Theatres Of War

I never thought I’d have to choose between cinema and the stage, but the Virginia Film Festival is throwing its big closing night bash at X-Lounge on the same night that Live Arts is hosting its Gala & AfterGlow party. What’s up with that, Ace? And which one will you be attending?—Nicky Lodian

You might think that it was a scheduling blunder that led both Live Arts and the Virginia Film Festival to hold major parties on Saturday, November 7. But Ace suspects something else is going on.

People rarely talk about the rivalry between film and live theatre, or the cold warfare they wage over the allegiance of actors, directors, and patrons, but it runs deep. Like Jets versus Sharks deep. Although you might not want to use that analogy too freely—the West Side Story campaign was itself a bloody episode in the Broadway v. Hollywood saga, and to this day it remains a sensitive subject in both camps.

If you ask Ace, the scheduling conflict looks intentional. Examine the evidence:

1. Timing: After the 2009 general election on November 3, Virginians will be in a pretty adversarial mood. No matter who wins, there’ll be plenty of unspent resentment left over, and we’ve got to channel it into something.
2. Pricing: While the Live Arts gala itself is sold out, tickets for its AfterGlow dance party are selling for $40 in advance and $50 at the door. Average the two and you get $45, the price of admission to the VFF Wrap Party.

3. Location: The events will take place within about a block of each other. Plus, the Water Street parking garage makes a great spot for a choreographed knife fight.

Effectively, Live Arts and the Film Festival are drawing a line in the sand. So whose side are you on? It’s not a decision to be made lightly. Just like with cinema and stage, which at first blush seem to offer a similar experience, the actual differences between the two events are many. At X-Lounge, expect to chill out in a chic discotheque setting, rubbing elbows with Charlottesville’s mini-jet set and sipping expensive cocktails. AfterGlow, if photos from last year’s event provide any indication, looks more like a classy rave at Cirque du Soleil. Bring your after-glowsticks.

Ace, meanwhile, will be attending the Jazz-In for George Melvin at Fry’s Spring Beach Club, where nine local jazz bands will play to raise funds for the musician’s kidney transplant. Smoky lounge jazz is more of an Ace thing anyway, and George needs the help. Besides, Ace is a lover, not a fighter.

You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 20 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to

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