arts eclectic

La Pastorela, the traditional Christmas play about the journey of a group of shepherds who are following the Star of Bethlehem to visit the newly born Christ child, has been performed in Mexico for centuries. 

"It was done originally by the Spanish priests, and it was done as a morality play to remind people that angels and demons exist and that they can influence their decisions," says La Pastorela director Alexis Arredondo. "And it worked its way to Mexico, and from Mexico it worked its way into Texas."

"The Interactive Deep Dive is a nine-month intensive that is bringing together people from all across the country and as far away as Spain," says Deep Dive director Jeff Wirth, "to become next generation leaders in the field of applied interactive story and performance."

The group is about midway through the nine-month process right now, with artists and researchers working together to learn more about the field of interactive storytelling. The hope is that this research will someday impact the way virtual reality and digital worlds are created, and how people interact with those worlds.

"We started about 25 years ago, working with the homeless, just directly serving sandwiches and kind of reaching out in the community," says Art from the Streets executive Director Kelley Worden, describing the early years of the organization founded by Heloise Gold and Bill Jeffers. "And as they connected and reached out, they brought pencil and paper ... and found out that there were some amazing talents living on the streets."

"The very first play I ever wrote, in 2015, was -- it's a long  title -- People of Color Christmas: The White Elephant in the Room," says playwright and actress Christine Hoang. That show only ran for one week ("Because that's all I could afford," Hoang notes), but that was long enough for the show to catch the eye of some folks from the Asian American Resource Center, which eventually led to a revival of the show this year, sponsored by Austin Museums and Cultural Programs. 

"So now, this year... ColorArc Productions is presenting this new iteration of People of Color Christmas to Austin audiences for free," says Hoang. "And we are touring the cultural centers of Austin."

"I learned about Buster Keaton while I was studying for film composition, and I just kind of fell in love with him and with silent films," says composer Jackie Myers, who's brining her new project Silent Films Out Loud to the Stateside Paramount Theatre this Saturday.

"You watch a movie now and you think 'there's a team of ten people that created this moment, and it's also a camera trick, and it's also lighting,'" she says. "But you watch his films and you're like, 'it's just him.' It's him that created -- he wrote it, he acted in it, and physically he made it happen."

That love of silent films in general and the films of Keaton in particular led Myers to create Silent Films Out Loud, for which she's tapped four local composers to create new, original scores for four classic Buster Keaton short films.

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