ArtFul Living

By Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky
Healthy Planet Arts Editor

Summer Means Shakespeare, Circus Flora & so much more!

I’m battling moles in my yard without any success. Mountains of mud appear overnight, the grass uproots and the lawnmower catches on the mole mounds –-so why did I waste money on grass seed again this year?? It’s frustrating, to say the least. Since I can’t seem to tame the moles, I’m going to “The Taming of the Shrew.”

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis returns to Forest Park, May 25-June19, with a fun, updated interpretation of this Shakespeare classic. Sited in Shakespeare Glen, just across from the Art Museum, the Shakespeare Festival presents a professional performance nightly, except Tuesdays, at 8 p.m. The performances are free (that’s F-R-E-E) and wonderful. Thursday night performances are signed for those with hearing impairments. But the festivities start long before 8 p.m. with a Green Show at 6:30 each night that offers a condensed version of the evening’s main presentation. It’s Cliff Notes for Shakespearean newbies!

Backstage tours, lively 20-minute Talkback sessions and Shakespeare “After Parties” with local musical bands are the newest additions to enhance the evenings. Tickets for backstage tours, which begin at 6 p.m., are just $2 for ages 5 and up, on a first come, first served basis at the Info Tent. Talkback sessions begin right after each performance and the After Parties are held 10-11 p.m. with food and drink available for purchase—so stay awhile until the traffic thins out. For more info, visit www.shakespearefestivalstlouis.org or call 314-531-9800. Pack a picnic, invite some friends, bring a chair (or rent one there) and prepare to Tame the Shrew.

And speaking of critters, Circus Flora returns June 2-26 to celebrate its 25th Anniversary with “Vagabond Adventures.” Trained dogs and horses team up with some of the greatest acrobats and aerialists in the world right here in Grand Center each June. True to its tradition, Circus Flora is more than a circus show; it’s performance with a real plot. This year’s special show is set on the Floating Palace, an actual circus venue that traveled up and down the Mississippi River prior to the Civil War. This majestic riverboat triggers the season’s thrilling caper.
“It’s been 25 years in the making, and we are pulling out all the stops,” said Ivor David Balding, producer and artistic director. “We are especially excited that so many performers who have made this circus what it is today will be back to help us celebrate. Unlike true vagabonds who wander about with no home, when we see the performers and crew comet together at Circus Flora each spring, we know they are ‘home.’”

Circus Flora stars from the last quarter century reunite this year under the air-conditioned Big Top tent in Grand Center. The Flying Wallendas on the high wire, the acrobatic St. Louis Arches, the Flying Pages on the trapeze, Una Mimnagh on the corde lisse (vertical rope), horseman and Circus Flora co-founder Alexandre Sacha Pavlata plus everyone’s favorite clown Giovanni Zoppe as Nino join new performers such as Richard Olate from Chile with his trained dogs along with brothers Robert and David Donnert, 5th generation circus performers who juggle while on horseback.
If you’ve never seen Circus Flora, you absolutely MUST attend this year. If you’ve seen Circus Flora, you understand why everyone returns year after year for this St. Louis treasure. Tickets range from just $8 to $44 and there’s not a bad seat in the house…err, in the tent. For info, visit www.circusflora.org or call 314-289-4040. You’re gonna love it!

There’s a great photography exhibition at The Sheldon Art Galleries at 3648 Washington, “Larry Fink: Attraction and Desire—50 Years of Photography.” It was scheduled to end on May 21 but, if you missed it, you’ll get a second chance. The exhibition has been extended to August 20. Visit www.thesheldon.org/galleries.asp.

From June 25 to August 19 you can drift from Art St. Louis to the St. Louis Artists’ Guild for an exhibition by the same name. “Drift” is a multimedia exhibition to be presented simultaneously in two locations, with two opening receptions on June 25 at Art St. Louis at 555 Washington and on June 26 at the St. Louis Artists’ Guild in Oak Knoll Park. For details, call 314-241-4810 or visit www.artstlouis.org.

Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads! Thanks for all you do!