Best of Culture: July
This month’s finest exhibits, dance, theater, lectures and more.
By Robert Isenberg
Fleeing creditors, a low-rent screenwriter stumbles into the household of faded film star Norma Desmond. The only thing worse than Desmond’s delusions is Joe Gillis’s manipulative personality. Based on the 1950 film noir, Sunset Boulevard boasts one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most beautiful scores. The Pittsburgh CLO proudly presents this modern “poperetta” classic.
(Benedum Center, 719 Liberty Ave., downtown; 412/456-6666, pittsburghclo.org)
Orange Flower Water
June 29-July 14
When you take away the sly glances, the bedroom is where adultery plays out. Orange Flower Water (by Craig Wright) takes place almost entirely in, around or near a mattress. In a series of curt scenes, the audience sees a cheating couple in the throes of passion, followed by their descent into despair. Known for surreal comedies, No Name Players takes on this ultra-realistic tragedy of love.
(Studio Theatre, Cathedral of Learning, Oakland; nonameplayers.org)
Madness in the Message
What happens when a comedian gets serious? Find out when comic Ron Placone does battle with corporate newsmongers. Madness in the Message is Placone’s multimedia manifesto about politics, business moguls and getting mad at mad men. While the native Pittsburgher has opened for all kinds of comedians — including the Upright Citizens Brigade — Placone’s solo show has a sharper edge (with more than a few laughs thrown in). Booked that Saturday? He’ll perform monthly through September.
(808 Tripoli St., North Side; steelcityimprov.com)
July 19-Aug. 4
A man and woman meet at an airport. There’s a snowstorm outside, and all the flights are delayed. But this chance meeting is a little awkward because they already know each other — well. In the warm dramedy Shooting Star, Steven Dietz offers a gentle story about longing, regret and second chances.
(Corrigan Drive & Brownsville Road, South Park; 412/831-8552, southparktheatre.com)
July 19-Aug. 26
In the Russian canon, no play is richer — or more sprawling — than the epic Three Sisters. Anton Chekhov’s drama is a feast of love, squabbles, broken dreams and heartbreak, set against the frigid beauty of a Czarist country estate. Pittsburgh Irish & Classical kicks off its Chekhov celebration with the master’s magnum opus.
(Charity Randall Theatre, Stephen Foster Memorial, University of Pittsburgh, 2200 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/624-7529, picttheatre.org)
By Karen Dacko
Pillow Project, directed by Pearlann Porter, welcomes soul singer Vie Boheme and Brotha Free, a local DJ and beat-maker, for a funk-driven evening at Second Saturday.
(The Space Upstairs, 214 N. Lexington St., Point Breeze; 412/225-9269, pillowproject.org)
Shana Simmons Dance
Pittsburgh-based Shana Simmons Dance hosts “Relative Positions,” a two-act multidisciplinary showcase with 20-plus participants, including Murphy/Smith Dance Collective, MillerDance and Theatre Sans Serif. Poetry, music, performance art and dance performances loop throughout the evening and are scattered about the venue, allowing observers to tour the facility while individualizing their viewing experiences. A VIP hour — featuring Continuum Dance Theatre, Shana Simmons Dance and specifically chosen artists from the showcase — precedes the 7 p.m. main event.
(Union Project, 801 N. Negley Ave., Highland Park; shanasimmonsdance.com)
Texture Contemporary Ballet
In Blur, Texture Contemporary Ballet brings together a troupe of 27 ballet dancers from across the country and offers premieres by choreographers Gabriel Gaffney Smith, Catherine Tiso, associate artistic director Kelsey Bartman and artistic director Alan Obuzor. Musical selections include regional African music and original compositions by Gaffney Smith. Cello Fury provides live accompaniment.
(New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side; textureballet.org, showclix.com/events/textureballet)
By Mike May
“Three Centuries of Printmaking”
Through Sept. 2
If you’re looking to do some sightseeing this summer, one site close to home is the Frick Art Museum. Just opened (as of June 16) are three exhibits saluting printmaking throughout three centuries. The centerpiece of the trio is “The Prints of Jacques Callot,” a traveling exhibit of 35 etchings organized by the Reading Public Museum. Seventeenth-century French master Callot (1592-1635), known for his artistic dexterity, insight and wit, achieved fame because of his prints and revolutionized this endeavor. The bookends to the Callot show are complementary shows that tie in the print collections of Henry Clay Frick: “In the English Manner: Mezzotint Portraits” and “Picturesque Architecture by Thomas Shotter Boys,” which comprises Frick’s complete portfolio of 29 chromolithographs from a series.
(Frick Art & Historical Center, 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze; 412/371-0600, thefrickpittsburgh.org)
“Factory Direct: Pittsburgh"
June 24-Sept. 9
Andy Warhol’s legendary New York studio was called The Factory. Now, The Andy Warhol Museum has taken a new twist on that term by providing art residencies for 14 contemporary artists in Pittsburgh-based factories to produce art for Factory Direct: Pittsburgh. Inspiration springs from “the factory’s history, technologies, materials and/or processes.”
(Guardian Self-Storage Building, 2839 Liberty Ave., Strip District; warhol.org)
By Kristofer Collins
Open Poetry Workshop
The Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange hosts a free poetry workshop the first Monday of every month. Poets of all levels are invited to share their work and respond to the work of others. Guests are invited to bring multiple copies for discussion. It’s suggested that those interested call ahead before attending.
(Brentwood Public Library, 3501 Brownsville Road, Brentwood; 6:30pm; $2 suggested donation; 412/481-POEM)
Get ready to get your geek on! Confluence 2012, aka the 24th Annual Literary Sci-Fi Convention, is a one-stop shop for all your sci-fi and fantasy needs — from author panels to writing workshops to acres of dealers’ tables filled with all the alien wares you could want. Whether you’re looking for that hard-to-find pulp paperback by Philip K. Dick or copies of the latest Battlestar Galactica fan fiction, you’re sure to find something to your liking. And, to celebrate the impending Mayan apocalypse, a marathon of end-of-the-world flicks will run non-stop in the video room.
(DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Pittsburgh Airport, Moon Township; parsec-sff.org/confluence)
Hemingway’s Summer Poetry Series Grand Finale
This venerable reading series, the longest-running in the city, closes out another stellar season with a big ol’ poesy party! A veritable who’s who of local wordslingers will whoop it up in the back room at Hemingway’s Cafe for the last time this summer, so don’t miss out. The event will feature a diverse group of writers, including Nour Abdelghani, Madalon Amenta, Marilyn Bates, Jerome Crooks, Victoria Dym, Gene Hirsch, Don Wentworth and Sarah Williams-Devereux — plus, a special reading by Jimmy Cvetic.
(3911 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 8pm; call Joan Bauer: 412/441-8172)