Our first suggestion for Friday is the first of four productions for the Hune Company Living Room Series Not Mad. “It’s a brand-new show that we’ve created. It’s all Shakespeare’s text, but we’ve pieced together pieces [from King Lear] to create our own piece,” said Matt Hune, artistic director of Hune Company. “It’s about dealing with the death of a parent and growing up, and of course we have issues with the will — just like in King Lear — that’s a big part of the tension of the piece.”
The production is part dance and part concert. “Really, we’ve focused on a lot of visual elements here and movement and dance,” said Hune, describing the piece as an abstract performance. “It’s a play, [but] by no means a linear story with characters and dialogue.”
We asked Hune about the rather unusual title, the Living Room Series. “It’s actually one whole floor in the home that has been converted into a black-box theater. We actually live on top and above it,” said Hune. He’s trying to create an intimate setting that seems more like an evening with friends, that allows for drinks and conversation afterward.
“Brock Wagner, [founder of] Saint Arnold Brewing company, is donating drinks for us and has been a great sponsor for what we’re doing and is totally on board with us and is excited about it,” said Hune. The evening is BYOB, and free beer and wine are offered at every performance.
7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Through August 8. Hune Company Living Room, 1210 Stanford. For information, call 713-344-1291 or visit hunecompany.com. $20.
Let’s be honest with ourselves. The vast, vast majority of grandiose and ambitious plans we hatch during late-night booze binges never come near fruition, nor seem even feasible in the sober light of day. (“Let’s start an alpaca-and-marijuana farm. In Mexico!”) But for Tom Kirlin, his melding of mind-clearing nutrition and a love of underground art has led to the creation of the Pancakes & Booze Art Show, another option for Friday. The event — now taking place in more than 30 cities around the world — brings together artists who get to show and sell their unique, hip work to patrons while they quaff beer and chow down on some fluffy goodies to the sounds of indie musicians and DJs.
“The title of the show spawned from my college days of sobering up at IHOP after a night of drinking. I always thought how great it would be to open a ‘pancakes and booze’ restaurant,” Kirlin recalls. “In 2009, I opened up a small photo/film studio in Los Angeles and started throwing art shows on days I had nothing booked. I took the two ideas and just merged them together.”
He adds that the majority of the work on display is from artists who have never shown in public before, and that the Houston edition is “one of their biggest” with more than 50 participating artists, live music and body painting. However, the question has to be asked about the real star of the show: Are the flapjacks fresh…or frozen? “We make the pancakes fresh on site,” Kirlin says decidedly. “And you get to pick what toppings are included in your pancake. We’ll have bananas, chocolate chips, blueberries and strawberries…or all of the above!”
Now, about that pot/alpaca farm…
8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel. For information, visit pancakesandbooze.com. $5.
The annual Houston Shakespeare Festival at Miller Outdoor Theatre produced by the University of Houston’s School of Theatre & Dance is always a highlight of the summer. This year’s offerings — Macbeth (tragedy) and The Merchant of Venice (technically a comedy) — will be presented with the usual combination of professional actors and students. The Merchant of Venice is one of our choices for Saturday.
Tiger Reel, artistic director of Action! Theatre Company in California, who is directing Merchant, has set this production up as a TV game show — an approach he developed with mentor Jack Young, head of UH’s Graduate Acting Program, who’ll be directing Macbeth and reprising his role as Shylock in Merchant. “The game is set up to find her a suitable husband. [It uses] the idea of tying it into a reality show like The Bachelor,” Reel says.
Venice becomes Wall Street as merchants become traders. Reel calls Merchant a modern kind of play because of the flaws in some of its main characters but agrees with the phrase “problem play” that’s been attached to it. “It’s a problem play because of the anti-Semitism. Once you kind of get past the need for an actual hero in this play — which is very much like a Martin Scorsese or Quentin Tarantino, in a way — you can still kind of root for people in a bad situation who are trying to do what they think is right even though it’s wrong. Merchant is called a comedy because there’s weddings at the end and no one dies at the end, and because it’s not a tragedy or history, it’s got kind of lumped into the comedies.”
It’ll be fast-paced as well. “We’ve gotten this down to a 90-minute play with an intermission in the middle,” Reel says.
Professional actor Mirron Willis (Henry IV, Part I at last year’s Houston Shakespeare Festival) has returned, this time in the roles of Antonio in Merchant and Banquo in Macbeth. His switches won’t be just costume changes. “Antonio is kind of a loner, and Banquo is one of Macbeth’s good friends,” says Willis. One is rich, the other not so rich; one a warrior, the other pretty far removed from that life. “The big question in the dressing room is what character are we doing tonight? It’s a mental, physical and artistic challenge.”
Willis, who spent three years with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, has a commanding voice that he’s been using in audiobook recordings (check out some of the newest from author Walter Mosley) and in recent work with the Houston Symphony. As Willis says, if you’re one of those people who have never understood Shakespeare, come out and hear and see his words played out on the Miller stage and you may have an epiphany.
Macbeth will be performed at 8:30 p.m. July 31, August 2, 4, 6, 8. The Merchant of Venice will be performed 8:30 p.m. August 1, 5, 7, 9. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park. For information, call 281?373?3386 or visit milleroutdoortheatre.com. Free.
On Saturday, FrenetiCore Dance will present The Rite of Summer, its first ever full evening of choreography on the Wortham Center’s Cullen Theater stage. This past February, the company showcased an excerpt of its previous program, Dancing With The Machine, at the Cullen as part of the 13th Annual Dance Houston Festival. Now Artistic Director Rebecca French and dancers command the stage for one night, along with guest performers Cirque La Vie, one of Houston’s premier circus companies.
The evening will include a revival of 2013’s celebrated The Rite of Summer — FrenetiCore Dance’s modern interpretation of the historically significant and controversial 1913 ballet The Rite of Spring, set to Igor Stravinsky’s score. Adam Castañeda, FrenetiCore Dance company member, says, “Dancing to Stravinsky is a challenge because his work is so dissonant…But composer Chris Becker has added some interesting shading, which allowed me to inhabit the music and play off the characters we’re creating.” Whereas the original ballet tells the story of a primitive sacrificial ritual, French’s work celebrates life and nature.
Joining The Rite of Summer on the bill is Film Noir — a fresh collaboration between choreographer French and Houston singer-songwriter Andrew Karnavas. His album Film Noir is the backdrop for the 18-minute dance, which explores the glamour, style and intrigue of the cinematic genre as dancers portray no-nonsense detectives and sultry femmes fatales.
8 p.m. August 1. Wortham Center, Cullen Theater, 501 Texas. For information, call 832-387-7440 or visit freneticore.net. $16 to $50.
Our suggestion for Sunday is the documentary The New Rijksmuseum. Rarely do politics and art go together smoothly. Boasting walls covered in priceless works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals and Steen, and enough decorative arts to satisfy any HGTV fan, Amsterdam’s glorious Rijksmuseum, a wonder of the world, needed a face-lift. Shoehorned over the decades into and around the sprawling, original 1885 Pierre Cuypers brick building, the museum, an homage to the Dutch Golden Age, closed its doors in 2005 and began a three-year demolition. “Ha!” as they say in Dutch.
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Three years came and went, and so did the budget, which ballooned out of control. Museum Director Ronald de Leeuw and the prestigious high-priced architects, Antonio Cruz and Antonio Ortiz, found themselves underwater, as did the construction workers. City burghers constantly put up their own barricades to progress. De Leeuw got the boot (so, too, did Cruz and Ortiz), only to be replaced by Wim Pijbes, straight out of a Hals masterpiece. The next hurdle was dealing with the powerful bicyclist lobby of Amsterdam; they were not amused with the redesigned entrance facade, which would clog traffic. In Amsterdam, throughout Holland, in fact, bicycles are revered if not obsessed over, and attention must be paid.
In The New Rijksmuseum documentary filmmaker Oeke Hoogendijk spent almost a decade shooting this behind-the-scenes, fly-on-the-wall account of what it takes in guts and glory to redo a national monument. It’s a four-hour journey in two parts, but when Rembrandt’s immortal Night Watch is revealed — hung in its original spot of reverence at the far end of the gallery, whose dark ceiling is now strewn with stars — the trek is well worth it.
5 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7300 or visit mfah.org/films. $9.
Susie Tommaney, Margaret Downing, Bob Ruggiero, Ashley Clos and D.L. Groover contributed to this post.