Culture Flash!

Henson supports The Jungle, Margraff's back, and coming soon to a cinema near you: The Intergalactic Nemesis

Trouble Puppet Theater Company scored big with its recent production of The Jungle, which appeared in the Top 9 lists of three Chronicle Arts writers. It also earned the company a Jim Henson Foundation Project Grant to assist in a more fully realized remount in 2011. Trouble Puppet had received a small seed grant from the foundation to help with last September's premiere, and the Henson folks were apparently impressed enough with the results to send a little encouragement Trouble Puppet's way. Before he gets back to The Jungle, Artistic Director Connor Hopkins will be hard at work pulling bunnies out of his hat for A Brief Narrative of an Extraordinary Birth of Rabbits, a new play by C. Denby Swanson, which opens Feb. 11 at Salvage Vanguard Theater, and an autumn revival – maybe that should be "resurrection" – of the Trouble Puppet adaptation of Frankenstein. For more information, visit

Ruth Margraff
Ruth Margraff

• Speaking of Salvage, this weekend sees the company welcoming back to town Ruth Margraff, a playwright we've seen far too little of in recent years. In the late Nineties, hers was one of the most daring voices in the local playwriting scene, even though she wasn't really an Austin resident. But since Jason Neulander produced her work so regularly at SVT – two productions each of her operas Wallpaper Psalm and The Cry Pitch Carrolls, plus the premiere of her "extended barroom brawl" riffing on Texas' fight for independence, Centaur Battle of San Jacinto – and she briefly taught playwriting at the University of Texas Department of Theatre & Dance, she more than qualified for local status. She presented her dark operetta Judges 19: Black Lung Exhaling at FronteraFest in 2001, and the Rude Mechs created Stadium Devildare with her in 2004, but since then, she's not been around. As if to compensate for her absence, SVT is offering A Weekend of Ruth Margraff, with the playwright's band Café Antarsia opening for a staged reading of her new parlor play Over the Garden Wall, which will feature actors Robert Pierson, Mark Stewart, Jamie Rhodes, La Tasha Stephens, and Jason Hays directed by SVT Artistic Director Jenny Larson. That's Friday and Saturday, Jan. 8-9, 7pm, Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Rd. For more information, visit And if you'd like to see a different side of Margraff, catch her appearance the following week, in the reunion of Dallas superfunk rock band Fever in the Funkhouse Saturday, Jan. 16, 9pm, at Stubb's, 801 Red River. For more information, call 480-8341.

Culture Flash!

• And in another Salvage-related vein, The Intergalactic Nemesis, a spoof of retro science-fiction serials that originated at SVT and has become a major project for SVT co-founder and former Artistic Director Jason Neulander, gets a new incarnation this month when the original live version combines with the graphic-novel adaptation as a short preceding certain feature films at the Alamo Drafthouse. According to Neulander, the artwork by Tim Doyle will be projected panel by panel with live voices, music, and sound effects. The "living comic book," as he calls it, will be presented as an honest-to-gosh serial, with one 10-minute chapter being presented over one weekend each month. The concept debuts this week with issue one, "Mystery at Kradmoor," being shown before the 7pm screenings of Daybreakers Friday-Sunday, Jan. 8-10. For details, visit And Wednesday, Jan. 13, sees a comic book signing of The Intergalactic Nemesis at Austin Books & Comics, 5002 N. Lamar, from 5 to 7pm. For more information, visit

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Austin theatre, Trouble Puppet Theater Company, Connor Hopkins, Salvage Vanguard Theater, C. Denby Swanson, Ruth Margraff, Jason Neulander, The Intergalactic Nemesis

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