February: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

Check out some of the finest stage plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.

photo Courtesy Pittsburgh Public Theater

Jan. 26 – Feb. 26/ One of the original comedic love triangles will make its way to the Pittsburgh Public Theater with Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Orsino, a nobleman from the kingdom of Illyria, is in love with Lady Olivia (Gretchen Egolf, pictured). Meanwhile, a young woman named Viola shipwrecks in Illyria and assumes the identity of a man, Cesario, to find work. She ends up working in disguise for Orsino and falls in love with him. He still loves Olivia and sends Cesario to her with a love letter. While Cesario (Viola) is there, Olivia falls in love with him (her), making misery for everyone. If that weren’t enough, the steward of Olivia’s household, Malvolio has been tricked into thinking that Olivia actually loves him and starts pining away. (O’Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Ave., Downtown; 412/316-1600, ppt.org)

Feb. 9-12/ Off the Wall Productions brings to Pittsburgh a story about basic human rights after a tumultuous election with The Pink Unicorn. A conservative, Christian widow from a small Texas town learns that her teen-age daughter identifies as genderqueer and cannot come to terms with this information. Creator Elise Forier Edie, while not a widow from Texas, wrote the one-woman show in response to her own former church and with inspiration from her daughter, who does identify as transgender. (Carnegie Stage, 25 W. Main St., Carnegie; 724/873-3576, insideoffthewall.com)

“Permutations of Light,” at Wood Street Galleries | photo courtesy wood street galleries

THROUGH APRIL 2/ Had enough of the dark days of winter? Here’s a way to brighten your day: See the premiere of “Permutations of Light,” which showcases two new installations commissioned for Wood Street Galleries. Here, half that glitters is “Gold,” a 36-foot-wide installation by Canadian artist David Spriggs, who examines contemporary symbolic meanings of color. Figural imagery enters the picture via inverted human forms painted on transparent sheets, and these are cradled within a pyramid-like structure referencing the pediment of the New York Stock Exchange. No surprise then that this piece makes a statement about “the contemporary climate of excessive wealth and power held by a select few.” Artist Matthijs Munnik creates immersive installations. The latest is an installment in an ongoing project, “Citadels,” which focuses on the essence of flickering light and its relationship to perception. Cross the threshold into Mondo Munnik, and you’ll experience stroboscopic fields in various colors, some imaginary. Patterns and geometric shapes factor in for a groovy experience that can seem hallucinatory. (Wood Street Galleries, 601 Wood St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org

THROUGH MARCH 26 Now is your chance to become part of the creative process when you go to an art museum. “The Stories You Tell” at Carnegie Museum of Art invites visitors to respond to artists and their work — Mary Cassatt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Romare Bearden and more — and come up with short stories. Emojis are welcome too. The aptly-named Forum Gallery, where the comments will be posted, becomes a sort of creative campfire for this installation. Stories also may be posted on Instagram or Twitter. (Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/622-3131, cmoa.org)

photo courtesy Carnegie Museum of Natural History

THROUGH APRIL 23/Another way to think spring this month is with “Amazing Butterflies.” Enter their world—this interactive exhibit takes the form of an installation in which we journey through a labyrinth—and learn not only about butterflies but also caterpillars and get up close and personal with their environments. That includes cool interfaces such as climbing into a pupa pod, slithering through a monarch tunnel or traveling on a butterfly zip line. Go ahead. Wing it! (R.P. Simmons Family Gallery, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/622-3131, carnegiemnh.org)

THROUGH APRIL 16/ Pittsburgh Glass Center is dressed to kiln with this salute to the emerging and evolving talents in kiln-glass today. “Emerge/Evolve,” organized by Portland’s Bullseye Glass Co., marks the ninth edition of this biennial juried competition, featuring winners and finalists from previous biennials. The kiln-glass specialty offers an especially fertile and creative opportunity for artists, thanks to an array of working methods: painting and drawing, printmaking, sculpture and more. (Pittsburgh Glass Center, 5472 Penn Ave., Friendship; 412/365-2145, pittsburghglasscenter.org)

photo Courtesy Ian Douglas

Feb. 10-11/ Pilobolus, the Connecticut-based movement collective, presents “Shadowland,” a surreal coming-of-age adventure. Movement, shadow theater and David Poe’s music score combine in this dance-drama, which follows a teenage girl’s escape from parental disapproval into a nightmare fraught with threatening scenarios and bizarre characters. (Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org

Feb. 10-19/ Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” leaps from page to stage in Derek Deane’s classical ballet adaption set to a cobbled P.I. Tchaikovsky score. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre presents the two-act story ballet, which chronicles Alice’s fantasy from her tumble down a rabbit hole to her interactions with whimsically costumed characters — including a princely White Rabbit, a preening Cheshire Cat and an ensemble of dancing lobsters. (Benedum Center, 237 Seventh St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, pbt.org)

Feb. 15/ Themes of romance, greed and fame highlight “Taj Express: The Bollywood Musical Revue,” as it transports audiences to modern-day India and into the Bollywood movie mystique. The 120-minute extravaganza of music, film and vibrant costuming showcases the fast-paced precision, rhythmic footwork and emotion of East Indian classical and modern contemporary dance. (Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org)

Feb. 18/ Solo artist Maria Caruso takes on the versatility challenge with “Phoenix Rising,” an evening of solos and duets embracing contemporary ballet, modern dance, ballroom and hip-hop. Caruso performs choreography by Anjali Austin, James Martin and the late Martha Graham and dances with guest artists Joshua Sweeny, Victor Prisk and Gabriel Ash; she’ll also join visual artist Tom Mosser to create a live art installation. (Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org)

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