Jordan Jaffe, founder of Black Lab Theatre, tells us he hopes the company's newest production, Paul Downs Colaizzo's provocative he-said/she-said drama Really Really, draws in 20- and 30-somethings audience members. "My aim is to bring younger people into theater in Houston," Jaffe, who directs the show, says. "Really Really is one of the most important, provocative dramas that has been written about millennials by a millennial. To get millennials to put down their phones and come to the theater, the play has to be relevant to their experiences."
Really, Really, one of our picks for Friday, has been called the Lord of the Flies for the millennial generation. The comparison might not be strong enough. Really Really seems a much more blistering indictment of society, perhaps because the circumstances are so familiar. Set at an ivy league college, the drama centers on a group of students as they try to piece together what happened the night before at a wild keg party. It's clear that two of the friends had sex -- Davis and Leigh (she's Jimmy's girlfriend). But was it an ill-advised hookup or rape? No one is sure, not even, it seems, Davis and Leigh.
The students, overachievers on track to early and brilliant success, each respond differently. From outrage to doubt, sympathy to indifference, the responses reflect not so much compassion or concern as self-centered conceit. ("How will this affect me?" each student seems to be asking.) Jaffe says the play examines the "gray area between ambition and selfishness." Jaffe tells us, "I don't know many people in my generation who have not had to navigate some horror story related to party/hookup culture."
8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and April 21. Through May 4. Frenetic Theater, 5102 Navigation. For information, call 713-515-4028 or visit blacklabtheatre.com. $25.
The artwork created by George Reynolds may look like advertisements, but the subtle difference is that they are pseudo-ads, not intended to sell anything. On Friday, Fresh Arts opens "Post Persuasion," an exhibition of print and video ads created by Reynolds, who has already convinced publishers to run 26 of these print "ads." In an era when pitchmen hawk their products vociferously and advertising pops up willy-nilly on our laptops, there's something refreshing about this.
Sarah Schellenberg, program manager of Fresh Arts, says, "One of the most surprising things is that George's work is not 'anti-advertising.' When I first saw his semi-absurd ads for kneecaps and watermelon paintings, I thought it was critical commentary on the barrage of marketing messages we are all inundated with daily, like, they were subtly subversive 'anti-ads.' But after speaking with him about it, I was surprised that he likes advertising; he just wanted to make art, too."
There is an opening reception with the artist at 6 p.m. on April 18. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Through May 30. Spacetaker Gallery at Fresh Arts, 2101 Winter Street. For information, call 713-868-1839 or visit spacetaker.org. Free.
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Fundraising isn't usually this much fun but the women of the Benefit Betties can't help themselves. Why just have a party when you can have a ball? As in the second annual Benefit Betties Ball: Betties Under the Big Top. The group, founded by burlesque performer Al E. Cat (seen above), raises funds to send care packages to enlisted men and women on duty around the world. "In the past three years the Benefit Betties have managed to send over 150 care packages to soldiers overseas and our annual ball is our main source of income to do our charitable work," Al E. Cat says via press materials . "[With the Benefit Betties Ball] we hope to raise funds to continue our work supporting the troops."
Entertainment for Saturday's ball is for adults only and includes performances by Rosie Rawhide and Maye Applebottom of the After Dark Revue, Heidi Von Hoop, members of Houston's Burlesque Revue, Dallas's Vivenne Vermuth, Austin's Bethany Summersizzle and freakshow fun with 8E Tribe and Strange Danger Thrillshow. There's also a host of carnival games, circus treats and a Bella Rush Photography photo booth.
The show starts at 6 p.m. the De Gaulle at Hughes Hangar, 2811 Washington. For information, visit benefitbetties.org. $15 to $20.
FotoFest 2014 Biennial, the mega-exhibit of work by international photographers, has a film component this year. Several films, a complement to the contemporary Arab focus of FotoFest, are being screened at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Saturday's installment is Ziad Doueiri's 2012 film The Attack. Doueiri's drama asks the question how well do we really know the people we love? The Attack is set amid the Israeli--Palestinian conflict. A promising Arab surgeon working in Tel Aviv is involved in treating victims from a nearby suicide bombing. When one of the deceased turns out to be his wife -- and the likely perpetrator of the massacre -- the doctor is confused. He heads to the West Bank to find some answers, and doesn't like everything he uncovers. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times called The Attack "an intelligent, involving movie that's by turns a murder mystery and a politically charged argument about contemporary Palestinian identity."
Filmmaker and University of Houston research professor Carroll Parrott Blue introduces the screening. A question-and-answer session with director Doueiri (one of Blue's former students) via Skype follows.
The Attack screens at 7 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit mfah.org. $9.
Just to be clear, no, Norman Jewison's 1973 film Jesus Christ Superstar is not a documentary. (Neither was Steven Spielberg's Lincoln or Oliver Stone's JFK.) Jewison's JC Superstar was a rock opera fantasy by theater world's darlings Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics).
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The film, which is screening on Easter Sunday at Alamo Drafthouse as part of the IFC Slightly Off Cinema Salute to Best Buds, was controversial from the very start. To begin with, Jesus was played by Texas-born rocker Ted Neeley, who didn't have anything close to the angelic voice that might be expected of JC. Neeley screeched, rasped and squealed his way through his performance. It was effective, but not in any way saintly. Judas was played by African American actor Carl Anderson, and both blacks and whites cried racism (for different reasons, of course). Remember Jesus's "My house shall be called a house of prayer but you have made it a den of thieves" accusation? In the film the temple market that sparks his outrage sells grenades and bongs. The songs were decidedly rock and the lyrics bordered on outrageous. (As Mary Magdalena, Yvonne Elliman sang: "He's a man / He's just a man / And I've had so many men before / In very many ways / He's just one more.")
We're sure it's in this irreverent spirit that Alamo Drafthouse Cinema the screening for its Salute to Best Buds series. (Really, Alamo? Best buds? We think that whole 30 pieces of silver thing would have ended any friendly feelings between Jesus and Judas, but, hey, it's your call.)
See JC Superstar at 6 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Alamo Drafthouse -- Vintage Park, 114 Vintage Park. For information, call 713-715-4707 or visit drafthouse.com/houston. $9.
Jim J. Tommaney and Bob Ruggiero contributed to this post.