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Pittsburgh Flicks and Nightlife in January

The skills acquired from practicing improv, we are told, can be applied to any human endeavor. Classes, though, can be expensive and time-consuming. For the curious yet uncommitted, Arcade Comedy Theater offers a monthly Improv Pop-Up Night.




(l-r) Arcade Comedy Creative Directors Jethro Nolen, Abby Fudor, Mike Rubino, Kristy Nolen​

photo by louis stein
 

Surveying the exceeding popularity of improv classes, a recent New Yorker article called the hobby “the default activity for today’s postgraduate seekers,” akin to joining a cult in the 1970s. That’s a heavy burden for something so intrinsically silly, but the field encourages the comparison. The skills acquired from practicing improv, we are told, can be applied to any human endeavor, from business, to dating, to just getting through life in a more meaningful way. Classes, though, can be expensive and time-consuming. For the curious yet uncommitted, Arcade Comedy Theater (412/339-0608, arcadecomedytheater.com) offers a monthly Improv Pop-Up Night every third Thursday at its performance space and classroom at 820 Liberty Ave., across the street from its main theater. A $20 ticket includes a boxed-wine mixer, a chance to learn the basics and ask a lot of questions, and admission to the theater’s regular Thursday night show. –– Eric Lidji
 

The Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène often is called the father of African cinema, and arguably is the most important in the continent’s history; among a multidisciplinary career that spanned half a century, he directed the first full-length feature film made on the continent as well as the first African film made in a non-European language. Sembène — The Film & Arts Festival (sembenefilmfestival.org), a Pittsburgh-based organization that hosts screenings and events year-round, is meant to honor his legacy, according to executive director Sabira Bushra. The organization seeks to do so by “presenting Sembène’s films and other award-winning films from around the globe that speak to the critical issues facing the African Diaspora,” she says.

This month, the organization will continue its partnership with City of Asylum (cityofasylum.org) to screen the Oscar-nominated 2010 film “Chico & Rita.” “City of Asylum was excited to host [Chico & Rita] as it plays into our core mission of helping artists in exile, promoting their voices and awareness of their plight,” says Ayne Terceira, digital marketing coordinator for City of Asylum. Some of the films Sembène has planned for this season tackle religious intolerance, xenophobia and racism; “Chico & Rita” fits the bill due to the prejudice facing the protagonists as non-white musicians performing throughout mid-century America. “[It is] a story about love and heartbreak,” Bushra says. “The heartbreak was caused by racism that the musicians and artists experienced at the time.” The appeal of the “mesmerizing, animated, epic love story,” as Bushra describes it, lies also in its memorable soundtrack by legendary Cuban pianist and composer Bebo Valdés. Bushra says the partnership with City of Asylum will continue through 2017 in addition to Sembène’s other programming, including its annual festival in Homewood in November. “Chico & Rita” will be screened on Jan. 5 at City of Asylum’s Alphabet City Center on the North Side; admission is free, but advance registration (alphabetcity.org) is requested. –– Sean Collier
 

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