Twelve December Delights at Blackfriars Playhouse

PatrickEarlasScroogeinAChristmasCarolPhotobyMichaelBailey1This holiday season, join the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) at the Blackfriars Playhouse for twelve festive events for everyone!

Special holiday performances include A Christmas Carol, the beloved classic with new twists; The Santaland Diaries by by David Sedaris, a delightfully tart tale that takes a wry look at how the holiday season brings out the best and worst in all of us; and The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Ginna Hoben, a sweet, hilarious holiday tale.

For show dates and ticket information, visit the schedule. Don’t forget about the pay-what-you will performances, happening throughout December!

Enjoy half priced drinks at the in-playhouse bar for Happy Holiday Hours at all of the 5:00pm performances (see full calendar for specific dates).

Blackfriars is also excited to present midwinter sneak peeks at the 2015 Spring Season, with special performances of Hamlet on December 27 and Much Ado About Nothing on December 28. Buy tickets for Hamlet here, and tickets for Much Ado About Nothing here.

Attending these special events could win you Christmas Card Surprises! Each night, a few randomly selected patrons will receive a special treat from the ASC. It could be free tickets, an ASC Christmas ornament, or some other holiday surprise, so get your seats now for your chance a little extra holiday cheer!

For more information about the shows, visit the website.

The American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse is located at 10 S. Market Street in Staunton.

Student Arts Spotlight Series: The Art Club

photo 3Welcome back to the Student Arts Spotlight blog series!

This series highlights the work of student organizations and clubs at the University of Virginia and Piedmont Virginia Community College who have gone above and beyond curriculum to create art. These groups of young artists are recognized for both their exceptional dedication to the arts and their incredible work ethic.

This week, we spoke with second year 2nd year Graphics and Web Design student Aubrey Tomlin, President of the Art Club at Piedmont Virginia Community College. The Art Club is a faculty led group which provides an artistic outlet for students with events and activities that promote the visual arts.

What is the mission of Art Club and how is it relevant to the PVCC and Charlottesville communities?
Our mission is to support student artists by sponsoring fun, art-oriented events. We sponsor the annual Day of the Dead Candy-Thon (on Halloween), the Film Series, artists workshops, college visits and more. Our mission is to incorporate a fun visual experience [and] to enhance the culture of our school. We keep a strong relationship with the classroom, and a strong relationship with the community. We take our mission seriously, we want to share art with the world.

How has Art Club affected your education at PVCC? What have you learned from running or participating in Art Club that you will carry with you after graduating?
It is an honor and a privilege to be president of a club that means so much to the students and the community. I feel blessed with this experience. It has giving me a greater sense of responsibility. Not only the Art Club, [but] the whole art department at PVCC has changed my life. [The department] give[s] us a feeling of family, giving their time and knowledge. I honestly feel it is my home away from home. Every student wants to do well and graduate, me included, but it will almost be sad when I do. The halls of Dickinson building are my home. [The building is] full of life and art, and the staff here makes this happen. I will keep my new found pride and work ethic long after I am gone from PVCC. This school brings out the best in [its students].

photo 5What can the Charlottesville community look forward to seeing from Art Club in the near future? What events or exhibits will be open to the public?
The Art club has lots in store for the year to come. We have a movie night every month. We pick movies before they are released to DVD, but they have to have an artistic aspect. This gives the students a chance to see something different that they themselves might not pick. We also do a Candy-Thon and Art attack every year. We also bring artists to the school and classroom, such as Fred Nichols. The art club also had Sophia Wiedman, a comic book artist who came to speak with our Communications of Design class. We believe in bringing artists [to PVCC] who have been students and now are making a living in their respective fields. We have a stain glass workshop on the 6th of December. All events and movies are open to the public. We really encourage the public to take part [in] and enjoy art as much as we do.

Beryl Solla, the facilitator of the Art Club, recently was involved with a tile project at the IX Art Park. It brought community [members] together and allowed some Clark elementary students to have their art work etched in stone, so to speak. The tile project is awesome, and it is a must-see.

How can the Charlottesville community engage with Art Club’s mission?
We encourage the public to check the events on the PVCC calendar and come join in the fun.

The PVCC calendar can be found here.

For more information about the Art Club at PVCC or sponsored events, visit their blog.

Local Artist Feature: UVa Student Filmmaker


University of Virginia student Dagmawi Y. Abebe is a filmmaker with a passion for visual storytelling. He is currently directing a film called JENNY and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund it. We spoke with him to learn more about his work and plans for his most recent film.

How did you first become interested in film?
I first became interested in film during middle school, where I made a short film at Walt Whitman Middle School. It went on to get honorable mention at the Video Fairfax Competition, however it took until I transferred to UVA during my second year to get back to making films. I joined the Filmmaker’s Society at UVa and have been making short films ever since.

What Charlottesville organizations have you worked with as a filmmaker?
My experience with the Charlottesville organization is being a part of the Adrenaline Film Festival during the 2014 Virginia Film Festival. We wrote, filmed, edited, and screened a short film in 72 hours.

What were some of the challenges of the Jenny film project? The successes?
The challenge of the JENNY film project is really organizing and gathering cast and crew as an independent student filmmaker. Everyone is doing it for free and for gaining experience. Finding locations was also another challenge, as we had no compensation for the people we were asking to use their location. Thankfully the Crozet Buddhist Biker bar and Professor Eric Loth’s residence have been generous enough to let us film there. The successes of this project have really come from the amount of commitment the cast and crew are putting in so far. The level of excitement for the project has increased with every re-write of the script. I also think it is a success that we are able to bring all these talented people from UVa and across the state of Virginia to work on a creative work simply out of the passion for storytelling.

How has Charlottesville (the place, the people) influenced the film Jenny?
I worked at the College Inn as a waiter during my second year and the summer of 2014. There I met many local Charlottesville people that have influenced and supported my filmmaking. In fact, I made a documentary about the College Inn that reveals the worker’s beliefs and values about universal themes such as love, trust, and assimilation. Over the summer of 2014, for my short film The Numbers, I casted the kitchen employees as actors. That experience was helpful, as they were able to introduce me to numerous people in Charlottesville who I still collaborate with.

How long did this project take to complete?
Filming is not complete for JENNY. We have finished writing the script, casting actors, gathering crew from the Filmmaker’s Society at UVa, and have secured locations. The scheduled shooting dates are Jan 5th-Jan 10th 2015 and we are planning to release the short film by the first week of March.

What would you ultimately like to accomplish through the Kickstarter campaign?
We want to make the best film we can and the reason for the kickstarter campaign is to rent equipment that will help us achieve the best look. We are planning to rent the Blackmagic Production camera, which shoots raw 4k. This will allow us to get a great quality for the film and also flexibility during the post-production part. We are also planning to rent the Movi M5 Stabilizer, which is a great way of achieving professional shots just like a steady cam.

If you are interested to learn more or help support this project, visit the Kickstarter page.

UVa Special Collections Exhibit Explores the Civil War

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 3.22.10 PM “‘Who Shall Tell the Story?’ Voices of Civil War Virginia,” a new exhibit at the University of Virginia’s Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature and Culture, reveals how the war drastically changed the Old Dominion by focusing on the voices of those who directly experienced it.

Letters, diaries, scrapbooks, maps, newspapers, song sheets, broadside advertisements, photographs and physical artifacts drawn from the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library’s rich holdings illustrate how so many Americans lived the experience of the devastation of the Civil War.

The voices behind these manuscripts, books and artifacts come from all walks of life, from Confederate and Union soldiers, working women and war widows, black troops and southern Union sympathizers, enslaved people and prisoners of war, schoolchildren and University of Virginia students, poets and musicians, wounded soldiers and nurses.

The exhibition’s title comes from a manuscript by the American poet Walt Whitman who, after witnessing a battle in Virginia, wrote: Who shall tell the story?

Diverse and contradictory, the plurality of stories represented in the exhibition confirms the continuing relevance of Whitman’s question.

The exhibit runs through August 2015 and admissions is FREE. More information about the Special Collections Civil War exhibit can be found here, and the University’s Civil War blog can be found here.

Skipping River Art Gallery Art Benefit

537e312abe52aedac9c0cb6ebae97061 Skipping River Art Gallery presents an Arts Benefit on Friday, December 19 from 6:30-9:30pm at Camryn Limousine.

Proceeds of all art sales will benefit the Trusted Angels Foundation’s work in Liberia to provide shoes for orphans. Your participation will not only support local artists, it will also have a global impact in efforts to assist Liberia in its recovery from the Ebola crisis.

Camryn Limouse is located at Pantops next to Tuffy, just across Free Bridge at 103-B Free Bridge Lane.

Image Credit: Meditation by Kimberly Johnson

Support PCA at the Cville Holiday Craftacular!

craftacular logo Cville Holiday Craftacular is a locally handmade arts and crafts show cosponsored by PCA and organized by Cville Craft Attack, a small group of independent designers, artists and crafters in Charlottesville.

This year’s event will take place on Saturday, December 13 from 9:00am-6:00pm at CitySpace. More than 20 area artisans whose creative and giftable work includes gorgeous jewelry and glassware, paper goods, handbags, accessories, and toys will be featured.

Among the featured artists will be: Cary Oliva of ByCary, Karen Welk of Twink Beauty, Nancy Hopkins of Silver Muse Studio, Julia Tolbert of Quotes of Note, Angel Shockley of Herb Angel, Rose Valentino of Rosalba Valentino Designs, Sarah Courtney Glenn of Grid + Love, Hunter Gatherer Game Dinners, and Blanc Creatives.

In the spirit of giving back, Cville Holiday Craftacular will donate a portion of the event’s proceeds to PCA. So you can shop locally, collect one-of-a-kind gifts, and support future arts initiatives all at the same time!

Nelson County Community Orchestra: Free Holiday Concert

rvco-concert-16-mar-2014-9smThe Nelson County Community Orchestra (NCCO) presents a Holiday Concert on Monday, December 15 at 7:30pm.

The concert will feature seasonal music, show tunes, classical and folk favorites, plus special guest appearances by the Rockfish Taekwondo group and members of the new Nelson County String Education Program.

This event is FREE and open to the public. The concert will be held in the Rockfish Valley Community Center, located at 190 Rockfish School Lane in Afton.

The NCCO was established this January, when founder and cellist Connie Muscenti set out to provide a musical outlet for those in Nelson County who were unable to travel to neighboring counties to play their instruments. Now, The Nelson County Community Orchestra aims to present free public concerts, in collaboration with other local arts groups, to create unique interactive performances that show case a variety of musical genres that will inspire, motivate and support a new generation of orchestral musicians.

The NCCO also advocates for musical education, as well as helping youth attain access to affordable string instruments (violin, viola, cello, bass) and music instruction. Professional musicians and instructors in the area take an active role in the NCCO by providing additional educational and musical experiences for orchestra participants through workshops and lessons.

Join the NCCO weekly at the Rockville Valley Community Center on Mondays from 7:00pm to 9:00pm for rehearsals–new members are always welcome!

A Fireside Christmas Sing-Along Concert Fundraiser

10420030_523362947766704_6105154088602816146_nThe Albemarle Rogue Theatre (ART) presents “A Fireside Christmas; A Sing-Along Concert”, a fundraiser for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank on December 13 and 20 at 5:00pm and December 21 at 3:00pm.

Join ART by the fire to sing all your favorite songs of the season! Donations for the food bank will be accepted and there will be a raffle for items donated by Albemarle CiderWorks.

The Albemarle Rogue Theatre is an unincorporated group of friends who came together to produce “An Evening with Durang”, featuring two one-act plays by Christopher Durang. The show, produced in October of 2014, was completely donor funded and tickets were free. Now, ART comes together again to benefit the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank is an emergency food assistance agency that serves more than 114,000 people each month. To get involved or donate, visit the website.

Sing-Along leaders include Deanna Dellaganna Sheedy, Meagan Tomlin, Cheryl Mares, Beth Eastwood-Beatty, Aaron Hale, and Derby Thomas.

This event is FREE and open to the public, and will be held at Albemarle CiderWorks, located at 2545 Rural Ridge Lane in North Garden.

Blue Ridge Irish Music School Holiday Showcase

BRIMS-Camp-copyThe Blue Ridge Irish Music School (BRIMS) presents an end-of-the-year celebration of Irish music, song and dance on Sunday, December 14 at 2:00pm.

BRIMS students (ages 4-adult) and BRIMS instructors will be performing at this fun and festive family event!

BRIMS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching the living art of Irish traditional music by by offering individual music lessons, group classes, master classes, and ceili dances.

The event is FREE and open to the public. The showcase will be held at The Haven, located at 112 W. Market St. in Downtown Charlottesville. Donations to The Haven are welcome!

Get into the giving spirit this holiday season by donating to BRIMS here.

Student Arts Spotlight Series: Glass, Garden

460116_10150728980111517_1758377138_o1Welcome back to the Student Arts Spotlight blog series!

This series highlights the work of student organizations and clubs at the University of Virginia and Piedmont Virginia Community College who have gone above and beyond curriculum to create art. These groups of young artists are recognized for both their exceptional dedication to the arts and their incredible work ethic.

This week, we spoke with third year English and History double major Erin Comerford, Editor in Chief of Glass, Garden. Glass, Garden is a student run “do-it-yourself” literary-arts magazine at UVa, produced primarily by hand and concentrating in the arts of handwriting, papercraft, hands-on art, experimental design and presentation, and superb art & writing.

What is the mission of Glass, Garden and how is it relevant to the UVa and Charlottesville communities?

The basic mission of Glass, Garden is to provide an alternative, do-it-yourself literary-arts magazine for U.Va and for the Charlottesville community as a whole. We want to push the boundaries of the magazine format in terms of depth, texture, etc.; for example, last year Glass,Garden was published inside of a terrarium. This year, we are really excited to add a recorded element to the product, to represent the physical voices of our artists as well as their written words. We are also working on a collaboration between two artists on grounds who will represent the same space musically and through photography. These are just a few ways in which we try to go above and beyond the average printed product. Our project is relevant to Charlottesville because we offer a very creative community an outlet and a source for exceptionally inventive and nuanced artwork and thoughts. We also try to give the student body an alternative to the sometimes inflexible standards of other productions.

What are some of the advantages or challenges that you face as an entirely student-run organization?

We’ve got a lot of both. On the one hand, we are responsible for doing everything ourselves: spreading the word about joining and submitting, applying for funding, etc. Because we are such a small organization, it’s difficult to do these things alone. On the other hand, however, we are incredibly lucky because we can really do whatever we want as far as formatting and content, which, in my opinion, is what makes Glass, Garden such a unique and interesting publication.

How has Glass, Garden affected your education at UVa? What have you learned from running or participating in Glass, Garden that you will carry with you after graduating?

Glass, Garden has been a really interesting experience. Having to come up with a format, a plan, and compile submissions all by ourselves has been a serious task. I think that the most important discovery is that running this kind of thing takes a really persistent personality; you can’t be afraid to reach out to anyone and everyone in the community who might be helpful to you. For instance, reaching out to a nearby publisher of poetry chapbooks, I expected to get pricing on a certain type of publication but instead got a much better, different lead. I think that that will be the most important thing that I carry with me, that ability to network and engage other members of the community who are doing really inspiring things, and can really help get the creative dominoes tipping.

10516598_514391525361744_5055294936920915865_nHow and when will the next edition of Glass, Garden be available to the UVa and Charlottesville communities?

Glass, Garden publishes once yearly, at the end of U.Va’s spring semester. The next publication of Glass, Garden will be available by April/May 2015, depending on how well our schedule works out. It will be a limited, but free, release, and we will most likely be hosting a release party somewhere on grounds. U.Va and Charlottesville community members are more than welcome to check out our Facebook to stay updated on this event!

How can the Charlottesville community engage with Glass, Garden’s mission?

We will still be accepting student submissions of poetry, prose, or visual art until the end of the fall semester, so that’s a really great way to get involved. U.Va students are also more than welcome to attend our meetings- every Tuesday at 7 PM in the basement of Newcomb Hall. As far as the larger Charlottesville community goes, we’d love to get feedback on our project and, in the future, hopefully find ways to collaborate creatively with the community. Most importantly, community members may track of us on Facebook and attend the release party next spring, where selected artists will read their pieces and we will be able to talk more about the future of the production.

For more information about Glass, Garden, visit the website or email