I was most moved by this year was photographer Jack Lynch of Mashpee. Mr. Lynch’s photographs are personal and thought-provoking, as were his words about the power of art to help heal.

Movies are not something I routinely cover other than processing press releases, but I did make it to the Woods Hole Film Festival’s Dinner & A Movie screening of “Bathtubs Over Broadway,” likely the only documentary in existence about the Industrial Musical genre. It was both entertaining and moving and Steve Young, the movie’s protagonist, gave a Q&A after the film. If “Bathtubs Over Broadway” is any indication, Woods Hole Film Festival off-season selections, be they for Dinner & A Movie or Film Falmouth, are likely all a great night out.

Another film screening I attended was “Danseur” at Falmouth Academy. The film was presented by Turning Pointe Dance Studio and highlighted the obstacles faced by male dancers, 85 percent of whom report having been bullied for doing what they love. I enjoyed speaking with Turning Pointe artistic director Laura Sciortino, and helping shine some light on the topic.

Like “Bathtubs Over Broadway,” “Danseur” was followed by a lively Q&A, this time with the film’s director, Scott Gormley, and Boston Ballet principal dancer John Lam.

In addition to the performers and artists themselves, behind the scenes I am awed by the local art centers, community theaters, chorale groups, gallery owners and others who work tirelessly to bring the arts to the Upper Cape. We are so lucky to have all these dedicated groups and individuals working to enrich our lives.

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