Mason Festival of the Arts Presents Community Arts Weekend

Posted: June 9, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Festival of the arts logo

Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) announces Community Arts Weekend, an event celebrating community and diversity in the Northern Virginia arts community on Saturday, June 14, and Sunday, June 15.

Community Arts Weekend occurs on the first weekend of the inaugural Mason Festival of the Arts, held on Mason’s Fairfax Campus June 12-29.

Presented in cooperation with The Harmony Project and Spotlight on the Arts, Community Arts Weekend features an arts fair featuring the work of local artisans; indoor and outdoor performances by area performers; music, dance, and theater from around the world; arts education workshops; film screenings; and many more activities for children, teens and adults.

“We are thrilled to have such a diversity of artists and organizations be a part of the Mason Festival’s opening weekend,” says Artistic Director Rick Davis. “I can think of no better way to celebrate our community.”

The Community Arts Weekend offers plenty of theater performances for children, teens, and adults.

For adults, Mason’s professional theater company in residence, Theater of the First Amendment (TFA), presents the world premiere of “Two-Bit Taj Mahal” by Paul D’Andrea, directed by Heather McDonald, and the East Coast premiere of “Mariela in the Desert” by Karen Zacarías, directed by Nick Olcott. Both are works by local playwrights with national reputations.

For children, the Grey Ghost Theater presents two plays focusing on events in American history: “Son of Liberty,” about a young man’s experiences during the American Revolution as he journeys from newspaper printer to Minuteman to Paris for the Peace Accords; and “Ride to Freedom,” about a young woman who joins the Freedom Rides and travels by bus from Washington, D.C., to Jackson, Miss., enduring violence and facing arrest, all to defend freedom and racial equality.

TFA’s First Light Discovery program features staged readings of new plays by students from Fairfax County high schools and Mason; while the Generations Playwriting Project presents plays created by seniors from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and students from the theater workshop Acting for Young People. Natural Theatricals’ Paula Alprin and Stories from All Nations present storytelling.

On Saturday night, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra teams up with TFA for a performance of Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: Dream of America,” a patriotic symphonic score with live actors and multimedia, inspired by the Ellis Island Oral History Project.

Also featured is James Beckel’s “Liberty for All,” narrated by Fairfax County Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Gerry Connolly, and Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances” from “West Side Story.”

Throughout the weekend, a variety of musical and dance ensembles present performances that exemplify the diversity for which Mason and the Northern Virginia area are known.

From hip-hop to barbershop, Irish jigs to African drumming, mountain music to jazz, there is something for everyone.

CRS Teen Dancers, a talented group of Fairfax County students, perform hip-hop, salsa, and world dances. The Indian and South Asian dancers and musicians features children and teens from Laysa Academy, the Indian International School, and community centers and temples around the region; and Indian Classical Musicians Siba and Suchismita Mahanty perform classical music for tabla (hand drums) and voice.

One of the region’s great choirs, Voices of Merrifield, from the First Baptist Church of Merrifield, performs beautiful gospel music. The Fairfax Jubil-Aires Barbershop Chorus performs a cappella barbershop. Síor Óg performs classical Irish dances such as jigs, jibs, and reels using a variety of traditional Irish instruments.

The High Middling Stringband presents “mountain music,” American roots music combining Celtic, Scottish, Blues, and African folk traditions with a strong dance beat. Culmore United Methodist Church, with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, presents Filipino Musicians performing traditional and popular music from the Philippines.

Abdul Eshaggai-Afghan Dancers bring traditional dances from Afghanistan, presented in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. Al Williams Band performs smooth jazz, blues, and soul music, followed by the fantastic Northern Virginia Jazz Band. Halau hula O Ke anuenue Punahele (Hula School of the favorite rainbow) performs native dances of Hawaii, Tahiti, and New Zealand.

And Mason’s Pep Band leader Michael Nickens (“Doc Nix”) performs improvisational jazz with student and professional musicians.

Throughout the weekend, the World Children’s Choir also offers workshops and performances, including a Peace Collage Workshop, an African Drumming Workshop and Performance, a Song and Dance Workshop, and an Opera Ensemble performing Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”

The visual arts are represented by the Fairfax Art League’s painting workshop; exhibitions featuring the work of its members in the Center for the Arts gallery; art work for sale at booths in the Arts Fair Tent; and visual arts education workshops.

Mason Film Festival screens films from area students and independent filmmakers throughout the weekend, and also presents Cavalier Films’ Familiar Strangers, the funny and heartfelt story of an American family negotiating the changing relationships between parents and growing children.

Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, LLP is the Festival Principal Sponsor, and Boeing Corporation is the Festival Theater Sponsor. Coldwell Banker is the sponsor for Community Arts Weekend.

Complete program information is posted at

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