Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Creativity again the byword of 2019 DKAF near Baileys Harbor

Eric Simonson and 2019 DKAF logo_1559424306989.jpg.jpg

A multi-layer film and live artist, Lombardi from Broadway, a spate of films from Europe a duo specializing in hybrid performance… what is artistic director Eric Simonson most looking forward to seeing and experiencing next week in the fourth annual Door Kinetic Arts Festival?

“Well, I don’t play favorites,” DKAF founder Simonson said in a telephone interview.

There’s a diplomatic answer for you.

He went on:

Every year, we’ve managed to make the festival better than it was the year before, and it’s this really great challenge to bring together all these artists and create these wonderful pieces and make it feel like the whole week is a celebration and a party of those people and the work that they’re doing. And what I’m looking forward to is making this year better than the last one. And, you know, every year we get more audience. Every year, we get more attention. Every year, we add different, more creative events. And we’re just going to do that again this year.

That said, this, with events taking place at Bjorklunden lodge except where noted:

Door Kinetic Arts Festival 2019 Schedule

Sunday, June 9

3 p.m. Second annual DKAF Cocktail Competition at Hatch Distillery

Monday, June 10

7 p.m. Two short films by guest artist Harold Green

7:30 p.m. Cocktails with New York Times’ Robert Simonson

8 p.m. Future Tense: Narrative Film Block

Tuesday, June 11

1 p.m. Lucky Plush Dance Master Class at Dancin’ on the Door

5 p.m. Past Tense: Documentary Film Block

7 p.m. Cocktails with New York Times’ Robert Simonson

7:30 p.m. Present Tense: Narrative Film Block

Wednesday, June 12

1 p.m. Workshop with Harold Green: “How to Write a Love Letter”

5 p.m. VIP Reception with Dan Lauria at Kress Pavilion

7:30 p.m. Harold Green Premiere performance: “Dr. Martin Luther Green III”

8 p.m.   DKAF Koffeehouse: Comedy, music, cocktails

Thursday, June 13

11 a.m. Dan Lauria Workshop: “The Forgotten Art of Acting”

4 p.m. Sossy Mechanics Shim Sham Workshop at Dancin’ on the Door

6 p.m. DKAF Red Carpet event with featured cocktail

7 p.m.   Lucky Plush Premiere “Rink Life” live performance

Friday, June 14

7 p.m.   Cocktails with New York Times’ Robert Simonson

7:30 p.m. Sossy Mechanics live performance: The Perfict Family

Specifics about the film showings and other details are at doorkinetic.com.

The overall concept of the festival is to invite artists for a week of creativity, let them concentrate on projects and the present the results publicly. But there is more to the festival thus the name “Kinetic.”

Actor Dan Lauria will be special guest this year.

“He played Lombardi for me on Broadway,” Simonson said.

The play “Lombardi” ran for eight months on Broadway in 2010-2011 with Lauria as legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.

Lauria will appear Wednesday for the DKAF Donor Event. He will perform scenes and monologues from “Lombardi,” written by Simonson. The event will be the first time Lauria has returned to the role since the final curtain was drawn on Broadway in May 2011.

Lauria also will host a workshop, “The Lost Art of Acting,” at 11 a.m. Thursday. Having taught this class across the country over the years, Lauria uses visual references and hands-on techniques when discussing the art of acting for the screen.

Both the donor event and workshop are available only to premium festival pass holders.

Lauria is best known for his portrayal of Jack Arnold, the money-conscious father on the TV series “The Wonder Years” (1988-1993). He also played James Webb in the 1998 TV miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon” and Commanding Officer, USA in 1996’s “Independence Day.” More recently he has appeared as Police Commissioner Eustace Dolan in “The Spirit.” He appeared as Coach Hamstrung in “The Three Stooges N.Y.U.K.” on AMC in 2000.

In 2012, Lauria played the part of Jean Shepherd in the Broadway production of “A Christmas Story: The Musical,” a role which he reprised off Broadway at Madison Square Garden in 2013. From 2012 through 2014, he played Jack Sullivan on the sitcom “Sullivan & Son.”

The festival will see the return of the dance troupe Lucky Plush Productions for a third year. Led by artistic director Julia Rhodes, the company will premiere another work as part of evening offerings.

Films are also part of the festival. They seem exotic.

“It’s funny, you never know what we’re going to get,” Simonson said. Last year, we got a lot of films from Iran for some reason. This year, we got a lot of film from Europe Nordic films, films from Germany. It’s a wide range of different countries. Once we got them all, we were able to divide them up into categories. A lot of the films happen to deal with the future or the near future. Not that they’re science-fiction, they’re more like ‘Black Mirror’ in tone. So we put those narrative features in a block of short films. We put the other ones, which have more to do with present-day social issues, in a block called Present Tense. And then we put all the documentaries in Past Tense because they’re recordings of things that have happened in the past.

New to the festival is the multifaceted Harold Green.

“I was looking for some interesting acts that would fit well with our DKAF programming,” Simonson said. “I go to Chicago a lot because it’s close by, more convenient than say New York or L.A. And I was just looking around.”

A friend of a friend something common in the performance scene put Simonson onto Green among other people. I’m looking at like 100 different people, and they all have websites, Simonson said. So it’s very easy for me to screen them and figure if they’re right. And I saw Harold’s stuff, and I just was blown away ‘I gotta meet this guy, I gotta have him up in the festival’…

He’s introducing a few short films that he’s made, on Monday. Then he is doing a workshop, which I can’t wait to hear, called ‘How to Write a Love Letter.’ And then he is working on a new piece that he is going to present on Thursday.

New to the festival but not to the area is Sossy Mechanics, the team of Brian Sostek and Megan McClellan who performed “Trick Boxing” in 2014 at Third Avenue Playhouse in Sturgeon Bay.

“I saw them perform, and I thought it was really imaginative,” Simonson said. “I thought, again, this is the kind of that is a perfect fit for DKAF. They use different mediums to create a hybrid of an art form.”

Helping Simonson connect with Sossy Mechanics was Alan Kopischke, the festival producer who happens to be Simonson’s brother-in-law who happens to be the current president of the board of directors of Third Avenue Playhouse where he happens to be performing nine characters in the one-man play “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” through Sunday, June 9. My review: https://www.wearegreenbay.com/critic-at-large-wearegreenbay/warren-gerdscritic-at-large-review-acting-captivates-in-leonard-pelkey-in-sturgeon-bay/2008505343.

Simonson says perhaps parts of Kopischke’s play performance will become part of the festival.

“There’s a DKAF Koffeehouse on Wednesday night,” Simonson said. We have a band come, and in between sets one or two performers come and perform. Last year, somebody sang a sea shanty, somebody did a monologue they were working on, somebody did a tone poem. It’s just really potpourri of different artistic acts, and it’d be perfect for that. Or we could do it as a curtain-raiser for one of the other things.

On site, will Simonson get any chance to let his creative juices flow?

“This year, I made a point in not doing that,” he said. I really wanted to be the artistic director of the festival and not have to worry about being an artist as a part of it. So I don’t have any projects that I’m working on.

Meantime, he has been busy.

I just finished work on a television series for Apple TV+ network. It’s called ‘Swagger,’ and we call it the ‘Friday Night Live’ of basketball (the focal player being Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors). And I’m writing a film for Lifetime and gearing up for rehearsing a play that I wrote called ‘Lindiwe Way’ for Steppenwolf (Theatre Company of Chicago) next fall (a world premiere piece featuring the music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo). And also directing a couple of operas next spring. One is for Minnesota Opera called ‘Edward Tulane,’ based on ‘The Amazing Adventures of Edward Tulane’ children’s book. It’s a new piece. Then we’re going to put up our production of ‘The Shining’ that I did in Minnesota at Lyric Opera in Kansas City.

That certainly sounds busy, which begs another question: In writing, is he a morning person, the middle of the night person or anything goes?

“Morning, absolutely morning,” Simonson said. I wake up as early as I can. I know a lot of writers who will wake up at 5:30 and start writing, but I just can’t do that. My usual writing starting time is 7, and I’ll go for as long as I can last or until I have another meeting or some other obligation ends it.

Our interview a “some other obligation” took place in the afternoon.

Contact me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air Critic at Large editions on WFRV-TV at 6:20 a.m. Sundays. My seven books are available in Green Bay at Neville Public Museum and Bosse’s.

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