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FirstWorks Festival: Sept. 24-Nov. 15, 2009

FirstWorks: CircusFirstWorks announces the 6th annual FirstWorks Festival, produced in collaboration with the City of Providence’s Department of Art, Culture and Tourism. The FirstWorks Festival champions “firsts” in the arts through premiere performances by world-class artists.

FirstWorks is one the reasons why I love the city of Providence and has become an annual event I look forward to with plenty of performances to choose from for the family and makes a cool date night out.

This year’s festival celebrates icons of music and the moving image, the cultural legacy of American masters, revolutionary Cirque theatre, cutting edge digital arts, and more. Kids of all ages may enjoy the festival headliner, Cirque Mechanics performing their very arty and slapstick Cirque theatre production “Birdhouse Factory” at PPAC on November 14. Another exciting event for kids is Yellow Bird Indian Dancers, (a family troupe!) performing for families at RISD Auditorium on Saturday, October 17. Special children ticket prices are available for some of the performances; including Steve Jobe and Chris Turner’s “Chamber Music for Diverse Ensembles” and for the Providence Singers with Boston Modern Orchestra Project.FirstWorks logo

Artist-up-close events, workshops and performance JumpStarts will be announced closer to the festival. JumpStarts are short performances often outdoors right before the main event that are open to the public, free of charge. Since many young children do not like to be confined and often have short attention spans, JumpStarts are a great way to introduce children to FirstWorks and start their appreciation and love for the arts at an early age. And a way for parents to get a dose of culture even if they are unable to secure a babysitter.

Details of which performances are great for families are listed below. Visit the FirstWorks website to see the full festival schedule. Please note the schedule may change as new events are added.


Birdhouse Factory

New England Premiere: The incomparable Cirque Mechanics fly, climb and contort their way through rotating gears, trampoline walls and aerial hoops. The international troupe of veterans from Cirque du Soleil, Pickle Family Circus and Moscow Circus transform PPAC into a wondrous Birdhouse Factory, complete with uniformed unicyclists and acrobatic assembly lines.  Inspired by the masterful industrial murals of Diego Rivera, the outrageous illustrations of cartoonist Rube Goldberg, and the gentle political slapstick of Charlie Chaplin, these literally off-the-wall performers delight both adults and children with inspired fun. More on Cirque Mechanics “Birdhouse Factory” here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxUn1djb61g

Saturday, November 14, 8pm
PPAC, 220 Weybosset St., Providence

Tickets: $43, $36, $22 (includes $3 restoration fee)
On sale now at PPAC Box Office: www.ppacri.org, (401) 421-ARTS (2787)


Chamber Music for Diverse Ensembles

World Premiere: Two of Rhode Island’s most original composers, Steve Jobe and Chris Turner, collaborate to premiere a unique musical program. Jobe’s setting of song texts by poet Robert Graves are played on a sound-sculpture of exquisite glass bells; Turner has assembled a 30-member strong community-based ensemble to create a sonic landscape of expressive power.

Friday, October 9 and Saturday, October 10, 8pm
Beneficent Church, 300 Weybosset St., Providence

Tickets: $10 adult/$1 child
On sale now. www.first-works.org, (401) 421-4278

PROVIDENCE SINGERS and Boston Modern Orchestra Project
New World Rhythm: American Masterworks for Chorus and Percussion

World Premiere:  The 100-voice Providence Singers season opener features masterworks expressly written for chorus and percussion. Highlighted by a world premiere by Grammy-nominated composer Tarik O’Regan, the program includes the New England premiere of Lou Harrison’s epic “La Koro Sutro” (The Heart Sutra), featuring an American gamelan ensemble, a double-chorus work by Rhode Island-raised Nico Muhly, and works by American Masters Philip Glass and Steve Reich.

Sunday, November 15, 3pm
Beneficent Church, 300 Weybosset St.

Tickets: $22 pre-sale, $26 at the door,
$5 children/students
www.ArtTixRi.com, (401) 621-6123


Rhode Island Premiere: Experience the rich cultural legacy of American First Nations! These award-winning Native American dancers perform a repertoire rich in authentic Apache, Southwest and Northern Plains traditions for an experience to be shared with the whole family. Native sign language and flute music animate the beautiful Apache Rainbow Dance and the dynamic Hoop Dance, featuring exceptional performers ranging in age from preschool to adult, including the 2008 World Champion Teen Hoop Dancer. (More on Yellow Bird Indian Dancers can be found here: http://www.yellowbirdproductions.com/Welcome.html

Saturday, October 17, 2pm
RISD Auditorium, 17 Canal Walk

Tickets: $10 adult/$1 child
On sale now. www.first-works.org, (401) 421-4278

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  • For those who prefer to attend arts events on the earlier side of the dial, there are some afternoon performances scheduled. Yellow Bird Indian Dancers will perform on Saturday, Oct. 17 at 2pm at RISD Auditorium, and the Providence Singers’ season opener takes place at 3pm on Sunday, Nov. 15 at Beneficent Church.

    The Pixilerations new media art showcase is open at both 5 Traverse (Wed-Sun, 12-6) and Sol Koffler (daily, 12-8) galleries for daytime viewing as well.

    Free performance “JumpStarts” take place on the earlier side – outside of individual event venues generally about an hour before showtime. The JumpStart schedule will be posted on first-works.org – stay tuned!

    Thinking ahead to Spring 2010, FirstWorks will present illusionist and MacArthur Genius Grant winner Michael Moschen for a 7:30pm performance at VMA Arts & Cultural Center on Friday, March 13.

    Thanks for letting us know about your preferences – it helps us as we program for the future, and to connect art with audiences like you.

  • it all looks so wonderful, if only the evening performances started at a more family friendly time. Even Trinity Rep starts at 7:30pm now…… Why not afternoon or early evening performances???