City Re: What’s CHAC Got to do With It?
In a swift move to prevent the Capitol Hill murders from stigmatizing CHAC, Stranger theatre critic Brendan Kiley has an editorial in this week’s paper where he details the important programming that happens at CHAC.
It’s a dangerous fallacy to conflate the dance with the murder that happened afterwards. Hosting all kinds of music, theater, dance, and visual events—from gritty to haute, scary to sweet—is exactly what our local arts institutions should be doing.
I called artistic director Matthew Kwatinetz to ask how things were going for CHAC in the aftermath of the shootings. “I’ve been better,” he said. “One of my friends got killed. We’re not talking to the press anymore… That’s it.”
So, at the risk of being presumptuous, I’m going to talk for him, to give any anxious and suspicious strangers a tour of the Capitol Hill Arts Center—far from being a dank, druggy rave-hole, CHAC is a for-profit multidisciplinary arts center with a nonprofit, politically active atmosphere and heavy emphasis on theater and social justice.
And so it was that I happened to find myself at CHAC last night. A friend who’s working on what’s shaping up to be a pretty big deal locally produced movie phoned me yesterday evening and invited me to the “wrap” party. Where is it? I asked. CHAC.
The movie, Cthulhu, has been described as Seattle’s environmentalist, anti-Bush, horror movie based on an H.P. Lovecraft story. Tori Spelling is in it! (I’ve seen some of the sets and clips, and it looks creepy.)
Anyway, there I was at CHAC’s lower level—where Friday night’s zombie dance party had been. The place, decorated haphazardly with some of the scary set pieces from Cthulhu, was packed with the film crew and their friends doing karaoke, drinking, and giving heartfelt speeches. (Screen writer Grant Cogswell thanked everyone for helping him put his Pacific Northwest “big middle finger to the President” on film.)
“Can you imagine Grant giving an Academy Award speech?” I overheard a jubilant member of the film crew ask her friend.
Most everyone there seemed unwaware of the potentially uncomfortable irony that CHAC was hosting the wrap up party for their bloody horror movie shoot. Right on. (There was even, reportedly, an afterparty at the production studio, just a few blocks away on 14th, where you could tour the remnants of the creepy set.)
Three cheers to CHAC.
While CHAC has canceled this weekend’s “Underground Existence” party event (CHAC spokeswoman Amy Baranski told the PI “We decided to cancel the event because we thought it was disrespectful and tacky”), the fact that 100 or so local film folks were celebrating the production of their ambitious horror movie there—backed up Brendan’s article, and reassured me that life goes on, especially at CHAC.