McKenzie Valley residents Russ and Blyth Carpenter's concern for Bhutan's endangered textile tradition led to lengthy preparations for this show with White Lotus owners Hue-Ping Lin and Dick Easley. The Carpenters brought back the objects on display and for sale at the gallery from their last trip to Bhutan.
In conjunction with the show, the UO Humanities Center brought Himalayan culture expert Diana K. Myers to campus in October. Her Cressman Lecture in the Humanities centered on the changing role of textiles in Bhutan as the country moves from isolation to a global economy. Myers also spoke to about 50 people at White Lotus Gallery on "The Social Life of Cloth" in Bhutan.
Her interest in Bhutan dates to a two-day visit to the tiny country during her service with the Peace Corps in Nepal, Myers said. The author of From the Land of the Thunder Dragon: Textile Arts of Bhutan as well as a scholar, curator, lecturer and consultant, Myers is also "very well connected" within Bhutan's weaving community, Easley said.
Myers walked through the steps taken by a woman weaver using a backstrap loom to make a dress for her daughter to wear to a festival. The girl picks her favorite color, say red, and selects her favorite patterns -- thunderbolts, flowers, butterflies and diamonds. Sitting on the ground in a three-sided, verandah-like structure, the mother weaves the necessary number of panels to make the cloth.
She probably uses cotton thread, some of which was already dyed when purchased and some that she dyes with commercial powder dyes, vegetable dyes or a combination. When the weaving comes off the loom, the weaver finds a tailor (a male occupation) to turn the bedspread-shaped textile into a dress.
Making the vegetable dyes that give better color is a multi-step process. The dye source (vine, flower, vegetable) is dried in the sun, then boiled in a large kettle to which the yarn is added and steeped for several days. The internal market for such labor-intensive local textiles. are now threatened by cheaper, imported textiles, Myers said.
Women weavers won't reveal the secret of a special color or particular pattern, Myers said, especially now in what she called "generations in transition." Traditionally all women were weavers, but now it's common for only the oldest sister to learn to weave so she can earn money teaching and making cloth to sell. Weavers make cloth for their household and their family's clothing. Myers said men of even the highest status are "tremendously proud" of their wives' weavings.
Women who marry receive textiles as gifts, Myers said, and the bride uses these cloths as needed. Women's role producing cloth is closely related to their reproductive nature, in contrast to men's role in cutting, stitching, painting and weaving, which is much more formalized, she said. Their work decorates monasteries and shrines. Religious subjects are not open to innovation, they are not individualized.
Most of the work at White Lotus was created by women, but there is a wonderful mandala and several marvelous portable scroll religious paintings edged with brocade created by men. As Myers puts it, the men are artists. The women are creative artists.
light fare, served up with a dollop of fine production values: a deliciously pretty set, lovely costuming and a new lighting system that casts a flattering glow over the entire cast, who looks good anyway because of the quality of hair and makeup. Those details stand out in ACE's Charley's Aunt, showing through Nov. 18.
Lead performances were charming. Eric Murray is wonderful as Lord Fancourt Babberly/Charley's Aunt. It's obvious he's having a good time with this role and he conveys that to the audience. Although I'm still having a hard time letting go of Schmendiman, I liked Jesse Lally's Charley Wykeham. I hope to see Lally in a few more productions to see how far this actor can go; twice so far (first in Picasso), he's impressed with tremendous stage presence. The other powerful lead was Bruce McArthur as Jack Chesney. I've also seen this young actor before and have been impressed with his skill.
I saw the show opening night and what struck me then was that the secondary characters all needed to come up to the level of the leads to take this production to its potential. It's been a couple of weeks and I would hope those performances have improved.
The other noticeable flaw to this production is that the script can use some editing, especially during dialogues between Lally and McArthur. Even if the pacing improves, the script is still quite wordy and could be pared down without affecting any meaning.
Overall, this is a funny, lovely show and an easily digested dinner-theater piece.
This Friday and Saturday, Stuart Phillips and Epic Improv, his contact improvisation group, perform Drop! This particular company performed Pillars of Fire last spring at WOW Hall, and its members have performed individually with many other dance groups around town. Choreographer Stuart Phillips, who has 20 years experience in contact improv, moved to Eugene from Maine to specifically explore the form. "Most of the country has never even heard of it. It's a blank spot elsewhere," he says.
Drop! is an 88-minute work focusing on the evolution of a relationship. It's divided into four sections described by Phillips as: "hate, the initial meeting and illusion that comes forth with all the thoughts and unresolved glump that we project; love, the sense of ease in a relationship that can follow from illusory projection; reconciliation, where you have to deal with problems that arise between each other and work them out, no matter what they are, also called devotion; and resolve, the aftermath of working things out.
"It all symbolizes the relationship with self," says Phillips. He has divided the work into duets, trios and some other configurations.
This dance form works when the dancers are feeling the energy, not playing for show, says Phillips. He adds that the best way for the audience to experience it is to stay present, receive the work and not expect anything "except delight." Shows are at 8 pm at the Lord Leebrick Theatre at 540 Charnelton.
Opening this weekend are She Stoops to Conquer at UO and The Mousetrap at LCC. Next Wednesday, Nov. 8, Willamette Rep opens the highly anticipated Art, and on Thursday, Nov. 9, Lord Leebrick revives 99 Minutes of Midnight Madness for a three-night run. This time the show's at 8 pm for you non-night owls. The beauty of these 10-minute pieces during their summer premiere was that if you didn't like a skit, you only had to suffer through it for a few minutes before the next one came along. But the good news is that only good ones have been chosen for this reprisal. They are Jujitsu, Asteroids and The Promise all by William Mastrosimone, The Cassowary Bird in the Afternoon by Steven R. Mandell and Isadora's Choice by Leonora B. Rianda.
Not sure about the music yet, probably LLTC's MAD Corey Pearlstein will be jamming on some blues guitar with some TBA friends accompanying him. Oh, and it's still only $5.