Arts Eclectic

Pat Jarrett

The latest show from Hidden Room Theater is a version of Hamlet that's different from any version you've probably seen before. Rather than staging the play as it was originally written, the folks at Hidden Room are presenting (stay with me here) a puppet-show version of an English language translation of a 300 year-old, comedic, condensed German version of the play.

That German manuscript, called Der Bestrafte Brudermord, is dated 1710, and has for years been a mystery to Shakespeare scholars. It's definitely a version of Hamlet, but its brevity and rampant slapstick raised questions about how and why it was originally staged.

PrintAustin is a brand-new, month-long event designed to celebrate the art of printmaking and print collecting in Austin. For an inaugural event, PrintAustin is pretty ambitious; it lasts a full month and features dozens of partnering galleries, art spaces, and museums.

There will be exhibitions, demonstrations, artists talks, a print fair and much more over the next few weeks, in locations all over town. Two of the biggest events are The Contemporary Print, a juried exhibition of prints by local artists that will be on display through February 15, and the Flatbed Contemporary Print Fair, featuring local art and demonstrations of the printmaking process.

Twenty-one years ago, when Austin's FronteraFest was new, it was a small fringe theater festival consisting of a mere forty short-form performance pieces. Now, it features twice that many short pieces during its Short Fringe component, and nearly a dozen long-form shows during the Long Fringe.

The Short Fringe is a nightly occurence, with five short pieces every night, a weekly best-of-the-week show on Saturdays, and then a final best-of-the-fest series of shows.

That's close to a hundred performances by dozens of new and veteran artists just in the Short and Long Fringes alone, not counting the Bring Your Own Venue and Mi Casa Es Su Teatro parts of the festival.

The Long Fringe takes place at Salvage Vanguard Theater between January 20 and February 2; the Short Fringe is at Hyde Park Theatre now through February 15; BYOV and Mi Casa shows are at various locations throughout town over the next couple of weeks. For a complete schedule of events, head to the FronteraFest website.

It's been almost a decade since Coldtowne Theater relocated from New Orleans to Austin, and in the years they've been here, they've become one of our city's premiere sources for improvised entertainment. 

Their latest show is Beware of Female Spies, which takes its inspiration not just from the spy genre at large, but from a particular recurring trope within many spy shows and movies, that trope being the highly competent female spy who manages to save the day while her semi-clueless male partner stumbles through the case.

When it was published in 1870, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's novel Venus in Furs was pretty scandalous, but it has remained an enduring part of popular culture in the years since. There have been a handful of film adaptations, a stage play, a Velvet Underground song, and the recently Tony-nominated play Venus in Fur, which is not an adaptation but a new work inspired by the novel.

Written by David Ives, Venus in Fur is a two-actor play about a young writer/director searching for the lead for his play based on the 19th-century erotic novel. When a young actress arrives hours late and unprepared for her audition, he's initially dismissive. But as he gets to know her, she becomes more mysterious and their relationship starts to parallel the themes of the novel.

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