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!

Dramatic faces outside the Spreckels Theatre!

I was walking down Broadway in downtown San Diego a few days ago when, looking up, I suddenly realized there are four different faces adorning the 1912 Spreckels Theater Building!

Two of the face types, which can be found at intervals around the building, look like dramatic golden masks. The other two belong to musicians holding a lyre and harp, directly above the marquee.

I took these photographs!

If you’d like to see the elegant inside of the building, check out a blog post I published several years ago. Back then I enjoyed a special tour of the amazing theatre, where I and a few others learned all about its history. And we got to go backstage!

See those interior photos 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!

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!

Cool marquee of the Star in Oceanside!

The next cool thing I came upon during my Oceanside walk yesterday was the historic Star theater building with its incredible marquee!

As I was taking photos, I noticed someone testing different paint colors on the building’s exterior. I subsequently learned from two friendly people of the Star Theatre Company, which now occupies the old movie house, that a new paint job is coming both inside and outside, to make this historic Oceanside landmark even more amazing!

I also learned the Star Theatre, during the COVID-19 pandemic, is hosting an after school Acting Camp for youth with safety precautions, is offering professional audition taping and workshops, and will be offering live streamed performances. To read more check out their website here.

More about the building’s unique history can be read here, including: “The Star Theatre opened the 18th of August 1956 with the movie “Moby Dick” starring Gregory Peck…Designed by architect William Glenn Balch, the Star was from an era when neon was king and every city was building a drive-in or walk-in theater. The Star Theatre is the largest of Balch’s 17 theaters that were located in the state of California and the last one that is still open. The marquee boasted being the largest in San Diego County and has been noted for its spectacular animation. It is one of the few remaining examples from its era…”

In this difficult period of an extended coronavirus lockdown, the Star Theatre would really appreciate donations, to help keep their important mission moving forward. Please help them here.

Finally, if you’re wondering about the big, colorful mural on the side of the building in the following photograph, check out one of my old blog posts 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!

Holiday decorations in Old Town State Park!

Late this afternoon, a little before sunset, I strolled around Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to enjoy their annual holiday decorations.

Even though all of the museums and many of the shops are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I noticed a few people walking about like me, poking their noses into scattered places that were open.

If a lockdown is mandated throughout California in the coming days or weeks, I’m sure Old Town will become a ghost town. Already there are no scheduled holiday events, such as the traditional Las Posadas procession. So if you’d like to see Old Town’s beautiful holiday decorations, now might be the best time to go!

I did notice during my late day walk that Fiesta de Reyes was open for dining, and I saw folks inside a few shops, including Cousin’s Candy Shop, Toby’s Candle and Soap Shop, and Miner’s Gems and Minerals. It appeared other shops might have closed a little earlier in the day.

As you can see in one photo, Old Town’s Cygnet Theatre is streaming two holiday radio plays this year: A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. Learn how you can listen by visiting 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!

Signs thanking heroes during the pandemic.

Thank you to all essential personnel. You are all heroes. Grateful words on the marquee of the Spreckels Theatre in downtown San Diego.
Thank you to all essential personnel. You are all heroes. Grateful words on the marquee of the Spreckels Theatre in downtown San Diego.

Around San Diego, signs are popping up that thank healthcare workers, first responders, and other heroes who are fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

I noticed two prominent examples as I walked through downtown this morning.

I thought you might like to see.

A sign of gratitude for healthcare workers and other heroes during the coronavirus pandemic. A heart composed of windows on a tower of the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego.
A sign of gratitude for healthcare workers and other heroes during the coronavirus pandemic. A heart composed of windows on a tower of the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego.

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!

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!

San Diego Fringe Festival in Balboa Park!

Look what I discovered today!

The San Diego International Fringe Festival has moved this year from its old downtown location inside the Spreckels Theater Building to Balboa Park. As I walked past the Starlight Bowl this afternoon, I was surprised to stumble upon Fringe City, the festival’s box office and cool outdoor public lounge!

If you’re into weird, experimental, absolutely unique alternative entertainment, including live, uncensored comedy, dance, satire and even circus acts, head to Balboa Park’s Palisades area to check out the Fringe Festival. Performance venues in Balboa Park include the nearby Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater, the Centro Cultural de la Raza and the WorldBeat Cultural Center. Come on out and support visionary artists!

Read the poster and the signs to learn a bit more. (Click the photos and they will enlarge.) Better yet, go to the event website here!

The San Diego International Fringe Festival continues through June 16, 2019.

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!

Conan reappears on Spreckels Theatre marquee!

This morning I noticed Conan O’Brien’s name has reappeared on the marquee of San Diego’s Spreckels Theatre. That means Comic-Con can’t be too far away!

Conan O’Brien late-night talk show on TBS is returning to San Diego for 2019, and audiences will have the opportunity to enjoy his wry humor from July 17 to July 20.

With less than two months to go until San Diego Comic-Con, I also noticed a couple of shops in the Gaslamp Quarter seem to be getting ready!

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!

US National Beat Poet Laureate in Balboa Park!

Chris Vannoy, US National Beat Poet Laureate 2018-2019, reads live poetry in the Zoro Garden during the Garden Theatre Festival in Balboa Park.
Chris Vannoy, US National Beat Poet Laureate 2018-2019, reads live poetry in the Zoro Garden during the Garden Theatre Festival in Balboa Park.

Tomorrow you have a chance to hear US National Beat Poet Laureate 2018-2019, Chris Vannoy, read live poetry in Balboa Park! He’ll be performing with local poetry group The Mightier P.E.N.S. (Poetic Expeditionary Nation of Semanticists) in the Zoro Garden beginning at 2 pm.

Today during my extensive walk through Balboa Park, I happened to stumble upon this summer’s weekend Garden Theatre Festival. As I entered the stony, amphitheater-like Zoro Garden, live poetry readings were underway. Everyone in the audience was invited up to the microphone to read poetry!

And wouldn’t you know it, I was fortunate to enjoy several readings by Chris Vannoy, who will soon be named the United States Beat Poet Laureate by the National Beat Poetry Foundation!

I’d heard Chris perform with The Mightier P. E. N. S. a couple years ago, and blogged about that event here.

His hard-hitting beat poetry is vivid and resonant. His words are like the many butterflies that flit through the garden–bright sparks in the sunlight–burning red hot for just a moment–each a revelation–a brief glimpse of something elemental. Delicate words, transient words, an incantation of power spoken briefly into the wind.

Congratulations to a local poet whose voice is now magnified! And whose smile appears to be indomitable!

The Garden Theatre Festival continues through Sunday August 19, 2018. Live performances are enjoyed free to the public in Balboa Park's Zoro Garden.
The Garden Theatre Festival continues through Sunday August 19, 2018. Live performances are enjoyed free to the public in Balboa Park’s Zoro Garden.

Chris Vannoy of the local poetry group The Mightier P.E.N.S. expresses thought and emotion with vigorous words as the audience listens and reacts.
Chris Vannoy of the San Diego poetry group The Mightier P.E.N.S. expresses complex thought and emotion with vigorous words as the audience listens and reacts.

Two in the audience listen to powerfully spoken truth.
Two in the audience listen to a poet’s powerfully spoken truth.

Someone in the audience signs up to read a poem. Anybody could participate during the event.
Someone in the audience signs up to read a poem. Anybody could participate during the event.

Chris Vannoy, who will be named US National Beat Poet Laureate in September, finishes and earns enthusiastic applause.
Chris Vannoy, who will be named US National Beat Poet Laureate in September, finishes his reading and earns enthusiastic applause.

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!