Transforming Town Meeting to Another Stage
Shortly after moving to Provincetown in 2019, Cody Sullivan attended an emergency town meeting about turning the former VFW into affordable housing. “I was not yet registered here, but I was in the balcony,” he says. “It was the most entertaining four hours of my life.” It was there, in the balcony of Provincetown Town Hall, where the idea for Town Meeting blinked at him.
Sullivan will be producing his latest version of the play in the Wilde Theater at the Gifford House (9 Carver St., Provincetown) on Monday, Jan. 1 at 7:30 p.m. “Will P’town vote to change the streetlights from fluorescent to LED?” he asks. “Will the town explode in the process of deciding? Come cast your vote.” Tickets are $10 (cash only) at the door.
Sullivan studied improvisation at Chicago’s iO Theater, which is known for launching the careers of Saturday Night Live’s Jason Sudeikis, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler. After his move to Provincetown, Sullivan began exploring solo improvisation and staged plays during the pandemic, playing all the characters and engaging in dialogue with himself.
Improvisation plays a part in Town Meeting as well. While the concept remains the same, the issues change from year to year: In the show’s first year, when it was produced at the Julie Heller Gallery, the plot dealt with a fictional cottage near Angel Foods that the town was going to tear down. In its second year, when it was produced as a radio play on WOMR, the action had to do with a house over a cranberry bog on Thanksgiving.
“In the previous two years I had a very clear understanding of who was right and who was wrong, but that’s not true this year,” says Sullivan, explaining that his widening perspective is a result of maturity: “She’s getting older and more nuanced in her old age.
“I’m very excited,” he continues. “I haven’t performed a full solo show in almost two years. I was not going to do this show, and then I went to the Truro town meeting and my love of Town Meeting was rekindled.” Sullivan adds that the newest version of the show will have a holiday bent: “I love town the most this time of year. It’s very homey and warm, emotionally.”
He’s already looking forward to future iterations of Town Meeting. “I hope the next time people say something crazy at a town meeting that they decide to think about it a little more deeply.” He pauses. “Well, maybe not — because then I won’t have any material.” —Pat Kearns
Winter Open Call Show at the Commons
There’s no particular theme to the current Winter Open Call show at the Provincetown Commons (46 Bradford St.), on view until Feb. 4. But the walls are full of paintings, photographs, collages, sculptures, and white-line prints by a wide variety of Cape Cod artists.
In Paul Kelly’s painting Angel Food, two women are having lunch at a small white table next to windows overlooking Commercial Street. Across the street we see the charming gourmet market of the painting’s title. Here, Kelly makes a commentary about how public even a private situation can be in a small town. One avoidant (or contemplative?) woman has left the table. She stares out the window with her back turned on her friend or lover, who is left seated at the table. The use of simple, sharp shapes clarifies the tension between them.
In Jane Paradise’s archival pigment print Winter Sun Over the Dunes, shadows pull the viewer out into the landscape. The slit of sun turns the dunes canyon red as a royal blue sky looms. Here, we witness the quiet closing of the seasons, all brightness being laid to rest.
Rik Kapler aka Wave’s ceramic sculpture Sea Pod 44 is shaped like an anchor wrangled out of fishing net and spat on by a whale. There’s a pocket inside the mouth of the pod large enough to slip in an envelope and use the piece as a fashionable mailbox. Does this sculpture represent the future or our washed-up past?
In Children of the Night II, a mixed-media work by Provincetown artist Benwa, we see a detailed scene of abstract shapes. Are they club-goers in a packed warehouse dancing amidst the strobe lights? Lines intersect on a diagonal, and abstract figures are crowded among them. Every figure is in motion. The piece is a conversation about physicality in a nightclub: no shape is the same, and brightly colored fashions emerge from the dark.
Karen Cappotto’s painting Harbor Town is a view of a small town’s waterfront from the harbor. It’s one of Cappotto’s more restrained pieces while still maintaining her energetic gestures. Here, by the sea, her buildings are settled. White oil paint for the buildings and aqua blue brushstrokes for the water tell us the sun is peeking out.
All works in the show are for sale, and sales are conducted privately by the artists or through their galleries. See provincetowncommons.org for information. —Pat Kearns
A New Holiday Album
Just in time for the holiday season, a new album recorded in Provincetown features 13 “queerly imagined” holiday songs by more than a dozen local artists and performers.
Produced by the Crown & Anchor and recorded at Room 9 Studios at the Moffett House, Provincetown Follies: Holly Folly at the Crown includes standards such as “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “Happy Holidays” as well as new twists on familiar classics.
According to Crown & Anchor general manager Jonathan Hawkins, the album was conceived as a corrective to holiday traditions that have not always been inclusive of the queer community. “For many of us, the magic of holiday music has been diminished by the churches, the ‘holders of holiday spirit,’ that have for so long left us out, asking us to come with voices but to leave behind our hearts and our true selves,” said Hawkins in a statement accompanying the album release. “This music represents peace, hope, and joy. Somewhere in the world, there is a queer person hearing this music and, for the first time, experiencing its true message.”
In addition to coproducing the album with Yaron Spiwak, Hawkins performs a solo rendition of “O Holy Night” and collaborates with Jon Richardson and Qya Cristal on sparkling versions of “Carol of the Bells” and “Joy to the World.” Hawkins and Spiwak also duet on the traditional Hanukkah song “Ma’oz Tsur (Rock of Ages).”
Original compositions include Zoë Lewis’s sweetly rollicking “Peking Duck” — an ecumenical celebration of new traditions for “a goy and her gal” — and Kristen Becker’s hilarious “12 Gays of Christmas,” which swaps out the familiar golden rings and turtle doves for “three straight friends, two dykes in love, and a selfie with Mariah Carey.” Other highlights include covers by iconic singer-songwriters: Brittany Rolfs performs Joni Mitchell’s wistful “River,” and Jake Glass and Jizzelle close out the album with John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).”
Proceeds from sales of the album will benefit the Provincetown Performing Arts Fund, which funds housing for local artists.
Hawkins says the album is part of a tradition that everyone can participate in. “I think it’s universal,” he said. “It can bring people together. It’s the music of the season, no matter what you believe.”
Knit Happens at Community Fiber Arts Show
The Wellfleet Community Fiber Arts Show, currently on view at Wellfleet Public Library (55 West Main St.), weaves together traditions from around the world, from Scottish Fair Isle to Tibetan knotting to Scandinavian techniques like rep weave and halvdräll. Old photographs, tattoo designs, and deconstructed curtains are reimagined alongside traditional worn garments, wall hangings, and quilts.
Library outreach coordinator Racine Oxtoby says that the show emerged as a way to highlight the creations of a local knitting group that meets each Sunday at the library and became a way to celebrate fiber arts in the wider community. The library called for submissions through social media, its email newsletter, the Mermaid Memo, and word of mouth. “We tried to keep it as Wellfleet-centric as possible,” says Oxtoby.
Some of the works are for sale, while others are on loan. The captions give insight into the creators’ relationship to their craft and how they discovered it. Several that mention the pandemic or other life-changing health events give an impression of fiber arts as a mode of resistance.
“The simple act of creating a stitch over and over … then became something tangible, of use, and (hopefully!) pleasing to the eye,” says Tom Stall in the caption accompanying a knitted Harry Potter-inspired Gryffindor House scarf.
Members of the library staff, including assistant director and show curator Naomi Robbins and Judy Taylor, who works at the circulation desk, also have work in the show. “Fiber arts take just as much art and skill as fine art,” says Taylor. “It’s just a different medium.”
For Robbins, the exhibition reflects the talent and generosity of the whole Wellfleet community. “It feels a little like peeking through the windows of our neighbors’ houses on a snowy evening,” she said at the opening reception on Dec. 8. “We have a few professional artists represented, and a lot of people who are creating beautiful artistic endeavors when they kick off their shoes at the end of the day, or whenever they can steal a few moments. I feel honored that people have shared what they create with their precious personal time with the whole community.”
The show is on view until Jan. 7 and is free and open to the public during regular library hours. See wellfleetlibrary.org for more information. —Aden Choate