Real Estate and Perfect Mates

The Year in Austin Culture

Critics Poll 2000

Arts Story of the Year

Wayne Alan Brenner: Tie: The high-profile return of Lipstick Traces and the opening of The Hideout. The Rude Mechs' show is one of the best and most culturally relevant works of theatre-with-an-edge ever to emerge from Austin. The Hideout's debut finally brings an elegant and multiuse downtown venue within the reach of smaller companies.

Ada Calhoun: That whole critics-as-artists debate from last summer provoked some extremely interesting conversations.

Robert Faires: The Paramount-State Theater Company merger, which provides a historic union of theatrical resources, and right on Congress Avenue, too!

Robi Polgar: The union of the Paramount and State theatres to form the slightly misnomered Austin Theatre Alliance. Assuming the union lasts.

Trend of the Year

Wayne Alan Brenner: Cyberspace. In Zach Scott's Closer, in Subterranean's Body and Soul, in the State's Virtual Devotion, and elsewhere, the online world is becoming more prevalent than local IPOs.

Ada Calhoun: Girl-centric shows, from the lesbian Othello in January to the performance artist chicks at the Off Center this fall.

Robert Faires: Beautifully executed puppetry, enlivening work from Second Youth's Liu the Dragon King and The Snow Queen to Refraction Arts' The Butcher's Daughter.

Robi Polgar: Technical proficiency, or attempts thereat. More theatre producers of all sizes realized that it isn't enough to put actors onstage; sets, lights, costumes, sound, etc. need just as much thought. Good thinking.

Bummer of the Year

Wayne Alan Brenner: The Rude Mechanicals' WAR. What had I been expecting? A work of genius? Something almost as innovative and invigorating as Lipstick Traces or Crucks? Well -- yes.

Ada Calhoun: Movements Gallery's philosophy was on the hippy-dippy side, but it was a nice space. R.I.P.

Robert Faires: The death of Jess Walters. A great, booming voice which advocated for so long is silent.

Robi Polgar: Another trend: The increasing cost of living in Austin is going to lead to fewer artists making art here.

Company That Gave You the Most Pleasure

Wayne Alan Brenner: Salvage Vanguard Theater. The returns of Dirigible and The Intergalactic Nemesis, along with Dan Dietz tearing into Mac Wellman's Terminal Hip and the smorgasbord of Best Salvage Vanguard Holiday Ever; what mo' better could one ask for?

Ada Calhoun: The Rude Mechanicals, because they are ultra-talented and work super-hard.

Robert Faires: Zachary Scott Theatre Center. The work ran the gamut from vaudeville to contemporary drama to musicals and every bit of it was staged with passion and panache.

Robi Polgar: Gate Theatre of Dublin whose Waiting for Godot recalled that the best theatre is elegant and rough, lyrical and whimsical, boisterous and smart, and, ultimately, simple.

Artist With the Most Reason to be Proud

Wayne Alan Brenner: John Walch. When you win an award from the Kennedy Center, and you have a show coming up at Zach Scott with Martin Burke, you have room for strutting.

Ada Calhoun: Playwright John Walch, because the play it took him years to write opens in the spring, and he recently scored unbelievable amounts of grant money.

Robert Faires: Babs George, for her trio of terrific -- and dramatically different -- lead performances, from intense Shakespearean tragedy in A Macbeth to slick verbal comedy in Women Who Steal to broad physical shtick in Barefoot in the Park.

Robi Polgar: Joe McClain, of Austin Lyric Opera, for leading that institution to more productions and a tempting variety of theatrical approaches.

Artist Who Is Still Too Underrated

Wayne Alan Brenner: Judson Jones. From the German student in Soldier Dreams to the blind fan in Bleacher Bums to the Shepardian volcano in Fool for Love, ad glorium, this chameleon is more wizard than lizard.

Ada Calhoun: Everyone in the Dirigo Group. They get the tiniest audiences even though they are creative, impassioned, and fun as hell to watch.

Robert Faires: Lowell Bartholomee, who not only proved his versatility as an actor this year, contributing memorable work in Fruits and Vegetables and A Midsummer Night's Dream, but managed to survive hosting the Payne Awards!

Robi Polgar: Lara Toner, who seems chameleonlike in her ability to assume all manner of characters and find in them unique, compelling lives.

Event You Can't Wait For in 2001

Wayne Alan Brenner: The Rude Mechanicals' Requiem for Tesla. My breath is bated, my fingers are crossed.

Ada Calhoun: Requiem for Tesla by the Rude Mechs.

Robert Faires: Tie: Jouet -- a new musical by Allen Robertson given a major production by Zach -- and Moby Dick -- VORTEX hunting the Great White Whale with Kirk Smith (who adapted A Tale of Two Cities so successfully) on script and Bonnie Cullum directing.

Robi Polgar: The Cavani String Quartet's March performances of Bartok's String Quartets, 1-6. Highly regarded, audience-friendly group playing Hungarian composer's masterworks.

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