If nothing else, you have to admit that the gang over at Teatro Dallas has one helluva sense of humor. Late last year, the theater company's performance space on Commerce Street (across the street from the Dallas Observer's digs) was gutted by fire, leaving the building little more than a brick shell. You'd think that the fire would have devastated Teatro Dallas, or at least crippled it severely. But here they are, not so long after its entire operation was threatened, poking fun at its own misfortune. The cover of Teatro Dallas' 1999 theater schedule features a photograph taken the night of the fire, capturing a group of firefighters watching as flames lick at the building's windows. Above the photo is the company's new slogan: "Teatro Dallas...The Hottest Theater in Town!" The company gets back into the swing of things on Friday when it presents its 6th International Theater Festival, at its new, temporary location at North Dallas High School, 3120 Haskell. The festival--which begins with Rincon Oscuro--happens every Friday and Saturday through February 20. Tickets are $15, $25 on opening night. Performances start at 8:15 p.m. Call (214) 303-1833.
Andy Long and David Lugo are both Pocket Sandwich Theatre veterans, performing with improvisational troupes such as Rubber Chicken and The Village Idiots, as well as starring in the theater's audience-participation melodramas. But the duo's latest project, When We Were Funny, may be their best production at the theater yet. Lugo and Long star as octogenarian comedians who meet at a park bench to relive some of their greater moments, and as they talk, the audience gets to see what was so good about the good old days. It's funny and fast-paced, swerving between then and now like a drunk driver on Gaston Avenue at 3 a.m. on a Saturday. And if that's not enough Lugo and Long for you, The Village Idiots are still performing to packed houses at Pocket Sandwich. When We Were Funny happens at Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E. Mockingbird, on Friday and Saturday at 11:15 p.m. Admission is $8. Call (214) 821-1860.
Photographers, like any other artists, usually seek out their subjects by themselves, watching the world through a lens until something catches their eye. But for the Photographic Archives Lab & Gallery's latest exhibit, Toscana IV & V, 18 photographers were given a can't-miss opportunity to find a suitable subject. For two weeks last year--one each in March and October--the photographers stayed in an 18th-century villa at a hilltop farm in Tuscany and took day trips to nearby monasteries, ancient Etruscan hill-towns, vineyards, and the medieval city of Siena. The result is an impressive collection of black-and-white and color photographs. The photographers may have been handed their subjects, but it's their talent that makes Toscana IV & V worthwhile. Toscana IV & V opens on January 30 at Photographic Archives Lab & Gallery, 5117 Lovers Lane, and continues through February 20. Call (214) 352-3166.
Say what you will about Elizabeth Taylor, mock her seesawing weight, her string of marriages, and just about everything she's done in the last two decades (save for divorcing Larry Fortensky and his feathery, construction worker mullet), but, damn, was she sexy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the sultry 1958 adaptation of the Tennessee Williams classic. She was everything your father says she was in that movie, purring through scenes like her character's name--Maggie the Cat--implied. The sparks between her and Paul Newman (as washed-up athlete Brick) could light up a few cartons of Marlboros, and we can't even imagine what the material the censors snipped out looked like. Of course, the problem with seeing the way she looked then is the fact that after the film screens on Monday, as part of the USA Film Festival's First Monday Classics series, we'll be confronted with a National Enquirer cover item depicting how she looks now. The screening happens at AMC Glen Lakes Theatres, 9450 N. Central Expressway, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $7, $6 for USA Film Festival members. Call (214) 821-FILM.
There's something about a sanctioned exhibition of graffiti that strikes us as funny. Maybe it's just us, but we thought the whole point of the art form was the fact that the cops could catch you doing it at any time, kind of like the thrill of having sex in public. It was about the danger, not the actual result. So we look upon the University of Texas at Dallas' new exhibit, Aerosol Scrawl, with more than a bit of hesitation. Graffiti may be an important public art form, but we're not so sure it can survive indoors. Of course we'd be more than happy if the participating artists--among them Abis, Abuse, Fokis, Ozone, Soner, Vert, and Worm--prove us wrong. Aerosol Scrawl continues at UTD's Main Gallery, Campbell Road and University Parkway in Richardson, through February 6. Call (972) UTD-ARTS.