Austin helps the Lysistrata Project become a global phenomenon, and Governor Rick Perry and Austin Mayor Gus Garcia speak out in favor of the Long Center.
On Monday, March 3, close to 200 Austinites joined the thousands around the globe taking part in the Lysistrata Project, the first worldwide theatrical event for peace. The project -- protesting the Bush administration's call for war with Iraq with multiple readings of Aristophanes' comedy about women who withhold sex from men to stop a war -- was conceived by New York actors Kathryn Blume and Sharron Bower (formerly of our town) only two months ago, but it caught fire, with hundreds of readings set up in a matter of weeks -- almost 250 of them added in the last five days prior to March 3. On Monday, the project stood at 1,029 readings in 59 countries and was covered by dozens of media outlets, including CNN, NPR, the BBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Daily Star -- Lebanon. Austin hosted two readings, one by St. Edward's University students, led by Mary Moody Northen Theatre Artistic Director Melba Martinez, and one by local actors at the Lounge, Fourth and Colorado. Spearheaded by John Howrey, a good friend of Bower's, the latter was one of the first readings scheduled. By the time it started at 7:30pm, the club was so packed that folks were being turned away. About 100 people craned their necks to watch a provocative duet by realmdanceproject before 25 actors from all corners of the Austin theatre scene stormed the small space for the reading staged by Robi Polgar. Katherine Catmull, as Lysistrata, schemed with Bernadette Nason and Jessica Hedrick as her chief sisters in the cause, and Mary Cox and Lowell Bartholomee led their respective bathrobe-clad choruses of old women and old men. The bawdy puns and comic schtick kept the crowd entertained enough that they never turned their heads to catch the joke playing on the TV at the back of the bar: WWE wrestling. Musicians Elizabeth McQueen and Mandy Rowden put a cap on the event, which raised more than $600 for the human rights organization MADRE, says Howrey.
Governor, Mayor Say Yea to Long Center
Gov. Rick Perry and Austin Mayor Gus Garcia may not agree on every issue, but on one matter they speak with a single voice: The Long Center for the Performing Arts must be built. The two appeared at a press conference Friday, Feb. 28, as honorary co-chairs of the Texas Leadership Council, a coalition of 70 area artists, administrators, and civic leaders who support the facility. Warming to his role, Perry told the crowd, "The Long Center means a more vibrant community that would be enriched culturally and economically." Garcia followed by saying: "It doesn't matter if your gift is in seven figures or three figures, you need to commit. It's the right thing to do." Long Center Board Chairman Rusty Tally pointed out that the capital campaign is moving forward despite the hard times; it raised $4 million in the last 10 months -- $2.5 million of that in the past five months, including a $250,000 gift from Fred and Marilyn Addy and two anonymous gifts of $100,000 each. Also revealed at the press conference: plans for a Walk of Texas Legends outside the center, featuring signatures and boot prints of famous Texas artists in cement, à la Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood; KGSR host Kevin Connor announced that the walk's honorary chair would be a Texas legend himself: Willie Nelson. Capping off the newsy morning was what could be considered the Long Center's first performance: a rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by 6-year-old Zachary Morgan, a student at Sanchez Elementary. His singing was sweet and made sweeter still when, midway through the anthem, dozens of adults spontaneously joined in, singing softly, in support of the young vocalist. If only the rest of the community will do the same for the Long Center. For more information, call 482-0800.