The Culturalist

A month of Tchaikovsky, Tony Award-winning drama and The Great Alone



HOT SPRINGS | There aren’t many occasions when filmgoers can see filmmakers and their subjects under the same roof, as is the case with the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. But that’s not the most unusual experience you’re likely to have at this year’s event. That’ll be seeing a Japanese pop star (Tomi Fujiyama, who performs at the festival’s shindig on Oct. 17) strap on her guitar and rock out to country tunes (as she does in Made in Japan, which recounts her path down the winding road of the music industry following a standing-ovation-worthy performance at a Johnny Cash concert in the mid-1960s.) No wonder MovieMaker Magazine named this Spa City festival as one of the “50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” this year.

As the oldest nonfiction festival in North America, the Hot Springs festival has earned the attention of the Academy Awards—meaning whichever short film snags the festival’s Spa City top nod will qualify for consideration in the Academy’s Documentary Short Subject category. On the roster are feature-length and short films, including The Great Alone, Imba Means Sing and The First Boys of Spring (featured on page 22), which collectively take the audience on a visual journey around the world—from the Alaskan arctic to as far as the slums of Kampala and back to Hot Springs. (

ADIA VICTORIA | Oct. 6 & 12 

LITTLE ROCK | There’s something about Adia Victoria’s music that we can’t quite put our finger on. Perhaps because it’s bluesy, with a tepid, even subtle approach to rock ’n’ roll. Maybe because it’s raw, rough and rugged, befitting the themes. What we are sure of, however, is that Rolling Stone named her one of 10 new artists you need to know—and with good reason. In her much-talked-about single “Stuck in the South,” her candor is laid bare with unembellished lyrics and a purposefully languid vocal delivery. She seems to make music out of sinister tales—the kind that demand to be heard. But don’t take our word for it. Watch this budding chanteuse perform at White Water Tavern in Little Rock on Oct. 6 and then at Maxine’s in Hot Springs on Oct. 12. (;


WATER BY THE SPOONFUL | Oct. 15 – Nov. 8

41klQ9nnG2L._SX316_BO1,204,203,200_FAYETTEVILLE | Quiara Alegria Hudes’ Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner comes to the TheatreSquared stage at Walton Arts Center this month, and it’s bringing a whole lot of drama with it. The play, which is the second part in a trilogy of standalone pieces, focuses on a Puerto Rican veteran of the Iraq war who struggles to adjust to civilian life while working at Subway in his hometown of Philadelphia. As it alternates between cyberspace and the real world, the play also unravels the interrelated lives of several members of a substance-abuse recovery forum, creating a collage of American urban life. Directed by Seth Gordon of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Hudes’ work is a roller-coaster ride of densely emotional and lyrical interactions, speckled with notes of humor and optimism—a narrative that’s complex to digest and yet incredibly gratifying. (


LITTLE ROCK | When the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra takes the stage at the Connor Performing Arts Center this month, the musicians won’t be doing so alone. There will be a daredevil element to the evening: an ensemble of circus performers—contortionists, strongmen, balancers and jugglers. It certainly requires a lot of the audience, having to simultaneously focus on pieces like the “1812 Overture” and performers on the spinning cube. But the technical complexity of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major and the dramatic bending and flexing of the human body might just be a genius fusion—and an unforgettable sensory experience. (


BENTONVILLE | Maya Lin has been rattling the cages of art and architecture ever since she was 21 years old, when she designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. It was, quite literally, a monumental achievement, so much so that in 1994, she became the subject of an Academy Award-winning documentary titled Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision. In the years since, she’s completed dozens of works, won multiple awards and left her mark on numerous projects and installations, including a 30-ton sculpture exhibited in San Francisco and an 84-foot cast of the Colorado River now housed in the Aria Resort & Casino in Paradise, Nevada. It’s safe to say that when it comes to sculpture and landscape art, she knows better than most. This month, she’ll share some of that wisdom and experience at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. (