Catching Up With the Arts in Houston: Front Porch Poetry & More

Dabrina Sandifer performs "Great Grandmother's Pearls" in Pin Lim's video From the Front Porch collection.
Dabrina Sandifer performs "Great Grandmother's Pearls" in Pin Lim's video From the Front Porch collection. Screenshot

Sitting on a front porch in Houston, Dabrina Sandifer reads out the poem "Great Grandmother's Pearls," running through the words about the woman who "gave me pearls. She gave me pistols." It's an affecting delivery captured by photographer/videographer Pin Lim.

Jennifer Decker, artistic director of Mildred's Umbrella Theatre Company, clued us in on what Lim has been doing to focus on artists during the downtime for theater professionals because of the coronavirus. Lim's series Poems From the Front Porch is available on his YouTube channel along with Dancing in the City and Sounds of the 713.

All participants are local artists and Decker has nothing but praise for Lim, who is known throughout the local theater world for his photos. "This is a way he's trying to keep the art alive, and he's doing it for free," she says.

Other performing arts groups are doing what they can to keep the arts alive and in the minds of Houston area residents.

Over at The Catastrophic Theatre they are offering a free live Happy Hour Q&A on Thursday July 23 at 6 p.m. with Song About Himself playwright Mickle Maher, director Jason Nodler, and cast members Noel Bowers, Tamarie Cooper, and Jovan Jackson. Moderated by Dr. Rob Shimko, Catastrophic company dramaturg and director of the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance.

Main Street Theater has several free Shakespeare viewing options. On July 23 at 6:30 p.m. there will be Speak of Me as I Am: a Celebration of African American Contributions to Shakespeare. And on July 27 and August 10 at 6:45 p.m: BYOBard is scheduled.

The Landing Theatre Company has announced it is accepting full-length play scripts from August 1 through September 30, 2020 for its 2021 New American Voices Playwriting Festival. Four plays will be selected for staged readings during the Landing Theatre Company's Spring festival in Houston next year.

Selected playwrights must attend the readings (online or in-person depending on the situation in Spring 2021). A stipend of $100 will be awarded to each winning playwright. Playwrights must be prepared to cover their own travel expenses if the event is held in person. There is a $12 fee for submitting.

Landing is still finalizing preparations for its 2020 New American Voices Festival set for July 28 through August 2, 2020 which will be online this year and feature four new plays and eight panel workshops. Visit for tickets.

A.D. Players has announced it will be making (still unannounced) schedule changes — plays that better lend themselves to performance during pandemic conditions according to Artistic Director Kevin Dean — and that for right now they are suspending all ticket sales for 2021. The theater has already lost $1 million as a result of the shutdown caused by the pandemic, according to Executive Director Jake Speck.

It is still on track for its August 15 After Dinner Affair event from 7:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. which viewers can watch for free or donate to help the theater make it through financially.

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