Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
Just when we were convinced that she was the master of staging only mega-serious dramas by Chekhov and Albee, director Susan Sargeant turns around and makes The Miss Firecracker Contest at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas into the madcap comedy of the summer. This native Bostonian has worked in D-FW theaters for more than two decades. She is the founder and artistic director for WingSpan Theatre Company. She's also an actress, appearing onstage at Dallas Theater Center, Theatre Three, Dallas Children's Theater, Stage West and others. As one of a handful of professional theater directors in town, Sargeant is booked with assignments a year in advance. She's known for her strict (but respectful) attitude with actors and her meticulous research on every show. Thespians fear and love her. "She's a force of nature," says busy actress Elise Reynard. Sargeant helmed several of the best shows of the past year, including CTD's The Dining Room and Circle Theatre's A Moon for the Misbegotten. And for that, we salute her.
Is there no infantile icon that adults can't infuse with a brooding sense of horror? Clowns were kind of freaky to begin with, dolls will never recover from Chucky and every amusement park that Scooby Doo ever came across was abandoned and haunted. But teddy bears? How do you mess with fuzzy, cuddly teddy bears? By making a giant, 10-ton mega-teddy out of cold, immutable granite, that's how. And let's throw in some companions in attitudes of carefree play but wearing that same inscrutable, stony glare that says, "I'd crush you and everyone you love if I had the chance to fall on you." Sure, the workmanship is stunning. Sure, the surroundings are lush and green. But just try and walk past without looking over your shoulder. Hey, wasn't his arm at his side a second ago?
Grandpa ran every Saturday at the lake? Grandmother fed the ducks? Now you can recognize loved ones or honor special occasions by donating money for the Celebration Tree Grove at White Rock Lake, recently approved by the city of Dallas and the White Rock Lake Task Force. Donations to an endowment fund established by For the Love of the Lake will go to plant native trees, starting with some large trees that will give the area a special, secluded feeling. Eventually the grove will include walking paths and a courtyard with benches. For a donation of $1,000 or more, a plaque with Granddad's name will be mounted on a commemorative structure built in the style of the lake's Civilian Conservation Corps-style rock buildings and walls. Don't stop at recognizing your human relations. Your black lab loved the lake, too. For $1,000, you get the plaque and someone else's beloved companion gets more trees to sniff.
Ever since most of us on staff caved in and bought iPods, we haven't bothered with local radio stations to get our music fix, and in the past year, the corporate-owned frequencies haven't done much to change our minds. But that doesn't mean our antennae go unused. Rather, we keep the radio tuned to The Ticket on 1310 AM. And we're definitely not alone. It seems like everyone around town talks about the sports talk shows that run throughout the day, even women and non-sports fans. The biggest reason for the wide appeal has to be drive-time show The Hardline, where Mike, Greggo, Danny and Snake (yes, just "Snake") spend more time on topics like Six Feet Under, tomboys, local music and "jarring" than sports, even though their sports commentary is second to none. Still, the 7 p.m. rundown of the station's best segments from the previous day is proof that the entire Ticket schedule is getting it right, whether by delivering the most incisive sports talk in town or by playing games of "Gay, Not Gay." Once you become a P1, you won't switch your radio back to music stations, either.
The nonprofit Writer's Garret has as its stated mission the education and development of readers, writers and audiences. It stages writing workshops, panel discussions, peer critiques, contests and movie screenings. But the organization's two-year-old Writer's Studio Series, hosted by KERA at Theatre Three, takes the top prize. This year, the series brought best-selling literary stars Margaret Drabble, James Ellroy, Umberto Eco and Walter Mosley to Sunday night readings. KERA radio host Glenn Mitchell interviewed each author, who then read from one of his or her books and answered questions from the audience. Each two-hour session was taped and later played on NPR affiliates. The programs are fascinating, unpredictable and sometimes infuriating, as when politically incorrect and always controversial Ellroy told the audience that John F. Kennedy "got what he deserved." Authors scheduled this fall include Bret Easton Ellis (his new one is Lunar Park), Joan Didion (The Year of Magical Thinking) and Scott Turow. With all the lawyers who want to be writers in town, better get your ticket early for Turow, attorney and author of Presumed Innocent and other novels.
White Rock Lake offers more than bike and running paths. For years, the Bath House Cultural Center on the eastern shore of the lake has been a little powerhouse of art, theater, history and music. Built in 1930, the art deco building is tiny but boasts a 120-seat theater, two galleries, a darkroom and other spaces for activities including yoga classes, jazz concerts and dance workshops. It also houses a small but fascinating museum about the creation and history of the lake. (Did you know people could swim in White Rock until 1953? It was closed to bathers due to "drought, polio and racial tensions.") The galleries showcase regional artists, often those who live and work in the lake area.