I recently paid a visit to Addison’s Out of the Loop Festival, which is held yearly at the Water Tower Theater at the Addison Theater Centre; this year it took place from March 6-16. To be honest, it wasn’t quite what I expected; I knew there would be art, music, and theater performances, but I figured there would also be booths, food to be purchased, and maybe even games. But the closest thing to a booth was the table where the Girl Scouts were selling their cookies out front. Well, I’ve always been a fan of Girl Scout cookies, so I bought three boxes. They’re expensive this year — $3.50 per box. But wonderful as always, despite the fact that I couldn’t eat many, due to my diabetes.
Anyhow, there was a lot of theater and art on the day I visited, most of it housed at the Water Tower Theater, so called because it lies just beneath one of the city’s water towers. Here’s what it looks like — kind of a mix between modern and Art Deco sensibilities, if you ask me. The lower building to the left is the Addison Civic Center.
Some of the smaller theatrical events were held at the nearby Stone Cottage, which can hold about 24 people. It’s a lovely example of the type of fieldstone construction you still see in older homes all over Central Texas, from the Oklahoma border clear down to San Antonio and points south.
The festival was heavily oriented toward the theater, with a variety of performances from performers such as Alan Pollard, the Inevitable Theatre Company, the Ft. Worth Slam Poetry Team, Spike Gillespie, Dixie Longate, the American Actors Company, and a whole lot of others. For a complete list, click here. For $50 you could get a pass to see a performance of every single offering in the several different theater spaces, which I think is a great deal; the individual ticket rates varied from $5-15. I was able to attend the last performance on March 9 of Dixie’s Tupperware Party with Dixie Longate ($15). I’m not going to tell you too much about it, for obvious reasons, but it was a hoot. This was an incredibly funny parody of a classic Tupperware party, and I’m glad I attended — I learned a lot more uses for Tupperware than I ever knew existed. Now, what makes it unique is that you can actually buy Tupperware at the performance! I didn’t, though — I have more plastic bowls than I know what to do with.
One performance I didn’t get to attend and would have liked to was The Dick Monologues, which is described as an example of “revenge- as-art” that deals with everything dick-related. Now, for those of you who are either hopeless naïve or not of North American extraction, “dick” is one of the many slang terms for “penis.” As you can guess, then, this is a kind of response to the famous Vagina Monologues. Nothing quite as enjoyable as theater based around the naughty bits, don’t you know. But alas, I was unable to attend a showing, so I can’t really give you as much as a précis.
On, then, to the art. There wasn’t as much art displayed as I expected, and most of it was hung on the interior walls of the Water Tower Theater. Most of it was post-modernist work, the kind that incorporates aspects of both sculpture and painting. Here’s a particularly interesting sculpture that was hung on one wall; it’s called Path Magician, by Gisela-Heidi Strunck. She was asking a cool $2,520 for it.
Besides the art on the walls, the structure itself was artistically attractive. You can see the exterior in the first photo above, but there were some elements inside that were quite striking. Check out this cabling, for example, that caged in the open concrete stairway to the second floor.
One wall of the building was made of fieldstone, much like the material used for the Stone Cottage, and I thought it was arresting. Here’s a view from the second floor, which is a small lounge area.
I dunno, maybe it’s the Texas in me, but I find that fieldstone construction to be just lovely. I’d love to have a house made this way, but I imagine it would be a bear to heat in the winter.
In addition to the art hanging on the walls and the buildings themselves, the art extended outside as well. I was especially taken by the sculpture garden between the theater and civic center, where there was a wonderful mix of real flowers and flower-inspired art. A wide flagstone path winds between the buildings and back into a quiet courtyard, where the flowers were just starting to get serious about blooming when I visited, especially tulips and irises — you know, the typical “early risers” for the year.
Of course, the statues themselves are already “blooming.” These were mostly metal works, generally intriguing examples of interpretations of flowers and growth. I’m afraid I didn’t catch the artists, but here’s a good cross-section. I’m not sure if these works are temporary or permanent, but they certainly looked like they belonged.
The Out of the Loop Festival is done for this year (2008), but keep an eye out for it to return in early 2009, probably in March. It’s a fun place to visit if you happen to be in town, but don’t expect anything overwhelming about the festival — it’s low-key, without booths and barkers and rides. Just the art, which is enough in itself, especially if you’re looking for a quiet experience. Be sure to enjoy the Theater Center itself while you’re there; it’s lovely. Heck, even if the Festival’s not running when you’re in town, go and check it out anyway. It’s a great place for contemplation, and there’s a wonderful park just across the street.
The Addison Theatre Center is located 15650 Addison Road in Addison, Texas. For more information, check out their website at http://www.watertowertheatre.org/.