ON STAGE

PLAY DATE The last time I went to the theater? Well, that would have been for a production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest —four years ago. I can hear the collective rolling over of dead playwrights in their graves upon an admission of such neglect. So, in the spirit of the New Year, when all bad habits seek remission, I vow not to let another four theaterless years pass. In fact, I vow not to let another month go by. My means of absolution begins January 13 in the Capital City with FronteraFest 2004. The five-week festival of fringe theater includes Short Fringe (up to 25 minutes long) and Long Fringe (up to 90 minutes long) performances, productions in which the players pick the locale (BYOV, or "Bring Your Own Venue"), and an event called Mi Casa Es Su Teatro, where the stages rotate through various homes in Austin. On January 14 Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Dario Fo's satiric look at corrupt police departments, begins its run at the Dallas Theater Center. Two days later, Houston's Alley Theatre opens Topdog/Underdog, Suzan-Lori Parks's Pulitzer prize winner about historical and present-day struggles with race and class as seen through two symbolically named brothers, Booth and Lincoln (above, from left, K. Todd Freeman as Booth and David Rainey as Lincoln). Also starting on January 16 is the 2004 SAT Playwrights PlayFest, in San Antonio. The annual affair runs through January 31 and features world-premier one-act and ten-minute plays, all written around a central theme: Hollywood. With all this stage time, cuckoo I will no longer be. (See Austin: Theater; Dallas: Theater; Houston: Theater; and San Antonio: Theater.)

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