Best Virtual Bets: Shakespeare, Black Art in Houston, and a Murder Mystery

If you’re in the market for some ideas to keep you socially distant and socially responsible, we’ve got some suggestions for you. Do you long for analog media? Need your yearly fix of Tamarie Cooper in all her completely bonkers but supremely talented glory? How about Shakespeare? Are you missing Shakespeare in the summer? We’ve got these bases and a few more covered below.

Throughout the pandemic (and before), Rice Cinema has been doing yeoman’s work digging through the archives for hidden gems to screen every Thursday at 7 p.m. during Low-Fi. The themed programs have included a few ethnographic “classics”; a few blasts from the pasts during “Famous People Visit the Media Center”; and some past but poignant reflections of the current push for racial justice. This week, tune in for another installment of their Queer Cinema Classics series. Watch on Vimeo or Twitch (where you can also catch up on what you may have missed), and though the show starts at 7 p.m., be sure to tune in up to 15 minutes early to enjoy the music mixes they often play before the main event.

Feeling bored, lonely, anxious, or all of the above and more? We expect that art is and will continue reflecting the uncertain times we live in, and we’re about to get a clear example this weekend. Join NobleMotion Dance at 7 p.m. on Friday, August 7, and Saturday, August 8, for We All Fall Down: A Live Dance for Camera. The collaborative work, led by NMD artistic directors and choreographers Andy Noble and Dionne Sparkman Noble, will feature 20 performers backed by nine more creatives (including four composers, three media artists, a light designer and a costume designer). Using Zoom and Open Broadcaster Software, the team will produce a new, 30-minute long live dance that will stream free on their YouTube channel.

We’re just one week into Tamarie Cooper’s 2020: Quarantine Edition! over at Catastrophic Theatre and we’re relieved to say that the weird, the wacky, and the utterly hilarious cannot be contained by a mere pandemic. Cooper’s three-part online series will run for six weeks, which started last Friday, with a new installment dropping every other week. This is an off week, but you can still join Cooper, Catastrophic regular Kyle Sturdivant, and more when they take to the web for a virtual Ask Us Anything this Friday at 8 p.m. If you’ve ever wanted to ask, “Just what is going on up there” while pointing to your head, now’s your chance. And you can still pick up a ticket to the actual show. One ticket gets you access to all the episodes and just like always, Catastrophic is committed to pay-what-you-can pricing.

Oh, what’s one to do when the wedding you’re at comes to a screeching halt because the reverend turns up belly up – besides help the investigation, that is? Over at Cone Man Running Productions, winner of the Houston Press 2017 Mastermind Award, you can do exactly that during the “Cone Man Caper” Murder on the Deep Blue Sea (It’s Really More of a Bay) by Bryan Maynard and Michael Weems. Help the internationally known private investigators Max and Magda Chastain, played by Ty Fisher and Christine Weems (who’s also directing), during this interactive murder-mystery where audience members can question suspects and vote on the guilty party via YouTube. It’s a show with six different endings, but only three more performances (Friday and August 13 and 14) so you’ll want to RSVP now for the hour-long show. Tickets are free, though you are certainly welcome to make a donation.

Saturday Programming accompanying the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, exhibition, “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” continues this week with the fourth of five virtual panel discussions, Black Art in Houston. On Saturday, August 8, Alvia Wardlaw, the curator and director of the University Museum at Texas Southern University, will moderate the deep dive into both the TSU art program (founded by John Biggers and Carroll Simms) and our city’s own black art scene, with “Soul of a Nation” artist Earlie Hudnall, Jr., Houston’s Community Artists’ Collective’s Michelle Barnes, and local Houston artist Nathaniel Donnett. And don’t forget that the exhibit’s virtual film series still boasts seven films (including Bless Their Little Hearts featured above) all available online through August 30.

Conductor Nicholas McGegan, who led the Houston Symphony in a performance of Handel’s Messiah back in December, returns for this weekend’s edition of Live from Jones Hall, a weekly, hour-long concert series streamed at 8 p.m. every Saturday night. This month, McGegan will be the first of four guest conductors on the schedule, and he will be at the helm for a program that includes Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Mozart’s Serenade in G major (Eine Kleine Nachtmusik), and “Summerland” from Three Visions, written by the “Dean of African American composers,” William Grant Still. Each week’s performance is $10 and tickets are on sale now.

If you’ve been trying to fill the void in a Shakespeare-less summer with your weathered, dog-eared copy of Much Ado About Nothing (or Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream – the list goes on), then you’ve probably already realized the obvious: It’s nice and all, but Shakespeare’s meant to be performed. Luckily, Main Street Theater has gathered a group of local actors to ensure you don’t go all summer without your annual Shakespeare fix. On Monday evening, open up Zoom at 6:45 p.m. to watch Main Street virtually stage their second and final installment of BYOBard, where said actors will perform a variety of monologues and passages. The best part is that it’s free (though donations are always appreciated), but you have to register in advance and space is limited so you better do it quick.


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