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ARTS & CULTURE TO GO


;The Iliad, the Odyssey ;and all of Greek Mythology ;in 90 Minutes or Less

;;It took Ulysses 10 years to get home after the Trojan War, and not even CliffsNotes can speed that up very much. For this Jester Theater Company production, local improv comedians Jay Hopkins (co-writer, director) and John Hunter (co-writer) jump on the bandwagon of abridging ridiculously large bodies of work for the stage, reducing myth to minimalist gags and epic battles to well-choreographed pratfalls. The difference between a sketch and a play is the sketch ends when the joke does, but a play ends when some central question is answered.

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;Hopkins' central question is, "What's funny in a 20-year long war?" The lecture we get from this cast of local stalwarts runs like a long-form improv sequence.

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;Hairy-legged Ryan Gigliotti is most memorable as the reluctant warrior Achilles, lifting weights and not getting his hair mussed. Bouffanted Jamie Cline balances him as Zeus' cow-faced wife, Hera. Zeus is in some ways a metaphor for the errors of an early marriage; as in, she might look hot when you're both 16, but when you're 46 your standards might change. Jamie Bridwell gets the tougher female roles, like goddess of the hunt, Athena; while Gina DiRoma covers the ditzier females including Pandora, who just can't keep a secret. Last of all is the awkward yet bouncy Chase Padgett. Everyone has to pick on someone, so why not his warrior Diomedes?

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;Fortunately you don't have to take a mythology quiz after the show. Greek mythology is more complicated than an anime series, with nearly as many arbitrary names, roles and responsibilities. Still, all those Greeks lurk in the basement of Western thought, and this quick gag review of the lot might make you a bit savvier next time you watch a production of Trojan Women or Oedipus. (8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday through March 18 at the Studio Theatre; $15; 407-927-5043; www.jestertheater.com or www.redchairproject.com)

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;;— Al Pergande

;;Arthur Blumenthal ;resigns from Cornell Museum

;;If "museologist extraordinaire" is listed on your résumé, there might be a job opening for you at the Cornell Museum of Fine Arts at Rollins College. Longtime museum director Arthur Blumenthal, 65, who saw the museum through its recent renovation, has decided to launch a new career as a museum consultant come June. Those who know the fussy guardian of the Cornell's renowned collection of antiquities and contemporary gems can relate to his difficult decision to depart from his babies; those who really know Blumenthal understand the adventure in his heart, which will lead him first to Italy in his new role. Goodbyes, formal and otherwise, as well as a search for a new director, will keep Blumenthal and the museum busy with press releases until the transition is complete. No matter what fortunes lie ahead for Blumenthal and the museum, there's no denying the loss of yet another treasured piece of old Orlando.

;;— Lindy T. Shepherd

;;Apartment E

;;With the seeming domination of the local arts scene by city and county agencies and departments pushing "cultural tourism" by filtering available dollars toward those organizations that can count the number of visitors their programs bring to town, it was only a matter of time before the grass-roots rumblings grew louder.

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;We received an e-mail from Frankie of the loose Apartment E collective that was filled with a tone that was less than the cheery, positive outlook we've come to expect. Here's a sample from the e-mail titled, "A note from Frankie about TRUE local culture, and other things …."

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;"There is though an unhealthy separation and rotten agenda working in this town that is laden with favoritism, greed, and just unfair dealings. … We do not agree with this. We believe that every arts group and organization in Orlando (no matter the size of their bank accounts) are important and vital to the success and growth of Orlando's true culture."

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;The e-mail goes on to deny the collective's "underground" reputation, to deny that it is an "activist organization" and to clarify its mission. "With a lot of local support from a lot of good people doing good things for the "good" of all Orlando. We have never claimed to be always right or predictable in our approach to enlarging local culture, but … we have always treated everyone with respect and openness. We have been supportive of all arts in Orlando and we will continue that worthy mission."

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;Ultimately, Frankie extends an open invitation to attend a meeting about "being on the first ever staff." We'll be there and report more from the Orlando artists who have grown weary of not only being ignored by arts-funding agencies, but of being insulted by them.

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;(5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, at Dandelion Communitea Café; RSVP by e-mail to apartmente@earthlink.net; www.apartmente.com)

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;; — LTS

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;Joseph Reed Hayes

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;Those who've watched the bylines in this paper over the years should remember dining writer Joseph Hayes, who moved on to follow his muse as playwright Joseph Reed Hayes (www.jrhayes.net). His string of achievements recently earned him a Galati Grant from the Jack Kerouac Project for nonfiction research, which will come in handy for his current project, If I Had My Way, a play about life on a citrus ranch in 1945 Florida. The Galati Grants are targeted toward nonfiction writers from metro Orlando to inspire further research into areas of art, history and culture (www.kerouacproject.org). Way to go, Joe.

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;;— LTS

;; arts@orlandoweekly.com

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