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The Five Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Quench and More

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Can't make it to the beach? Not to worry, starting this Friday, FrenetiCore Dance is bringing the water to you in Quench.

Choreographer Rebecca French and her collaborators are reportedly set to explore "the dynamic depths and transcendent nature of water." (Believe us, it's going to be much, much wilder than it sounds!) Some 14 dancers perform in Quench as glamorous mermaids, lovely water sprites, bathing beauties and aquatic gods. Using water as a symbol of life,

French and company dive into the deep end of the pool with live music by Spike the Percussionist, costumes and site-specific dance film by Ashley Horn and lighting by Frank Vela. Expect funny and serious presentations of invented mythology and new legends, some silliness and some profound truths. And most of all, expect to get wet.

Quench runs at 8 p.m. August 22, 23, 25, 28, 29 and 30. Frenetic Theater, 5102 Navigation. For information, call 713-447-7624 or visit freneticore.net. $16 to $25.

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They are big. They are colorful. And for the "Monica Vidal: Cull" exhibition, they are installed at the University Museum of Texas Southern University, another of our Friday suggestions.

Artist Monica Vidal creates large scale three-dimensional sculptures that are original and vibrant. Her newest installation, Burning Hive, is based on a traditional quilt pattern called the Starburst that's integrated into a three-dimensional form of linked hexagons. Vidal's first Hive premiered in 2009 at Houston's Lawndale Art Center. Later, Tumor Hive was exhibited at venues across Texas including Brazos Gallery in Dallas and The Art Depot in Lubbock. "Cull" will also feature Temple Hive, previously exhibited in Houston, Tulsa and Kansas, and Falling Hive, shown in Houston and Austin last year. The new Burning Hive is the most colorful of Vidal's unique sculptural installations to date. It may be inspired by a traditional quilt pattern, but Vidal's creation is ultra-contemporary. There will also be sculptural maquettes and drawings, prints and gouache paintings.

Regular gallery hours for "Monica Vidal: Cull" are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Through September 28. University Museum at Texas Southern University, 3100 Cleburne. For information, call 713‑313‑7145 or visit umusetsu.org. Free.

Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley spent eight years filming the documentary Battle for Brooklyn. That's not quite as long as Richard Linklater spent on Boyhood, but it's still quite an investment. The film, which screens at the 4th Annual ArCH Film Festival: Architecture Meets Life, is a look at the intense fight waged by the Prospect Heights community to save Brooklyn from private developers who want to build a basketball arena and more than a dozen high-rise buildings in the middle of a residential neighborhood. At the center of the fight is graphic designer Daniel Goldstein. The last homeowner in his building, Goldstein protested what he saw as the developer's abuse of eminent domain in acquiring the land needed for the project. Battle for Brooklyn chronicles Goldstein's transformation from the guy next door to passionate community organizer.

Ned Dodington, senior AIA associate, says, "Architecture touches every part of our daily lives. An awareness and appreciation of our built environment is vital to improving our quality of life...This year's ArCH film festival addresses these quality-of-life issues head-on -- it's really a fantastic line-up."

Other films on the festival schedule are Saturday's The Human Scale, a look at work by Danish architect Jan Gehl and other urban planners to transform major cities to a more user-friendly standard, and Biophilic Design, an examination of green -architecture and the trend to create buildings that connect people to nature.

All films screen at 7 p.m. The Human Scale on August 22 and Biophilic Design on August 23. Architecture Center Houston, 315 Capitol. For information, call 713-520-0155 or visit aiahouston.org. $10 to $20.

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On Sunday, downtown's performing arts companies and venues throw open their doors for the 21st Annual TransCanada Theater District Open House Presented by Bank of America. There are two new features to this year's unofficial launch of the new arts season: Bayou Music Center and Bayou Place will be open for tours and a food truck park set up in Jones Plaza.

Perryn Leech, acting board chair of the Houston Downtown Alliance, says, "It is a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase the fantastic, world-class venues we have to offer and to peek behind the curtain of the vibrant arts life in downtown Houston." Alley Theatre, Theatre Under The Stars and Gexa Energy Broadway at the Hobby Center, each of which has a home stage in the area, are participating with backstage tours, short performances and give-aways.

Music organizations Houston Grand Opera, Da Camera of Houston and Houston Symphony are also on board (look for an afternoon concert by the Symphony) as are Houston Ballet, the Society for the Performing Arts and Uniquely Houston®. There are loads of free performances (the SPA is offering tango lessons), appearances (the Houston Ballet's Nutcracker and Sugar Plum Fairy are set for a visit) and dozens of information booths with the latest on subscription packages and specials for each company.

The fun starts at noon. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713‑658-8938 or visit houstontheaterdistrict.org. Free.

There's the usual rivalries and Gothic relationships between families and friends. Yet the characters are more jet-set swingers than salt of the earth -- even when they call the fictional town of Harrison, Texas, home. Acclaimed playwright Horton Foote was venturing pretty far afield from his usual work when he did The Old Friends, and of our choices for Sunday. It's the story of what occurs when Sibyl Borden (Hallie Foote, the playwright's daughter) returns home and creates a domino effect that uncovers long-hidden secrets and longings. "This is one of Horton's least known works he started writing in the '60s at a time when he and Tennessee [Williams] and Edward Albee were all experimenting with the bounds of outrageousness in storytelling and creating characters, and Horton really went out on a limb with this one in terms of the depiction of sexual antics and drinking parties and he still hewed to his own distinctive style and has a very beautiful spiritual end to the play," said Michael Wilson, who is back once again to direct a Horton Foote play at the Alley. Wilson said he and Alley Artistic Director Gregory Boyd wanted to do the play for years but the timing had never worked out till now.

The regional premiere will become the opening play of the 2014-15 Alley season at its temporary home at the University of Houston. Besides Hallie Foote, the standout cast includes Betty Buckley and Cotter Smith as well as company members Jeffrey Bean and Jay Sullivan. "Horton always thought this could be one of his major works. He knew that he was going to surprise people, perhaps shock some others, and he was eager to have the play out there Wilson said. "The darkness and meanness of [these] people is so out there and real that it's funny. Although, at a certain point it becomes not funny."

See Good Friends at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays; Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. select Sundays. Through September 7. Please note: this production is not at the Alley Theatre, but at the University of Houston's Wortham Theatre, 4116 Elgin. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $26 to$86.

Margaret Downing contributed to this post.

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