- Amy Ollerton
The Jawbone's Daughter
When playwright Eric Paul Lyman's The Jawbone's Daughter premiered at the 2017 Salt Lake Fringe Festival, its absurdist strain of comedy drew comparisons to Eugene Ionesco, Samuel Beckett and Tom Stoppard (including in a City Weekly review). But Lyman himself offers a much more self-deprecating take on the play's origins and inspirations.
"I wanted to be on stage with my friends, but didn't want to license anything," Lyman says. "I had a first line—which didn't ultimately make it into the play—and a couple of characters, then they ran into another character. ... But then I just kept pounding at it, and I didn't know where it was going."
The result, however, is a wonderfully funny and surreal tale in which two men—Flince (Jon Liddiard) and Strothe (Chris Bentley)—make their way through a possibly post-apocalyptic world, then find their one chance at shelter thwarted by an intransigent guard (played by Lyman). The original cast members all return for a special two-weekend engagement.
The instinctual process that originally brought the play to life continues, according to Lyman, as he and his castmates refine the script and the direction. Yet Lyman is pleasantly surprised that this wild idea turned into something that audiences appreciated. "The response [at the Fringe Festival was much better than I expected," Lyman says. "Up until then, nobody had seen it or read it except my friends, and you think, 'I can't really trust what they're saying.' ... People were finding things in it that I didn't even realize were in it. And I'm still finding things." (Scott Renshaw)
The Jawbone's Daughter @ Wasatch Theatre Co., 124 S. 400 West, Oct. 4-6 & Oct. 11-13, 8 p.m., $10, wasatchtheatre.org
- Simon & Schuster
Peter Stone: The Perfect Candidate
Given the current spate of controversies and scandals facing politicians, it's little wonder that pundits and the public are concerned our democracy has gone astray. Every day seems to bring more stranger-than-fiction outrages, suggesting that this is our nation's new political reality. Sadly, there's nothing fake or fictional about news coming out of Washington these days.
Consequently, the timing for author Peter Stone's new young adult political thriller The Perfect Candidate couldn't be better. When recent high school graduate Cameron Carter lands a prized congressional internship, his world begins to unravel after his best friend is killed, the FBI is called and he becomes entangled in a dark and deadly conspiracy. In other words, it could be today's real life.
"The summer after I graduated from high school, I was an intern for Congressman Gary Condit," Stone explains in an email. "Soon after, he was embroiled in the media circus surrounding the death of staffer Chandra Levy.I was later a Spanish tutor for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.These experiences provided vivid, deep and sometimes troubling inspiration for me as I created my own take on the dark side of Washington, D.C."
As Stone suggests, The Perfect Candidate is like House of Cards or Scandal, except that it draws from the perspective of young staffers and interns, rather than presidents and power brokers. He describes it as "a political activist wish fulfilment." However, considering today's political realities, we'd call it just plain scary. (Lee Zimmerman)
Peter Stone: The Perfect Candidate @ The King's English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, Oct. 5, 7 p.m., free, kingsenglish.com
- Kristina Lenzi
Performance Arts Festival
This weekend, the Salt Lake City Main Library becomes a canvas during its sixth annual Performance Arts Festival. "Performance art is a fairly elusive medium," featured artist Marilyn Arsem says in the video, "Talk Like That." "It's a person, a live body, an artist making an action, working with materials, probably transforming them, and doing it with people watching." Don't let that scare you away. The festival will be "fun and engaging," curator Kristina Lenzi says. "All the pieces are appropriate for all ages."
A performance artist herself, Lenzi is scheduled to perform a piece demonstrating how she learned to paint. Other performances feature bridges, circles and chains formed by human bodies. Don't be surprised to find yourself part of live pieces—but you also have the chance to stand back and observe as artists perform the unexpected.
Featured artist Alastair MacLennan visits from Ireland to present a work that involves location and dislocation, placement and displacement, time being and time edited. If that sounds cryptic, it's meant to be—you have to attend to see what his performance entails. A hint: "[I'm] using a human being, the mind and the body, as a vehicle, rather than paint on canvas," MacLennan says in the video, "Art of the Troubles."
A wide array of local and international performance artists join Lenzi, Arsem and MacLennan. From performed poems and pelican art to a physical representation of the immigrant experience and the literalization of the phrase, "If I had a nickel," the festival offers a chance to immerse yourself in living art. (Naomi Clegg)
Performance Arts Festival @ Salt Lake City Main Library, 210 E. 400 South, Oct. 5, noon-8 p.m.; Oct. 6, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., free, slcpl.org
- Bud Harmon
UVU Presidential Lecture: Tererai Trent
It's no small achievement to have Oprah Winfrey declare you her "all-time favorite guest." However, the life story of Tererai Trent is so compelling, anyone, Oprah included, would find her fascinating.
People along the Wasatch Front have the opportunity to hear about Trent's amazing life and accomplishments when she speaks on "The Awakened Woman: The 'Un-Silencing' of Women" at Utah Valley University this week for the UVU Presidential Lecture. Trent grew up in a cattle-herding family in Zimbabwe, where cultural norms didn't allow her to go to school with the boys. She nevertheless borrowed her brother's books at night and taught herself to read and write. Despite having to marry young and have three children by age 18, Trent never gave up on her dream of one day going to America and pursuing higher education. She has more than exceeded those dreams becoming a major advocate across the globe for universal access to quality education and the rights of women.
During her extensive career, she has been an adjunct professor at Drexel University, a fellow at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at UC San Francisco, a keynote speaker at a UN Summit, worked for major humanitarian organizations on five continents, partnered with Oprah and Save the Children to create her own foundation, and won a 2018 NAACP award for her latest book, The Awakened Woman - Remembering & Reigniting Our Sacred Dreams.
The lecture is part of a series sponsored by the UVU Office of the President and Office of Engaged Learning. (Geoff Griffin)
UVU Presidential Lecture: Tererai Trent @ Clarke Building, Utah Valley University, 800 W. University Parkway, Orem, Oct. 10, noon, free, uvu.edu/president/events