Walters' 'Courts and Courtship' is on video

November 05, 1991|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Evening Sun Staff

The Walters Art Gallery mounted an usual mixed media showing last winter, commissioning an original play that was performed by actors using the museum's Renaissance Sculpture Court and Renaissance Paintings Gallery as the setting.

In "Courts and Courtship: Scenes From the Renaissance," produced through the spring, patrons followed the players as the drama moved along. The actors referred to selected artworks to illustrate dialogue within the period play (by Gus Kaikkonen), meant to be a representative Renaissance romance.

Now the museum's education department has taken another step to help bring static artworks to life by producing a video version of "Courts and Courtship."

The first public showings of the video, which was shot during performances of the play last spring, are scheduled this week in the "First Thursday" free admission program on Thursday, Nov. 7.

Museum visitors, admitted free beginning at 5:30 p.m., will be invited to attend one of two premiere showings of the production, scheduled at 5:45 and 6:45 p.m., says education director Diane Brandt Stillman.

Creating drama within a museum setting is an unusual concept, but Stillman believes the video production may be unique within the art community. She has hopes of finding a wider audience for the drama with outlets such as broadcast or cable programmers.

"People responded so well to the drama we wanted to find some way to capture it and to use it in different ways," says Stillman.

In television terms, "Courts and Courtship" is somewhat stiff and dialogue-heavy, the result of the constraints of taping a moving production within a non-stage setting. It was produced by the video firm Michael Cabana and Company of Wilmington, Del.

In the story, the groom in a forthcoming arranged wedding (Jim Shanklin as Thiene) shows up incognito at the home of his betrothed (Amy Wieczorek as Clarice), thus seeing his unmet bride in a candid setting. Will true love win out? You needn't ask.

But as Clarice and Thiene discourse at length upon the statuary and paintings of the "home," viewers gain a great deal of knowledge about not only the works discussed -- including the "Myth of Io" by di Giovannia and "Madonna of Candelabra" by Raphael -- but the historical period of the Renaissance as well.

Stillman says a February showing of the "Courts and Courtship" video is also planned. For more information, call the Walters at 547-9000.

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