WXXI AM News

Across the Universe

Our musicians, our writers, our artists, the culture that comes to visit us, the Elvis impersonators, the stars. WXXI Arts & Life Editor and Reporter Jeff Spevak takes a look at the local scene each week in Across the Universe.

courtesy of PUSH Physical Theatre

As next month’s KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival recalibrates for the new reality -- the event will be presented virtually -- the performers are having to rethink what Darren Stevenson calls “the canvas on which we create.”

Provided by Visual Studies Workshop

The film is black and white, as was the issue. The camera work is a little jittery, as were the times. A Black man -- he looks to be in his mid-20s -- is talking about the relationship between the police and Black youths.

“They got feelings, we got feelings, they should consider that. I mean, if you get clubbed upside the head, man, it hurts. They should know that, if they get clubbed upside the head, that’s gonna hurt. You know what I mean?”

Dryden Theatre

The problem with our new reality is, we can’t see it from where we are now.

The new reality, of course, is COVID-19. The numbers -- more than 600,000 dead worldwide, more than 140,000 dead in the United states -- tell us the virus is not a conspiracy theory. Science tells us it’s not going to simply disappear.

Provided

David Shakes knows what change looks like, and sounds like, and feels like. He finds it in writers such as James Baldwin, whose words have shadowed us as the country navigates the summer of Black Lives Matter.

Shakes is finding change in the words of Frederick Douglass, and in the narratives of slaves. And in "Emancipation Denied," a play written by a Rochester woman and brought to the stage four years ago by Shakes' North Star Players.

abbyfeldman.com

Abby Feldman's life has come full circle. After a comedy career that has taken her from Manhattan to Brazil to just within reach of the dark bat wings of the Kremlin, she's now waiting out the coronavirus pandemic in her childhood bedroom in Pittsford. Where her mother, she says, "keeps my supply of avocados replenished."

"It took a pandemic to appreciate this small town that I come from."

YouTube

How did we get to the point that singing is considered to be a dangerous act?

That's where we are, in this era of COVID-19. Last week, the nation was reopening bars, restaurants, churches, music venues. Now, more than half the states in the country are pulling back from their premature announcements that the coronavirus pandemic is over, and life may now return to normal.

Provided by Vertical Entertainment

"Miss Juneteenth" is one of the current virtual offerings at The Little Theatre, part of the Black Cinema Series. It's about a single mom, Turquoise Jones, a former Miss Juneteenth winner, preparing her rebellious teenage daughter to follow in her footsteps and compete in the pageant.

"One message is pride, one message is teaching history," Richard McCollough says.

Rochester Red Wings

As far as Fred Costello can see, two good things have emerged from The Summer of 2020.

"My home studio has never looked so clean," he says. "My dog gets a lot of walks."

Otherwise, "Honestly, I'm bored. Have you ever seen that movie 'Groundhog Day'? That's what life has become. I get up the same time every morning. I'm watching the same TV shows during the day. It's like, oh my God, I'm not a man of schedule. I mean, I'm always running, between the studio and gigs, the ballpark, you know."

Michael Hanlon

Gaelen McCormick's creative soul was saved by crochet.

"It was right around the time of the Women's March in DC," she says, "and, you remember how everyone was making pussy hats? And I thought, well, that doesn't look too hard, why don't I get some yarn and watch a YouTube video. And actually, that kind of saved me for months, learning how to crochet, and learning how to be creative in a way that really felt good, but didn't have to involve sound."

Provided

A couple of weeks ago, the actor Stanley Tucci went viral. He simply posted a brief video in which he demonstrates how he makes a Negroni cocktail. A double shot of gin, a shot of sweet vermouth, a shot of Campari. Shaken with ice, garnished with an orange, which he first squeezes into the glass as he advises, “Don’t let anyone see you handle it like that.”

Simple, yet elegant. Others may quibble. The late Anthony Bourdain suggested a 1:1:1 ratio on the booze, don’t bother shaking, and just drop in an orange wedge. It’s a big world; to each his own.

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