ELEVATED | Art From Page to Stage
by Leslie Vreeland
Oct 03, 2013 | 2362 views | 0 0 comments | 59 59 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JOHN RENSENHOUSE (Courtesy photo)
JOHN RENSENHOUSE (Courtesy photo)
“THE DARK GNU” (by Wendy Videlock)
“THE DARK GNU” (by Wendy Videlock)

It is obvious that our readers are used to the silent print culture of our time, but when a writer takes this track and writes poetry which is devoid of sound and unsuitable for performance, that denies the essential acoustic quality of the ancient poetic art.


 – From an essay entitled “What is the Nature of a Poem?,” by William Harris, Professor Emeritus, Middlebury College

We spend a lot of time in silence with poetry – writing it, reading it, poring over it. Yet poetry is meant to be read aloud, and through the musicality of its words, it finds its truest expression.

Poets know this, and two from our region have built a new poetry program around the idea. The Open Bard Poetry Series begins tomorrow evening in Ridgway. Directed by local poets Kierstin Bridger and Beth Paulson, Open Bard aims to bring nationally or regionally known scribes from Colorado not only to the local stage, but the historic Sherbino Theater specifically. “Kierstin read a few poems at a celebration for the Sherbino last winter, and I saw what a great venue for poetry the place could be,” Paulson said. “We wanted a relaxed café setting where people and young people in the community would feel welcome.” (Blue Corn Naturals, the Ridgway candle shop, “donated candles to make our café-style series even sexier,” said Bridger.)

Open Bard’s special goal is to involve middle and high school writers and teachers from Ouray and Ridgway, and is sponsored in part by the two communities’ libraries. The series will welcome varied poets: “Some more traditional, some edgy, some younger, some older, men and women,” Paulson said. All have been published, and are at the top of their craft. First up is Wendy Videlock from Grand Junction, whose intensely musical, lyrical work has appeared in Poetry, The New York Times, The Hudson Review and Poetry Review. Videlock is a talented artist as well as a poet, and illustrated her most recent book, The Dark Gnu (Able Muse Press) in brilliantly colored works of alcohol ink. “I’ve been greatly seduced by the traditions of faery tale, nursery rhyme, mythology,” she told Bob King in an interview for The Colorado Poets Center. “These things seem to draw their waters from the deep wells of intimacy and knowledge, universal sorrow and joy, and often sound as though they’ve been issued from across the flames of a fire, and from the lips of an elder. I think of Kipling and his repetitions, or de la Mare and his many seekers, or Yeats and his prophesies. Invocation is the word I’m looking for.”


Of Proclamations and Exclamations


Holy shit, Jesus christ, and Oh my god

we proclaim again and again,

loud and preened as a peacock’s hat 

when taken aback or fallen slack 

to beauty’s fools, the shape of the slip,

the hull of the bone, the face on the news.

We do not proclaim Oh holy corn 

and phantom ship !  Nor do we croon 

when taken aback,


Sweet mother of moon ...


or Formless fates and fortunes...



we do not care for you.  


Tonight the moon as usual

has managed all there is to say 

of change and how it goes 

and glows


this is the kind of aloneness only

a mother knows.


– Wendy Videlock


Open Bard poetry readings take place the first Thursday of each month.  Doors at the Sherbino open at 6 p.m.; readings begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults (teachers and students get in free). Each session concludes with an open reading for community poets. For more information, visit facebook.com/RidgwayPoetrySeries.


Art in Ouray


Art, the comedy by Yasmina Reza, comes to the Wright Opera House next weekend. A huge success in Paris, where it premiered, and in London’s West End, where it played for 8 years, the play concerns three longtime friends – Serge, Marc, and Yvan – and a painting that is purchased by Serge. The large, costly canvas is completely white. Serge is thrilled and proud, Marc is aghast that anyone would consider this “art,” Yvan is caught in the middle and the story’s off and running.

Art won a Tony Award on Broadway for Best Play in 1998. It was translated from the French by Christopher Hampton, who is known for his adaption of the novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses into a play for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the film starring John Malkovich. It will be directed in Ouray by the person who is bringing it here: professional actor John Rensenhouse, managing director of the Kansas City Actors Theatre and the brother of Ouray School media specialist (and local theatre maven) Nancy Nixon. “When he visited Nancy last year, he spent some time in the Wright and gave us much advice” on improvements, says Joyce Linn, chair of the Wright’s fundraising efforts. “He also decided he would really like to bring a play here.” Rensenhouse is bringing two colleagues from the Moving Target Theatre Company of Kansas City to star with him. “Don’t be misled by the title or the European pedigree,” New York Times critic Ben Brantley wrote of Art. “It is far from a Stoppardesque consideration of the role of esthetics or the kind of talky clash of confused identities found in Eric Rohmer’s movies. It is more subtle than traditional slapstick is, but it shares slapstick’s vision of a world always waiting to trip you up and send you spinning into collisions with even your closest friends. The banana peel, in this instance, just happens to be a painting.”

In more good news for live theatre at the Wright, the theatre recently received its second matching challenge grant of this year: $40,000 from an anonymous donor. The dollar-for-dollar grant was specifically dedicated to the theater’s restoration. If sufficient funds flow into the Wright between now and the end of the year, there will be enough money in place to begin construction on several interior improvements, the installation of an elevator and the renovation of the theatre’s central staircase. The Wright is very close to meeting the $350,000 total it needs for this project, plus operating costs. If another grant the theater recently applied for comes through, and if the new challenge grant can be matched, that goal will be met. Said Gowans, “This is huge.”

Art runs from Oct. 11-Oct. 12. For more information about the Wright’s latest grant or to make a contribution, contact Gowans at 970/325-4399 or email  josh@thewrightoperahouse.org.

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