Art Notes: Hopkins Center events hop around Dartmouth campus amid renovation

By ERIC SUTPHIN

For the Valley News

Published: 01-18-2023 4:19 PM

HANOVER — The construction fencing along East Wheelock Street signals the beginning of the $88 million expansion and renovation of the Hopkins Center for the Arts. The iconic 1962 building is anticipated to reopen in 2025. In the interim, the Hop’s programming will spill out into other venues on campus this winter.

Despite the logistical challenges of hosting programs across multiple venues, Hop staff are poised to activate the campus with live arts while highlighting some of Dartmouth College’s rich cultural sites.

“We have focused on supporting new ways for our audience to have impactful experiences in the arts, which has meant thinking flexibly and adventurously about how our ensembles create and share work,” said Joshua Price Kol, managing director at the Hop.

The winter film series at Loew Auditorium, in the college’s Black Family Visual Arts Center, includes Till, which tells the story of MamieTill-Mobley, the mother of Emmit Till, as she pursues justice for her son in the wake of his murder (Friday and Sunday). Following that, Shadow, by the Australian theater company Back to Back Theatre will premiere Monday. The film is an adaptation of a piece originally performed onstage. The company is composed of actors with disabilities, and they will present a workshop prior to the screening in Sudikoff Lab, Dartmouth’s computer science building. Sudikoff is one of several sites that will serve as alternative space for Dartmouth’s music and theater departments.

Apple Hill String Quartet continues its yearlong residency at the Hop with a spate of dynamic programming that will incorporate performance, discussion and education. “Residencies such as this give us an opportunity to find resonant interests ... their performances can be emergent with our programming,” Michael Bodel, communications director of the Hop, said on Friday.

On Jan. 27, Apple Hill will premiere The Ceremony That Never Was at Church of Christ at Dartmouth. The newly commissioned work is by visual artist and composer Dana Lyn and takes its inspiration from a painting series by Native American artist Rick Bartow in the collection of the college’s Hood Museum. In spring and summer, Apple Hill will take its performances into venues across the Upper Valley, and beyond.

The recently renovated Rollins Chapel will host the Dallas-based a cappella group King’s Return. The quartet gained popularity with their DIY music videos in which they showcase their nimble vocal stylings, and the aim is for the chapel’s acoustics and soaring interior to elevate their sound. The anticipation for King’s Return has been great, and the Feb. 1 performance was nearly sold-out as of this writing. The chapel’s unique architecture presents practical concerns, such as sightlines (the large columns could obscure views), so the Hop team is exercising caution not to overfill the venue. On Feb. 28, the chapel will host the college’s gospel choir.

The Hop’s renovation and expansion project will create more versatile spaces that will make it possible to tailor the venue to the wide-ranging types of performances and events the Hop puts on.

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In the meantime, consideration is given to how the venues enhance the programming. “We want to right-size the spaces for each concert. ... A more intimate venue works in favor of some ensembles,” Bodel said. For example, Coast Jazz with Tomas Fujiwara and his ensemble Shizuko will play “informal, gig-style” concerts at Collis Common Ground, Dartmouth’s student center.

The Hop project includes efforts to improve acoustics to address sound-bleed between theaters. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for integrated technology for livestreaming performances as well as improved air filtration and HVAC systems.

“It’s not just an expansion; it’s a reimagining that will create more efficient use of the spaces, as well as improve technical and acoustic capability,” said Mary Lou Aleske, executive director of the Hop.

Visit hop.dartmouth.edu/2022-23-season/winter-2023 to view the full events calendar.

News and updates about the Hop renovation are available at hop.dartmouth.edu/projects-ideas/hop-reimagined.

New theater

Two professional theaters open new shows that take on questions of race, history and memory.

First, Shaker Bridge Theatre in Enfield opens The Niceties, a 2018 play in which a white Ivy League history professor and a Black political science student clash over the nation’s origins. Set in 2016, the presidential race provides the backdrop.

In a review of 2018 production at Manhattan Theater Club, The New York Times called The Niceties “a bristling, provocative debate play about race and privilege in the United States.” It’s also, the reviewer wrote, “about the destructiveness of internecine fighting,” a subject all too familiar to people in academia.

Shaker Bridge’s production starts Thursday and runs through Feb. 25 in Enfield’s Whitney Hall. For tickets and information, go to shakerbridgetheatre.org or call 603-448-3750.

Opening Jan. 25 at Northern Stage is the world premiere of ’Bov Water, a play by 2018 Dartmouth graduate Celeste Jennings that knits together the experiences of four Black women from the Civil War era to today.

The production received a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support Northern Stage’s relationship with The Ensemble Theatre in Houston which preserves and presents African American theater. ’Bov Water will be filmed in Vermont and streamed to The Ensemble Theatre’s audience.

Carol Dunne, Northern Stage’s artistic director, called the play “a visionary choreopoem,” which sounds like something seldom seen on Upper Valley stages.

For tickets and information, go to northernstage.org or call 802-296-7000. The first two shows, both previews, on Jan. 25 and 26 are “pay what you can.”

— Alex Hanson

​​​​​​Homegrown music

A pair of performances on Friday night present musicians from Vermont and New Hampshire, mostly folk.

Ramblers and Co., a trio of Americana musicians (and Dartmouth College students) kicks off the latest installment of the Anonymous Coffeehouse, followed Tommy Crawford, familiar to local audiences from performances at Northern Stage, including the recent production of The Railway Children, and 2X2, a folk quartet specializing in four-part harmony. The coffeehouse starts at 7:30 in Lebanon’s First Congregational Church. Admission is free, but think of the musicians.

Also in a church, albeit a deconsecrated one, Sharon’s Seven Stars Arts Center hosts Colin McCaffrey, Jim Rooney and Chris Brashear, part of the venue’s ”McCaffrey and Rooney Presents” series, at 7 p.m. Friday. This show brings together some bright lights in Americana music. Tickets are $20 in advance (through sevenstarsarts.org), $25 at the door, free for kids 12 and under.

— Alex Hanson

Homegrown art

It’s hard to believe, but AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon will open its 15th annual (15th?!) Regional High School Exhibition with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday. The show is up through Feb. 10.

— Alex Hanson

Eric Sutphin is a freelance writer. He lives in Plainfield.

Valley News Staff Writer Alex Hanson contributed to this report.

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