arts eclectic

Kirk Tuck

In only its third year, Zach Theatre's annual production of A Christmas Carol is already becoming a holiday tradition, for both audience and cast members. 

"I love it," says actress Kelly Petlin. "I tell [director] Dave [Steakley] 'I'll do this until you tell me you tell me I can't do it anymore.'" For actor Michael Valentine, the cast and crew of A Christmas Carol have become something of a surrogate family. "I'm not from Texas, but this is my third holiday season here," he says. "And I've always felt so embraced by this community."

When the Blue Genie Art Bazaar opened for the first time in 2001, founding member Dana Younger didn't realize the art show and sale would take over his holiday season for the next fifteen years (and counting). 

"Yeah, it's amazing that this is our sixteenth year, but it's a neat thing about traditions" he says. "And it's not just a tradition to us and the artists, but it's a tradition to the community, too." 

Once a fairly small showing of arts and crafts created by the members of Blue Genie Art Industries, the bazaar has grown to include works by some 200 local and regional artists, and it's now open daily from the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. For Younger, the bazaar has become synonymous with the holiday season..

This month, Street Corner Arts is presenting Constellations, the award-winning play by Nick Payne. It's a love story, featuring only two characters, but with an important twist: we see dozens of alternate universe versions of these characters, playing out their relationship in myriad possible ways.

"The playwright assumes that... multiverses are real, so what he's done is take these pivotal moments in these two character's lives and allow us to see different variations on that moment," says director Liz Fisher. "Sometimes they get together, sometimes they don't, sometimes things are going great, sometimes things go poorly."

About fifteen years ago, Austin artist Ethan Azarian started hosting an annual holiday art show. Appropriately called the In House Gallery, the show took place in Azarian's own home; toward the end of the year, he'd move all of his furniture into one room, turning the rest of the house into an empty gallery space. Then every available wall space would be filled with Azarian's (or a guest artist's) works, and the house became the In House Gallery.

This year, Austin's Rude Mechs are celebrating twenty years of producing theater in Austin. They're doing a lot to celebrate that milestone, including a restaging of one of their favorite shows, Requiem for Tesla, an imaginative biography of late scientist Nikola Tesla.

As part of the anniversary celebration, Rude Mechs are staying in Austin all year, eschewing any touring in favor of performing at home in the venerable (and soon to close) Off Center. "When we were trying to think about which old chestnut of ours we wanted to do, this one came up because the nature of it is kind of impossible to tour," says director Shawn Sides . "It's so inspired by our funky old warehouse... it was made for that space and it works well in that space and it's probably never going to be able to go to any other space, so in a way it's a little love note farewell to the Off Center."

Requiem for Tesla was originally staged in 2001, with a revamped second staging a couple of years later. This latest version combines elements of both of those productions. "It's going to be a lot of the... 2001 set and environment and feel," says Sides. "But we like a lot of the movement and stuff we did in 2003, so we're putting it all together and just picking our favorite bits."

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