Busy weekend! Arts Festival, quickie Shakespeare, Ranch Day, Battle of Bands and how to make tamales

As usual, there is no reason to remain parked on the couch at home this weekend, not with a huge annual festival arriving and so many fun detours, as well.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company

If there is anything better than seeing a performance by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, it is being able to experience it for the very first time. And no, one does not have to be familiar with the entire canon by William Shakespeare to get a kick out of these actors in tights who manage to zip through the plots of 37 Shakespeare plays in slightly more than 90 minutes. The company makes yet another return appearance at 7 p.m. Friday, at the still intimate Allen Theatre at the Texas Tech Student Union Building (SUB), on campus at 15th Street and Akron Avenue.

The company debuted in 1981 and made its way into the 2017 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records for breaking the record for longest running Shakespeare show in London’s West End: 3,744 performances between March 7, 1996 and April 3, 2005. Friday’s show is brought to Lubbock by the Tech Presidential Lecture and Performance Series.

This time, however, I requested a response from Bill Gelber, resident Shakespeare expert with the Tech School of Theatre & Dance. Gelber responded, “It’s now a classic piece: a very popular show that I have seen in various incarnations, but not by the original creators. I’m excited to see it for this reason. Though some see this as an irreverent piece, the writers/performers know the plays well enough to make witty and pointed comments about what they see as the shortcomings and strengths of the whole canon. It is extremely amusing and not just an inside joke. Everyone will enjoy it.”

General admission seating for the public is $20 (includes service charge), with tickets on sale at Select-A-Seat outlets. However, each Tech student with a valid ID can request one free ticket at the east information desk at the SUB. Call 770-2000 for more ticket details.

41st Lubbock Arts Festival

Few cities, and I am not referring only to cities in Lubbock’s population range, have exhibited the passion, imagination and community support necessary to even introduce a festival celebrating the arts – much less keep one active for this long.

Festival planning is the job of the Lubbock Arts Alliance, led by executive director Elizabeth Regner, who has, if memory serves, one full-time assistant. Thus, one can perceive the importance placed on the work of more than 100 volunteers.

It is not at all unusual for Regner to devise a theme aimed primarily at younger generations. This year’s theme is “Superheroes,” or more specifically a “celebration of American comic books featuring the iconic superheroes, and supervillains for that matter, which have had an influence on pop culture.” In keeping with the theme, a major exhibit will introduce such celebrated comic book artists as Alex Ross, Adam Hughes, Stanley Lau and Phil Noto. No doubt professional cosplayers will arrive in the costumes of many of the aforementioned heroes and villains. Plus, more than 1,000 comic books will be given away.

The festival has two parts. Part One is Festival Premiere Night, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, 1501 Mac Davis Lane. A $40 fee includes hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar, with cocktail attire suggested. Serious collectors are granted an advance peek at art on sale during Premiere Night. Almost 150 crafts and visual artists will have booths set up by Friday. Benna Ellis is the festival’s 2019 featured artist and Terri and Bob Duncan will be honored for their community support of art and culture.

The masses, however, will show up for Part Two, the arts festival itself – open at the same location from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. General admission tickets must be purchased at the entrance: $4 for the general public age 13 and older, with children age 12 and younger admitted free provided they are accompanied by an adult.

The budget is made apparent by the festival’s partnership with local events. Texas Tech’s annual Jazz Festival Concert is introduced this year as a festival-sponsored event at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Civic Center Theatre. The $20 (plus service charge) ticket price includes festival admission. Meanwhile, celebrated trumpeter Tom Harrell, 72, is featured guest at the concert. Free entertainment at 2 p.m. Sunday is a concert by Youth Orchestras of Lubbock, featuring young concerto winner Sami Sharif.

The arts festival, as always includes 150 touring craftsmen/artists from across the nation, the auspicious Juried Gallery and regional talent performing on several stages.

49th-Annual Ranch Day

One of the most fun places to visit in Lubbock – and certainly one of the top attractions for visitors and tourists – is the National Ranching Heritage Center, 3121 Fourth Street. The 49th-annual celebration known as Ranch Day takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the center.

Approximately 185 volunteers, many dressed in period clothing, will make pioneer life come alive for visitors. The event annually attracts more than 5,000 of the young and young at heart, who take advantage of hands-on ranch, range science and history demonstrations – or simply enjoy the cowboys, horses, chuckwagons, music, dancing, a Comanche teepee and an old-fashioned “Snake Oil Magic Show” in the 6666 Barn.

The historic park is wheelchair and stroller accessible. There is no admission charge, but a $5 donation is requested.

Battle of the Bands Final Concert

For the first time, a spotlight is aimed at local bands during weekly battles, leading to four finalists competing at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on the outdoor stage at LHUCA, 511 Ave. K.

Bands performing in competition Saturday include Bleach Kings, Hannah Who, The Jeremy Couture Band and The View From Here.

Judges include Miette Esteb, Darryl Holland and Curtis Peoples.

Prizes for the winning band include 10 hours of recording time, and professional consultation, at the Amusement Park Recording Studio. Also, an opening position at a Cactus Theater concert, and a paid headlining gig at a future First Friday Art Trail.

Tickets for the final Battle of the Bands, sold only at the door at LHUCA, are $5.

Making tamales!

OK, I had considered an Easter Egg hunt for my last pick – but a two-part Tamale Making Workshop on Friday and Saturday is even something I’d like to take part in. And how often does one have an opportunity to learn?

The workshop takes place at Rawlings Community Center, 213 40th St. (40th Street and Avenue B). Part 1 takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, when participants learn how to make the tamale’s meat filling. Part 2 is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, when participants work with the masa, then assemble and cook the tamales. By the end, participants can take home a half-dozen homemade tamales.

Cost of the two-day workshop is $20, which includes all necessary supplies. The workshop could fill early, so be sure to call 767-2704 as soon as possible to reserve a spot.

OK, now I am feeling guilty, and I do not want to just tease anyone who prefers hunting Easter Eggs.

Bonus pick: Hodges Community Center Easter Egg Hunt

The center, 4011 University Ave., will host its 13th-annual Easter Egg Hunt at 4 p.m. Sunday. (Games and photographs with the Easter Bunny commence at 3:30 p.m.) Just before 4 p.m., the crowd moves next door to the Lubbock Memorial Arboretum, where thousands of eggs have been scattered on the grounds. Children of all ages are reminded to bring their Easter baskets to collect eggs during the hunt.

This is a free community event. For more information, call Stephanie Brady at Hodges Community Center at 767-3706.