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Ian Fleming

Arts Days: May 28, 1908: The Man With the Golden Pen
It’s hard to imagine that Ian Fleming, the writer who dreamed up the suave secret agent James Bond, also wrote the children’s classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. These literary creations could hardly differ more.

“Bond, James Bond,” is the clever, debonair spy who uses a mind-boggling array of gadgets, weapons, and wildly expensive sports cars to fight lots of different bad guys and gals. Need proof? Check out The Man With the Golden Arm, Goldfinger, or Dr. No, among many others.

Chitty Chitty tells the story of a family whose car has amazing transformative powers. This car can fly, morph into a boat, and bail them out of all kinds of trouble. Well, maybe there is some connection between Fleming’s best-known flights of imagination. There can be little doubt Fleming’s time working for British intelligence inspired his creative writing.
Literature, Popular Culture, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Star Wars

Arts Days: May 25, 1977: The Force at the Box Office
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...”

Almost as soon as those ten words began their crawl across movie screens around the U.S., a pop-culture phenomenon was  underway.

The first movie, A New Hope, was later revealed to be Episode IV in a six-episode series that tells the compelling story of good triumphing over evil. A simple-yet-complex science fantasy epic sprung from director George Lucas’ imagination, Star Wars—with its sequels, prequels, books, games, TV shows, and the toys it spawned— has become one of the most successful movie franchises of all time.
Movies & Movie Stars, Popular Culture, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Stunts & Special Effects

Orson Welles

Arts Days: May 06, 1915: A Reel Visionary
Whether directing films or acting on stage, George Orson Welles’s theatrical talents were unsurpassed. It probably helped that he was a creative child: He painted, played the piano, and performed magic tricks.

When Welles was a young man, important connections advanced his career. Playwright Thornton Wilder introduced Welles to directors who gave him his first stage roles. He also made a name for himself writing, acting in, and directing radio plays. His radio broadcast of War of the Worlds in 1938 terrified listeners convinced that aliens were actually invading our planet. And then there were movies like Citizen Kane and many others now deemed American classics.

Welles also pioneered new filming techniques, such as using “deep space,” in which scenes in both the foreground and background stayed in focus. Using this method, action can take place in two parts of a single frame. He also would place the camera near the floor to shoot up at a person so he appeared to loom above, larger than life.
America, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Theater, Movies & Movie Stars

George Lucas

Arts Days: May 14, 1944: Hollywood’s Sky Walker
Growing up on a quiet walnut ranch, George Lucas seemed about as far removed from a life making Hollywood blockbusters as you might imagine. But his career as an award-winning filmmaker was launched at the University of Southern California, where he won a prize for one of his early sci-fi shorts. More career-making breaks followed, including Lucas’s turn directing and helping to write American Graffiti.

But even the film’s hit reception paled in comparison to the attention Lucas got for writing and directing 1977’s Star Wars. The film’s intergalactic storyline and technological achievements piled up Academy Awards® and broke most box-office records. The movie’s sequels and prequels, from The Empire Strikes Back to The Phantom Menace, trace the paths of characters Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader—now household names across the world.
Innovators & Pioneers, Movies & Movie Stars, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Stunts & Special Effects, Popular Culture

The Bride of Frankenstein

Arts Days: April 22, 1935: Monster Love
This 1935 horror film opens with an actress playing Mary Shelley, the woman who wrote the book from which the Frankenstein movies are based, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. “Shelley” is explaining what happened when the Monster tells Dr. Frankenstein he wants a mate. While this was a subplot in Shelley’s book, the makers of this movie managed to get a whole motion picture out of it.

The actress who played Mary Shelley—and who played the bride, too—was Elsa Lancaster, and her role vaulted her to stardom. The Monster’s loneliness in the first Frankenstein movie makes us feel sympathetic toward him, and in The Bride of Frankenstein, we also feel a little bit sorry for him when the Bride rejects him shortly after being brought to life by Frankenstein. Still, when he goes on to kill everyone around him and destroy Frankenstein’s laboratory, we’re reminded that this is no ordinary love story.
Tragedy, Popular Culture, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Movies & Movie Stars

Carrie

Arts Days: April 05, 1974: The King of Scary
Sitting at a desk and using an old typewriter in his trailer in Maine, Stephen King worked nights pouring over Carrie, a freaky story about a teenage girl. He threw the first few pages in the trash, but his wife plucked them out and encouraged him to keep at it. In the book, the title character is teased at school—but when she uses her special psychic powers in order to fight back, mayhem and murder result.

The book launched King’s career as a writer of really, really scary horror and sci-fi novels and short stories. Now, decades and dozens of books later, he’s still writing from his house in Maine, minus the trailer. King’s work ethic is famous; he forces himself to write thousands of words every single day. It’s that dedication that has translated into millions of books being sold to terrified readers everywhere.
America, Literature, Popular Culture, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Sound Designer Ben Burtt

Arts Days: July 12, 1948: The Sounds of Star Wars
Close your eyes and imagine the many unique sounds in the Star Wars films: Darth Vader's breathing, X-Wing and TIE fighters, the Millennium Falcon, blasters and lightsabers, the voices of R2-D2 and Chewbacca. Sound designer Ben Burtt created all of those sounds.

But he didn't just create sounds for the Star Wars universe. He is responsible for the sounds of the Indiana Jones film series, The Dark Crystal (1982), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), WALL-E (2008) and Star Trek (2009). Burtt has earned four Academy Awards for his work.

Ben Burtt created the title "Sound Designer" and during his time at Lucasfilm and Pixar he set the standard for contributing a unique and innovative creative voice in his field, creating new sounds (like a scuba regulator for Vader's breath, or tapping a wrench on a radio tower support wire for the sound of a blaster shot) and repurposing classics (he championed use of the "Wilhelm Scream" and "Robin Hood arrow", both of which are used frequently by other sound designers).

According to Burtt, "Your success as an artist, to say something new, ultimately depends on the breadth of your education. My recommendation would be to major in an area other than film, develop a point of view, and then apply that knowledge to film. Because if film is all you know, you cannot help but make derivative work. I found that what I had learned about sound, history, biology, English, physics all goes into the mix."
Movies & Movie Stars, Innovators & Pioneers, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Jobs in the Arts

Kennedy Center Concert Hall

Video: The Kennedy Center Concert Hall
Conductor Emil de Cou leads an expedition to the Kennedy Center's grand Concert Hall
Art Venues, Music, Orchestra, Science

Blood, Guts, & Gore

Video Series: Blood, Guts, and Gore
These video tutorials offer step-by-step guides for homemade fake blood and other gory stage effects. The series is hosted by stuntman and special effects professional Greg Poljacik.
Backstage, Movies & Movie Stars, Television, Theater, Science, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Stunts & Special Effects

Star Wars: A New Hope

2700 F St.: Star Wars: NSO Open Rehearsal
Experience the classic original film in the Concert Hall! Join Luke, Leia, and Han Solo on their epic journey as the NSO’s performance of John Williams’s Oscar®-winning score takes the music to new heights, from the bustling Cantina scene to the foreboding trumpets echoing Darth Vader’s first appearance. Note that as this is a rehearsal, there may be starting and stopping throughout.
Science Fiction & Fantasy, Movies & Movie Stars, Musical Instruments, Orchestra

From The Mouths Of Monsters

2700 F St.: From The Mouths of Monsters
Can language unleash the beast in each of us? her a mask to help, but the gift possesses supernatural powers that cause her to give words amazing power—and also the potential to cause terrible harm.
Literature, Theater, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Digging Up Dessa

Cuesheet: Digging up Dessa
Dessa is a 21st-century girl with no shortage of struggles, secrets, and mysteries to solve. From dinosaur bones to hidden memories, the world is filled with buried treasures just waiting to be uncovered. Luckily, thanks to the mysterious appearance of a remarkable friend—the pioneering 19th-century English paleontologist Mary Anning—young Dessa knows just how to excavate them! After a field trip to a museum reveals that Mary Anning’s legacy has been buried by history because of her gender and lack of formal education, Dessa decides that she’s going to fight to earn her friend the credit she deserves. With help from her once-rival Nilo, Dessa sets to work unearthing the secrets hidden beneath the surface of the past and present—for Mary’s history and her own future.
Theater, Accessibility, Animals, Innovators & Pioneers, Science, Family

Me... Jane

Cuesheet: Me... Jane: The Dreams & Adventures of Young Jane Goodall
In this brand new musical adaptation, join young Jane and her special friend as they learn about the world around them and the importance of protecting all living species. With anecdotes taken directly from Jane Goodall’s autobiography, this adaptation makes this very true story accessible for the young—and young at heart.
Theater, Accessibility, Africa, Animals, Geography, Innovators & Pioneers, Science

To Sail Around The Sun

Cuesheet: To Sail Around The Sun
Picture the four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Next, add live music and dance. Now get ready for an incredible journey through the year as the Earth sails around the sun.
Theater, Composers, Music, Nature, Plants, Science

NSO Halloween Spooktacular: The Sequel!

Cuesheet: NSO Family Concert: Halloween Spooktacular: The Sequel!
Join the NSO for a frightfully fun follow-up program, complete with ghoulishly attired musicians who might just “BOO” you in return from behind their instruments.
Composers, Folklore, Music, Orchestra, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Superman 2050

Cuesheet: Superman 2050
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… Superman 2050! Fast forward 35 years from now to see the fearless Man of Steel battle his arch-enemy Lex Luthor.
Backstage, Theater, Playwrights & Plays, Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Cerulean Time Capsule

Cuesheet: The Cerulean Time Capsule
Tap into the funk with four homegrown hoofers from Minneapolis, complete with a trunk full of tap shoes, funky costumes, and a big brass band. Join them for a joyous parade of genre-hopping music and hard-hitting percussive dance.
Nature, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Theater

Doktor Kaboom: Live Wire!

Cuesheet: Doktor Kaboom: Live Wire! The Electricity Tour
Science is a blast, and nothing says scientific discovery quite like “kaboom.” Get ready for hilarious, electrical entertainment with Doktor Kaboom and get psyched about science.
Science, Inventions, Theater

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