Thursday, April 30, 2009

2009 Grants from NEA to Rude Mechs, Rupert Reyes, EmilyAnn,

Austin theatre arts are supported by four 2009 grants just announced by the National Endowment for the Arts.

- - $10,000 under the category Access to Artistic Excellence to Sul Ross University in Alpine, Texas, for the production of Rupert Reyes ' piece Petra's Sueño (first done here last year by Teatro Vivo). To support the Bilingual Theatre Festival and the production of Petra's Sueño by Rupert Reyes. Contributors from the Latino and Chicano theater community and members of the National Association of Latino Artists will participate in the project.

- - $15,000 under the category Learning in the Arts to EmilyAnn Theatre in Wimberley. To support Shakespeare Under the Stars, a summer youth theater program. High school students will learn all aspects of performance and technical theater through this hands-on program.

- - $20,000 under the category Access to Artistic Excellence to the Rude Mechanicals. To support a national tour of The Method Gun, an original, company-developed work. The piece will explore the life, ethos, and techniques of a fictional actor-training guru as recounted through the eyes of her students.

Grants also go to the Austin Classical Guitar Society ($40,000 for lessons for the disadvantaged and support for school curricula) and to Conspirare ($30,000 to support a compact disc recording of a new choral-orchestral work by composer Eric Whitacre. The concert-length oratorio will merge classical, jazz, and rock idioms).

Click here for a complete list of grants newly announced for Texas organizations.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Upcoming: Little Shop of Horrors, Georgetown Palace,

UPDATE: Click for ALT review, May 12

UPDATE: review by "theatrelover" received as a comment on another post here, May 6: I just saw "Little Shop of Horrors" now playing at the Palace in Georgetown. Wow! One of the best shows plaing in this area. The gal playing Audrey is fabulous - her voice is beyond compare. She has been in a number of the Palace shows and has always impressed me with her talent, looks and professionalism. I always try to see everything she appears in. Actually, all the principals in this show are great - very talented. I recommend this to everyone in the Austin area. I saw the a professional production and really, this is better. It is hilarious, creative, and played out so well. I cannot understand why it is not being hyped in the entertainment press, radio and tv. It is worth the price and then some.

From the website:

Little Shop of Horrors
Written by Alan Menken & Howard Ashman

May 1 to May 31, 2009: Fri, Sat at 7:30 PM, Sun at 2 PM

Parental Guidance Suggested: May be scary for young children.

A down-and out skid row floral assistant becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers an exotic plant with a mysterious craving for fresh blood. Soon “Audrey II” grows into an ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivore who offers him fame and fortune in exchange for feeding its growing appetite, finally revealing itself to be an alien creature poised for global domination!

One of the longest-running Off-Broadway shows of all time, this affectionate spoof of 1950s sci-fi movies has become a house-hold name, thanks to a highly successful film version and a score by the songwriting team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, who redefined the animated musical film with Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”, “Beauty And The Beast” and “Aladdin.” Charming, tuneful and hilarious, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, “Little Shop Of Horrors” never fails to entertain.

Prices: General: $22; Senior(55+): $20; Student: $12
Buy Tickets

Profile: Ken Webster and 30 Years in Austin Theatre, Claire van Ryzin, Stateman's XL, April 30

UPDATE: Click for ALT review of HOUSE

Published on-line:

Celebrating 30 years in Austin Theatre, Ken Webster Flies Solo in "House"

Perfecting the art of trenchant, witty, compact plays

Thursday, April 30, 2009

You would think that in 30 years of doing something a person might have a few memorable low points.

Not Ken Webster. Currently celebrating three decades in Austin's theater scene, the 51-year-old producer/director/actor seems to recall only one true low point: the first half of the 1990s, when he had to take a day job to make ends meet and went to work in what is arguably the other kind of theater: politics. For a few years, Webster was a political consultant, advising — or should that be directing? — candidates on making effective public appearances.

The high point of 30 years in Austin theater? 'Meeting my wife Katherine (Catmull),' Webster says. Webster first met Catmull, an actress, in 1984 when he directed her in a play that was staged at the now-defunct club Liberty Lunch.

To celebrate the more than 100 shows he's had a hand in, Webster is re-mounting one his favorites: 'House,' a darkly comic one-man show by Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor.

Click to Read More at . . .

Sunday in the Park, Musicale, Bastrop Opera House, April 17 - May 9

Bastrop's serenely strolling musicale Sunday in the Park recalled that quaint Victorian device, the cardboard puppet theatre -- an elaborate dollhouse stage in which children could push forward stylized cardboard cutouts, imagining dialogue and story. In this production, Engela Edwards of Easy Theatre, Bastrop Opera's long-serving general director Chester Eitze and choreographer Laura Goff create for us a never-land version of an America small town, circa 1915.

They draw on songbooks of the era, lightly and whimsically staging almost 50 songs with fetching melodies, most of them familiar. These are the agreeable melodies you might find on player piano rolls or, once upon a time, in the yellowing music sheets inside Grandma's piano stool. The large cast performs them with affection, in a succesion of tableaus and skits without spoken dialogue (except for "Delaney's Donkey," a mock-epic comic tale about a village race, done by Nick Collier in his character as the village policeman).

Click to read more on . . .

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Upcoming: Fundraiser for Faster Than The Speed of Light, May 3

Post by "Austin Actress," April 28:

I’m in a brand new show. A musical at that. Playing a dominatrix henchwoman cult member. Obviously, not your average musical. This one is dark and clubby, and not written by musical theatre people. Instead it has been in development for three years by local musician/performance artists Stanley Roy and Jeremy Roye (geniuses), and directed by the uber-talented Kelli Bland. Part of the reason that I haven’t been posting much lately is that I am in rehearsals after work almost every day, dancing my ass off. I love the music in this show. I know you will too. And you’ll have a chance to hear some of it this weekend. We are staging this without a company all on our own, and we are having a glorious FUNd Raiser this Sunday at Salvage Vanguard to try to raise some more much needed revenue.

Faster Than the Speed of Light! The Fundraiser is here this Sunday!!!

Salvage Vanguard Theater

2803 Manor Road



Hosted by Rebecca Havemeyer!

Sneak Preview of songs from the original sci-fi musical, Faster Than the Speed of Light!

Ariel dance by Nicole Whiteside (Blue Lapis Lights)!

Dance trio, Little Stolen Moments!

Door Prizes!

French lounge act, Le Sexy!

Heart breakers, Hello Lovers!

Disco dance after-party with Dj Bill and Mos Jef!!! (post 10pm)

5 - 20 $

See clips of the performers and a more complete listing of all the fun here. Come out, come out, it will be fun and it’ll be good to see you.

Upcoming: Not Humanly Possible, An Evening of Films on Puppetry and Performance, Salvage Vanguard Theatre, May 1 - 2

From their website:

Not Humanly Possible

An evening of new puppetry performance and films curated by Jean Marie Keevins and Puppet Heap.

May 1 - 2: 8:30-9:30pm $15 (free for pass holders) click here to purchase tickets

Monday, April 27, 2009

Upcoming: Romeo and Juliet, Austin Shakespeare in Zilker Park, May 7 - June 7

UPDATE: ALT review of May 10

Posted by Austin Shakespeare on April 26:

Romeo and Juliet

For the 24th year, Austin Shakespeare brings FREE Shakespeare to Zilker Park. From May 7 to June 7 we present Shakespeare’s most popular play with a new twist: Romeo & Juliet features Shakespeare’s own text, including some Spanish language!

Set in Central Texas in the 1940’s, this production boasts a Central Texas setting with a Mexican-American flavor. This is the timeless story of two young people who fall in love, but whose families have hated one another for so long that they no longer remember the reason.

"This new approach to Romeo and Juliet relishes the beautiful story, exciting characters and thrilling language framed within the Mexican-American culture of South Central Texas," said Artistic Director Ann Ciccolella, who is staging the outdoor production. "We have a cast filled with actors who are dynamic, funny and make Shakespeare totally understandable--even in Spanish."

WHEN: May 7 - June 7, Thursday - Sunday at 8:00PM; special Mother's Day matinee at 2PM (no evening performance); special preview Wednesday May 6.
WHERE: The Sheffield Hillside Theatre at Zilker Park (across the parking lot from Barton Springs pool)

Click to read more at . . . .

Upcoming: The Long Now by Beth Burns, Shrewd Productions at the Blue Theatre, May 21 - June 13

UPDATE: ALT review of May 24

UPDATE: "Arts Eclectic" audio piece on KUT-FM, May 20 (2min)

Found on-line:

The Long Now
by Beth Burns

Tish Reilly has a very special friend – Time. Tish can go back to any place where a good memory remains and enter it, reliving the moments that please her. When she reunites with the oft-remembered Larry, her first love, she finds a reason to finally begin to push forward in her life again. But will Time, who has grown so fond of her, be willing to let her go?

The Long Now is written and directed by Beth Burns (The Groundlings Theatre LA, NEA award-winning playwright) and considers the unpredictable nature of Time, and the impossible search for capturing the present. Composer/musician Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory, G.Z.R., Ascension of the Watchers) has created original music, and renowned puppeteer Jesse Kingsely (Henson Co.) has designed shadowed sets and an ingenious new method of shadow puppeteering to represent Time.

Shrewd Productions is proud to present this world premiere, opening at the Blue Theatre, 916 Springdale Rd., on May 21st and running Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00pm, through June 13th.

Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8PM
Tickets: $15 - $25

Purchase Tickets Online at

Click to read more at . . . .

A Number by Caryl Churchill, Different Stages, April 23 - May 10

The concept of human cloning is profoundly unsettling.

We like the fact each of us is unique. Individuality situates us in the universe and in our own skins. Each of us might fantasize a different reality or our self as a different individual, but we intuit that even those avatars, if realized, would be unique.

The existence of fraternal twins or triplets is nature's benevolent random trick that reinforces our faith in our own individuality. Nature has made each of us.

But suppose that nature took a backseat in the process?

Click to read more at . . . .

WSJ Drama Critic Wants Regional Theatre to Review

Wall Street Journal theatre critic Terry Teachout advises today in his "About Last Night" blog that he is looking to travel to review regional theatre presentations -- and Texas is a location of interest.


April 27, 2009
TT: So you want to get reviewed

If you read the Friday Wall Street Journal or this blog with any regularity, you probably know that I'm the only drama critic in America who routinely covers theatrical productions from coast to coast. As I wrote in my "Sightings" column a couple of years ago:

The time has come for American playgoers--and, no less important, arts editors--to start treating regional theater not as a minor-league branch of Broadway but as an artistically significant entity in and of itself. Take it from a critic who now spends much of his time living out of a suitcase: If you don't know what's hot in "the stix," you don't know the first thing about theater in 21st-century America.

But suppose you run a company I haven't visited? How might you get me to come see you? Now's the time to start asking that question, because I'm starting to work on my reviewing calendar for the fall of 2009. So here's an updated version of the guidelines I use for deciding which out-of-town shows to see--along with some suggestions for improving the ways in which you reach out to the press:

• Basic requirements. I only review professional companies. I don't review dinner theater, and it's unusual for me to visit children's theaters. I'm somewhat more likely to review Equity productions, but that's not a hard-and-fast rule, and I'm strongly interested in small companies.

• You must produce a minimum of three shows each season... That doesn't apply to summer festivals, but it's rare for me to cover a festival that doesn't put on at least two shows a season.

• ...and most of them have to be serious. I won't put you on my drop-dead list for milking the occasional cash cow, but if The Foreigner is your idea of a daring revival, I won't go out of my way to come calling on you, either.

I have no geographical prejudices. On the contrary, I love to range far afield, particularly to states that I haven't yet gotten around to visiting in my capacity as America's drama critic. Right now Colorado and Texas loom largest, but if you're doing something exciting in (say) Mississippi or Montana, I'd be more than happy to add you to the list as well.

Click to read the full posting of "So You Want to Get Reviewed" by Terry Teachout

Teachout's e-mail at the blog:

Teachout's video blurb review of Guys and Dolls

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Upcoming: Sordid Lives, Sam Bass Community Theatre, May 15 - June 6

UPDATE: ALT review of Sordid Lives

Found on-line:

Sordid Lives
Directed by Frank Benge

Sam Bass Community Theatre, Round Rock

May 15 - June 6

From the author of "Daddy's Dyin', Who's Got the Will?" comes this hilarious tale of loss, love and white trash etiquette in a small Texas town... "Sordid Lives" is a black comedy about white trash. Sissy is trying to quit smoking, Mama has just died an accidental death during a clandestine meeting in a seedy motel room with her much younger, married neighbor and Brother Boy has been locked up in the mental institution because he thinks he's Tammy Wynette...and you thought you had problems. "Sordid Lives" is a gossipin', pill-poppin', honky-tonkyin', gun totin', motorcycle ridin' laugh a minute farce of twisted lives, death, tears, infidelity and other comic events by playwright Del Shores.

Show Rating: Adult Language & Situations - Not suitable for children

Texas State Playwright Wins Kennedy Center Competition

From the Texas State University Star:

Theater graduate student wins national playwriting award

Apr 20 2009 - 10:16pm | By Morgan Wilson

John Boulanger was shocked to learn his play was going to be featured at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

The cast of “House of Several Stories” performed for the final time this weekend in the American College Theater Festival competition.

“Winning this year’s National Student Playwriting Award is a huge honor,” said John Boulanger, theater graduate student. “One that I’m not quite sure has fully sunk in yet. I am still dumbfounded when I recall some of the names of past winners.”

Texas State hosted the Annual Region VI American College Theater Festival in February. Boulanger’s play, “House of Several Stories,” was one of Texas State’s entries in the competition.

Read more at the Texas State University Star online

Theatre Department announcement

Kennedy Center listing of The House of Several Stories, performed April 18 by The Search Party

Texas State Appoints Head of Musical Theatre Program, April 23

From the Texas State University Star:

Kaitlin Hopkins Selected as Head of Musical Theatre

By Ashley Dickinson, April 23

Kaitlin Hopkins and her husband, James Price, have spent the last 25 years as nationally recognized performers, but they both knew their path would lead to teaching. That path has led them to San Marcos.

Hopkins begins as the new head of musical theater for Texas State in August. Hopkins will be involved in directing and overseeing student scholarships. Price and Hopkins will split teaching between seven different courses in the department, but their job begins this summer with recruiting students.

John Fleming, chair of the department of theater and dance, said Hopkins turned down a lead female role in the Broadway play, “Bye Bye Birdie,” to take the university position.

“We’re extremely excited. We already have a first-rate faculty, and they bring more visibility and connections,” Fleming said. “Professionals will come down and do things for our school for free.”

The couple has wanted to help a university better its theater department, and Texas State was a favorable environment for them.

“We have been looking for an opportunity to help build a program for a while now, and Texas State really seems like that program,” Price said in an e-mail. “After spending a few days on campus meeting with the faculty, the administration, the students — we knew this was the place for us.”

The award-winning Hopkins has a long list of acts on and off Broadway and in film, television and radio. Some of her Broadway roles were in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Anything Goes” and “Noises Off,” and her off-Broadway titles include “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” and “Johnny Pye and the Foolkiller.” She was recently on a national tour with “Dirty Dancing.”

Click to read more at University Star online

Michael Barnes and Bardology, April 25

ALT passes along in its entirety an April 25 entry made by Statesman social columnist Michael Barnes in his "Seeing Things" blog:

Austin360 blogs > Out & About > Archives > 2009 > April > 25 > Entry

Too much Bardology?

By Michael Barnes | Saturday, April 25, 2009, 06:25 PM

The Austin Shakespeare Festival has improved almost every year that I’ve witnessed its evolution. It’s still a mid-size arts group looking for a secure identity, but with veteran Ann Ciccolella at the helm, one assumes the classical company is headed down the right road.

Earlier this week, I attempted to attend ASF’s gala at the Curtain Theatre. That’s gamer/cosmonaut Richard Garriott’s Elizabethan theater out on Lake Austin. (Oh, how I wish they’d build one in Zilker Park. It’s sweet, if rough.)

So, following multiple events, I arrived after the core social part of the evening. Almost everyone was assembled in the theater for performance. OK. I figured I’ll wait out a couple of key scenes from “Romeo and Juliet,” catching the cool breeze and visiting with some folks outside the “Wooden O.”

Well, ASF was smack in the middle of performing an entire act of the tragedy. Come again? At a gala? That’s supposed to be social time. Entertainment heightens the occasion, but it should not overwhelm it.

I’m a Bard buff as much as anyone else, but, after offering my respects, I departed for my next social event. Hope to catch up with “R&J” when it opens in May.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Buried Child by Sam Shepard, Southwestern University, April 22 - 26

Sam Shephard's Buried Child gives such a strange, phantasmagoric world that one's first impulse might be to play it for laughs. In Shephard's introduction to the printed edition he speaks of revising the text for the 1995 Steppenwolf theatre company in Chicago and of director Gary Sinese's "instinct to push the characters and situation in an almost burlesque territory, which suddenly seemed right."

At Southwestern University, director Jared J. Stein and his exemplary young ensemble of players create Shephard's horrible world without a trace of mockery. We are obliged to take seriously this collection of incomprehensibly distorted and injured individuals, and the result approaches the seriousness and purpose of classical tragedy.

This ample but claustrophobic farmhouse exists in an undefined locale, in a state of malaise. Ill, coughing, and stationary on the sofa is Dodge, a foul-tempered old man who swills whiskey on the sly; his wife Halie is at first unseen, heard from upstairs in a long, self-preoccupied nagging litany. Two grown sons eventually appear. Tilden, a raw stunned man in a glistening yellow rainslicker and mud-caked boots; and later, Bradley, a one-legged brute and coward who regularly sneaks into the house at night to give his sleeping father Dodge haircuts with the brutality of a sheep-shearer. Halie leaves in the first act to call on clergyman Father Dewis and in Act Three, the next day, returns with Dewis in tow, chatting with unseemly familiarity and bearing a bouquet of yellow roses.

Click to read more at . . . .

Friday, April 24, 2009

Leading Ladies, Wimberley Players, April 17 - May 10

Leading Ladies by Ken Ludwig has all the big-footed clowning of a British pantomime, that venerable, wheezy holiday art form in which the British public hoots and chortles at manly men dressing up as women. Dame Edna is the royalty of that genre, but every middle- and lower-class family wants to attend the local "panto" in December, and British TV comedy sketches will inevitably get around to putting a male comedian into something frilly, and preferably topping him with a hat.

The show is set in 1958. I was surprised when a little research turned up the fact that Ludwig's piece premiered at the Alley Theatre in Houston only five years ago. It has fallen into the warm embrace of community theatres since then. I missed the recent staging in Leander by the Way Off Broadway Community Players, but made up for it this past weekend with the Wimberley Players, at their handsome, intimate playhouse on Old Kyle Road.

Leading Ladies is a goofy masquerade. Two down-on-their-luck British actors of mediocre talent, on a whistle-stop tour of small town Moose Lodges and Elks Clubs, discover in a newspaper left on a train that a $3 million inheritance will soon be available to a young lady and two long-lost cousins, absent for many years in England. Aha! What better scheme for our wayward Brit showmen than to imitate those inheritors? Problem: a closer reading reveals that the lost are women, not men!

Click to read more at . . .

Thursday, April 23, 2009

American Buffalo by David Mamet, Modern Drama Collective at the Cathedral of Junk, April 22 - May 1

Spotted in the Austin Statesman, April 23:

American Buffalo
by David Mamet
performed by The Modern Drama Collective

Cast: Jeff Britt, Michael Ferstenfeld, Steven Alford, directed by Lindsay McKenna

4/22-24, 7 p.m.
4/25 3 p.m.
4/30, 5/1-2 7 p.m.

at The Cathedral of Junk, 4422 Lareina Dr. Austin Tx
Suggested donation $10 - $20

The Modern Drama Collective is committed to keeping the works of modern playwrights thriving and evolving. Based in Austin, TX, the company strives to create detailed performances of these important works at offbeat venues that lend themselves to the eccentricities of the characters. Past productions include three plays by Harold Pinter performed in a shoebox.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Upcoming: The Story, Austin Children's Theatre at Hyde Park Methodist Church, April 25 - 26

Found on-line, April 22:

The Story

An ACT Original Musical

April 25, 3:30 and 7:30
April 26, 3:30

The Story is a tale of a Storyteller who gets a new Apprentice to teach the art of story telling. With help from diva Connie Conflict and her talented Chorus of Discord and a few Narrators with serious attitude problems, they come up with a tale about Gus the Goatherder, Mona Moneybags and her very spoiled daughters. Through their zany adventure audiences learn about dealing with conflict and the importance of family. Join us for a fun musical sure to delight the whole family.

The Story stars students of ACT’s Original Works Program.

Performed at the Hyde Park United Methodist Church located at 4001 Speedway.

For more information and ticket reservations call 512. 927.6633

Austin Children’s Theater is a non-profit company whose mission is to educate, inspire and empower children of all ages, backgrounds and abilities through the arts. ACT provides an extracurricular learning experience for children who are interested in the arts. ACT offers the opportunity to create, explore and produce all aspects of art.Our goal is to cultivate self-esteem, creativity, and technical skills through the many forms of art in an inspiring and uplifting atmosphere.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Upcoming: Acting Up and Speaking Out, CiCi Barone at Sam Bass Community Theatre, May 1 - 2

Received April 21:

Acting Up and Speaking Out

A One-Woman Show Benefiting the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America

Round Rock, Texas. Alexandra Edgell and Alicia “CiCiBarone announce Acting Up and Speaking Out, to be performed at Sam Bass Community Theatre on Friday May 1st and Saturday May 2nd. This one-woman show benefits the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).

Alex tells her story and that of her longtime friend CiCi on her blog website

There is no cure for Crohn’s. A cure requires research and research requires funding. On July 19th, Alex will join her team to run the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon to raise awareness. Her goal for the run is $5000.

As a part of the fund-raising effort, the Sam Bass Community Theatre in Round Rock, Texas has scheduled a two-night special performance of Acting Up and Speaking Out featuring CiCi Barone, who has lived with the realities of Crohn’s for the last 11 years. This will be a night of scenes, monologues, and frank conversation about the realities of living with Crohn's and related diseases. All proceeds (100%) from the night will go to benefit the CCFA.

This show will be two nights only with all seats $15.00 at the door. Seating is limited, so please email to make your reservations.

- - Friday May 1, 2009 - 8:00pm-10:00pm

- - Saturday May 2, 2009 - 8:00pm-10:00pm

Payment can be made at the door with cash or checks (made payable to CCFA). We are also able to accept most major credit cards via a donation form that will be sent in to CCFA for processing after the event.

Done at UT: Frühlings Erwachen by Franz Wedekin, in German, April 17 - 18

Announcement from the Daily Texan online of a classic of 20th century German theatre by forerunner of expressionism Frank Wedekind. We just missed it.

Racy German theater strikes UT stage
Story of boy's early sexual prowess meant to jolt audience 'out of complacency'

Andy O'Connor
Daily Texan Staff
Published: Friday, April 17, 2009

What: “Frühlings Erwachen
Where: Oscar G. Brockett Theatre
When: Today and Saturday at 8 p.m.
Admission: Free

Frank Wedekind’s “Frühlings Erwachen” (“Spring Awakening”) has a history of provocation. Its first English-language performance in 1917 was almost shut down due to claims that the play was pornographic. A production in 1964 in England was forced to tone down its content. The point is, the play pushed buttons, and that inspired UT assistant Germanic studies professor Philip Broadbent to direct a new production.

“It’s a fine example of a theater piece that wants to jolt its audience — it wants to jolt it out of complacency,” he said.

The play centers around 14-year-old Melchior Gabor, played by kinesiology junior Bishan Jones, who feels isolated because he is much more knowledgeable about the world — especially about sex — than his peers. Another central conflict revolves around Gabor’s friend, Moritz Stiefel, played by German senior Chris Gomez, because he has difficulty coming to terms with puberty and new sexual knowledge.

Wedekind wrote the play as a critique of conservative German society and its desire to keep children innocent. According to Broadbent, the play is filled with Freudian elements.

Click to read full article on Daily Texan Online.

Upcoming, Video: House, Hyde Park Theatre, April 30 - May 30

UPDATE: Click for ALT review of HOUSE

Received on April 21:
Two minutes and 40 seconds of video by Ken Webster on the new edition of House
(Click on frames to go to YouTube)

Class: Building Character (without the bother of adversity), C. Denby Swanson at Austin Scriptworks, May 6 - 27

Announced on-line:


BUILDING CHARACTER (without the bother of adversity)

A four week workshop with Colin Denby Swanson

Wednesdays, May 6, 13, 20, and 27, 7:00-9:30 pm
The State Theatre, 719 Congress Ave.
All four sessions: $100 ASW members; $150 General
Drop-in rate: $30 ASW/ $40 General

INFO/RESERVATIONS: 512.454.9727;

Your dad told you that cutting the lawn with clipping shears would build character. Maybe there’s an easier way. In this four-meeting workshop, we’ll experiment with ways to express, engage, and fortify the characters in your work. The adventure will include exercises on dialogue, objective, secrets, lies, non-verbal moments, and the power of focused (but intensive) revision.

Participants should see or read Caryl Churchill’s play A NUMBER (playing at Different Stages through May 10) before the May 7th meeting.

Click to read more at . . .

Let Me Down Easy, Anna Deavere Smith at the Zach Scott Theatre, April 15 - May 10

We go to the theatre to be delighted or to be moved.

On rare occasions we are both delighted and moved. And on even rarer occasions, an artist of exceptional intelligence and ability delights, moves and educates us. This evening with Anna Deavere Smith, intimate and often amusing, reaches deep into the common humanity of Americans.

Her performance is a portrait album, recreating for us conversations or interviews with individuals as widely different as
super model Lauren Hutton and a 16-year-old girl in small town Texas struck with cancer. Some of the names we recognize -- theatre historian and critic John Lahr, for example, and Lance Armstrong, and former Texas governor Ann Richards, a portrayal that galvanized and delighted the audience. Some stories are wildly comic, such as that of the choreographer who recalls messing up a spectacular trick with flames. Other subjects are remarkable for their unusual stories or for their solemnly informative observations about American society, particularly about medicine and health care.

Click to read more on . . .

Monday, April 20, 2009

Upcoming: Exit the Body, Way Off Broadway Community Players, Leander, April 24 - May 9

Received on April 20:

Way Off Broadway Community Players continues our 12th season with
the hilarious comedy

Exit the Body

by Fred Carmichael
directed by Karen S Miller.

Performances will run Fridays and Saturdays from April 24th through May 9th at 8 PM. There will be one Sunday performance on May 3rd at 3 PM.

A mystery writer rents a New England house that is the rendezvous point
for some jewel thieves. A quiet month in the country turns into a chaotic
farce as a body found in the closet promptly disappears only to be
succeeded by another... and ANOTHER! The hunt for the jewels reaches a
climax at two A.M. when four couples unknown to each other turn up to
search. Despite a hilarious series of entrances and exits, the writer
somehow manages to trick the thief into a confession.

Click to read more at . . . .

The Pajama Game, Mary Moody Northern Theatre, St Edwards University, April 16 - 26

Michael McKelvey and that talented cast at St. Ed's send us whizzing in a happy time machine back to 1954, when the American musical was in its full, ripe heyday. That was the age of Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl, Dilemma Is Resolved and All Live Happily Ever After. Into that sure-fire mix the producers stirred a crowd of Supporting Hoofers, an Eccentric or two and an Almost Villain; they seasoned it with a Big City Number and a slinky Spanish number, and they peppered it with wisecracks. And everybody loved it.

And you know what? It still works. Despite the predictable story line and the cardboard-cutout characters, we embrace the star power of this cast. There's plenty of toe-tapping and foolery, and the leads are bursting with talent. McKelvey sends them bouncing all over the Mary Moody Northern Theatre.

Click to read more at . . . .

Sunday, April 19, 2009

UT's Emeritus professor Oscar G. Brockett Recognized for Lifetime Achievement


Professor Emeritus Dr. Oscar G. Brockett has received the USITT Award from the US Institute for Theatre Technology. The USITT Award is the highest honor given by the institute and recognizes a lifetime contribution to the performing arts community. Notable past recipients of this award include Julie Taymor, Robert Brustein, Phillip Glass, Ming Cho Lee, and Harold Prince. Presented annually since 1967, this year's award was presented at the USITT Annual Conference held March 18–21 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dr. Brockett began teaching in university theatre programs in 1949 and is considered by many to be the world's foremost theatre historian. His book, History of the Theatre, is the top-ranked and highest-selling theatre history text of the 20th century. His most recent literary contribution, A History of Scenic Design and Technology, has been completed with publication projected for 2010.

Upon arriving at The University of Texas at Austin in 1978, Dr. Brockett served as Dean of the College of Fine Arts before stepping down in 1980 to head the Ph.D. in Theatre History program in the Department of Theatre and Dance until his retirement in 2006. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and Fulbright Award, Dr. Brockett is a Fellow of the American Theatre at the Kennedy Center and has been awarded multiple Career Achievement Awards from groups like the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and the Texas Educational Theatre Association.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Method Gun, Rude Mechanicals at the Off Center, April 9 - May 2

So what, exactly, is the Method Gun?

The short, obvious and wrong answer is that it's the loaded pistol that is secured in a birdcage by a troupe of intense, troubled actors. And like any loaded pistol that features in stage action, it will, eventually be used (cf., "the loaded gun theory").

That piece of hardware is a gun, but it's not The Method Gun except in a very minor, representational way.

The ensemble makes us at home for the show, opening the house early and providing piano music, a compendium of sentimental ballads keyed out carefully by a cast member. "Stardust," "Red Sails in the Sunset, "Alfie," "I Will Wait for You," pieces relatively appropriate for the early 1970s setting of the action, played about as well as I might play them after 30 years away from the keyboard.

Click to Read More on . . . .

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Opinion: Band-aids Won't Cure the Disease, Don Hall, April 16

From the April 16 post by Don Hall, the great contemporary vulgarian theatre arts observer, in his erudite, aggressive and insightful blog An Angry White Guy in Chicago:

Thursday, April 16, 2009
Band Aids Don't Cure the Disease

. . . There is more American Theater patronized regularly by fewer people than ever in the short history of the country. In the desire to create permanence in the form of the Theatrical Institution we have slowly let the frog boil and in search of a sense of security in the form of profit and endowment we have created a theater for the masses. You can get it in any color you want, so long as it is beige.

The basic assumptions that seem to get in the way of progress in our shift of paradigm are obvious:

- More money will solve the ills of an under appreciated art form
- Long term sustainability is good for both the artist and the art
- Artistic success goes hand in hand with business success
- There is naturally supposed to be a tug-of-war between the artistic and the financial

These assumptions are the doctrine of a failing paradigm. Money rarely solves problems - it usually just band aids things up until the bills come due later. Long term sustainability is an illusion - institutions last for a while, and rarely to the benefit of the artist or the art. Success is defined by many things and often one definition has nothing to do with another. Finally, this self-imposed tug-of-war is only necessary when the money becomes as important as the art. . . .

The further into the corporate mentality of creating art for profit, the closer the art resembles a chicken dish at Applebees.

Go to an Applebees. Order the Buffalo Chicken Strips Appetizer and the Orange Chicken Entree. What you will get is five turd-shaped pieces of breaded chicken with some buffalo sauce and blue cheese followed by the same damn chicken turds smothered in orange sauce on rice. If the theater you create is nothing but a breaded chicken turd and you throw money at it to create the unique sauce, it's time to let the life cycle of your company pass on to the annals of history.

The symptom with theater is only a problem of perception. When enough of us (and with the economy dwindling in the shitter, the DIY aesthetic of the little gypsy theaters will grow) cease to perceive theater as a means to establish permanence and lifelong security and embrace the only aspect of it that matters - immediacy - the pendulum will swing. And like the life cycle that Thurman describes, it'll eventually grow bloated and self-involved and die. As soon as we have we shift gears to wanting keep what we have - its how liberals become conservatives.

The beautiful thing is that as organizations come and go, the art form continues. Theater institutions die - theater does not.

Don Hall's full meditation on the necessary impermanence of arts institutions