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July: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

Check out some of the finest stage plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.




photo by Jessica Palopoli, courtesy San Francisco Playhouse, 2014-15 season
 

July 26-Aug. 12/ 12 Peers Theater continues its fascinating 2018 season with Stupid F**king Bird by Aaron Posner. The 2013 play, “sort of” based on Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” explores questions surrounding the creation of art. The seven characters are aware of “The Seagull,” but they’re also aware they’re in their own play in this fourth-wall breaking show. “It’s a bizarre, meta-commentary,” 12 Peers’ Artistic Director Vince Ventura says. “It lives in this weird, theatrical grey zone. We’re really in love with this piece.” (Richard E. Rauh Studio Theatre, 4200 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/626-6784, 12peerstheater.org)

July 6-22/ Imagine Puccini’s “La Boheme” set in Warhol’s loft. Or the story of Goldilocks set to music by Mozart in a special production for children and families. Not only that, but there’s also the first performance of a multi-year saga, the acclaimed Pittsburgh Ring Cycle. All this and more can be found at Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s summer season. (Most performances take place at Falk Auditorium, Winchester Thurston School, 555 Morewood Ave., Shadyside; 412/326-9687, pittsburghfestivalopera.org)

Various/ Pittsburgh CLO brings three very different shows to the Benedum this month. For a laugh-out-loud British experience, The Full Monty will run July 6 to 15. If you’re in the mood for a little whimsy, go home with Bonnie Jean in Brigadoon from July 17 to 22. If you want much more than this provincial life, relive some Disney magic with Beauty and the Beast from July 27 to Aug. 5. (Benedum Center, 237 Seventh St., Downtown; 412/456-6666, pittsburghclo.org)

July 27-28/ Get personal at the fifth year of WordPlay at Bricolage. The hybrid storytelling event features real people telling their own stories set to a personalized soundtrack. The storytellers are given a short rehearsal window then set loose on stage for an evening complete with a happy hour including games, drinks and mingling in the theater lobby. (Bricolage, 937 Liberty Ave., first floor, Downtown; 412/471-0999, bricolagepgh.org)
 


 


exhibit photo courtesy mbovu malinga
 

THROUGH JULY 29/ “As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world,” said Nelson Mandela, “none of us can truly rest.” The challenge of the late South African human-rights crusader finds expression through “Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs” at the Mattress Factory, featuring seven artists from Pittsburgh and South Africa.
“Each artist confronts racial politics using different mediums,” says curator Tavia La Follette, who has returned to the Mattress Factory for the latest in this series, “Sites of Passage,” in which she brings together American artists with their creative counterparts from countries facing human-rights crises. (Previous installments featured artists from Egypt and Israel/Palestine.) Among the South African participants is Asanda Kupa, whose painting and printmaking address his nation’s socio-economic equalities as well as abuses in the mining industry. Look also for Henry Alburtus, a sculptor using recycled materials; Mbovu Malinga, a performing artist specializing in theater and dance; and muralist Charlie Jansen. Representing Pittsburgh is documentary filmmaker Chris Ivey, whose focus includes gentrification as well as race and class; Alisha Wormsley, who works in photography, video and sculpture; and Ricardo Iamuuri Robinson, a composer and audio-visual artist. (Mattress Factory, 500 Sampsonia Way, North Side; 412/231-3169, mattress.org)

THROUGH AUG. 5/ When Richard Mellon Scaife left art from his collection to The Westmoreland Museum of American Art and the Brandywine River Museum of Art in his will, each selected its paintings through a round-robin process. “The Art of Giving: Selections from the Richard M. Scaife Bequest” showcases, for the first time, 50 pieces the museums now own and explores their collecting vision as well as Scaife’s. Enjoy such visual delights as Martin Johnson Heade’s “New Jersey Salt Marsh” and George Inness’ “Moonrise, Alexandria Bay” as well as works by Albert Bierstadt and John La Farge. William Holbrook Beard’s “Five Bears” is a real charmer, and Pittsburgh artist David Gilmour Blythe’s “Prospecting/Bullcreek City” is an oil painting in more ways than one — not only by the paint medium chosen but also through its depiction of the petroleum boom at fetid, fever pitch. (The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, 221 N. Main St., Greensburg; 724/837-1500, thewestmoreland.org)

THROUGH JULY 31/ This show is out of this world. Really! “Paintings of the Cosmos by Jerry Segal: I Am But Dust and Ashes, For My Sake the World Was Created” provides a kind of planetarium where we explore the cosmos with the telescopic eye of the artist. Segal’s vision has been inspired by not only by the latest scientific discoveries but also by 17th century Jewish teaching that envisions a paradox in which we humans are both utterly insignificant yet simultaneously at the center of the universe. (American Jewish Museum, Jewish Community Center, 5738 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill; 412/521-8010, jccpgh.org)
 
THROUGH JULY 22/ Summer is a time for road trips, but you only have to motor over to Carnegie Museum of Art to journey back in time to 19th century Japan. “Hiroshige’s Tōkaidō Road” brings together master printmaker Utagawa Hiroshige’s “Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō,” one of most celebrated ensembles of Japanese art. The prints were created between 1831 and 1834 as a travelogue showing the landmarks, landscapes and characters one might encounter on a trip from Edo (today’s Tokyo) to the imperial capital of Kyoto. The show also features other work by Hiroshige as well as information about the woodblock-printing process. (Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/622-3131, cmoa.org)
 


 


PHOTO BY MARK SIMPSON
 

July 19-22/ Texture Contemporary Ballet launches its eighth season with Unmeasured Rhythm, an evening of premieres. On tap (literally) is a 25-minute tap work from artistic director Alan Obuzor. The movement- and sound-driven piece is designed to showcase both the dance form and performers via a mix of a cappella and accompanied sections. The troupe of 18 also performs a ballet collaboration by Obuzor and Texture Associate Director Kelsey Bartman, plus a Rachmaninoff-inspired contribution from freelance choreographer Annalee Traylor. (New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side; 888/718-4253, textureballet.org)

July 7/ Choreographer, artistic director and dance educator Pearlann Porter encourages movement exploration from new creative voices via The Artist Incubator (June 16-July 7), an intensive workshop designed to mentor four participants in developing movement-based performance projects. Under the guidance of Porter and co-director John Lambert, locally based emerging artists Miriah Auth, Lauren Gerlowski, Gabrielle Hamilton and Ariel Xiu developed their presentations for an in-studio informal showing, Excerpts from the Incubator. (The Space Upstairs, 214 N. Lexington St., Point Breeze; 412/225-9269, thespaceupstairs.org)

July 21/ Dance educator Greer Reed, a master instructor of Horton modern dance technique and director of Reed II, a local youth ensemble, leads the annual StarMakers, a two-week arts intensive for students ages 9 to 12. The program allows participants to work closely with performing artists as they explore dance, acting and voice. It concludes with an informal showcase designed to provide performing experience in a professional theater environment. (Trust Arts Education Center, 805 Liberty Ave., Downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org)
 

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