Annenberg Center Live sings the blues for 2016-17 season (Penn Current)

September 22, 2016

By Jeanne Leong


The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts’ partnerships with Penn’s Cinema and Media Studies Program and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) are creating synergies that offer unique programming for patrons.

The 2016-17 season, which begins on Sept. 28, will focus on blues music, as part of Annenberg Center Live’s second installment of its three-year “African Roots, American Voices” series celebrating the African diaspora’s contributions to American culture.

Blues music is considered the inspiration for many music genres including jazz, rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll, soul, and gospel.

The Center’s exploration of the blues will be presented through music, dance, and film.

In collaboration with the Cinema and Media Studies Program, the Annenberg Center kicks off the season with a series of free screenings of four of the seven films from the 2003 PBS series “The Blues” by executive producer Martin Scorsese.

“It all came together with a lot of talking and exchanging of ideas,” says Timothy Corrigan, a professor of English, cinema studies, and history of art.

The film series is also sponsored by the Provost’s Interdisciplinary Arts Fund.

On Sept. 28, the film “Feel Like Going Home,” features musician Corey Harris traveling through Mississippi and to West Africa, exploring the roots of the music. Following the screening at the Annenberg Center’s Prince Theater, the movie’s producer, Alex Gibney, will participate in a panel discussion about the making of the film.

The showings of “The Road to Memphis,” on Oct. 26, and “Warming by the Devil’s Fire,” on Feb. 1, 2017, will be followed by conversations with local panelists to talk about the movies and their subject matter.
On March 1, Academy Award-nominated director Mike Figgis will attend the screening of his film “Red White and Blues,” detailing the blues’ influence on British rock groups such as The Rolling Stones. After the showing, Figgis will discuss the film.

Registration is strongly encouraged for the free showings of the films at the Annenberg Center website.

In a collaboration with the ICA, the Center’s Oct. 21 concert featuring jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard (pictured) and his quintet, The E-Collective, includes an offer for up to 25 ticket holders to attend a pre-concert private tour of the ICA exhibit, “The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now.”

“Most of the Annenberg patrons are not affiliated with Penn,” says Dawn Frisby Byers, director of marketing and communications for Annenberg Center Live. “To be able to enrich their experience with Penn when they come here is beneficial for everyone.”

Annenberg Center Live has collaborated with academic departments in recent years, including connecting London’s Filter Theatre with the Theatre Arts Program. When Filter Theatre performed its new take on Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at the Annenberg Center this past February, the actors held a workshop on sound and improvisation for students in the Intro to Acting class.

The Center plans to partner with other campus entities for programming in the future.