Top 9 Creative Arts, Ah, Things I Was Lucky Enough to Experience This Year

Theatrical and cartographic deconstruction plus improv pwnership equals a fine '09

1) 'THE METHOD GUN' (RUDE MECHANICALS) Even after all the months of hype and the iterative changes wrought by the show's restless creators, this deconstruction-and-extension-of-A Streetcar Named Desire-by-way-of-investigating-methods-of-performance-and-theatre-myth surpassed expectations and proved to be a brilliant distillation of all the gambits the Rudes had succeeded with before.

Rude Mechanicals' <i>The Method Gun</i>
Rude Mechanicals' The Method Gun (Photo courtesy of Bret Brookshire)

2) 'HERE WE ARE: CHRISTA PALAZZOLO AND BRIAN HALLORAN' (BIG MEDIUM) Stunning figurative studies in pigmented oil, rendered in ways that could make actual photographs seem lacking in soul or something otherwise human.

3) 'LORDY RODRIGUEZ: STATES OF AMERICA' (AUSTIN MUSEUM OF ART) Cartographic renditions of our country's various states – psychological states, mythological states, joined with permutations of actual border-bound geographical entities – were as gorgeous and intriguing as they were huge.

4) OUT OF BOUNDS COMEDY FESTIVAL Seven nights, four venues, and more than 75 troupes from all over the country. Somehow it all ran smoothly(!), with the usual core of improv and the expanded sections of sketch and stand-up comedy thrilling many standing-room-only crowds.

5) 'GUILDS OF STEEL'/'DUSK' (GNAP! THEATER PROJECTS) Gnap! pwned the local improv scene with Guilds of Steel – a serial set among the players and avatars of a World of Warcraft-like virtual reality, as directed by Bryan Roberts and Michael Joplin – and with Dusk, the Shana Merlin-led take on the Twilight series of vampire soap-operatics.

6) 'MISTER Z LOVES COMPANY' (RUBBER REPERTORY) Matt Hislope and Josh Meyer led a fearless Rubber Rep cast in this reprise, a physical-comedy (and musical!) exploration of identity confusion and anal violation that had audiences squealing, covering their eyes, applauding, and tapping their toes.

7) 'THE JUNGLE' (TROUBLE PUPPET THEATER COMPANY) Upton Sinclair's 1906 expose of the meatpacking industry was brought to dark, violent life by Connor Hopkins and his highly professional Trouble Puppet Theater. We can't make the italics bend far enough for sufficient emphasis here: It was only a workshop production and will return, even stronger, in 2010.

8) ARTHUR SIMONE'S 'DEAR FRAILTY' ColdTowne Theater's darkest part took the stage alone for an hour and brought the audience into a world of twitchy paranoids and quirky malcontents, giving Austin a view of what an ex-Nawlins improviser and abstract painter and Air Sex champion can do with a self-written script.

9) 'LAUREN LEVY: BENEATH THE PALM OF MY HAND' (D BERMAN GALLERY) In this exhibition, the artist's most recent three-dimensional marvels of buttons and wire and fabric were joined by flatter works evoking many-eddied rivers, scissors and their bizarre variations, and more. We eagerly await the territories of stitching and design that Levy's careful explorations discover next.

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