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Starting the Week Off Right with the Monday Roundup

by Jerome Weeks 7 May 2012 7:57 AM

Dallas author Ben Fountain wins praise from The New York Times, high schoolers win awards from the Dallas Summer Musicals and the Arboretum wins the right to mow some grass but it may lose the war. Talk about a jam-packed Monday Roundup.


BILLY LYNN GETS A BIG BOOST. Dallas author Ben Fountain’s debut novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, scored a touchdown review from Janet Maslin in the New York Times. The story of a young Iraq-War grunt who’s become a hero and staggers through a Cowboys game is “inspired, blistering,” Maslin writes. “Though it covers only a few hours, the book is a gripping, eloquent provocation. Class, privilege, power, politics, sex, commerce and the life-or-death dynamics of battle all figure in Billy Lynn’s surreal game day experience.” Listen to Ben’s recent talk with Krys Boyd on Think.

… AND SO DO SOME HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL STARS. The Dallas Summer Musicals held is its first annual High School Musical Theatre Awards Saturday (pay wall). Seven $3,000 scholarships were given to “contenders from 30 local public and private schools. The three-hour show, packed with many startlingly professional performances by the kids, whizzed by for an adoring crowd of teachers, families and musical theater fans, and was topped off by a finale performed by 56 that ended” — of course — “in an explosion of confetti.”

WIN THE BATTLE, LOSE THE WAR? The Arboretum got the restraining order lifted and that would-be prairie, would-be parking lot at White Rock Lake will get mowed, despite the protests. Now the Arboretum needs to convince everyone it’s doing the right thing, that it’s not ‘pro-nature’ only when it’s about pretty flowers. But let us grant the Arboretum is correct in its botanical analysis: That’s not native grassland. White Rock is no more ‘wild nature’ than the Deck Park. It’s been drained, dredged, bike-pathed and dog-walked. Let us grant the Arboretum has a reasonable need for more parking, a right to arrange with the city to use that land and let’s set aside, for the moment, all the other suggestions about bus shuttles or ‘forcing Dallasites to bike and walk more.’ Let us state, instead, the Arboretum has been absolutely justified and well-meaning. Then why did it try to arrange the lots and the garage in secret?

MR. CLASSIC. In the mix of shows each season, the Dallas Theater Center used to do one American classic drama and one classic-classic (from the Greeks to Wilde). Now it mostly does one splashy Shakespeare and a musical revival. Theatre Three used to revive Moliere and Shaw or American nuggets like Broadway. Now, like most theater companies here, it’s pretty much all contemporary. So in Dallas, that leaves the great, groundbreaking dramas of the past  … to the Undermain? Lawson Taitte (pay wall) profiles Patrick Kelly, the smart, local, longtime vet who’s staging Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party for the Deep Ellum company. It’s the third landmark of avant-garde theater the Undermain has staged in recent seasons.

CATCHING UP: With about half the city still undeveloped, McKinney has created (pay wall) a plan for public art and started encouraging it (let’s hope future examples are more daring than the sculpture pictured). … First,it was Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Paul Goldberger hailing — in public, no less — Tim Rogers’s current cover story for D Magazine about the Nasher getting scorched. Then Rogers won the National Magazine Award for his profile of a hacker. A good week, it would seem.