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Actor Nicholas Rodriguez on LES MISÉRABLES

October 22nd, 2013

Actor Nicholas Rodriguez discusses his role as Javert in ZACH Theatre’s production of LES MISÉRABLES – live on stage in ZACH’s intimate Topfer Theatre through November 3, 2013.

Click here to view this video directly on YouTube.

For tickets and more show information, please visit http://www.zachtheatre.org/show/les-miserables.

Director Matt Lenz on LES MISÉRABLES

October 11th, 2013

Director Matt Lenz discusses his vision for ZACH Theatre’s production of LES MISÉRABLES live on stage in ZACH’s intimate Topfer Theatre through November 3, 2013.

Click here to view this video directly on YouTube.

For tickets and more show information, please visit http://www.zachtheatre.org/show/les-miserables.

Video: LES MISÉRABLES Live at ZACH Theatre

September 30th, 2013

The international musical phenomenon LES MISÉRABLES is live on stage at ZACH Theatre.

Tickets and more show info at http://www.zachtheatre.org/show/les-miserables

Photo Gallery: LES MISÉRABLES

September 26th, 2013

Experience the international musical phenomenon LES MISÉRABLES, up-close and personal, in the intimate Topfer Theatre! Soaring anthems, unbridled patriotism and the quest for redemption reveal the heart of a man who must leave his past behind to fight for life, love and liberty. Photos from ZACH’s production below are by photographer Kirk Tuck.

For tickets and more show information, please visit http://www.zachtheatre.org/show/les-miserables.

Photo Gallery: ONE NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN live at ZACH Theatre

July 11th, 2013

ZACH’s production of the Broadway-bound musical ONE NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN, created, written and directed by Randy Johnson, is live on stage for a limited time. See it first at ZACH before it hits Broadway this fall!

Photos from the production (below) are courtesy of ZACH Photographer Kirk Tuck. Feel free to share these photos on your favorite social networking sites or blog, but please credit Kirk Tuck wherever they appear.

Tickets and more show information is available online at http://www.zachtheatre.org/show/one-night-with-janis-joplin.

Video: HARVEY at ZACH Theatre

May 7th, 2013

HARVEY is live on stage in ZACH’s new Topfer Theatre May 15-June 16, 2013.

In this Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy “Austin’s favorite actor” (The Austin Chronicle), Martin Burke stars as Elwood P. Dowd, a happy-go-lucky chap with a kind word for everyone he meets, especially his invisible best friend, a six-foot tall rabbit named “Harvey.” When Elwood’s social-climbing sister, played by Lauren Lane, decides to have him committed, this delightful play embarks on a madcap discovery that is by turns hilarious and endearing. Maybe our dreams are more important than we ever imagined.

If this video does not display in your browser, you can view it directly on YouTube at http://youtu.be/QDtoFI25BUM

For tickets and more show information, please call ZACH’s box office at (512) 476-0541, x1 or visit us online at www.zachtheatre.org.

Special thanks to cameraman Kirk Tuck for the fantastic video and photos!

Thank you, ZACH – A note from Board Trustee Tom Terkel

April 15th, 2013
(L-R) Colleen, Tom and their daughter Taylor Terkel

(L-R) Colleen, Tom and their daughter Taylor Terkel

When my daughter asked me at lunch today what MAD BEAT HIP & GONE is really about, I told her — I don’t really know. I knew it was about the beatnik era and two young guys out on the road searching for something. That was about it. There was a time when I would have been worried.

And so, when we were driving to the theatre and her friend asked the same question, I jumped in to say “I am not real sure, but I have learned to trust Dave Steakley. If he thinks we should see this, he is probably right.” And right he was.

I didn’t realize then as I now do that MAD BEAT HIP & GONE is a metaphor for every generation’s passage from idealistic youth to accommodating middle age and back again to idealistic old age. The play is completely timeless in that regard.

When the play ended, I had similar feelings to what I have experienced so many time: gratitude that I had trusted ZACH. Thought provoking, timeless, and ageless — when do we stop wrestling with the two sides of ourselves — idealism vs. accommodation, settling or seeking? I know I haven’t reconciled the two yet and I bounce back and forth between the two, using my civic commitments to somewhat satisfy the yearning for seeking, but really? That’s not really seeking … Who doesn’t dream about setting out on a road trip without a map, focusing instead on the characters met and the lessons to be learned?

So, instead of providing a window into the lives of others as Dave has so often done in the past, tonight he provided a mirror for me. And, I suspect, everyone in the theatre — young, old, man, woman of all ethnicities — had a similar look inside, for this dilemma is universal. It was a healthy introspection.

It was great to see bright new stars on our stage, and, once more, Michael Raiford’s set was the perfect backdrop to display this piece of art — evocative at times, symbolic at others, literal at still others. He designed a perfect environment to convey the appropriate context at each moment.

So, thank you, ZACH, and please thank playwright and director Steven Dietz. We’ll be discussing this production for days and weeks to come.

- Tom Terkel
ZACH Board Trustee, FourT Realty

For tickets and more show info, please visit http://www.zachtheatre.org/show/mad-beat-hip-gone.

And the Beat Goes On

April 12th, 2013
Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac

Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
- Jack Kerouac

In his new play Mad Beat Hip & Gone – now in its world premiere on ZACH Theatre’s new Topfer Theatre stage – playwright Steven Dietz explores the Beat Generation and its influence on two small-town young men who have a chance meeting with Beat poet Jack Kerouac and his traveling partner, Neal Cassady.

Today, the term “beatnik” conjures up the stereotype of young men and women dressed in all black, wearing berets while they recite poetry and play the bongos.  But for movement founder Kerouac — who introduced the phrase “Beat Generation” in 1948 to characterize his his social circle of underground, anti-conformist youth gathering in New York at that time — the cultural well-spring had a more religious intention.

Kerouac explained what he meant by “beat” at the Brandeis Forum “Is There A Beat Generation?” in November 1958 at New York’s Hunter College Playhouse, where he appeared with fellow seminar panelists James A. Wechsler, Princeton anthropologist Ashley Montagu and author Kingsley Amis. Reading from a prepared text, Kerouac reflected on his beat beginnings:

It is because I am Beat, that is, I believe in beatitude and that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son to it…who knows, but that the universe is not one vast sea of compassion actually, the veritable holy honey, beneath all this show of personality and cruelty?

The media, of course, ignored the Romantic aspects of the Beat Movement and instead perpetuated the cartoonish versions of Dobie Gillis knockoffs, counter-culture hipsters and “Cool, man, cool” jargon expressed in rhyme set to drum beats.  The term “beatnik” was actually coined by San Francisco columnist Herb Caen by sarcastically punning on the recently launched Russian Sputnik to imply the beatnik’s perceived rejection of red-white-and-blue-blooded all-American ideals.

Jack Kerouac's seminal Beat novel ON THE ROAD

Jack Kerouac's seminal Beat novel ON THE ROAD

To Kerouac, this vision of the Beat Movement portrayed by the mass media only existed as the invention of journalists and entertainers, saying the real Movement was animated more by a vague feeling of cultural and emotional displacement, dissatisfaction, and yearning, than by a specific purpose or program.  In “Aftermath: The Philosophy of the Beat Generation,” Kerouac criticized what he saw as a distortion of his visionary and spiritual ideas:

“The Beat Generation, that was a vision…of a generation of crazy, illuminated hipsters suddenly rising and roaming America, serious, bumming and hitchhiking everywhere, ragged, beatific, beautiful in an ugly graceful new way — a vision gleaned from the way we had heard the word “beat” spoken on street corners on Times Square and in the Village, in other cities in the downtown city night of postwar America — beat, meaning down and out but full of intense conviction. We’d even heard old 1910 Daddy Hipsters of the streets speak the word that way, with a melancholy sneer. It never meant juvenile delinquents, it meant characters of a special spirituality who didn’t gang up but were solitary Bartlebies staring out the dead wall window of our civilization…the Beat culture was a state of mind, not a matter of how you dressed or talked or where you lived. In fact, Beat culture was far from monolithic. It was many different, conflicting, shifting states of mind… move beyond the cultural clichés and slogans, to look past the Central Casting costumes, props, and jargon the mass media equated with Beatness, in order to do justice to its spirit.”

Experience Kerouac’s culture in Mad Beat Hip & Bone, now playing through April 28th on the Topfer Theatre stage.  For tickets, call (512) 476-0541, x1, or click here for tickets online.

Playwright’s Notes: MAD BEAT HIP & GONE

April 8th, 2013
Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac

In 1949, Jack Kerouac wrote this in a letter to a friend: “Nothing is true but everything is real.” Though he said he was trying to solve Nietzsche’s metaphysics once again, Kerouac might well have been describing On the Road: either the most true-to-life piece of fiction or the most fictionalized personal narrative ever to rule the American zeitgeist. If you read a lot of Kerouac — and despite his relatively short life, there is a lot of Kerouac – you can begin to feel that he is working at you from the inside. That he is the breath and your head is the horn he is playing.

“What is the feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? It’s the too huge world vaulting us, and it’s goodbye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

Kerouac regularly doubles-down on the notion that we both live it and make it up at the same time. In doing so, he captures something fundamental to our brash young United States: the feeling that in a lively, hungry, restless country the only true moment is a goodbye.

Mad Beat Hip & Gone is my attempt to tell not a real story, but a true one. I don’t know if a couple guys named Danny and Rich were in the Cheyenne bar that Kerouac describes early in On the Road, and I don’t know if they followed him to Denver. But I know that young men marry themselves to wanderlust, and that they are forced to come of age through a series of goodbyes: to home, to family, to comfort, to the known, and finally to each other. I also know that youth is when we both live our lives and make up our lives – gloriously, foolishly, relentlessly – arching towards some divine never-future like Dizzy Gillespie seeking the ultimate note.

The young men in this play – like perhaps both Kerouac and America – really have no clue how to grow old. And that seems honest to me. Because as much as we think of our “dreams” as fictions, I have come to believe that saying we have “let our dreams go” or “outgrown them” is a greater fiction still. Our dreams (and that sublime never-future) remain the huge, lively, restless country inside us.

A big country needs a lot of roads. Long roads and vivid stars and some hard bop on the radio. And as we push on through the night to the “next crazy venture,” it is likely the reach of our own headlights we are chasing.

– Steven Dietz
March 18, 2013
Austin, TX

Truman Redux

March 6th, 2013

It’s the final weekend for TRU starring Jaston Williams as Truman Capote. And it now seems that Truman Capote is everywhere! In fact, Capote will be popping up on Broadway this season.

Tony Award winner Richard Greenberg (Take Me Out) has adapted Capote’s classic novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s into a full-length play, opening March 20th at the Cort Theatre.  Rehearsals began January 28th for the production officially called Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Emilia Clarke (from HBO’s Game of Thrones) stars as “Holly Golightly,” with Cory Michael Smith, of Off-Broadway’s The Whale, co-staring as “Fred,” who is pulled into Holly’s social whirl in 1940s New York City. George Wendt (Broadway’s Hairspray and TV’s Cheers) plays bartender Joe Bell. Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard starred in the famous Blake Edwards film in 1961.

Recently, Vanity Fair uncovered an unpublished chapter of Capote’s infamous novel Answered Prayers, that vicious, gossipy page-turner of the seamy lives of New York’s elite. Serialized in Esquire in 1975, it ostracized Capote from the movers and shakers he had so carefully cultivated and became his personal and professional decline.

Only three chapters were ever published, and none of the remaining chapters, which Capote claimed to have written, has appeared in print.  But while researching for the article “Capote’s Swan Dive” at the New York Public Library, Vanity Fair writer Sam Kashner discovered a six-page manuscript of a chapter titled “Yachts and Things.” Like Answered Prayers, it is unfinished, but it makes for a great read.  See it here at the Vanity Fair website: (URL: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/11/truman-capote-unseen-manuscript-unfinished-novel-answered-prayers#slide=1).

The article “Capote’s Swan Dive” was published in the December issue, and reveals – among other tidbits:

  • Publisher Random House ended up paying $1 million to Capote for the never-delivered manuscript.
  • The finished manuscript is supposedly in an unnamed bank safety deposit box somewhere in California.
  • Ann Woodward, one of the society women who Capote skewered in Answered Prayers, actually committed suicide in disgrace – and her two sons followed suit a few months later.

Read the compelling article here: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/12/truman-capote-answered-prayers.  For Truman Capote’s take on the whole affair, see TRU at ZACH Theatre.

It’s the final weekend. Tickets are available online 24/7 and with the box office at (512) 476-0541, x1.