TELLURIDE – Telluride’s Michael D. Palm Theatre is going through a transformation – a quiet but significant one. As it redefines itself in a tough economy, and faces the end of its five-year contributions from the Gluckstern family, the Palm is becoming more community-minded. But that doesn’t mean its programming is any less interesting.
On any given week, one can take a seat in the 654-seat, 30,000-square-foot theatre to watch an award-winning foreign film one day and a Metropolitan Opera the next. Too serious? How about Bruce Springsteen or the Grateful Dead in concert? Not in-person (obviously), but on The Big Screen. And of course there’s ballet, local theatre, and community presentations and fundraisers such as this summer’s World Cup Soccer screenings to benefit the Telluride Youth Soccer Club.
“We’re trying to get as many people as possible into the theatre,” says Executive Director Heather Knox Rommel, adding it’s her hope that the community will fully realize “the plight of the Palm,” which now more than ever relies on public support to keep its doors open.
“The Gluckstern funding commitment ended last year,” she explains, For the Palm to remain open to the community, it needs to be self-sustaining. “There is no safety net.”
To that end, a gala film premier fundraiser is planned for Friday, July 2, when producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy host two screenings of their new film The Last Airbender, about a young man with the ability to control the elements of the earth. The screening is a donation from the Kennedy/Marshall Company and Paramount Pictures as a fundraiser for the theater.
Film lovers will also enjoy a series of awarding-winning “art-house style films,” says Rommel, explaining that many of them are foreign, with subtitles. “We’re working with the Telluride Film Festival to help with the selection process,” she adds.
The films come through a New York-based company called Emerging Pictures, which refers to itself as the largest all-digital Specialty Film and Alternative Content theater network in the U.S. The company enables organizations like the Palm to screen art films, documentaries, foreign language films, independent cinema and cultural programs that are not typically available through mainstream media.
Several film screenings are already planned for this summer, including The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (June 10-11); The Good, The Bad, The Weird (June 14-15); Ajami (June 23-29); and The Secret In Their Eyes (July 8-9). More summer titles will be announced in the coming weeks.
Beyond film, in July, the Palm is the venue for the collaborative production between the Telluride Playwright’s Festival and the Telluride Repertory Theater, This Isn’t What It Looks Like, by Phillip Gerson and directed by William Missouri Downs. Performances will be held on July 15 through 18.
Following that, the Palm has teamed up with local prima ballerina, Valerie Madonia, to offer a Ballet Intensive. “Valerie Madonia’s name has a huge draw; we’re having girls come from all over Colorado and other states,” to participate in the two-week intensive, says Rommel. The camp will culminate in a free, live and open-to-the public demonstration on July 29 at 6p.m. During the Intensive there will be two ballet screenings through Emerging Pictures. On July 22 the Palm will screen Don Quixote, which was originally staged in St. Petersburg, Russia. Following the student demonstration on July 29, the Palm will screen a more contemporary ballet: Mediterranea, which included music from Mozart, Ligeti, Palestrina and music native to the Mediterranean region performed at Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Italy.
In addition to film and ballet, Emerging Pictures is offering another Bruce Springsteen concert to promote his new box set album London Calling: Live in Hyde Park, from 2009. “The Boss is a huge supporter of local theaters; this is the second concert that he has donated to the Emerging Pictures network” says Rommel. The screenings will be held on June 16 and again on June 22 and since Bruce Springsteen donated these performances Rommel says “all proceeds benefit the Michael D. Palm Theatre”. They’re also contemplating a screening of the new Phish film to coincide with the band’s shows in Telluride, August 9-10.
At the other end of the music spectrum are the Palm’s Metropolitan Opera Live in HD presentations. Six operas will be screened this summer for “Opera Mondays”: Aida (June28); Romeo and Juliette (July 5 ); Eugene Onegin (July 19); La Boheme (June 26); Turandot (August 2); and Carmen (Aug. 9). The Palm is also a venue for the Telluride Chamber Music Festival, which is hosting a special gala event at the Palm on August 18.
The Palm is also the venue for this summer’s Pinhead Town Talks, with presentations by visiting scientists on Tuesday evenings, July 6-Aug. 3.
And while the popular dollar movie series will take a hiatus this summer, that program, which targets a younger audience, will resume after school starts again in August.
“Through our concerts and movies, we’re trying to get more traffic to the Palm,” says Rommel. “Additionally, we have many community groups using the theatre this summer– Telluride Youth Soccer Club, Pinhead Institute, Telluride Music Festival, Telluride Repertory Theater, Chamber Music Festival, and of course the Telluride Film Festival. For the sake of all of these important community groups, we hope to be able to keep the theatre open beyond this year!”
For a full Michael D. Palm Theatre schedule, go to telluridepalm.com.