Events for the week
Big Fat Christmas Goose: Fort Worth's Hip Pocket Theatre serves up one of its reliable grab bags of dance, movement, music, and lighting effects, an original production which manages to yoke the Christmas tradition to American culture and still leave all that stifling mega-bucks commercialism behind. They've also brought in one of the most eclectic talents our sister city has to offer--Michael Price, best known as the film critic for the Fort Worth Star Telegram, but also an author, musician, and something of a sinkhole for popular culture trivia from this century. Big Fat Christmas Goose is staged by Hip Pocket artistic director Johnny Simons as a cartoon-like musical extravaganza with live accompaniment. The songs are the big attraction here, culled by Price to show off some of the greatest muses in American music (songwriter Brook Benton, diva Bessie Smith, Warner Bros. animation composer Carl Stalling). Most of the usual Hip Pocket gang are on hand for the hijinks, and if the show is anywhere as interesting as its description, it should provide welcome relief from nutcrackers and Christmas carols. Big Fat Christmas Goose runs Thu-Sun at 8:15 pm through December 18 at the First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church, 1959 Sandy Lane in east Fort Worth. Tickets are $5-$8. For more information call (817) 927-2833.
Christina Patoski: Fort Worth-based photographer and video artist Christina Patoski has been on a mission for the last 20 years that few have understood--until they peruse the results. Patoski has been traveling the country in November, December, and January snapping shots of the strangest, most elaborate, most beautiful, and most tacky front yard holiday displays she can find. While there is plenty to admire for folks who get all gooey inside at manger scenes, some of the stories behind these creations are funny and less than reflective of the spirit of fellowship, like the guy in Little Rock, Arkansas, whose neighbors got together and sued him to stop his tradition of stringing a hundred miles of lights around his house (the last straw came when he overloaded the circuits and caused a power outage three years ago). Patoski has lectured about her project all over the country and published a book of the best pictures entitled Merry Christmas America: A Front Yard View of the Holidays. Patoski comes to the Dallas Museum of Art to speak about her work, present a slide show, and sign copies of the book. The event kicks off at 7 pm in the Orientation Theater of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. Admission is $3. For more information call 922-1204.
El Arbol: Teatro Dallas presents a very special fund raiser for itself using some tempting bait--a remarkable, eerie, strangely beautiful play by Mexican playwright Elena Garro they first performed two years ago to great critical acclaim. El Arbol (The Tree) is a simple study of two women in contemporary Mexico from very different backgrounds who become linked over the course of one evening by a terrible act that may or may not have happened. The play works just fine as an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller, but for those who care to dig a little deeper, playwright Garro is also exploring the bitter historical differences among Spanish-blooded and Indian-blooded residents in Mexico. Cora Cardona, Teatro Dallas' artistic director and one of the most sheerly watchable actresses to (infrequently) grace a Dallas stage, reprises her role, with special guest Maria Clara Zurita, currently star of the hugely successful Mexican soap opera Dos Mujeres Un Camino. Now for the bad news, at least for those of us who're hopelessly mono-lingual--all performances are in Spanish. If you understand the language, you owe it to yourself to check this production out. El Arbol is performed December 8-10 at 8:15 pm at 2204 Commerce. Tickets are $20-$25. For reservation information call 741-1135.
Fort Worth Dallas Ballet: Sure, you've seen the dance production of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker a million times, but check out the production by Fort Worth Dallas Ballet, which celebrates its inaugural season as a bi-city dance organization. Thirty-one regular members of the troupe as well as 65 students from the Fort Worth School of Ballet perform for your pleasure December 9-11 at 8 pm in the JFK Theatre of the Tarrant County Convention Center in Fort Worth. For ticket information call (817) 763-0207.
Just in the Nick of Time and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The holiday season is not only a big moneymaker for local merchants, but also for many organizations, who trot out their beloved cash-cow programs-productions-performances for an audience eager to kindle that warm holiday glow. The Dallas Children's Theater has two simultaneous productions through mid-December, one of which is a sure-fire moneymaker that features one thing kids can always appreciate--mean, disruptive peers. Barbra Robinson's The Best Christmas Pageant Ever follows the destructive path of the Herdman kids, "the worst in the whole world," as they nearly derail rehearsals for a local Christmas pageant. The other presentation is a world premiere that DCT hopes will prove just as popular for repeat productions. Award-winning Dallas-based playwright Linda Daugherty's Just in the Nick of Time takes the detective thriller from '40s film noir and drops it in the middle of the North Pole, where something strange is happening around Santa's workshop. Just in the Nick of Time is performed Fridays, 7:30 pm; Saturdays, 1:30 & 4:30 pm; and Sundays 1:30 & 4 pm through December 18 at the Crescent Theater, 2215 Cedar Springs. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is performed Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 10:30 am & 1:30 pm; and Sundays at 1:30 & 4 pm through December 18 at the El Centro College Theater near the West End in downtown Dallas. Tickets for each show are $9-$11. Call 978-0110.
El Virgen de Guadalupe: The Virgin of Guadalupe has proved an amazingly rich source for all kinds of phenomena during the last 463 years--from quiet lives led in faith to bloody political insurrections against social inequality. The vision of the Virgin was first spotted by an Indian named Juan Diego, and her popularity throughout both rural and urban Mexico can be chalked up partly to the conciliatory role she has come to play between the upper-class Spanish and the working-class or peasant Indians. The Virgin is a mestiza, a woman of mixed blood, and so she represents a sacred harmony between ethnic and economic classes. ARTE (Artists Relating Together and Exhibiting), Dallas' Latino arts collective, presents its fourth annual El Virgen de Guadalupe exhibit, featuring all kinds of interpretations of the Virgin, including some contributions by kids from kindergarten, grade school, and high school. The opening reception for El Virgen de Guadalupe happens December 11, noon-5 pm, with entertainment offered by Spanish guitarist Fernando Medina. The show runs through January 8 at the 500X Gallery, 500 Exposition. It's free. For info call 351-0835.
Antique Dinerware Benefit: What's so great about a bunch of old greasy spoon utensils being auctioned off? If you have to ask, then you obviously aren't a member of that fervent clique that likes to track American culture through the evolving styles of an institution which still thrives--the roadside diner. Area collectors Kelly Mitchell and Buck Johnson recently discovered more than 14,000 pieces of dinerware--plates, knives, forks, spoons, cups, you name it--that had never been used. Their styles run a 30-year gamut from the 1930s to the '60s, which means this is stuff from truck-stop cafes and park-and-pukes that haven't been eaten on in three decades. Every single stick will be auctioned off, the proceeds benefiting a variety of local AIDS organizations. This is an opportunity to give a truly unique gift to friends or family members who really dig kitschy Americana. The sale happens December 10-11, 9 am-5 pm at 2809 N Henderson. Admission to the event is a dollar, for which everyone receives a plate. Avid collectors or folks who are planning to leave with a large amount should bring their own boxes. For more information call 520-9448 or 528-0824.
Internet Activism: The Republican takeover of Congress marks a particularly sour turn of events for liberal gay and lesbian activists, who can't help but take personally the victory of a party whose most influential faction has made its homo-hatred abundantly clear in state and local referendums--not to mention the GOP's sleazy national platform. While congressman Newt "Dickensian Social Engineer" Gingrich probably thought he offered relief to lavender minds by equating homosexuality with nearsightedness and advising tolerance (wouldn't a pair of corrective lenses be more appropriate?), his words of wisdom haven't prompted a collective sigh of relief from most gay and lesbian political crusaders. In keeping with a new sense of urgency, The Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance hosts an introduction and overview of the numerous homo areas on the national on-line computer networks. The idea is to reroute the Information Superhighway toward a more equitable future for homosexuals by encouraging organization through conferencing. "Fight the Right" is the phrase on everyone's fingertips here. The evening kicks off at 7:30 pm at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, 2701 Reagan at Brown. It's free. For more information call 528-4233.
The King's Singers: The United Kingdom's premiere a cappella outfit The King's Singers is the kind of musical outfit you spotted in your music instructor's record collection and perhaps instantly dismissed as the kind of music enjoyed by fuddy-duddy purists who despise spontaneity, vibrancy, and invention. While it's true enough these six Englishmen have garnered their share of sedate music lovers, the tradition on which they draw is a fascinating lineage that can be traced all the way back to the origins of the Anglican church and the earliest Anglo folk tales sung and accompanied by a stringed instrument. The King's Singers perform a cappella songs for people who think the human voice is the greatest instrument ever invented, and they cover both classical and contemporary pop. They are famous for their sudden outbursts of rowdiness as well as their sense of the melodramatic for appropriate numbers, but chances are you won't hear a more stirring holiday concert this season outside of a cathedral. The King's Singers perform December 12 and 13 at 8 pm in McFarlin Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. For information call 528-5576.
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