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Video chat replay: Critics' Corner with Jeff Simon and Jeff Miers

McCaffery to launch third book of critical studies tonight at Hallwalls

Steve McCaffery, the  Gray Chair Professor of Poetry and Letters at the University at Buffalo, will launch his third independent critical book, "The Darkness of the Present: Poetics, Anachronism and the Anomaly" (University of Alabama Press) tonight (Thursday) at 8 p.m. at Hallwalls Cinema, 341 Delaware Avenue (near Tupper St.) in an event sponsored by the UB Poetics Program.

The event will also feature the U.S. premiere screening of McCaffery's 1991 commissioned video text Living Dusts, a work that collages the writings of cultural theorist Paul Virillo and philosopher Edmund Husserl with images and texts from George Lucas' Star Wars and vaudeville.

About "The Darkness of the Present," fellow critic Jerome McGann has written: "This book raises important ethical/political issues for the practice of art in the twentieth [sic] century. The Darkness of the Present calls them to rigorous attention in a series of critical studies. It finishes in a deliberate move to stand back, in order to reflect on the issues from a cool critical vantage, like Tennyson’s poet at the end of The Palace of Art.”

In his introduction to the book, McCaffery describes the book as a series of chapters that share the common preoccupation of underscoring "the interlacement--even perplication--of an odyssey of two well-known, abused, and disabused concepts: the anomaly and the anachronism and the way their empirical emergence works to unsettle a steady notion of the 'contemporary' or 'new.'"

The event is free and open to the public.

--R.D. Pohl

Thursday Theater Roundup

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Xavier Harris and Megan Callahan appear in Subversive Theatre's production of "Angels In America: Perestroika."

"Angels in America," through Feb. 16 in Subversive Theatre's Manny Fried Playhouse. ★★½ for "Millennium Approaches" ★★★ for "Perestroika."

From the review: "The play is an immensity, overstuffed with ideas and full of as much suffering, as much love – and as many well-placed jokes – as any American play. But it’s also a deeply personal tale about a group of individuals seemingly as different from one another as it is possible for Americans to be, each one scraping and clawing his or her way toward a true identity." --Colin Dabkowski

Taylor Doherty and Kathleen Golde star in "Gruesome Playground Injuries" at Buffalo Laboratory Theatre.

"Gruesome Playground Injuries," through Feb. 9 in Buffalo Laboratory Theatre's Swan Auditorium. From the review: "Director [Stephen McKinley] Henderson puts Doherty and Golde through an extraordinary 70-minute, no-frills, tell-the-tale regimen. They age, change clothes and appearance – sometimes they regress and fill in some details – they spar, confide, make a point, rescind." --Ted Hadley

"The Wonderful World of Peter Williams," through Feb. 3 in an Alemaedae Theatre production in Road Less Traveled Theatre. ★★★

From the review: "And Barry Williams? There is no doubt. As Peter Damn, he is fabulous." --Ted Hadley

It's 'Beautiful Buffalo Week' in Toronto

Buffalo is getting some major love from Toronto this week, as a storefront performance space and cinema in the city's Kensington Market neighborhood hosts a series of events designed to highlight the artistic output of Toronto's "oft-maligned sister city."

The organization's "Beautiful Buffalo Week" kicked off Monday with a reading of two plays by the gifted Buffalo-based playwright Neil Wechsler. He read from his new play "The Brown Bull of Cuailnge" and from his acclaimed drama "Grenadine," last seen here in a Road Less Traveled Theatre production in 2009.

Up next is an event called "Buffalo Hates You Too" -- after the cheeky slogan invented by Western New York Book Arts Center founder Richard Kegler -- on Thursday night at 8. The screening, curated by artist and designer Julian Montague and Squeaky Wheel Director Jax Deluca, will feature work by various Buffalo-based video and new media artists.

The celebration culminates on Friday with a conversation between Montague and Joshua Babcock and Cristina Naccarato of Toronto's art collective Broken City Lab at 7:30 p.m. Here's the description for that event, which sounds well worth the trip across the border: "Videofag is excited to be hosting these three artists in discussion on the ways in which artists cities with an abundance of space - specifically in so-called 'North American Rustbelt' - are innovating new functions for disused buildings/public spaces, and in the process reinventing the possibilities of neighbourhoods, community, and the artist's role within a city. Specific examples will be drawn from BCL's own repurposing of Windsor storefronts and empty ad space on city transit."

Look for my take on the program in Sunday's paper.

--Colin Dabkowski

Catch 'Peter Williams' persona in new play through Feb. 3


During a break in the program at the last year’s annual Artvoice Artie Awards in the Town Ballroom, a tall man dressed in a white fur coat, draped in shimmering jewelry and wearing a pair of sleek black and white sunglasses made a long, theatrical sashay around the venue’s bar. He occasionally stopped to shake hands with a stunned attendee, introducing himself as the flamboyant media personality "Peter Damn Williams."

The spectacle was designed to get the character of Peter Williams firmly embedded in the minds of Buffalo’s theatergoing community, and to prepare them for his debut on the stage of the Road Less Traveled Theatre this month. Alemaedae Theatre Productions joined with Road Less Traveled to present "The Wonderful World of Peter Williams," a play by Alemaedae founder Phil Davis and starring Barry Williams in the title role. Read Ted Hadley's review of the play, which runs through Feb. 3.

This follows Davis and Taura Stevens' successful 2010 play "So Fierce: Peter Williams," which introduced the eccentric character to followers of the small Buffalo theater company.

"Before he was stunning audiences all over the world with his flawless looks, quick wit and signature walk, the fierce model and enigmatic superstar Peter Damn Williams was known as 'Little Petey,' a sensitive, loving boy, the product of a single-parent home due to an absentee father," Davis wrote in a statement about the show, which explores the childhood and later life of Davis’ morally complex character. "He walks a fine line between the victim and villain."

Tickets are $15 to $25, with information at 602-6253 or

Davis explains the origins of the Peter Damn Williams character:

—Colin Dabkowski

Theatre of Youth to present 'James & the Giant Peach'

The Theatre of Youth will present "James & the Giant Peach" at 7 p.m. tonight and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 203 Allen St. Tickets are $24-$26. Also, a character brunch will be held at noon Sunday at Quaker Bonnet, 175 Allen St. Cost is $15. For information, call 884-4400, Ext. 304, or visit

TOY Artistic Director Meg Quinn talks about the production based on the beloved children's novel by Roald Dahl:

Live chat: Miers on Music at noon

ASI releases its annual report

Arts czar 05
Tod A. Kniazuk, executive director of the Arts Services Initiative of Western New York, in his office in December, 2011. Photo by Robert Kirkham / Buffalo News.

In 2012, the the Arts Services Initiative of Western New York, under the direction of Tod A. Kniazuk, has been working on a number of projects aimed at improving the health of the region's cultural vitality. It's tough work, but according to the organization's 2012 annual report, released this week, ASI (still in desperate need of a better name) has been making progress. Check the report out here.

--Colin Dabkowski

Where in the world is JoAnn Falletta?

It is time for another round of this most exciting and most unpredictable game!

JoAnn Falletta, the globe-trotting music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, is right now conducting in a foreign city, a magical place where they keep Christmas decorations....

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... stay up until February. I wish we did that here! My Christmas tree is still up. As a matter of fact that is a picture of it.

Where JoAnn Falletta is, as of last night, it was 16 degrees.

JoAnn writes:  "The orchestra is wonderful and plays in a jewel of a concert hall -- rather small but with beautiful acoustics." Here is a picture of the concert hall.


And the outside.


Do you know yet where in the world JoAnn Falletta is?

She is in a city full of medieval glamour.

Interestingly and perhaps relevantly, the guest conductor at last weekend's Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra concert is affiliated with this town's orchestra.

Got it yet? JoAnn Falletta is in ...


That is a summer picture. We should show a winter picture.

JoAnn is in ...


... Krakow, Poland!

That is St. Mary's Basilica in the winter picture.

JoAnn went walking the other night with the 16 degrees and the snow falling and she said it was beautiful.

She writes:

Everyone in the orchestra knows Jacek Muzyk (our principal horn) - he is an enormous star here. Michael Ludwig is playing the Wieniawski Violin Concerto #2 brilliantly, which as a Polish masterpiece is greatly beloved here. We were invited to a private lunch with the Consul General of the USA (Ellen Germain) who was lovely and welcomed us into her residence.

I realized again how very musical this country is, and what a cultural environment it is here. And the city is stunningly beautiful, with parts of it dating from the 12th century and even earlier. I would recommend that everyone who has the opportunity should visit Poland- it is a country filled with warmth, charm, great food, and the most wonderful people.

In many ways Crakow reminds me of Buffalo!

Thank you, JoAnn, for the virtual postcard!

We will excitedly await the next one.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

Critics' Corner takes a week off

There will be no episode of Critics' Corner broadcast this week. Our next scheduled episode is next Thursday at 1 p.m. Sorry for any inconvenience.
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