Essentials: Entertainment Picks Oct. 15-21 

Samba Fogo, The Secret Lives of Clowns and more

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click to enlarge Samba Fogo
  • Samba Fogo

Samba Fogo: Raizes do Samba
Samba Fogo is Salt Lake City's most vibrant and visible link to the local Brazilian community. Each autumn, this talented troupe of dancers, vocalists, musicians and fire dancers produces an evening of Brazilian dance and storytelling. This year's performance, Raizes do Samba ("Roots of Samba"), explores the art form's roots in Afro-Brazilian culture and history, as well as Samba Fogo's own connection to Brazil's artist communities. "A lot of people who come to our shows enjoy the spectacle, but they don't realize how authentic our work is, and how close our collaboration is with artists and teachers from Brazil," says Lorin Hansen, Samba Fogo's artistic director. Raizes do Samba will feature a number of original works that have come out of such relationships. A musical composition by guest musician Eduardo "Dudu" Fuentes, an award-winning composer and drummer who conducted a drumming workshop in Salt Lake City in September 2015, and a samba dance choreographed by Rio de Janeiro-based Alvaro Reys will showcase some of these creative collaborations. Those who have seen Samba Fogo before know that story always binds the performance. Vocalist and musician Solange Gomes weaves beautiful tales and folklore between the sets of high-energy dance and drumming. It's an important component of Samba Fogo's cultural mission. After all, explains Hansen, each number has a larger symbolic context. This year, storytelling takes on an even more important role as Raizes do Samba retraces the African roots, from as far back as the 16th-century slave trade, of the samba tradition. (Katherine Pioli) Samba Fogo: Raizes do Samba @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, Oct 15-17, 7:30 pm, $18-$20.


click to enlarge Brian Bress: "Sleeper 3"
  • Brian Bress: "Sleeper 3"

Salt 12: Brian Bress: Make Your Own Friends
Every atom in the universe may be connected to every other atom, but Los Angeles-based artist Brian Bress makes the Utah Museum of Fine Arts a universe of his own. The museum takes on a new dimension with Bress' mind-bending video screen performances, costumes and inventive productions, combining to make something unique with surprising complexity and methods. The videos either relate in pairs or groups and become an open door to new thought. "Ridley Tree Sleep" (pictured) is one of Bress' exciting and unique pieces. Curator Whitney Tassie uses creative license to pair pieces that interact or function together with works from the UMFA's own collection. "Ridley Tree Sleep" is paired with traditional UMFA portraits on either side, yet this video screen is not just another female portrait; it's Bress himself, costumed in the guise of a 2-D portrait. His 3-D representation of a 2-D painting, with subtle motion, questions the notion of what a painting can and cannot be. Says exhibition curator Tassie: "Brian Bress' silent characters cut through the screen, thus acknowledging the relationship between performer and viewer." Bress himself is animated, costumed and filmed in a manner inspired by children's television. This gives a new meaning to the conceptualization of the art and costume, detaching Bress from the space of the viewer and into an abstracted place of childhood. This sense of play opens up the art for new levels of discovery, while the viewer finds new connections. (Ehren Clark) Salt 12: Brian Bress: Make Your Own Friends @ Utah Museum of Fine Arts, 410 Campus Center Dr., University of Utah, 801-581-7332, Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (open until 8 p.m. Wednesday); Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; through Jan. 10, 2016, U of U students and members free, adults $14, youth and seniors $12, children 5 and under, free.


The Hive Theatre Co.: The Secret Lives of Clowns
  • The Hive Theatre Co.: The Secret Lives of Clowns

The Hive Theatre Co.: The Secret Lives of Clowns
For some, coulrophobia is no laughing matter. Fearing clowns is a real phobia—Pennywise, anyone? But what if your alter-ego was a sadistic, foul-mouthed gay clown? That's the focal point of The Hive Theatre Co.'s The Secret Lives of Clowns. Told in three parts—sad, funny and scary—each act follows clown-turned-New York City theater critic Johnny Harris (Austin Stephenson) as he returns to his hometown for his best friend Richard's funeral. It isn't long before Johnny starts hallucinating Mr. Wiggles (playwright Jared Greathouse, pictured, right), the aforementioned perverse mental companion. When Johnny learns the gruesome details of Richard's death—a murder and possible hate crime—he wants to know the truth. The only place he may find answers is at the clown academy he helped found with Richard, Leon (Thomas Bo Brady), and Richard's wife, Emma Jean (Tiffany A. Greathouse)—all of whom lead secret lives. Even with entirely too much dialogue and exposition—something even Mr. Wiggles points out—it's a wonder director Sam C. McGinnis V still managed to construct a coherent production. While the play relies heavily on themes of mental illness, inner demons and closeted gay men, no concrete statement is made. Instead, McGinnis and Greathouse want theatergoers to make up their own minds about the play's message. They even encourage you to put your two cents in by leaving a two-word review following the show. A review like: "loquacious clowns." (Missy Bird) The Hive Theatre Co.: The Secret Lives of Clowns @ Sorenson Unity Center, 1383 S. 900 West, 801-573-4080, Oct. 9-17, Friday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Oct. 17 matinee, 2 p.m.; $15.


click to enlarge Robert Kloss: The Revelator
  • Robert Kloss: The Revelator

Robert Kloss: The Revelator
There are any number of ways a writer could attempt a fictionalized novel based on the life of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints founder and prophet Joseph Smith. It could be somber and reverential, like the literary form of a cinematic "great man" biography. Or maybe it could be restrained and reflective, attempting to take a figure who has been chiseled into granite by his believers and make him simpler and more human. Robert Kloss, on the other hand, went for something risky and radical in The Revelator: employing a second-person narration to follow Joseph from a re-imagined childhood as an orphan, through his young adulthood as treasure-hunter, and into his visitation by an otherworldly presence that leads to the creation of a new religion. And Kloss employs an almost scriptural language for this task, the "you" of the narrator speaking to Joseph in a way that echoes his sense of always being spoken to, and given a calling. The result is far from conventional, at times turning Joseph into a man haunted by the terrifying messenger of God he envisions as a dark creature. Yet, it's also a fascinating portrait of Joseph as a man of his time, with followers drawn to his charismatic teachings, and the story of the church's founding as inextricable from the American mythology of Manifest Destiny, and its accompanying violence. Join the author this week for a reading from this tale of a man who became a prophet, told in way you've surely never heard before. (Scott Renshaw) Robert Kloss: The Revelator @ Weller Book Works, 607 Trolley Square, 801-328-2586, Oct. 16, 7 p.m., free.


click to enlarge People Productions: The Exonerated
  • People Productions: The Exonerated

People Productions: The Exonerated
What's worse than being convicted of a crime you didn't commit? Being convicted of a crime you didn't commit and ending up on Death Row. The docudrama The Exonerated tells the stories of six people who spent anywhere from two to 22 years on Death Row for crimes they didn't commit, weaving together text from interviews, letters, court transcripts and case files. People Productions will perform The Exonerated over the next two weekends to raise funds for the Rocky Mountain Innocence Project, a nonprofit that assists the wrongfully convicted in Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. Performances begin Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Utah's Quinney College of Law, which is also the venue for a 2 p.m. matinee Oct. 18. On Oct. 17, Salt Lake Community College's South City Campus Black Box Theatre (1575 S. State) hosts a free performance at 7:30. The second weekend features three performances at the University of Utah Social Work Building: 7:30 p.m., Oct. 23; 7:30 p.m., Oct. 24; and 2 p.m., Oct. 25. (Geoff Griffin) People Productions: The Exonerated @ various locations, Oct. 16-18 & Oct. 23-25, $15,

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