Arts Eclectic

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.

The new play AFTERSHOCK/La Réplica aims to give a voice to military veterans and their family members. That’s a natural choice of subject matter for Johnny Meyer and Karen Alvarado, the married co-creators of the piece – he’s a military veteran and she’s the wife of a veteran. AFTERSHOCK/La Réplica draws from their own experiences to an extent, but is largely based on the writings of other U.S. veterans. 

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.

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?’”

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."

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.”

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. 

"We connect when we tell stories – we connect with our inner selves and with each other,” says Mahani Zubedy, who founded Story Sistas three years ago. “We are women who have lived through rather quiet lives and today we are free. And it’s a way for us to claim our voices and to share.”

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. 

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.

“I was doing it for two years in New York with my co-host and good friend Liisa Murray,” says Meghan Ross of her variety show That Time of the Month. “And then when I moved to Austin I wanted to bring it down here with me, so it’s been about two years in Austin as well. And it’s grown since then, and changed in format. And, yeah, it’s found a nice home here in Austin.

This weekend marks Austin’s first People of Color Comedy Festival. But while the fest is brand new, it’s been a dream for founder Leng Wong for several years.

Eric Culver, one of the co-founders of the online marketplace ArtStartArt, got a degree in art and later went to business school, so starting a business that helps art students sell their works online was a natural use for all of his schooling. “Yes, it’s certainly kind of the culmination of all my both education and professional experiences,” Culver says. “This definitely makes sense, at least on paper.

“I had done some productions for KLRN prior to [Carrascolendas]… without budgets, you know,” says Aida Barrera. “But then I decided that maybe the time had come to go out and look for some funding and do a series that would have a different kind of goal. That turned out to be Carrascolendas.”

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