Announcing the 2015 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Finalists



Congratulations to the five finalists for the 2015 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, as selected by judges Alexander Chee, Marc Fitten, and Deirdre McNamer.



Jeffery Renard Allen
Song of the Shank

Jennifer Clement
Prayers for the Stolen

Atticus Lish
Preparation for the Next Life

Emily St. John Mandel
Station Eleven

Jenny Offill
Dept. of Speculation

The winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction will be announced on
April 7th, 2015.

On Saturday, May 2nd, join us at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, for the 35th Annual PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Ceremony & Dinner with Master of Ceremonies B.J. Novak. The judges will present citations on each author’s work, and all finalists and the winner will read from the stage. Tickets are $100 and available for purchase online or by calling the Folger Box Office (202) 544-7077.

AFP Spotlight: Dana Flor

Dana Flor at work
Photo Credit: Thomas Sayers Ellis

This is a profile of one of our FY15 Artist Fellowship Program (AFP) grantees, Dana Flor, a filmmaker in Washington, DC.

Q: Are you from the Washington, DC area originally?
A: I grew up in the DC area but left when I was 15. I went to high school in Vermont, college in Washington State and spent my 20s living in Spain. I came back to DC when I was 30 and have been between here and NYC ever since. I went to a liberal arts college and later acting school, so I never really formally studied documentary or film. I definitely had on the ground training by working as a news producer and reporter for years, which in many ways was a phenomenal education in itself.

Q: Favorite advice you’ve received from a teacher/mentor/colleague?
A: “If you want to run with the big dogs you gotta get off the porch”. I’m a big believer in taking risks, making mistakes and daring to look stupid. It’s the only way to learn.

Q: Favorite food (and best place to get that in DC, if you want to share that, too)?
A: Horace and Dickie’s H & 12th NE amazing fried fish.

Q: Favorite time of the year?
A: I’m one of the few who love the suffocating, claustrophobic DC summer heat and the deafening roar of the crickets that come with it.

Washington Concert Opera Announces 2015-16 Season

Gioachino Rossini
Sunday, November 22, 2015

This complex and lush tale of murder, power and revenge brings ancient Babylon to life. Queen Semiramide pays the price of her deceitful crimes with the heartbreak from an impossible love.

Jessica Pratt makes her WCO debut as Semiramide. Sung in Italian with projected English translation.

La Favorite
Gaetano Donizetti
Friday, March 4, 2016

Set amidst the Moorish invasion of medieval Spain, this opera is filled with the passions of war, love, and sacrifice. La Favorite, the King of Castile’s mistress, falls in love with the faithful monk Fernand. This paradox of state and church brings both happiness and despair.

Mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey returns to WCO to sing the title role. Sung in French with projected English translation.

For tickets and more information, visit WCO’s website.


Hurston/Wright Writers’ Week 2015

19248e54b2774efc9069f03bb3b8b328_400x400The Hurston/Wright Foundation will present a week of writers’ workshops on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC, July 18 – 25, 2015. Workshops will cover fiction, poetry, biography and novel writing, and will be taught by award-winning writers.

For a complete listing of workshops and to apply, visit the Hurston/Wright Foundation online.

AFP Spotlight: John Copenhaver

John Copenhaver 2This is a profile of one of our FY15 Artist Fellowship Program (AFP) grantees, John Copenhaver, a writer in Washington, DC.

Q: Are you from the Washington, DC area originally?
A: No, I grew up in southwestern Virginia in a town called Marion, situated in the Appalachian mountains. I moved to DC in 2002 to pursue my MFA in fiction writing at George Mason University. I’ve always lived on Capitol Hill and love it. It’s home, now.

Q: Where have you studied/gone to school for your art?
A: I studied fiction at GMU and literature at Bread Loaf School of English; both were significant in my development as a writer. I earned my BA from Davidson College, where I learned to read critically and respond to literature in a deep and meaningful manner.

Q: Favorite advice you’ve received from a teacher/mentor/colleague?
A: I’ve had many wonderful teachers, but my best mentors have been other writers. Over my desk, I have a quotation from the end of To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. It’s from the perspective of Lily Briscoe, an artist: “There it was—her picture. Yes, with all its greens and blues, its lines running up and across, its attempt at something. It would be hung in attics, she thought; it would be destroyed. But what did it matter? she asked herself, taking up her brush again.” I’ve always used that quotation to remember the act of creating a story or a painting or a piece of music is meaningful and life affirming in itself, despite what fate might befall it. I must live in the present as a writer, not the future.

Q: Favorite food?
A: My favorite food is seafood, of any sort. My favorite place to eat seafood is Rappahannock Oyster Bar at Union Market.

Q: Favorite time of year?
A: My favorite time of year is fall in DC. I love its beauty and moodiness. Halloween, without a doubt, is my favorite holiday, especially on East Capitol Street.

Q: What book are you currently reading?
A: I’m reading Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Jackson is a brilliant gothic storyteller.

Q: Three artists (living or dead) whom you would want to have dinner with?
A: Three artists I’d want to have dinner with would be writer Margaret Atwood, filmmaker David Lynch, and writer Raymond Chandler.

Surprising Findings in Three New NEA Reports on the Arts

Three reports from the National Endowment for the Arts reveal new findings about the impact of arts and cultural industries on GDP, as well as how and why Americans participate in certain arts activities. The data for the three reports is all from 2012, so for the first time the NEA can show a comprehensive view of a single year in the life of the arts and cultural sector from three different angels: supply, demand, and motivations for consumer behavior. The new information will help arts providers and others more effectively understand and develop strategies to engage individuals and communities in the arts.

The reports are available online.

Why I create wordless puppetry

[A guest post from FY15 Artist Fellowship Program (AFP) Grantee Cecilia Cackley]

All puppets talk, right? Most of the puppetry I grew up with, such as Sesame Street, was very talkative. It wasn’t until I saw a particular piece called The Rose at the O’Neill Puppetry Conference, that I considered the possibilities of wordless puppet theater. Aki, a visiting puppeteer from Japan, created a story with just her two hands. She told us who the two characters were at the beginning, but otherwise, the show was completely silent, without music or anything to cue the audience into what was going on. We were enthralled. Her movements were so precise and poignant that I was nearly in tears by the time the short piece was finished. Today, as I create my own puppet work, I’m constantly thinking about how to tell a powerful story without words.

One reason I have chosen to create wordless puppet plays is that it puts the focus on the visual, an aspect of puppetry that truly sets it apart from other kinds of live theater. Puppets are artwork brought to life by the puppeteer, and taking words out of the equation allows the audience to focus on what they are seeing.

Cecilia Cackley

As a person who grew up in a multi-lingual family, I have firsthand experience with the frustrations of not understanding or being understood in another language. Wordless puppetry allows everyone into the story. I created my first wordless puppet show Elle Lit/She Reads to take to the Avignon Off Festival in France in 2009. It was a tabletop puppet play about a little girl who gets lost inside the worlds of the books that she reads. This February, my show Saudade, a shadow play about the immigrant experience in DC, will premiere at the Atlas INTERSECTIONS Festival. These shows are able to reach a much greater audience because, as wordless theater, they remove a barrier for audience members who speak different languages.

Another reason I love wordless puppetry is because it provides more space for the audience to bring their own ideas and interpretations to the story. When Wit’s End Puppets performed The Amazing and Marvelous Cabinets of Kismet, it was intended for an all ages audience. We had children sitting with their parents who narrated the entire play for the adult next to them, making their own decisions about who the characters were and what was going on. It was beautiful to see them so enthralled.

Puppeteer Gabriela Cespedes likes to say “The puppeteer creates the piece but the spectator recreates it.” Wordless puppetry lets you decide on your own ideas about the story—and gives the audience that extra space to focus on the visuals, enjoy a story outside of a familiar language, and above all, enter a space of theatrical magic.

— Cecilia Cackley, FY15 AFP Grantee

Saudade at Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Intersections Festival
Saturday, February 28 at 2:00 pm
Saturday, March 7 at 7:00 pm

College Board Seeks Applications for 2015 Award for Excellence in the Arts

logoThe College Board is accepting applications for the 2015 College Board Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts. The annual award recognizes the achievements of member institutions which have implemented an arts program in grades 6 to 12 that promotes student learning and creativity in exemplary and innovative ways.

Awards will be given to programs in three categories. Within each of these three categories, one award in the amount of $5,000 will be given to winning schools to support the continuation and growth of their arts programs. Among the three winning schools, one will be named the national winner and will be awarded an additional $2,500.

More information at the Philanthropy News Digest.

DC’s Hot Hits & Hidden Jewels; Friday, February 20 – Sunday, February 22

Check out this weekend’s Hot Hits & Hidden Jewels from CultureCapital, your link to the Arts in Metro DC.

MethuselahBack to Methuselah
Washington Stage Guild at Undercroft Theatre.
One of the first works of science fiction ever put on stage, with George Bernard Shaw’s celebrated wit and a touch of satire.


LaserCatLaser Cat
Washington Project for the Arts at The Yards.
Lasers! Video Art! DJs! Laser Cat is a giant cat head with lasers for eyes that uses high-powered projectors to beam crowd-sourced personal art onto public buildings, in this case, the interior of the historic 200 Tingey Street Building.

BlackHistoryMonthBlack History Month February 2015 in Metro DC
Various Locations.
Black History Month is celebrated throughout Metro DC in theatre, dance, music, visual arts and the spoken word. Check here for arts and culture events commemorating, honoring and focusing on the history and contributions that Black Americans have made to the United States.

CultureCapital. Your Metro DC Arts Alliance for over 30 years.