Arts & Culture

One of Rhode Island’s only Spanish-language theater companies is getting its own home. The ECAS Theatre in Providence has been operating for nearly two decades. (ECAS stands for Educational Center for the Arts and Sciences.)

ECAS began in 1997, producing plays in both English and Spanish. Up to now, the group has rented space, but organizers have found a permanent home in Providence’s South Side.

The group mainly stages plays from Hispanic countries. Artistic Director Francis Parra said they provide a glimpse into the national cultures of many Rhode Island residents.

Trinity Repertory Company

A performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol might be part of your family’s holiday tradition. But for some families with autistic children, the bright lights and loud noises of a typical performance make that tradition nearly impossible. 

Chuck Hinman / RIPR

Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel, the Providence rock club, turns 40 this year. First opened in 1975, the club started out in the Conrad Building on Westminster St. Two moves later, it's now on Washington St. in the Strand building. To celebrate 40 years of live music, Lupo's sister club, the Met in Pawtucket, hosted several nights of music featuring favorites from years past, including Roomful of Blues, The Schemers, Rizzz and The Young Adults. For this month's Artscape, RIPR's Chuck Hinman talked to founder Rich Lupo about how it all started and what's next.

Chuck Hinman / RIPR

The Providence-based arts organization AS220 is celebrating its 30th anniversary Saturday night with a big party at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel in Providence. After a humble start in a small room in the Providence Performing Arts Center back in 1985, AS220 has grown to become an arts and performance powerhouse

Gabriella Nissen

Festival Ballet Providence kicks off its 38th season later this week with a re-boot of programs from The Ballets Russes. The dances shocked the art world when they premiered in Paris more than 100 years ago. The company invited collaborators from painters to fashion designers to take part in their performances. Festival Ballet Artistic Director Mihailo Djuric says the result was something new and exciting.

swampyank/creative commons license

The chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, Jane Chu, toured the Ocean State Friday. The visit was part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the NEA.

Chu says she was surprised by what she called a “thriving” arts community in Rhode Island. She said the state recognizes the impact of the arts on the economy.

"When we put the arts in a corner, or we think that it’s a frill, we’re really doing a disservice to the transformational power of the way arts touches our lives every day; everything from jobs to career training, to the beauty of arts themselves," said Chu.

Katherine Doherty

The din of trumpets, trombones, sousaphones, and bass drums rang out across the mouth of the Providence river on Monday as hundreds gathered for this year’s Pronk! festival. 

Lisa Williams / flickr

Downtown Providence might get a little noisy Monday as the Providence Honk Festival makes its annual parade through the city. The PRONK festival features a variety of marching bands and community groups. The groups will make their way from Kennedy Plaza to the mouth of Narragansett Bay.

The What Cheer? Brigade of Providence will be one of the bands taking part. Drummer Jori Ketten calls Pronk! an alternative street festival.

“A large part of the festival is about claiming the streets and spending time in the streets and reveling in the streets,” said Ketten.

Maggie Hall / Ocean State Theatre

Warwick’s Ocean State Theatre opens the season with a mixture of music and dark humor. Rhode Island Public Radio theatre critic Bill Gale was mostly won over by The Addams Family: The Musical.

The Addams Family: The Musical runs through October 25th at Ocean State Theatre in Warwick. Bill Gale reviews the performing arts for Rhode Island Public Radio.

Trinity Repertory Company

Rhode Island's theater community said a final farewell this week to longtime Trinity Repertory Company member Barbara Meek. The Detroit native passed away on Saturday. She was 81-years-old.

Meek acted in more than 100 plays at Trinity Rep., including the current production  of "Julius Caesar," which had her on stage up until the week before she died. Over her decades-long career, she also had roles on Broadway and television.

Rhode Island Public Radio arts critic Bill Gale shared his memories of Meek, both on and off the stage, in this audio postcard.

2nd Story Theatre

Ed Shea, artistic director of Warren's 2nd Story Theatre, had to ring up theater folk in London for permission to do “Dangerous Corner,” a mostly forgotten 1930s play by J.B. Priestley. Bill Gale says the result is, somewhat mixed.

Maggie Hall / Wilbury Theatre Group

Using the same theater space where Trinity Rep began more than 50 years ago, The Wilbury Group is another young theater willing to take a chance. Bill Gale says their latest work, “Dry Land,” is certainly risky.

Ah, yes, so it is. Written by Ruby Rae Spiegel when she was still an undergraduate at  Yale University, “Dry Land” rushes you into a vortex of, well, you could say a bunch of  kids being young and stupid.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A festival this weekend in the Massachusetts port town of New Bedford showcased the working waterfront, on the piers and in the harbor. From a scallop-shucking contest to whaleboat races, festival goers got to see Southern New England’s maritime heritage come alive. Here's an audio postcard from a new event at the 12-year-old festival, the nautical tattoo contest.

Collection of John Benson

This Saturday, Sept. 26, the Newport Art Museum opens the exhibit "Reviving Durr Freedley: Newport's Forgotten Artist." Freedly painted the murals that cover the interior of the Seamen's Institute chapel, but the painter and his art has been all but forgotten, until now.

Erin X. Smithers / Mixed Magic Theatre

The Mixed Magic Theatre in Pawtucket has begun its season with a play that opened some minds back in 1965. It was called “Day of Absence” and its plot – and its warning – still has something to say. 

Bill Gale has the review.


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