InCite Arts Festival

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Editorial Review

Sampling of Boston theater

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 30, 2009

A little bit of Bean Town is coming to Washington this weekend.

The third InCite Arts Festival, a mini-menu of theater and music courtesy of Boston University, will set up shop here for three days. This is the festival's first foray to the area, having traveled to New York in previous years.

On Saturday and Sunday at Olney Theatre Center, BU's theater department will present the Tom Stoppard and Andr Previn collaboration "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour," along with composer Michael Nyman's one-act opera "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat." Then on Monday, the school's symphony orchestra will take the Kennedy Center Concert Hall stage with "Cosmic Reflection: A Narrated Symphony, Op. 15." The world premiere, by composer Nolan Gasser, commemorates the first year in orbit of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and includes video and live narration about the wonder of creation by actor Carey Harrison (son of Rex Harrison).

According to InCite artistic director Jim Petosa (who, not coincidentally, runs Olney Theatre along with the BU theater school), the whole undertaking is a bit like a traveling circus. "It's buses full of instrumentalists and actors, and a truck with a bunch of instruments and instrument cases," he says by phone from Boston, where he splits his time with Olney. "Half of them are living at a hotel in Rosslyn, and half of them are living in a hotel in Laurel."

Both theater pieces, which will be performed by BU alumni, faculty and, in one case, a student, have minimalist sets, making the trek somewhat easier. That's less for expediency, Petosa says, than because that's what the works call for.

Although InCite's productions went through what Petosa calls their "gestation" in Boston, he resists the characterization of the festival as an import. Rather, it's a homecoming. Not just because of his own involvement, he says, but because one of the actresses, BU theater professor Paula Langton, appeared this summer at Olney in the acclaimed production of "A Glass Menagerie."

In any case, Petosa says, by sampling cultural offerings from other cities, we enrich our lives. "If we can just pull ourselves out to think more broadly, gee, the world becomes both a larger place and a smaller place."

That's a theme echoed in "Cosmic Reflections." As conductor David Hoose describes it, the musical piece and its accompanying video images, which evoke both star systems and molecular structures, are not just about outer space, but inner space. At the extremes, Hoose says, "the large starts to look small, and the small begins to look like the large."

Schedule of events:

Friday, Oct. 30:
6:30-8:30 p.m. Color and Light: Reception and Gallery Talk at the Phillips Collection. Free and open to the public.

Saturday, Oct. 31
5 p.m. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat at Olney Theatre. $38.
8 p.m. Every Good Boy Deserves Favour at Olney Theatre. $38.

Sunday, Nov. 1
5 p.m. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat at Olney Theatre. $38.
8 p.m. Every Good Boy Deserves Favour at Olney Theatre. $38.

Monday, Nov. 2
Cosmic Reflection, featuring the Boston University Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. $20.