The Home Theater Festival: Where the Stage is in a Stranger's Denton Living Room
"I've never been anywhere where there's such an attentive audience as there is in North Texas," says Lily Taylor, the hostess behind Sunday's Home Theater Festival, an event that invites strangers to meet up at vaguely alluded-to addresses and pal around. You know, in the name of art.
"People are really willing to give things a shot, and I appreciate that."
Taylor speaks from experience. She and her husband had just relocated from San Fransico when they offered HTF in 2012. While they'd done it once before out of their old California home, they were unclear how it would go over in Denton. It's sorta like attempting to organize a house party and opening it up to Craigslist. "Nobody knew what to expect," recalls Taylor. "A small, but random, group of people came and they were all really enthusiastic."
The evening began in their living room, with a softspoken performance by an experimental, neo-classical group. Then they moved through the ranch-style home on Moncayo Drive until the whole group -- artists, musicians, performers and guests -- had filled into the spare bedroom. There they made spontaneous music together on makeshift instruments.
"One person had bells, another had a tambourine," says Taylor. "...I think there was a harp?" By the end of the show, all were pressing up against Taylor's kitchen appliances, watching noise outfit Ulnae serve up dessert.
This year's attendees will also get the tour, but it'll start a bit closer to the swale in Taylor's front yard. Setting the tone and declaring a sense of space will be ceramic art by Lindsey Bass, who's re-purposing an old tree to be her unconventional gallery. The showcase also features a dousing of Ulnae's performance art (involving bags of beans, nails, and metal sheets placed on microphones), screen-printed work by Nevada Hill, a wash of video imagineered and projected by hubbie Shawn Miller, a photography component volunteered off of Facebook, and a freeflow session by Juicy The Emissary, who dubs himself an "aural architect."
The structure of their project is similar to the other Home Theater Festivals popping up in Boston, Africa, Montreal and even Tallahassee, Florida. That's because they're cut from the same wallpaper, one initially patterned by California's let's-take-this-outside performance artist, Philip Huang. He started the festival as a push-back to the mainstream -- an effort to demolition-ball the existing rented-venue model, as reinforced by the event's playful tagline "fuck theaters."
It's sensible enough. At home, the rent's already paid. And if it isn't, you won't be there long. So why not invite the public in?
Huang's idea worked. Now you can browse his HTF website to find an event in your neighborhood, though Sunday's is one of only two occurring in our region this year. The other installment, a Dallas edition scheduled for May, is closed to the public.
"It'll be pretty weird," assures Taylor. "Pretty weird, but a good time."
If you'd like to check out this non-house-party house party, you have a few options. 1.) Email Lily, alerting her that you're not a menace, and she'll extend you an invitation. 2.) Head over to the Cracker Barrel on Bell, she'll have a "how-to" sign hanging in the window. Or 3.) Cruise down Moncayo Drive (it's a short road) and look for the lights. This event is BYOB and there's a suggested donation of 1 to 10 dollars. It begins at 9 p.m. sharp, with doors unlatched at 8 p.m.