A sky dance near Seaport Village.

Yesterday evening, as I walked along the waterfront to the Return of the Jedi concert at The Shell, I paused to watch Katch Zed (@KatchZed) performing her sky dance at Embarcadero Marina Park North near Seaport Village.

I took these photographs into the sun as she twirled on the moon.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

The extraordinary TwainFest at Heritage Park!

TwainFest returned to San Diego today. And it was just as wonderful as ever!

This year the festival of mostly Victorian-era literature was held in Heritage Park, a short distance from Old Town. Families turned out to enjoy games, readings, reenactments of scenes from beloved books, puppet shows, costumed literary characters…you get the picture!

TwainFest is presented by Write Out Loud, whose mission is to inspire, challenge and entertain by reading literature aloud to audiences of all ages.

Write Out Loud offers educational programs, including performances for high school students, and they present the annual San Diego ​Student ​Shakespeare Festival in Balboa Park! Visit this website to learn more!

As I walked around Heritage Park enjoying the festival, I watched Tom Sawyer induce visitors to whitewash a fence, laughed at the craziness of a delightfully manic Mad Hatter Tea Party, lifted my eyes to giant roving Twain, Poe and Shakespeare puppets, and saw characters from Treasure Island and even some steampunk cosplay! There was action in every direction!

I finally joined other visitors to listen to The Extraordinary Mark Twain. Two actors–an older gentleman and youthful girl–painted a picture of the great American humorist and author. They employed the biography written by Twain’s daughter Susy. Her observations were published in 1988 and titled Papa: An Intimate Biography of Mark Twain.

We learned that Mark Twain had a Roman nose and kind blue eyes. And that he used strong words and had a temper. And that he was frequently absent-minded.

He was funny and philosophical and always very earnest.

And, of course, he loved a good joke.

My photos provide a small taste of today’s fun!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Scenes from La Jolla Playhouse’s POP-UP WOW!

This evening I watched a stirring performance. I and many others enjoyed the La Jolla Playhouse’s POP-UP WOW event at Liberty Station.

What did I see?

I saw soulful singing and dancing that stems from a shared history of suffering and endurance.

I saw joy that rises from the heart–a triumph of the spirit.

I saw how bubbles are like aspects of life–and like life itself. Mysterious, beautiful, soaring . . . short-lived. A beginning and an ending. Like memories.

I, too, wondered why we have an impulse to chase bubbles.

I saw a fable about a giant who wanted power over everything.

Until he saw the beauty of bubbles and learned wisdom.

I saw individuals repeatedly asking “Can I?”

They make one clumsy attempt after another, slowly gaining ability, gaining confidence, until they venture out into this sometimes scary world.

Meeting others, overcoming their fear, the question becomes “Can WE?”

What I observed was life.

You can watch it tomorrow if you’d like, too. Click here to learn about the Sunday performances. It’s free!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Friday evening drama in Balboa Park!

I encountered several dramatic scenes during my walk through Balboa Park this Friday evening!

First, as I passed the Old Globe Theatre complex, I noticed some sort of live event had begun in the plaza. I had stumbled upon the AXIS Free Performing Arts Series titled WORD UP!

As I understand it, the Old Globe’s summer AXIS program intends to engage the community, to make theatre matter to more people. The theme this evening was storytelling and community.

After a very brief, vague talk about the importance of oral tradition, the audience and online participants were asked an odd string of personal questions. Many shared how they feel about aspects of their lives and the people in their lives. I realize people communicating thoughts and feelings eye to eye in this age of isolated people staring at phones is a good thing. But the small audience appeared to be a clique of regulars.

I saw very few visitors in the park taking seats during my time in the audience. I’ll bet if there had been an exciting performance of live theatre in the plaza, many more casual passersby would have been drawn in and become engaged.

Next, as I wandered into the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, I was thrilled to see an enthusiastic group of young dancers rehearsing for the big Reopening Celebration Concert tomorrow evening at 5:30 pm!

I asked a member of the Spreckels Organ Society who was helping with the rehearsal who this group was on stage, and he didn’t know.

Finally, look what I spied in one arm of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion’s beautiful colonnade!

An absolutely fantastic photo shoot by Living World Entertainment!

Check out their website here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Kids join the circus in City Heights!

Do you know any kids who’d like to join the circus?

Listen up!

Kids between 6 and 17 years old who live in City Heights are invited to join the circus!

The Fern Street Circus is offering a free after-school circus program at their new Outdoor Community Center at 4108 University Avenue!

Those who participate can learn tightwire, juggling, acrobatics and clowning. They’ll gain confidence, make new friends, learn to work as a team and have a ton of fun!

Why spend the summer doing the same old ordinary thing when you can actually join the circus!

How do you learn more about this very cool program? You visit the Fern Street Circus website by clicking here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

The pure joy of Naruwan Taiko!

Pure joy.

Take a look at the faces of Naruwan Taiko. The San Diego taiko group performed yesterday afternoon in City Heights at Music en la Calle.

Imagine listening to these drums beating in unison. They shake you to the core with their thundering unabashed joy.

The unstoppable beats transmit a resounding Love of Life.

Diana, founder and director of the taiko group, wrote the final piece. It slowly rose, gained energy, soared. As it soared each member of Naruwan Taiko took a turn with their own unique drumming.

Diana explained how taiko awakens something big within you.

That big thing sounds like a heartbeat.

If you want to wear a smile that big, and get a good workout, too, why not join Naruwan Taiko? Here’s their website!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Permanent outdoor circus tent comes to City Heights!

San Diego’s beloved Fern Street Circus has erected a permanent outdoor performance tent on a corner in City Heights!

Pedestrians coming down the sidewalk will soon begin seeing practice sessions and circus classes at the corner of University Avenue and 41st Street!

I learned about this cool development today during a big cultural celebration in City Heights, which took place in the adjacent, newly installed “Characters” sculpture garden. I’ll be blogging more about that event shortly.

As I walked around with my camera, I took these photos of the big circus tent and some of the colorful artwork that decorates the Fern Street Circus vehicles, which happened to be parked nearby. The cool graphics are the work of local artist Sergio Hernandez, who is also known as Surge.

To learn more about the Fern Street Circus and their many positive community activities, including after-school circus programs, click here. Fern Street Circus has been designated Cirque du Soleil’s Social Action Partner in San Diego, and they are celebrating their 30th anniversary!

Over the years I’ve attended several Fern Street Circus shows around San Diego and they are indeed wonderful.

Adding smiles to the world makes it a better place. And soon people walking and driving through City Heights will have another reason to smile!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

How to support performing arts during a pandemic.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all experiencing a very difficult time.

Among those hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic are cultural institutions whose live performances are intended for gathered audiences. Many concerts and plays have been cancelled. Most of these institutions are nonprofits that can struggle financially even in the best of times.

If you have the means, now might be a good time to make a donation to help the performing arts through a very dark tunnel. That way, we can all enjoy a bit more light when we finally come through.

I’ve linked to the donation pages of some notable local institutions that are being hurt by the pandemic. And don’t forget the many museums throughout San Diego. They will also suffer as people avoid gathering in public.

Follow these links to make a donation:

San Diego Symphony

La Jolla Music Society

The Old Globe

La Jolla Playhouse

San Diego Repertory Theatre

San Diego Opera

We will get through this very difficult time.

Be safe.

Photos inside the San Diego Civic Theatre.

Looking up at the impressive chandelier in the Grand Salon of the San Diego Civic Theatre.
Looking up at the impressive chandelier in the Grand Salon of the San Diego Civic Theatre.

I’ve lived in downtown San Diego for nearly 20 years. It’s sad to admit, but there are places of great interest within easy walking distance that I still haven’t visited. Until today, one of those places was the San Diego Civic Theatre.

This morning I took a guided tour behind the scenes at the San Diego Civic Theatre, courtesy of the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s big annual Open House event!

According to the event website: “The 2,967 seat San Diego Civic Theatre is the region’s largest and most attended performing arts venue. Owned by the City of San Diego, the theater hosts performances in opera, classical and contemporary music, dance and Broadway shows, in addition to serving as a community gathering place for inaugurations, governmental addresses and public meetings. Built at a cost of $4.1 million, the Grand Salon features back lit Italian onyx panels and an iconic $35,000 chandelier made of Bavarian crystal.”

Our group entered the lobby from Civic Center Plaza, ascended stairs and stood with heads tilted back as we took in the awesome beauty of the Grand Salon. Overhead, the impressive 2800 pound chandelier sparkled with its 186 lights and 52,000 crystals, casting magic about the elegant gathering place.

We then walked into the enormous theatre and stood for a moment “atop” the orchestra pit, the floor of which can be raised or lowered like an elevator. Then we went backstage to see the positively enormous space that is utilized to produce major shows of all sorts. In one corner of the dark stage, out of sight of the audience, there’s a very cool shrine to Elvis Presley!

It’s hard to describe the immense grandeur of this venerable theatre. The world’s biggest stars have performed here over the years, including Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Johnny Cash, Diana Ross, Tony Bennett, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and many others. Several United States Presidents have also attended events in the building. Today, the venue is the home of San Diego Opera, Broadway San Diego and California Ballet Company.

The lighting inside the building wasn’t ideal for my poor little camera, but during the tour I did manage to capture a few photos.

An outside view of the architecturally interesting San Diego Civic Theatre as I approached from the east down B Street.
An outside view of the architecturally interesting San Diego Civic Theatre as I approached from the east down B Street.

A poster outside the lobby entrance. The San Diego Civic Theatre is celebrating its 55 year anniversary.
A poster outside the lobby entrance. The San Diego Civic Theatre is celebrating its 55 year anniversary.

Waiting outside in Civic Center Plaza for the tour to begin.
Waiting outside in Civic Center Plaza for the tour to begin.

We enter the lobby, which as you can see is dimly lit.
We enter the building lobby, which as you can see is dimly lit.

Graphic shows the Civic Theatre under construction, before opening in 1965. It was designed by Lloyd Ruocco, one of San Diego’s most influential architects.
Graphic shows the Civic Theatre under construction, before opening in 1965. It was designed by Lloyd Ruocco, one of San Diego’s most influential architects.

Looking up inside the gorgeous Grand Salon, which is located on the building's second floor. The original design had the salon at ground level.
Looking up inside the gorgeous Grand Salon, which is located on the building’s second floor. The original design had the salon at ground level.

The sunbursts decorating the edges of each level were removed years ago.
The sunbursts decorating the edges of each level were removed years ago.

The amazing chandelier is the centerpiece of the Grand Salon.
The amazing chandelier is the centerpiece of the Grand Salon.

I believe this bust in the Grand Salon is of Giuseppe Verdi.
I believe this bust in the Grand Salon is of Giuseppe Verdi.

A glimpse of the gritty inner workings of a major theatre, tucked between the audience and the stage.
A glimpse of the gritty inner workings of a major theatre, tucked between the audience and the stage.

Now we are backstage, looking at dozens of ropes that might be used to lift or manipulate props, lighting, drop curtains--and perhaps even actors!
Now we are backstage, looking at dozens of ropes that might be used to lift or manipulate props, lighting, drop curtains–and perhaps even actors!

Looking up!
Looking up!

Here's the shrine to Elvis in a corner of backstage. I didn't catch the story behind it.
Here’s the shrine to Elvis in a corner of backstage. I didn’t catch the story behind it.

Old black and white photograph shows a packed house.
Old black and white photograph shows a packed house.

Looking out from the stage upon thousands of empty red seats!
Looking out from the stage upon thousands of empty red seats!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Scenes from Without Walls Festival 2019!

This afternoon I headed to Liberty Station in Point Loma to experience some of the La Jolla Playhouse’s annual WOW event!

The Without Walls Festival 2019 features all sorts of cool outdoor performances, many of which are free for the public to enjoy. It continues tomorrow!

The first production I watched, titled Tall Tales of the High Seas, was a very unique visual drama that seemed part circus act, part aerial dance. The athletic performers raised the flexible masts of a rotating Viking longship, then climbed skyward to dip, fly and swerve through the sky! One could sense a bit of a story unfolding as the ship seemed to become lost at sea and the actors hung limp from the crow’s nests without hope; then land is sighted and excitement takes hold!

After that, I walked around the grassy North Promenade of Liberty Station, tried to peer into the intimate little Theatre on the Move, and stood for a few minutes enjoying the Montalban Quintet at the Festival Stage.

Then, as I made my way toward the South Promenade, I paused to watch kids sail in colorful Boats about Legacy Plaza!

Finally, a production titled Peregrinus was ready to begin. The actors marched across the street in a very businesslike way, as you can see in my photos.

At first each individual actor showed a unique personality, but as they put on their corporate attire, ordinary people were transformed into conforming, business suited employees. They could select their own color of tie, but no more.

The actors bowed before their enormous masks, inserted their heads, rose up in a row, and suddenly each head was identically serious, grim, tired and sad. They filed about in a circular hurry, did the corporate dance, bowed to their boss, became jackasses when commanded to do so, engaged in power plays and subterfuge–you know, all that ridiculous, demeaning stuff that pains the heart when people shed their dignity in their desire for power, position or money.

The act was hilarious!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!