A family of Austin artists faces deportation, playwright Cyndi Williams gets some recognition in Big D, and Arts Center Stage both gives and gets.
Artists Told to Leave U.S.
The season of peace on earth, goodwill toward all didn't feel much like that to the family of Mo and Shahla Jamal. On Dec. 16, 2002, these two local artists and their four sons all received letters from the Immigration and Naturalization Service's Board of Immigration Appeals stating that they have until Jan. 13, 2003 to leave the U.S. voluntarily or face forced deportation. The grim notification came after the government's denial of the family's petition for asylum, which they began seeking after moving to the United States in the mid-Nineties. The Jamals have been in Austin for several years, during which time they have become active members of the cultural community, through Mo playing violin, Shahla hosting The Persian Hour program on KOOP radio, and the two of them painting and founding the Rumi Art Society, which produces Persian cultural events. The possibility of their deportation has prompted their many friends in the Austin arts scene to seek help and support for them, but time is their enemy. For more information, see the story by Jordan Smith in News, p.16.
Drive, He Said
Belated congratulations to Tim Purdom. He's the guy you'll see doing doughnuts around the future Long Center for the Performing Arts in that 2002 Porsche 911 Twin Turbo Carrera. Out of a total 2,547 raffle tickets sold by Arts Center Stage in its recent fundraising event (more than 1,000 of them sold in just the last two weeks of the 16-week campaign), one of the two he had bought was the lucky ticket. Purdom wasn't present at the organization's Dec. 18 party when the drawing was held, but he got the e-mail notifying him of the prize quickly enough to drive the car home from the dealership the next day. Bet that made for some happy holidays. Congrats also to Arts Center Stage on raising $254,700.
Speaking of the Long Center, that $100,000 gift hinted at in the "Articulations" item about the center's capital campaign in December has been announced. It comes from JPMorgan Chase Bank of Austin. This donation kicks off the next phase of the campaign to build the performing arts center. Phase Three includes gifts ranging from $100,000 to $250,000. For more information, call 482-0800.
Top 10 for 'Fish'
Playwright Cyndi Williams closed out 2002 in the way every playwright would like: with a production of one of her plays and recognition for the production of another. Williams' one-act Hey Cow! -- seen locally at FronteraFest a few seasons back -- was produced in New York City this December as part of the Looking Glass Forum. Then, in the Dallas Morning News roundup of top arts events of the year, theatre critic Tom Sime listed the Core Performance Manufactory production of her Fish in his list of Top 10 Plays. Ranking the show at No. 6, he wrote: "This gem by Austin playwright Cyndi Williams -- one of nine one-acts presented at the Festival of Independent Theatres -- stood out with a moving, funny and haunting script about a collision of souls in the aftermath of a collision of lives in a car accident."