UH's Center for Creative Work Presents the Annual Dionysia Festival

Courtesy of the University of Houston
Chroniclers, from left to right: Jacob Mangun, Phoebe Dantoin, Stephen Swank

As sad as it is to say, war is a huge part of the universal human experience that dates back all the way to the first relatively small social groups that our ancestors created. So, what could be a more relevant title for a festival that pulls together the ancient and the modern than "The City at War -- A Possession for All Time?"

The festival, hosted by the University of Houston's Center for Creative Work, features a new interpretation of Thucydides' "History of the Peloponnesian War" by John Harvey, director of the CCW. The center is part of the Honors College and is focused on interdisciplinary arts and aesthetics.

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Moores School's AURA Ensemble Presents a Different Kind of Chamber Music

Courtesy of Rob Smith
Left to right: Sonya Matoussova, cello; Shelby Thompson, viola; Ingrid Hunter, violin; Roberto Trillo, violin

Asked to expand on the theme for the upcoming AURA concert, entitled Multifaceted, University of Houston music composition professor Rob Smith was at a loss to describe it in words other than what it is -- a three-dimensional shape with flat surfaces.

"Every single work on the program looks at something from a variety of different angles. That's the deal behind something that's multifaceted, it's got a bunch of different ways you can view it," said Smith, director of the ensemble.

AURA is UH's chamber music ensemble for new music, generally meaning music that has been composed since the 1990s.

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Moores Opera Center Presents a Lush Tragedy in Rappaccini's Daughter

Courtesy of the University of Houston
Mark Thomas (Giovanni) and Kaylie Kahlich (Beatriz)

To close out the current season, the University of Houston's Moores Opera Center presents a haunting fairytale opera in florid impressionist style by Mexican composer Daniel Catán. It is the composer's first opera, and it's sure to have viewers running home to prune back the springtime growth in their backyards.

La Hija de Rappaccini, or Rappaccini's Daughter, takes place on the streets of Padua, Italy and in Rappaccini's garden, where the centerpiece is a large mystical tree, an overt reference to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden.

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UPDATED: Rice Students Put Together a Rubik's Cube Mosaic of Nelson Mandela

Photo by Jeff Fitlow
Nelson Mandela tribute created through Rubik's cubes.
Students from Rice University came together to produce a mosaic with 600 Rubik's cubes featuring former South African president, Nelson Mandela who died last year on December 5. In honor of Black History Month the montage will be on display at Rice University's BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) building.

Cory Thigpen, president of the Rice Club, wanted to pay tribute to Mandela in a creative way and him and his team found out a way to do that by incorporating Rubik's cubes.

"The project was time sensitive and we really wanted something that was going to capture people's interest," said Thigpen. "Nelson Mandela had just passed and we thought it would be a great way to honor him."

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Students to Put on "One Stop Hip-Hop Shop" at Hobby Center May 10

Pictures courtesy of Julie Lambert
Primary and secondary students practice their hip-hop routine in anticipation of Friday's show.
Music Doing Good, Inc. is a fine arts organization serving at-risk schools and students in the Houston area. According to Julie Lambert, press and media manager for Music Doing Good, Inc., the nonprofit organization's mission "is to inspire and transform lives through innovative, music-based programming."

One way they are doing this is through Music Doing Good in Schools, a division of the elder organization, which provides after-school enrichment programs that teach students about select music genres.

This year, Music Doing Good in Schools will conclude two semesters of hip-hop music appreciation with a performance at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. With the first semester spent learning about hip-hop, the current semester has consisted of students from MacGregor Elementary, Stevenson Middle School and Wheatley High School rehearsing and perfecting the musical and artistic sides of the genre for a performance entitled "One Stop Hip-Hop Shop." This performance of old-school and new-school will showcase every facet of hip-hop.

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Wes Anderson's Rushmore, AKA St. John's Revisited in an Interview

Houston: The Rushmore School

In a story on The Onion's serious site, A.V. Club, writer Kyle Ryan who used to attend Strake Jesuit, delves into the St. John's/Houston background of Wes Anderson's film Rushmore.

As Ryan starts:

The world of Houston prep schools is small. Students who attend one of them are familiar with the others, and at some point, probably spend some time at them. As a student of Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, I spent some miserable nights running track and field's worst races--the 800; 1,600; and 3,200--on the cushy track of St. John's School. That's why, when I saw Wes Anderson's delightful 1998 film Rushmore, I recognized exactly where it had been filmed.

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Dennis Quaid, Brett Cullen & More Return to UH to Honor Theater Prof Cecil Pickett's Memory

Cecil Pickett, who died in 1997, is a revered name not only in Houston theater circles but across the United States among his former students. But when Steve Wallace, director of the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance, arrived here from Tennessee five years ago, he wasn't familiar with Pickett or his legacy.

What Wallace was looking for was a way to reunite the UH theater school and its students with some of its most prominent alumni. Actor Brett Cullen (Apollo 13, The Replacements, Ghost Rider) came back to the campus some and talked to students, but Wallace wanted more.

At a football game two years ago, Wallace had his chance. He'd flown out to a UCLA-Houston game and met Cullen. It was Cullen who told him that if he was looking for something to pull everyone together then Cecil Pickett would be the linchpin. Cullen, in turn, introduced Wallace to actors Dennis Quaid (Breaking Away, Far from Heaven) Robert Wuhl (Bull Durham, Batman) and eventually Cindy Pickett (Pickett Fences, St. Elsewhere) -- all alumni of UH's theater program.

On Saturday, April 14, all three are coming back to UH for An Afternoon with the Artists, a benefit for the Cecil J. Pickett Scholarship Fund.

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Let Me Be Your Star: NBC's "Smash" Comes to Sharpstown High School

Martin Johnson works with the students at Sharpstown High School.

Tell a story, Martin Johnson says.

It's Tuesday, April 3. Since 10 a.m., Johnson, the iTheatrics Junior Theater Project director of education, and the students at Sharpstown High School have been breathing ("Dum, dum, dada, dada"), singing ("Who can tell me why we sing in a musical?") and posing ("Make a circle! Make a circle!"), all in preparation for Fame, JR., the play they will present to the public on May 24. For the four hours that he is there, Johnson will impress the same theme over and over upon the young thespians: Tell a story.

Fame, JR. isn't just any play. It's a collaborative effort underwritten by NBC in celebration of their new musical television drama Smash (Debra Messing, Katharine McPhee) and the aforementioned iTheatrics, a nonprofit that works with children of all ages to perform renditions of Broadway musicals, to create "sustainable" musical theater programs in 20 underprivileged high schools.

How did NBC get to Houston? It all started with first-year theater director and Sharpstown graduate Julio Morales, who wanted to establish something to replace the arts programs that have been slashed at Sharpstown High. After hearing about the "NBC 'Smash': Make a Musical" project, he applied to it. A few months later, he got his wish.

"They had such great teachers that were passionate," explained Johnson of the decision to include Sharpstown, the only Houston-based high school in the chosen 20. He is one of four iTheatrics staff members who have visited -- and will visit -- those 20 high schools in the coming months. Johnson initially came in January for a seven-hour workshop to get the ball rolling on the production. Tuesday's visit is the wrap-up of musical, acting and technical tutoring, for both the students and the teachers involved. After the debut of Fame, JR., a one-hour amended version of the original two-hour Broadway hit, Johnson and Morales hope the newly minted musical theater program will continue to produce and perform musicals every year, thus "sustaining" the project.

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Barry Carter Scores Champion Work of Art at the Houston Rodeo, Taylor Power Takes Reserve Spot

Photo courtesy HLSR
This year's Grand Champion Work of Art by Barry Carter of Magnolia ISD.
Proving once again that the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has room for all kinds of champions, HSLR picked its top two winners among student artists for this year's competition.

The title of Grand Champion Work of Art went to Barry Carter, a senior from Magnolia ISD, this weekend for his painting "Smokey and the Bandit." Carter, who plans to attend Texas Christian University and major in art and business -- so that he can paint and own and operate his own art gallery some day -- saw the cows in a field and captured their sense of peace.

The Reserve Grand Champion Work of art went to Taylor Power, a junior from Katy ISD, for her colored drawing "Sergeant in Charge."

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Public Art on Display: Watch Artist Edgar Bustillos Create His NASA Mural

The space shuttle program may be history, but motorists on NASA Road in Webster can still see rocket ships and the beauty of space, courtesy of area artist Edgar Bustillos.

Bustillos, who also teaches P.E. at McWhirter Elementary School, designed and painted a mural, an homage to the space program, on the side of the school with the help of his students.

Bustillos tells Art Attack that the project encompassed everything art should be: made by the community, for the community.

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