Mike Lee

Producer, Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, Sonic IDs

Mike is a features producer at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for kut.org. When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.

Several years ago, he featured a young dancer on his Arts Eclectic program, and she was so impressed by his interviewing skills that she up and married him. Now they enjoy traveling, following their creative whims, and spending time with their dogs.

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arts eclectic
2:23 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Relive the '80s with 'punkplay'

If you're looking for a play with live music, live animals, and a healthy dose of '80s nostalgia, punkplay might be the show for you. The coming-of-age tale is set in the American suburbia of thirty years ago, in the age the cold war, Ronald Reagan, and punk rock.

The play (by Gregory Moss) centers around two teenage boys, Mickey, a disaffected high school student, and Duck, an angry young runaway who befriends him. Their lives and relationship are changed by their exposure to a vinyl punk record.

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Arts Eclectic
11:31 am
Fri June 13, 2014

See 'Memory Tag(s)' at Test Tube Artspace

Test Tube is an interesting new art space on the East Side. It's tucked away in Tillery Park, which one finds by going through East Austin Succulents, a nursery on Tillery Street. Once in the park, you'll find a handful of trailers that house boutiques and cafés, along with Test Tube itself.

Memory Tag(s), a new exhibition of multi-dimensional artwork, will open at Test Tube this weekend. It features new works by Andy St. Martin, designed to fit the space and inspired by personal losses he's suffered this year. Reflecting on the recent passing of both his mother and his brother, and on his status as an identical twin, St. Martin was inspired to create works that deal with dichotomies and mirror images.

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Arts Eclectic
2:25 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Celebrate 'BettyFest' Every Thursday in June

Every Thursday this month, Coldtowne Theater will host BettyFest, which is billed as “a Night of Comedy by Comedians Who Happen to be Female.”  It's  a full night of comedy by folks with two X chromosomes, which is of course the chromosome where comedy is stored.

Each show will be hosted by a different stand-up comic and feature a rotating roster of opening improv acts along with headlining  improv troupe Patio Talk.

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Get Involved
6:00 am
Mon June 2, 2014

Get Involved Spotlight: Manos de Cristo

From Manos de Cristo this month's Get Involved Spotlight nonprofit:

Manos de Cristo’s Mission: Manos de Cristo empowers low-income individuals with a loving hand of assistance and welcomes all regardless of age, gender, race, or religious preference. Inspired by the Christian ideals of service and compassion, Manos promotes dignity and self-reliance by providing essential oral care, furthering educational development, and meeting basic needs with food and clothing.

Who we are: Manos de Cristo serves tens of thousands of people annually in the Greater Austin community and beyond who are underprivileged. We provide critically important services to our clients in order to enable them to walk on a road toward self-sufficiency. Our focus is on the critical components that build a healthy way of life for children, families, and individuals living in poverty. By providing dental care, adult educational tools, food and clothing and back to school basics for young students, we offer our clients a path to a better life.

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Arts Eclectic
11:55 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Enjoy Free Shakespeare in the Park

For the past three decades, Austin Shakespeare has partnered with the city to present free Shakespeare in Zilker Park. This year, they're finally producing a free-in-the-park version of artistic director Ann Ciccolella's personal favorite Shakespearean play, As You Like It.

It's one of the bard's most joyous works, including hallmarks of Shakespearean comedy such as mistaken identity, cross-dressing, and the search for true love. As You Like It features some of Shakespeare's best-loved characters and most memorable scenes, and in true romantic comedy fashion, a happy ending that includes no fewer than four weddings.

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Arts Eclectic
9:40 am
Thu May 22, 2014

See 'Chicago' in a Lounge Setting

  M. Scott Tatum and Julianna E. Wright have been producing theater together since their high school days. Their partnership continued through college and eventually culminated in the formation of their production company, Half and Half Productions.

The latest show from Half and Half, co-directed by Scott and Julianna, is the classic musical Chicago. Chicago's been onstage in Austin a few times as part of Broadway Across America, and there have been a handful of school productions of it, but this is, perhaps surprisingly, the first professional, locally-produced version presented to Austin audiences.

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Arts Eclectic
10:14 am
Wed May 14, 2014

See Children's Theater from Pollyanna Theatre Company

Austin's Pollyanna Theatre Company specializes in theater for young audiences. And in addition to creating original theatrical works for children, they also believe in theater as a teaching tool.

To that end, they stage shows in cooperation with the Long Center, which are aimed at young children and their families, and also venture into local schools for performances and education.

Their latest play, Plus and Minus: The Vacation Adventure by Katherine Gee Perrone, revisits popular characters Addy Plus and Minus Takeaway and teaches lessons about both math and acceptance.

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Get Involved
5:00 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Get Involved Spotlight: Girl Scouts of Central Texas

From Girl Scouts of Central Texas, this month's Get Involved Spotlight nonprofit:

Girl Scouts is the premiere leadership organization for girls that is primarily girl-led. Girl Scouting has always been about more than cookies and camp—it’s about building the leaders of tomorrow and beacons that will improve our communities and our lives. Girl Scouting provides girls with opportunities that they may not otherwise have.

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Arts Eclectic
6:04 am
Fri May 2, 2014

See Traditional Chinese Dance at April Rain's Spring Recital

Xiwei (Sherry) Chen was born in China and grew up dancing, so when she moved to Austin, it was only natural that she'd look for a way to share traditional Chinese Dance with her new community. That's why she created the April Rain School of Chinese Dance more than a decade ago.

April Rain teaches different styles of Chinese dance, including both formal and folk dances, and in performances, the students wear costumes that Chen brings back from her return trips to her home country. Many of the students stay with the program for years, passing on their beloved costumes to the newer and younger students as they grow up.

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Arts Eclectic
3:04 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Austin's Newest Film Fest is 'Forbidden'

Next week, The Vortex will host the Forbidden Film Fest, a brand new festival that's meant to be an exploration of sexuality and eroticism in film. It's a three-day event, with a different program each night.

Night one will feature the Austin premiere of "Goodbye Gaulie Mountain," a new documentary about mountain top removal in West Virginia and the connection between land and body issues. Co-directors Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stevens will appear live via webcast.

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Arts Eclectic
3:06 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Forklift Danceworks' 'Play Ball!' Benefits Historic Downs Field

Forklift Danceworks is known for their large scale projects, which tend to feature real people performing dances that are based on their actual jobs. They've done performances with sanitation workers ("The Trash Project") and Austin Energy employees ("PowerUP"), among others. 

Their newest project is "Play Ball!," a baseball-inspired dance which will be performed by the players and coaches of the Huston-Tillotson Rams. The dance will be performed on (and also benefit) Austin's historic Downs Field, which during its decades-long history has been home to not just the Rams, but also several semi-pro teams and at least two Negro League baseball teams. Among the many legendary ballplayers to play on the field are Satchel Paige, Willie Wells, Willie Mays, and Buck O'Neil.

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Arts Eclectic
10:16 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Get Inspired at the Austin Mini Maker Faire

A few years ago, Austin was one of the homes of the annual Maker Faire, a two-day celebration of arts and crafts, creativity, and all kinds of do-it-yourself projects. The Maker Faire eventually stopped coming to Austin, but after a brief hiatus, the Austin Mini Maker Faire arrived to fill the void.

Aside from being only a one-day rather than two-day event, the Mini Maker Faire is "mini" in name only. It's still a huge event, with dozens of workshops, talks, hands-on activities, and performances taking place in the name of creativity and fun. The chief difference between the new mini fair and the old full-sized fair is that these days, most of the Makers actually hail from Austin or Central Texas locals instead of from the larger world.

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Arts Eclectic
4:27 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Hear Rising Stars Play With the Austin Civic Orchestra

This Saturday night at Bates Recital Hall on the University of Texas campus, the Austin Civic Orchestra is partnering with UT's Butler School of Music to present a free spring concert. Called the "Texas Risings Stars" concert, the event will feature four award-winning UT music students playing with Austin's own non-profit orchestra.

The first half of the concert will feature music students Benjamin Penzner, Grace Youn, Roman Yearian, and Eun-Mi Lee (no relation to the host of this program) leading the orchestra in selections of their choosing. For the second half of the presentation, the orchestra will branch out on its own, featuring two pieces chosen by orchestra director Lois Ferrari.

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Arts Eclectic
11:23 am
Tue April 22, 2014

See 100 Comedians at the Moontower Festival

Now in its third year, the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival is quickly becoming one of the largest comedy festivals in America. For this year's fest, around 100 comedians will come together from Austin and around the world to perform dozens of shows, including sketch, improv, and lots of standup comedey.

Headliners include The Kids in The Hall, Hannibal Buress, Mike Birbiglia, Maria Bamford and more. They'll perform at the Paramount Theatre, while several smaller venues host shows nearby.

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Poetry Month
8:39 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Video: Austin Notables Read Poetry by Kealing Middle School Students

To commemorate National Poetry Month, we've been airing poems by the students of Kealing Middle School's Blank Page writing program every day this April.

We're pretty proud of the lineup of talented Austinites we got to read those poems, including Patty Griffin, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Kathy Valentine, KUT's own John Aielli, and even Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. Check out a video of our distinguished poetry readers below.

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Arts Eclectic
1:52 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Be a Part of the Latest Version of 'The Intergalactic Nemesis'

There have been many incarnations of The Intergalactic Nemesis over the years. The 1930s era science fiction story started life as a live radio serial staged in a coffee shop, then became an actual radio serial that ran right here on KUT many years ago. Then there was a revised version of the stage show, then a comic book series, and finally a live action graphic novel, which combines all the previous elements into a large-scale show that has toured the world.

But it’s never been captured for the screen until now. This Saturday at the old Austin City Limits Studio, The Intergalactic Nemesis will tape its newest incarnation before a live audience. The show will go back to its radio serial roots in a way, as it becomes a series of short web videos produced by KLRU and PBS. It'll also be available as a TV broadcast and a DVD.

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Arts Eclectic
10:35 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Soubrette Productions Presents 'Assassins'

For only their second outing, young theater company Soubrette Productions is taking on a challenging show: Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Assassins, a musical that examines the motivations behind the actions of attempted and successful assassins of American presidents. It's long been a controversial work, as it examines the history of and parallels between the men and women who were convinced that their violent actions were justified or even necessary.

The subject matter isn't the only difficult aspect of Assassins. It's also a pretty elaborate production, with a large principal cast and detailed costuming, sets, and props. All of this makes the production a challenge for the folks of Soubrette, but a challenge they were eager to undertake.

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Arts Eclectic
2:29 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Fusebox Festival Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

Producer Ron Berry created the Fusebox Festival a decade ago as a way to foster communication between Austin's arts scene and the national and international artistic community. The conversation he started way back then is still going strong; Fusebox has grown every year and this year celebrates its tenth anniversary.

As has usually been the case, this year's festival will feature hundreds of artists and performers, with roughly a third of them hailing from Austin, a third from the rest of the USA, and a third from other countries. What is different about this year's festival is that all events will be free to the public (although for some shows, reservations are required).

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Get Involved
6:00 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Get Involved Spotlight: The Seedling Foundation

From the Seedling Foundation, this month's Get Involved Spotlight nonprofit: 

The Seedling Foundation serves children challenged by parental incarceration in the Austin area, using research­driven, school­based mentoring. Our volunteer mentors are matched with students from kindergarten through eighth grade based on common interests, to ensure a dependable, long­lasting relationship.

Seedling has made over 1,600 matches since the program’s inception in 2006, and has provided mentors to over 500 children in the 2013­14 school year alone. We hope to be able to improve the lives of even more students in the upcoming school year. We have a formal presence in 37 schools, and additional mentors in many others. Mentors meet with a student once per week, during the student’s lunch, to talk, play a game, or read a book together.

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Arts Eclectic
7:19 am
Wed April 2, 2014

ACC Names Balcones Poetry and Fiction Prize Winners

'We Sinners'

Every year, Austin Community College gives out two national writing prizes, one for poetry and one for fiction. Both prizes are open to any English language book, with a panel of judges awarding a $1500 prize to the winning author. 

This year's award winners were both selected for their first books and will both be in Austin on April 9 to read from their prize-winning works. Hanna Pylainen was awarded the Balcones Fiction Prize for her debut novel We Sinners, which explores the obscure Finnish religious sect in which Paylainen herself was raised in Michigan.

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