Top Five Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: The Aliens, Buster Graybill's "Feral," Augustine and More
Horse Head Theatre Company is well known for mounting its progressive and edgy theatrical productions in unexpected venues. Boheme's Cafe and Wine Bar's back lot is the site of the troupe's presentation of Obie Award winner Annie Baker's The Aliens, a show that follows two friends talking in a coffee shop and one of our picks for Friday. But Boheme's neighbors don't need to worry about possible noise. "Aliens is like nothing we've produced before in that so much of the play's life is in the silences," says Drake Simpson, co-founder of Horse Head and lead actor in the play, who co-stars with Kevin Jones. "The playwright recommends that perhaps from a quarter to a third of the piece be spent in silence. The challenge, then, is to make sure that these moments are just as alive as those moments that are dialogue-driven."
Drake Simpson (left) and Kevin Jones in The Aliens
See The Aliens at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and August 19. Through August 31. 307 Fairview. For information, call 713-364-4482 or visit the Horse Head Theatre website. $10 to $20.
Artist Buster Graybill grew up in Conroe, so it's no surprise he's familiar with Texas wildlife. Using sculpture, photography and video, Graybill's "Feral" exhibit at Art League Houston, which opens on Friday, captures that natural splendor and gives it a twist. Graybill created several minimalist geometric sculptures that also function as wild-animal feeders. He calls the feral sculptures "Tush Hogs." Via press materials, Graybill explains their origins: "They evolved from a Donald Judd sculpture that escaped from the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas. Without curators, collectors or conservators to comfort and care for the sculptures, they quickly developed a more rugged diamond-plated armor and more muscular stature to survive in the wild. The exhibition tracks the evolution of these hybrid objects as they traverse the rural landscape and endure attacks by wild hogs, deer, rams and critics over a [three] year period."
From Buster Graybill's "Feral"
Graybill says, "I designed and fabricated the sculpture/feeders from the ground up. In the beginning, I was making full-size cardboard models and crawling on my hands and knees, trying to think and move like a wild hog to make sure the feeders would actually work." Observing the animals over three years, Graybill formed emotional attachments to his subjects. "The most endearing group of animals was the wild rams, who had a turf war of sorts with the wild hogs. In an effort to 'guard' [the feeders], they began sleeping with the sculptures every night. When I finally loaded the feeders, the group of rams watched from a distance and followed me as I drove away. That gave me chill bumps."
There's an opening reception at 6 p.m. on August 16. Regular viewing hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Through September 20. 1953 Montrose. For information, call 713-523-9530 or visit the Art League Houston website. Free.
Remember that ominous ad from the 2004 presidential election that featured a snarling wolf roaming the countryside, terrorizing unsuspecting country folk? Mildred's Umbrella Theater Company's Foxfinder, one of our picks for Saturday, substitutes a threatening hoard of terrorizing foxes for the wolf. The danger prompts a visit from an official Foxfinder to a family farm. But is the real threat from pointy-snouted, beady-eyed, furry little creatures? Or from a government trying to keep its citizens under control?
Playwright Dawn King, a finalist in the Susan Smith Blackburn awards, penned Foxfinder, which Mildred's Umbrella artistic director, Jennifer Decker, says "is 1984 meets The Crucible. It is a chilling exploration of the darkness that can occur in people when our deepest beliefs are challenged."
Find Foxfinder at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays. Through August 31. 1824 Spring Street, Studio 101. For information, call 832-463-0409 or visit the Mildred's Umbrella website $12 to $20.
Before there was Sigmund Freud, there was Jean-Martin Charcot, a 19th-century doctor researching women's hysteria. His star patient -- or rather his star guinea pig -- was a young maid who suffered from unexplained seizures. Filmmaker Alice Winocour's moody Augustine, screening on Saturday, tells the story of their entangled, complex relationship. He pokes and prods her naked body, induces her seizures on cue as demonstrations for medical colleagues, each attack more closely mimicking sexual ecstasy. As his dependence on her to prove his medical theories grows, there are small, almost imperceptible shifts in the balance of power between the two. Usually mute, she begins to ask questions ("Will you cure me?"). After a midnight visit to her room (supposedly to observe her seizures while sleeping), he's lost.
Marian Luntz, curator for film and video at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, says Winocour "is very effective at evoking Augustine's point of view, especially how she changes as she becomes aware of what is happening." The film and its stars -- French singer/actress SoKo as Augustine and Vincent Lindon as Charcot -- got positive reviews from critics and audiences alike following screenings at the Cannes and Toronto film festivals. Screening in French with English subtitles, Augustine is part of the MFAH Film Premieres series.
7 p.m. Saturdays. Through August 24. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit the museum's website. $9.
There are few phrases in the English language more terrifying than "going blind." We're a sight-based species. All of our interactions, including the one we're having now, are based on sight. Cathy Cunningham-Little, an abstract multimedia artist from Virginia who has shown works all over the world, got interested in the loss of sight after her father began to go blind. Her art, seen in the new exhibit "Cathy Cunningham-Little: Reconstructing Visual Isomers," and our pick for Sunday, is created through the careful use of directed colored light reflected from glass shards in order to form strange, asymmetrical displays on the wall.
From "Reconstructing Visual Isomers"
"In my current works, I am asking the viewer to second-guess his or her preconceived notions about what is and isn't real," says Cunningham-Little via e-mail. "My artworks were born from my father's loss of vision and his subsequent vivid descriptions from his memory. He could 'see' things that were no longer existent and describe an image or event in his head as if it was still present in physical space and time. I create these works in an attempt to capture a reality much like my father's experience with reality."
Noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Through September 1. Redbud Gallery, 303 East 11th. For information, call 713-862-2532 or visit the gallery's website. Free.
Nancy Ford and Jef with One F contributed to this post.