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THE CREATIVE LIGHT: Lumina Festival brings 16 days of artistic celebration to ILM

Though we’re in the throes of summer and UNCW’s campus is more quiet than the normal school year, the next two weeks will be hustling with the third annual Lumina Festival of the Arts taking place July 12-28. Anchored by Opera Wilmington’s annual concert (read here for all the details), 16 days are packed on campus with theatre productions, dance performances, poetry slams, art shows and family-friendly events, including sensory-aware productions for audiences of all needs.

The festival hosted an art contest last spring for their official poster, which Mari`Emilia Borja of local artist duo Mushpa + Mensa won. She based the drawing (encore’s cover) on the idea of a luminary.

“[It] is not only a person who inspires, but also a natural light-giving body like the sun and the moon,” Borja tells. “From this came the representation of three female figures who ignite the celebration of light, as it is from this internal light within us that the root of our human creativity is born.”

Her poster is of three magi women celebrating the Feast of Light—Sultana, Oxana and Eve. Each bring a gift: Sultana’s creativity, wisdom and change; Oxana’s color and movement; and Eve’s music, fire and sight. “All elements combine to create a celebration of the arts like none other,” Borja tells. “And only those who believe in magic are invited.”

Borja used India ink Faber Castell pens and digital formats to complete the imagery. She hopes it elicits excitement, happiness and curiosity of Lumina’s roster of events. “With so many different segments (music, dance, poetry) this is truly a celebration of that creative light within us all,” Borja tells.
Thirty events will feature more than 150 local, regional and international artists performing in some capacity. Diversity is the number one goal for festival planners, which are broken up into small committees in music, dance, art, theatre, etc. They also work with community partners, like Opera Wilmington, Cucalorus and Alchemical Theatre Company to curate events.

“We’re hoping to be able to expand the festival in both duration and breadth of artists,” tells Emmanuel Mitcham, UNCW Presents marketing and communications specialist. “We hope to expand our reach further outside of the Wilmington area, making Lumina a staple destination event and a highlight of Wilmington summer experience.”

Here’s the rundown of what to expect of 2019’s roster.


Poetry Jam
Kenan Auditorium, 601 S. College Rd.
7:30 p.m., $10

Coast 97.3’s Bigg B will kick of the festival with a poetry jam. Courtesy photo

Coast 97.3 Bigg B returns to host Lumina’s opening night poetry jam at Kenan Auditorium. Not only will folks bring their finest spoken word, there will be work shown from choreographer Qaadir Hicks, violinist Christa Faison, and a short film screening from the 2019 NC Black Film Festival. Studio art faculty member Gene Felice will host an interactive video projection as well. Tickets are $10.


Hooked on Arts, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Kenan Lawn, Free

A collaboration between UNCW College of Health & Human Services and the UNCW Lumina Festival of the Arts, Hooked on Arts will take place on the UNCW Kenan Lawn both July 13 and 14, 11 a.m. Should weather not cooperate, it will be moved to July 20-21.

The family-friendly festival will have art vendors, food trucks, raise awareness about arts-based therapy and support of addiction-related services/community partners in the Cape Fear region. Free entertainment will be performed, too. On the 13th, Mr. Mark’s Music will showcase his kid-friendly performances, seen at local schools, museums and private functions alike. Mr. Mark, a.k.a. Mark Herbert, will include his unique and varied musical styles (folk, rock, funk, bluegrass, et al) that incorporate movement and learning. Available for private birthday parties to large events and festivals as well as music enrichment programing for preschools and grade schools.

On the 14th at 11 a.m., Mr. Scooter, a.k.a. Melvil Dewey, will take the stage. Mr. Scooter is known for his children’s storytelling hour at local libraries. As well, he has released two albums of kids’ music as Melvil Dewey, International Library Hip Hop Superstar! Mr. Scooter also created the Book Wrangler and Rap Battle of the Books, and has won the National Association of Counties Award, plus had work featured in School Library Journal and VOYA Magazine.

Opera Wilmington Behind the Scenes
UNCW’s Cultural Arts Building,
5270 Randall Drive
10 a.m. – noon, Free

Read here to learn about the opera’s 2019 show, “La Boheme.” Opera Wilmington will host an open house wherein folks can tour UNCW’s scene and costume shops, and vocal studio. Plus, they’ll get a sneak-peek of the organization’s next production.

Kenan Auditorium, 601 S. College Rd.
7:30 p.m., $20-$50

American Dance Festival will debut “Footprints” in Durham later on in the year. However, first, they’re coming to ILM’s Kenan stage to offer a sneak peek.
“It’s a program we can’t wait to see,” UNCW Presents’ Emmanuel Mitcham tells. “‘Footprints’ will present three modern dance classics by three groundbreaking choreographers, Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor.”

After the show, 9 p.m., Wilmington Latin Dance will host a free salsa party at the UNCW Amphitheater. There will be beginner dance lessons then a social dance afterward.


Spotlight on Theatre, 2 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Kenan Auditorium, 601 S. College Rd.
$10 per show

Ed Wagenseller will perform his one-man show, “Academania, aka I’m Only Doing This For Tenure,” on July 14 at 8:30 p.m.

Four local talents are coming to the stage to showcase originality and creativity within ILM’s theatre community. Coming off of their Pride-month hit, “Out, NC,” Mouths of Babes will embark on their latest play, “Florence Stories: Voices from After the Storm.” Led by Trey Morehouse, the show has been constructed from interviews with locals about the after-effects and impact of 2018’s mega storm, Hurricane Florence, on our southeastern community.

Following will be Robin Post’s “Release the Wild Chicken” at 4 p.m. Post has dubbed the show a “solo theatrical tapestry of past trauma, power, and an integrating of the self.” It does contain heavy content, such as sexual abuse and violence; however, it exposes a woman’s rise above the patriarchal system.

Local writer and poet Khalisa Rae has had her play “The Seven Deadly Sins of Being a Woman” showcased locally and will resurrect it at 6 p.m. Based on her book, “Real Girls Have Real Problems,” the play is made up of monologues about societal attempts to oppress and silence women. An ensemble of actors will bring to life pieces covering sexuality, gender equality, classism/racism, generational curses, mental health, assault and abuse.

UNCW professor Ed Wagenseller debuted “Academania: aka I’m Only Doing This for Tenure” during 2018’s Cucalorus Festival. He will take people back through his life as an actor and a professor, armed with a guitar and a lot of laughs. His comedic romps include some of his own college experiences, all the way to accepting C roles and rising through the ranks of academia. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. on Kenan’s stage.


UNCW Jazz Workshop Faculty Combos
Beckwith Recital Hall, 5270 Randall Drive
7:30 p.m., $6

They’ve scored best university combo at JazzFest U.S.A. and have performed worldwide festivals, from Montreux in Switzerland to Graz Jazz in Austria. The UNCW Jazz Combos feature faculty who participate in the summertime UNCW jazz workshops. They lead intensive week-long jazz studies and music-making for middle and high-school students across NC. Their performances are a culmination of these studies.


Courtney Johnson: Moons
UNCW’s CAB Gallery, 5270 Randall Drive
5:30 p.m.-7 p.m., Free

Read here.

Make Trouble: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
CAB SRO Theater, 5270 Randall Drive
7 p.m., $10

It’s one of Shakespeare’s most enchanting shows, featuring love, fairies, magic and humor. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will come to life thanks to Alchemical Theatre Company’s summer-long intensive, Make Trouble. The program brings in emerging university and graduate actors from across the world to hone their skills in ensemble and devising, with a focus on Shakespearean texts. They have UNCW and CFCC students, plus a student from as far as Japan joining their team, who study the Shakespeare text before they even arrive in Wilmington.

According to cofounder Thadd McQuade, Make Trouble always works on two shows simultaneously. 2019 also has them tackling “Timon of Athens” (see July 17-18). “Choosing ‘Midsummer’ allowed us to have two plays set in ancient Athens, which gives us the opportunity to have some cross talk between the two plays both in terms of staging, and also maybe a few surprise character cameos,” Thadd tells.
The students practice 12 hours a day, in training their bodies and voices. Guest artists often come in for mini workshops as well. Five weeks of the intensive culminates in two shows.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”—directed by professional actor Jessica Hanna—will be performed at the SRO Theatre for two performances only, July 16 and 19. Make Trouble will host a sensory-friendly performance on Thursday, July 18, 10:30 a.m., for only $5. It is designed with lower sound and light levels, and staff trained to be accommodating to spectator and family needs.

University and graduate students from around the world attend a five-week intensive acting program,  Make Trouble, which focuses on Shakespearean works. They perform two shows as part of Lumina Festival. Courtesy photo, Christopher Marino, Alchemical Theatre Co.

JULY 17-18

Make Trouble: Timon of Athens
CAB SRO Theater, 5270 Randall Drive
7 p.m., $10

Make Trouble also will perform one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known tragedies, “Timon of Athens,” on July 17 and 18. The show takes on themes of loyalty, philanthropy, greed and ultimately demise.

“We try to make sure one of the [plays] is a very audience-friendly, more familiar story [i.e. “Midsummer Night’s Dream; read above], and let the other selection be more challenging,” Make Trouble cofounder Thadd McQuade tells. “This is both to give students an opportunity to work on two very different pieces, but also to give variation for the audience.”

Alchemical artistic director Christopher Marino calls the choice of doing “Timon” evocative. “It is almost never performed,” he says, “kind of like their own undiscovered text.

The shows will be performed at 7 p.m. in the SRO Theater in UNCW’s Cultural Arts Building.

Summer Jazz Workshop Faculty Big Band
Kenan Auditorium, 601 S. College Rd.
July 17, 7:30 p.m., $20

Let’s hear the swinging sounds of jazz, bebop and modern! UNCW Summer Jazz Workshop Faculty Big Band will welcome to the stage Grammy and Academy Award-nominated hard-bop jazz trumpeter Michael Mossman. Mossman has played, taught, composed, and led the jazz and Latin jazz scenes for years. He has worked with everyone from Lionel Hampton to Art Blakey to Dizzy Gillespie, and more.


Make Trouble: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
CAB SRO Theater, 5270 Randall Drive
7 p.m., $10

See July 16.

Opera Wilmington’s “La Bohème”
July 19, 21, 7 p.m.; 26, 28, 3 p.m.
UNCW CAB Main Stage, 5270 Randall Drive

Read here.


Alchemical Theatre Co.’s Behind the Curtain
Kenan Auditorium, 601 S. College Rd.
7:30 p.m., $60

On July 20, Alchemical Theatre Co. will go behind the curtain and showcase how they train and actors on Shakespeare works. Their intensive training program, Make Trouble (see July 16 and 17-18), will perform a snippet from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” They also will discuss how they use the Bard to help teachers work with children on the autism spectrum.

Afterward they will bring to stage Alchemical founder Christopher Marino and professional actress Esther Williamson to perform a take on “Macbeth,” called “In Blood.” Audience members will be treated to an intimate performance, as they’re seated on Kenan’s stage.

Rhiannon Giddens will return to ILM on July 22 with her friends Regina Carter and John Jeremiah Sullivan to perform Lost Love Song—a musical quest to get to the foundation of blues. Photo by Ebru Yildiz


Lost Love Song
Kenan Auditorium, 601 S. College Rd.
7:30 p.m., $20-$50

Rhiannon Giddens has visited ILM quite a lot over the past year, especially with her “Songs of 1898,” which debuted at Cucalorus 2018. Luckily for us, she is returning with her pal and local writer John Jeremiah Sullivan and violinist Regina Carter to present a program on the origins of blues, called “Lost Love Song.” The three present a musical quest about a Samuel Coleridge Taylor tune, which has been forgotten and overlooked and may hold a clue to the foundation of blues. Coleridge was known as “the first great black composer,” inspired by the famed Fisk Jubilee Choir, whose lead soprano Carrie Sadgwar was married to Alex Manly. Manly was editor of The Daily Record—the pinpoint of destruction during Wilmington’s 1898 Riots.


Shana Tucker
Kenan Auditorium, 601 S. College Rd.
7:30 p.m., $20

Durham’s daughter, cellist and singer-songwriter, Shana Tucker, manages to take the stories of the South and infuse them with soul, hints of jazz, folk, classical, pop, and R&B. To put it succinctly, she plays “ChamberSoul” and will make her debut at Lumina Fest on the 20th for an unforgettable concert. Tucker will perform a sensory-friendly show at 10:30 a.m.


Jacob Wang Concert
Beckwith Recital Hall, 5270 Randall Drive
5:30 p.m., $10

Presented by Ronald Sachs Violins, Jacob Wang will perform excerpts from Bach’s French Suite No. 5 in G, Schumann’s Fantasy in C Maj, Op. 17. Méditation from Tchaikovsky’s 18 Morceaux, Op. 72, and Andante Maestoso from “The Nutcracker.” Wang won the 2018 Ronald Sachs International Music Competition, which helps enrich and encourage young talent.


Opera Wilmington Orchestra
Beckwith Recital Hall, 5270 Randall Drive
2 p.m., $20

Though the local opera’s 2019 show features Puccini’s “La Boheme” (read here), it also will host a recital from their orchestra. Compositional favorites include Puccini’s Crisantemi for String Quartet, Rondo in A major for Violin and String Quartet, D 438 by Franz Schubert, and the Coffee Cantata—a mini comedic opera from Bach.

Cucalorus presents “Phoenix, Oregon” film screening
Kenan Auditorium, 601 S. College Rd.
7:30 p.m., $10

Directed by Gary Lundgren, two friends in Phoenix, Oregon, undergo a mid-life crisis. To combat it, they decide launching a pizzeria and bowling alley all in one is the best way to go. The film stars James Le Gros, Lisa Edelstein, Jesse Borrego, Diedrich Bader, and Kevin Corrigan.


Cucalorus presents Campfireball, featuring Dance-a-lorus Lab
Kenan Auditorium, 601 S. College Rd.
6:30 p.m., $10

Corey Howard always has been known for his zany brand of comedy. He brought Campfireball to Cucalorus in 2017 and now as part of Lumina Fest, Cucalorus presents a new iteration of his show, plus performances from Dance-a-lorus.

“The show takes the form of an existential monster attack,” according to Howard, “as in, monsters will attack Lumina Fest. But don’t worry, we will navigate that experience together as an audience.”

It’s an intimate and absurd improvisational variety show, all centered around the wacky world of social media, as we know it. Audience participation is a must, so prepare to come and be a part of the fun, not just sitting back in the spectator seats.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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