Shakespeare gets performance art treatment at Norfolk festival

Norfolk Festevents and Virginia Stage Company are again teaming up for a free outdoor performance art event July 25-27 in Norfolk's Town Point Park.

"Moon Take Thy Flight" will explore the story of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" using actors, large scale puppetry, musicians and visuals. Last summer, the two organizations offered a similar treatment of Shakespeare's "The Tempest."

The annual performance is part of a mini-festival titled "A Midsummer Fantasy Fest." In addition to the theater piece, the festival will feature children's activities, craft brews, wines, ciders and foods.

Festevents CEO Karen Scherburger called the project "a new type of audience experience inspired by today's performance art movement." The Shakespeare comedy will be presented in a non-linear production using repurposed materials from previous festivals and new materials by seven commissioned artists. The public is invited to stop by Town Point Park on Wednesday and Thursday, July 23-24, before the festival to meet the artists as they construct their work.

"Moon Take Thy Flight" is being called the first interactive performance art project for Hampton Roads. Audiences are invited to bring a lawn chair and wait to become part of the story or wander through the large scale art environments.

The artistic team includes:

—Bland Hoke, working as the visual art project manager, has created art installations at the Burning Man festival in Nevada and has been recognized for his installation art pieces worldwide.

—Blair Mielnik of New York has worked with Sleep No More, an interactive theater experience in Manhattan.

—Mike Bell, a Virginia Beach artist and designer, has assembled a group of local artists who will collaborate with the artistic team to design and construct the large scale art pieces. The team includes Charlie Rasputin of the Arts District and Alchemy; Wes Cheney, known for his bamboo constructions; Paul Costen, motion design and projection artist; Nichole Ashikis, and James Molloy. Hoke, Mielnik and Bell will be constructing signature pieces for the project.

—Musicians include DjP and MrT, Jake Hull, Kelsie McNair and Karacell, all producing and performing original music.

Donovan Zimmerman, co-founder of the Paperhand Puppet Intervention, whose large scale puppets were featured at last year's "Tempest."

—Patrick Mullins, the stage company's associate artistic director.

The park will open at 6 p.m. each day for audiences to enjoy the art installations and meet the artists. Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. followed by an after-party open to the public until 11 p.m.

For more information, call 757-441-2345 or go online to

Symphony summer

The Virginia Symphony has a busy summer ahead and into the fall, with free outdoor performances in Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, Yorktown, Chesapeake, Hampton and Newport News. Here's a listing of the orchestra's upcoming concerts:

Thursday, July 31. 7:30 p.m. 31st Street Stage, Virginia Beach. Guest conductor Conner Covington leads a program of movie music, including excerpts from "Happy Feet," "Moulin Rouge," "Apollo 13," "Braveheart," "Hook," "The Dark Knight " and more.

Thursday, Aug. 21. 7:30 p.m. 31st Street Stage, Virginia Beach. Benjamin Rous conducts a selection of light classics, including Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite," Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" and the finale from Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.

The following concerts will feature Rous conducting highlights of the 2014-2015 season:

Thursday, Aug. 28. 7:30 p.m. Lake Mataoka Amphitheatre, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg.

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