Eight Dallas JFK Events That Are Actually Worth Your Time

Photo by Stuart Reed

According to the Jenga-like stack of publicity materials covering my desk, Kennedy season has peaked. Plays. Readings. Art shows. Lectures. Films. Acrobats. Clown cars. Kitten parades. Cooking demos -- who the hell knows? It's getting JFKrazy out there.

When chaos smothers meaning, we look to the arts for answers. From historical movie theater re-enactments to ensemble musical offerings, we've found eight events that are worth your time. (Psst: A 75 year-old exotic dancer is looking to take you back to the Carousel Club, 1963.)

Friday 11.15
Safe Room presents Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.
Lauren Gray's newish gallery space is nested upstairs inside Texas Theatre. Her newest group show, Things do not happen. Things are made to happen., opens this Friday, November 15, and will still be up during the historic theater's JFK programming marathon on the 22nd. So if you miss its big reveal, consolidate visits next week.

The group exhibition tackles Kennedy's ruminations, then filters them through the minds of Dallas' most wonderfully eccentric local artists: Tom Sale, Homer Henderson, Randy Murphy, Bruce Lee Webb and Chuck & George. (Actually, after re-reading those names, I'm a little nervous about this one.)

(6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, November 15, at 231 W. Jefferson Blvd. It's free.)


Thursday 11.21

"Welcome to Dallas, Jackie" by Kusner and Amann
Daniel Kusner presents 214 Trans4m + JFK50
Local photographer and general view-alterer Daniel Kusner brings a multimedia talk to the Dallas Public Library on Thursday, November 21. That's where he'll charmingly punch through his unconventional thesis: "Can drag artists lift the veil of shame surrounding a presidential murder scene?" (Obviously, I fall into the "Yes, they can" camp.)

You may have seen his take on that iconic Jackie image, poised in front of DMN at last year's Art Con seed auction. It featured a transgender Jackie, wired up with an audio recording from the authentic First Lady. It was stunning. So good, in fact, that it sparked a helluva bidding war. (Things got "wings out," as the kids say.)

Kusner's series has also shown at CentralTrak and the Kessler and was recently turned into a photobook, designed to re-mythologize the Kennedy-Oswald Affair, starring all-transgender models.

For this program you'll hear the artist's thoughts on how the assassination affected the gay community, both locally and beyond. How it piped through John Water's early Eat Your Makeup, inspiring the director to cast Divine as America's favorite pink-suited gal. And how the queer threads got knotted up in all things Oswald. Don't worry, Kusner will pick through those frayed ends.

(6:30 to 8 p.m. at Oak Lawn Branch Library, 4100 Cedar Springs Road on Thursday, November 21. Free.)

Martin Sheen Reads Noah's Ark
Admittedly, this could be terrible. It could also be: campy, peculiar or surprisingly good. Really, Noah's Ark is a dark horse candidate.

Happening at Martin Sheen's request, this new play is inspired by James Douglass' best selling book JFK and the Unspeakable. Sheen reads the character of Trappist Brother Thomas in a story centering around military White House insider Colonel Benson.

Will other actors read the other roles? Probably. We got hypnotized by Martin Sheen's hair and, understandably, didn't finish the press release. Donations benefit the Dallas Peace Center.

(7 p.m., Thursday, November 21 at Unity Church of Dallas. Tickets cost $15.)

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Since the Dallas Observer team was too overcome by Martin Sheen's hair to finish the press release, allow me to fill in the rest.  As one of the actors in "Noah's Ark," I can assure you that yes, there are local actors in the production, and that it's more along the lines of "surprisingly good" than any of the Dallas Observer's snarky low expectations.  James Kille, who played Doug Mulder in Teatro Dallas' recent production of "Santos" will read the role of JFK, T.A. Taylor reads Krushchev, and Bruce DuBose of Undermain Theatre plays a CIA agent.  Mark Oristano plays Colonel Elliot Benson.  James Douglass, author of "JFK and the Unspeakable" will lead a Q&A following the play, and playwright Ginny Cunnigham will also be in attandance.  If you want an alternative to the official Dallas commemoration of the JFK assassination, this is where you want to be on Thursday, November 21.

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