CHS Pics | Tempest staged without a stage in Volunteer Park

In a neighborhood crunched for arts spaces that arts groups can actually afford, the REBATEnsemble might present a few useful lessons.

Bringing “engaging theatre to unconventional spaces,” the “Recession-Era Broke-Ass Theatre Ensemble” has learned how to stage even the greatest works of performance without a stage. Or a theater, for that matter. Continue reading

Town Hall hopes to become First Hill gateway as two 32-story towers set to join block

(Image: Michael Hanscom via Town Hall Seattle)

(Image: Michael Hanscom via Town Hall Seattle)

(Image: Town Hall Seattle)

(Image: Town Hall Seattle)

This August, the amazing old church that grew up to be First Hill’s Town Hall Seattle isn’t doing much but getting older as it reaches the 100th anniversary of its construction. Next August, the landmark building — and its block at 8th and Seneca — will begin a massive process of overhaul and change that will rebuild the old Town Hall and functionally rotate the structure’s presence to create what the nonprofit hopes is a new presence for the structure as a connector between downtown and a rapidly growing First Hill neighborhood. Along with the new orientation, more than 500 new neighbors are also coming to the block in a set of apartment towers planned to join the 100-year-old building.

Capital campaign director for Kevin Malgesini said that the corner of Town Hall closest to the I-5 lid Freeway Park is a focal point of the renovation project. “We’re looking at the way this corner links the two neighborhoods,” he said. “What it is is really visually connecting Freeway Park and First Hill, rather than First Hill turning its back on the city.”

Malgesini said the nondescript and closed-off nature of the building’s current west facade makes it unapproachable from downtown Seattle. “I think there are many people who see the building and don’t know what it is.” Continue reading

‘Girl’ aims to flip heroic journey on its head

The cast of Girl (Image: Mary Hubert)

Cast members of Girl (Image: Mary Hubert)

Creators of a new play at Capitol Hill’s Annex Theater aim to unravel the classic hero’s journey story framework famously outlined by Joseph Campbell.

“Back in college I was really interested in the hero’s journey structure, but I never really felt like it related that much to women,” said director and cowriter of Girl, Mary Hubert. She came up with the idea for the play in 2015 and said she wanted the work to lay bare the heroic story formula’s “lack of applicability to modern-day women.”

For example, a traditional hero’s journey can be considered a success when the protagonist completes their quest by winning a prize. “In most people’s lives, not just women’s, they don’t get a prize,” said Hubert. Continue reading

Hugo House announces 2016/2017 season, its first on First Hill

(Image: Hugo House)

(Image: Hugo House)

Literary nonprofit Hugo House has announced the lineup for this 2016-2017 season, its first full season in an interim stay on First Hill.

Hugo’s Molly Woolbright writes:

I’m so happy to announce Hugo House’s 2016–2017 season, which features a diverse lineup of established and emerging writers throughout our two series—Hugo Literary Series and Word Works—as well as our one-off events. We’re thrilled to welcome Mary Gaitskill, Téa Obreht, Colson Whitehead, Karen Russell, Terrance Hayes, Patricia Smith, Alexander Chee, and many more.

Some of the best news in the announcement will come for Capitol Hill fans of the nonprofit’s popular Lit Series: Continue reading

Seattle Arts and Lectures moves to 15th Ave E, plans to stay forever (and ever)

Literary-focused nonprofit Seattle Arts and Lectures has made Capitol Hill its home base. The organization migrated from its previous office in Georgetown to a new spot on 15th Ave E where architecture firm Board and Vellum was housed until its move earlier this summer.

“We’re so grateful to be here and be part of such a vibrant art community and such a vibrant neighborhood.” director Ruth Dickey said. Dickey said that though the move came because SAL’s landlord in Georgetown wanted the space, the organization is ecstatic about its new neighborhood. “We hope to stay forever.” Continue reading

PALMS, Northwest Film Forum’s biggest performance yet

13509112_10155074553039012_3529820825261728559_nPart of the venue’s new focus on live performance, the “dance, music, poetry, and architectural design” PALMS will premiere at the Northwest Film Forum Thursday for a short run on 12th Ave. The hour-long live show that started out as a creative exercise has flourished into a production that has sold out the 118-seat theater for opening night.

PALMS is an abstract representation of a wild animal turning into a woman. Choreographer Paige Barnes said the idea for the show was born 18 months ago when Barnes, dancer Nadia Losonsky, and poet Vanessa DeWolf started getting together and creating snippets of work in response to each other’s art as a way to stay engaged with the creative process. After about a month and a half of the exercises, Barnes said the final product began to emerge.

“I wanted to create that caged bird feeling,” Barnes said. “She’s blocked in by the sound, by the space, by her hands in her pockets.” Continue reading

Northwest Film Forum tabs next executive director

unnamed-1There is hope, graduating art students of 2016, that those series of unpaid internships will eventually land you a dream arts organization job and Courtney Sheehan is living proof.

Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum announced Tuesday that the 27-year-old one-time college intern, who got her first full-time gig with the 12th and Pike nonprofit in 2013, has taken over as the new executive director.

“Courtney is really good at building relationships, understanding the importance of new ideas, and celebrating the kind of art that draws people together,” said NWFF board president Peter Vogt.

Sheehan’s appointment comes a year after Lyall Bush stepped down as the forum’s previous executive director. Bush, who had been involved with the forum since it opened 20 years ago, now leads the film program at Cornish College of Arts.

The NWFF stands out among film organizations in that it not only screens a wide variety of independent film, but also offers filmmaking classes, rents equipment, and funds local projects. In addition to expanding those elements, Sheehan said she is excited to program more events that mix film with performances and speakers. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Housing’s annual forum: 5 projects to ‘gearshift’ the Hill

Imagine the CHS comments section come to life. You know… a deep, well-informed conversation about the most important issues and opportunities facing Capitol Hill and the people of Central Seattle. With fewer trolls and people complaining about my tiptoes typos.

Capitol Hill Housing’s annual community forum is Thursday night, the location is Hill-convenient at E Pike’s Summit Event Space, the tickets are free and still available. The theme? Gearshift:

When people talk about “shifting gears” they often mean abruptly changing direction or the topic of conversation. This idiom is confusing. On a bicycle, shifting gears has little to do with changing direction. Rather, shifting gears on a bike is about maintaining an optimal effort for maximum efficiency. It’s about making on-the-fly adjustments to keep moving over uneven terrain without getting exhausted. Shifting gears is more appropriately a metaphor for resilience.

Some important and smart people will be there:

On May 26th, five professional urban planners and passionate community organizers will introduce these ambitious projects in a rapid-fire series of Pecha Kucha-style presentations followed by an opportunity for each guest to participate in a facilitated discussion about one of the five projects. Presenters include Sierra Hansen of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, Scott Bonjukian of Lid I-5, Alex Brennan from Capitol Hill Housing, Zachary Pullin of the Capitol Hill Community Council and Tonya Lockyer of Velocity Dance Center.  Civic leaders (City Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Mike O’Brien are confirmed) will be there to listen and respond to your comments.

This year’s forum will be a little different with multiple presentations on a set of hot topics undoubtedly culled from recent CHS archives:

The evening will feature five projects with the potential to increase the resilience of the neighborhood. The five projects:

The annual forum — CHH says this is the 9th edition — has been out in front on a variety of important initiatives and issues around the area while foreshadowing big projects to come from the city and the nonprofit developer. In 2015, the forum discussed gentrification and development in the Central District. In the year since, we’ve followed as massive projects have taken shape, more are coming, and the challenges of change have taken new forms in the community that CHH is slated to become an important new part of.

Capitol Hill Housing’s work around Capitol Hill, meanwhile, continues as the nonprofit developer of affordable housing enters its 40th year. It has been selected to be part of the Capitol Hill Station development to operate an 86-unit affordable apartment building at the site. As part of its mission to build “vibrant, engaged communities,” the 40-year-old community development corporation has frequently found itself outside the traditional role of housing developer. Through the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict, CHH organized the pedestrian zone pilot project and will launch a transit pass program for tenants, and a shared parking pilot.

Gearshift: Capitol Hill Housing’s Community Forum 2016 is Thursday, May 26 starting at 5:00 PM at The Summit, 420 E Pike. Free tickets are available here.

The Egyptian, Capitol Hill’s working cinema, ready for another big role in 42nd SIFF

Capitol Hill’s Egyptian Theater — or SIFF Cinema Egyptian, as the organization behind the venue likes it to be called — is a hard worker, bringing independent and art house cinema to the neighborhood day in and day out. Starting this week, the old Masonic temple will, again, be part of the annual SIFF Seattle Independent Film Festival, this year 25 days of movies and the people who love them across the city. It’s this mix of showcase spectacle and the steady drumbeat of daily and nightly screenings and events through the year that makes the Egyptian special.

“We love the fact that we’re back at the Egyptian Theater as the operators year round,” festival director and chief curator Carl Spence tells CHS. “It’s a full circle that we’re able to save it as a cinema and keep it going as a working cinema.”

The 2016 SIFF takes the screen starting Friday, May 19th and runs through an epic schedule leading up to this year’s June 12th finale. There are the numbers: 421 films representing 85 countries: 181 features (plus 4 secret films), 75 documentaries, 8 archival films, and 153 shorts. The films include 54 World premieres (29 features, 25 shorts), 56 North American premieres (42 features, 14 shorts), and 27 US premieres (15 features, 12 shorts). And there are the stars. This year, Viggo Mortensen will be at the Egyptian June 11th to follow Kevin Bacon (2015) and Laura Dern (2014) as the latest recipients of the festival’s annual Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting.

But, most importantly, there are the movies: Continue reading

Play set in Mexico and Seattle debuts in Xalapa, ready to stage on Capitol Hill

unnamed (6)A “physical theater” play set to open on Capitol Hill next week already had a bit of a warm-up run — in Xalapa, Mexico.

The RipCity Dance premiere of Seattle hits the stage here on April 29th, and 30th. The play takes place in both Mexico and Seattle — and is being toured through both.

“The play’s climax happens in Seattle, and its story is told through a time period when Seattle had an important place in the counterculture and in art and music, expressing messages about how to do things differently in the world,” Steven Ripley, the founder of RipCity Dance, tells CHS. “We use music from Seattle bands – Nirvana and Pearl Jam.”

Ripley’s vision for his one-year-old company comes from producing plays, workshops, and dance classes.

“We’ve used hip-hop, breakdance, groovy modern improv, gigong — the intention is to break the usual mold of what a dance class is, and to create a new type of community experience for families to share,” Ripley said.

Written by Adrian Vazquez of Los Tristes Tigres, and in partnership with Ethnofit Studio of Mexico City, Seattle is performed by Nancy Lopez Luna and Elia Mrak.

Each performance will be accompanied by an after-show discussion.

“Adrian’s play tells an astonishing story about the spontaneity of life and the creation of what we call destiny,” Ripley tells CHS. “Our lives are chaotic, with earthquakes and hurricanes and family traumas.  We don’t often have a grand sense of things.”

Tickets are on sale for the Friday, April 29th and Saturday, April 30th, performances at the Erickson Theater on Capitol Hill.

V2’s promising start as Value Village art space could be a blueprint for other empty buildings

Resident Kate Wallich holds a rehearsal for Industrial Ballet inside V2. (Image: Kate Wallich via Instagram)

Resident Kate Wallich holds a rehearsal for Industrial Ballet inside V2. (Image: Kate Wallich via Instagram)

It’s only been a month since Velocity Dance Center officially opened the V2 “temporary arts space” in the old Value Village building on 11th Ave, and the new residents have already churned out an impressive display of creativity.

“It’s exciting what’s already happened,” said Tonya Lockyer, Velocity’s artistic director and former executive director. “And only more is in store.”

Since Value Village departed from the auto row-era Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Company building on 11th and E Pine last year, Legacy Commercial’s plans for a mixed-use development on the site have been significantly slowed due to a landmark protections decision. While the project gets sorted out, the 12th Ave dance studio signed a six-month, below market-rate lease with Legacy in February and opened V2 in early March.

V1 of the V2 space when it was still Macklemore's thrift shop. (Image: CHS)

V1 of the V2 space when it was still Macklemore’s thrift shop. (Image: CHS)

Initiated by the Capitol Hill Arts District, and propped up by a $20,000 grant from the city’s Office of Arts and Culture, the 30,000-square-foot space is being put to use for dance performance, offices, rental studios, and storage. It is also home to the event company One Reel, which will be staging its Bumbershoot operations out of V2 this year.

Lockyer says it’s been a “fast turn around” to get V2 up and running and there is still a lot of work to be done, including painting the walls and getting city permits for public events. Even so, Velocity has already hosted visual artists, dancers, and choreographers through their in-house residency program, which allows residents to work out of V2 for free or at highly subsidized rents.

Residents have included local dance choreographer Kate Wallich, who recently sold-out Seattle’s Moore Theatre with her one-time show Industrial Ballet — Velocity’s largest production to date. Dance choreographer Alice Gostia worked in the space as she gears up for of a large production at the Seattle waterfront this summer and Seattle-based drag queen and dancer Cherdonna Shinatra collaborated with local street artist 179 to do a mural in V2. Continue reading

Say goodbye to Hugo House’s old Capitol Hill home with party where you can write on its walls

Your 2016 calendar is filling up but make sure to leave a mark for the going away party for an old friend. Hugo House has announced details of its May 7th Epilogue/Prologue party:

It’s the end of one story and the beginning of another. Come to the last party at the current Hugo House to celebrate your time here and look toward the future. We have plenty in store for you.

Have a beer or wine on us (if you RSVP below)
See mock-ups of the new building
Browse through a gallery of photos from great times at Hugo House (since 1997)
Snag food from a food truck
Meet new people and spend time with old friends
Confess your Hugo House stories in a confession booth
Take photos with friends in our writerly photobooth
And, best, of all:Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 10.39.59 AM

No, this isn’t a cliché—we actually want you to write your poems and stories and anything you want on almost every wall of Hugo House. Then we’ll send you an ebook of excerpts from the wall and photos from the night.

You can learn more and RSVP here.

In January, CHS reported on Hugo House’s plans for an interim home on First Hill before its 2018 return to 10th Ave in its new mixed-use home. The old Hugo House will be demolished later his year to make way for a new six-story, apartment development that will include a new 10,000 square-foot writing center. More than 100 years old, the one time Manning’s Funeral Parlor was deemed unworthy of landmark status in 2013.

Meanwhile, V2, a new creative arts space and facility is busy making over the old Value Village building before its planned development in 2017.