News and Features

Art&Seek Jr: Baby It’s Cold Outside! Warm Up With One Of These Family-Friendly Events

Art&Seek Jr. is one mom‘s quest to find activities to end the seemingly endless chorus of the “I’m Bored Blues” while having fun herself.  Impossible you say? Check back on Tuesdays for kid-friendly events that are fun for adults, too.

I'm fine inside, thank you. photo: Therese Powell

I’m fine inside, thank you. photo: Therese Powell

We’re on our second “snow day” around here with the very real possibility of a third for tomorrow.  And while a day off from school and work is fun, they start wearing thin sooner than you’d think. You can only drink so many mugs of cocoa, build so many fires, and watch so many Disney movies before it all starts to get….well…old. It probably didn’t help matters that these snow days fell on a week where the kids in our school district had last Friday off as well. As a result, the weekend togetherness quotient in our house was satisfied before a single bead of sleet fell Sunday. Last night when the announcement of school closures came it wasn’t met with the same exuberance as the previous night–from either of us. Sort of like the all-you-can-eat ice cream buffet, it’s a great idea when you first dive in, but not so much after your third trip.

The perfect solution for cabin fever is to bundle the tinies up and head out for a change of scenery. Since it looks as if the weather won’t be cooperating any better this weekend we recommend one of these inside adventures.

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UPDATE: Dallas Re-Instates Arts Grants – Applications START Friday

moneySo here’s my original post: It used to be called the Neighborhood Touring Program, but that got killed in the budget cuts of 2009. Now it’s the Community Arts Program (CAP) and you can read about how to apply for grants here on the Office of Cultural Affairs’ page. (Basically, you download an application form and fill it out.)

And you can go here for the 2015 CAP guidelines.  This is not really intended for public art (sculptures and the like). The guidelines stipulate whether your work can be one-time performance/workshop, a workshop series (2-4 days) or a residency (2-8 weeks).

Here’s the big kicker though: YOU’VE GOT UNTIL THIS FRIDAY BY 6 P.M. TO APPLY.

HERE’S MY UPDATE: You’ve got until Friday to apply for the CAP program, which is NOT the city’s new art grants program. That new program is called Special Support Grants and Friday is when those applications START. The city didn’t want the Special Support Grants process to be announced or to start until after the CAP program deadline was done … so, ahem, there wouldn’t be any confusion.

Which is precisely what I did, confuse the two programs. To make amends, I’m posting the correct info on these new $1000 to $5000 arts grants:

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Playwright Jonathan Norton Imagines Medgar Evers’ Neighbors in “Mississippi Goddamn”

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Categorized Under: Culture, Local Events, Theater

The cast of “Mississippi Goddamn” at South Dallas Cultural Center. Front: Calvin Gabriel, Stormi Demerson; Rear (left): Whitney LaTrice Coulter, Ashley Wilkerson, Stormi Demerson. Photo: Jonathan Norton.

A few years ago, Dallas playwright Jonathan Norton visited Medgar Evers’ house. He thought about where Byron De La Beckwith must have stood when he assassinated the civil rights advocate in his own driveway in 1963. But it was the neighbors staring at Norton’s tour group who really captured his imagination. He tells Art&Seek’s Anne Bothwell how that trip led to a new play, called Mississippi Goddamn, premiering now at the South Dallas Cultural Center.

Listen to the story that aired on KERA FM

How’d you get the idea for the play?

In 2011, I took a trip with my civil rights class at Southern Methodist University and we visited the home of  Medgar and Myrlie Evers and our tour guide at their home  explained that many of his neighbors tried to buy him out.

And he was living in a black neighborhood?

He was living in a black neighborhood. And on four or five occasions, they tried to buy him out. He turned down every offer and immediately, I thought to myself, I think there’s a play in there somewhere. Because it’s just one of those things you never consider.

It’s actually a very disturbing story but also there seemed like a unique way to enter into a conversation about the movement.

What was the objection to Evers?

First, there was the fear of violence from the white community. But the other part of it  was his neighbors being threatened by their employers to do anything and everything in their power to really push Medgar Evers and his family not just off the street, but in many ways, out of Jackson.

Are the characters in the play based on real people?

It’s me imagining what it must have been like to be a neighbor and imagining this one particular family that might have lived down the street from him. But you know the other piece of it is our tour guide explained to us that after his assassination, his neighbors made a pact to not speak of his assassination for the next 10 years.

And for 10 years, no one ever spoke a word about Medgar Evers assasination in the neighborhood. It’s just one of those thing you just keep pushing for answers.

You’ve had several productions on stage in the last few years. The 67th Book of the Bilbe was recently produced at the City Performance Hall. The play Homeschool was premiered at the African American Repertory Theater. How are you juggling all this?

It’s a challenge. I have an amazing support group. I work a full time 9-5. But for the most part I kind of live for the work, so it’s enjoyable to me. So somethings people would do, like, it’s the weekend, I’m going to go out shopping or catch up on Netflix….. I don’t. I almost kind of don’t have a life.

We hear a lot more about actors and theater companies in North Texas, than we do about playwrights. Is there a big playwrighting scene here?

I would say there are a lot of talented writers here, but in terms of an actual scene, probably not. Only because we do not have, at the moment,  I don’t think there are any programs or organizations that are specifically designed for or developed with playwrights in mind. I think the challenge with playwrights is that with every other artist in the theater, from actors to directors to designers, theater companies need these artists. You can’t do a play without actors and you need someone to direct it.  You can not necessarily bring this talent in from New York if you’re a small theater company or a mid-size theater company.

But certainly, you can decide to produce the next whatever play is hot in New York. It’s not a difficult thing to do that. So in terms of actually cultivating playwrighting talent here, there’s not always a huge emphasis on that, simply because it’s not an essential part of the process.

So what’s the biggest hurdle? Is it writing, is it finding a theater company to put on your production, is it funding the project?

I think that in Dallas, we have enough small theater companies and artists who are willing to pull up there sleeves  and get something done and if they find a piece that they love, to make it happen. The idea of just getting it  produced being the biggest hurdle, I don’t necessarily feel that’s really true. But I do feel that what’s true is being able to create work that can have a future beyond Dallas [is challenging.]  One of the hurdles is trying to get a second life for your play, further production opportunities.

When did you say, this is it, I’m going to be a playwright? It sounds embarrassing to say, but it almost feel like I make that decision every day. Because it’s actually a difficult thing to do. Really, honestly the reason I’m writing now, is because Vicki Meek, at the South Dallas Cultural Center, in 2010, offered me one of the Diaspora Performing Arts [grants] to work on a play that I started when I was studying with her at SMU.

She said,’I really want you to continue this play, but the only way I can make sure that you continue working on this is to give you money.’ And my jaw kind of dropped. I thought to myself, she’s really going to give me money to write a play?! And she did, in fact, do that. I think it was that vote of confidence, in that way, that really pushed me, pushed me.


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Today on Think: ‘Why Acting Matters’ With the Great Film Historian David Thomson

51G2PCzUDgLThis afternoon, during the second hour of Think, the KERA radio talk show, host Krys Boyd talks with famed film critic-historian David Thomson about his latest book, Why Acting Matters. Witty and incredibly knowledgeable, Thomson is the highly-regarded author of A Biographical Dictionary of Film, biographies of directors David O. Selznick and Orson Welles, The Big Screen and a dozen other books on such stars as Bette Davis, Nicole Kidman and Humphrey Bogart. He’s been a frequent contributor to The New Republic, and he’s also well-versed in stage performance, which is why he can bring in the history of Method acting and the influence of Laurence Olivier and Elia Kazan. \

Tune in at 1 p.m. to hear Thomson answer the question, why acting matters.

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Musical Hit ‘Matilda’ Will Open AT&T PAC Broadway Series

Matilda  Ripley Sobo

When it comes to hit Broadway musicals, Matilda isn’t as big as The Book of Mormon. No musical is. There are currently four tours of Mormon around the country. But Matilda does have one thing over that show. Parents are more likely to take their kids to see it. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports that’s one reason Matilda was the big news last night when the AT&T Performing Arts Center announced its new Broadway Series.


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North Texas Playwright Andrew Harris Gets New York Reading

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Categorized Under: Arts Education, Culture, Theater

Nick Canon as Will Shakespeare and Anne Armenta as Emilia Bassano in the UNT production of ‘The Lady Revealed.’ Photo: Justin Curtin.

The lady has been getting around.

Andrew Harris’ play, The Lady Revealed, premiered two years ago at UNT, where Harris teaches theater. The drama concerns modern research into ‘the Dark Lady,’ the supposed mistress whom William Shakespeare wrote about in his sonnets. In this case, the lady is Emilia Bassano, a published poet who probably knew Shakespeare. Harris’ play follows both Emilia and A. L. Rowse, the combative Oxford historian who first proposed her as his great ‘solution’ to the mystery of the Dark Lady. (She remains a very likely candidate but Rowse made a number of errors in his research.)

The next year after the short UNT Theatre Department run, The Lady Revealed received two free performances at Theatre Three. And then, last year, it had a successful reading at Covent Garden’s Bates Theatre in London with British actors from Dr. Who and Downton Abbey in several roles.

And now, The Lady Revealed will get another notable reading, this time in New York at New Dramatists. On March 16th, the cast will include British actors such as Sam Underwood (Homeland) and Geoffrey Beevers (The Tudors) as well as such American performers as  Anthony Heald (Boston Legal, Silence of the Lambs).

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Dallas Symphony’s Next Season: European Tour, 3 World Premieres


Dallas Symphony, Jaap van Zweden conducting. Photo: Mark Kitaoka

The Dallas Symphony’s next season will include a new European tour — this time including England, Scotland and Spain, in addition to the Netherlands, Germany and Austria. The season’ll re-up the ReMix series, the DSO’s smaller, more adventuresome concerts at the City Performance Hall (although just what most of those concerts will feature hasn’t been filled in yet). It continues the Lay Family Concert Organ series that started this season and it brings back the Soluna Festival — the Arts District-wide international arts festival that hasn’t even happened for the first time (it’s in May).

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Review: Endearing ‘Last 2 People’ Can Seem Like ‘Mandy Patinkin Plus One’


Mandy Patinkin and Taylor Mac in ‘The Last Two People on Earth.’ Photo: Paul Kolnik


The Last Two People on Earth offers a dream apocalypse — at least for theatergoers. In the sweet, song-and-dance revue currently at the Eisemann Center, global warming has flooded the planet, and we’re left trapped on a patch of dry land with Mandy Patinkin. So, while the rest of the world slowly gurgles to its end, we get to sit and listen to Patinkin sing.

Not such a bad way to go, all in all. Developed by Patinkin, off-Broadway dazzle-master Taylor Mac and Tony Award-winning director-choreographer Susan Stroman, The Last Two People puts the two performers inside the old New Yorker cartoon set-up: Two castaways are lost on a desert isle.

And the punchline?

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Saturday Spotlight – Ringing in the Year of the Ram


For this week’s Art & Seek Spotlight, we’re ringing in the Year of the Ram with the Chinese New Year Festival at the Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas. The whole day is jam-packed with demonstrations and performances including Chinese dancing and music, fortune-telling, and calligraphy. You can make sheep headbands and decorate red envelopes plus take part in family yoga in the gallery.  CNY-Homepage-300x300

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Cultural Affairs Commission Votes To Remove White Rock Water Theater

water-theater-3editA week and a half ago, the White Rock Wildlife Water Theater was given a very bad bill of health Actually, it was a city-commissioned engineering report that said the steel support system for the artwork’s 60 metal poles in the water off the Bath House Cultural Center was pretty well shot.Neighborhood groups had complained that the Water Theater had become such a rusting eyesore that most people didn’t even recognize it was an artwork. It was hurting the lake’s beauty. Meanwhile, the Water Theater was put on a national list of “endangered” public artworks.

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