Best of Culture: April
As spring blossoms, so, too, does our rich arts scene, with its many dance performances, theatrical productions, exhibits and readings.
You could say that every day is Record Store Day in Pittsburgh. After all, we have more brick-and-mortar outlets than one might expect for a mid-sized metropolis in the 21st century. Once a year, our city observes the official Record Store Day, a worldwide celebration of independent outlets centered on rare releases. So far, 12 local shops have signed the pledge to sell special products on April 19.
— Eric Lidji
By Elvira DiPaolo-Hoff
Bricolage Production Co.
True to its name, Bricolage once again is “making artful use of what is at hand” for the ninth annual “B.U.S.” fundraiser. The 24-hour theatrical thrill ride — its name is an acronym for “Bricolage Urban Scrawl” — will begin on a Friday evening, when six playwrights each take a 90-minute trip on a different city bus to garner inspiration for a 10-minute play. Upon their return, they’ll assemble for the Parade of Actors, during which 24 local thespians “audition” by either answering three questions or accomplishing three tasks. Afterward, dramatists head home to pen their plays, which premiere the following evening. “B.U.S.” fares range from the “Double-Decker” (for both twilight events) to “Mini” (for the Saturday performance and post-show bash).
>> April 4: Bricolage Theater, 937 Liberty Ave., first floor, downtown. April 5: New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side; 412/471-0999, bricolagepgh.org; photo courtesy of Bricolage Production Co.
Pittsburgh’s avant-garde maestro Jed Harris directs “Pantagleize” by Michel de Ghelderode in a world-premiere adaptation by dramaturge Jay Ball, a Pitt Theatre Arts alumnus. Written in 1929 when political crises engulfed de Ghelderode’s France, the tragi-comedy’s subtitle is “a farce to make you sad.” The show’s namesake character is an American savant who arrives in Czechoslovakia to serve as “King of May” at the spring carnival. Unwittingly, he sets off a revolution. From toilet-plunger scepters to parodies of network news, the madcap scenarios escalate; the Americans’ consequences for involving themselves in conflicts take a serious turn.
>> Lexington Avenue Technology Center, 400 N. Lexington Ave., Point Breeze; 412/362-1713, quantumtheatre.com
through April 27
CLO Executive Producer Van Kaplan conceived, commissioned and directed “Judge Jackie Justice,” the sidesplitting spoof of courtroom reality-TV shows. A pair of Carnegie Mellon graduates — librettist/lyricist Christopher Dimond and composer Michael Kooman — together created the musical. The homegrown farce stars Point Park grads Kara Mikula and Maggie Carr, CMU alumnus Jason Coll, local improv veteran Connor McCanlus and seasoned Pittsburgh actor Jonathan Visser. Any cast member is a potential show-stealer, including the viewers randomly brought onstage to play zany parts.
>> Cabaret at Theater Square, 655 Penn Ave., downtown; 412/456-6666, clocabaret.com
By Karen Dacko
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
The PBT orchestra accompanies the three-act production of “Don Quixote,” a comedic classical ballet focusing on the romance between Kitri and Basilio. On the way to matrimony, the pair encounters the adventurous Don, along with gypsies and a lascivious nobleman.
>> Benedum Center, 237 Seventh St., downtown; 412/456-6666, pbt.org; photo by Randy Choura
Sean Dorsey Dance
In “The Secret History of Love,” award-winning transgender choreographer Sean Dorsey explores the LGBT world of clandestine romance, fraught with risk, loss, passion and humor.
>> Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty; 412/363-3000, kelly-strayhorn.org
Wayne McGregor|Random Dance
Award-winning, London-based choreographer Wayne McGregor and his 10-member contemporary-dance troupe present “FAR” (2010) as part of the Pittsburgh Dance Council season. The 60-minute performance contains athletic, eclectic movement and original music fueled by Roy Porter’s book “Flesh in the Age of Reason,” a treatise on 18th-century scientific innovation.
>> Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org
Conservatory Dance Co.
Point Park University once again presents its annual main-stage showcase of ballet and modern and contemporary dance. Undergraduates perform new and existing works by well-known choreographers, including Dwight Rhoden, David Parsons, George Balanchine and Pittsburgh native Martha Graham.
>> Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., downtown; 412/392-8000; pittsburghplayhouse.com
By Mike May
Gallery on 43rd Street
through April 11
“Don’t Shoot the Bunny!” is the imperative, season-appropriate title for Robert Villamagna’s exhibit of new assemblages and metal collages. It’s inspired by a piece in the show that incorporates an image of two kids pointing weapons ominously at an unsuspecting rabbit. Everything old is new again in Villamagna’s visually engaging, clever and sometimes jarring work. Found objects and lithographed metal, including old product containers and signage, are reworked and reimagined through Villamagna’s magic. If your interpretation on the meaning of these creations differs from Villamagna’s intentions, don’t worry. “The story that the viewer gets from a particular piece may not be the one I am telling, but I am OK with that,” he says. “I love the fact that my work can evoke a wide range of emotions.” Sometimes the finished assemblage even defies Villamagna’s original intent. That’s OK, too; he calls that the “serendipity factor.”
>> 187 43rd St., Lawrenceville; 412/683-6488, galleryon43rdstreet.com; photo courtesy of gallery
Carnegie Museum of Art
April 12-May 26
“Architecture + Photography” explores the relationship between our built environment and its transmission and interpretation through the camera. Tracy Myers, curator of architecture, and Alyssum Skjeie, curatorial assistant, have created an exhibit billed as the Heinz Architectural Center’s first “to explicitly mine the two fields’ common terrain.” Four groupings culled from CMA collections illustrate its premise: photos by two architectural photographers, Ezra Stoller and Frances Benjamin Johnston; selections from “Carnegie Art Set,” images of significant sites and buildings the Carnegie Corp. commissioned in the 1920s; and a selection of work by various other photographers, including W. Eugene Smith. “All four groups of works are principally concerned with the way in which architecture figures in photography,” says Myers, “but each group provokes different kinds of questions.”
>> 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/622-3131, cmoa.org
Pittsburgh Filmmakers Gallery
through May 16
Halloween falls in October, but some ghosts linger year-round. “Palimpsests: Ghost Signs of Pittsburgh” celebrates those old advertisements we see gradually fading away on local buildings. Photographer Kelly Bogel and Will Zavala, ghost sign project director, present more than 30 of these relics, whose reign was eclipsed by the advent of freestanding billboards. In some cases, earlier ghosts can be seen lurking beneath the paint of later signs — hence the “palimpsests.”
The show also will include a map of all locations and a monitor to allow for digital viewing of some of the 150 locations scouted for the project.
>> 477 Melwood Ave., Oakland; 412/681-5449, pittsburgharts.org
Westmoreland Museum of American Art/Westmoreland @rt 30
Duncan MacDiarmid, the Pittsburgh artist whose work frequently centers on the figure, presents a pop-up exhibit of sculptures and drawings at Westmoreland Museum that reflects his “interest in representing the natural world in unique ways.” Using a variety of media, MacDiarmid envisions “environments that question our role as everyday caretakers of the world.”
>> 4764 Route 30, Unity Township, Westmoreland County; 724/837-1500, wmuseumaa.org
By Kristofer Collins
Carlow University is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its MFA program with a reading from the leading lady of Irish literature, Edna O’Brien. A novelist, poet and memoirist, O’Brien published her first novel, “Country Girls,” in 1960 to nearly as much debate as praise. Frank and direct in its depiction of female sexuality, the tome roused negative attention from Ireland’s conservative corners and was both banned and burned. The novelist Andrew O’Hagan credits O’Brien with bringing “the woman’s experience and sex and internal lives of those people onto the page.” At age 82, O’Brien is the author of more than 30 works and has been the recipient of such honors as the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Writer’s Guild Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award in Irish Literature. Do not miss this opportunity to see a great writer of our time as she reads from her 2013 memoir “Country Girl.”
>> Rosemary Heyl Theatre, Antonian Hall, 3333 Fifth Ave., Oakland; 412/578-2095, carlow.edu