Even though Macbeth is one of William Shakespeare's shortest plays, Main Street Theater will be putting on an 80-minute version with no intermission courtesy of visiting director and actor Guy Roberts in a co--production with the Prague Shakespeare Company. It's our pick for Friday. "It really streamlines the play and focuses on the story of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, so for example Lady Macduff is cut entirely. They're still killed, but you hear about it offstage," says Roberts, whose previous visits to Houston with Henry V and Richard III have been to great acclaim.
"Once the play starts, we hopefully get the audience on this whirlwind of the action because it's kind of what happens to Macbeth. The play begins and once those witches speak that prophecy, events just tumble forth almost seemingly out of control. Before we know what's happened, Lady Macbeth is dead and Macbeth is fighting for the crown."
And speaking of witches, yes, they get to say, "Double, double toil and trouble," and now there's nine of them instead of three. "The witches have a much larger role because they also double as the servants in the household, so they're always there listening kind of in the background," Roberts says. "Every actor is onstage the entire show until you die. Once you die, you get to leave the stage," Roberts says.
Roberts plays the title role, with Jessica Boone playing his Lady Macbeth. At three performances, actors David Wald and Bree Welch will play the leads. 7:30 p.m. February 27, March 3 and 6, 8 p.m. February 28, March 1, 7 and 8, and 3 p.m. March 2 and March 9. Alternative cast (Wald and Welch) 5 p.m. March 1 and 7:30 p.m. March 5 and 9. Through March 9. Main Street Theater, Rice Village, 2540 Times Boulevard. For information, call 713-524-6706 or visit mainstreettheater.com. $20 to $39.
Houston's newest dance company, Nicolay Dance Works, is led by a very familiar face, Dana Nicolay. He first came to Houston in 1978, when he joined the Houston Ballet as an apprentice under Ben Stevenson. After touring with his own company, Raven Dance Project, during the 1990s, Nicolay joined the arts faculty at Sam Houston State University.
Ready to once again launch his own company, Nicolay has put together Timeline, a debut program the new company performs on Friday and Saturday. The program includes works he has created over the past 30 years, including Vivaldi Trois, winner of 2013's Houston Fringe Festival Critics Choice Award. (Nicolay choreographed Vivaldi Trois in 1987 and 1988.)
A key work is Nicolay's dramatic Anthem, (seen above) based on the history-making moment when a man blocked an advancing column of tanks during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. "That was so inspiring," says Nicolay. "He stood there and faced [the tanks] down. It was incredible."
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Barn (formerly Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex), 2201 Preston. For information, call 936-581-3657 or visit nicolaydanceworks.com. $5 to $15.
Director Tom Stell admits that Ruined, the latest show by Obsidian Art Space and one of our choices for Saturday, isn't a cheerful story. Four women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, raped during the unrest of the civil war there, are shunned by fellow villagers. The four eventually find refuge in a brothel under the protection of madame Mama Nadi. Sexual assault survivors are considered to be ruined, no longer acceptable in normal society in the Congo, Stell tells us. "Ruined women are rejected by villagers because of fear that the women's bad luck will rub off on other people."
A 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner, Ruined is a difficult but important story, Stell says. "We aren't going to perform lighthearted comedies all the time. This is a great play; it shows these women not as victims but as survivors who are trying to make sense of the crazy world around them." Stell says the cast members spent time during the rehearsal process discussing their own experiences with abuse and rejection. "You don't have to go through the exact same thing to understand these women, to understand how strong and resilient they are."
See Ruined at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. March 16. Through March 22. 3522 White Oak. For information, call 832-889-7837 or visit obsidianartspace.org. $20.
Grammy-nominated pianist, composer and bandleader Manuel Valera makes his Da Camera debut on Saturday with the Manuel Valera New Cuban Express sextet.
Rooted in the Afro-Cuban music of his homeland, Valera mixes Latin rhythms and jazz techniques to create a fresh and exciting sound that the term "Latin jazz" doesn't quite capture. A native of Havana, Valera has performed with such Latin and jazz greats as Paquito D'Rivera, Arturo Sandoval and Dafnis Prieto (who recently performed as part of the Da Camera jazz series with Valera in his band).
See the Manuel Valera New Cuban Express at 8 p.m. Saturday. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit dacamera.com. $35 to $65.
Though much of his legacy is linked to oil-painting portraiture, American artist John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) spent much of the 20th century creating works in watercolor. More than 90 of those pieces -- whose subjects run the gamut from Italian gardens and maritime scenes to lounging ladies and fierce Bedouin riders -- will be on display in the exhibit "John Singer Sargent: The Watercolors" at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
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"In watercolor, Sargent was liberated to explore subjects and scenes he was personally passionate about," says Kaylin Weber, the museum's assistant curator of American painting and sculpture. "His watercolors reveal his longstanding interest in travel. His works became almost like a visual memoir, tracing his travels around Europe and the Middle East."
Consisting entirely of watercolor works shown at two New York exhibits in 1909 and 1912, the exhibit also showcases Sargent's deft use of light in his works and scenes more cropped than expansive. "He did not paint broad, sweeping views of the Grand Canal in Venice, as predecessors had done," Weber continues. "Instead, he captured the underside of a famous bridge or the prow of a gondolier's boat. This approach made his watercolors feel more intimate and undoubtedly quite new and fresh."
Regular "John Singer Sargent: The Watercolors" are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 12:15 to 7 p.m. Sundays. Through May 26. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7300 or visit mfah.org. $20 to $23.