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,

A “Little” R&R

To an outsider, the XIT Rodeo and Reunion might seem an all-too-predictable party. Yep, sounds about right. There’s roping and riding, country and western music, a tractor pull, a fiddlers contest, the “world’s largest free barbecue”—all the usual suspects. But the formula has been pleasing crowds—20,000 folks a year by some estimates—for at least seventy years now, making the gathering as much of an institution as the legendary ranch that it commemorates. Aug 3–5. Rodeo Arena, 1.5 miles west of U.S. 87 on FM 281; 806-244-5646;

Dallas, the Movies

If a quirky sensibility is any indicator of well-being, the Dallas Video Festival is as healthy as a horse. Long a champion of the bizarre and far-out, event co-founder Bart Weiss practically dares you to miss the nineteenth installment. What started as a klutzy, though cozy, two-night program at the Dallas Museum of Art is now the nation’s largest and longest running of its kind, a six-day affair with an amalgam of offerings— thirty-second commercials, documentaries, animated features, narrative shorts, panels, and performances. This year, Albert Maysles fans will be especially pleased when the famed moviemaker shows unseen footage from Grey Gardens, his cult documentary about Jackie O’s poor relatives. Also of note: the retrospective honoring late pioneer video artist Nam June Paik. Because the lineup is a progressive party, jumping from the Angelika Film Center to the Dallas Museum of Art to the Kalita Humphreys Theater, preplanning is a prerequisite—though the braver option might be to flit capriciously between the more than 250 screenings. Aug 8–13. Various locations, 214-428-8700,

Read Her Hips

Shakira, the most do-it-herself artist since Janet Jackson, is a force to be reckoned with. But the longtime Latin American favorite and five-time Grammy winner, whose influences range from new wave and bossa nova to hard rock and reggaeton, has only recently seen her star turn white-hot in the States, with 2001’s Laundry Service. Now the Colombian-born show woman’s Fijación Oral Vol. 1 and Oral Fixation Vol. 2—two albums similar only in name—have sold more than a million copies apiece, and her popularity has reached fever pitch with “Hips Don’t Lie,” the Wyclef Jean–penned dance hall track immortalizing her much-discussed midsection. The songstress’s throaty, multilingual yodeling will be on full display in Texas when she kicks off her North American “Oral Fixation” tour. And although we too admit to being hopelessly fixated on her pelvic region, we’re willing to bet that it’s the last thing (okay, the second) on people’s minds once the final curtain comes down. Aug 9. Don Haskins Center, Baltimore & Mesa; 915-747-5234;

So They Think They Can Dance

In 1976 a wandering commune of dancers known as the Oberlin Dance Collective came to San Francisco by way of Ohio by way of school bus, hoping to propagate the world, or at least the West Coast, with its experimental movements. Now in its thirty-fifth season, ODC/Dance (as it’s called today) is a major player in the modern scene with its intimate unit of eleven members and trio of resident choreographers—founder Brenda Way, KT Nelson, and Kimi Okada—who are the last remaining links to those early “SF or bust” days. In a one-night-only show this month, the little troupe that could brings four unabashedly witty, up-tempo works to Texas. If you’ve ever felt caught in the rat race, you’ll identify with “Lip Service,” which has its dancers—all bedecked in monochrome costumes—pantomiming a follow-the-leader herd, complete with occasional yelps. Animalistic tendencies, particularly those guided by our libidos, are raucously danced out in “Something About a Nightingale” as two women and four men (an asking-for-trouble ratio as is) flirt and partner up; if the piece weren’t such a tempest of bodies it might look more like “Shenanigans,” an eight-minute lovers’ duet by the exquisitely limber Anne Zivolich and Brandon “Private” Freeman. The season premiere of “Stomp a Waltz” rounds out the evening with its dynamic string score and brisk swirl of slides and lunges (though curiously little waltzing or stomping). Some critics would like to see more-tightly-edited pieces, but audiences will find relief in the company’s unassuming charm. Aug 13. One World Theatre, 7701 Bee Caves Rd; 512-329-6753;

Bayou Backbeat

H-Town’s hip-hop scene owes its most recent turn in the national spotlight to one song, last year’s “Still Tippin’,” a slowed-down ode to cars laced hauntingly with menacing violin and vocal samples. First released on an underground mix tape, the song, which features rappers Mike Jones, Slim Thug, and Paul Wall, was not only a defining moment for Houston rap but also a catalyst for the major-label breakouts of its contributing vocalists. Mike Jones placed the cut on his Who Is Mike Jones? and watched his album sell over a million copies. Paul Wall’s The People’s Champ, fueled by the carnivalesque “Sittin’ Sidewayz”—yet another reference to the city’s car culture—scored him numerous appearances on other artists’s albums. And Slim Thug’s Already Platinum hit the Billboard 200 chart at number two. Fittingly, all three car enthusiasts will now grace the stage at Dub Magazine’s Custom Auto Show and Concert, where there’ll be no shortage of tricked-out, candy-paint-dipped rides for inspiration. Aug 27. Reliant Center, Loop 610S between Kirby Dr & Fannin; 800-488-5252;

Got Game?

The Texas Football Classic is just like the Super Bowl—except it’s for high school. And it’s at the opposite end of the season. But the annual meet inspires the same devotion (if not more) with its five highly competitive games in three days. “If that doesn’t get you in the mood for football, nothing will,” says Jake Shaw, the managing editor of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, that bible of all things pigskin (and the event’s sponsoring magazine). The Classic, which features top squads from around the state, has showcased such notable alumni as Chicago Bears running back Cedric Benson (Midland Lee, 2000), University of Iowa quarterback Drew Tate (Baytown Lee, 2002), and University of Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel (Southlake Carroll, 2004). Whom to watch this year? Shaw points to McAllen Memorial’s Bradley Stephens and Pflugerville Hendrickson’s Joseph Reese, running backs who will both be suiting up for Texas A&M. And don’t be surprised by the fan frenzy. When choosing teams for the weekend, Shaw and his staff look for squads that will attract busloads. “If we know they’ll bring four or five thousand people, they’re a lot more enticing.” This year’s headliner matchup: the Smithson Valley Rangers versus the Woodlands Highlanders. Aug 31– Sep 2. Alamodome, 100 Montana; 210-207-3663;

Art Appreciation

It is easy to forget that all of the artwork on display at the Gerald Peters Gallery is indeed for sale. With three large exhibition rooms, an atrium, and a sculpture garden showcasing its high-dollar masterpieces, the Uptown space has the intimacy—and potency—of a small museum. Now, to mark twenty years of business in Dallas, the gallery has mined its inventory for “Gerald Peters Modern,” an anniversary show of mostly twentieth-century works. The “jewels,” as director Ashley Tatum Casson calls them, include originals by Alexander Calder, Frank Stella, Henri Matisse, Max Weber, and Pablo Picasso. To take one home will cost a pretty penny. But there is no fee to walk around, browse, and daydream that your discretionary income is as well-endowed as this collection. Through Sep 9. 2913 Fairmount, 214-969-9410, gpgallery