Best of Culture: September

This month’s finest exhibits, dance, theater, lectures and more.



Action-Packed: The award-winning Streb Extreme Action Co., a Brooklyn-based troupe of nine dancing daredevils directed by Pop Action choreographer Elizabeth Streb, presents Streb: FORCES. The 90-minute showcase of don’t-try-this-at-home stunt work and athletic feats incorporates dance, boxing, rodeo and circus.

(Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., downtown; Sept. 28-29; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org, streb.org)  —Karen Dacko


By Robert Isenberg

South Park Theatre
Aug. 30-Sept. 15
Suppose a reasonable college professor started insisting that he was actually a 14,000-year-old caveman. What would compel such an otherwise reasonable teacher to dub himself Paleolithic? And how would his colleagues respond to such an outrageous claim? Screenwriter Jerome Bixby completed the screenplay for The Man from Earth on his deathbed in 1998. This stage adaptation by Richard Schenkman is a beautiful show about faith, evolution and friendship. South Park Theatre presents this eccentric story by one of the Twilight Zone’s most acclaimed writers.

(Brownsville Road and Corrigan Drive, South Park; 412/831-8552, southparktheatre.com)

PNC Broadway Across America
Sept. 4-23

They say you only live once — but if you’re one of the Four Seasons singers, you live on and on. Of all the jukebox musicals, few are more beloved than Jersey Boys, Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe’s homage to the 1960s super-group. Unlike cheesier shows in the genre, Jersey Boys shows the rise and fall of Frankie Valli and his cohorts. See how this beloved quartet became world-famous, got entangled with the mob and broke apart. PNC Broadway Across America presents this definitive touring production.

(Benedum Center, 719 Liberty Ave., downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org)

Little Lake Theatre
Sept. 6-22

Becky despises her life, but what can she do? She somehow stumbles into a millionaire, obtains a new set of wheels and vroom — she’s cruising cross-country in search of a new life. After 28 years of marriage, Becky deserves some time in the fast lane. Little Lake Theatre presents Becky’s New Car, a sweet on-the-road comedy by Steven Dietz, one of the most-produced playwrights in America.

(500 Lakeside Drive, Canonsburg; 724/745-6300, littlelake.org)

Playhouse REP
Sept. 7-23

What do you get when you cross an alcoholic poet, a paranoid woman with mouth cancer, a Native-American caregiver, a missing boat, a hunky sheriff and tons of illicit substances? How about August: Osage County, the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by Tracy Letts. But don’t let the heavy subject matter fool you: This epic play is remarkably funny. Coming at the heels of Terra Nova’s intrepid production, the Playhouse REP takes on Letts’ ultimate family tragedy. This jaw-dropping play makes subjects like incest and suicide about as darkly hilarious as they get.

(222 Craft Ave., Oakland; 412/392-8000, pittsburghplayhouse.com)


By Mike May

“Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture”
Sept. 15- Feb. 24

Health care has been in the national spotlight like never before, and here in Pittsburgh, our medical resources provide not only a source of international attention and local pride, but also a propellant for the regional economy. Offering additional insight into this permanent and dynamic aspect of contemporary culture is “Imperfect Health,” the U.S. premiere of an unusual exhibition at Carnegie Mellon University.

This show is driven by our age of medical anxiety — riddled with concerns ranging from diseases and pollution, to aging and epidemics. It proposes solutions and offers hope. “Architecture, urban design and landscape design are addressing these fears, incorporating medical issues and related concerns in their projects,” write curators Giovanna Borasi and Mirko Zardini. Ideas by architects, artists, designers and more have been assembled to present possible “cures,” including allergy-free gardens, better stewardship of natural resources, green building and more. Here’s to our health!

(Miller Gallery, Purnell Center for the Arts, CMU, Forbes Avenue, Oakland; opening reception: Sept. 14; 412/268-3618, millergallery.cfa.cmu.edu)

“Whistler & Rebellion in the Art World”
Through Dec. 2

What would his mother say? The defiance of artistic convention by James Abbot McNeill Whistler is the focus of this show assembled from Carnegie Museum of Art’s print collection.

(4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; cmoa.org)


By Karen Dacko

Ovre Arts Sinfonia
Sept. 8

This contemporary chamber ensemble forays into dance with the premieres of The Alkonost, Luke Mayernik’s two-act opus inspired by an ancient Russian legend, and Blake Ragghianti’s Infinity, a full-orchestra ballet featuring an orator and choir. The event will feature performances by Pearlann Porter’s post-modern jazz-dance troupe PillowProject and by Texture Contemporary Ballet, a classically trained ensemble directed by Alan Obuzor.

(CAPA auditorium, Ninth Street and Fort Duquesne Boulevard, downtown; ovrearts.org, pillowproject.org)

Corningworks
Sept. 12-16

The 2012 Glue Factory Project premieres The Life & Death of Little Finn, a collaborative dance-theater work developed by Beth Corning, director of Corningworks, and Marina Harris, co-director of Canada’s Company X Puppet Theater. Performed by three seasoned dance artists and six puppets, the hour-long production (appropriate for mature audiences) explores the human desire to be loved.

(Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, 10 Children’s Way, North Side; 412/441-3273, corningworks.org)

Kelly-Strayhorn Theater
Sept. 14-15

Via sketch comedy, spoken-word, video projections, animation, live music and dance, troupe Camille A. Brown and Dancers examines mainstream media’s stereotyping of African-American entertainers from minstrel show clichés to satirical game shows to a summating solo for Brown via Mr. Tol E. Rance.

(5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty; 412/363-3000, kelly-strayhorn.org)


By Kristofer Collins

The 3 Poems by ... Poetry Discussion Group
Sept. 13

Led by poet and librarian Don Wentworth, the group will discuss the work of a single poet at each monthly meeting. This time around, National Medal of Honor winner Gwendolyn Brooks is the poet of choice. Wentworth will lead guests in readings of the poems “We Real Cool”, “The Bean Eaters” and “The Chicago Defender Send a Man to Little Rock.”

(Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 7:30 p.m.; Free; 412/622-3114)

Black, White & Read All Over
Sept. 13 & 30

This lecture series is fun for the whole family, with a focus on bringing the top talents in children’s and young-adult literature to town. September offers a double-shot of programs:

»Wes Moore is a decorated combat veteran, Rhodes scholar and author of the memoir The Other Wes Moore, which The Baltimore Sun described as “startling and revelatory.” A revised book, titled Discovering Wes Moore, will be republished this month for a teen audience.

»Andrew Clements is the author of many young-adult novels, including Lunch Money, No Talking and, most famously, Frindle, the amusing story of a boy who creates a new word and the trouble it causes. Clements’ latest novel, About Average, is the tale of a young girl’s quest to discover a hidden talent that will make her special.

(Sept. 13: Hill House Kaufmann Center, 1835 Centre Ave., Hill District; 7pm $5-$10; pittsburghlectures.org)

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