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Arts Beat for Nov. 12: 'Eighth Grade' is first in new filmmakers winter series

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Arts Beat for Nov. 12: 'Eighth Grade' is first in new filmmakers winter series

Elsie Fisher is overflowing with creativity and curiosity that fails to impress the popular girls at school in the comedic drama “Eighth Grade,” which will screen at Town Hall Theater on Friday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m.

By GREG PAHL

The outstanding comedic drama “Eighth Grade” will kick off the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival 2018/19 Winter/Spring Screening Series at Town Hall Theater in Middlebury on Friday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m.

Expanding to seven films from six, MNFF will offer one distinctive feature every month beginning in November and concluding in May. The Series retains its exclusive focus on prominent work by first- and second- time filmmakers.

“Eighth Grade” director Bo Burnham’s marvelous first feature film stars Elsie Fisher in a remarkable performance as an introverted teenage girl trying to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth grade year. By turns, humorous, poignant, charming, reflective and utterly realistic, Burnham has created a richly entertaining film that won the 2018 Audience Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival as well as the Golden Space Needle Award, Best Film & Best Actress at the 2018 Seattle International Film Festival.

She’s the only child of a single father (Josh Hamilton), and when no one’s watching, she’s clearly overflowing with creativity and curiosity that fails to impress the popular girls at school. As she prepares to enter the big, scary world of high school, she finds she is none of the things she wants to be, and the ways in which she takes shaky, untrained stabs at becoming that person provide much of the of the film’s gently uproarious, all-too-real humor.

Individual tickets are $13 and Series Passes for all seven films are $75. Passes and Tickets are available through the MNFF website, middfilmfest.org, or at the THT box office, either in person Monday - Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., by phone at 802-382-9222 or online at townhalltheater.org.

PARTY WITH A PURPOSE AT THT

Christal Brown (pictured) is a choreographer, educator, performer, writer, activist, chair of the dance department at Middlebury College and creator of INSPIRIT dance. Brown is also about to turn 40 years old. In keeping with her generous spirit and love of community, she decided to celebrate this milestone in a different way: a party with a purpose. On Saturday, Nov. 17, at 8 p.m., Brown is inviting everyone to celebrate her 40th birthday at Town Hall Theater.

This party is an opportunity to celebrate Brown’s birthday, but also to give back to the community in a tangible way. All proceeds will go to fund scholarships and flooring for Dance Xplorations at the Middlebury Recreation Center.

The night will include performances by The Dough Boys and D.J. Rodney Adams. Brown is internationally known as a dancer, but she will be making her singing debut in front of a live audience with The Evolution Dance Crew and the Monday Night Mavens.

Admission includes catering by Local Source. There will be a cash bar. $20 general admission, $60 date night admission (includes two adults and childcare or one adult and two childcare slots) There are only 20 childcare slots available. Advanced ticket purchase appreciated.

Tickets may be purchased at townhalltheater.org, by calling 802-382-9222, at the THT box office Monday - Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., or at the door one hour before show time. The Town Hall Theater is located at 68 South Pleasant Street in Middlebury.

NEW OPERA ‘MARNIE’ TO SCREEN AT THT

A new opera, “Marnie,” based on the 1964 Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name, will be shown on the big screen at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18.

Composer Nico Muhly unveils his second new opera for the Met with this gripping reimagining of Winston Graham’s 1961 novel, set in the 1950s, about a beautiful, mysterious young woman who assumes multiple identities.

Director Michael Mayer and his creative team have devised a fast-moving, cinematic world for this exhilarating story of denial and deceit, which also inspired the film by Alfred Hitchcock. Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard sings the enigmatic Marnie, and baritone Christopher Maltman is the man who pursues her — with disastrous results. Robert Spano conducts.

A pre-performance talk at 12:15 p.m. will be given by Jim Pugh in the studio downstairs. Run time is two hours, 29 minutes.

Tickets are $24/$10 students and may be purchased at townhalltheater.org, by calling 802-382-9222, at the THT box office Monday - Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., or at the door one hour before show time. The THT is located at 68 South Pleasant Street in Middlebury.

THE CUTTING EDGE: STAGED READING SERIES

Taylor Mac’s sly, subversive play, “Hir,” will make its Vermont debut in a staged reading by Middlebury Actors’ Workshop’s Cutting Edge Series. The performance will be at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18, at The Vermont Coffee Company, 1197 Exchange Street in Middlebury. 

When Isaac returns from the war to care for his sick father he finds a household in revolt. Liberated from an abusive marriage, Isaac’s mom allies herself with Isaac’s newly out transgender sibling on a mission to dismantle the patriarchy. “Hir” doesn’t merely explore themes of gender fluidity, queer theory and the subversion of toxic masculinity, because that could be dull. It lightens the weight of concepts that many find foreign or fraught, places them in a family setting and detonates them. Shrapnel flies everywhere.

Directed by Rebecca Strum, the cast includes Melissa Lourie (pictured), Sam Finn Cutler, Gary Smith and Skylar Franklin. Frankie Dunleavy will read stage directions. A talk-back with the cast and refreshments follow the performance.

Admission is free (suggested donation $10). Adult content: not recommended for children under the age of 16.

‘BREAK THE SILENCE’ AT THT

At 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, WomenSafe and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England will present an “Evening to Honor Women’s Rights,” featuring a film screening of Willow O’Feral’s “Break the Silence,” a one-hour documentary profiling reproductive and sexual health stories.

“Break the Silence” features raw, powerful, intimate interviews with 18 Southern Vermont women about their personal sexual and reproductive health histories. “Break the Silence” challenges social taboo with unflinching candor, courageous vulnerability, and often great humor.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring filmmaker Willow O’Feral, and advocates from WomenSafe and Planned Parenthood. All proceeds will benefit the work of these organizations.

Tickets $10, available at townhalltheater.org and in person at THT box office, Monday - Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.

HOLIDAY SHOW BY LOCAL ARTISTS AT THT

The 11th Annual Holiday Show of original works by local artists will be in the Jackson Gallery at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater, beginning with an opening reception on Friday, Nov. 16, from 5 to 7 p.m.

The Jackson Gallery will be filled with original handmade and hand printed art, fine crafts and jewelry. This exhibition will feature 25 regional artists whose work represents a wide variety of media and styles. All have been recognized for their individual approaches to design and image.

This holiday season show has become a tradition at Town Hall Theater and features unique and affordable works available for immediate purchase. The exhibit continues through Dec. 31.

The Jackson Gallery is located in the lower level of Town Hall Theater in the center of Middlebury. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday noon to 5 p.m. and an hour before any public events in the building. For further information, call 802-382-9222 or consult the web site: townhalltheater.org.

(Patricia LeBon Herb’s “Three Red Barns,” pictured at right, will be among the works on display.)

INT’L FILM SERIES

The 2018-2019 Hirschfield International Film Series continues on Saturday, Nov. 17, at Middlebury College with the 2018 Japan film “Shoplifters” directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda.

After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces. Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them. Winner: Palme d’Or at 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

The film, in Japanese with English subtitles, will be shown at 3 and again at 8 p.m. in Dana Auditorium at Sunderland. It’s free. Some of the films in this series may be inappropriate for children.

COMMUNITY CHORUS THANKSGIVING CONCERTS

The Middlebury College Community Chorus presents its annual fall concerts on the Robison Concert Hall stage at the college’s Mahaney Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 18.

A varied selection of historic and contemporary music fill the hour-long program entitled “A Song Arising.” Jeff Rehbach conducts and Tim Guiles accompanies the nearly 100 community and student members of the choir — among the largest choirs in the state.

Instrumentalists from the Middlebury Community Music Center, Vermont Symphony and Champlain Philharmonic Orchestras accompany the choir for some of the songs.

The performances are free and the public is welcome. Contact director Jeff Rehbach at 989-7355, for more information.

VERMONT COLLEGIATE CHORAL CONSORTIUM AT COLLEGE

There will be a performance, “Missa Luba,” by the Vermont Collegiate Choral Consortium at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16, in Robison Hall at Middlebury College’s Mahaney Center for the Arts.

Choirs from Middlebury, St. Michael’s, Castleton, and Northern Vermont University are joined by Royal Hartigan and the ensemble Blood Drum Spirit to perform this fascinating mass setting based in Congolese musical idioms. It’s free and the public is welcome.

PIANO RECITAL AT COLLEGE

There will be a piano recital by students of Diana Fanning on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m., in Robison Hall at Middlebury College’s Mahaney Center for the Arts. The fall concert by Diana Fanning’s students is a popular event celebrating these talented young pianists. It’s free and the public is welcome.

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