Coming Attractions

Going back to the future with ‘1984’

Recommended activities for the coming week

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Following the 2016 election and the first use of “alternate facts” by a representative of the federal government, George Orwell’s “1984” took the top spot on Amazon’s best-seller list, nearly 70 years after it was published.

It’s not difficult to understand why the story renewed its hold on readers — too powerful governments, technology with the ability to become an insidious presence in daily life, and a rise in fearmongering all seems straight out of Orwell’s imagination.

“It’s really easy to turn this story into something out of our current news cycle,” said Neil Truglio, director of the Benchmark Theatre’s production of ‘1984.’ “But I wanted to respect world that Orwell and playwrights (Robert) Icke and (Duncan) Macmillan created, and audience will fill in the blanks themselves.

The regional premiere of “1984” runs at Benchmark, 1560 Teller St. in Lakewood, from March 15 through April 13. Performances are at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings and 6 p.m. on Sunday. Additional performances on Thursday March 21 and 28 and April 4 and 11.

Set in a dystopian future, the show follows aspiring diarist Winston (Sean Scrutchins) as he attempts to make a life for himself under the totalitarian rule of the Party.

Cast-wise, the show is the biggest the company has tackled yet and bringing the characters and oppressive technology to life creates an immersive and difficult experience for audiences.

“Seeing this show in a bigger theater gives audiences a reason to be removed from what’s happening, especially if they’re sitting far enough back,” Truglio said. “As a director, I want to lean into the intimate space of Benchmark and bring the audience in.”

A lot happens in the play’s relatively short 95-minute run time, and audiences should prepare themselves for a production that is both challenging and thought-provoking.

“This is not a casual theatre going experience. It asks you to engage and be willing to go there with characters,” Truglio said. “Benchmark’s whole mission to keep the conversation going. And a play like “1984” will spark conversations.”

Visit www.benchmarktheatre.com to purchase tickets.

A festival for the bookworms

Readers of all kinds won’t want to miss the Colorado Book and Arts Festival, held from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 16 at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. in Arvada.

The one-day event — hosted by the center, Regis University and the Tattered Cover Book Store — aims not only to celebrate the literary arts, but also arts and music. More than 70 authors and poets will be on hand to participate in panel discussions and signings. There will be also artists booths, musical performances, trivia games, a pop-up Tattered Cover store and a children’s area.

The festival’s keynote speaker will be with Peng Shepherd, author of dystopian-themed “The Book of M.”

For more information, visit www.cobookandartsfest.com.

Clarke’s Concert of the Week — Maren Morris at the Fillmore Auditorium

You might recognize Maren Morris as the blow-the-walls-down voice behind last year’s ubiquitous pop hit, “The Middle.” If that’s your only exposure to Morris, it might come as a surprise that she’s been one of country music’s most exciting talents for years.

Morris’ 2016 major label debut, “Hero,” showed she had the vocal chops to place her on the same level as marquee names like Kacey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift. “Girl,” the long-awaited follow up to “Hero” was released on March 8, and Morris is taking the album on a world tour.

She’ll be stopping by the Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson in Denver, at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 18. Up-and-comer Cassadee Pope is opening.

Tickets can be secured at www.livenation.com

Going back to high school with John Cusack

Many of us who came up in the 80s and 90s would probably have to do some serious soul searching to come up with a definitive top 5 favorite list from the filmography of actor John Cusack. His films “Say Anything…” and “High Fidelity” are easily two the most influential films in my life.

One of his most beloved films is 1997’s “Grosse Pointe Blank,” in which Cusack plays a hit man who returns to his hometown for a high school reunion. Fans of the film and/or the man can go behind the scenes with Cusack himself, following a screening of the movie at 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 17, at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Place in Denver.

Get tickets at www.altitudetickets.com.

Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at Clarke.Reader@hotmail.com.

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