‘La Bete:’ Gorged on stanzas

Rhyming couplets and curly fright wigs and lots of facial mugging are the kind of conceits more beloved by theater-folk than theatergoers. Actors are trained on classics like Moliere; hamming it up onstage as a fop is a rite of passage.

If you like that kind of thing, I suppose La Bete at Theatre 3 is about as good as you’re likely to get. The conundrum is: Why would you like that kind of thing?

La Bete is a structural nightmare, a play about actors who hate other actors … and playwrights and critics and, to an extent, audiences. Elomire (Jakie Cabe, pictured left) is the lead actor-writer of his royal troupe and resents having the blowhard actor Valere (Bradley Campbell, pictured right) forced on him by his patron, Princess Conti (Georgia Clinton, pictured top).

You don’t get much more of a plot than that in Act 1, which is dedicated to highlighting the vocal skill of Valere — he has an uninterrupted 20-minute monologue that Campbell modulates masterfully. His Valere is a flouncy boor — imagine Zach Galifianakis in pantaloons — both insufferable and the saving grace of the show. Campbell and Clinton seem to be the only ones who don’t get cornered by the couplets, turning dialogue into the sing-songy patter of reading Dr. Seuss to children at bedtime, a sin especially committed by Cabe (It’s not a pretty show, either, with the cast swathed in costumes that look like Carol Burnett’s hand-me-downs from her Went with the Wind sketch.)

The playwright, David Hirson, has some modestly interesting observations about the tension between art and popular entertainment and the need to strike a balance between them. But he slathers on so much extraneous nonsense (a maid who only speaks in one-syllable words rhyming in “Oooh” is the most inane) that the message is lost. Maybe he’s challenging us to see La Bete as the compromise between art and commerce; instead, it seems more like showcase for Campbell, ranting in the comic wilderness.

— A.W.J.

Theatre 3,
2800 Routh St. in the Quadrangle.
Through Jan 14.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Youth First Collin County needs a new home

Organization seeks new space for Plano youth center, or at least somewhere to temporarily store furniture and other items

John Wright | Online Editor

PROM PREP | Volunteers and youth get ready for the Gayla Prom at Youth First Texas Collin County in June. YFT-CC will have to move from its current location by mid-July. (Courtesy of Jeanne Rubin)

PLANO — Collin County’s organization for LGBT youth is looking for a new home — or at least a place to store its stuff.

For the last 18 months, Youth First Texas-Collin County has been utilizing, free of charge, some vacant commercial space on Avenue K just south of East Park Boulevard in Plano.

But the landlord recently found a paying tenant, and YFT-CC will have to move by mid-July.

It marks the third time the six-year-old organization has had to move, according to lead volunteer Jeanne Rubin.

This time, YFT-CC has accumulated several large items, such as sofas, a pool table, a TV and computers — some of which were hand-me-downs from its parent organization in Dallas, Youth First Texas.

YFT-CC has found a location in Frisco where it can meet temporarily if necessary, but the organization would still need to store the items somewhere while it looks for a more permanent home.

“The real issue is that we need a space, and it would be nice if we could have a space that we would have forever, but I understand that because we want it for free, that’s not always going to be the case,” Rubin said. “We would like to take this opportunity to move a little further north. Collin County is a huge county, and we have kids from Denton and Flower Mound and Lewisville and other place besides Collin County.”

Rubin said anyone who knows of space available in Collin County is asked to contact her at CollinCounty@youthfirsttexas.org.

Donations will also be accepted to help pay for storage or to cover utilities if a space is found.

“Obviously our first choice would be to pick up our pool table and sofas and plop them in another place,” she said. “Donations are always helpful. If we end up at the Dairy Queen once or twice, we’ll have money to buy everybody ice cream.”

James Nunn, a board member at Youth First Texas in Dallas who lives and works in Frisco, said his employer, Big Brothers Big Sisters, has offered a space where YFT-CC can hold its big group meetings on Sundays.

Nunn serves as liaison between YFT-CC and the Dallas parent organization, which have been attempting to work together more closely of late.

While the parent organization is experiencing its own financial challenges, Nunn said the long-term goal is to lease a permanent satellite somewhere in the northern suburbs.

“We want to be in a position where we don’t have to rely always on somebody providing us a free space,” Nunn said. “There is a level of uncertainty when you rely on that.”

YFT-CC began as a partnership between YFT in Dallas and the Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance, according to Rubin.

YFT-CC meets every Sunday, in addition to twice-monthly “hangout nights” and a monthly movie night.

Rubin said about 20-30 youth typically attend the Sunday meetings in the summertime.

Collin County, more conservative than Dallas, has only three high schools with Gay Straight Alliances, Rubin said. At one of those high schools, school officials won’t allow the group to call itself a GSA, and instead it’s known as the Tolerance Alliance.

“What a lot of them say is that while the high school they go to may be cool, in terms of people don’t care they’re gay, lots of times they’ll be like the only gay kid,” Rubin said. “Even though some people don’t have a problem with that, it’s nice to come to Youth First and be

John or Jeanne, not the gay kid. Here they can come and just sort of be themselves.”

For more info, go to http://youthfirsttexas.org/collincounty/ or look for the organization’s Facebook page.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 02, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas