Awesome Things to Do in Dallas This Weekend: Sand Castles, Anime Costumes, Solo Shows

I'm probably going blind. This sunshine is so damn bright, y'all. I don't have shades dark enough. Just as soon as we all stop complaining about the rain, it becomes time to complain about the hot, sunny Dallas summer. Nothing will ever be good enough, although thanks to the wet May, the grass couldn't be greener anywhere else. So rub some good deodorant wherever you can, slip into some dark shades and drive in your air-conditioned car to one of these awesome events this weekend. Afterward, you'll have something to talk about that isn't the weather. 

Thursday, June 4
A-Kon is already something of a giant masquerade party — a full weekend of cosplayers hiding behind their everyday identities as students, receptionists, librarians and healthcare professionals so they can pull out all the stops and become their favorite anime characters. It’s a sea of high ponytails, pink hair, furry accessories and armor aplenty all weekend long, but the real fancy stuff comes out between 8 p.m. and midnight on Thursday, during the formal masquerade ball at the Hilton Anatole, 2201 North Stemmons Freeway. This isn’t the place for duct tape and furry boots, though. It’s a real-deal ballroom extravaganza where participants dress to the nines (think suits, ties and evening gowns) and dance the night away with Prince Charming Yuki. To get in on the party, which includes a ballroom dancing refresher prior to the event and a big unmasking at the end, you’ll need a valid A-Kon pass (which will run you anywhere from $25 to $80) and a traditional masquerade-style mask. Peruse the dress code, which can be found at a-kon.com/?p=7405, and kick off your A-Kon experience with sophisticated cos-play style. -Jennifer Davis-Lamm

Precious Little
Language is a paradox. Words can have such a simple meanings and carry the most complicated emotions. That’s why the field of linguistics is such an intricate one. Understanding words is not a simple task, and yet sometimes it takes the smallest of gestures to convey complexities. Precious Little, the play by Madeline George, is an exploration of language, transitions and ambiguity through the eyes of a linguist who seeks comfort in the wake of an uncertain diagnosis related to her unborn child. Struggling with an undefined outcome, she seeks solace from a zoo gorilla that relates to its environment with very few words, and a woman who relates to her environment through a language that is soon to die out. Echo Theatre takes on the quirky rumination about the ways that we communicate at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 East Lawther, at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from June 4 until June 20; matinee performances are at 2 p.m. on Saturday June 13 and June 20. Tickets are $20 to $30 at echotheatre.org/content/purchase.php. Jennifer Davis-Lamm

Dallas Solo Fest
One-person productions as an art form are as old as spoken language. In more recent times, such plays have certainly developed in variety in the 130 years since Anton Chekhov’s clever, unpredictable On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco. But the sparse nature of a one-person production allows only so much room for evolution, which keeps the tradition solidly in place, regardless of the century. More recent examples include the schmaltzy, yet warm (Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays) to the inventively hilarious (One Man Star Wars Trilogy by Charles Ross), and the thematic spectrum for monologists only grows. The Dallas Solo Performance Fest, now in its second year, will showcase the expansive range one person can portray on stage. Local, regional and national performers will be here to handle the entirety of the spotlight for the sake of their own stories. The Dallas Solo Performance Festival takes place from June 4 to 14 at the Margo Jones Theatre at Magnolia Lounge in Fair Park. Tickets range from $12-$60, and can be purchased by calling 214-888-6650 or visit dallassolofest.com. Kelly Dearmore

Friday, June 5

Manicures & Monuments
The last time anything good happened at a nursing home it was in Fried Green Tomatoes, but hold your catheter, there’s a new tale in town, Manicures and Monuments, written by a Dallas local Vicki Caroline Cheatwood. Set in dusty Oklahoma, Janann, a thoroughly Okie Okie and recent high school graduate, has two dreams: to see Mount Rushmore and to get married. In the meantime, she’s working as a manicurist and shows up late on her first day at a nursing home where she meets a mean old crust of a woman, former Army nurse Lucinda Bailey. The staff and residents of the nursing home round out the cast and altogether tell a story of, well, real life. They make poor decisions, give in to doing it the easy way and basically serve as a nice little commentary on humanity. Friday's preview performance begins at 8 p.m. and the show runs through Sunday, June 28 at WaterTowerTheater, 15650 Addison Road, Addison. Tickets are $20 to $40 and on sale at boxoffice@watertowertheater.org. Nikki Lott

Star-Crossed Lovers
Friday night date idea: How about taking your significant other for some pretty damn romantic music from super-emo, romantic movies you’ve watched over and over (and don’t even try to lie about these repeat viewings) performed by a throng of skilled local musicians (also known as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra conducted by Karina Canellakis). Think songs from lovely but ill fated classics like Romeo & Juliet, its musical sibling West Side Story, Somewhere In Time, and even a modern one for the youngsters, The Fault in Our Stars. Yes, Fault fans, Ed Sheeran's "All of the Stars" and Birdy's "Not About Angels" are on the agenda. Plus, the DSO’s presentation of “Star-Crossed Lovers” at 7:30 p.m. Friday offers audiences the upper hand on most of the movies’ characters: We all get a great concert experience, and we’ll likely live until the end of the show! The concert takes place at the Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. Tickets start at $19. Call 214-TIX-4DSO or visit mydso.com. Merritt Martin

Jon Revett: The Glaciar Project
In a sense, the minute something is declared “art,” it has been elevated. The process of making art is transformative. Whether it's whittling down tree bark or slathering paint on a canvas, or in the case of Amarillo-based artist Jon Revett, screen printing Islamic tessellations onto to old record covers. The artist's latest work will be on display at The Safe Room at the Texas Theatre (231 Jefferson Blvd.) this weekend in Jon Revett: The Glacier Project. He's interested in cultural synthesis, and pays attention to the records' arrangement, covering walls or arranging them into what he calls “icebergs” — clusters of the objects, which Revett considers paintings. This is just the metaphorical tip of the paintbrush in what you'll likely leave the exhibit discussing. See it opening reception from 6-9 p.m. Friday. Admission is free. More at thetexastheatre.com. Lauren Smart

Pitch Perfect
You love free things. We love free things. The best things in life and all that. Sure, nothing is truly free. There's a trade-off most of the time when someone else picks up the tab. Your mom probably told you that when she encouraged you not to get the lobster on a first date. In the case of Movies in the Park at The Shops at Park Lane (8080 Park Lane), the trade-off is that you have to battle NorthPark traffic on a Friday evening. But if you take a few backroads and arrive a few minutes before 8:30 p.m. to hunt for this plot of grass, every Friday in June you can spread out on the lawn and watch a free movie. This week, it's Pitch Perfect, later in month there's Jurassic Park, Zoolander, and Despicable Me 2. The other trade-off? No coolers allowed. More atparklanedallas.com. Lauren Smart

Saturday, June 6

Art Con: Skewed
The truth is that the Art Con folks could probably open up their doors to strip varnish and draw a crowd; their events over the past decade have been some of the most consistently fun, innovative and charitable soirees Dallas has seen. Their main fundraising premise — which has raised almost $270,000 for community organizations — is brilliant: bring in artists, give them 24 hours to work, and then auction off their goods in a feverish spectacle that’s sound-tracked by live, local musicians. And though that’s what they’re known for, ArtCon also peppers in a few additional fundraisers a year that aren’t quite as high-profile but are every bit as thrilling – including a themed auction from 7 until 11 p.m. on Saturday at Life In Deep Ellum, 2803 Taylor St. SKEWED will feature works from over 40 local artists all created on the theme of taking apart ideas and concepts and turning them on their heads. The background noise will be equally topsy-turvy, featuring the epic distortion of Pinkish Black, plus Def Rain, and DJ George Quartz. Auction pieces start at $50; admission is $10 at ticketfly.com/purchase/event/855831/tfly. Jennifer Davis-Lamm

Mama Ida's Ice Cream Social
God is upset. He hasn’t stopped crying since Blue Bell temporarily ceased all operations, and he’s making Texans walk and drive in his tears. It’s not easy because, with the temperatures rising, ice cream is becoming a necessity among us. But it’s time to stand up, dry off and participate in Mama Ida’s ninth annual Ice Cream Social. It’s here to save us all. At 11 a.m. Saturday at Dallas Farmers Market (1010 S. Pearl Expressway), guests will do the challenging task of tasting ice cream, sorbet and gelato from local culinary students from Dallas County Youth Village. Then like any great taste test, a winner will be chosen and probably crowned The Person Who Helped Us Forget About Blue Bell. If you need extras for your cold dessert, local vendors will be there to provide the nuts, fruits and herbs. - Paige Skinner

Fantasy in Sand
Dallas is nowhere near a beach. Or at least a good beach. We crave lying out and a kid running by and kicking sand into our eyes. We need to find sand in our crevices a week after our beach vacation. We lust for glorious sand castles. Your cravings are about to be satisfied because Fantasy in Sand has to Globe Life Park in Arlington (1000 Ballpark Way) to help you unleash your inner Sand Castle Donatello. It all takes place inside an air-conditioned tent with 3 million pounds of sand to create sculptures — some as tall as 20 feet. This year’s theme is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and it takes place daily through Aug. 23. Tickets and $17 and $21. For more information, visit fantasyinsand.com. Paige Skinner

Jim Jeffries
Even after becoming a star with his brilliant standup, appearances on the Opie & Anthony Show and his own FX sitcom Legit, Jim Jefferies recently achieved viral fame with a video from a stand-up concert in which he dares to tread on one of our nation’s most sacred freedoms: guns. Even before the Australian born comic starts, he warns the pro-gun control crowd who start cheering before he’s even told a joke: “Before you get excited, the other people have guns.” Now he’s headed to The Majestic Theater, which the last time we checked was still in Texas, a state with plenty of residents who love guns so much that they actually name them and put them in their family trees. The Majestic is located at 1925 Elm St. Tickets are $39.50 and available at axs.com. -Danny Gallagher

Summer Mockbusters: Batman & Robin
How do you feel about ironic consumption? This is what we are offering at 8 p.m. Saturday at Granada Theater (3524 Greenville Ave.) with a showing of Batman and Robin. After three successful films with two different actors playing Batman, the formula seemed effortless. George Clooney was tossed into the title role and Arnold Schwarzenegger played Mr. Freeze. What could go wrong? As it turned out, plenty. This film is considered one of the worst ever made and plays like an androgynous toy commercial with awful acting and cringe-worthy dialogue. After a strong opening weekend, word of mouth spread and audiences stayed away. A fifth installment of the series was already approved, but it was swiftly cancelled after this crapfest. The franchise shutdown and had to be completely rebooted 7 years later. But come out and enjoy the unintentional humor, and poke a little fun at it yourself on the live Twitter feed along with comics from the Dallas Comedy House, as part of the Summer Mockbusters series. Admission is $3, there will be $3 tallboys, and $3 themed shots. More at granadatheater.com. -Jeremy Hallock

New Works Festival
All year long, Kitchen Dog Theater is always cooking up new plays and serving them to Dallas audiences. And every year at the end of the season they invite the causal theatergoer into the test kitchen to see the inspiration first hand. The New Works Festival is a series of staged readings of plays that have not yet been produced at pivotal stages of development. At 1 p.m. Saturday, Dallas native Montgomery Sutton's play Advent will be performed under the direction of rockstar KDT company member Max Hartman; at 4 p.m. a reading of The Black Slot by Warren Hoffman will take place. There will be snacks and a bloody mary bar. Admission is a pay what you can donation at the door. More at kitchendogtheater.org.

Sunday, June 7
Mirror Stage — Visualizing the Self

Consider this: kids today are growing up in two realities. There’s the physical world and the virtual world. As we’re all adjusting to researching, networking, and socializing on the Internet, it’s impossible not to recognize that it’s altering not just what we think about but the way we think. It’s also changed the way an entire generation has come of age as artists. Contemporary art making practices are now steeped in this new media soup. Currently at the Dallas Museum of Art (ADDRESS), Concentrations 59: Mirror Stage—Visualizing the Self After the Internet rotates through the single channel video work of a variety of international artists. Through Sunday, see the work of the Internet’s Kool-Aid Man, Jon Rafman. Starting Tuesday, Antoine Catala’s video will debut and remain on display through July 12. The exhibit is a wild journey that sends you deep into the realities or unrealities of the Web. Admission is free. More at dma.org.

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