Life & Arts

Entertainment, live performance, food, cuisine, dining, theater, film, television, art, broadcasting, SXSW, and other arts and culture news in and around Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

The Austin-produced web series The Pantsless Detective returns for a third season this week.  The serial, a comedic take on classic film noir detective stories, was created a few years ago by friends Tom Chamberlain and Dipu Bhattacharya and has gone on to become an award-winning continuing series.

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On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Spencer Haywood, NBA/ABA Legend and Hall-of-Famer.

Haywood will always be remembered as the guy who opened the door for underclassmen college basketball players to leave college early to enter the NBA, thereby creating the "Spencer Haywood rule."

This weekend, A'Lante Flamenco will present Snapshots: New World Flamenco, the first installment of what they hope will become an ongoing series. For Snapshots, A'Lante (under the leadership of husband-and-wife creative team Olivia and Isai Chacón) has partnered with two guest artists to showcase what Olivia calls "an outsider's perspective of flamenco."

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On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. concludes his conversation with Erin Aubry Kaplan, journalist, columnist, educator and author of ‘I Heart Obama.’

Dave Inman

Artistic director Andy Berkovsky has been looking forward to staging Pageant the Musical for a decade now. The comedy was put on by another company around the time City Theatre was starting up in the mid-2000s, and Berkovsky knew then that he'd also like to produce the show at some point. "We normally do one musical a year," he says, adding that City Theatre's ten year anniversary season would "be the perfect year" to finally mount Pageant.

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On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Erin Aubry Kaplan, journalist, columnist, educator and author of ‘I Heart Obama.’

In 1985, famed sculptor Charles Umlauf and his wife Angeline donated their home, Charles' studio, and many sculptures to the city of Austin. Six years later, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden was opened next to Zilker Park. Now, as part of the museum's 25th anniversary, the Umluaf is giving visitors a way to get a unique view of the late sculptor's work process. 

Curator Katie Edwards hopes to one day open Charles Umlauf's actual studio to tours, but in the meantime, the museum is offering a preview of the studio, in the form of a stage-set-like reproduction. Created by designer Stephanie Busing, it's a pretty faithful reproduction of the studio in which Umlauf worked for years.  "It's very, very close, but we also had to make some choices as to what to exclude from it," she says. "We chose to make it a little bit shorter and more manageable, but otherwise, the layout is very, very close to his original studio and we used his original artifacts." So when you see cans of paint thinner and WD-40 on the shelf at the museum, you're seeing the actual cans (and tools and assorted personal items) that Umlauf owned and worked with in his studio.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Merri Dee, legendary television and radio personality, and author of ‘Life Lessons on Faith, Forgiveness & Grace.’

As a trailblazer in both radio and television, Dee has served as a newscaster, talk-show host, and staff announcer. Later she served as Director of Community Relations at superstation WGN-TV and as advisor to other Tribune owned TV stations.

From Communities In Schools of Central Texas, this month's Get Involved spotlight non-profit:

MISSION AND VISION

Children cannot learn at their potential when they are in crisis or face significant non-academic needs. Most students who drop out of school are dealing with multiple problems that present barriers to their education: poverty, unattended health needs, hunger, an unemployed parent, domestic violence.

Our mission:  Communities In Schools of Central Texas surrounds students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.

Communities In Schools is a dropout prevention program. Through campus-based programs and special projects, Communities In Schools creates a network of volunteers, social services, businesses, and community resources that work together to break down barriers and help students succeed. Communities In Schools of Central Texas serves thousands of children and families every year, providing options where there once were none. Each year, CIS serves more than 50,000 clients. Of our more than 6,000 case managed students, 99% stay in school and 84% improve grades, attendance or behavior.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

There’s a reason it’s the largest retailer in the world — Walmart attracts hundreds of millions of shoppers every week. But for a tiny percentage of that number, Walmart is attractive for other reasons. For them, Walmart isn't just an errand — it's home.


Kaci Beeler and Curtis Luciani have been performing together for many years, mostly as an improv duo. Those years of experience working and creating characters together eventually led to the creation of their new play Subject to Control. "This is just an attempt to take what we've been doing and push it in a direction that's daker and more theatrical," Luciani says.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. John Telford, former Detroit Public Schools Superintendent and author of ‘Will The First: The Sage of Sports/Civil Rights Pioneer Will Robinson.’

Telford has written a spellbinding book about his coaching colleague at Pershing High School (Detroit, MI) – the late, legendary Will Robinson.  Both men were All-Americans – Telford as a sprinter at Wayne State University in the 1950’s and Robinson as a quarterback at West Virginia State in the 1930’s.

Wine coolers were huge in the 1980s, but a tax imposed by Congress in 1991 prompted most drink makers to move to malt-based cocktails in a can. But now a couple Austin companies are bringing back the wine cooler, although they have very different approaches. KUT's Nathan Bernier spoke with Texas Monthly drinks columnist Jessica Dupuy about Beatbox Beverages and Mighty Swell Cocktails


Juliana Barbassa

In this episode of The Write Up, we talk with prizewinning journalist and nonfiction writer Juliana Barbassa about her book Dancing with the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink depicting the beauty, crime, pressures, and violent paradoxes shaping Brazil’s most vibrant city.

Juliana Barbassa has lived and written all over the world. Born in Brazil, she has lived in Iraq, Spain, Malta, Libya, France, and the United States. As a journalist, her ability to dive in and find the human face in the most desperate of stories won her acclaim including the Katie Journalism Award, the emerging journalist of the year by the U.S.-based National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the John L. Dougherty award by the Associated Press Managing Editors.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Keith L. Brown, 'Motivator of the Millennium.'

Insight Publishing named Brown one of the top 50 speakers and experts in education today. He is a Professional Speaker and trainer whose keynotes and workshops enhance the SUPER – VISION of the masses while reducing the supervision to all under the sound of his vibrant voice.

Fried chicken sandwiches are enjoying renewed popularity, and there are a growing number of options in Austin. KUT's Nathan Bernier asks Austin American-Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam about his new top ten favorite chicken sandwiches.

Playwright Elizabeth Doss has spent the past few years creating theater pieces about her family history. Hillcountry Underbelly was inspired by her own childhood in Central Texas, and in last year's Mast she crafted a tale based on the true life adventures of her maternal grandparents.

Now, for the third work in that loose trilogy,  she's reaching further back in time, all the way to her great-great-great-grandfather, Herman Melville. "It's, in a large part, tracing not just the life of Herman Melville but specifically my lineage up to him," she says, "so all that family are the characters in this play."

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late legendary blues musician B.B. King. King died on May 14, 2015. He was 89.

The winner of 15 Grammy Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Kennedy Center Honors, and more, King leaves a legacy of influence on American music. Coming from the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta, he remained true to the blues, and won millions of fans including the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and U.S. Presidents.

Before embarking on a long and successful career as a standup comedian, Lewis Black had another, less successful, career as a playwright. One of the plays he wrote during that time, One Slight Hitch, has recently seen a resurgence in popularity decades after its creation. After being performed at a handful of theaters across the country in recent months, it's now making its Austin premiere thanks to the folks at Paradox Players.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Foyekemi Ikyaator, emergency room physician and Medical Director of Life SaversER, located in Houston, Texas.

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