A theremin—the instrument played by waving one’s hands, like a symphony conductor, around antennae—produces a hypnotic sound that has provided the soundtrack to science-fiction movies like The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Thing From Another World. Cressandra Thibodeaux, proprietor of 14 Pews, an art-house movie theater, has fallen under the spell of the device, which Leon Theremin, a Russian scientist, invented in 1920, and has made it the star of her annual Bayou City Music and Film Festival. “I got sucked in, so much so that I write this after hanging out and filming Leon Theremin’s granddaughter and great-grandson here in Moscow, Russia,” Thibodeaux said. “My belly is full of borscht and vodka, and my soul is filled with the good vibrations of this unique instrument.” The four-day event will include movies, a workshop, and performances by the world’s top theremin players, including Dorit Chrysler, an Austrian musician who founded the Kid Cool Theremin School in Brooklyn and who has collaborated with rock acts like Marilyn Manson and Dinosaur Jr. Thibodeaux is shooting a documentary about the theremin that follows Chrysler as she travels from Russia to Asheville, North Carolina, (the location of Moog Music, a theremin manufacturer) to New York on her journey to play a concert with Kenneth Anger, an experimental filmmaker.
14 Pews, Dec. 4-7, 14pews.org
Write for Life
The Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin has one of the best Master of Fine Arts programs in the world, with recent graduates including Smith Henderson (Fourth of July Creek), Philipp Meyer (The Son) and Kevin Powers (The Yellow Birds). Those who mentor the writers in training are a big reason for the program’s stature. Two of the center’s visiting professors this fall are Naomi Shihab Nye, a San Antonio novelist and poet, and Cristina García, a journalist and novelist who splits time between Austin and San Francisco. Nye will read from her 2011 short story collection, There Is No Long Distance Now, about the attraction of opposites, and her 2014 children’s novel, The Turtle of Oman, an immigration tale, while García will read from her 2013 novel, King of Cuba, about an aging Castro-like dictator. The audience (full of Michener students, no doubt) will learn from two National Book Award finalists with cultural backgrounds foreign to Texas: García is a Cuban émigré, and Nye grew up near Ferguson, Missouri, and spent her high school years in Ramallah on the West Bank.
The University of Texas, Dec. 1, 6:30 p.m., utexas.edu/academic/mcw
Mercado de Paz
Through the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, goods from the indigenous cultures of Mexico and Latin America reach American consumers. Each fall, the nonprofit hosts a two-day Peace Market, now in its twenty-fifth year featuring folk art, apparel, and books. Skip the mainstream brands this gift-giving season, and choose from the wares of more than fifty vendors from Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, and Texas, with items like retables, bordados, and lotería. With each purchase, patrons enter a raffle for treasures they may have had their eyes on but couldn’t fit into their budgets.
Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, Nov. 28-29, 10 a.m., esperanzacenter.org
For the last month and a half, on a 55-acre plot of wooded land, people dressed as kings, queens, knights, barbarians, maidens, centaurs, nymphs, pirates, wizards, blacksmiths, goblins, fairies, jesters, and other characters of fantasy and bygone eras have frolicked at the fortieth annual Texas Renaissance Festival, considered the largest of its kind. On this final weekend, the theme will be a Celtic Christmas. While the niceties of the season will be on display in the Candy Cane Hunt and the Guess the Present contest, there will certainly be elements of the original Celtic Christmas, thought to have been borrowed from pagans who would seem to have preferred being naughty over nice.
Todd Mission, Nov. 28-30, 9 a.m., texrenfest.com
Aid and Abet
The short films screened nationwide on World AIDS Day as part of the twenty-fifth annual Day Without Art event—coordinated by Visual AIDS, a nonprofit that builds awareness about the disease through creative expression—might encourage us to re-evaluate our obsession with Ebola and concentrate on eradicating one of the top ten killers in the world.
Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, Dec. 1, 5 p.m., visualaids.org
How We Roll
Women may be discouraged from participating in football, but the bad-to-the-bone female competitors in the 2014 Roller Derby World Cup, with thirty international teams vying for supremacy, probably consider the action on the gridiron child’s play anyway.
Dallas Convention Center, Dec. 4-7, rollerderbyworldcup.com