In countless cultures around the world May Day has long been marked as a celebration of spring. In the last century it became known as International Worker's Day, a festive event celebrating labor and left-leaning politics. The Soviets, of course, turned every May 1 into a major production of marching soldiers and flag-waving citizens.
This year Kansas City's People's Liberation Big Band marks International Worker's Day with a showing of the classic silent Soviet film Battleship Potemkin and the first public performance of the band's new score for the movie. The screening takes place on Tuesday, May 1, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.
Robert Butler, former movie movie critic for The Kansas City Star and now with the Kansas City Public Library, will introduce the film and provide background notes.
Almost from its initial release in 1925 Battleship Potemkin has been hailed as one of the great landmarks of world cinema. Directed by the visionary Sergei Eisenstein, it was inspired by the real 1905 mutiny of a ship's crew against mistreatment by the Russian navy.
While meant to promote the Communist cause, Battleship Potemkin has transcended its role as propaganda thanks to the audacious creativity Eisenstein brought to its telling. Particularly celebrated is the film's "Odessa Steps" sequence in which citizens gathered to welcome the mutinous crew are fired on by the Tsar's soldiers. Eisenstein takes an event that would have lasted only a few minutes and, through innovative editing, stretches out the tension and horror indefinitely.
Members of the People's Liberation Big Band have created an original score that will be played during the film. Performing will be Stephanie Bryan (trombone), Mark Cohick (bass clarinet, oboe, English horn, and tenor saxophone), Patrick Alonzo Conway (bassoon and percussion), Brad Cox (piano, Rhodes piano, and accordion), Jeff Harshbarger (bass), Brenna Hayes (baritone saxophone), Nick Howell (trumpet), Forest Stewart (horn in F), Michael Stover (guitar, lap steel guitar, and mandolin), Rich Wheeler (tenor saxophone), and Sam Wisman (drum set).
The compositions and arrangements are by Cox, Harshbarger, and Jeffrey Ruckman.
Admission is free. The event will be preceded by a 6 p.m. reception. RSVP online  or call 816.701.3407.