August: 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 quantum theatre

 

 Aug. 5-28/ Quantum Theatre returns to the Jennie King Mellon Rose Garden in Mellon Park to present Peribañez by Lope de Vega. Although de Vega was not as well known as his English contemporaries Shakespeare and Marlowe, he composed hundreds of plays in his native Spain. In Peribañez, a newlywed couple’s joy is jeopardized when the new army commander falls in love with the young Casilda. She resists his advances with the help of her husband, but before long all three are pushed to their limits. De Vega frequently confronted themes considered controversial in the 1600s, including the class and gender roles that appear in Peribañez. Quantum presents an entire Spanish summer experience with complimentary cultural bites and live folk music for the outdoor performances. (Mellon Park, Shadyside; 412/362-1713, quantumtheatre.com)

Aug. 5-28/ Don’t miss the first-ever chance to see August Wilson’s Seven Guitars performed in its original imagined setting: the backyard of Wilson’s childhood Hill District home. Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company founding and producing artistic director Mark Clayton Southers will direct the Tony- and Pulitzer-nominated tragicomedy that debuted in 1995. “Seven Guitars” marks the 1940s in Wilson’s 10-play “Century Cycle,” nine of which are set in Pittsburgh. It follows blues musician Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton, an ex-con who must face his past and his future as a record deal appears in his path and attempts to change life as he knows it. (1727 Bedford Ave., Hill District; 412/377-7803, pghplaywrights.com)

Aug. 26-Sept. 4/ Front Porch Theatricals presents the musical Floyd Collins, based on a true story of a dreamer in 1920s Kentucky. Floyd Collins has grand ambitions to turn a cavern into a tourist attraction, but his plans go horribly awry as he finds himself trapped 200 feet below ground. With music and lyrics by Adam Guettel and book by Tina Landau, the show follows the media frenzy that erupts as the nation awaits Floyd’s fate. (New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side; 888/718-4253, frontporchpgh.com)
 


PHOTOS COURTESY CMOA

 

Through Aug. 28-29/ The Hall of Architecture at the Carnegie Museum of Art provides the dramatic backdrop for Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads (through Aug. 29). These dozen 10-foot-high, 2,000-pound bronze sculptures created by internationally recognized artist Ai Weiwei bring to life the characters of the traditional Chinese zodiac: snake, ox, dragon, dog, ram, tiger, horse, rat, rabbit, pig, rooster and — last but not least — monkey (this is the Year of the Monkey).

For inspiration, Ai, a dissident critical of the regime in his native China, referenced and re-imagined similar figures that once graced a fountain clock of Yuanming Yuan, an imperial retreat the British destroyed in 1860. “It’s about the future and the past and how China is looked at today and how it looks at itself,” says Ai. “It has many, many different layers: Is it art or not art, and to what degree?”

The setting, a cavernous space filled with the plaster casts of important works of European architecture and sculpture, adds more layers to the discussion Ai Weiwei generates. But everything old isn’t necessarily new (or novel) again here, at least in terms of Ai and exhibition space: Last year he created several site-specific installations in San Francisco at Alcatraz Island, including in the former penitentiary.

Across town and in a different kind of space with a different kind of take, find Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei at The Andy Warhol Museum (through Aug. 28). Using all seven floors of the building, this show explores the dynamic vision of the duo and their effect on art and contemporary life. That includes Warhol’s influence on the 20th century, seen by some as the American Century, and Ai’s emerging influence on the 21st, predicted by some to be the Chinese Century. (Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/622-3131, cmoa.org. The Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky St., North Shore; 412/237-8300, warhol.org)
 


photo by RICK KLIEN

 

Aug. 20-21/ A floating, custom-fabricated platform transforms one of Pittsburgh’s three rivers (at a yet-to-be-determined spot) into a performance venue for Synchronized Swim 2016, an outlet for interactive movement and dance presentations. The Drift, an artist-run organization dedicated to using the rivers as sites for creative projects, has launched the new, free performance series. It features movement-based works by Slowdanger’s multidisciplinary artists Taylor Knight and Anna Thompson and dancer/choreographer Anthony Williams with painter D.S. Kinsel. (304/685-8241, the-drift.org
 


photo by rich Sofranko

 

Aug. 21/ Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre steps onto the stage at Hartwood Acres with four new hires among the ranks. Yuto Ideno, originally from Japan, joins the corps de ballet, while PBT School Graduate Program alumna Daniela Moya, Amanda Potts and Victoria Watford debut as apprentices. Programming includes excerpts from the pirate adventure “Le Corsaire” (1856), a tale of love and danger. (Hartwood Acres Amphitheater, Middle Road, Hampton Township; 412/281-0360, alleghenycounty.us/special-events/summer-concert-series.aspx, pbt.org)

Aug. 20/ Reed Dance Intensive, directed by founding artist director Greer Reed, conducts a two-week technique workshop for teens and adults culminating in a performance showcase. The program includes works by hip-hop instructor Tuluv Price, a Washington, D.C.-based choreographer, and modern-dance teacher Antonio Brown, a member of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. (August Wilson Center for African American Culture, 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown; 412/334-5638)

Aug. 19/ The Duquesne University Tamburitzans, rechristened The Tamburitzans after an amicable separation from the school, are forging an independent path as a nonprofit corporation. But the music and dance ensemble, founded in 1937, continues to celebrate international cultural heritages and foster cultural exchange. Known for preserving eastern European traditions, the reorganized troupe now embraces other cultures, reflective of American diversity. (South Park Amphitheater, 1950-1998 McCorkle Road, South Park Township; thetamburitzans.org)
 

 

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