Best of Culture: November
This month’s finest exhibits, dance, theater, lectures and more.
In the history of American circuses, no names are more exalted than Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. Synchronized horses, decorated elephants and high-flying acrobats all compete for attention. (If you’ve always wanted to see a “human crossbow,” then Brian Miser is your man.) The circus performs its latest, “Fully Charged,” Nov. 1-4 at the CONSOL Energy Center, proving once again that this spectacle is the Greatest Show on Earth.
(1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown; 800/745-3000, consolenergycenter.com)
— Robert Isenberg
Playhouse Conservatory: Nov. 8-Dec. 2 /Jazz musicians often lead flamboyant lives, but Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton is having a particularly tough year. He’s served some time, he’s upset some women and his hit song is up for grabs. Will Floyd muddle through his many problems, or will he learn what happens to a dream deferred? Taking place in the post-war 1940s, Seven Guitars is one of August Wilson’s most experimental plays, performed this month by Point Park’s Playhouse Conservatory. Seven Guitars lays bare the long-felt frustration of African-American men trying to make good.
(Pittsburgh Playhouse, 222 Craft Ave., Oakland; 412/392-8000, pittsburghplayhouse.com)
Prime Stage: Nov. 2-11 /In the future, humanity abandons books. Everything becomes digitized. Families languish in front of their floor-to-ceiling televisions, and controversy is avoided at all costs. But wait — isn’t that kind of like now? When Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in 1953, he was describing a dystopian tomorrow. But has that tomorrow already arrived? Prime Stage Theatre presents Ray Bradbury’s theatrical adaptation of this provocative science fiction drama. See what happens when “firemen” aren’t hired to extinguish flames, but to incinerate knowledge with flamethrowers.
(6 Allegheny Square, North Side; 412/394-3353, primestage.com)
Pittsburgh Public Theater: Nov. 8-Dec. 9 /Life was pretty rotten for Margie when she worked at the dollar store, but her situation became even worse when she got fired. Now she’s trying to raise her daughter alone, without money or prospects, in the blue-collar neighborhood of South Boston. When she uses her ex-boyfriend Mike’s wealthy connections to find a job, Margie faces not only bad luck, but also the condescension of Mike’s well-to-do wife. Pittsburgh Public Theater continues its Made in America season with Good People, a tragicomic masterpiece by David Lindsay-Abaire.
(O’Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Ave, downtown; 412/316-1600, ppt.org)
City Theatre: Nov. 10-Dec. 16 / They call it the “Historic South Side” — but what is that history about, exactly? Local Renaissance woman Tami Dixon decided to investigate by interviewing scores of people in the Flats and Slopes. The result is South Side Stories, a daring one-woman show about all things Steel City. In her tour-de-force performance, Dixon impersonates dozens of South Side personalities, from gravelly old-timers to young punks. See how Dixon brings these countless voices together into a single extraordinary night through her world premiere at City Theatre.
(1300 Bingham St., South Side; 412/431-2489, citytheatrecompany.org)
— Robert Isenberg
“Marcellus Shale Documentary Project,” through Jan. 6 / It’s a complex, controversial topic that we often read about in the news. Yet when it comes to the Marcellus shale gas-industry development, most of us probably don’t think about it visually. This timely photography exhibit puts a face, sometimes literally, on how Marcellus shale affects the lives of Pennsylvanians. Pittsburgh-based photographer Brian Cohen generated the idea for the project and approached Laura Domencic, director of Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, who served as curator. Six seasoned photographers were assembled to tell a multidimensional story — roughly 60 images were culled for the show — about this dynamic development and its far-reaching effects, both positive and negative. From the basic nitty-gritty of pipes to concerns about groundwater, this project offers information, insights and inspiration for reflection and discussion.
(Pittsburgh Filmmakers Galleries, 477 Melwood Ave., Oakland; 412/681-5449, pittsburgharts.org)
“No Job No Home No Peace No Rest: An Installation by Will Steacy,” through Dec. 15 / In sync with the presidential election season, Silver Eye Center for Photography presents an installation — the title comes from a Bruce Springsteen song, “The Ghost of Tom Joad” — by dynamic young photographer Will Steacy; his exhibit examines and dissects the American Dream.
(1015 E. Carson St., South Side; 412/431-1810, silvereye.org)
“Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” through Jan. 6 / Football is one thing that makes Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, and this exhibit chronicles 120 years of the sport. Artifacts, photos and other memorabilia are featured; Pittsburgh’s own gridiron glory will be highlighted in a special section devoted to the Steelers, who are celebrating their 80th anniversary.
(Sen. John Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman St., Strip District; 412/454-6000, heinzhistorycenter.org)
“Portraits of a Garden: Brooklyn Botanic Garden Florilegium,” through Dec. 16 / Late fall can be a dreary time of the year, so if you want to remember the botanical joys of last summer or think spring, here’s some green inspiration. A florilegium is a creation of a visual record of a garden or expedition; this discipline has a long and distinguished history, and there’s been a resurgence in recent years. This show at Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, which focuses on the florilegium at the distinguished garden in Brooklyn, features 48 American botanical artists prominent in that pursuit. Also on display are examples of the florilegium tradition in the Hunt’s collection.
(Hunt Library, Carnegie Mellon University, Oakland; 412/268-2434, email@example.com)
“Circles of Commotion and Moving Pauses,” through Nov. 18 / Four artists use digital elements to create a system of “dynamic perceptual architectures.”
(SPACE, 812 Liberty Ave., downtown; 412/325-7723, spacepittsburgh.org)
— Mike May
August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, Nov. 2-4 / The AWCDE performs during the second-annual Black Dance Festival, an event offering master classes, workshops, lectures and showcases by emerging troupes steeped in the African-American experience and its traditions.
(980 Liberty Ave., downtown; 412/456-6666, augustwilsoncenter.org)
Bodiography Contemporary Ballet Co., Nov. 17 / The annual “Multiplicity” showcase features director Maria Caruso’s newest ensemble work, Fractured and Rebuilt, in addition to a solo performed by KDKA-TV’s Kristine Sorensen, a College of William and Mary dance alumni. Programming includes works by company members Kelly Basil and Kirstie Corso.
(Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., downtown; 412/456-6666, bodiographycbc.com)
Kelly-Strayhorn, Nov. 16-17 / New York-based choreographer Luke Murphy and dancer Carlye Eckert star in the U.S. premiere of Drenched. Cast against images of silver-screen relationships, the dance-theater duet plumbs perceptions of romance via movement, spoken word and an original soundscape.
(5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty; for mature audiences; 412/363-3000, kelly-strayhorn.org)
“So You Think You Can Dance,” Nov. 25 / The Emmy Award-nominated FOX-TV dance competition culminates with a 30-city North-American tour featuring 10 versatile young performers who adroitly waltz from hip hop to Bollywood. Programming features “So You Think You Can Dance” repertory and new choreography.
(Benedum Center, 719 Liberty Ave., downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org, dance.aeglive.com)
— Karen Dacko
Nov. 8 / In 1993, writer Robert Olen Butler was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain. His latest foray into the fictive dream is The Hot Country. This month, he’ll stop by Mystery Lover’s Bookshop to lecture and sign books.
(514 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont; 7pm; 412/828-4877, mysterylovers.com)
Nov. 14 & 19 / Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures has once again put together an amazing season. Here are two writers visiting Pittsburgh this month:
» Neil Gaiman, who comes to town Nov. 14, has long been a leading light in comic books and fantasy. His acclaimed Sandman series helped win the argument that comics are serious literature.
» Tea Obreht, who will make an appearance Nov. 19, made a giant splash last year with her debut novel, The Tiger’s Wife, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction and was a National Book Award finalist.
(4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 7:30pm; 412/622-8866, pittsburghlectures.org)
Nov. 8 / The Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series continues to present worthy authors who aren’t, as of yet, household names. Catching one or two performances gives one a broader sense of where literature is heading — and which writers are taking it in that direction. Paul Yoon’s short fiction has been awarded the O. Henry Prize and was chosen to be part of the Best American Short Stories 2006 anthology. His first collection of stories, Once the Shore, was published in 2009.
(Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, Schenley Drive, Oakland; 8:30pm; 412/624-6508)
— Kristofer Collins