Big career moves for a couple of Austin playwrights and big parties thrown by a couple of Austin arts organizations.
Playwright John Walch made big news last fall when the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays awarded the Austin Script Works artistic director a major grant for his play The Dinosaur Within. Now, Walch's Circumference of a Squirrel has been picked up by the Mark Taper Forum for its Taper, Too! 2001 season. The solo show, which has its world premiere at the Zachary Scott Theatre Center on April 12, concerns a 27-year-old divorced scientist with a fear of rodents, who relives key moments of his life while watching a squirrel drag a stale bagel up a tree. The play will be the last installment of the four-play season, running June 17-July 1 at the Actors' Gang Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood.
Playwright Colin Denby Swanson, author of the Chronicle Arts profile of Zell Miller III and the plays Waterless Places and God Is Kind to Some Women, has been offered a 2001-2002 Jerome Fellowship, administered through The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis. Each year, five playwrights are chosen to spend a 12-month residency in Minnesota using center services, including readings and workshops with professional directors, dramaturgs, and actors. Frontera@Hyde Park Theatre artistic director Vicky Boone calls the Jerome a "benchmark" award for emerging playwrights. Swanson joins an exclusive group; fewer than 150 playwrights have been Jerome Fellows, among them a number with Austin connections, including Lisa D'Amour, Daniel Alexander Jones, Ruth Margraff, and W. David Hancock.
Just My Imagination
The Austin Circle of Theatres' Playfest program is one of the city's best-kept theatrical secrets. A series of theatrical productions for children and families, Playfest offers a diverse and engaging mix of stage work, from fairy tale classics to improv comedy, live-action storytellers to puppetry, performed by some of the finest theatre artists in Texas. There's so much talent, in fact, that the theatre can't contain it all; this Saturday, March 3, Playfest bursts from the stage to the street with an "Imagination Celebration," a day of creative activities for kids, with favorite Playfest performers, clowns, jugglers, musicians, magicians, whittlers, face painters, and bubble people leading the fun, plus games, food, and a pair of big-name hosts: that fat cat of the funny papers, Garfield, and his sidekick Odie. The fun starts at 11am, just after the Star of Texas Rodeo Parade, in the parking lot of the Bad Dog Comedy Theater, Riverside and South Congress.
Once again, the visual arts spaces in the block bounded by 17th Street, Lavaca, 18th Street, and Guadalupe are working to build a sense of their area as a cultural destination. Four years ago, several art galleries in the same location coined the term Uptown Cultural District to describe that corner of town and promoted it with special events and ties to neighborhood restaurants and bars. Some of the resident galleries from that era are no more -- most notably, Lyons Matrix and Galeria Sin Fronteras -- but the idea is back and bigger than ever. Nine spaces -- Women & Their Work, D. Berman Gallery, Pro-Jex Gallery, the Deborah Peacock Gallery, the Artist's Coalition of Austin Gallery (ACA), Diverse Arts-Little Gallery, Warner's Art Farm, and Personal Adornments Gallery -- have united to plug what is now being called the Uptown Arts District, and they're holding the first annual "Spring Walk-about" Thursday, March 8, 6-9pm. Stroll around the block and enjoy free receptions at each of the participating galleries.