Mike Lee

Senior Producer: Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, Sonic IDs

Mike is a features producer at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for kut.org. When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.

Several years ago, he featured a young dancer on his Arts Eclectic program, and she was so impressed by his interviewing skills that she up and married him. Now they enjoy traveling, following their creative whims, and spending time with their dogs.

Alan Trammel

Mark Pickell, the artistic director of Capital T Theatre company, has long been a fan of Chicago-based playwright Mickle Maher, so he was eager to produce Maher’s new work here in Austin.

“He wrote this new one – it just premiered in Chicago this summer – and he sent it [to me], and it was brilliant,” Pickell says.

Julia Mann

When Wizard World returns to the Austin Convention Center next weekend, there will be celebrity guests and panel discussions and lots of cosplay and lots of very nerdy stuff to buy or just gawk at. There will also be local art. 

Every year, the Artists’ Alley section of the convention features artists showing, selling and talking about their work. This year, Austin’s Theresa Schlossberg and Julia Mann will be two of the participating artists.

From HomeAid Austin, this month's Get Involved spotlight organization:

HomeAid's mission is: "Building new lives for Austin’s homeless through housing and community outreach."

Ryah Christensen

The Rosewood-Zaragosa Neighborhood Center is one of six Austin Public Health facilities that offer social and health services to Austin residents. It’s also now the home of “The Community Quilt,” a large-scale mosaic artwork that was created by the members of the community themselves.

Jessica Arroyo

“I’ve been thinking about doing this for about six years,” says tango lover and Guardia Vieja founder Pooja Kumar. “I had already kind of started to meet different people who were looking at tango as not just a dance – they had other aspects of it that they were really interested in. I’ve just kind of been thinking about how I can bring them all together.”

According to Penfold Theatre’s producing artistic director Ryan Crowder, the musical Ghost Quartet “started out as a kind of concept album of spooky things. There are tons of stories inspired by various sources, [such as] 1001 Arabian Nights and Fall of the House of Usher, and the Grimm’s Fairy Tales – all of these different ghost stories are packed into it.” 

Steve Rogers

The new show Angola uses the improv comedy format to take a look at an unexpected subject matter – mass incarceration in America. It’s a heavy topic to discuss with comedy, and Angola aims to eschew easy laughs to take a grounded but satirical approach.  

“I posted something on Facebook one day about comedians who choose to be unhappy so that they can stay funny,” says comedian Katie Stone. “And it was just basically like, ‘what’s the endgame here?’”

From MOVE Texas, this month's Get Involved spotlight organization:

ABOUT: 

MOVE Texas is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, grassroots organization working to build power in underrepresented youth communities through civic engagement, leadership development, and issue advocacy. MOVE is an acronym for the pillars of our programmatic work: Mobilize. Organize. Vote. Empower. 

John Mulvany

Artist John Mulvany hasn’t had a solo show of paintings in quite a while, largely because his life started getting a little busier lately.

“I had kids in the last few years, and they’ve taken a lot of time [and] energy and art kind of went on the back burner for a little bit,” he says. “But during that time I was doing a lot of walking around my neighborhood in East Austin, just noticing a lot of things that I hadn’t before. And the show sort of evolved from there.”

Sandy Carson

“How long do you need to be here before you’re actually Texan, right?” asks photographer Sandy Carson.

He was born in Scotland but moved to Texas in the '90s, so he’s now lived roughly half his life in the Lone Star State. “I suppose I’m a Scottish Texan by now, right? If you’re half and half?”

Katie Bender describes the premise behind her new solo show thusly: “I’m hosting a series of séances to communicate [with] and hopefully resurrect the spirit of Harry Houdini.”

“This piece is called In Light, and it’s really the exploration which I have been doing for many, many years – the human journey on the earth in these times,” says Sally Jacques, the artistic director of Blue Lapis Light. “So it deals with our human experiences and then the possibility of transformation.”

“Paper chairs [is] always interested in making the pedestrian – the familiar – feel strange,” says paper chairs co-artistic director Elizabeth Doss. “And this play sort of delivers that in spades.”

Errich Petersen

“It’s crazy,” says director Jenny Lavery of the new comedy Dance Nation, which is having its regional premiere at the Long Center this month. “The playwright [Clare Barron] is pushing form and content in a way that I have never seen before."

From League of Women Voters Austin Area, this month's Get Involved spotlight organization:

About Us

The League of Women Voters Austin Area is an all-volunteer, membership nonprofit covering Travis and Williamson Counties.  Our strength, for 100 years, is rooted in the commitment of grassroots members, volunteers, and help from donors like you. 

Writer and performer Laura de la Fuente created the character Liz Behan spontaneously one day, while driving from Marfa back home to Austin.

“There was a lot of open road, I was with my wife next to me, and I had just bought this new hat,” de la Fuente says. “It was this gorgeous felt hat with leather around it and studs. [I] put on this hat while I was driving back and started singing this song, and it went ‘Open road, Texas sky … I love my wife and I’m a womaaaaaaan!’ And from there, Liz Behan was born.”

“It came from personal experience,” says playwright Lisa B. Thompson of her new play, The Mamalogues. “I wanted to talk about women that were like me, that I didn’t see represented in… in anywhere.” 

MS, the one-woman play by writer Molly Fonseca, isn’t exactly an autobiographical work, but it’s pretty close to being one.

“Yeah, it is [about me], more or less,” Fonseca says with a bit of a laugh. “I like to tell people that the destination is the same, but Maby [Fonseca’s onstage alter-ego] takes a couple of different pit stops.”

Thomas Hartnett

Thirty years after opening the first iteration of Flatbed Press, owner Katherine Brimberry is finally creating the printmaking art space she wanted all along.

“I had a business partner, Mark Smith, and he and I started a small press over on West 3rd Street in 1989,” Brimberry says. “[But] the space was limited and we didn’t do a lot of exhibitions there.”

From Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, this month's Get Involved spotlight organization:

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas exists to help young people in our community – particularly those facing adversity – achieve their biggest possible futures. We do this by creating and supporting one-to-one mentoring relationships between children ages 6 – 16 and caring adult volunteers who offer support and encouragement to each child.

Corinna Browning

“I want people to leave this show like really mad,” says Last Act Theater Company artistic director Rachel Steed. “Mad that this is the current state of the world.”

The show she’s taking about is Seven, a “documentary play” conceived by Carol Mack and written by seven female playwrights about seven real women who have been working to fight injustice in seven different countries in the world. 

Over the past five years, Justin Sherburn and his band Montopolis have been creating not just music, but a series of immersive concert experiences that focus on the diverse landscape of Texas.

Cindy Elizabeth

Forklift Danceworks has created performances starring roller skaters, Elvis impersonators, and the city’s sanitation department (and their trucks). Oh, and also baseball players, traffic cops, and marching bands. Non-dancers dancing in unexpected places is kind of their specialty. 

From Breakthrough Central Texas, this month's Get Involved spotlight organization:  

About Breakthrough Central Texas

Breakthrough Central Texas creates a path to and through college for students who will be the first in their family to earn a college degree.

From sixth grade through to college graduation, Breakthrough offers out-of-school learning experiences, leadership skills, and comprehensive advising to students across Central Texas. By fulfilling a 12-year commitment to each student, we ensure their long-term success from middle school to high school graduation to college diploma and beyond. 

Maria Luisa Mendoza has seen a lot of changes in the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood in the past few decades.

In 1988, she and her husband opened the health store and restaurant Mr. Natural on East Cesar Chavez Street, and while other businesses have come and gone since then, hers has remained and become a fixture of the community.

Chloe and Lane Ingram – who perform under the portmanteau Chlane – had already been married for about a year when they started taking improv classes together a decade ago. Since then, they’ve performed together and apart in various improv troupes, and that shared love of performing led them to eventually create their own sketch comedy show.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin Public Library launched its own music streaming service late last year, offering up a collection of tracks by local musicians. Electric Lady Bird is free for anyone – whether or not you have a library card.

The idea behind the service is to share Austin music and to help practicing musicians find new fans.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon

“I definitely lobbied [for the job],” says Liz Fisher, who is directing Penfold Theatre’s new production of Shakespeare’s Henry V, “because it’s a play that’s been very near and dear to my heart for many, many years."

Fisher says it was one of the first plays she ever performed in and got her "hooked" on Shakespeare.

From Texas Rollergirls, this month's Get Involved spotlight organization:  

Formed in 2003 as the only sports league of its kind, Texas Rollergirls Rock-n-Rollerderby® started today's Flat Track Derby movement. There are now more than 300 Flat Track Derby leagues worldwide, with more forming every week. In its current incarnation, Roller Derby is a genuine athletic competition complete with well-defined rules, divisions, tournaments, and a governing body: the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA).

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