Best of Culture: March
Make plans to see a lively dance performance, colorful exhibit, theatrical production or live reading.
Award-winning choreographer Sidra Bell, whose provocative dance-theater works focus on life-affirming themes, offers the world premiere of “garment,” an exploration of bending and shifting identities in an interactive environment.
[March 7-8, Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty; 412/363-3000, kelly-strayhorn.org]
— Karen Dacko; photo by David Flores
By Elvira DiPaolo-Hoff
PNC Broadway Across America – Pittsburgh
Winner of eight Tony Awards, “Once” is about a guy and a girl who meet and make beautiful music together. The principal male character, identified only as “guy,” is a struggling singer/songwriter supplementing his main income as a vacuum repairman by playing nights in Dublin pubs. Enter a sweetly forthright “girl,” who plays the piano as well as the guy does guitar, and the melodiously simpatico duo may end up salvaging their musical dreams — and their romantic ones, too. Just don’t expect a predictable ending.
[Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, 237 Seventh St., downtown; 412/456-4800, trustarts.org]
Pittsburgh Public Theater
March 6-April 6
“An Iliad,” which earned co-adaptors Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson a special citation at the 2012 Obie Awards, is not at all what you might expect from a Greek tragedy. Sure, the play depicts the gratuitously violent conclusion to the 10-year Trojan War, but it’s also funny and refreshingly inventive. A single actor narrates and portrays all the roles, switching back and forth from Greek verse to conversational English as if he’s spinning a yarn at the local bar. Expect a tour de force from acclaimed stage actor Teagle F. Bougere, who’s no stranger to marathon roles.
[621 Penn Ave., downtown; 412/316-1600, ppt.org]
Off the Wall Productions
Feb. 28-March 15
In Sarah Treem’s bittersweet comedy, “A Feminine Ending,” Amanda is an oboist who dreams of becoming a symphony composer. Fueled by self-doubt, however, she settles for a job writing advertising jingles and supporting her fiancé, who’s on his way to becoming the next Bon Jovi. He promises her an “extraordinary life” but also wants a prenup. Add some quirky parental strife to the mix, and Amanda’s left waffling over what’s real and imagined — and wondering which way to turn at the fork in the road.
[25 W. Main St., Carnegie; 724/873-3576, insideoffthewall.com]
City Theatre Co.
Because Billy’s parents refused to raise him in the “minority world,” he can lip-read and speak. Meanwhile, his older siblings Ruth and Daniel, who can hear perfectly well, have had to move back home, inciting familial discord. When Billy meets Sylvia, who’s losing her hearing, he summons the courage to “come out” as a deaf person in Nina Raine’s “Tribes.” Thanks to unlikely communication methods, Billy’s family finally is able to communicate.
[1300 Bingham St., South Side; 412/431-2489, citytheatrecompany.org]
No Name Players
You’re sure to be wowed at the sixth annual SWAN Day Pittsburgh (which stands for Support Women Artists Now). No Name Players holds its showcase during Women’s History Month to honor female artists. For 2014, participants were asked to create an original piece in their medium — visual or performance art — inspired by the Maya Angelou quote “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” A sampling of the resulting world premieres includes a film by Kahmeela Adams, plays by Gab Cody and Lissa Brennan, songs by Camelia Road and the debut of fireWALL Dance Theater. In the lobby, works will be on view from paper-cutting artist Kathryn Carr, abstract painter Tiara Dinkins and glass artist Elizabeth Fortunato. The afternoon SWAN Jr. show displays work from the under-18 set.
[New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side; 412/320-4610, nonameplayers.org]
By Mike May
Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership
through March 16
The PDP has begun a three-year initiative with the City of Pittsburgh to bring temporary public-art installations to Market Square each winter, aiming to bolster the city’s reputation as a national cultural destination. The first work, “Congregation,” premiered Feb. 21. The interactive light and sound installation, created by U.K.-based group KMA, is a conceptual piece that operates nightly. Those looking for a more immersive experience can sign up for one of the PDP’s free 30-minute talks about “Congregation” and other downtown public-art pieces; discussions take place at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. The next installation will debut in 2015.
— John Lavanga
Feb. 21-April 27
Sure, they might appear glamorous to humans, shiny and seemingly immune to suffering, but some robots lead mundane lives just like the rest of us. Following the success of “Fraley’s Robot Repair Shop,” a public-art installation downtown, local artist Toby Atticus Fraley examines and reveals robotological existence via a dozen scenes of everyday life in “The Secret Life of Robots.” His 4-foot-tall creations are constructed from diverse elements, and they feature animatronic and illuminated elements.
[812 Liberty Ave., downtown; 412/325-7723, spacepittsburgh.org]
Frick Art & Historical Center
March 1-May 25
Like the ancient Greek poem, this “Odyssey” also has a Homer connection — Winslow Homer. The American master is among many iconic names in our nation’s art history featured in the new Frick Art Museum exhibit. If you need a refresher in that specialty or are interested in learning about this cultural patrimony, “An American Odyssey: The Warner Collection of American Painting,” offers a mini-course: 50 works showcase American art from the nation’s founding (think Gilbert Stuart) to the early 20th century. Sorry, Andy Warhol: Pittsburgh receives its 15 minutes or more of fame here thanks to the inclusion of Mary Cassatt. “Odyssey” comprises 50 works arranged chronologically and by theme, encompassing such major movements as Hudson River and American Impressionism. These have been selected from the collection of Jonathan “Jack” Warner, an American businessman and philanthropist from Alabama. “The Warner collection is one of the most important collections of American art formed in recent decades, and the breadth and variety of works represented are both artistically and historically illuminating,” according to a statement from the Frick.
[7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze; 412/371-0600, thefrickpittsburgh.org]
By Karen Dacko
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
For "3x3," Terrence S. Orr’s troupe debuts a work by Viktor Plotnikov and reprises Dwight Rhoden’s “Smoke ‘n’ Roses,” a contemporary ballet featuring songstress Etta Cox. “Ketubah,” a ballet inspired by Jewish wedding rituals, completes the program.
[August Wilson Center for African American Culture, 980 Liberty Ave., downtown; 412/456-6666; pbt.org; photo by Jenn Peters]
Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève
The internationally acclaimed contemporary-ballet troupe from Switzerland offers a double bill featuring Swiss choreographer Ken Ossola’s hypnotic “Sed Lux Permanet” and Greek choreographer Andonis Foniadakis’ “Glory,” driven by a Handel score.
[Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org]
Texture Contemporary Ballet
Choreographers and company co-directors Alan Obuzor and Kelsey Bartman present “Shades of Light,” an evening of new and recent contemporary ballets exploring light and shadows in our lives.
[New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side; textureballet.org]
By Kristofer Collins
Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures
Irish author Colum McCann won the National Book Award for his 2009 novel “Let the Great World Spin,” which pairs an account of Philippe Petit’s 1974 tightrope walk between the towers of the World Trade Center and a prostitute’s courtroom trial. His latest work, “Transatlantic,” landed on many 2013 Best of the Year lists.
[Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/622-8866, pittsburghlectures.org]
B.E. Quarterly Zine Release Party & Fundraiser
Biddle’s Escape has been a very welcome addition to Regent Square, providing coffee and other beverages in a relaxed environment. Join the staff as it celebrates the release of the second issue of B.E. Quarterly, an expertly curated handbound zine. A few contributors will read from the “Winter’s Over” issue.
[401 Biddle Ave., Wilkinsburg; email@example.com]
Penguin Bookshop’s Grand Reopening
Penguin has been in the heart of Sewickley since its 1929 debut. Under the new ownership of Susan Hans O’Connor, the beloved institution moved across the street in January. The new digs might be a little smaller, but they allow the staff to put an even greater focus on providing the best literature. No worries — Bergie the Penguin made the move with hardly a feather ruffled.
[417 Beaver St., Sewickley; 412/741-3838, penguinbookshop.com]