12 Awesome Things to Do This Weekend, July 31 - Aug. 3

Categories: Dallas Stories


Chipping Smooth
Immersive theater is not a synonym for participatory theater. So you won't need to bring a monologue or warm up your vocal chords before attending Chipping Smooth this weekend. In fact, please don't. It does mean that you will be part of the theatrical experience. You'll be amidst the performers as they ignore conventional methods of theatrical performance and dramatic narrative to embrace everything from music to multimedia, to poetry to cinematic projections. There won't be aisle seats, plots, or intermissions, so we're really not sure what you should expect. But this free night of entertainment is happening for one weekend only with performances at 8:30 p.m. Thursday - Sunday nights. Oh, and by the way it happens in the carriage house behind 201 N. Montclair Ave. Yeah, you're in for an adventure.

We may not know much about the event, but we know we certainly won't be missing it. Questions? Email taylorthecleveland@gmail.com.

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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 76 Music Activist Salim Nourallah

Categories: 100 Creatives


Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email lauren.smart@dallasobserver.com with the whos and whys.

As you drive down the streets of Knox-Henderson's residential area, it's hard to imagine that behind one of the quaint, cottage-style homes is a state-of-the-art recording studio. But that's exactly where you'll find one of Dallas' most acclaimed musicians and producer, Salim Nourallah's Pleasantry Lane Studio. The unmarked studio is barely visible from the street and the only adornment to the inconspicuous garage is a large, red Hit Parade cigarette sign from the '50s.

But the moment you open the red door and cross the threshold, the idea that the space was ever a one-car garage is baffling. The spacious control room is unique in its '60s mod design. On one side of the room a row of guitars Nourallah has accumulated over the years from his first, a red Rickenbacker 330, to his old '63 Guild Mark 2 acoustic, which he plays at every show. In the tracking room is a 1967 Yamaha U3 his brother Faris, with whom he first opened the studio, wrote his first four records on.

After marveling at the decked-out control panel and peeking inside the tracking room with plastered with posters of bands such as The Beatles and The damned, I sat down with the singer-songwriter and producer who swept the 2006 Observer music awards for his album Beautiful Noise winning Best Album/Best Song and Best Producer. Nourallah went on to win seven consecutive Observer Awards for Best Producer, working with bands and artists such as the Old 97s, Rhett Miller, Deathray Davies & Carter Albrecht.

Nourallah does far more for the community than churn out great records. In spite of his busy schedule, he continues to participate in multiple charitable organizations, started Rock Camp, where kids ages 9-18 have the opportunity to better their craft and record in a real studio, and continues to stand up for local musicians and call for community change.

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Blogger Reality Steve Makes a Living by Spoiling The Bachelor, The Bachelorette

Categories: 100 Creatives


What started as an innocent email chain among three of his buddies, turned into a full-time job. Dallas-based Reality Steve has been spoiling ABC's The Bachelor and The Bachelorette endings since 2009.

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The Best Classical Concert in Dallas This Month Could Happen In Your Living Room


Any list of the best classical concerts to hear in Dallas this August is going to be a short one. Toward the end of the month, the Fort Worth Symphony is putting on a mini festival of music by Brahms and Dvorák (featuring guest soloist Augustin Hadelich on violin). But apart from those three concerts, classical pickings are slim in this month.

A quiet month isn't a bad thing. It's a natural part of the cycle of how performing arts organizations are generally scheduled; think of it as a lull before busy seasons launch in September, or the only real chance for over-scheduled musicians to take a much needed vacation.

The break does give us an opportunity to look outside the box a bit. Besides the symphony, the opera and established chamber groups that follow regular season schedules, where is classical music happening in Dallas?

Last week, I caught the better part of an episode of the Diane Rehm show on NPR that featured a panel of classical musicians, critics and conservatory administrators discussing the future of classical music. Throughout the hour, several panelists mentioned Groupmuse, a new model for classical concerts that's gotten a lot of press recently. Groupmuse connects classical musicians with local hosts who want to put on a relaxed chamber music concert in their home. Think of it as the Airbnb or Lyft of classical concerts.

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Dallas' Cultural Centers Fly Below the Radar on a Mission to Teach and Bolster Local Arts

Categories: Dallas Stories

Although is just seconds from Fair Park, you might not know the South Dallas Cultural Center is there, but you should.

On a blistering Saturday morning, a few runners peek into the doors of 521 E. Lawther Drive. They're halfway through a nine-mile jog around White Rock Lake and this unassuming cream colored building looks like it has a bathroom and air conditioning. But the Bath House Cultural Center also looks closed.

The Dallas cultural centers aren't places people usually wander into, curious to learn what's going on inside. Each building seems to serve a particular community and that community only, which can keep outsiders away. That's if they even know the centers exist in the first place.

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Finally! Small, Local Theater Companies to Perform in the Dallas Arts District


Six floors up in the Wyly Theatre, there is a black box theater that has been sorely underused; Nine floors up there is a rehearsal space that rarely sees an audience. Both the Winspear Opera House and the Wyly will enter year five this fall, which makes them ripe for reinvention. After letting the Dallas Theater Center settle in and determine how they want to use the big, silver box of a space, the AT&T Performing Arts Center is ready to flex some programming muscles. To fill the sixth floor performing space, this fall the center launches "The Elevator Project."

They've invited six local companies to perform a show in one of the spaces on either the sixth or ninth floor. The long-absent Upstart Productions will kick off the series with Year of the Rooster, which opens August 22. The other companies are Second Thought Theatre, DGDG: the Danielle Georgiou Dance Group, Cara Mía Theatre Co., African American Repertory Theater and Dallas Actor's Lab.

Beyond keeping the Arts District filled with artists -- something the area has struggled with -- these are all companies that don't have consistent performance spaces, which can often make it difficult to produce work, or build an audience. The center will sell $100 passes to the entire six-show series at attpac.org.

Chipping Smooth Is Something 'Bout Love, Most Likely

Pipe Dream Productions/Taylor 'Effin Cleveland
Chipping Smooth features Mary Ehrlicher and Beaven Waller.
"It's like I can feel our electrons falling so love with each other's positive particles...Because chemistry is the only thing deep enough to explain this."

This the last line in the trailer for Chipping Smooth, the inaugural work from Pipe Dream Productions, a rag-tag organization of artists founded just this summer in anticipation of the showing of this work. The spontaneity surrounding Pipe Dream is actually quite exciting and reminds me of my readings on art groups and collectives from the 1960s -- groups of experimental and traditional artists coming together to work on a project, finding a location to present their work, and springing invitations on us. Invitations that came from word of mouth, written notes slipped under doors disclosing a secret location for you to arrive at, and posters and signage pointing you toward something that might change the way you view the world.

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In Dallas Theater, Everyone Won't Like Everything All the Time. And They Shouldn't.

Thumbnail image for FITFIT.jpg
Courtesy FIT
Whatever you do, don't stop writing ... plays or criticism.

Over the weekend, a post popped up in my newsfeed from the Festival of Independent Theatres. "...Elaine Liner suggests that we be put out of our misery. Do you agree? We welcome your thoughts on the matter!" It linked to her stage column this week, which bears the heady title, "Is it Time to Bring the Curtain Down on Festival of Indie Theatres?"

Obviously, the response was overwhelmingly in support of the festival given the conversation's venue. Everyone who replied to the thread was involved in the theater community, most of them working for or acting in a production at this year's festival. The thread appeared in my newsfeed several more times throughout the weekend, whether posted by critics or actors, in groups like "D-FW Theater" -- an open group dedicated to just such dialogue.

The discussion varied from the quality of shows to the responsibilities of the critic to personal attacks (most of which were quickly taken down). Commenters were furious, frustrated and personally injured. "How dare she!" seemed to be the shared sentiment of the conversation.

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Heroes, Villains, Revenge Plots: WWE Is Like Shakespeare, But With Smashed Chairs

Categories: Theater

WWE Inc.
Roman Reigns over Randy Orton -- and the ladies' hearts.
WWE returned to American Airlines Center this Sunday, and this being a culture blog, we asked Jaime-Paul Falcone to go and send a sketch of what exactly goes at a WWE Live event. Drama, that's what. Lots of drama, plus merchandising.

Scene 1: Thousands of neon-clad children run through the aisles of the American Airlines Center, their parents trying to control them as excitement builds. The reason for the neon, and the reason most of the children are here, is professional wrestler John Cena. Cena is a man who looks as if he was chiseled out of marble by a Renaissance artist who received prophetic dreams that gave him glimpses into the pages of Muscle & Fitness and Men's Health magazines. He's also the face of professional wrestling, a man who looks like a real life super hero, and the man every small boy wants to be. Calm, cool, collected and usuall dressed in eye-catching colors that accentuate his giant muscles, he's the reason World Wrestling Entertainment is able to pack an arena on a random Sunday afternoon.

He's also not here.

An announcer stands in the ring and says John Cena is not there (he's off filming a movie with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey at the moment). Any fans who want refunds have 20 minutes to get them. On cue, the theme music of wrestling and pop culture legend Ric "The Nature Boy" Flair hits, and out steps the legend himself. Thoughts of refunds quickly pass.

Scene 2: Professional wrestling's roots are steeped in the world of carnivals; it's stories - and there are always stories behind the wrestling - are simple, steeped in stereotypes and engaging. In the ring below, one of these stories is being told. Seth Rollins may be one of the most handsome men I've ever seen, but he's dressed like a deep sea diver and has a permanent sneer on his face. He's the black hat, the bad guy. His opponent Dean Ambrose is dressed like a low-rent stepfather in a bad play. His eyes look manic, and he's prone to throwing tantrums every few seconds. He's loudly cheered and is considered the good guy. The story they're telling is one of revenge: at some point in the recent past Rollins aggrieved Ambrose, and Ambrose is determined to settle the score. What's interesting about all this is watching how not only the two performers work together, but also how the referee works with them.

Yes, wrestling is scripted, and it might be the most interesting part of it. Watching the referee convey direction from the ring announcer who seems to be in charge of everything to the performers is a marvel to see. To add to the air of excitement, an obviously planted fan sits in the front row starting, and stopping cheers. We may be in a state-of-the-art arena, but we're never far from the carnival.

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Ten Stupid Things People Believe About Dallas

Categories: Dallas Stories

Not everything is as upside down as it seems...

The myth of Dallas often eclipses the actual city. Thanks to Dallas the TV show, Dallas the city lives in the shadows of oil rigs, oversized cowboy hats and big money. Stereotypes aside, we're creating our own identity that is actually pretty awesome. It's time to put down the cowboy boots and Cadillacs caricatures and acknowledge what is actually true about this city we inhabit.

We've rounded up (no, not with a lasso) 10 of the stupidest things out-of-towners believe about Dallas. Instead of explaining that you don't own a pair of cowboy boots for the 10th time, shatter Dallas' worst stereotypes with this truth-bomb.

We're all conservative Republicans.
Even if the (overwhelming) majority of the state likes to vote red, like the other major urban areas in Texas, Dallas is full of left-leaning Democrats, believers in climate change and progressives of all stripes. There is a thriving gayborhood and we're soon to be home to a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, which is like flipping a massive bird at our bass ackwards state politicians. Elected officials in this city are responsible for proactive domestic violence prevention programs, a cutting-edge prostitution diversion plan, and most recently, housing unaccompanied immigrant minors while other cities and our own governor protested. It's also worth noting that in 2012, President Obama handily defeated Mitt Romney in Dallas County.

Alice Laussade
There's no culture here.

Sure, we've got a reputation for being a soulless business hub, but even the snobbiest art, music and theater fans can find something to love in Dallas. If you're too indie for the fresh-from-NYC touring theatre companies and Dallas Symphony Orchestra, try experimental theater at Ochre House Theater or Dead White Zombies or a weird local noise band at Club Dada or the off-beat Two Bronze Doors. Do you really think that Erykah Badu would live in a place that was completely devoid of culture? Nope.

We're all Cowboys fans.

Much to the chagrin of the fans who still cling to the good old days, not everybody here loves "the Boys." Dallas has a healthy number of transplants. The people who move from Pittsburgh and New York to take advantage of Dallas' comparatively low cost of living and lack of a state income tax certainly don't leave their sports allegiances at the door. Even if Jerry World bleeds blue and silver, sports bars host healthy rivalries. And you'd be hard pressed to find a Romo fan.

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