Playwright Adam Sobsey cooks up some drama at Central Market, the UT Department of Theatre & Dance serves up six weeks of new works, and UT student Kristi McGarity snags the 2001 SEAMUS / ASCAP prize.
Someone's in the Kitchen ...
The list of local sites that have served as nontraditional performance spaces through the years is a pretty interesting one: a downtown parking garage, an empty swimming pool, a farm, an asphalt dumping yard, the street in front of Hyde Park Theatre, Barton Springs Pool, just to get you started. Now, add to the roster the Central Market Cooking School. That's where playwright Adam Sobsey will premiere his play Hang Town Fry as part of the UT Department of Theatre & Dance New Works Festival that kicks off this week. The play concerns a chef named Cynthia who dispenses culinary wisdom and discusses her life while preparing the title dish -- a concoction involving eggs and oysters -- in real time before the audience. The Michener Center for Writers fellow, who also wrote The Essence of Comedy and When You Know What It Is You're Doing, was inspired by films such as Big Night and Babette's Feast, which deal with the preparation of food. He felt "it's a really ripe medium for theatre to deal with," with theatre being able to go film one better by tantalizing audiences with the smells of cooking. Sobsey knew he needed a kitchen for performing the play, but felt sure no commercial venue would be interested in renting him one. He says he approached Central Market with the attitude "You don't want to do this, do you?" and was shocked to have the market's John Campbell respond to his pitch with "Great! When do you want to do it?" The show runs April 6-8 and 13-14, 8pm, with a 4pm matinee on Friday the 13th. The show will be notable for more than Sobsey's script: It stars executive director of the Austin Circle of Theaters, Latifah Taormina, who in her pre-ACoT life was a founding member of the legendary San Francisco theater troupe The Committee and also a member of Second City in Chicago. But the food is what drives this show. It's even figured into the rehearsal process, with Sobsey, Taormina, and co-star Everett Skaggs working on the show at Sobsey's place of employment, Artz Rib House. For information, call Austin Theater Company, 448-1674.
By the by, the New Works Festival looks to be a powerful addition to the city's ever-burgeoning festival scene. Six weekends, performances in every performance space in the Winship Drama Building, plus a few venues around town, such as the Central Market Cooking School (see above), the State Theater (for La Carpa Garcia, by Amparo Garcia Crow), and the Zachary Scott Theatre Center (for Circumference of a Squirrel, by John Walch), works by current department students, recent graduates, and faculty, performances of everything from plays to dance to interdisciplinary art to a light show set to music to video to a multisensory art installation to an exhibition of costume designs. For a good overview, see the festival Web site at www.utexas.edu/cofa/theatre/neworks.html.
Congratulations to UT School of Music student Kristi McGarity on winning the 2001 SEAMUS/ASCAP Prize, sponsored by the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States and funded by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. McGarity's composition "Mystery" was one of four finalists in the competition, and after all four were performed during the 2001 SEAMUS national conference at Louisiana State University, a jury awarded McGarity the top prize, a $1,000 commission for a new piece of electro-acoustic music which McGarity will premiere at the 2002 SEAMUS conference, to be held at the University of Iowa.