CRITICS IN THE DARK (as usual?). We’re sure you recall the noisy radio piece we did on Amphibian Productions’ new home near downtown Fort Worth and the unusual play the company revived for their theater’s debut, Shaun Prendergast’s The True History of the Tragic Life & Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, the Ugliest Woman in the World. Based on a real-life Mexican woman who traveled the world as a circus freak, the play is performed entirely in the pitch-black dark, meaning only voices and sound effects create everything. The general consensus among the reviewers – like Punch Shaw and Jimmy Fowler and Lawson Taitte (pay wall) — is that the staging’s a gimmick, but a good one that the ‘Phibs handle well.
RUMORED LAST WEEK BUT NOW IT’S OFFICIAL. I took a quick trip to Austin last weekend and heard from a friend that Clay Smith, who’s been the literary director of the Texas Book Festival since 2005, would be moving on. Michael Merschel reports it’s true and that Smith is heading over to become the features editor at the Austin-based Kirkus Reviews. (Clay started life as a book critic, so it’s something of a homecoming.) Think you can run a lit fest that fills the Texas Capitol with 240 authors? The job’s posted at Publisher’s Weekly.
REMEMBER THE HORTON FOOTE FESTIVAL? SORTA LIKE THAT. Last year’s Horton Foote Festival was the largest collaboration among North Texas theater companies (17 of them), ever — and deservedly, it got a fair amount of attention. Imagine if North Texas art museums tried something similar. Well, they did in LA. Sixty Southern California arts institutions collaborated for Pacific Standard Time, a sprawling series of events and shows about the development of the LA art scene, 1945-1980. The Getty Museum invested $12 million in PST, and it also commissioned a study that now suggests (it’s complicated) the whole deal generated some $111 million in cultural tourism spending. So there. A big deal.