My Head Was a Sledgehammer: Scanning the two-page, small-type press release that Our Endeavors Productions prepared for its Southwest premiere of playwright Richard Foreman's My Head Was a Sledgehammer induces a little chill in even the hardiest of experimental theatergoers. Foreman, a six-time Obie winner and acknowledged devotee of Brecht, has written Sledgehammer without plot, setting, or characterization. It's understood that directors of this show are to shape the material with their own vision, and director Scott Osborne has responded by focusing on "the process of creating art." This will mean either feast or famine for the audience, but we're intrigued enough to reserve our place at the table. The show runs Thursdays-Saturdays at 8:15 p.m. through September 14, with "pay-what-you-can" performances August 27 and September 3 at the Swiss Avenue Theatre Center, 2700 Swiss. Tickets are $10. Call (972) 355-2879.
Rodney Carrington: With uber-heterosexuals such as Tim Allen, Rob Becker, Howard Stern, et al. draining millions of dollars from a public that can't seem to get enough of their "straight face" shtick, you wouldn't think there'd be room for another Regular Guy on the horizon. But Kilgore, Texas, native Rodney Carrington is clever enough to make you take a second look at white guys. Carrington has transformed his love for "tear in my beer" music into a full-fledged musical comedy act. His satirical country songs, performed everywhere from A&E's "Evening at the Improv" to TNN's "Comedy Roundup," walk an impressive line--edgy enough to lampoon the genre's excesses, but affectionate enough to please country music fans. Performances are Thursdays-Sundays, 8:30 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays, 8:30 & 10:30 p.m., at the Improv, 4980 Belt Line, Addison. Call (972) 404-8501.
Cindy Horstman: For a few choice quotes from award-winning Dallas-based harpist Cindy Horstman, flip to Matt Weitz's "Street Beat" column toward the back of the issue. Horstman celebrates the release of her new CD, Tutone, with a performance on the stage of the acoustically friendly Bath House Cultural Center. Local guitar hero and good buddy Andy Timmons tames his notorious monster riffs to provide a little rhythm and color to Horstman's feather-light fingertips. The event happens at 8 p.m. at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther. It's free, but seating is limited. Call (214) 670-8749.
Hawkwood Medieval Fantasy Fair: The whole fun of events like the Hawkwood Medieval Fantasy Fair is that you get all the cool stuff from the Middle Ages--the chalices of mead, the overflowing bosoms, the frolicking village fools--without those pesky historical unpleasantries--festering wounds, rotted teeth, child exploitation. Hawkwood can basically be described with three figures--80 merchant shops, six stages, and two pubs. Constant visitation among all three plus lots of discretionary income equals an afternoon fit for knight--except, of course, for the rape and dismemberment. The Fair is open Saturdays and Sundays until 10 p.m. in Grapevine. Admission is $5-$10, with kids under 3 admitted free. For directions call (817) 430-4102.
Second Annual Jewish Arts Fest of Dallas: The last names of the participants in the Jewish Community Center of Dallas' Second Annual Jewish Arts Fest reads like a bar mitzvah guest list--Schwartz, Richman, Yaffe, Gross, Geffner. Not to be outdone in a state overflowing with Latino and African-American cultural celebrations, the community center hopes to reach everyone who wants a taste of Hebrew tradition in food, music, and writing. Broadway star Bruce Adler is the headliner, with performances by the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, Safam, the Dallas Symphony Chorus, and a host of local poets and writers. The event kicks off at 10 a.m. in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora. Tickets are $3-$5, with additional cost for the Bruce Adler show. Call (214) 739-2737.
Visions: The Women's Expo: As was recently noted in newspapers across the state, Ann Richards has been hired as a spokeswoman for the tobacco industry, and amidst all the self-righteous anti-smoking mania, we say: You go, girl! Richards is smarter and cooler than Jesse Helms, and unlike Helms, has the added advantage of being a member of the human race; she's just the person to inject a little common sense in what is, at heart, a quality-of-life issue. Richards is the keynote speaker for "Visions: The Women's Expo," the annual festival that tends to highlight career and consumerism alongside some health and social issues. Events happen Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., at Dallas Market Hall, 2200 Stemmons at Wycliff. Tickets are $5-$6, with kids under 12 admitted free. Call (214) 523-0650.
13th Annual IronKids Triathlon National Championship: Even if the chronically TV-watching, Ding Dong-eating fat kid grows up to be a (sometimes) slender adult, he still can't help but regard as enemies the kids who aren't satisfied with swimming or biking or running, but must engage in all three consecutively. The 13th Annual Ironkids Triathlon National Championship is filled to the brim with athletic overachievers and others who should be doing something more productive with their time, like mainlining Hostess snack cakes and Nickelodeon. The event kicks off at 10:30 a.m. on the Northeast Campus of the Tarrant County Junior College in North Richland Hills. Any kid between the ages of 7 and 14 can sign up through the orientation, which is Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in the same location. Call (817) 581-5761.
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Fables For These Times: If you wanted to get all highfalutin about it, the fable may be the essence of any and every narrative art form, the story that tells another story. The Dallas Museum of Art shows how this principle can be applied to the medium of visual arts with the opening of its show "Fables for These Times." The paintings, drawings, and sculptures being presented here are all done by a 6-year-old Austin-based collective that calls itself 5 Live Women. This quintet has acknowledged its weakness for fables both ancient and modern, and they tell stories about people-like animals and animal-like people through their various artistic media. The show runs through November 16 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. It's free. Call (214) 922-1200.
The Dust Bowl: It's cruel to use the old adage "When it rains, it pours" to describe the Dust Bowl, but having a drought strike Middle America during the Great Depression is the kind of insult-atop-injury that really makes you wonder if we're not living under the whims of an Old Testament God. Frankford Village Branch Library hosts a collection of 39 photographs taken during the 1930s, some of them by celebrated Farm Security Administration snappers like Dorothea Lange and Arthur Rothstein. Included are texts of oral histories delivered by many of the subjects of the photos, as well as follow-up photos taken of survivors and their descendants during the early 1970s. The show runs through August 31at the Frankford Village Branch Library, 3030 N. Josey Lane in Carrollton. It's free. Call (972) 466-4810.
TLC (Tables, Lamps, and Chairs): One of the things that sucks about being an artist is that there's no health insurance. It's one thing to suffer romantically under conditions of poverty--Ramen noodles heated up in one-room efficiencies while pouring out your soul, yadda yadda--but quite another to discover that you have something like, say, cancer or multiple sclerosis gnawing away at your creative energy. Emergency Artists' Support League is a nonprofit, artist-run group that provides financial assistance to visual artists in the North Texas area. They're holding a silent auction and sale of triple D furniture--designed, decorated, and donated by Texas makers. The "TLC" of the auction's title refers to the original tables, lamps, and chairs on stage, but you can contribute some care to the cause by purchasing an item. The auction happens 11 a.m.-8 p.m. in Suite 150 of the Dallas Design District, 1400 Turtle Creek. Admission is $5. Call (972) 732-2692.
Shimmering Skies: Clouds in Adam Clark Vroman's Photographs of the American Southwest: Names like Paul Strand and Ansel Adams have grown so legendary, they've ricocheted out of photographic circles into the popular consciousness. You might not have heard of turn-of-the-century photographer Adam Clark Vroman, but he had his head in the clouds way before Strand and Adams. Shimmering Skies: Clouds in Adam Clark Vroman's Photographs of the American Southwest features 24 images, never before publicly exhibited, that Vroman snapped around 1895. The show runs through October 12 in the Pollock Gallery of the Meadows School of the Arts on the campus of Southern Methodist University. It's free. Call (214) 768-4439.