CultureMap isn't the only thing launching this fall. The arts season is already in full swing and I am finally up to full speed.
It's not easy going from "nadda" to "lotta" in the number of art events I need to cram in every weekend. Over the summer, I had time to complete all five seasons of the gritty epic, The Wire, the gore vampire fest, True Blood, and, to fill in vast gaps in my American History education, John Adams. (An adolescence spent in ballet classes takes its toll on your general knowledge.)
I also spend a good amount of time holed up at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, where 10 shows and countless hours of archive-haunting left me bleary-eyed and in the mood for, yes, more TV. Thank goodness for the final episodes of So You Think You Can Dance, and, dare I confess, reruns of House.
Truth be told, I hit the scene out of shape. Where's the couch? The fine craft beer in hand? You have to get dressed up to go to the theater? What's wrong with what I slept in? All of those truths hit hard.
And you would think I could ease into my former watching life. Not a chance.
You can't even count on this recession to make a dent in the level of activity going on Houston stages.
And a big change from the past two decades, I can no longer use the handy “I have kid stuff” excuse; the lads have both left for the money pit known as college.
So what gems have I laid my eyes and pen on already? Better yet, what can I still remember?
So far the theme swirling about my head seems to be run on knockout performances.
- The young Princess Grace Award-winner Joseph Walsh and the ever-elegant Sara Webb burned the Houston Ballet house down in "Manon."
- Sean Patrick Judge traversed four decades in his sensitive performance of Esteban Trueba in Main Street Theater's performance of Caridad Svich's The House of the Spirits.
- Brilliant casting by Kevin Holden and his collective at Horse Head Theater Co. included Troy Schulze, Amy Burn and Drake Simpson as a potent triangle in Adam Rapp's grim drama, Red Light Winter.
- Could there be a more perfect eccentric artistic director of a theater company than Sally Edmundson in Eric Coble's Southern Rapture at Stages Repertory Theatre?
- Playwright/poet John Harvey demonstrated he can write himself out of burlap bag, quite literally in Night of the Giant, his recent macabre fantasy for Mildred's Umbrella.
- Amy Ell and her new dance company, Vault, dangled with daredevil finesse from silks at Miller Outdoor Theatre at Dance Source Houston's A Weekend of Texas Contemporary Dance.
All this reminds me that Houston is a city of artists working at the top of their game.
This season I am also committed to leaving my dance/theater rut to sharpen the rusty old listening skills.
Ars Lyrica, under the masterful direction of Matthew Dirst, charmed my ears off in their opening show, A Musical Offering.
I finally bit the Opera in the Heights (OH) bullet. Sorry, OH, for taking so long to get there. Forgive me, for I have opera sinned.
River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, a big breath of classical music fresh air is on my music card as well.
In the upcoming weeks I hope to cover the underground stories, trends, big hopes and dreams, nutty observations, comings and goings, disappointments and deep art thoughts. I've already compiled a list of future columns: My love/hate relationship with Twyla Tharp, why dance needs new flashy buildings, why Houston audiences behave so badly and how to survive "reception food."
All here, stay tuned. I'm back and the TV is off. I'm just getting my art watching game on.
A contributing editor at Dance Magazine, Houston and Dance Source Houston, Nancy Wozny blogs at dancehunter.blogspot.com.