Things To Do

Best Bets: Far East, The Flow and Mozart By Moonlight

Dengue Fever will play Miller Outdoor Theater in a joint concert with Luna Li.
Dengue Fever will play Miller Outdoor Theater in a joint concert with Luna Li. Photo by Marc Walker
Hurray for a three-day weekend! As we enter the month of September, greeted by the welcome sight of the Labor Day holiday, the city’s arts organizations are becoming more and more active. That means we’ve got a lot for you in this week’s best bets. Keep reading for compelling documentaries, classic music and much more.

In 1969, groups like the Black Panther Party, Young Patriots Organization and Young Lords came together to form a multi-ethnic alliance in Chicago. On Thursday, August 31, at 6:30 p.m. the Houston Museum of African American Culture will screen The First Rainbow Coalition, documentarian Ray Santisteban’s look back at the organization. Santisteban told the San Antonio Current that he hopes the film serves “as a counternarrative to those voices that continue to divide. Back then, people were able to look past their historical fears and try something new for the sake of their communities. We need to take that kind of leap of faith again.” You can RSVP for the free screening here, and stay after for a conversation with Santisteban, Henry "Poison" Gaddis, and El Franco Lee.
It will be a busy weekend for The Pilot Dance Project as they present three signature festivals in one weekend, starting this evening with the first of the two-night Houston Fringe Festival. Tonight, August 31, at 7:30 p.m. at The MATCH the festival and the Houston Cinema Arts Society will screen Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation, a film that “offers concrete support for the idea, usually treated either with tiresome sentimentality or weary suspicion, that art can heal some of the wounds that life inflicts,” followed by a panel discussion. At 8 p.m. on Friday, September 1, the festival will close with the Anything Goes showcase, a collection of works 10 minutes or less. Tickets are available for $15 online and $20 at the door. Note the work of Caouette will also be featured during Queer Fringe Houston on Sunday, September 3, at 7:30 p.m.

On Thursday, August 31, at 8 p.m. the folks behind the Fade to Black Play Festival – that would be Shabach Enterprise – will introduce a new series to Houston called The Flow: A Night of Monologues. The showcase of monologues, all written by African-American playwrights and paired with music and dance, will feature about two dozen works during the two-hour show. Tonight’s performance is a pay-what-you-can dress rehearsal. The remaining performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, September 1; 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, September 2; and 3 p.m. Sunday, September 3. Tickets to these four shows can be purchased here for $35 (or you can try to nab one for $45 at the door).
You may have heard Dengue Fever’s psychedelic rock stylings earlier this year when the Alley Theatre staged Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band and, if you don’t know, Luna Li is “a must-know name in terms of exciting new indie artists,” whose “music teeters on the edge of rock, dreampop, and classical.” You can catch both on Friday, September 1, at 8 p.m. at Miller Outdoor Theatre during Luna Li and Dengue Fever in Concert, produced by Asia Society Texas. You can reserve a ticket for covered seating beginning here at 10 a.m. today or you can grab a blanket or lawn chair and opt for ticketless seating on the Hill. If you can’t make it, you can catch the concert on the Miller Outdoor Theatre website, YouTube channel or Facebook page.

On the Verge Theatre, in association with The Alta Arts, will open their latest production on Friday, September 1, at 8 p.m., A.R. Gurney’s Far East. The “tasteful” semiautobiographical play, is set in 1954 and centers “on an American sailor in Japan who falls in love with a local girl.” Gurney “turns this admittedly familiar situation into an opportunity to consider such hefty subjects as United States involvement in both Korea and Vietnam, homosexuality in the military, life-sacrificing espionage and Eastern versus Western notions of femininity.” Performances will continue through September 17 at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays (with an additional pay-as-you-can industry night scheduled for Monday, September 18). Tickets can be purchased here for $30 to $40.
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Andrew Smith will participate in this year’s 3rd Annual Texas Latino/a/x Contemporary Dance Festival.
Photo by Lynn Lane
The Pilot Dance Project returns to The MATCH on Saturday, September 2, at 8 p.m. for the 3rd Annual Texas Latino/a/x Contemporary Dance Festival. The one-night-only event will showcase works by Latinx choreographers. The program will include works from both veteran and up-and-coming dance artists, including a world premiere work from the Texas Woman's University’s Elisa De La Rosa, the University of Houston’s M. Gabriela Estrada’s “Not a Single Carmen More!” (a piece originally created for a Day of Action Against Domestic Violence in 2019) and “A Quiet Ending” by Pilot Dance Project Executive and Artistic Director Adam Castan͂eda. Tickets can be purchased online for $15 or at the door for $20.

Hear one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “most felicitous (and famous) ‘little’ pieces” – Serenade No. 13 in G major, better known as “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” – on Saturday, September 2, at 8 p.m. “in its proper outdoor, nocturnal setting” when Mercury Chamber Orchestra brings the piece, as well as other Mozart favorites, to Miller Outdoor Theatre. The program, titled Mozart By Moonlight, is free and you can reserve a ticket for the covered seating area here beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday, September 1, or pack up a blanket or lawn chair and make yourself comfortable on the no-ticket-required Hill. If you’d rather stay home, the concert will also be livestreamed and you can find it on the Miller Outdoor Theatre website, YouTube channel or Facebook page.
Peek behind the scenes at the largest exhibit of work by Johannes Vermeer on Monday, September 4, at 2 p.m. when the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston screens Suzanne Raes’s Close to Vermeer. The “insightful and irresistible” film is “a gentle, thoughtful documentary” about the exhibit at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, but more than just “a chronicle of the exhibition.” The film “is a globe-trotting tale of diplomacy, a detective story and a fascinating insight into the insular world of museum curation, research and preservation, which helps keep culture alive through the march of history.” The documentary will also be screened twice on Sunday, September 3, at 2 and 5 p.m. Tickets for any of the three screenings can be purchased here for $7 to $9.
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Natalie de la Garza is a contributing writer who adores all things pop culture and longs to know everything there is to know about the Houston arts and culture scene.