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R.I. artists talk about their picks for 2017 in movies, music, theater, TV, books and more

Time:2016-12-30 15:13Shoes websites Click:

their R.I. artists theater Picks

Their favorites include R.I. events like June's PVD Fest.

Andy Smith Journal Arts Writer asmith651

To usher in 2017, The Journal spoke to artists, performers and administrators about what they are looking forward to in the new year.  There was one small catch — the recommendation could not be something with which they are directly involved. (We may have bent this rule just a trifle). 

Many of the people we interviewed spoke in general terms about the response of the artistic community, both in Rhode Island and throughout the nation, to the toxic atmosphere left by a bitter election and the fears among some concerning the new Trump administration. "2017 is about the resistance," said one musician.

But another interviewee was looking forward to the new Red Sox pitching rotation.

Here's what else the people we spoke to had to say about what's coming up in 2017:

Vanphouthon Souvannasane, director, Yellow Peril Gallery: Souvannasane is waiting for the third annual PVDFest, in which performance and art take over downtown Providence. In 2017, PVDFEst is scheduled for June 1-4.

Souvannasane is particularly interested in the public art component of the event, and the ways in which the PVDFest can use public art to engage the community. He said emerging digital technology might offer some interesting new possibilities.

"Maybe people could not just use their smart phones for Pokemon Go, but for Providence Go," he said.

Billy Gilman, singer: The runner-up of the NBC singing competition "The Voice" would like to see the Broadway smash "Hamilton" in 2017, particularly since he joined Kelly Clarkson to sing a duet of "Hamilton's" heartbreaking "It's Quiet Uptown" during "The Voice" finale.

Gilman also wants to see the animated movie "Sing" again.  And why not?  It's about a koala who tries to preserve his fading theater by staging a singing competition starring a mouse, an elephant, a pig, a gorilla and a porcupine.

Ed Shea, CEO and artistic director, 2nd Story Theatre: Shea said he was eager to see the Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre's production of a play called "The Nether," by Jennifer Haley, which is coming to the Pawtucket venue March 2-26.

"The Nether," described by a British reviewer as "deeply disturbing and provocative," is about a virtual realm of child pornography that triggers a government investigation.

"It's a very challenging play . . . it's not a play I would produce.  It's not a world I would like to spend 10 weeks of my life in.  But I would like to spend an evening," Shea said.

Shea said "The Nether" deals with a lot of intriguing social issues down in the "rabbit hole" of the Web.  "How do we apply the rules of morality to this new world?" Shea said.  If the "children" don't actually exist, for example, who is being harmed?   Or is The Nether just bad for society?

"A few years ago, [former Trinity Rep director] Adrian Hall would have been all over this," Shea said.

Steven Feinberg, executive director, Rhode Island Film & Television Office: Feinberg is waiting to see two made-in-Rhode Island movies, "The Discovery" with Robert Redford and "The Polka King" with Jack Black, arrive in theaters.  They are both debuting at the Sundance Film Festival in January. 

"I think 'The Polka King' will be a real crowd pleaser," said Feinberg of the movie in which Black plays former polka star Jan Lewan, who ended up going to jail on fraud charges.

Feinberg is also looking forward to the Oscar nominations, which will be announced on Jan. 24. (The Oscars themselves will be awarded Feb. 26)  Viola Davis, who grew up in Central Falls, is considered a shoe-in to get a nomination as best supporting actress for her role in "Fences."

Feinberg also said he hopes Oscar might nod in the direction of "Bleed for This," the Vinny Paz biopic starring Miles Teller as Paz.

Jon Land, author:  Land, who has a new book series co-written with Heather Graham due out in January, is also a TV fan.  The Providence writer is looking forward to a bunch of returning favorites, including "Better Call Saul," "Homeland," "Fargo," "The Strain," "Game of Thrones," "Stranger Things" and "Designated Survivor."

"And I'm already chomping at the bit for the February return of 'The Walking Dead,' which is sure to be dominated again by Jeffrey Dean Morgan's chillingly charismatic turn as Negan, pop culture's best villain since Hannibal Lector and Darth Vader graced the bigger screen," Land said.

Norah Diedrich, executive director, Newport Art Museum: Diedrich said she is most looking forward to visiting the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

She said the building is designed by David Adjaye, one of her favorites. But she's most interested in experiencing the content and context inside the museum.

"My favorite pastime in the world is visiting museums," she said. "They lift the spirit. As one museum's tag line reads: 'You walk in and dance out.' That explains the experience for me."

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