News and Features

Your Daily 'Corpus Christi' Controversy Update

Theater Jones reports that there are now three different productions of Terrence McNally’s ‘gay Jesus’ drama Corpus Christi coming to North Texas. The original student production was shut down at Tarleton State University and started the current furor. It was also turned down, eventually, by Ft. Worth’s Rose Marine Theatre, but is still trying to find a home. Then there’s Q Live’s production which is also looking for a place to set up. And finally, there’s a touring California production hoping to stop by Dallas in June.

Amid all this, Bloomberg interviews the Corpus Christi-born McNally about growing up in Texas and discovering opera, about Corpus Christi and homophobia and about his new marriage to his partner Tom Kirdahy (shades of the two disciples who are married in Corpus Christi).

Lundborg: Corpus Christi depicts Jesus and his disciples as gay, so did you write it as a provocation?

McNally: I wrote it as an act of reverence and a meditation on the life of Christ and his message. I’ve never felt more misunderstood or ambushed in my life than by the response it got.

But it’s important to say that the attacks on the play were started by people who’d never seen or read it, based on rumors that weren’t true. It just goes to show how much homophobia there still is in our society: How dare a gay man or woman think that Christ’s divinity exists in him or her?

Millions of people have been told, “You don’t belong at this table, you can’t talk about spirituality, you’re a sinner.” That makes me angry.

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And It's Not Just 'Corpus Christi' . . .

The Tyler Civic Theatre in Tyler, Texas, received letters expressing concern about the subject matter of The Laramie Project — the play about the ‘gay-bashing’ death of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998 — which the theater had been planning to stage. Now information about that production has been removed from the theater’s website, while the board reconsiders it.

Four years before Shepard was killed, East Texas lost one of its own: 23-year-old Nicholas West.  Three men kidnapped and robbed West in Bergfeld Park.  They drove him to a remote Smith County location, shot him multiple times, including once in the head – all because he was gay.

David McMillan is now serving a life sentence for West’s murder.  Henry Dunn and Donald Aldrich have both been put to death.

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DIFF: Tuesday Picks

For your Tuesday viewing pleasure, might we recommend:

Hold – Arlington filmmaker Frank Mosley directs this story of a couple working through the pain of a home break-in that results in a sexual assault. If you check out the film (or even if you don’t), be sure to listen to Think on Wednesday as Mosley will be part of a panel of local filmmakers discussing their movies playing at this year’s festival.  (4 p.m., Angelika)

Animation Competition -  Let’s face it: it’s darn near impossible to see new animated shorts in a theater these days unless they are running before the newest Pixar film. The Animated Competition collects 10 such films in a 68-minute block – just enough of a fix until Toy Story 3 (and its inevitable short) comes out in June  (7:15 p.m., Angelika)

Lemmy – Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister is one of the most influential figures of hard rock. Don’t believe me? Then watch Lemmy, which features a who’s who of of metal (Metallica, Ozzy, Dave Grohl) saying exactly that. And then saying it again. The film debuted at SXSW; click here to read my review.  (7 p.m., Magnolia)

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Tuesday Morning Roundup

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Categorized Under: Film and Television, Music

DIFF LOOKS SOUTH OF THE BORDER: A little later today, I’ll post my Tuesday picks for the Dallas International Film Festival. But today’s biggest event is the fest’s celebration of Mexican cinema in honor of Mexico’s bicentennial, which will happen at the Latino Cultural Center. Mexican filmmakers have become more and more influential on the international scene in the past few years. Guillermo Arriaga, Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu have all made their mark. “They tried not to make American films,” Dallas Film Society chairman Michael Cain tells “They decided to create things that were from their heart and in their own style. They found their voice.”

ON THE TOUR BUS: A few big-name shows have announced North Texas dates. The reincarnated Lilith Fair, which includes locals Erykah Badu, Norah Jones and Kelly Clarkson, concludes Aug. 16 at Center. Rush will perform Moving Pictures in its entirety on Sept. 26, also at Superpages. Not to be outdone, Roger Waters will play all of The Wall at the AAC on Nov. 21. On that same day, David Gilmour will be busy stacking his money in very high piles.

SING, SING, SING: Are you all giddy about Glee‘s return to television tonight? (Fox, 8:30 p.m.) If so, you’re not alone. In fact, a group of UNT students love the show so much that they formed the UNT Glee Club, which will stage its debut performance on campus May 7. “I wanted to see students like us doing exactly what they’re doing. Contemporary music,” UNT senior Jose Coira tells Coira formed the club after the show’s fall finale. Among the songs the group is rehearsing are Queen’s “Somebody to Love” and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”

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Art&Seek on Think TV: Sweet Science

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Chris Howell is the writer, director and cinematographer of Sweet Science — as well as its prime fundraiser. During the course of his seven years following Coach Greg Hatley and the Oak Cliff Boxing Club, Howell became a certified boxing coach himself — talk about immersing yourself in your work — and found his documentary subjects taking turns he never expected. Including criminal convictions, financial setbacks and even death.

Sweet Science screens at the Dallas International Film Festival Monday and Thursday this week at the Angelika.

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Local Connection to the Pulitzer Prize Winners – Updated

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Categorized Under: Music, Uncategorized

… no, no, not the Dallas Morning News‘ threesome that just won for editorial writing. It’s the composer Jennifer Higdon, who won a Pulitzer for her Violin Concerto.

It just so happens, the concerto is scheduled to be performed by the Dallas Symphony on May 13, with soloist Hilary Hahn.

And as the Fort Worth Symphony has just reminded me, Higdon is their composer-in-residence for 2009-2010. I knew I’d heard her name in some recent connection.

The full press release is below the fold.

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Where Were We: SMU's Free Museum, Black Fine Arts Show, Dallas Intl Film Fest, 'Endgame' at the Undermain, Kashmere Stage Band

The Art&Seek team gets around. Where Were We is a new occasional feature about where we – and our guest bloggers – have been recently.  Kicking it off w/a couple stops I made this weekend.

Tale of Two Art Shows: First up – The Southwest Black Fine Arts Show at the African American Museum Friday evening. Actually, the name’s a bit narrow – I met artists from Memphis and Atlanta as well as the Southwest. The museum was crammed with booths and displays of sculpture, painting, collage and photography. Think Dallas Art Fair, but devoted to work by black artists or from the galleries that represent them. And like the Dallas Art Fair, organizers said the goal was to provide exposure, and to prove there’s a market for this art. “Buy, buy, buy!” one speaker urged the crowd. The show ended Sunday afternoon. Hope to check back this week to see how sales went.

Also Friday night, Professor Michael Corris officially opened the Free Museum of Dallas in his office at SMU’s Meadows School. Kristen Cochran had the honor of being the first artist to show in the space, which is indeed the size of an office and tucked in behind a mail room at the Owens Art Center.  Her rubber “bricks” were stacked up against the window and look like they’d glow like Jolly Ranchers in the light.  The bricks were a meditation on a painting by Peter Doig, Picture of Houses, which hung on a nearby wall.

Associate Curator Leila Grothe spent some time filling me in on plans: the museum is an opportunity to launch shows and start conversations without the constraints of more traditional settings.  It’s also one more home for artists and work that, for whatever reason, doesn’t fit neatly into existing gallery or museum space.

What’s Up Doc? One of my favorite parts of the Dallas International Film Festival is the panel discussions it brings to town. The DMN‘s Chris Vognar led one Saturday afternoon at the Nasher on “Call to Action” documentaries.  Stephen Nemeth (Climate Refugees), Alison Ellwood (Casino Jack and the United States of Money) and Melina McKinnon (Torey’s Distraction) talked about getting docs with a message in front of audiences and helping those audiences take action if they’re moved by the film. (There’s a recap on DIFF’s site.)  Particularly interesting are the lengths doc makers are going to facilitate that action. Melina says they set up swab stations so audiences can join the bone marrow registry outside screenings of More to Live For, a doc on cancer patients waiting for bone marrow transplants.  Alison’s team works with  Participant Media, which makes encouraging audience action part of its mission.

Beginning of Endgame: You’ll hear much more from Jerome this week on KERA radio about the opening performance of Samuel Becket’s Endgame at the Undermain Theatre Saturday night. I don’t think I’m stealing his thunder when I say get your tickets now.  I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this weird combination of  laughing so hard and simultaneously feeling so deeply disturbed by Becket’s gloomy message about life.  Related: new risers at the theater mean a new seating plan. Soon, the theater’s chairs will be refurbished as well.

Funked Up: Stephen told the story behind the documentary Thunder Soul to KERA listeners on Friday. So of course, I had to go check out a reunion performance of Kashmere Stage Band at Reel FX in Deep Ellum Saturday night. There had to be 20 folks on stage, and they were bringing the house down with funk deep enough to make you want to say yowza! Impossible to watch the horn players sway and dance and not join in. If you didn’t make the party Saturday, don’t worry – the band is coming back for two performances on May 1, thanks to The Black Academy of  Arts and Letters.

Regrets: Sigh. Did not make it to Oak Cliff for Crave and all the associated activities going on there this weekend. Nor did I get to Main Street Arts Festival in Fort Worth.  If you did, I’d love to hear highlights.

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Interview with Bows & Arrows Gallery Co-Owners Adam and Alicia Rico

Lanie DeLay is a Dallas-based artist.  She spoke with Adam and Alicia Rico, artists and married co-owners of Bows & Arrows Gallery on lower Greenville, during their own two-person exhibit about their work, their fledgling business and their recent relocation from Brooklyn.

Bows & Arrows' 1925 Greenville Avenue storefront

Bows & Arrows' 1925 Greenville Avenue storefront

Lanie DeLay: Alicia, I know you’re from Dallas.  Adam, did you guys visit here at all before you moved here?

Adam Rico:  We visited for – well, I visited one week in March-

L.D.: Last year?

Adam: Yeah, and liked it for the most part.

Alicia:  We were excited, because we both like to have a change of scenery. We like to move around and keep things interesting. We love Brooklyn, and we had kind of made a home there, and all of our friends live there, so it was bittersweet.

L.D.: This space is really multi-purpose. You’ve got the gallery, the floral aspect of what you’re doing, and then there’s the vintage pieces and the craft items and the wearable art. There’re a lot of multi-purpose spaces in Brooklyn, but not a whole lot here, although there’s interest in it certainly. What was your research like in figuring out your relocation?

Alicia:  You know, we didn’t do too much research actually. We drove around, and where we liked the feel – I mean, this kind of reminds us a little bit of Brooklyn: a little unmanicured and kind of older with all these sort of storefronts smushed next to each other-

Adam: Well it’s a little more of an organic build-up of businesses and community, as opposed to planned. I feel like there’s a lot of “planned” communities and businesses here; you know, strip malls and shopping centers-

L.D.: Yeah, there is definitely more of a slash-and-burn mentality here: if you get some rust on the window, you’d better tear down the building and make a new one.

Adam: Yeah, so that’s what we like about this area. It’s not that way necessarily. It’s got a little bit of character, and that got us excited about it. I mean, beforehand, the shop and the gallery together kind of stems from our just being in Brooklyn for years with the multi-purpose spaces there, because they have to be, because there’s-

Alicia: They’re used to small spaces.

Adam: Yeah, space is limited.  I mean, you have to pay so much for such a small thing that they’re really good at mixing different genres.

Alicia: This is maybe twice as big as the shop I worked at in Brooklyn, but it’s still a thousand square feet – it’s tiny.

Adam: Especially for here, I feel, it’s really small.

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DIFF: 'Dance With the One' Filmmakers Talk Influences

Gabriel Luna as Nate in Dance With the One.

Gabriel Luna as Nate in Dance With the One.

In Dance With the One, a low-level drug slinger, Nate, is trusted with a huge stash. He locks it up in a safe place where no one will ever find it. But, of course, someone does. And if Nate wants to save his hide, he’d better track down the thief.

The setup is a classic film structure, used in everything from The Maltese Falcon to Raiders of the Lost Ark to Pulp Fiction. When done properly, the drug stash, briefcase, statuette, etc. sets the plot in motion, and the action tells us about the personalities and desires of the characters who inhabit the film.

“It’s not a Macguffin,” Dance With the One director Michael Dolan says about the drug stash. “But we get the velocity, we get the energy from the plot. But that’s not the heart of the movie.”

“You get people with the hook of the crime,” says Jon Marc Smith, who co-wrote the film with Smith Henderson. “Shakespeare can write MacBeth and explore all these philosophical ideas about murder and guilt and what not. But you have to have the murder. You have to have someone wanting to be king.”

At its core, Dance With the One is more of a family drama than crime caper. The whole reason that Nate is in the drug business in the first place is to support his family, which is coming apart. Nate and his younger brother are still reeling from the death of their mother, and Nate plans to use his illegal income to pay for a nice school for his brother. Their father, meanwhile, is in a constant alcohol-fueled oblivion after losing his wife. So to Nate, the missing drugs mean more than just big trouble with the boss. In reality, they represent his family’s future.

The film is the first production of the University of Texas Film Institute. It was shot in Austin with student cast and crew and had its premiere at SXSW. When I spoke with Smith and Dolan at the festival, I asked each of them which movies or television shows influenced their thinking for Dance With the One.

Dolan: At Close Range – “The influence of that film on it is it’s really about a father and his sons.”

Smith: The Sopranos or The Wire – “What we were always trying to do in terms of this movie is to take these genre elements – crime, drugs, theft – and combine them with a real family drama. … There’s these hard-core genre elements, but they’re just used in order to tell a story that’s about family.”

Dance With the One screens today at 4 at the Magnolia.

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DIFF: Monday Picks

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Categorized Under: Film and Television

Your best bets for Monday are:

I Am Love – We haven’t seen Tilda Swinton just a ton since she won the best supporting actress Oscar in 2008 for Michael Clayton. Apparently she’s been busy learning Italian for this film. In it, she plays the wife of an Italian mogul who has her eye on another man connected to the family. Cue conflict.  (4:15 p.m., Angelika)

Sweet Science – Dallas filmmaker Chris Howell follows a group of young boxers working out of an Oak Cliff boxing gym with hopes of making the U.S. Olympic team.  In the seven years that he tracked their progress, multiple tragedies strike the hopefuls, with prison and death each rearing their ugly heads. When I talked to Howell at a preview party for the festival, he told me he shot more than 600 hours worth of footage for the film. Howell was our guest on Friday’s television edition of Think; we’ll be sure to get the video up later today.  (7 p.m. Angelika)

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child – If you saw Julian Schnabel’s 1996 film Basquiat, now it’s time to see the doc about the New York artist. The film is directed by Tamra Davis, who was a friend of the artist, and includes lots of archival footage.  (7 p.m., Dallas Museum of Art)

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