Our pick for Friday is FrenetiCore Dance Company's WIRED. Choreographer Rebecca French creates lots of things for the dance company. She creates movements, sounds, video, costumes and sets. And for WIRED, she also created terminology. Promotional materials tout the program as an evening of "Streaming bodies. Athletic intelligence. A visual feast of choreographic surprises." The visual feast and choreographic surprises we're used to (French is one of the most talented and innovative dancemakers in town); it's the streaming bodies and athletic intelligence that trip us up a bit.
"I was thinking of artificial intelligence, but instead of machines I thought of [our bodies]," she tells us while on a break from assembling costumes. "That's not artificial, but it is intelligence. It's like we've gone to school to train our muscles to do all these athletic, physical things the same way that we went to school to learn how to read. I was also thinking of the highly evolved machines that dancers are." She pauses, then adds, "Plus, I just thought it sounded cool."
At one point there's a dancer wearing a camera; French says that's where the term "streaming bodies" comes in. "The audience is able to see what she sees projected on the wall behind her on a live feed. The audience sees her and sees what she sees as well." At another point, video is projected onto the dancers onstage, their costumes becoming screens for the images. "The dancers become the canvas as well as the artwork."
Guest performers include circus and dance troupe Cirque La Vie, which will be dancing inside a giant metal wheel and jhon stronks artistic director of there...in the sunlight will be incorporating directives from his Facebook followers via a live feed.
As is French's tendency, there's no narrative to the works. "There's no story; it's actually one of our more abstract shows. We're just happy robots dancing onstage."
See WIRED at 8 p.m. March 28, 29 and 31 and April 3, 4 and 5. Frenetic Theater, 5102 Navigation. For information, call 8323877440 or visit freneticore.net. Paywhatyoucan to $25.
Sopranos Jessica E. Jones and Amanda Kingston share the title role in Donizetti's tragedy Lucia di Lammermoor, being presented by Opera in the Heights starting on Friday. The two women, longtime friends, have shared roles before. "Our voices are very similar and different at the same time," Jones tells us. "We're each bringing something unique to the role." Each woman has watched the other's rehearsals, and the two have discussed their contrasting approaches to the role. "It's nice to have someone that you trust and know to talk with about the role," Kingston says.
The role is an exhausting one, requiring the singer to go from young, innocent woman in love to vengeful murderer about to lose her mind. Lucia is in love with Edgardo (Anthony Webb and Wesley Morgan), but her brother Enrico (Octavio Moreno) is determined to marry her off to the wealthy but hideous Arturo (George Williams). Enrico tricks Lucia into marrying Arturo, but when she finds out she's been deceived, she begins to lose her grip on reality.
"It's a wonderful role," Jones says. "Well, not wonderful in terms of what happens to her, but wonderful in the range she goes through. There's lots to find in her." Kingston agrees. "She's an incredible, challenging character. It's exciting to get to play her."
See Lucia di Lammermoor at 7:30 p.m. March 28 and 29, April 3, 4 and 5, 2 p.m. March 30 and April 6. Lambert Hall, 1703 Heights. For information, call 7138615303 or visit operaintheheights.org. $10 to $55.
On Saturday, photographer/essayist/filmmaker/curator Peter Lucas premieres his latest short film in Unearthling: Films by Peter Lucas. follows a mysterious figure from beyond our planet as he ventures onto Earth. The gritty black-and-white photography features a harsh electronica soundtrack.
Also on the bill is a screening of Lucas' 2013 film Unearthling. When the Voyager spacecrafts were launched in 1977 they each contained a golden record meant to portray the best of humanity to any alien civilization that might happen across the probes. The records included spoken greetings in some 50 languages, whale songs and bits of music by Beethoven (a sort of message in a bottle but in space instead of an ocean). Lucas' film is a collage of the records' contents. The presentation opens with a live audiovisual installation performance by Lucas and artist/film collector Bill Daniel. You don't get more farout than this.
Unearthling: Films by Peter Lucas is at 7 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information call 713-639-7515 or visit mfah.org. $9.
Another choice for Saturday is the exhibit "Ellen Kaplowitz Kingdom of Gold: Photographs of Ghana" captures images of a rare and elaborate event, the enstoolment of a new king. In this case, it's the installation of Asantehene Otomfuo Osei Tutu II as King of the Ashanti Kingdom.
"I think most Westerners think of African countries as being very poor, so I think the splendor of the celebration, the incredible gold and rich fabrics, will be a surprise," Kaplowitz tells us. "In addition, unlike some other African nations, Ghana has achieved a level of success so that the people have a good sense of themselves, a pride and respect for others, and in this case, for the Asantehene." Among the 30 images showcasing the celebration of Otomfuo Osei Tutu II's ascension, there are also modern photographs of Elmina and Cape Coast, which were often the departure point for captured Africans being transported as slaves during colonial times.
"Ellen Kaplowitz Kingdom of Gold: Photographs of Ghana" is on exhibit noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays. Through May 15, Houston Museum of African American Culture, 4807 Caroline. For information, call 713-526-1015 or visit hmaac.org. Free.
Our choice for Sunday is Time Stands Still by Pulitzer Prizewinning playwright Donald Margulies at Main Street Theater. In it, photojournalist (Sarah Gaston) and a journalist (Seán Patrick Judge) who have worked together for several years covering the news -- mostly in war zones -- have returned home from their latest assignment. "She's coming back from being nearly killed in a roadside bomb explosion that killed the person sitting next to her," says Steve Garfinkel, who is directing the play.
Her companion, the reporter and writer, has had a breakdown of sorts overseas and had returned from Iraq before her. Now they have to sort out not only their ongoing relationship but the moral issues behind the work they are doing, Garfinkel says. "Where are the moral boundaries between what's right and wrong of photographing people as they're digging their own dead children out of rubble?"
One argument is that if they were not there to cover it, how would the world know? The other: Does it make any difference? There are four characters in the twoact play -- a photo editor and former mentor to the photographer (Jack Young) and his much younger girlfriend (Lisa Villegas) -- but the main focus is on the female photographer as she decides whether to settle down and raise a family or return to the war theater, Garfinkel says. Nominated for two Tony awards, the play clocks in at under two hours including intermission.
See Times Stands Still at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Through April 19. 2540 Times Boulevard. For information, call 7135246706 or visit mainstreettheater.com. $20 to $36.
Jef with One F and Margaret Downing contributed to this post.
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