Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Arts & Culture Newsletter: New Irish film to tell a poetic love story

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Good morning, and welcome to the U-T Arts & Culture Newsletter.

I’m David L. Coddon, and here’s your guide to all things essential in San Diego’s arts and culture this week.

The critics by and large have praised Martin McDonagh’s film “The Banshees of Inisherin,” the tale of two longtime friends in conflict set on a fictional island off the Irish coast. Talk to moviegoers who’ve seen it, however, and their assessments are all over the place. Me? I’m not that curious.

I should be, what with St. Patrick’s Day upon us and Ireland still very much on my mind after seeing and still thinking about New Village Arts’ recent production of Jez Butterworth’s “The Ferryman.” The play about a family in various personal crises during the time of “The Troubles” was epic and outstanding.

Because that turbulent time in Irish history, the early 20th century, is so often evoked in the arts and so interesting to me, I’m hoping that Dublin-born filmmaker Trish McAdam will bring her project “The End of Romance” to the screen soon. It’s the story of poet William Butler Yeats and Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne and what McAdam calls the “politics-art yin yang universe” in which they resided.

In McAdams’ film-in-development, she hopes to “best capture their success and failures, their loves, their politics and their creative thinking.” Its focus will be on “Yeats, whose work is still relevant to a contemporary audience; Maud, as an early feminist and political activist; and Iseult (Maud’s daughter), whose voice has something to say to young women of today,” McAdams explained in an email interview.

“The End of Romance” will be a story, McAdams said, “of love and pain and above all of friendship through adversity.”

I expect it will also say something thoughtful about the Ireland that many will celebrate tomorrow and its people who fiercely fought for identity and independence. Take a moment to reflect on that when you’re hoisting a green beer at ShamROCK.


Why pay for one film when you can pay for eight? At $16 a ticket that comes to $2 a film. Of course, these are film shorts, offerings in this year’s San Diego Film Week “Spring Showcase Shorts Program” at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. The event happens Saturday at 6 p.m.

The short films are all productions from local filmmakers, who will be on site for a Q&A following the screenings at 7:30 p.m. Actor Randy Davison (“Mank,” “The United States of Billie Holiday”) hosts this showcase.

Traditional music

Dale Fleming, San Diego singer.

(Bodhi Tree Concerts)

There are restorative powers in songs. We all know that. They may be spirituals. Or songs from the Civil Rights Movement. Even selections from Broadway. This variety will be reflected on Sunday afternoon when Bodhi Tree Concerts presents “An Evening of Songs that Heal” at St. James-by-the-Sea in La Jolla.

Performers Ken Anderson and Dale Fleming will headline the afternoon of music, proceeds of which benefit the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir Scholarship Fund. Tickets are $20-$30.

Classical music

Zakir Hussain

(Jim Bennett / Courtesy La Jolla Music Society)

Indian classical and jazz drumming artist Zakir Hussain, the 2022 Kyoto Prize Kyoto Prize Laureate in Arts and Philosophy Laureate, will give a lecture Friday at UC San Diego and perform Saturday at the Balboa Theater. U-T music writer and critic George Varga interviewed Hussain this week for Night & Day.

READ MORE: Drum legend Zakir Hussain a borders-leaping marvel: ‘He has blazed a trail’ says Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart

Streaming comedy

A man with short black hair wearing a white shirt and leaning into a microphone on a stage

“Chris Rock LIVE: Selective Outrage.”

(Kirill Bichutsky / Netflix)

I missed the March 4 live premiere of Chris Rock’s “Selective Outrage” special on Netflix. Like everybody else who did, I read about it the next day. He said WHAT about “The Slap”?

So I streamed it the other day anyway. Rock doesn’t even touch on Will Smith and the 2022 Oscars until the last 10 minutes of the hourlong special. Even before he gets to that, Rock elicits a lot of uncomfortable laughter in the Baltimore theater from which “Selective Outrage” originated. He holds nothing back on practically every subject, including people deemed self-righteous who inspired his show’s title.

I’ve seen Chris Rock better than he is in this special. It’s still worth streaming if you’re a fan, and the funnier material by far is what precedes the inevitable “Slap” takedowns.


A scene from Coronado Playhouse's "Company."

A scene from Coronado Playhouse’s “Company.”

(Courtesy of Ken Jacques)

“Relationshippy” narratives were around long before Woody Allen or “Seinfeld.” One of the most popular on the musical stage was Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s “Company,” which opened on Broadway in 1970, ran for almost two years and won six Tony Awards.

I last saw “Company” 10 years ago at Cygnet Theatre in Old Town when I was, like its protagonist, Bobby, still a bachelor. So here it is now at Coronado Playhouse, directed by Blake McCarty, through March 26. Will it still speak to me, even if my relationship status has changed? I know one thing: I never get tired of hearing the beautiful duet “Barcelona.”


University of California Television invites you to enjoy this special selection of programs from throughout the University of California. Descriptions courtesy of and text written by UCTV staff:

“A Conversation with N. Scott Momaday”

The Kiowa poet and novelist Navarre Scott Momaday was 8 years old when he told his mother he wanted to be a writer. He said she was pleased, possibly because she was a writer herself. That little boy grew up to become a great American writer, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for his first novel, “House Made of Dawn.” Now at age 89, Momaday is reflective about his life as a storyteller. He says, “Language is the rock of civilization. Words are sacred. Language is sacred. Words make a family, a tribe, a civilization.” As part of the Writer’s Symposium by the Sea, host Dean Nelson sits down with Momaday at his home in Santa Fe, N.M., to talk about his life in literature.

“What Can Geroscience Teach Us About Healthy Longevity?”

Aging research has come a long way in the past few decades, and scientists are now starting to understand the biology of aging. Anthony J.A. Molina, Ph.D. shares the latest findings in the field of geroscience, or the study of how to delay the onset of age-related diseases and extend healthy lifespan. You’ll gain a broad view of gerontology research and how genetics, nutrition, environment, and lifestyle all work together to contribute to healthy longevity.

“Centering Pregnancy: Group Prenatal Care and Support for New Parents”

Prenatal appointments offer valuable insight into your baby’s health. Having those appointments in a group setting offers many advantages including a deeper connection to your care team, friendships with other expectant parents, empowerment through education, as well as individualized medical care for you and your baby. Vanessa Wright, CNM, WHNP-BC, sits down with a group of new moms who share their experiences with the Centering Pregnancy program at UC San Diego.

And finally: Top weekend events

Visitors admire butterflies in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's Butterfly Jungle exhibition.

The best things to do this weekend in San Diego: March 16-19

Coddon is a freelance writer.

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