The Wonder Bread Years: One of the easiest subjects for comics to mine is their childhoods, and now that twentysomethings have come along to transform their collective memories into a cottage industry, expect to be inundated with pop-culture nostalgia. Although comic Pat Hazell just missed that generation, his one-man show, The Wonder Bread Years, taps the same vein--substitute toy soldiers for Star Wars action figures and the word "gyp" for "gross," and you've got the same sensibility. Hazell has been earning raves across the country from the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, so his show--however familiar the terrain--is worth a look. Hazell's one-man show happens Thursdays and Sundays at 8:30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30 & 10:30 p.m.; and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. at the Improv, 4980 Belt Line in Addison. Tickets are $8-$10. For information call 404-8501.
Dallas Fantasy Fair: Forget all the legends, brilliant artists, imaginative writers, movie folks, and top-of-the-heap animators who've been jammed into three days of the Dallas Fantasy Fair--it's the unsung characters we love, like Susie "Flaxen" Owens, former Playboy Playmate, star of her own comic book series, and perfume businesswoman; Brinke Stevens, veteran horror movie bomb-shell/victim with powerful lungs whose latest $3 million thriller Mommy makes its debut at the Fair; nationally celebrated haunted house designer Lance Pope, who created Haunted Verdun Manor for North Texas; and dozens more. The Dallas Fantasy Fair aims to lure the sci-fi-fantasy-horror fanatic in all of his or her natural habitats--movies, TV, comics, animation. There are seminars, demonstrations, autograph sessions, merchandise in the millions for sale and trade, art shows, a weird movie room, and still more. The many different events at the Dallas Fantasy Fair happen around the clock August 11-13 at both Market Hall and the Stouffer Renaissance Hotel, two miles north of downtown on I-35 at Wycliff. Tickets for all three days are $25, but day passes can be purchased for $5-$12 (kids under 6 get in free). For information call 350-4305.
The Shawl and the dreamer examines his pillow: The 11th Street Theatre Project closes its 1995 season with two one-act plays by a pair of our finest dramatists. The Shawl is a typical David Mamet pressure-cooker--throw three characters into a small space, establish the personal agenda of each and what ruthless measures they take to achieve it, and watch the sparks fly. In The Shawl, the principals are a con man posing as a psychic, his volatile male lover, and the woman they're flim-flamming. The other play is John Patrick Shanley's the dreamer examines his pillow, which takes a traditional love triangle--a father, his daughter, and her boy-friend--and twists it into unusual shapes. Performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through August 26, with "pay-what-you-can" shows August 17 & 24 at 8 p.m. and August 20 at 3:30 p.m. St. Matthew's Episcopal Cathedral, 5100 ross at Henderson. Tickets are $7-$10. Call 522-PLAY.
African Dance and Drum Workshop: If you want to get to the real heart of American popular music--be it rock 'n' roll, urban contemporary, heavy metal, or dance tunes--then you need to travel to the continent of Africa, the region primarily responsible for most of the sounds you hear when you turn on a radio these days. You can keep your melodies and harmonies--the key to virtually any chart-topping song these days is the beat, and that may be the single greatest contribution African culture, with its intricate and emotionally provocative rhythms, has bestowed on us. Absulai Aziz Amadhu, an ethnologist and music expert, offers a two-day African Dance and Drum Workshop that covers the very basics of movement and percussion. The workshop happens August 12 & 13, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Pan African Connection Bookstore/Resource Center, 300 S. Beckley in Oak Cliff. Admission is $15-$35. For information call 943-8262.
Songs of Love: Columbia University professor romulus Linney is a very busy man, from the looks of his career accomplishments--three novels, 25 plays, a sideline as a stage director for prestigious theater companies around the country, and along the way, a denful of awards from critics' organizations and literary foundations. In a world full of writers who like to remind us of our fragility and imminent potential for evil-doing, Linney is interested in the comic possibilities when individuals dedicate their lives to other individuals or ideals, and how they can be simultaneously lifted up and stranded by their own emotions. Songs of Love, given its Dallas premiere by Naked Mirror Productions, is in a sense the archetypal romulus Linney play. It's actually six short pieces tied together by the theme of (hold on to your hats) love. But in this piece, Linney wants to break down the barriers by exploring different kinds of love--patriotism, the first crush, and lifelong monogamy, among others. The show is performed Fridays and Saturdays at 8:15 p.m. and Sundays at 7:15 p.m. through September 2 at the Swiss Avenue Theater Center, 2700 Swiss. Tickets are $8-$10. Call 680-4466.