Arts & Culture Newsletter: With state-of-the-art home, Digital Gym Cinema starts new chapter


A new era begins tomorrow for Media Arts Center San Diego and its Digital Gym Cinema. The 30-year-old organization, previously housed in North Park, reopens in a new East Village location: UC San Diego @ Park & Market.

“We’ve been working with Mary Walshok from UCSD Extension for the past two and a half years on this idea of having a cinema in their new four-story space,” said Media Arts Center’s executive director Ethan Van Thillo. “She’s known us as an organization for the past 30 years because of the San Diego Latino Film Festival. They (UCSD) felt it was a perfect fit.

“I can already see the wonderful benefits of having a partner where everything is top-notch. Not only the projection space that we’re in, but the concession items and the supplies and the equipment they brought in.”

The Digital Gym Cinema will be on the building’s second floor. The first screening, tomorrow at 1, 4 and 7 p.m., will be of Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s 2021 “Memoria,” starring Tilda Swinton as a Scottish woman living in Colombia who is haunted by a booming sound.

“To me, it’s such a perfect film to open the theater with,” Van Thillo said. “It shows the direction we want to take in terms of screening independent foreign films on a large screen. We also want people to have this communal experience again, to come out and see the movies.”

Media Arts Center’s new home also will have offices on the third floor and classroom space for educational programs. That’s quite the step up from the organization’s old digs in what had once been an auto parts store.

“It was a little rough around the edges,” Van Thillo recalled with a laugh.

Table of Contents


Ana Cabrera, a 15-year-old student at San Dieguito Academy

Ana Cabrera, a 15-year-old student at San Dieguito Academy, is one of four California winners in Playwrights Projects’ 37th annual Plays By Young Writers competition.

(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

When San Diego’s Playwrights Project calls its annual festival Plays by Young Writers, it’s not exaggerating. These script writers were as young as 11 years old when they submitted their works in the California Young Playwrights Contest.

Beginning Saturday and running through the end of May, the 37th Plays by Young Writers festival will stream filmed performances or staged readings of the winning selections. There will be both streamings online and screenings in person at the Joan B. Kroc Theater in the Salvation Army’s Kroc Center.

READ MORE: Here’s a look at some of the young playwrights from the Union-Tribune’s Pam Kragen.

More theater

Actors Bryan Banville, left, and Janaya Mahealani Jones with director Jeffrey Polk

Actors Bryan Banville, left, and Janaya Mahealani Jones go over a scene with director Jeffrey Polk for Moonlight Stage Productions’ “Memphis.”

(Fred Tracey)

It’s been 14 years since the Joe DiPietro/David Bryan musical “Memphis” debuted at La Jolla Playhouse. What followed was a three-year run on Broadway and four Tony Awards, including one for Best Musical in 2010.

Cut to next Wednesday, when a production of “Memphis” opens the 2022 summer season at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. This family-friendly show is an ideal fit for Moonlight Stage Productions’ audiences. The outdoor setting overlooking Brengle Terrace Park is hard to beat in summertime — even if we’re only in early May.

“Memphis” will run through May 28.

READ MORE ABOUT THEATER: Old Globe-born ‘Almost Famous’ musical to make a Broadway run later this year


Brian Regan

Brian Regan

(Courtesy photo by Brian Friedman)

TV fans know Brian Regan from his Netflix special “On the Rocks” or the Amazon Prime Video series “Loudermilk,’ in which he plays Winston “Mugsy” Bennigan. But Regan’s been doing standup comedy since the ‘80s. He actually made his television debut on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.” I don’t know if Johnny invited Regan to the couch after his set — a sure sign that the King of Late Night dug your act — but Regan has enjoyed a long, successful career.

He visits these parts on Saturday night when he performs at Harrah’s Resort Southern California in Valley Center. Tickets start at $79. So you’d better love Brian Regan.

Rock music

I don’t know whether there’s a credible list of the great underrated rock albums of the 1970s, but Wishbone Ash’s “Argus” should be on it. A mixture of prog-rock, hard rock and bluesy folk, “Argus” is revered by fans like me because of prime cuts such as “Blowin’ Free” and “Time Was.”

Was that really 50 years ago? I must have been, ahem, 3 years old back then.

Others who remember “Argus” will want to be at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach on Monday night when the British band will perform the album live as part of its Phoenix Rising America tour.

I did a little research on when Wishbone Ash first played in San Diego. It seems to have been in June 1973 at then-San Diego Stadium on a bill with ELO and Mason Proffit. Tell a friend at the Belly Up.


Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis and wife Cynthia Aaronson.

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis and wife Cynthia Aaronson.

(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Davis revives “X,” his prescient 1986 opera about Malcolm X. Read more here.


Chris Evans as Captain America/Steve Rogers, in the film "Avengers: Age Of Ultron."

Chris Evans as Captain America/Steve Rogers, in the film “Avengers: Age Of Ultron.”

(The Associated Press)

University of California Television invites you to enjoy this special selection of programs from throughout the University of California. Descriptions courtesy of and text written by UCTV staff:

“Script to Screen: ‘Captain America’ ”: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, screenwriters of “Captain America: The First Avenger,” discuss the film with moderator Matt Ryan. Markus and McFeely cover how they adapted the beloved comic-book hero to the screen and their collaboration with director Joe Johnston. They explain in detail how they crafted the characters of Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes and Peggy Carter, as well as some of the behind-the-scenes work they witnessed while on set. They also speak about their role in crafting the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe with their other “Captain America” and “Avengers” films.

“Artificial Intelligence with Kate Crawford”: The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in the capture of digital material for machine learning production. Kate Crawford, author of “Atlas AI: Power, Politics and Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence,” is a leading international scholar of the social and political implications of artificial intelligence. In two new programs, Crawford explores the ways training data can limit how machine learning systems interpret the world and what forms of power certain training approaches enhance and enable. Crawford shares new work that reflects on what’s at stake in the architecture and contents of training sets, and discusses the intersection of art, activism, and artificial intelligence.

“The Moral Triangle: Germans, Israelis, Palestinians”: When the Second World War came to an end, Berlin, the capital of the Third Reich, lay in ruins. Few contemporaries, if any, could have anticipated that 70 years later, Berlin would boast large diaspora communities of Palestinians and Israelis who have made a home among Germans. In “The Moral Triangle,” Sa’ed Atshan and Katharina Galor draw on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with Israelis, Palestinians and Germans in Berlin to explore the fraught relationship between the three groups in the context of official German policies, public discourse and the private sphere.

And finally: Top weekend events

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad.

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad.

(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Here are the top events happening in San Diego from Thursday, May 5 to Sunday, May 8.

Coddon is a freelance writer.


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