Wednesday, September 22

Shakespeare at Winedale for UT Life & Letters

This year marked the 40th anniversary of Shakespeare at Winedale.  What started in 1970 as a UT English class in Shakespearean performance has blossomed into a rich theater tradition in Round Top, Texas.  Each summer, students descend on the tiny town halfway between Houston and Austin, population 88, to perfect and perform three plays at the 19th century barn turned Elizabethan stage.  In celebration of the 40th milestone, alumni of the program gathered at Round Top for a week long theater immersion and encore performance

I spent an afternoon shooting verticals for UT's Life & Letters magazine, an interesting exercise when the vast majority of photography is horizontal.  Oh, the hardships we endure for magazine covers.  Ha. 

I'd love to go back for the entire week next year.  The alumni are tightly knit, even though many haven't seen each other since their college days.  There's a bond with their former professors James Ayres and James Loehlin, the barn itself, even the brutal summer heat.  Something life changing happens every summer at Winedale and it's still as palpable to the class of 1971 as it is to the class of 2011.

Kristin Johnson, alumni of the 1987 and '88 seasons, awaits her cue from the side-door of the Winedale stage during a 40th reunion performance.
At left, all hands are on stage for the induction of the Taming of the Shrew.  At right, Tara Kirkland leans over an air conditioning unit backstage.   
At left, a sign on the dressing room reminds actors to stay silent during a performance with a quote from Henry the Sixth "Sweet Aunt, be quiet...". At right, Terry Galloway goes through her lines backstage before the start of the 40th anniversary performance of Shakespeare at Winedale.

Cast members gather before the curtain.

Earlene Moore for the Statesman

I spent a few hours with Earlene Moore, a 90-year-old bra fitter at Saks Fifth Avenue, for part of Ricardo G├índara's Austin at Work series.  Moore got into the business in 1939 when the downtown stretch of Congress Avenue was full of department stores.  

She opened her own lingerie shop in 1971 and fit Texas' political and social elite for over 20 years.  I can only imagine the stories and laughter that came out of that shop when Ann Richards came in for a fitting.  Earlene closed her shop on Jefferson Square in 1995 and went into semi-retirement.  She was bored though, and when Saks offered her a job in 1997 she was back in business.  

These days she greets everyone that wanders into her realm.  Earlene can fit a woman on sight and has a vast understanding of manufacturers and brands.  She always gets a hug after the sale is complete and is an adopted grandmother to the younger sales girls on the Saks floor.  And just look at that hair...

Wednesday, September 15

Robin De Haven for the Statesman

When Joe Stack flew his plane into the Echelon I in north Austin last February, Robin De Haven was on the freeway heading to another glass installation job.  The 28-year-old Iraq war veteran used the ladder on his company truck to rescue six people from the second floor of the burning building and then quietly left the scene.  Not so quietly, the media descended on his story.  De Haven became an instant celebrity and was hounded for interviews for months.  His relationship with the word "hero" is a complicated one.

The Statesman's Andrea Ball wrote about De Haven in an interesting piece on heroism and the media which you can read here

Singing Water Vineyards

Spent an early morning at the Singing Water Vineyards last month as the owners and some loyal fans brought in their first ever harvest of pinot grapes.  I love wandering the back rounds around Comfort, Texas but had never moseyed down Mill Dam to the vineyard before.  It's a beautiful stretch of road - tight turns and sharp hills leading to a small valley spread where the Holmberg's and Matula's nestled their vines.  A little slice of Tuscany in the hillcounty.

I'm looking forward to tasting the fruits of their labor in a few years.