Artfully Edmonds: Driftwood presents thought-provoking ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ plus arts around town

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Lillian Afful portrays Helen Robinson and Ronnie Hill is Tom Robinson.(Photo by Dale Sutton – Magic Photo)

I sat down with Driftwood Theatre’s production manager Anabel Hovig to discuss the progress of their upcoming production To Kill a Mockingbird, slated to open Feb. 9.

Hovig has had the good fortune to be able to see this project through from the beginning. Having the opportunity to follow a play from its selection to opening night is especially rewarding.

As a member of the selection committee two years ago, she looked for a play that her community would respond to, that was intelligent and thought-provoking. She refused to accept the idea that they couldn’t produce something that required a diverse cast. “We’ve been pushing to do something meaningful and inclusive. When we would ask why we can’t do this play, the answer would be – ‘well, we can’t find people of color to fill the roles.’“ Hovig was undaunted.

Four African-American actors stepped up to take key roles in this production. Driftwood was lucky enough to get actor and writer Ronnie Hill to play Tom Robinson. “I wasn’t really looking to do another heavy role,” he said. “I just finished in a production of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, I was looking for something lighter, but Anabel persuaded me.“

Hovig is also very excited to have South Whidbey Island director, actor, writer and acting coach Elizabeth Herbert directing. I watched her working with some of the younger cast members at a recent rehearsal. She has a clear idea of what she wants from the cast and the skills to make that happen. It’s her goal to evoke emotion, and to get us all to re-examine what we know, or what we think we know.

From left: Nava Ruthfield as Scout, Hersh Powers as Dill and Teddy Shipley as Jem. (Photo by Anabel Hovig)

Hovig laughed when I asked her about working with young actors in this production. “We struck gold” with Nava Ruthfield (Scout), Hersh Powers (Dill), and Teddy Shipley (Jem),” she said. “It’s as though the characters themselves walked into our audition.”

They exhibited a high degree of professionalism as I watched them work. I’m convinced that the younger generation is not “going to hell in a hand basket.” On the contrary, I see evidence every day that our youth are some pretty amazing people.

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is unquestionably one of the 20th century’s most important works of American literature. Required reading for decades, it may be one of a dozen or so best known stories in America. The Christopher Sergel dramatic adaptation does a decent job of staying relatively true the original.

In Mockingbird, beneath the charming anecdotes of Southern living, below the observations of day to day life, lies the specter of a racism so pervasive, so insidious, that it permeates every aspect of society.

I would maintain that the character of Atticus Finch represented someone that did not truly exist in the rural south in the ’30s. Atticus is an idealized concept invented by Harper Lee because we so desperately needed him. We still need him. Black lives matter.

Nearly 60 years after Mockingbird’s initial reception, much has changed, yet unfortunately, much has stayed the same. As the years continue to pass, it will be interesting to see how people will respond. Will audiences continue to see Atticus Finch as the hero of the day, or will the tragic figure of Tom Robinson, the innocent victim – a martyr of an evil institution, take his place? At any rate, this production is shaping up to be one of the best things to hit Driftwood’s stage in some time.

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Phoenix Theatre’s “More Fun Than Bowling” opens Feb. 2.

Friday, Feb. 2 – Sunday, Feb. 25
8 p.m.

The Phoenix Theatre
More Fun Than Bowling

By the hilarious Steven Dietz – writer of last year’s hit Becky’s New Car

Directed by Eric Lewis

2673 Firdale Ave
(Firdale Shopping Center)
Edmonds

Need a good laugh? The latest Phoenix production (opening on Groundhog Day) has got you covered.

Jake was once a promising pianist, but a foul ball broke his fingers, which subsequently healed into the perfect bowling grip. Jake now owns a bowling alley, but spends much of his time sitting on a hilltop where two of his ex-wives are buried. (Both women died due to tragic bowling accidents.) As Jake replays the key frames of his life, he is frequently visited by his daughter Molly, who has become adept at talking women into marrying her father for love and free lane time. But who is that mysterious stranger dressed in black and holding a gun lurking in the shadows? This play runs through Sunday, Feb. 25.

Tickets here.

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Friday, Feb. 2
5:30 to 9 p.m.

Meadowdale Arts & Music Booster Organization (MAMBO) Presents

Hawaiian Escape – Auction and Variety Show

Holy Rosary Parish Center
630 7th Ave. N.
Edmonds

A luau-inspired dinner with entertainment provided by Meadowdale‘s choir, jazz band, orchestra, The Meadowdale Players and The Improv Team. Student fine art and photography will also be on display.

This, the fourth annual MAMBO auction and dinner, will benefit the arts and music general fund, which helps provide for such things as: repairing and purchasing equipment; paying for students competitions and workshop fees; buying scripts and production right; and providing student financial aid.

Tickets here.

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Saturday, Feb. 3
9:30 a.m.

Kidstock!

Edmonds Center for the Arts
410 4th Ave. N.

Edmonds Center for the Arts presents its 6th annual Kidstock!, a FREE arts celebration for children and families. As the cornerstone of ECA’s family programming, Kidstock! engages kids from a young age in diverse and exciting arts experiences. The event features musical performances, theatre, arts education workshops and activities throughout the ECA campus.

The Kidstock Main Stage will feature Grammy-nominated band Recess Monkey, kindie-rock quintet The Not-Its!, DE CAJoN Project, Morning Star Korean Cultural Center, and Book-It Repertory Theatre’s new play WHOOSH!

Additional Kidstock! 2018 programs will include an intergenerational art workshop with Silver Kite Community Arts, ukulele workshop, bouncy houses and more.

Learn more here.

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David Gonzalez

Tuesday, Feb 6
7 p.m.

An Evening of Poetry & Storytelling
With David Gonzalez

Edmonds Center for the Arts
410 4th Ave. N.

Join the ECA for an engaging (and free) performance and conversation with award-winning artist David Gonzalez. Gonzalez has toured throughout the country and internationally with his unique style of storytelling, poetry, and community engagement work. Drawing material from a wide range of Hispanic cultures and his own upbringing in New York City, David’s bi-lingual presentation is filled with humor, compassion, and a call for bringing the arts into community development.

More information here.

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HAPA comes to the ECA.

Thursday, Feb 8
7:30 p.m.

The ECA Presents: HAPA
Featuring Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole

410 4th Ave. N.
Edmonds

Described by the Maui Times as “the most exciting and beautiful contemporary music the world knows,” the overriding quality of HAPA’s music is one of beauty and serenity. Joining HAPA is Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole, who shares a deep understanding of Hawaiian culture and her identity as a transgender Hawaiian singer, chanter and dancer.

Prior to the evening performance, HAPA will also appear from 11 a.m. to noon for a free, all-ages cultural event hosted by the Edmonds Senior Center. To RSVP, drop by the Senior Center at 220 Railroad Ave or call 425-774-5555.

Tickets here.

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Call To Artists

Closes Wednesday, Feb. 7 – 5 p.m.

Gallery North
401 Main St.
Edmonds

It’s time once again for Gallery North’s call to artists for their popular small works show. Last year, 75 artists submitted 200 pieces. Online registration for this exhibit closes on Feb. 7. Juried by Seattle artist Barbara Noonan, this show will run throughout the month of March.

For details please visit www.gallerynorthedmonds.com

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Friday, Feb. 9 – Sunday, Feb. 25
Thursdays – Saturdays 8 p.m.
Sundays – 2 p.m.

Driftwood Players Present:
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Directed By Elizabeth Herbert

Wade James Theater
950 Main St.
Edmonds

Scout, a young girl in a quiet Southern town, is about to experience dramatic events that will affect the rest of her life. This play illustrates the social issues of her time. Scout’s father, a lawyer, is defending a young African American wrongfully accused of a grave crime. This dramatization of the touching classic tale is a meaningful work of art relevant to our society today.

Ticket and more information here.

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Saturday, Feb 10
Noon – 1 p.m.

Edmonds Bookshop Author Event
Peace Weavers: Uniting the Salish Coast Through Cross-Cultural Marriages
By Candace Wellman

The Edmonds Bookshop
111 5th Ave S

Throughout the mid-1800s, Coast and Interior Salish families arranged strategic cross-cultural marriages, and these alliances played a crucial role in regional settlement and spared Puget Sound’s upper corner from the tragic conflicts other regions experienced. Although accounts of the men exist in a variety of records, the contributions of their native wives remain unacknowledged. Author Candace Wellman hopes to shatter stereotypes surrounding these relationships. The four women profiled exhibited exceptional endurance, strength, and adaptability. Each woman’s story is uniquely her own, but together they and other intermarried women left lasting legacies. They were peace weavers.

Wellman holds a B.A. in Sociology from Washington State University and a B.Ed. in History/Secondary Education from Western Washington University, and has pursued graduate work in sociology. Born and raised in Washington, the Bellingham resident is a local history consultant and speaks regularly about women’s history and regional settlement.

More information at www.edmondsbookshop.com.

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The Downtown Mountain Boys will appear in the Edmonds Library Plaza Room.

Saturday, Feb 10

2 – 4:30 p.m.

Wintergrass Music Festival Preview
The Downtown Mountain Boys

Edmonds Library Plaza Room
(above the library)
650 Main St

This free preview performance will include an hour-long concert by The Downtown Mountain Boys, followed by a jam session led by the band. Also included will be the opportunity to experience an “instrumental petting zoo“ where attendees can try out various instruments.

Sponsored by the Edmonds Arts Commission, Edmonds Sno-Isle Library, and the Friends of The  Edmonds Library.

For more information on the Wintergrass Festival in Bellevue Feb. 22-25
go to www.wintergrass.com

For more information on the Dowlntown Mouuntain Boys
go to www.downtownmountainboys.com.

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Felix Kim

Saturday, Feb 10
3 p.m.

Cascade Symphony Orchestra Children’s Concert

Edmonds Center for the Performing Arts
410 4th Ave. N.

Carnival of Animals (Saint-Saens)

Percussion Ensemble

Rising Star award winner Felix Kim will perform as the soloist – Boccherini Cello Concerto in B flat major (1st Movement)

Under the direction of Michael Miropolsky

Dave Dolacky – narrator

Learn more at this link.

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Allspice Band

Saturday, Feb. 10
7-10 p.m.

Sno-King Sweetheart Dance
Featuring The Allspice Band

Cedar Valley Grange
20526 52nd Ave. W.
Lynnwood

Sno-King International Folk Dance Club invites you to celebrate Valentines with dancing.  Come with or without your sweetheart. No formal teaching this night, but lots of easy dances, including couple, no-partner and set dances from many countries. They encourage potluck snacks, and it’s a good time to wear reds and pinks — be a valentine!  During band breaks there will be request dancing to recorded music.

Details at www.Sno-king.org

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Kermet Apio

Friday, Feb 16
7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Feb 17
6 p.m. VIP Reception
7:30 p.m. Comedy Show

Edmonds Comedy Night 2018

Edmonds Center for the Arts
410 4th Ave N

Enjoy an evening of gut busting laughter. This will be Edmonds 11th annual comedy night with two evenings of hilarious stand-up comedy. As if that were not enough – proceeds benefit local kids. Seattle’s own Kermet Apio headlines.

Comedy show only – $25
Comedy show with VIP reception- $55 (Saturday only)

For tickets, click here.

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Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra plays tribute to Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond.

Monday, Feb 18
7:30 p.m.

Seattle Jazz Repertory Orchestra Presents:
Brubeck and Desmond – Inseparable

Edmonds Center for the Arts
410 4th Ave N

Composer-pianist Dave Brubeck and alto saxophonist Paul Desmond—the inseparable pair took the jazz world by storm with a special blend of sophisticated swing and a cool attitude. Their style was characterized by a rare blend of inventive writing, virtuosic playing, and use of such modern techniques as odd meters, stark jazz harmonies, and Desmond’s own “dry martini” sound. When they put it all together, their music appealed to the new “intellectual listener” of 1950s jazz in a way never before seen.

“Take Five” has been the single top selling jazz hit of all time, and is just one of the many Brubeck/Desmond chart-toppers you will hear in this concert, including “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” “The Duke” and “In Your Own Sweet Way.” This show will include special works composed by Desmond himself never before heard on the SRJO stage.

Tickets here.

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— By James Spangler

When not actively scheming about ways to promote the arts in Edmonds, James Spangler can be found (highly caffeinated) behind the counter of his bookstore on 4th Avenue.

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