THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR DEC 10 - 16 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Culture » Entertainment Picks


24-Hour Virtual Theatre Fest, Modern West Fine Art: Silent Night, Hogle Zoo: Free Zoo Lights, and more.



24-Hour Virtual Theatre Fest
It's enough of a challenge for a bunch of theater professionals to get a few basic prompts, start from scratch and generate a short dramatic work in 24 hours. Now imagine trying to do all of that remotely, with playwrights, directors and actors collaborating on virtual plays that didn't exist when they woke up the previous morning.

In the fine tradition of such marathon exercises undertaken by many performing arts organizations over the years, the 24-Hour Theatre Fest launched last year at the new The Box space at The Gateway. This year, of course, the work moves online, which did lead to a few adjustments to the process, according to The Box facilities director Jim Martin, like making sure the one item every production will be asked to incorporate into its play is a common enough object to be found in most households. We're going to try to think of some scenarios that could be specific to a virtual format," Martin says, "but not restricting the creativity of the playwrights."

Local playwrights participating this year—under the general theme of "Together-Apart"—include Elise Barnett, Morag Shepherd, Chelsea Hickman, RJ Walker, Beth Bruner and Robin Young, who will receive on the evening of Dec. 11 a play title, a line of dialogue and a prop that must be used. They'll turn their work over the next morning to the director and cast members, who will stage and rehearse the work entirely remotely, before the shows premiere at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 via Zoom. Tickets are $10, available at (Scott Renshaw)


Modern West Fine Art: Silent Night
In a "normal" year—and it feels like we're perpetually putting air quotes around "normal" nowadays—galleries around the Wasatch Front lean into holiday-themed group shows, hoping to attract patrons who might be interested in purchasing art as gifts, while generally showcasing a variety of their represented artists. There's no reason that part of that tradition can't continue, as artists are among those certainly needing support in this time. So it's worth looking around at those galleries that are allowing us a chance to continue that support.

For their closing exhibition of 2020, Modern West Fine Art (412 S. 700 West, presents Silent Night, now through Jan. 2, 2021. The thematic focus—appropriate in a year when we've all been asking ourselves existential questions—is the search for meaning while gazing upward. Each exhibited work represents that interaction with the night sky, with curiosity, with searching for certainty in vast expanse.

At the center of the exhibition is Patrick Dean Hubbell's "Focus," (pictured), a grey canvas with white crosses representing the constellations above in an investigation that folds in his identity as based in the Navajo Nation. Silent Night also features works by Andrew Alba, Shonto Begay, Michael Coles, Shalee Cooper, Paul Davis, Al Denyer, Angela Ellsworth, Kiki Gaffney, Jann Haworth, Frank Buffalo Hyde, Levi Jackson, Dick Jemison, Dmitri Kozyrev, Mitch Mantle, Ed Mell, Stanley Natchez, Louis Ribak, Woody Shepherd, Ben Steele and more. Visit the gallery website for operating hours and COVID-19 public safety measures, and join in the artistic experience of gazing heavenward. (SR)

  • Erica Hansen

Hogle Zoo: Free Zoo Lights
In this strangest of modern holiday seasons, we're looking for an uncommon cocktail of criteria for our seasonal entertainment experiences. We want stuff that we can enjoy safely, preferably outside, during the time of year in Utah when outdoor activities are rare. We want stuff that's accessible and enjoyable for family members of all ages. And—given the financial toll that the year has taken on many individuals and businesses—it would be particularly awesome if that stuff was also really inexpensive, or better yet, completely free.

Help is on the way, courtesy of Utah's Hogle Zoo (2600 Sunnyside Ave., and a grant from the Utah Legislature through the Utah Division of Arts & Museums. For the 14th year, now through Jan. 3, "Zoo Lights" illuminates Hogle Zoo with animated displays, decorated trees and a whole range of glowing, sparkling lights. Santa will also be visiting the zoo nightly through Dec. 23, positioned in a safely distanced chair that will still allow for photo opportunities, so kids can bring their wishes to the Big Guy just like in any other year. Families are reminded that most animals are not necessarily on display or active during the evening Zoo Lights hours (5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.)

Admission times and tickets must be reserved at in order to monitor capacity for a safe experience for all visitors. Masks are required, and while some walk-up concessions will be open for food purchases, all indoor spaces will be closed, so bundle up to be comfortable on a winter night. (SR)

  • Wikimedia Commons

Utah Symphony: Eroica
For just a few weeks, it felt a little bit like 2019 again in the local arts community, as Utah Symphony began inviting patrons back to Abravanel Hall for limited socially-distanced seating of live performances in the fall. That was before the surge in case counts in Utah, and a county mandate to cancel all scheduled performances at county-operated venues through the end of 2020.

That doesn't mean Utah Symphony is disappearing from view until 2021, however. Previously scheduled live performances for the month of December are instead moving to streaming on-demand performances. "In the spirit of safety and precaution, we want to be part of a solution of encouraging people to limit interactions outside of their homes," says Utah Symphony/Utah Opera CEO Steven Brosvik in a press release. "Through streaming our December programs, we hope to remain musically engaged with our listeners and to provide incredible listening experiences until we can be in the same room together for live concerts."

The December presentations kicks off with a program featuring Beethoven's Eroica Symphony No. 3, a landmark piece that marked a transition to the Romantic period of composing; Schoenberg's Peace on Earth will also be featured. The program becomes available Dec. 12 at noon through Jan. 10 via, for $10-$20 pay-what-you-can ticketing. Subsequent scheduled performances include A Merry Little Christmas featuring vocalist Tony DeSare (Dec. 22-Jan. 2) and Mendelssohn's "Scottish" Symphony with Strauss's Metamorphosen (Jan. 9-Feb. 7). Bring the beauty of Utah Symphony directly into your homes this holiday season. (SR)