The Austin Chronicle

Opera Fights, Puppet Plays, and More Arty Events

Get an arts fix this week

By James Scott, Wayne Alan Brenner, Kimberley Jones, Katherine McNevins, Valerie Lopez, and Richard Whittaker, March 1, 2024, Arts

Jigglewatts Burlesque: Crimson Cabaret

Thursday 29, the Ballroom

Though her career began in Hollywood in the Sixties, Miss Nude Universe 1975 Tiffany Carter’s dazzle has never dimmed in her over 20 years as a burlesque icon. She’ll be bringing bling to Austin via our very own burlesque legends the Jigglewatts’ scarlet soiree, which will celebrate the leap year with glamour galore. Boggle your brain with the burly-q brilliance of Ruby Joule, Something Blue, Alexander the Great, and Selma Bawdy, but leave a little mental capacity available to enjoy special guests Roxy Castillo and Shi Feticcio.   – James Scott


Thursday 29, Violet Crown

Nearly a decade into his career as one of America’s most important filmmakers, Spike Lee decided to take a step back. After the Oscar-nominated scale of his political biopic Malcolm X in 1992, he went back to NYC for the deeply intimate Crooklyn, a story drawing directly from his own childhood in Bed-Stuy but not told from his perspective. Instead, he worked from a script co-written with two of his siblings, Joie Susannah and Cinqué, for a rounded, female-driven depiction of Black life in 1973 Brooklyn.   – Richard Whittaker

Hello Austin! Laugh With Your Funny Unni!

Thursday 29, DAWA Heals HQ

Three heavy-hitter comedy hosts unite for one night in an event that’ll blast big-sister vibes across Bat City. TikTok titan Ellen Go Acuario brings stories based around her life as a working mom and woman of color from her comic show Straight Outta Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, local legends buff up the lineup: Ivy Le, host of queer comedy open-mic Tongue in Cheek and nature pod FOGO: Fear of Going Outside, and Lisa Smith, co-host of live-podcast Love Is Trash and “Matt Rife’s Manager,” at least in front-facing video form.   – James Scott

Nightbeat Presents Wattstax

Thursday 29, Eastside Cinema

Kicking off this new season of music-related movies from KOOP, Darkside Daddy and Ear Candy 2.0 host DJ Marc present this very special screening of Mel Stuart’s groundbreaking recording of the monumental Wattstax concert. Described at the time as a soulful expression of the Black experience, it’s not just a concert movie but a chronicle of Black life and culture in Los Angeles in 1972. Don’t forget that soundtrack, with the Staple Singers, Rufus Thomas, Albert King, and Black Moses himself, Isaac Hayes.   – Richard Whittaker

Diasporic Disco

Friday 1, Central Library

Austin Asian American Film Festival throws its first queer prom, Diasporic Disco, as a fundraiser. Hosted by the hilarious Ivy Le of the FOGO: Fear of Going Outside podcast, this groovy gathering features performances by promqueen and DJ Phamstar, child care for kiddos 5-12 years old, a prom photo booth, refreshments, and awards celebrating queer Asian American filmmakers with AAAFF. They also gathered tons of resources for pre-prom research at, so you can deep dive on disco’s influence in various Asian cultures. Highly recommended: How else will you get educated on Vietnamese New Wave?   – James Scott

Fresh Squeezed Ounce of Opera

Friday 1 - Sunday 3, Museum of Human Achievement

Austin’s Julie Fiore and her One Ounce Opera collective of stage-it-anywhere, stage-it-everywhere modern provocateurs take over the Eastside’s storied Museum of Human Achievement for their sixth annual (but first time since 2020!) mini-opera showcase, bringing four dynamic new works chosen from more than 40 submissions nationwide. Relevant to the here-and-now, redolent of sonic glory and classic style, the revelations of “An Artist’s Regrets,” “Bubbie and the Demon,” “I Am Worth Nothing,” and “What the Spirits Show” will touch your heart and wow your ears with the power of the human voice.   – Wayne Alan Brenner

First Light Book Club: Tiger’s Wife

Friday 1, First Light Books

Hyde Park's neighborhood bookstore continues its dedication to building community with its free book club, and this week the selected title is Téa Obreht's The Tiger’s Wife. The award-winning 2011 novel, set in an unnamed Balkan state during the tumultuous and bloody 20th century, focused on the complex relationship between doctors and death, and drew on Obreht's own family history. RSVPs help the organizers know how many booklovers to expect, with sessions at 4:30pm and 7pm.   – Richard Whittaker

She Loves Me

Friday 1-Sunday 3, Georgetown Palace Theatre

If you've never seen or heard of Miklós László's 1937 play Illatszertár, don't worry: You know the story. Two colleagues who hate each other at work are dearest friends as anonymous pen pals. Sound familiar now? It's Ernst Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner, and In the Good Old Summertime starring Judy Garland, and the *other* Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan rom-com, You’ve Got Mail. But it's also this delightful musical from Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, the duo behind Fiddler on the Roof, which only becomes more charming with every new staging.   – Richard Whittaker

Fight Opera Presents: Fight 4 Filth

Saturday 2, Austin Beerworks

Be ringside for the bone-breaking, heart-pounding, spine-tingling power of wrestling superstars Fight Opera, who’ve been bringing Austin storytelling body slams since 2022. It is, as they say, “the answer to the question, what if a group of artists, performers, wild animals, and feral goblins came together to put on a show, with the only constraint being that everything must take place in a wrestling ring?” On offer to the interested consumer: Brawls with narrative themes! Prop comedy! Juggling! And extremely violent mayhem! Come check ’em out at their new venue and, as Fight Opera’s Facebook event copy says, “Embrace the decadence and feel the wonder.”   – James Scott

Alvin Ailey Dance Theater

Saturday 2, Bass Concert Hall

Fact: The Alvin Ailey troupe was the first company to perform in the Bass Concert Hall when that venue opened in 1981. Now the brilliance of the late choreographer – a Texas native, yes! – is celebrated here for the first time in more than a decade, as the company (designated “a vital American cultural ambassador to the world” by the U.S. Congress and led by Robert Battle) features dancers of stunning technique and passion, performing Ailey’s iconic ballet Revelations and newer works by Ronald K. Brown, Alonzo King, and more.   – Wayne Alan Brenner

Crash: Screening & Zine Launch

Saturday 2, Alienated Majesty Books

Warm leatherette, anyone? Join the car crash set – that is, the local devotees of J.G. Ballard’s novel Crash and the David Cronenberg film based on the sci-fi author’s unnerving erotic narrative – as they rev up one of Austin’s finest indie bookstores to reveal Auto-Erotics, their newly curated zine of fiction and art, and screen the 1996 James Spader-led shocker in an evening that’s sure to leave a stretch of burning rubber along one of your mind’s darker roads.   – Wayne Alan Brenner

Past Deposits From a Future Yet to Come

Saturday 2, Waterloo Greenway

Since 1990, artists Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler have worked collaboratively on art centered on how “histories, social life, and memories intersect.” Recently commissioned by Waterloo Greenway, these artists created a public video art installation featuring historic artifacts such as buttons, plates, and marbles “suspended in a rhythmic free fall, a choreographed parade.” These artifacts come from the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, unearthed from Waller Creek about two decades ago. Take in this art on its opening night, or any night following, as the installation will be on display one hour after sunset for the next five years.   – James Scott

UNDARK: A Radioactive Puppet Play

Sunday 3, the Vortex

Connor Hopkins and his Trouble Puppet Theater Company wield their amazing object-manipulation skills – abetted by a grant from the Jim Henson Foundation, no less! – to present the true story of the “radium girls” who worked in American factories in the early part of last century. This world premiere at the Vortex features a score by theremin virtuosa Aileen Adler and mixes history with horror to reveal the macabre workings of capitalism. Trouble Puppet and radium? Incendiary! As Kate Bush once sang of her glowing yo-yo, “What made it special made it dangerous.”   – Wayne Alan Brenner

Shit’s Golden 12th Anniversary Show

Monday 4, The Ballroom

It’s a comedy celebration! The anniversary show of Shit’s Golden features Vanessa Gonzalez (Comedy Central, Best of Austin Stand-up Comic) and Tone Bell (Netflix’s Drink Masters), with Chris Tellez (Comedy Central) as your emcee. For 12 years, Tellez has created a successful formula for comedy (and on a Monday!!) to create the longest-running live comedy show in Austin by bringing both standup and sketches (live and video) to Austin audiences. Launched at the New Movement Theater (now Fallout Theater) on March 3, 2012, the monthly showcase has made its home at the Ballroom at Spider House since 2014.   – Valerie Lopez

Barking Book Buddies

Tuesday 5, North Village Branch Library

Did you ever wonder how therapy dogs get their bone-a fides? They get hours upon hours of training and interaction with an organization such as Divine Canines, a volunteer-run group of dog lovers who work intensely with these animals in order to provide free pet therapy to thousands of folks in Central Texas. For a very special 4pm yappy hour for ages 5 and up, Divine Canines will bring some friendly doggos to the library so kids can practice their reading and build confidence, because what better audience is there than a patient, furry creature who loves everything you do?   – Kat McNevins

Hyperreal Film Club Presents: D.E.B.S.

Monday 4, Hotel Vegas

An iconic cult film within the “Aughts sapphic schlock” genre, this 2004 action comedy pulls enemies-to-lovers tropes together with spy hijinks. Just check the cast list for a real nostalgia trip: Jordana Brewster, Michael Clarke Duncan, Holland Taylor, and 2000s-era trendsetter Devon Aoki. Apparently the whole idea sprouted from director, writer, and editor Angela Robinson’s college comic she drew. Catch this gay-ass action at Hyperreal Hotel along with a local short film – and make sure to pick up a stamp card. Every HFC movie you catch gets you one stamp closer to a free keychain.   – James Scott

“Thin Spaces”

Wednesday 6, Dougherty Arts Center

This three-person show of visual art at the venerable Dougherty Arts Center suggests ways in which “the natural world can serve as a conduit to a deeper understanding of the ethereal,” divulging liminal places where material and spirit intertwine. Local and simultaneously beyond locale, the layered oil abstractions of Rebecca Bennett, the stunningly manipulated photography of Leslie Kell, and Elena Lipkowski’s digital collages embellished with hand-stitched embroidery shift the gallery’s walls toward wonder and may open your doors of perception into a realm that’s downright seelie. Bonus: Meet the artists there tonight, 7-9pm.   – Wayne Alan Brenner

Elle Cosimano in Conversation With Ali Hazelwood

Wednesday 6, Vintage Bookstore & Wine Bar

Mistaken contract killer/accidental sleuth/single mom Finlay Donovan returns for a fourth madcap mystery in Elle Cosimano’s bestselling series. Celebrate Tuesday’s publication with this Wednesday ticketed event; price of admission includes a hardback copy of Finlay Donovan Rolls the Dice, plus a conversation with Cosimano and Central Texas author Ali Hazelwood, whose paranormal romance Bride dropped in early February.   – Kimberley Jones

Fariha Róisín

Thursday 7, Reverie Books

Poet and activist Fariha Róisín was born in Ontario but raised in Sydney, and now resides in Los Angeles. Her work ties together themes of “margins, liminality, otherness, and the mercurial nature of being” as well as stocking conversation on contemporary Islam, queer identity, and wellness. The former Hairpin self-care columnist celebrates her second poetry release, Survival Takes a Wild Imagination, at Best of Austin-winning lit-lounge Reverie Books with a reading, audience Q&A, and booksigning.   – James Scott

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