Fall Arts Guide 2009: Just think

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It's fitting that one of the most high-profile events of the fall arts season is a musical adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, because lately it's seemed we've all been heading down the rabbit hole. The No-Bama crowd calls for the truth about healthcare, but traffics in outright lies. The president says the so-called public option is a key aspect of his plan, then says it isn't, then says it is. The St. Pete Times wins a Pulitzer for PolitiFact, then backs a mayoral candidate, Bill Foster, who believes in such "facts" as this statement: "None of Darwin's theories can be replicated or proven in a laboratory..."

So what's all this got to do with the fall arts season? Easy. If you're starved for the truth, start listening to artists. Great art — Fences at American Stage, Springsteen at the Ford Amp, Lesley Dill at the MFA — doesn't pretend to hold the only answer; it opens up to multiple interpretations, illuminating the complexities of human experience. And even when art offers us nothing more than a few laughs, that may be just the kind of mind candy we need to escape misinformation overload.

As usual with our fall arts issue, I've asked our writers to list what they're most looking forward to in the next five months in their respective genres. In addition to these highlights, I draw your attention to those events that don't fit into any one category, like the exhilaratingly eclectic Ringling International Arts Festival in Sarasota Oct. 7-11, and Deep Carnivale at HCC Ybor Sept. 12-13, a festival devoted to the idea that good writing matters. At a moment when ignorance is being aggressively defended, Deep Carnivale still respects our intelligence.

Imagine that.

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