Last Saturday, individuals affiliated with the 21st incarnation of FronteraFest put a cap on four solid weeks of theatrical passion and provocation by performing six site-based pieces in residential workshops and living spaces all over Austin. We hope you’ve had a chance to make it out to a show or two this season — or at least stayed in for the one at your house.
Tuesday, February 11, marks the final week of the festival’s around-town run; and the annual “Best of Fest” wrap up is a doozy. Here’s a quick rundown of the dramas and explorations descending upon Hyde Park Theatre five nights this week. At the time of this writing, all shows save Thursday’s are sold out, which is usually what happens with good theatre. You can reserve tickets for the remaining show on the venue’s website, or show up at Hyde Park Theatre around 7 pm (that’s an hour before showtime, folks) to get on a list for seats sold but unclaimed.
Best of Fest I: Tuesday, February 11 and Friday, February 14
Violet Crown: Salamander’s Town
By Theatre En Bloc
Examinie Austin’s growth with help from the Barton Creek Salamander. Shadow puppets and original folk music are just two of the things that distinguish this second installment of the troupe’s Violet Crown trilogy.
By Althea Clemons, Caleb Luna, Dan Miller, Erin Burrows, Jules Pashall and Nicole Arteaga
The creators collaborate to take a close look at various perspectives on fat bodies, from inward-looking personal experiences to external societal viewpoints and pressures.
After the Silence
By Anne Maria Wynter, directed by Zell Miller III and featuring Brian L. Ridley
Excerpted from a collection of plays all set in one apartment complex, this short work reveals the intricacies of the intimacy shared by people living lives on opposite sides of the same wall.
The Ethics of Living Jim Crow
By Richard Wright, directed by Teresa Morrow, featuring Reginald C. Brown
This autobiographical sketch, and one of the earliest works by powerful and controversial author Richard Wright (Native Son, Black Boy, Uncle Tom’s Children), paints a portrait of life in the face of racial inequality and violence.
By Kyle John Schmidt, directed by Elizabeth C. Lay
Not every pioneer found fortune in the storied lands of the West. This whimsical offering from a perennial Best of Fest favorite shows what can happen when two young pioneers arrive, appraise, get disappointed and depart.
Best of Fest II: Wednesday, February 12 and Saturday, February 15
Handbomb Presents: The Vacationers
By Vanessa Gonzalez and Michael Foulk
Gonzalez and Foulk compose the entire cast of this two-person sketch show featuring a whirlwind of absurd characters and situations.
By Candyce Rusk, directed by Mary Alice Carnes, featuring Gina Houston and Jolia Jones
A play with music, based on the story of bad luck and blessings lived by gospel guitar heavyweight Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
The Heart of the Sixties
By Southpaw Jones
Austin’s resident earthy and irreverent song-maker brings you a half-scripted, half-improv solo show full of singing, strumming and pleasant idle talk.
Southern Fried Chickie “Extra Crispy”
By Christy McBrayer, featuring Johnny Molinari and Baird Blanton
Country grammar shapeshifter McBrayer brings more than a handful of original characters to the stage in this one-woman show, backed by her band, “The Redneck Greek Chorus,” detailing a trip to Tupelo, Mississippi.
How to Crush Crayons
By Pete Betcher, Katie Kohler, Jeremiah Rosenberger and Justin Morley
This new offering by last year’s Best of Fest winners — Montana transplants collectively known as the Back Pack — keeps its roots in rhythm while playing with your expectations through clowning, dance and music.
Wild Card Performance: Thursday, February 13
By Kiya Heartwood
Pan-American songwriter Heartwood presents four selections from a longer work of tall tales illuminated in song.
By Ellen Bartel, featuring Dany Casey, Errin Deperdang, Angie Johnson and Amy Meyers
This dance quartet explores the gentle mayhem of young love through meditations on physical memory and loss.
Iced Tea in Texas, Chapter I
By Bernadette Nason, directed by Michael Stewart
This selection from the Long Fringe portion of FronteraFest depicts the surprising effects of Lone Star culture shock on a seasoned world traveler.
By Briandaniel Oglesby, featuring design by Nellie Kurtz
This 10-minute piece — part of the Fallout of the Sky, a piece of documentary theatre about the fall of Icarus — adds a layer of language to the traditional motion-and-visuals experience of a stage show based on masks.
Up in the Air
By Rhonda F. Kulhanek
Kulhanek, another frequent Best of Fest selection and creator of the Mommy Confessions series, presents a new original one-woman show.
And please remember: great work goes up on stages in this town all year long.