The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Comic-freakin'-palooza 2014, Woolgathering and More

Houston's Comicpalooza 2014 has four Doctor Who Doctors -- Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann, and comic-book legend Stan Lee is set to make his first appearance ever at the pop culture expo. It's an unheard-of coup for Comicpalooza, which has some 1,500 hours of programming spread over four days, including Friday.

Celebrities set to appear include comic book theorist Scott McCloud (left, below), John Barrowman (Torchwood, center, below), Tricia Helfed (Dark Blue, right, below), Clark Gregg (S.H.I.E.L.D), James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Cary Elwes (From the Earth to the Moon). Former WWE world champions Bret Hart and Kevin Nash will also be on hand.

The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Comic-freakin'-palooza 2014, Woolgathering and More

Activities include Dalek Races (new this year), celebrities vs fans laser tag, performances, concerts and gaming sessions. Panels, workshops and classes cover everything from sexism in comics to costume crafting (there are even daily Comicpalooza 101 sessions for first-timers).

Local pop visual artists Lane Montoya, Chris Foreman and Mark Nasso will be among the dozens displaying work in the Artists Alley. And Tech displays cover some 27,000 square feet, which makes for a sizable gearhead heaven.

Comicpalooza 2014 runs 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For information, visit $10 to $55.

Tina Shariffskul in Woolgathering
Tina Shariffskul in Woolgathering
Photo by Ashley Horn

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The term "woolgathering" is an old English idiom for indulgence in daydreams or absentminded imagining, choreographer Ashley Horn tells us. "It came from people who collected wool that had been caught on bushes and weeds when sheep would brush against them. It was a task that required much wandering and little purposeful thought." There's that same daydreaming and wandering sense to Horn's Woolgathering. The performance, which runs Friday and Saturday, takes place in a large dance studio that has been turned into a giant blanket fort, Horn says. "A 3,186-square-foot patchwork blanket [covers] the ceiling and walls. The space is lit with 500 tiny paper lanterns and Christmas lights. It's reminiscent of nomadic cultures, ritual, the night sky and other dream images."

Woolgathering is not exactly a linear story, Horn tells us. "There are a couple of recognizable subplots, but overall the narrative is very loose," she says. "One piece, a duet, was made around a story where two goddesses were created by an ancient tribe. They were worshipped and lavished with gifts and sacrifices. When [the] tribe died out...these deities were forgotten and lost to history. In their duet, they are sentenced to an eternity of being beautiful, bejeweled and utterly alone."

At least that's what Horn was thinking when she created the piece. She understands that may not be what the audience will get from the performance. "I had a great time making all these little stories and filling them out with movement and costumes, but I don't find it necessary to convey the exact story to the audience. I hope that each piece inspires the audience member's imagination to create its own characters and circumstances."

See Woolgathering at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Hope Stone Studio, 1210 West Clay. For information, call 713-526-1907 or visit $5.

Judy Elliot McDonald's comedy In Juliet's Garden, one of our choices for Saturday, features five of Shakespeare's heroines reworking the Bard's plots. Juliet invites Ophelia, Desdemona, Portia and Kate to lunch in her garden, and each has strong ideas on how to improve her story line. Juliet has, of course, invited Shakespeare as well (they want to give him their suggestions in person). Shakespeare, however, declines the invitation and sends Jacqueline de Boys, his literary agent and editor, to meet with the women instead. This doesn't go over so well with them, and Juliet's garden is turned into a diva-filled battlefield as each character makes her plea for changes in her story line. Director Lauren Hainley tells us, "In this production, we get the opportunity to experience some of Shakespeare's greatest heroines in an intimate and relaxed setting, giving us insight into their hopes, dreams and desires." And, it would seem, complaints.

Juliet's Garden is performed in repertory with Secrets of a Soccer Mom, a comedic look at contemporary parenthood. Written by Kathleen Clark and directed here by Christine Weems, Secrets follows three moms in a soccer game with their sons. The moms plan to lose (a sort of confidence-booster for the kids), but the competitive spirit takes over once the game starts and suddenly it's do-or-die. Cast member Melanie Martin says, "As a soccer mom myself, I know what it's like to try and juggle all the kids' activities but also make time for myself. It's the eternal parenting question: What takes priority? This play addresses that particular mommy struggle intelligent and funny way."

In Juliet's Garden plays at 8 May 24, 26, 28 and 30. See Secrets at 8 p.m. May 23, 25, 27, 29 and 31.Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring. For information, call 832-303-1578 or visit Pay-what-you-can to $15.

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