Austin Shakespeare drafts a Cleopatra for the ages

The blazing news that stands out from the recently announced Austin Shakespeare season is the return of beloved actor and University of Texas professor Fran Dorn in a staged reading of “Antony and Cleopatra” in October (dates to be announced).
Erik Mathew and Fran Dorn in Austin Shakespeare’s production of “Medea,” 2016. Contributed by Bret Brookshire
Otherwise, the mid-sized theater company splits its main season between the Bard and other classically inspired dramatic literature.
The free Shakespeare in the Park option will be “The Merchant of Venice” in May 2019 at Zilker Park. The Young Shakespeare selection is “Macbeth” in June 2019 at the Curtain, the Elizabethan-style theater out on Lake Austin.
The 20th-century choices are Tennessee Williams‘ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (November-December) and Tom Stoppard‘s “Indian Ink” (February 2019). Luckily, much can be found about both playwrights in the archives of the Ransom Center.
Austin Shakespeare also plans a collaboration with the Austin Chamber Music Festival in the summer of 2019.
Still left on the 2017-2018 docket are the chamber music joint effort over scenes from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (July 22); “Shakespeare and All That Jazz” at Parker Jazz Club (July 8); and the remaining run of its Young Shakespeare “Hamlet” at the Curtain (through June 24).

Winners rejoice for 2018 Austin Critics Table Awards

Seems like yesterday when we sat down at Katz’s Deli to vote on the first Austin Critics Table Awards. Now a whole new generation of arts journalists are making the decisions. We could not be happier.

The following individuals and groups were honored Monday night at Cap City Comedy Club. (If I missed any, let me know.)

CRITICS TABLE AWARDS 2018

THEATER

Production (tie)

“Henry IV,” The Hidden Room Theatre

“Ragtime,” Texas State University Department of Theatre and Dance

RELATED: “Ragtime” is an American classic.

Direction

Jason Phelps, “The Brothers Size”

David Mark Cohen New Play Award

“Wild Horses,” Allison Gregory

Performance by an Individual

John Christopher, “The Brothers Size”/”Fixing Troilus and Cressida”

Chanel, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill”

Jennifer Coy Jennings, “Wild Horses”

Sarah Danko, “The Effect”/”Grounded”

Judd Farris, “Henry IV”/”The Repentance of Saint Joan”

Joseph Garlock, “The Immigrant”

Performance by an Ensemble

“The Wolves,” Hyde Park Theatre

Periphery Company

“Wimberley Players,” Wimberley

DESIGN

Set (tie)

Stephanie Busing, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Chris Conard/Zac Thomas, “Pocatello”

Costume

Buffy Manners, “Shakespeare in Love”

Lighting

Rachel Atkinson, “Scheherazade”/”Twenty-Eight”/”Catalina de Erauso”/”The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”/”Con Flama”

Sound

Lowell Bartholomee, “Grounded”

Digital (tie)

Lowell Bartholomee, “The Effect/Wakey Wakey”/”The Repentance of Saint Joan”/”Grounded”

Robert Mallin, “Enron”

DANCE

Concert

(“Re)current Unrest”, Charles O. Anderson/Fusebox Festival

Short Work

“Four Mortal Men,” Ballet Austin

Choreographer

Jennifer Hart, “Fellow Travelers”/“Murmuration”

Dancer

Anika Jones, “Belonging, Part One”

Rosalyn Nasky, “Come In!!!”/”Pod”/”There’s No Such Thing as a Single Stripe”

Jun Shen, “Belonging, Part One”

Ensemble

“Exit Wounds”/”Masters of Dance,” Ballet Austin

RELATED: Ballet Austin aims for the heart with “Exit Wounds.”

CLASSICAL MUSIC

Concert/Opera

“Southwest Voices,” Chorus Austin

Chamber Performance

Golden Hornet Young Composers Concert, Golden Hornet

Original Composition/Score

“I/We,” Joseph V. Williams II

Singer

Marina Costa-Jackson, “La Traviata”

Jenifer Thyssen, “An Early Christmas”/”It’s About Time: Companions”/”Complaints Through the Ages”

Veronica Williams, “Songs of Remembrance and Resistance”

Ensemble

“Invoke, Beerthoven”/Golden Hornet Smackdown IV

Instrumentalist (tie)

Bruce Colson, “It’s About Time: Companions”

Artina McCain, “Black Composers Concert: The Black Female Composer”

VISUAL ART

Solo Gallery Exhibition

“Claude van Lingen: Timekeeper,” Co-Lab Projects

Group Gallery Exhibition

“Yo soy aqui / I am here,” ICOSA

Museum Exhibition

“The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip,” Blanton Museum of Art

Independent Project

2017 Texas Biennial

Gallery, Body of Work

Co-Lab Projects

Artist

Michael Anthony Garcia

SPECIAL CITATIONS

John Bustin Award for Conspicuous Versaility: Mary Agen Cox, Jeff Mills

Deacon Crain Award for Outstanding Student Work: Connor Barr, Kat Lozano, UT; Ben Toomer, Texas State

Outstanding Music Direction: Austin Haller for “Ragtime”

Outstanding Choreography: Natasha Davison for “The Drowsy Chaperone”

Horn of Plenty Award: Benjamin Taylor Ridgeway & Jennifer Rose Davis for the masks in “Rhinoceros”

Jurassic Spark Award: The Hatchery for creating the raptors in “Enron”

One Singular Sensation Award: Kaitlin Hopkins for the Texas State University Musical Theatre Program

RELATED: Kaitlin Hopkins takes Texas State to the top.

Always a Safe Flight Award: Barry Wilson & Team for Rigging Design & Execution in “Belonging, Part One”

Outstanding Touring Show, Dance: Johnny Cruise Mercer and Fusebox Festival for “Plunge In/To 534”

Blanton Museum of Art for Ellsworth Kelly’s “Austin”

Vortex Repertory Theatre for “Performance Park”

AUSTIN ARTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

Norman Blumensaadt (Different Stages) – company founder, artistic director, director, actor

Kathy Dunn Hamrick (Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company, Cafe Dance) – company founder, artistic director, choreographer, dancer, educator

Michael and Jeanne Klein (Blanton Museum of Art, The Contemporary Austin, Ransom Center, et al.) – patrons, board members, civic leaders, arts advocates

Anuradha Naimpally (Austin Dance India, Cafe Dance) – company founder, artistic director, dancer, choreographer, educator

SXSW puts a premium on art in 2018

At some point, South by Southwest will encompass all human activity.

Austin’s vast March spree started with music in the 1980s, then added movies and technology, before taking on education, philanthropy, the environment and allied fields.

Art came next.

“Feast” by Caitlin Pickall

Today, SXSW announced six art projects for its second annual  program scheduled for the conference and festivals March 9-18, 2018. Combined with the UNESCO Media Arts Exhibition at SXSW, the installations are meant to expand the discussion on visual and digital and media arts during the confab.

We’ll share some artists and titles. Find more information at SXSW Art Program.

SXSW ART PROGRAM INCLUDES:

“Conductors of the Resistance” by Ronen Sharabani

“Feast” by Caitlin Pickall

“Future of Secrets” by Sarah Newman, Jessica Yurkofsky and Rachel Kalmar

“Life Underground” by Hervé Cohen

“MTA: Floating Destiny” with music performed by GuQin

“A Colossal Wave!” by Marshmallow Laser Feast

UNESCO MEDIA ARTS EXHIBITION INCLUDES:

“Forgotten Landscapes” by James Hughes and Ha Na Lee

“Gathering”by Lisa Woods

“Herstory” by Yuliya Lanina

“Passage (Variation)” by Luke Savinsky

Meow Wolf

The Living Museum

“Against a Civic Death” by Rodney McMillian:

“Forever Bicycles” by Ai Weiwei

 

H-E-B names popular Long Center City Terrace

It’s one of the most charismatic spots in the city — the Long Center City Terrace.

Bubblepalooza is among the countless events staged at what will be the H-E-B Terrace at the Long Center. Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman

From the day that the performing arts center opened in 2008 — that’s right, almost 10 years ago — the semi-circular procession of columns left over from the old Palmer Auditorium made a powerful people magnet.

The view of the downtown skyline is priceless, even after the addition of some south shore buildings that cut off the view to the east. Instantly, everyone needed portraits on that terrace. Festivals and concerts followed. Pre-show, intermission and after-show crowds lingered there above a grassy hill.

At certain points, the whole area around it has been transformed into the Statesman Skyline Theater.

RELATED: Long Center’s new outdoor venue will be named Statesman Skyline Theater

So a naming opportunity for the terrace, right? H-E-B, one of the most munificent corporate citizens in Texas, has stepped up to the plate with five-year naming agreement for an undisclosed amount of money. Say hello to the H-E-B Terrace.

The name change will be made official at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 24, to be followed from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  by a free holiday event dubbed “Santa on the Terrace.”

“Our collaboration with  H-E-B has been very valuable to the Long Center and the city of Austin,” says Cory Baker, president and CEO of the center. “Their dedication to the community and to providing access to the arts is something we both feel passionately about.”

The H-E-B Terrace comes with an arc of columns, a broad plaza, a grassy hill and unbeatable views of downtown Austin. Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman

“We are thrilled to be able to strengthen our partnership with the Long Center as we share in the belief that arts are an integral part of building a strong community, understanding our diversity, preserving our history, and building our future,” says Jeff Thomas, H-E-B senior vice-president and general manager for the Central Texas region. “The H-E-B Terrace is the ideal community gathering place for these beliefs to intersect – it is the heart of the Austin arts district and welcomes everyone to experience art in a public way.”

(This post has been updated to correct a date.)

 

Six reasons to attend this weekend’s International Quilt Festival in Houston

Think quilts are boring?

“Million to One” and “Samuelsaurus Rex” by Susan Carlson, on display at the 2016 Houston Quilt Festival. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Think again, arts lovers.

Unless you’ve attended a show like this weekend’s Houston International Quilt Festival, you probably haven’t seen what modern day quilt makers can do with fabric and thread.

This weekend, hundreds of the most amazing quilts you’ve ever seen will be on display at Houston’s quilt show, one of the largest gatherings of its kind in the world. I attended for the first time last year and was blown away by the pieces on display. We met quilters from all over the world who were creating some seriously jaw-dropping pieces of art.

“Crocodylus Smylus” by Susan Carlson was one of the biggest hits at last year’s Houston Quilt Festival. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Just in case you need an excuse to head to Houston this weekend for the festival, here are six of them:

1) Quilts are amazing. No really. Quilts. Are. Amazing. If you think you have a notion of what a quilt is, this show will redefine whatever that definition is.

“Lone Star Explores Space” by Peter Hayward  Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

2) Quilts are modern art. Modern and contemporary quilts were what hooked me on quilts in the first place, and although this is a show that encompasses many different quilting styles, you’ll find plenty of pieces that belong in the Houston Museum of Fine Art.

“Polychromatic Predilection” by Judy Coates Perez will be on display at this year’s Houston Quilt Festival. Contributed by the Houston Quilt Festival.

3) Quilts are old. For as long as America has been a country, Americans have been sewing together scrapes of fabric to make quilts. Quilt historians will tell you that you can learn a lot about the country through these pieces of folk art, and the Houston quilt show always has a historical exhibit. This year, one of them is called “Quilts 1650-1850: From ‘Broderie’ to ‘Broderie Perse’.” Last year, we saw giant quilts from the 1800s that made you wonder how people sewed such large pieces by hand.

“I Am the Face of Rescue” by Michelle Jackson Contributed by the Houston Quilt Festival.

4) Quilts are activism. Every quilt show I’ve ever been to has at least one shocker. I’ve seen quilts that say “(Expletive) cancer” and another that was an American flag made out of guns. This year, the Houston Quilt Festival will feature Jeanne Hewell-Chambers’ THE 70,273 PROJECT, which refers to the number of disabled people killed by the Nazi regime.

’Murica” by Kristin La Flamme. This quilt stood out at last year’s Houston Quilt Festival. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

5) Support Houston after Harvey. Even with the Astros in the World Series, it’s been a tough year for Houston, but that won’t stop thousands of people from around the world from attending this quilt show and spending money in a city that could use the bump in tourism.

Hillary Bas made this quilt that will be on display at the 2017 Houston Quilt Festival. Contributed by the Houston Quilt Festival.

6) Find other fabric arts nerds. Maybe you like to knit or crochet or sew baby clothes. Maybe you’re into batik or tie dye. The market area of the Houston Quilt Festival abounds with fabric and craft vendors, as well as people who specialize in vintage fabrics and quilts, and it’s fun to stroll through the aisles to find the new ways that people are making cool stuff from fabric and thread.

Can’t make it to Houston this weekend? The folks who put on the quilt show also run the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange, which is open year round. They rotate the quilts on display several times a year, and every time I’ve been, I find quilts so stunning them stop me in my tracks.

“Twelve Dozen” by Timna Tarr was a highlight of last year’s Houston Quilt Festival. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
“The Pearl Hunter” by Elizabeth Budd was featured at the 2016 Houston Quilt Festival. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

 

 

10 big Austin arts stories from the past 7 days

En route between two glorious musicals — “A Chorus Line” at Texas State University and “Singin’ in the Rain” at Zach Theatre — on Saturday, my traveling companions paused to consider the American-Statesman arts coverage for just the past week. We were able to rattle off at least 10 significant stories by staff reporters and freelancers during the previous seven days, Sept. 22-28.

Later I thought, hey, 10 in seven ain’t bad. Why not share the bounty here? Dates are for original digital publication. This fat list doesn’t even include substantial descriptions of arts events that appeared on Page 2 of the Austin360 section, thanks to the extraordinary Ari Auber.

From left, Sydney Huddleston, Annika Lekven, Adrian Collins, Maria Latiolais, Kelsey Buckley, Estrella Saldaña, Kenzie Stewart, and Shonagh Smith in Hyde Park Theatre’s production of “The Wolves,” by Sarah DeLappe. Contributed by Bret Brookshire

Sept. 22: Girl power puts ‘The Wolves’ ahead of the pack.

Sept. 24: Preview: Broadway classic ‘A Chorus Line’ connects with Texas State performers.

Sept. 25: Interview: Bring on the music, bring on the tap dancing for ‘Singin’ in the Rain.’

Sept. 25: Review: Young actor gives tar turn as troubled, tempestuous ‘Prodigal Son.

Sept. 25: Pairing the Ballet Austin Fête with the Thinkery’s Imaginarium.

Sept. 26: Review: Texas State’s ‘A Chorus Line’ is a singular sensation.

Sept. 27. Biennial art exhibit takes the long way to get back.

Sept. 28: A world of dance alights at the University of Texas.

Sept. 28: Austin to kick off citywide Day of the Dead celebrations.

Sept. 28: Scary laughs, Eddie Izzard, Kevin Nealon and plenty of sex.

 

 

The best possible list so far for the Austin arts season

We are assembling the best possible preview list for the coming Austin arts season. This is what we have been able to gather so far.

Austin Opera

Long Center, 512-472-5992, austinopera.org

Nov. 11-19: “Carmen”

Jan. 27-Feb. 4, 2018: “Ariadne auf Naxos”

April 28-May 6, 2018: “La Traviata”

The Austin Symphony will play along with Disney’s ‘Fantasia.’ Contributed

Austin Symphony

Long Center, 512-476-6064, austinsymphony.org

Sept. 8-9: Mozart, Poulenc

Oct. 6-7: Vaughan Williams, Beethoven, Mahler-Britten, Bruckner

Oct 20: Disney’s “Fantasia” in concert

Oct. 29: Halloween Children’s Concert

Dec. 1-2: Prokofiev, “Beyond the Score”

Dec. 12: Handel’s “Messiah”

Dec. 29-30: “I Heart the ’80s”

Jan. 12-13, 2018: Stravinsky, Rossini, Bach, Hovhaness, Haydn

Feb. 9, 2018: “Jurassic Park” in concert

Feb. 23-24, 2018: Schumann, MacDowell

March 23-24, 2018: Saint-Saëns, Jongen

April 12-14, 2018: Bernstein, Torke, Beethoven

May 18-19, 2018: Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff

Jun 1-2, 2018: “The Rat Pack: 100 Years of Frank”

June 16, 2018: Butler Texas Young Composers Concert

Blanton Museum of Art

200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., blantonmuseum.org

Through Oct. 1: “Epic Tales from Ancient India”

Through Oct. 1: “Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler: Giant”

Nov. 25-Jan. 7, 2018: “The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip”

Spring 2018: “Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin”

Ballet Austin

Long Center, 512-476-9151, balletaustin.org

Sept. 15-17: “Romeo and Juliet”

Oct. 21-29: “Not Afraid of the Dark” (Studio Theater)

Dec. 8-23: “The Nutcraker”

Feb. 16-18, 2018: “Masters of the Dance”

April 6-8, 2018: “Exit Wounds”

May 11-13, 2018: “Peter Pan”

Big Medium

916 Springdale Road, 512-939-6665, bigmedium.org

Sept. 23-Dec. 2: Texas Biennial

Oct. 27-Nov. 19: Tito’s Prize Exhibit

Nov. 11-19: East Austin Studio Tour

Broadway in Austin lands ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.’ Contributed

Broadway in Austin

Bass Concert Hall, 800-731-7469, BroadwayInAustin.com

Oct. 13-15: “Rent” (season option)

Dec. 12-17: “The King and I”

Jan. 16-21, 2018: “Finding Neverland”

Feb. 13-18, 2018: “School of Rock”

March 20-25, 2018: “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”

April 17-22, 2018: “The Book of Mormon” (season option)

May 30-June 3, 2018: “An American in Paris”

Bullock Texas State History Museum

1800 Congress Ave., 512-936-8746, thestoryoftexas.com

Through Feb. 4, 2018: “The Nau Civil War Collection”

Through March 18, 2018: Pong to Pokémon: The Evolution of Electronic”

Sept. 2, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018: “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition”

Feb. 17, 2018-Jan. 15, 2019: “Texas Rodeo”

Chorus Austin

Various locations, 512-719-3300, chorusaustin.org

Nov. 4-5: “Art of the Prophets”

Dec. 2: “On a Winter’s Eve”

Dec. 16: “Sing-It-Yourself Messiah”

City Theatre

3823 Airport Blvd., 512-524-2870, citytheatreaustin.orgtk

July 21-Aug. 13 “August: Osage County”

Aug. 18-Sept 10: “Chicago”

Texas Performing Arts presents the Philip Glass Ensemble playing with ‘Koyannisqatsi.’ Contributed

Texas Performing Arts

Various locations on UT Campus, 512-477-6060, texasperformingarts.org

Sept. 18: Dover Quartet

Sept. 21: Storm Large & Le Bonheur

Sept. 24: Spanish Brass

Sept. 29: Abraham.In.Motion

Oct. 5: Sergei Babayan

Nov. 8: Fifth House Ensemble’s Journey Live

Nov. 16: Seth Rudetsky’s Deconstructing Broadway

Nov. 18: Monty Alexander Harlem-Kingston Express

Dec. 1-2: Kurt Elling with the Swingles

Jan. 20, 2018: Chanticleer

Jan. 25-26, 2018: “Sancho: An Act of Remembrance”

Feb. 1, 2018: Ezralow Dance

Feb. 2, 2018: Ute Lemper

Feb. 16, 2018: Sergio & Odair Assad and Avi Avital

Feb. 23, 2018: Philip Glass Ensemble’s Koyaanisqatsi

March 8, 2018: “Musical Thrones: A Parody”

March 27, 2018: Che Malambo

April 3, 2018: University of Texas Symphony Orchestra

April 11, 2018: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

April 14, 2018: University of Texas Jazz Orchestra with Conrad Herwig

UT Theatre & Dance

Various locations on UT campus, 512-477-6060, texasperformingarts.org

Aug. 30-Sept 10: “Building the Wall”

Oct. 4-15: “Anon(ymous)”

Nov. 7-12: “Fall for Dance”

Nov. 8-19: “The Crucible”

Dec. 6-10: “The Drowsy Chaperone”

Feb. 21-March 4, 2018: “Enron”

March 28-April 8, 2018: “Transcendence”

April 12-22, 2018: “UT New Theatre”

Rob Nash returns with ‘Holy Cross Sucks.’ Contributed by OUTmedia

The Vortex

2307 Manor Road, 512-478-5282, vortexrep.org

Sept. 8-24: “Storm Still”

Sept. 8-9: “Linda Mary Montano’s Birth/Death”

Sept. 22-Oct. 21: “Vampyress”

Oct. 4: “Icons: The Lesbian and Gay History of the World, Vol 1”

Nov. 2-5: “P3M5 Plays”

Nov. 9-11: “Somewhere Between”

Nov. 16-Dec. 9: “Wild Horses”

Nov. 17-Dec. 9: “The Member of the Wedding”

Dec. 14-17: “Rob Nash’s Holy Cross Sucks”

Dec. 21-Jan. 7, 2018: “The Muttcracker (Sweet!)”

Jan. 11-20, 2018: “The Way She Spoke”

Jan. 26-Feb. 10, 2018: “893/Ya-ku-za”

Feb. 14-18, 2018: Outsider Fest

Feb 22-25, 2018: “Reveal All Feature Nothing”

March 2, 2018: Cinema Dada

March 3, 2018: Congo Square

March 23-May 12, 2018: Performance Park

May 17-19, 2018: Toni Bravo’s “Home”

May 25-June 9, 2018: “Polly Mermaid”

June 15-30, 2018: “The Claire Play”

July 6-21, 2018: “The Last Witch”

July 27-Aug. 4, 2018: Summer Youth Theatre

Zach Theatre

202 S. Lamar Blvd., 512-476-0541

Through Sept. 3: “Million Dollar Quartet”

Sept. 27-Oct. 29: “Singin’ in the Rain”

Nov. 1-Dec. 31: “A Tuna Christmas”

Nov. 22-Dec. 31: “A Christmas Carol”

May 30-June 24, 2018: “Sunday in the Park with George”

June 20-July 22, 2018: “Heisenberg”

July 11-Sept. 2, 2018: “Beauty and the Beast”

These and more are missing or need direct confirmation:

Austin History Center

Austin Shakespeare

Briscoe Center

Conspirare

The Contemporary Austin

Forklift Danceworks

Hyde Park Theatre

LBJ Library and Museum

Long Center

Mexic-Arte Museum

One World Theatre

Palace Theatre Georgetown

Paramount/Stateside

Pollyana Theatre

Ransom Center

Rude Mechs

Penfold Theatre

Salvage Vanguard Theater

Spectrum Theatre

Tapestry Dance

Teatro Vivo

Texas State University Theatre

Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum

Artists and audiences prepare now for the coming Austin arts season

The Austin arts season is upon us.

Wait, you say, it’s just July.

Right.

Jeff Lofton plays the Long Center on Oct. 25.

With some exceptions, arts and other cultural groups — we include major literary and historical outlets — don’t return to full form until September.

Yet now’s the time for all arts groups to confirm their seasonal slates and for all readers to consider purchasing season tickets.

In fact, for some high-demand groups, if you haven’t secured your 2017-2018 subscriptions already, you’re stuck with angling for single slots.

For instance, galvanized by the chance to secure tickets for the matchless musical, “Hamilton,” in the 2018-2019 season, more than 3,000 new subscribers have signed on for Broadway in Austin’s 2017-2018 offerings.

RELATED: Broadway smash “Hamilton” coming to Austin in 2018-2019 season.

Now, some groups don’t operate on the traditional season system, rolling out one show at a time. Others split up their seasons. For instance, the Long Center for the Performing Arts won’t announce its Winter/Spring slate until September.

We respect that. What will follow soon in these pages is a list of shows that we could discover with relative ease in July. We’ll add others to digital extensions on the Austin Arts blog when they arrive.

Looking for something to do this weekend? Free Fusebox Festival starts today

Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol are part of two Fusebox Festival 2017 presentations. Contributed by MgV

The free Fusebox Festival — an eclectic celebration of art in its many forms — opens today and runs through Sunday at venues throughout Austin. As Michael Barnes explained in his preview, the festival isn’t just about artists showing off their creative endeavors; it also “urges them to engage with their audiences around the big ideas of the day,” such as the border and community health.

But new approaches to making art are at the heart of the festival as well — as evidenced by Line Upon Line’s “Potential,” a series of performances combining percussion, dance and lighting at the top of Mansfield Dam later this week.

PHOTOS: Hybrid Austin event Fusebox Festival tackles big ideas through art

Here are three top picks from among the Fusebox events from our preview story:

“Pancho Villa from a Safe Distance,” April 14-15, Stateside at the Paramount Theatre

This is one we have been anticipating for a long time. A chamber opera composed by Graham Reynolds, it was conceived and executed in collaboration with Rude Mechs director Shawn Sides and the Mexican theater collective Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol, which contributed the libretto. Using the biography of Pancho Villa, it plays with the culture and politics of West Texas through the eyes of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.

Bonus: Additional lyrics by poet and novelist Carrie Fountain.

“The score is part chamber suite, part rock opera and part cinematic soundscape,” Fusebox founder Ron Berry says. “The influences run from Chavela Vargas and Los Tigres del Norte to Shostakovich and Bartok to the Los Lobos offshoot the Latin Playboys.”

“Meeting,” April 12-16, Scottish Rite Theater

In this piece from Australians Antony Hamilton and Alisdair Macindoe, two performers interact with 64 robotic percussion instruments. Hamilton provides the irresistible movement, Macindoe the machine sounds.

Bonus: You have five chances to catch this 50-minute marvel.

“Technically, the dancers are ridiculously talented and rigorous,” Berry says. “The influences range from ballet to hip-hop and breakdancing, particularly popping. Conceptually, the piece is super tight. They take a particular idea and go very deep with it, which I really appreciate and enjoy.”

Al Volta’s Midnight Bar, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. April 12-16, Saengerrunde Halle

“Al Volta’s is especially exciting because it’s a super fun pop-up bar,” Berry says. “The food will be changing every night. It’s also an opportunity to meet other audience members, artists and arts professionals from all over the world. The artistic programming is some of the most fun and diverse in the festival.”

Why sit or stand around with the artists in an old German bowling alley?

“Let’s dissolve that barrier between audience, artist and art!” Berry says. “Let’s all hang out together and talk about the world. And then we combine this with our own love of bars. I spend a lot of time in bars, turns out. Occupational hazard. But I do love a good bar.”