October 22, 2012

UCF’s School of Visual Arts & Design and the Theatre Department are collaborating for an event themed around the theatre’s production of Side Show, a play based on conjoined twins.

“The Sideshow of Side Show” is an exhibition of student-created and sideshow-themed artworks that will be displayed throughout the run of Theatre UCF’s production of Bill Krieger and Henry Russell’s musical Side Show, which runs Oct. 25 through Nov. 4. The artwork will be displayed in the lobby of the theatre building (TH-6).

The exhibition began as an opportunity for the UCF Theatre and School of Visual Arts &Design departments to work together. The exhibit will feature the works of advanced painting students in faculty member Carla Poindexter’s class. 

The 24 pieces of art featured in “The Sideshow of Side Show” exhibition are unique in subject and message. Some replicate the style of historical sideshow banners with dark humor and irony. Other paintings deal with historical versus contemporary issues related to ethics and exploitation of the sideshow/circus performers and their audiences. Others are simply entertaining and whimsical.

Director Earl Weaver hopes the exhibit will help set the mood for theatre-goers. “Patrons of the circus or side show are surrounded with visual stimuli that enhance their experience: the smell of the popcorn, the sound of the calliope, the brightly colored posters. We are hoping to re-create a piece of that experience for our patrons with this art exhibit. From the time patrons enter our theatre building, we want them to have the full sideshow experience, all the way through the end of the show.”

The resulting paintings and other artworks in the exhibition are visual responses to Theatre UCF’s lobby space; the actual props, costumes, and set designs in the upcoming play; and the content of the script from both a historical perspective and contemporary perspectives.

“Throughout art history, visual artists have produced everything from set designs and costumes to hand bills for theatrical productions,” said associate professor of art Carla Poindexter. “This project gave our advanced painting students an opportunity to learn how to collaborate with the theatre to create paintings and mixed media artworks that not only support the production but also stand alone as a compelling exhibition of accomplished individual pieces.”

Early in the fall semester, the Theatre department presented the script and design inspirations to the advanced painting class. Scenic designer Joseph Rusnock reviewed the set inspiration and plans, costume designer Huaixaing Tan presented costume mock-ups, and Weaver talked about the script and Theatre UCF’s specific production. Students then toured the theatre lobby, where the art will be displayed for further inspiration.

The painting students also studied significant historical paintings with sideshow-related themes, including carnival-inspired works of Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Diego Rivera, and James Ensor. Students also studied the carnival’s “golden age” of art by sideshow banner painters, including the historical but little known works of Johnny Meak and Norman Lewis. 

“With programs in digital media, architecture, film, and art all wrapped up into one school, the school of Visual Arts and Design is naturally a group that needs to collaborate” says Paul Lartonoix, director of the School of Visual Arts and Design.  “When the opportunity came up for SVAD to partner with Theatre on Side Show, I thought it was an excellent idea—a special situation where the students can craft their pieces around a theme of a theatrical production. It’s a fun and exciting topic with lots of avenues to explore. A focused topic forces the students to work within parameters and in this case, to work outside the normal ‘client’ experience. It truly is very exciting.”

The exhibition is free, but tickets are required to see the musical. To purchase tickets or for ticket information call the box office at 407-823-1500. Standard tickets are $20 ($18 for seniors; $10 for students) and group rates are available. It is recommended to purchase tickets in advance, available through the Theatre UCF box office. UCF offers accommodations to make the theatre more accessible to patrons with disabilities; for assistance, call the box office in advance.

Theatre UCF is on the UCF campus near the intersection of University Boulevard and Alafaya Trail in east Orlando. Performances begin at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Production at a glance:

Side Show

Book and lyrics by Bill Russell; Music by Henry Krieger

Directed by Earl D. Weaver

October 25, 26, 27, November 1, 2, 3 at 8:00 pm

October 28, November 4 at 2:00 pm

Main Stage Theatre

Price: Standard $20, Senior $18, Student $10; Group discounts available

Box Office Phone: (407) 823-1500

Box Office Hours: Monday through Friday: noon to 6 p.m. and 2 hours before performances