The weather prognosticators call for cooler weather and clear skies, but there's a 100 percent chance of "Rain" over at the eerie-spooky Cistern, which has been tricked out with an amazing sound and light show courtesy of MFAH and Buffalo Bayou Partnership. The weekend also calls for gravity-defying entertainment that begins with the theme from Rocky and ends with Ravel's Boléro, a timely play about the unraveling of democracy, a pair of art gallery openings, and a world-premiering composition that explores the Aboriginal Dreamtime creation story.
The Houston Symphony is known for its larger-than-life performances that take music to new heights. In this case, though, the organization took a literal interpretation of that phrase by welcoming the acrobatic group Cirque de la Symphony for Cirque Goes to the Movies. Imagine jugglers, contortionists, strongmen, aerial straps performers, a balance and dance duo, ribbon dancers, an aerial duo on silk fabrics and the unforgettable strongmen, all set to the most memorable movies of the last century. The performers will stun crowds against a backdrop of famous films like Rocky, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, West Side Story, Titanic, Chariots of Fire and Star Wars. Performer Alexander Streltsov says, “Our program includes carefully selected music choices from the most memorable movies ever shown at the cinema,” guaranteeing a feast for both the eyes and the ears. This circus-music-movie combo looks thrilling indeed, making it one of our choices for Friday night entertainment.
8 p.m. Friday and January 7, 2:30 p.m. January 8. Houston Symphony, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $25 to $145.
This tumultuous election year has split America apart, magnifying the worst of both red and blue in a slurry of hurled insults, fake news, Russian tampering and late-night satire. Whether election day brought about feelings of euphoric triumph or wretched hangover, there’s no denying that things are moving at an incredibly fast, 140-character pace and the Cold War seems all but forgotten. More than a few shell-shocked Americans have been asking the question “How could this have happened?” and The Catastrophic Theatre’s artistic director, Jason Nodler, looks to Wallace Shawn’s The Designated Mourner for answers. “It speaks to what we have to lose as a civilization and how dangerous that is, the danger in considering an entire class of people to be enemies,” says Nodler. The apocalyptic comedy garnered rave reviews for Catastrophic when the company produced it in 2010, and it seems even more relevant today, making it our other recommendation for Friday night.
8 p.m. Friday. Continuing 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. January 8, 7 p.m. January 15. Through January 15. 3400 Main. For information, call 713-521-4533 or visit catastrophictheatre.com or matchouston.org. Pay what you can; suggested price is $35.
The next time you hear yourself saying — even if it’s just in your head — that you’re “different,” remember that you’re really not. “No matter how many differences we all have as humans, the one thing that connects us all is where we came from and the question ‘How did we get here?’” says Matthew Detrick, co-founder and artistic director of Apollo Chamber Players, which sonically explores three creation myths in a program titled Ex-Nihilo: Out of Nothing. The collaboration with Cantare Houston and the Houston Chamber Choir focuses on the creation stories from the Judeo-Christian, African and Australian perspectives through Josef Haydn, Darius Milhaud and Christopher Walczak, respectively. The world premiere of the Walczak piece is based on the Aboriginal Dreamtime creation story. “The overall effect and the way [Walczak] weaves Aboriginal folk melodies into the piece is remarkable,” says Detrick. This exploration of our origins through music and culture is one of our picks for Saturday.
8 p.m. Saturday. The MATCH, 3400 Main. For information, call 713-521-4533 or visit matchouston.org. $10 to $35.
We have become a society of zombie-like deadwalkers, navigating through life tethered to Facebook or plugged in to music, ignoring nature and our surroundings. Artist Barbara Attwell wants us to remember that there’s another way, to instead tune in to the underlying rhythms and patterns in life and art and recognize the presence of the other. “Whatever the ‘other’ is doesn’t matter: It’s personal, God, psychic energy; it’s something else going on that we don’t have a handle on,” says Attwell, adding that alienation occurs when we think we’re above nature. “It’s very delusional, and it creates a peculiar poverty of the soul in the sense that we’re removed from it.” The one-time environmentalist stalked a felter in Ireland to learn more about the 1,000-year-old technique, then brushed up on Jung’s The Red Book: Liber Novus, and is ready to take us on a mythological journey through the woods and under the water, hoping to give us the strength to move forward in our lives. In “Rewilding,” expect to see eight paintings and 20 felted sculptures, including protective bindings, vessels and seed pods. Reconnect with your archetypal energy with other like-minded seekers at this Saturday's opening reception.
There’s an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday. Continuing 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Through February 4. The Jung Center, 5200 Montrose. For information, call 713-524-8253 or visit junghouston.org. Free.
If travel isn’t on this year’s bucket list, then the whimsical drawings of Shirl Riccetti just might suffice. The avid sketcher travels extensively — “every year I try to get to Europe” — and works inspired by the sights, sounds and smells of those trips are on display in “In A Good Place.” There’s a vignette from Italy in which the villagers close up shop, though she has seen the same ritual in northern Spain and also Hungary. “[They] close the street itself for people to stroll [arm in arm], and they dress up in their Sunday finery,” says Riccetti. She says the ink and watercolor drawings, which she labels “visual stories,” are lighthearted and she always tries to insert humor. The gallery has arranged for complimentary valet parking and light refreshments from Tutto Bene Winery during the opening reception, making this our other choice for Saturday night.
There’s an opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, with an artist's talk at 6:30. Continuing 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Through February 2. Archway Gallery, 2305 Dunlavy. For information, call 713-522-2409 or visit archwaygallery.com. Free.
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The Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern has been open for a while as a repurposed space, no longer a working part of the Houston water system, but instead a diverting destination for Houstonians on an outing. You may already have been to it, but whether you have or not, now is the time to go. For the next few months the cistern is hosting a repurposed work of art that seems made for it (because it was) — “Rain: Magdalena Fernández.” If you visited the exhibition “Contingent Beauty: Contemporary Art From Latin America” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, last year, you may recognize the piece. Titled 2iPM009, it is based on concepts drawn from Piet Mondrian. In its new life as “Rain” — a collaboration between MFAH and the Buffalo Bayou Partnership to fill the cistern with art — Fernández has adapted her art specifically for the new environment. Here it reflects eerily off the concrete walls, shallow water and 221 columns. “Rain” cycles through its one-minute, 56-second loop of light and sound, time after time, for almost an hour. The raindrop sound comes from a cappella Slovenian choir members who snapped fingers, stomped heels and slapped their hands against their legs. We checked the schedule, and spots for the 30-minute viewings are still available, making this our top pick for Sunday.
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Continuing 3:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Through June 4. The Water Works, 105 Sabine. For information, call 713-752-0314 extensions 301 or 401, or visit buffalobayou.org. $8 to $10.
Sam Byrd, Steve Jansen and Randy Tibbits contributed to this post.