Around the State

Jordan’s Pick

Shakespeare Festivals

WHAT IS IT ABOUT this time of the year
That breeds such great love for thee, O Shakespeare?
’Tis said the sun’s heat doth render one giddy
Is it more likely your verses so witty?
In hamlets, in towns, no thought for the weather
All gather to hear works penned by quill feather.
With spreads of fine Brie and flasks of merlot
What uncultured lout dare not be gung ho?
Alas and alack, but which troupe to see?
Yea, there be many; we recommend three.

Though humid as heck and crowded to boot
’Tis Houston to which you ought make your route.
The audiences at the Miller Outdoor
Are famously rowdy, bawdy, and more.
The ballpark-like scene the masses doth draw
With viewers by thousands belching guffaws.
It matters not what or which act they see
So long they can holler—and get up to pee.
Hardly lighthearted is this summer’s fare
Many an actor does grisly fate bear.
Titus Andronicus makes its premiere
Red bloody drama that earns every cheer.
Then blows The Tempest, a much later play
Which into mortality makes its foray.
Think not of the heat, nor lines long with cars
Too short is this life not to watch ’neath the stars.

Polite indoor theater really your speed?
Odessa’s fine stage is mannered indeed.
So striking, this Globe of the Great Southwest,
It’s London’s old theater with modern-day guests.
With roof of sky blue and chill’d air sublime,
Much Ado About Nothing plays out in cool clime
The cast is all local, all save but two
Who hail from L.A. (be nice now, will you?)
To late Lady Morris this fest owes its debt
A fundraising teacher we won’t soon forget
Pious, God-fearing, bad words she’d abhor
Though now there’s free rein—with words such as “whore.”
Broadened linguistic horizons aside
This West Texas troupe evokes civic pride.
Even the president it does enthrall—
If Bush gets the bard, then so can we all.

Shakespeare at Winedale ‘tis in countryside,
Pecan trees and meadows a respite provide.
An hour east of Austin, a hay barn you’ll find
Now made a theater for the learn-ed of mind.
Seventeen students who hail from UT
Memorize verses and act out plays three.
No show has been done in nineteen years twice
This year with King Lear the co-eds entice.
Two Gents of Verona, a more manly farce
Causes chortling so hard, you’ll fall off your arse.
Then As You Like It, they’ll also parlay
“Hey, nonny, nonny” the phrase of the day.
Pair’d shows play’d weekly, one early, one late
A picnic do pack to hunger abate.
If amateur acting your senses offend
Bucolic settings small missteps transcend.

Friends, Texans, countrymen, lend me your ear,
‘Tis true: I’m inept at iambic meter.
Yet love for the bard I’ve hoped to abet
Afore to a nunn’ry myself I do get.
Please pay no heed to this test of my skill
Focus instead on the fine art of Will.
I’m but a scribe, of verse he’s the king
Because, we all know, the play’s his thing.

Houston: Thru Aug 12. Miller Outdoor Theatre, Hermann Park, 100 Concert Dr; 713-284-8352;
Odessa: Aug 31–Sep 17. Globe of the Great Southwest, 2308 Shakespeare Rd; 432-580-3177;
Winedale: Thru Aug 13. Winedale Historical Center, 70 miles east of Austin on FM 2714; 512-471-4726;

Focus Group

Photography as medium has reached maximum saturation. Any snap-happy amateur now owns at least three cameras—the requisite digital, the point-and-click cell phone, the webcam—to document every Kodak-worthy (or not) moment. But if “ Casting a New Light,” a group exhibition opening at the Southwest School of Art and Craft, is any indication, the backlash against “insta-art” is on. Ten artists snub this-minute digitization in favor of archaic work—daguerreotypes, calotype negatives, salt prints, tintypes—that requires a glossary to understand. And their 61 images make a strong case for creating art the old-fashioned way. To wit: Irving Pobboravsky’s modern daguerreotypes of animal skulls, ceramic pots, and densely thicketed landscapes evoke a suspended, Roald Dahl–esque reality. Equally haunting are the tintypes by Jayne Hinds Bidaut, a Fort Worth native whose Human Skeleton, Homo sapien is a lingering study in light and silhouette; the shadowy figure looks as if it’s about to step out from behind a translucent curtain.

Not all of the subjects are so eerie. You’ll get a chuckle from Dana Moore’s penciled-in additions to nineteenth-century photographs, like the kooky pair of goggles on a solemn-faced man who surely didn’t see this coming when he sat for his portrait (above). But the most chord-striking series comes from Deborah Luster, who, in an attempt to make sense of her mother’s murder, visited three Louisiana prisons and photographed thousands of inmates. The resulting four-by-five aluminum prints, like snapshots in a family album, speak powerfully to what she calls “the endless and indirect formality of loss.” Earlier this year, a Washington Post reviewer dismissed the exhibition as a “textbook case of digitization anxiety,” but these unpretentious works—seamlessly manipulated, instantly gratifying—aren’t so different from their pixelated brethren. Perhaps photography’s future looks more like its past than first imagined. Aug 24– Oct 22. 1201 Navarro, 210-271-3374,

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