BACKSTAGE AT THE REP: Current Show


Art Exhibit by Lauren LeVieux
January 8th – February 21, 2016
Barracks 15 Studio 203 Liberty Station
Contact:  artwork@laurenlevieux.com

My art is a dialogue of paint to brush, form to color. For me, painting affords an irresistible freedom and a powerful way to communicate beyond the limitations of language.

For this exhibit, I had the opportunity to change my studio at Liberty Station into an art installation in response to San Diego Repertory Theatre’s Outside Mullingar, a play written by John Patrick Shanley and directed by Todd Salovey.  I painted the wood floor an earthy green, the walls a sky blue and installed light curtains that would breathe with the coastal breezes.  I also installed two white picket fences.  This space was to define a moment of discovery, a moment when one could find a lifelong context.  And the narrative paintings were to be the discovery itself as if the maze of ancestors, secrets and love found in Outside Mullingar could turn to paint. 

Why the collaboration?  The Audience Engagement Curator for San Diego REP visited my art studio in August 2015 and said she immediately thought of the play Outside Mullingar and asked if I would be interested.  For me this was a chance to participate in a poetic exchange between expressive genres--- especially interesting when themes and visions overlap.  When I read the play, I knew it would be an honor to have my art associated with San Diego REP’s Outside Mullingar since the quality of the literature and the quality of San Diego Repertory Theatre’s performances are what I work toward in my own art.

What did the curator see in my art that related to Outside Mullingar?
My art is narrative in nature and I am intrigued by ancestors providing a historical context, a generational context for individual lives.

Narrative Art?  For me, narrative art implies story-based but not necessarily text-based art.   For instance, I have several long narrow pieces that tell a story that begins at the left, ends at the right.  When I paint, I am thinking of a particular story—usually something I have on my mind--- but what I hope is that the viewer will see their own story within. 

Ancestors?  “I’ve been dreaming about everyone who ever lived.  Ancestors and more than that.  Me at the front.”  (Outside Mullingar)

Most of my oil paintings have many layers of paint, the history of the piece told through the interaction of the layers.  So too in my mind, is the history of humankind told through the layers of generations, each layer dependent on the one that came before.  We the living are the last layer of the painting and what we experience depends to some degree to the layers before--  the depth and richness of the painting requires time and layers.  Outside Mullingar is more than a love story, it is the struggle to define the historical context of their individual lives and find a way to love in the present and allow for future layers of generations. 

I have researched nine generations of my maternal ancestors and have visited the places they lived.  In my studio, you will always find a few examples of these stories invaluable to me for finding my own context.

To those of you who visited this exhibit, thank you.  It has been a privilege to work with San Diego Repertory Theatre.  A special thank you to Marley Healy for organizing the receptions and coordinating all aspects of the exhibit, to the Celtic Echoes for their Irish tunes.  And thank you also to Outside Mullingar’s Ellen Crawford and Mike Genovese who took the time and found a way to connect to my art. I look forward to more projects of this scope where the connection between viewers and art becomes art itself.

Contact:  Lauren LeVieux   760-815-1556   artwork@laurenlevieux.com  Thank you-


Curious Clips: Excerpts from The Curious REPort

Thursday, February 11th

WHO MOVES? WHO STAYS PUT?

Where’s Home?
BY D’VERA COHN AND RICH MORIN DEC 17, 2008 FROM THE PEW RESEARCH CENTER
(Updated Dec. 29, 2008 to reflect new Census data.)
 
As a nation, the United States is often portrayed as restless and rootless. Census data, though, indicate that Americans are settling down. Only 11.9% of Americans changed residences between 2007 and 2008, the smallest share since the government began tracking this trend in the late 1940s. A new Pew Social & Demographic Trends survey finds that most Americans have moved to a new community at least once in their lives, although a notable number — nearly four-in-ten — have never left the place in which they were born. Asked why they live where they do, movers most often cite the pull of economic opportunity. Stayers most often cite the tug of family and connections.
 
Both the survey and Census data indicate that the biggest differences in the characteristics of movers and stayers revolve around geography and education. In the Midwest, nearly half of adult residents say they have spent their entire lives in their hometown. That compares with fewer than a third of those who live in Western states. Cities, suburbs and small towns have more movers than stayers, while rural areas are more evenly split. Three-quarters of college graduates have moved at least once, compared with just over half of Americans with no more than a high school diploma. College graduates also move longer distances — and move more often — than Americans with a high school diploma or less, and employment plays a greater role in their decisions about where to live. By income group, the most affluent Americans are the most likely to have moved.
 
 
The Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey indicates that the number of people who moved between 2007 and 2008, 34 million, was the lowest since 1959-60, when the population of the U.S. was 41% smaller than it is now. The annual migration rate, which held at about 20% through the mid-1960s, has drifted downward since then to its current low of 11.9%.
Analysts say the long-term decline in migration has occurred because the U.S. population is getting older and most moves are made when people are young. Another brake on moving is the rise of two-career couples, because it is more difficult to coordinate a relocation when two jobs are involved. On top of these long term trends, the current economic downturn has led to a further decline in migration, because jobs are typically one of the key magnets that induce people to move.
 
The Pew Social & Demographic Trends survey of 2,260 adults, which was conducted Oct. 3-19, 2008, asked respondents why they have stayed in their hometowns or have moved to their current community. This report combines the survey findings with Census Bureau data on migration patterns between states and regions.
The survey also posed questions to U.S.-born movers about the “place in your heart you consider to be home,” and to foreign-born respondents about “the country in your heart you consider to be home.”
 
 
Home means different things to different people. Among U.S.-born adults who have lived in more than one community, nearly four-in-ten (38%) say the place they consider home isn’t where they’re living now. But there’s a wide range of definitions of “home” among Ameri-cans who have lived in at least one place besides their original hometown: 26% say it’s where they were born or raised; 22% say it’s where they live now; 18% say it’s where they have lived the longest; 15% say it’s where their family comes from; and 4% say it’s where they went to high school.
As for foreign-born adults, a majority say that the U.S. is home, while nearly four-in-ten reserve that designation for their country of birth. Not surprisingly, the longer an immigrant lives in this country, the more likely the U.S. is considered “home.”
 
Among all respondents to the Pew Research Center survey, 57% say they have not lived in the U.S. outside their current state: 37% have never left their hometown and 20% have left their hometown (or native country) but not lived outside their current state. The Pew survey finds that stayers overwhelmingly say they remain because of family ties and because their hometowns are good places to raise children. Their life circumstances match those explanations. Most stay-ers say at least half a dozen members of their extended families live within an hour’s drive; for 40%, more than 10 relatives live nearby. A majority of stayers also cite a feeling of belonging as a major reason for staying put.
 
Movers are far less likely to cite those kinds of ties. Fewer than four-in-ten say a major reason they moved to their current community has to do with family or child-rearing. Most movers have five or fewer extended-family members living within an hour’s drive of them, and 26% have none. The most popular reason that movers choose a new community, selected by a 44% plurality, is job or business opportunities, according to the Pew survey. About the same share of stayers (40%) cite job or business oppor-tunities as a major reason for staying, but far more stayers choose reasons related to family and friends.
 

Movers are more likely than stayers to say that it is likely they will move in the next five years. But despite those and other differences, equal shares of movers and stayers — about six-in-ten — rate their communi-ties overall as good to excellent.

Curious Clips: Excerpts from The Curious REPort

Monday, February 1st

HISTORY OF TWO FAMILIES

 
Muldoon is an anglicization of the Irish Ó Maoldúin, "descended from Maoldúin," which in turn was a legendary first name. This name means Hill-fort, the fort coming from the ‘Duin’ part. This name Máel Dúin was first written down in the book of Lebor na hUidre, or the book of Dun Cow. Máel Dúin is thought to be one of the first Irish explorers of the west coast of Scotland, he is thought to have established the first territory of Dál Riata, west coast of Scotland. Also, another Máel Dúin was one of the Kings from Mag Rath in Dál Riata, Western Scotland - his name was Máel Dúin mac Conaill (Died c. 689.) The family logo is Pro Fide Et Patria, Latin for "For Faith And Country."
 
 
The Reillys were first found in County Cavan where they held a family seat (a principal manor of a medieval lord) from very ancient times. In fact, the Reillys were the most powerful sect of the old Gaelic kingdom of Breffney in Cavan and surrounding counties. Reillys can also be found in Longford, Meath, Westmeath, Fermanagh and Monaghan primalrily because these counties were once included in the Reillys territory. The coat of arms logo of the Reilly clan is “With fortitude and prudence.” The family is known for being tough, determined and often violent.

 

Curious Clips: Excerpts from The Curious REPort

Monday, February 1st

MO ANAM CARA OR IRISH SOULMATES

Mo Anam Cara means “my soul mate” or “my soul friend.” In the initial tradition, it was shared between a teacher or companion with whom you would develop a close friend-ship with. Over the years, however, the definition has expanded past friendship to all possibilities of love.

The idea got its roots from an old Celtic spiritual belief that human souls can come together or even bond with another. A soul would radiate an aura all over the body and, when you found someone who you really trust, the auras would mingle together and voila: soul friends. But it was not easy. The spiritual connection re-quired the extreme courage of discovering the in-ner beauty of yourself and sharing it with another.

Mo Anam Cara speaks to an ancient and undying connection that surpasses human lifespans and is seen as an ever flowing energy that is limit-less to space and time. These souls are often associated with ocean currents that represent both the flow of energy as well as the intermingling and combining nature of two souls moving and becom-ing one.

To be blessed with Mo Anam Cara is considered to be one of the greatest gifts any person could receive, as the Irish believe that, through connecting with your soul friend, you have broken down all barriers between you and your other and are able to arrive at your spiritual home. This tradition is not something that anyone could live without, however, as St. Brigid, the patron saint of Ireland, stated that lacking your soul mate was the same as lacking your head.

Throughout their history, the Celts firmly believed in the power of Mo Anam Cara. Even as we have entered the 21st century, this age old spiritual tradition still lives on, possi-bly more powerfully than ever. The phrase is often engraved into wedding rings and other assorted jewelry as signs of love and devotion. The concept of Irish spiritual soul mates was even explored in John O’ Donahue’s 1997 novel Anam Cara which discussed the Celtic tra-dition of “soul friends” and the value of friendships by opening up and experiencing yourself.

"...You are joined in an ancient and eternal union with humanity that cuts across all barriers of time, convention, philosophy and definition. When you are blessed with an anam cara, the Irish believe, you have arrived at that most sacred place: home."
-John O’Donahue

 

Curious Clips: Excerpts from The Curious REPort

Thursday, January 21st

THE LAND OF IRELAND 

 
Ireland is an island (one of the British Isles) located in the north Atlantic off Western Europe. At 32,595 sq miles, it is slightly smaller than the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, or slightly larger than South Carolina. Historically it is divided into four provinces (Connaught, Leinster, Munster and Ulster) which contain a total of 32 counties. These counties are divided between the Republic of Ireland (26) and Northern Ireland (6), the latter being politically a part of the United Kingdom (of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – where the island of Great Britain itself comprises England, Scotland and Wales.)
 
Despite being predominately located between latitude 52-55 N, Ireland has a remarkably temperate climate. The climate is classified as oceanic and the Atlantic Gulf Stream water current contributes to it having milder winters than one might otherwise expect for such a northern location. Equally, its summers are less warm than mainland Europe’s. The prevailing winds combined with the Gulf Stream ensure that Ireland gets plenty of rain – the drier east coast averaging 29-39 inches per year. Whilst this is only 3-4 times what we might receive in a typical year in San Diego, it is more regular. For example, some parts of the west coast see 225 rainy days a year. This climate and rainfall spurs the lush growth of vegetation which in turn has earned Ireland the nickname “The Emerald Isle” (coined by poet William Drennan.)
 
Ireland was first settled by prehistoric man around 8000 BC. The impressive New-grange mound and passage tomb is a prehistoric monument dating back to the Neolithic period (3000 BC to 2500 BC), but the country is dotted with many smaller dolmen (/cromlech) or other items of similar heritage. Despite Christianity coming to Ireland in the early 5th century, these everyday artefacts remind the people of Ireland of their pagan heritage. Indeed, the Irish penchant for the supernatural may have its roots in the wish to connect with and acknowledge their ancestors.
During the middle ages, the remaining forests were cleared and the Irish landscape became what much of it is today, a rolling patchwork of green fields, each farmed by the same family for generation after generation after generation. For many in rural Ireland, losing or abandoning the family farm was not just a matter of personal misfortune, but it was destruction of heritage, a betrayal of ancestors (who may have had to fight invaders for their little piece of Ireland.) It is not surprising that land plays such an important role in the Irish psyche—with corresponding importance in Irish literature.

 

Curious Clips: Excerpts from The Curious REPort

Thursday, January 14th

WE ARE EXCITED ABOUT...

Bringing another top-notch play by Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley to our stage. It is no surprise that Outside Mullingar has been one of the most produced
plays across the nation this season. The New York Times noted it was his “finest work since Doubt” and REP Associate Artistic Director Todd Salovey—who directed our production of Doubt in 2009—agreed. He absolutely fell in love with Shanley’s characters and their witty language. “It is so wonderful to find a romance that is FUNNY, POIGNANT and POETIC, and really leaves you with a sense of hopefulness about life and love,” he stated at one of our early meetings about this piece. Much as he did in the Oscar-award winning screenplay Moonstruck, this play reminds us it’s never too late to take a chance on love.
 
 
While Shanley has written more than a score of plays, this one is special. It is clearly a valentine to his Irish-Catholic upbringing and his roots that trace directly to Ireland. He grew up the youngest of five children in a family whose home was in the Bronx neighborhood of East Tremont. His father, a meatpacker, was an Irish immigrant, while Shanley's mother was herself the daughter of Irish immigrants. He has taken inspiration from the lilt and lyricism of the Irish pattern of speaking, from his own quirky relatives living on “The Emerald Isle,” as
well as some well-worn stories about Irish history.
 
 
One of the things we all noted about the play is that, at its core, it is about family—those who we are familiar with because of blood, and those that we know because of time and proximity. In the first rehearsal, director Todd Salovey noted how wonderful it was to have surrounded himself with his “theatrical family” for this show in particular. He went to college with Assistant Director/Dramaturg Grace Delaney (who has been sharing her knowledge of the land and its people with her silver tongued accent.) He described Mike Genovese as a theatrical father-figure and noted that the last time he got to work with Mike and his talented wife Ellen Craw-ford, they were sparking a different kind of familial fireworks in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The two spitfires have established such a strong/intimate bond that even when pitted against each other, the love shines through. Todd also noted his joy of working with Carla Harting again as his leading lady. And Manny Fernandez has folded into the mix as if he was the long-lost brother we have all been waiting to return.
 
 

John Patrick Shanley has been whipping up prose since he was just 10 years old. When he first wrote a play, however, he realized what he was truly born to do. And we are thankful for his continued virtuosity. Outside Mullingar is a play of epiphanies—miraculous discoveries amid fields and mangers of an insignificant spot in Ireland. With this play, Shanley has given us the opportunity to take you on a trip abroad without leaving the comfort of your San Diego theatre seat. (Of course, the well-balanced indoor/outdoor setting designed by Guilio Perrone and live Irish-influenced music led by Jim Mooney help set the appropriate tone.) Once the lights dim, you are then invited into the middle of a dysfunctional, yet loveable, set of characters who are about to enter a moment of possibility. We hope you experience a little of the magic of fate, or, mo anam cara (soulmates) and the joy that that discovery brings.

 

 
 
 
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