November: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh
Check out some of the finest stage plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.
Photo courtesy Palm Beach Opera
by Brandy Hadden
Nov. 5-13/ The Pittsburgh Opera will bring Salome to the Benedum Center, complete with its climatic “Dance of the Seven Veils.” Based on the 1891 play by Oscar Wilde, the Richard Strauss opera recreates the story of King Herod and his daughter Salome, who is struck with unrequited love for John the Baptist — or Jochanaan. Salome wants nothing more than to kiss Jochanaan, but he just wants to get away from her, making the girl hungry for revenge. When Herod asks her to dance for him and says he’ll give her anything she wants, her “anything” is Jochanaan’s head on a silver platter. The dance she performs typically ends with the dancer totally nude on stage, and Pittsburgh’s production will be no exception; Pittsburgh’s Attack Theatre choreographed the dance specifically for Patricia Racette (Salome). Also count on the severed head being tailored to the actor who plays Jochanaan, thanks to artists James Geier and Jeanmichael Bohach. (Benedum Center, 237 Seventh St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, pittsburghopera.org)
Through Nov. 12/ Bricolage’s next installment of Midnight Radio — a 1940s-style radio program complete with Foley sound effects, fake commercials and yinzer accents — will keep the Halloween spirit alive into the beginning of November with Night of the Living Dead N’at, an overdub of Pittsburgh’s original horror classic. Performers Wali Jamal, Jason McCune, Sheila McKenna and Sean Sears aim to empty audiences’ brains while taking on multiple roles in the classic that had those famous opening scenes in the Evans City cemetery. The flesh-eating ghoul fest will have a little extra help with haunting sounds, thanks to musical guest Cello Fury. (Bricolage, 937 Liberty Ave., first floor, Downtown; 412/471-0999, bricolagepgh.org)
Nov. 12/ Gravity & Other Myths, an acrobatic group from Australia, will be performing A Simple Space at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. The “simple” part refers to the fact there are no theatrical elements to the performance. Think Cirque du Soleil sans any and all bells and whistles, other than a drum beat. (August Wilson Center for African American Culture, 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org)
Hélio Oiticica in front of a poster for the play “Prisoner of Second Avenue,” in Midtown Manhattan, 1972
photo courtesy cmoa; © César and Claudio Oiticica
by Mike May
Through Jan. 2/ Summer and the Rio Olympic Games are but a memory now, but a bit of Brazil arrives in Pittsburgh this month at the Carnegie Museum of Art. If gold medals were awarded to artists, Hélio Oiticica (1937–1980), a major cultural force in the 20th century, surely would be a contender. Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium is the first comprehensive retrospective in the United States celebrating the artist’s creative journey — one that ended too soon and was followed by a fire that consumed many examples of his legacy. But “Celebrating” is an on-target term, because Oiticica was known for his bold, innovative use of color and festive touches that seem to emanate organically from his tropical South American home. Early in his career, Oiticica was a member of the Neo-Concrete Movement — more grim-sounding that it actually was — and he experimented with geometric abstract paintings. With his evolution into three-dimensional, environmental and immersive directions, he pushed the boundaries of art and the very definition of what art is. You can ponder the question yourself at the show, most notably through such major installations as “Tropicália,” where you’re invited to walk across sand and pebbles and meet an Amazonian parrot, and “Eden,” which overtakes the Hall of Sculpture. Within that paradise, you’ll discover friendly nooks for reading and conversation, music, a pool of water and sensory spaces for bare feet. (Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/622-3131, cmoa.org)
Through Jan. 8/ National Geographic has earned a venerable position as a showcase for world-class photography, compelling photojournalism and imaginative storytelling. Learn more about how that legacy continues today with Women of Vision: National Geographic Photographers on Assignment. The show features the work of 11 award-winning contemporary women photojournalists — among them, Lynn Johnson, who worked for The Pittsburgh Press — and 100 of their photographs. Their focus is diverse: You’ll see exotic locations and cultures, as well as investigations into issues such as child marriage, memory and teenage brain chemistry. A picture is worth a thousand words, but it can also educate, create awareness and even generate change. (Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/622-3131, carnegiemnh.org)
Through Jan. 16/ Although the title is “Dissolution,” this show actually has been accomplished through the creative union and collaboration of two locals: collage artist Seth Clark and glass artist Jason Forck.
The multimedia, multidimensional effort demonstrates how “deconstructed ideas build a new landscape.” Both men share an interest in Americana, architectural aesthetics and related systems in a process of “dissolving and dissipating.” Resurrecting them and empowering them with new life and energy was a challenge and goal.
During the course of their collaboration, the artists taught each other new techniques and cross-pollinated with traditional and innovative methods to culminate in a cohesive result, boasting several large installations, that allows for individual creative expressions. (Pittsburgh Glass Center, 5472 Penn Ave., Friendship; 412/365-2145, www.pittsburghglasscenter.org)
photo by eric rosé
by KAREN DACKO
Nov. 5/ Texture Contemporary Ballet presents two performances of the annual “Works in Progress Choreography Project” in one evening. The showcase provides emerging choreographers with opportunities to showcase new material in an intimate environment. (Kelly-Strayhorn Theater’s Dance Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave., Friendship; 412/552-3114, textureballet.org)
Nov. 19/ Ensemble dances from Croatia, Armenia, Bulgaria and Romania highlight the Tamburitzans’ 2016-2017 production. “Wedding Feast in Podravina” follows a couple from their betrothal to the post-ceremony fete, while a suite of three Armenian wine-festival dances contrasts masculine strength with delicate femininity. A Romanian harvest carnival — including a stork, some sheep and a swamp frogman — culminates with a fast-paced display of intricate footwork. (West Mifflin Area Middle School, 81 Commonwealth Ave., West Mifflin; 412/224-2071, thetamburitzans.org)
Nov. 19/ German-born composer George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” (1742), a three-part English oratorio, was initially an Easter offering but has become a Christmastide staple. La Roche College Performing Arts Department presents a matinee and evening performance of choreographer Maria Caruso’s full-length contemporary ballet version featuring the school’s dance students and members of Bodiography Contemporary Ballet. The Pittsburgh Festival Orchestra and the Maestri Singers provide live accompaniment; Thomas Octave conducts. (Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org)
Nov. 10-11/ The House Music culture of the 1980s, with its synthesized bassline and repetitive beat, inspires the STAYCEE PEARL Dance Project’s “FLOWERZ,” a celebration of movement and electronic dance music that follows revelers through the upswing and downbeat of the nightclub party scene. Pearl, who immersed herself in the culture, provides choreography while DJ Herman Soy Sos Pearl, who produced House tracks, serves up the sound design. (Ace Hotel, 120 S. Whitfield St., East Liberty; 412/512-5088, pearlartsstudios.com)