Pittsburgh's Best Cultural Events of November
Check out some of the finest plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.
by ELVIRA DiPAOLO-HOFF
Bricolage, Oct. 29-Nov. 14/ Bricolage has expanded its seating capacity just in time for the seventh installment of its widely popular Midnight Radio series: an adaptation of George Orwell’s eerie masterpiece 1984, in which Big Brother always is watching. If you’re not familiar with the series’ format, you sit in-studio as a cast of five versatile actors and three musicians create the plethora of voices and sound effects needed to present Orwell’s spine-chilling thriller in the style of a classic 1940s radio show — complete with commercials. Don’t let the word “midnight” throw you off — shows start at 8 p.m., with a pre-show happy hour at 7:30 p.m. featuring “Big Brother-sanctioned” amusements you won’t want to miss.
[Bricolage, 937 Liberty Ave., downtown; 412/471-0999, bricolagepgh.org]
Quantum Theatre, Nov. 20-Dec. 6/ A quarter-century ago, Quantum Theatre Founding Artistic Director Karla Boos sought support to develop her own signature brand of theater-making. She got it in the form of longtime friend, board member and avid fan, Gerri Kay. Now, on the occasion of the company’s silver anniversary, Boos is giving back by introducing the Gerri Kay New Voices Program, which will devote one production each season to the work of emerging artists. The inaugural slot goes to Chickens in the Yard by Pittsburgh’s Hatch Arts Collective: writer Paul Kruse, director Adil Mansoor and producer Nicole Shero. In true Quantum mode, the story — one of two lovers waffling on the precipice of a permanent commitment — is punctuated by moments of startling theatricality you have to see to believe.
[Javo Studios, 5137 Holmes St., Lawrenceville; 412/362-1713, quantumtheatre.com]
Prime Stage Theatre Company, Oct. 30-Nov. 8/ Prime Stage Theatre opens its 19th season of “bringing literature to life” with Arthur Miller’s Tony-winning classic The Crucible. Written during the era of McCarthyism and based on the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692, the play tells the story of upright citizens John and Elizabeth Proctor, who fall prey to their jealous servant Abigail. After being fired for seducing John, Abigail rouses the ire of the town’s theocratic rulers when she seeks revenge through black magic. She sets off a tragic, wildfire witchhunt that eventually drives the repentant John to fess up and restore sanity to the crazed town — and his tortured soul. Take in the discounted preview Oct. 30, or celebrate Halloween at the official opening Oct. 31 — there’s a costume contest.
[New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side; 412/320-4610, primestage.com]
by mike may
Light construciton I (1984) by jane haskell
AMERICAN JEWISH MUSEUM, Through Feb. 19; CARNEGIE MUSEUM OF ART, Nov. 7-Feb. 22/ The spotlight shines on Jane Haskell, whose fascination with and exploration of light as an integral element of her art helped to define her style and legacy. Two shows provide duel perspective and retrospective for the multifaceted Haskell (1923–2013), whose credentials ranged from artist to collector and patron and advocate for art. Essential to enlightenment is Jane Haskell: Drawing in Light, curated by Vicky A. Clark and Melissa Hiller at the American Jewish Museum. With about 30 sculptures, paintings and drawings, this exhibit surveys her creative journey. A mentor, the legendary Samuel Rosenberg, inspired Haskell to consider light, which eventually included fluorescent and neon, as an artistic medium — one she embraced and cultivated within her evolving palette. As the second component in its salute to Modernism, Carnegie Museum of Art launches Jane Haskell’s Modernism: A Pittsburgh Legacy, organized by Katie Clausen and Costas Karakatsanis. A complement to the AJM show, “Legacy” focuses on Haskell’s art as well as her influence. As a CMA board member, she helped to guide the museum’s acquisitions and bolster its collection in abstract art, including examples by Picasso and Kandinsky. Also, you’ll see examples of the art Haskell admired and collected and commissioned for her home. Haskell believed light is essential to life. May the memory of her life — and light — live on.
[American Jewish Museum, Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh, 5738 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill, 412/521-8010, jccpgh.org; Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland, 412/622-3131, cmoa.org]
MATTRESS FACTORY, Through May 31/ The Halloween season is an especially good time to visit Factory Installed. Multimedia artist Marnie Weber has created a ghost train with spirit effigies for her installation exploring the subconscious, one of three making up the second installment of a two-part show that premiered earlier this year. Three other artists — Rob Voerman, who transforms found materials into post-apocalyptic structures, Lisa Sigal, who pushes the boundaries of painting beyond the canvas, and Bill Smith, who builds technology-inspired art on a foundation inspired by nature’s complex structure and beauty — also were selected to unleash their imaginations and fill large empty rooms with the results.
[Mattress Factory, 500 Sampsonia Way, North Side; 412/231-3169, mattress.org]
by KAREN DACKO
photo by eduardo patino
The Dancing Dozen, Nov. 10/ An offshoot of New York’s Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the internationally lauded Ailey II features a dozen powerhouse dancers and a repertory of works by trend-setting choreographers and long-time A-listers including Robert Battle, Dwight Rhoden and the legendary Ailey.
[August Wilson Center for African American Culture, 980 Liberty Ave., downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org]
Aakash Odedra Company, Nov. 6/ In Rising (2011), award-winning British dancer and choreographer Aakash Odedra performs four solos created specifically for him by internationally known choreographers. Each piece draws on his training in contemporary dance as well as in classical East Indian Kathak and Bharatanatyam dance styles. [Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org]
Mystic India: The World Tour, Nov. 8/ Authentic East Indian and Western dance styles combine into a Bollywood extravaganza celebrating the country’s cultural history and the development of its film industry. The production features dancers, aerialists, acrobats and musicians outfitted in 750 custom-designed costumes.
[Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org]
Attack Theatre, Nov. 13-14/ Following 10 months of research, the troupe premieres Remainder|Northside, an hour-long contemporary dance production inspired by the relationship between young North Side residents and their environs, including the landscape and public art. The performance features five dancers and live musical accompaniment.
[New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side; tickets at the door, attacktheatre.com]
Bill Shannon, Nov. 13-14/ Incorporating crutches and skateboards, award-winning multidisciplinary artist Bill Shannon, born with a degenerative hip condition, has proven there are no limitations to creativity. The Brooklyn-based street performer offers excerpts from his repertory and from “Stay-Up,” his newest project.
[Kelly-Strayhorn Theater’s Dance Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave., Friendship; 412/363-3000, kelly-strayhorn.org]
La Roche College, Nov. 20-21/ George Frideric Handel’s The Messiah (1741) meets contemporary ballet in choreographer (and dance program director at LaRoche College) Maria Caruso’s interpretation of the three-part English language oratorio. The Mæstri Singers and the Pittsburgh Festival Orchestra will join students and professional dancers from Caruso’s Bodiography Contemporary Ballet company.
[Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org]