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Best Virtual Bets: Texas Music, Second Chances, and a Deconstructed Classic

Tamara Siler graces the virtual stage during Stages Studio Sessions.EXPAND
Tamara Siler graces the virtual stage during Stages Studio Sessions.
Photo by Priscilla Dickson

This weekend just happens to be National Make Your Bed Day. We support the art of making your bed, especially if you’re going to use it as a comfy place to recline while partaking in some of this week’s best virtual bets.

If you visited the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston last year, you probably remember the 3,500 shoelaces used in the titular work from “Nari Ward: We the People,” a career-spanning exhibition that included more than 30 of Ward’s sculptures, installations, paintings and more. The New York-based artist has made a career out of finding inspiration in everyday, found objects and repurposing them, so it was only fitting that Urban Souls Dance Company, led by founder and choreographer Harrison Guy, be in turn inspired by Ward’s work. The company returned to the CAMH to perform a dance theater response. The performance, titled “Re/Written in Stone: Ideas on the 28th Amendment” occurred in August 2019, but on September 10 at 6:30 p.m. CAMH will release the performance here for all to enjoy again or for the first time.

The Apollo Chamber Players’ 20x2020 Virtual Festival continues this week which, if you remember, is the culmination of an initiative to commission 20 new works by 2020. First up this week, on Thursday, September 10, at 7 p.m. is episode five, which will feature the fifth of the 20 composers, Arthur Hernandez, and his work, Texas. The Apollo Chamber Players premiered the piece, about the diversity found in the Lone Star State’s musical traditions, for string quartet in January 2016. Then on Sunday, September 13, at 7 p.m., episode six will revisit composer Alexandra DuBois’s Obala, which premiered back in April 2016. Again written for string quartet, but this time inspired by Croatian and Yugoslav folk music, this piece will also be accompanied by Houston Ballet First Soloist Oliver Halkowich. New episodes will continue to premiere every Thursday and Sunday at 7 p.m. on Apollo Chamber Players’ social media platforms, including YouTube and Facebook.

You’d be forgiven if you’re at a loss when you hear the name Mabel Loomis Todd. Loomis’s name is one you may only recognize in the context of Emily Dickinson, as she was directly responsible for getting Dickinson’s work published. Though Loomis herself was also a writer and world traveler – with a whole life lived in addition to typing up Dickinson’s poems and sending them out until they were finally published – she’s often reduced to some form of “the adulteress who made Emily Dickinson famous.” But this weekend Loomis will get her due when Stages presents Rebecca Gilman’s one-woman play A Woman of the World. The virtual, regional premiere starring Sally Edmundson will open September 11 and run through September 20 on demand via YouTube, with a community talkback scheduled for Sunday, September 20, at 6:30 p.m. Free, but registration is required.

Sally Edmundson in Stages' production of A Woman of the World.EXPAND
Sally Edmundson in Stages' production of A Woman of the World.
Photo by Peter Ton

Speaking of Stages, a familiar face will grace this week’s edition of Stages Studio Sessions: Tamara Siler. Siler has appeared in more than 80 productions around town, so you may have seen her not only at Stages, but Main Street Theater, the Ensemble Theatre, Theatre Under the Stars and more. Her one-hour-long program, a celebration of the music that inspires her, will be livestreamed on Friday, September 11, at 7:30 p.m. and will then be available on demand for 48 hours through September 13. Free, but register here, and note that sessions from Raven Justine Troup, LaBraska Washington, Jasminne and Lupe Mendez, and Mark Ivy are still to come.

We’re big fans of the work done by NobleMotion Dance, so much so that we were immediately intrigued by an upcoming performance from their pre-professional company, NMD2. On Sunday, September 13, at 4 p.m. NMD2 will present ONE, a deconstructed take on the classic Broadway musical A Chorus Line, created by New York-based artist Mike Esperanza. The dance maker’s work has been seen on numerous stages, from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and now he’s produced and choreographed ONE especially for the 18 members of NMD2 to perform remotely from their homes. The live dance for camera will be approximately 30 minutes and will be streamed on NobleMotion Dance’s YouTube channel.

In addition to creating a work for NMD2, Esperanza has also created a work for the dance majors over at the University of St. Thomas. UST Dance will premiere the work, Iris, a live dance performed remotely from locations all over the state this Friday, September 11, at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on the UST Dance YouTube channel.

Second chance alert! If you missed the New American Voices Playwriting Festival over at the Landing Theatre Company this summer, we’ve got good news. Beginning at noon on September 14 and running through 10 p.m. September 20, you can enjoy Encore Week of the 2020 New American Voices Playwriting Festival. Not only will you have access to four staged readings from up-and-coming playwrights, you can also virtually visit (or revisit) seven theater-centric panels. We would definitely recommend checking out one stellar panel in particular, "The Future of American Regional Theatre," which gathered together artistic directors from the Alley Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, City Theatre Company, Portland Center Stage, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and Actor's Theatre of Louisville for a telling conversation about where regional theater is and where it’s going. Visit here for more information.

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