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

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

KUT's Jimmy Maas braved the risk of spoilers to ask Austinites in line for opening night of the J.J. Abrams-directed reboot of the franchise about their old "Star Wars" toys, the best cosplays, the Disneyfication of the franchise and their favorite moments from the original trilogy.


This holiday season in Round Rock, Penfold Theatre Company is presenting a new but still pretty old-fashioned take on Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol.

This version of the story (adapted by Penfolds's Nathan Jerkins) takes place in a the fictional KPNF radio station sometime in the 1930s or '40s, where a group of actors are presenting a radio drama version of the familiar holiday tale. In keeping with radio play tradition, the actors will be playing multiple roles and creating their own sound effects live on stage.

Laura Taylor https://flic.kr/p/4Vhnsb

For advice on how to get the tastes of Texas on your plate and in your glass, we speak with Edible Austin publisher Marla Camp and Texas Monthly drinks columnist Jessica Dupuy.

    

via Facebook/AlamoAustin

The premiere is here.

Tonight, the latest installment of the “Star Wars” saga hits theaters. Sure, Texas – and the galaxy far, far away, for that matter – are both pretty lax with regulating weapons in public places, but some fans won’t be brandishing their blasters or lighting up their sabers ahead of the film’s opening scroll in light of theater shootings in the last few years.

Here’s a roundup of Austin-area theater policies.

hellobeautiful.com

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late Ossie Davis and Rudy Dee.

One chilly and rainy night forty years ago, Bruce Willenzik, an employee at the Armadillo World Headquarters, was chatting with a young singer named Lucinda Williams when the topic turned to the artists who made their livings selling their wares outside on the Drag. As Willenzik remembers it, Williams remarked "It's too bad those artists don't have a warm dry place like this to sell in."

Ricardo B. Brazziell, Austin American-Statesman

A chef behind local restaurants Parkside, Backspace, and Olive & June just opened a Spanish tapas joint on Airport Boulevard. KUT's Nathan Bernier asks Austin American-Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam about his new review of Bullfight.


freep.com

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Peter J. Hammer, Professor of Law at Wayne State University Law School, and director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, and co-author of Crusader for Justice: Federal Judge Damon J. Keith.

Nicole Kibert https://flic.kr/p/bkES7n

Hear live music picks from KUTX program director Matt Reilly, including shows by Bright Light Social Hour, Patterson Hood, Mother Falcon and more!


Photo by Ricardo B. Brazziell

A new restaurant in the downtown east side aims to provide the causal after-work drinking and eating environment you find in izakayas across Japan. KUT's Nathan Bernier asks Austin American-Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam about his review of Fukumoto.


On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents an encore presentation of a conversation he had with the late Shirley A. Chisholm.

Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to Congress and an outspoken advocate for women and minorities during her seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. She was known as a politician who refused to allow fellow politicians, including the male-dominated Congressional Black Caucus, to sway her from her goals.

From Front Steps, this month's Get Involved spotlight non-profit:

About Front Steps

Front Steps believes that all people deserve the dignity of a safe place to call home. For those experiencing homelessness, Front Steps’ mission is to provide a continuum of services, by offering shelter, seeking affordable housing, and providing community education.

Front Steps was created in 1997 as the Capital Area Homeless Alliance with the overarching philosophy that each homeless person deserves respect and dignity. Front Steps manages the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) in downtown Austin which meets the basic needs of about 600 men and women daily, operates an overnight and daytime shelter and permanent housing, and operates the Central Texas Recuperative Care Program.

The history of La Pastorela dates back many centuries. The play has been performed during the Christmas season by amateur and professional artists, in theaters and churches, in Mexico and in Mexican communities since the middle part of the last millennia.

It's long been a tradition to stage La Pastorela in Austin, too. After financial difficulties kept ALTA (Austin Latino Theater Alliance) from being able to stage the play last year, director Rupert Reyes set to work to ensure it could return in 2015. His production company, Teatro Vivo, will be staging La Pastorela this holiday season at the Mexican American Cultural Center.

It starts with seemingly benign questions: Who are you voting for? Did you see that exposé about candidate X on Facebook? Before long, somebody is storming off to the basement or slamming the mashed potatoes on the table. And playing Adele's new song "Hello" won't make every family instantly get along (a la SNL's Thanksgiving Miracle).

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

A globe-trotting Frida Kahlo portrait, once displayed in Austin, has returned to its former home.

The painting, “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird,” was on display in Austin until 1990, when it left to travel the world. It bounced around the globe for 25 years, and was featured in exhibitions in Spain, Australia, Canada, and most recently in New York. But now, this self-portrait of the distinctive artist is back at UT Austin’s Harry Ransom Center, where it will remain for the next two years.


On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Angela Meryl, former model and make-up artist, and author of ‘Stunts: The How To Handbook -The Secrets From An Award-Winning Hollywood Stunt Woman.

The Wimberley Players are currently presenting Other Desert Cities, by playwright Jon Robin Baitz. The play, which was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for drama, centers around a contentious family gathering on Christmas Eve.

The setting is the Palm Springs, California home of the Wyeth family; daughter Brooke (played here by Shelby Miller) returns home for the holidays after a six year absence. She's written a book a book about the family, and the way in which her family members (including mother Polly, played by Whitney Martlett) react to this news spurs the action of the play.

"It starts out as a family comedy," says director Tracy Arnold, "but we quickly discover the family's deep-rooted secrets and their conflicts that they've had from the past and that continue into the present."

Photo by Neal Medlyn, St. Marks roof, 2015

Author and journalist Ada Calhoun's newest book St. Marks is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street chronicles the history of a few select city blocks of Manhattan and the personalities that have made it legend.

Michael Lee

Brently Heilbron started performing standup comedy at the tender age of 14, which means he's now been in the business for close to a quarter century. So when he says that the current scene in Austin is "an incredible time in comedy that I haven't seen in years," he's speaking with a certain level of authority.

The burgeoning Austin scene has inspired Heilbron to find a way to serve as a sort of comedy curator, presenting local talent to a wider world. That inspiration led to the development of the upcoming television series "Standup Empire." Heilbron will serve as producer and host of the show, which he and director Mike Wilson hope will do for comedy what "Austin City Limits" has done for music.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Michel Martin, weekend host of NPR’s All Things Considered.

In 2006 Martin came to NPR and launched Tell Me More, a one-hour daily NPR news and talk show that aired on NPR stations nationwide from 2007-2014 and dipped into thousands of important conversations taking place in the corridors of power, but also in houses of worship, and barber shops and beauty shops, at PTA meetings, town halls, and at the kitchen table.

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