Best of Culture: June
Our arts editors have assembled a list of the finest summertime plays, lectures, dance performances and exhibits.
In the history of motorized parts, no sight has been more beautiful than a vintage car. Top off the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum’s 50th Anniversary Weekend celebration with a drive down memory lane at the Classic Car Show. You’ll find antique vehicles that ran on both road and rail, back when mass and private transit shared the byways. While you’re there, check out the colossal Trolley Display Building.
(One Museum Road, Washington; 724/228-9256, pa-trolley.org) - Robert Isenberg; photo by David H. Hamley on June 23, 1963
By Robert Isenberg
Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre
May 30-June 22
The Kreutzer Sonata is based on what might be Leo Tolstoy’s darkest story: A man marries a woman, but their love sours; she takes refuge in her love of music (and the arms of another musician), sending him into an unbridled rage. The story’s shocking finale cuts the reader like a knife. Irish playwright Nancy Harris adapted this furious story for the stage, making it the perfect material for PICT. Kreutzer was quite a coup in the late-19th century: Not only was the story banned in Russia, but Tolstoy considered the novella an argument for sexual abstinence.
(Henry Heymann Theatre, Stephen Foster Memorial, Oakland; 412/561-6000, picttheatre.org)
Christine Daae is a simple girl in Paris who wants to become an opera singer. Erik, a mysterious stranger, agrees to train her voice, but Christine is never allowed to see his face. Little does Christine know that Erik “haunts” the local opera house, and he is falling in love with her. The story may sound familiar, but don’t confuse Kopit and Yeston’s Phantom for the operetta by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Phantom may also be a musical, but Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit put their own twist on Gaston Leroux’s gothic novel The Phantom of the Opera. The CLO presents this alternate show, an acclaimed musical that has wowed audiences across the country but never appeared on Broadway.
(Benedum Center, Seventh Street and Penn Avenue, downtown; 412/456-6666, pittsburghclo.org)
Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co.
A desperate run for mayor. An explosive scandal. A showdown between a successful businessman and a civic hero. August Wilson’s Radio Golf is so believable that you might mistake its plot for this year’s political race. The final episode of the 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle, Radio Golf centers on Harmond Wilkes, a real-estate mogul from the Hill District. Wilkes hopes to become the first African-American mayor of Pittsburgh. The only thing that stands in his way is a crumbling house on Wylie Avenue. Will ghosts from the past destroy Wilkes’ ambitions? Or will they save his soul? Pittsburgh Playwrights presents the final masterpiece by August Wilson, the Steel City’s most beloved dramatist.
(937 Liberty Ave., downtown; 412/377-7803, pghplaywrights.com)
Pittsburgh Public Theater
May 30-June 30
Think of someone close to you — a friend, a lover, a sibling. This person announces, out of nowhere, that she is publishing a memoir about your most horrifying shared experience. To make matters worse, this person flaunts the exact opposite politics of yours. How would you respond? Other Desert Cities (by Jon Robin Baitz) imagines this scenario, and the power of his play made it a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The Public completes its highly political “Made in America” season with this intimate showdown between liberals and conservatives, proving once again that the personal is political.
(621 Penn Ave., downtown; 412/316-1600, ppt.org)
By Mike May
Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival
This year’s Three Rivers Arts Festival is set to make a splash in more ways than one. After a four-year dry spell, the fountain at Point State Park is set to return, with its 150-foot-high plume of water firing on opening day. Look for other special highlights that evening, including a waterscape of lights on the three rivers, as water enthusiasts are encouraged to decorate their crafts. During its more than 50 years in existence, the annual arts fest, which has become a multimedia event, still retains at its core a celebration of the visual arts.
Among special features for this year’s event are public-art installations, including “Drift,” a collaborative — and moveable — project by Carnegie Mellon University School of Fine Art graduates, which makes use of the riverfront for its exhibition space and palette. Hugh Hayden merges African-American identity and classic Americana in “American Hero No. 4,” and Vanessa German offers an interactive experience for festival patrons in the Creativity Zone.
Other highlights include a Flight School Visual Art Exhibition and a sculpture created by the Society of Sculptors. Look for more visual-arts stimulation with other special exhibits and happenings at Cultural District galleries. Last but not least, longtime festival traditions are back, including the Juried Visual Art Exhibition and the Artists Market.
(Point State Park, Gateway Center and Cultural District, downtown; 412/456-6666, 3riversartsfest.org)
“The Patron Saint of White Guys That Went Tribal and Other Works”
June 15-Sept. 15
The Andy Warhol Museum presents Pittsburgh artist and tattooist Nick Bubash in his first solo museum exhibition: a recreation of Bubash’s studio and a collection of found-object sculptures revealing “a playful approach to the artist’s practices and sardonic sense of humor.”
(117 Sandusky St., North Shore, 412/237-8300, warhol.org)
“Marshes, Mountains, and Fields: Small Landscapes, Big Views”
Through June 22
See interpretations of nature by landscape painter Crista Pisano.
(BoxHeart Expressions, 4523 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield; 412/687-8858, boxheartgallery.com)
Through June 29
Three artists — Leslie Ansley, Jo-Anne Bates and Tina Brewer — exhibit their work in a trio of shows featuring paper, fiber art and paint.
(August Wilson Center for African American Culture, 980 Liberty Ave., downtown; 412/258-2700, augustwilsoncenter.org)
“Caldwell Linker: All Through the Night” & “Genesis Breyer P-Orridge: S/HE IS HER/E”
June 15-Sept. 15
“All Through the Night” comprises images documenting the LGBT community by photographer Caldwell Linker, who moved to Pittsburgh in 2007. “S/HE IS HER/E” is the first solo museum exhibition, with more than 100 works, for British performance artist, musician and essayist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge.
(The Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky St., North Shore; 412/237-8300, warhol.org)
By Karen Dacko
Work It Out
Choreographer Beth Corning goes solo this year for Pittsburgh’s fourth annual installment of The Glue Factory Project, an initiative that addresses universal human issues. Remains, a multidisciplinary dance-theater work developed in collaboration with and directed by Tony Award-winning director Dominque Serrand, unfolds as a series of vignettes covering youth, loss, mortality and end-of-life concerns.
(Corningworks at the New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side; 412/320-4610, corningworks.org)
Pittsburgh Youth Ballet Co. & School
May 31-June 1
When downtown subway construction transformed Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre soloist Jean Gedeon’s commute into an obstacle course, the South Hills resident established Pittsburgh Youth Ballet Co. Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, the troupe presents George Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky-driven Serenade, influenced by Commedia dell‘arte (a type of theater that originated in Italy), and composer Riccardo Drigo’s Harlequinade, a section performed by 32 children.
(Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., downtown, 412/969-6000; pybco.org)
The Pillow Project
Musical guest Phat Man Dee, a local chanteuse known for an eclectic repertoire and original compositions, takes center stage for an evening of dance improvisation, collaboration and multimedia experimentation that includes live video projections, a chalk art installation and spontaneous Freejazz, a dance style combining physicality with jazz musicality.
(The Space Upstairs, 214 N. Lexington St., Point Breeze; pillowproject.org)
By Kristofer Collins
Stately plump Buck Mulligan swaps the Liffey for the Allegheny as Pittsburgh celebrates Bloomsday, an annual worldwide event that started in 1954 in Ireland to memorialize James Joyce’s great modernist masterpiece Ulysses.
Organized locally by Dublin native Anne Burnham, this series of readings from the novel moves around the city to sites that stand in for book settings.
The novel’s hero, Leopold Bloom (from whom the event gets its name), is a peripatetic sort. So Bloomsday, now in its 25th year, moves from neighborhood to neighborhood, stopping at bars, cemeteries and bookstores along the way for readings from Ulysses. Note: Participants are encouraged to bring the book with them.