Best of Culture in Pittsburgh in October

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


By Lauren Davidson

Oct. 12-20
Don Giovanni
In the midst of the #MeToo movement, “Don Giovanni” is a classic case of what not to do. The womanizing (to put it mildly) sexual predator (more accurate) title character will get a film-noir makeover in this Pittsburgh Opera production, where the costumes and set will be almost completely black and white and certain scenes will pay homage to classic ’40s and ’50s films such as “Double Indemnity” and “The Big Sleep.” Why would we want to watch such a story in 2019? Let’s just say the ending is satisfying. Expect all the trappings of a comic opera with mistaken identity and a little romance, and enjoy watching the title character taken down in style.
DOWNTOWN: Benedum Center, 237 Seventh St.

Through Oct. 12
Turn to Little Lake Theatre for a truly romantic notion: A love story set in Ireland with a couple who lost touch 35 years ago. After meeting on a James Joyce literary tour (like you do in Ireland), Robert and Cait lost touch. Watch them revisit their early days in Steven Dietz’s “Bloomsday,” directed by Sunny Disney Fitchett, whose family founded the theater in 1948.
NORTH STRABANE TOWNSHIP: 500 Lakeside Drive South

Oct. 17-Nov. 2
Blithe Spirit
Noel Coward’s hit comedy “Blithe Spirit” also takes the stage this month at Little Lake. Upper-class novelist Charles is haunted by the ghost of his first wife, Elvira, and subsequently the ghost of his second wife, Ruth. The spirit and human worlds collide — but can Charles escape his haunters?
NORTH STRABANE TOWNSHIP: 500 Lakeside Drive South

Oct. 18-27
Good Grief
What if the one who got away is abruptly taken away, leaving no second chance for words left unsaid or potential for rekindling? “Good Grief,” presented by Conservatory Theatre Company at Point Park, follows Nkechi, who learns her old friend MJ was killed in a car crash. We flashback to the pair’s youth in a small Pennsylvania town while witnessing Nkechi deal with her loss.
DOWNTOWN: Rauh Theatre, 350 Forbes Ave.

Through Nov. 3
Project Amelia
Bricolage presents an all-new immersive production with “Project Amelia.” Working in conjunction with coding and ethical design studio Probable Models, the theater company takes you to the fictional “Aura,” an innovative tech giant, to explore a new intelligence product. You and up to 60 audience members will interact with the cast to explore such issues as AI, data ownership and the impact of technology on our personal lives as well as society at-large.
SOUTH SIDE: Location Disclosed to Ticket Holders



By Mike May

Artist of the Year and Emerging Artist of the Year
The annual honors exhibition at Pittsburgh Center for Arts & Media has a special emphasis on sculpture this year. Artist of the Year Dee Briggs creates sculpture that ranges from small to supersized; a notable local example is “House of Gold.” The visually arresting conceptual work takes an abandoned Victorian residence and gilds its exterior as a public point to ponder in Wilkinsburg; Briggs lives and works in a former firehouse next door. (The studio came in handy for the 2018-19 Carnegie International as a place where artist El Anatsui could have his mammoth sculpture that covered the museum’s exterior fabricated.) Briggs, who earned a master of architecture degree at Yale, exhibits nationally, working in media such as metals, wood and concrete, creating minimalist sculptures that are often elegant and lyrical. At her Artist of the Year show, look for aspects of projects reflecting her commitment to Wilkinsburg. The award, established in 1949, celebrates the achievements of a local artist established in his or her field who has made significant and lasting contributions in the region. A concurrent exhibition features Saige Baxter, this year’s Emerging Artist of the Year, in her first solo show. Baxter transitioned from a painter to a sculptor with a focus is metal fabrication and welding. Her public commissions include an installation in Portugal and a massive abstract memorial in Greensburg remembering community leader Jennings Womack.
POINT BREEZE: Pittsburgh Center for Arts and Media, 6300 Fifth Ave.

A Celebration of Texture and Pattern
October is a perfect time to visit the Laurel Highlands and admire fall eye candy, and a colorful visual complement awaits at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier Valley. Local resident Barb Carroll has teamed up with the National Museum of the American Coverlet in nearby Bedford to create “A Celebration of Texture and Pattern: Hooked Rugs and Historic Coverlets.” Although basically utilitarian objects with roots in American folk-art traditions, their added dimensions provide visual delight for the modern eye.
LIGONIER: 1 Boucher Lane

“Continuum: Aspen Mays + Dionne Lee”
In this second of its “Continuum” series examining mentorships in contemporary photography, Silver Eye Center for Photography puts the spotlight on two San Francisco photographers: Aspen Mays (born 1980) and Dionne Lee (born 1988). Mays, who exhibits internationally, is an assistant professor of photography at California College of the Arts. Lee, a former pupil of Mays’, not only works in photography but also in collage and video to explore “ideas of power and racial histories in relation to the American landscape.”
BLOOMFIELD: 4808 Penn Ave.

“Art in Common”
See what’s happening artistically in central Pennsylvania at the annual juried show “Artists in Our Midst” at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona. Those chosen are members of Art in Common, an organization based in that area. Look for works in pastel, pencil, oil, watercolor, photography, clay, bronze and mixed media. Exhibition juror is Stuart Thompson, professor of art emeritus, at Seton Hill University.
ALTOONA: 1210 11th Ave.


By Karen Dacko

Oct. 23-27
The World as We Know It
Corningworks director and choreographer Beth Corning joins creative forces with five established women performers for The Glue Factory Project’s latest installment — “The World as We Know It by 6 Women of a Certain Age,” a dance-theater exploration of #MeToo and the glass ceiling phenomenon. Corning draws inspiration from a 2017 touring production created by Simone Ferro but interweaves connective choreography around six solos to effect a cohesive opus that showcases each performer’s artistry and independent creative voice. The cast at the New Hazlett Theater comprises Charlotte Adams of Charlotte Adams & Dancers; Heidi Latsky, director of Heidi Latsky Dance; Li Chiao-Ping, director of Li Chiao-Ping Dance; Endalyn Taylor, former principal dancer of Dance Theatre of Harlem; Ferro, The University of Wisconsin’s Dance Department Chair; and Corning.
NORTH SIDE: 6 Allegheny Square East

Oct. 25-27
The curtain ascends on Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 50th anniversary mainstage season with “Giselle,” an iconic two-act Romantic tragedy that has haunted international stages since its premiere at the Paris Opéra in 1841. Set in a vineyard village along the Rhine River in Germany and steeped in the lore of spectral maidens who died before their weddings, “Giselle” tells of a peasant girl in love with Albrecht, a disguised royal, who is betrothed to a noblewoman. Originally choreographed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot to a score by Adolphe Adam, the show’s moonlit graveyard scene has become a showpiece of virtuoso technique and endurance for the lead couple. Principal dancer Luca Sbrizzi concludes his 12-year PBT career in the role of Albrecht. The PBT Orchestra provides live accompaniment.
DOWNTOWN: Benedum Center, 237 Seventh St.

Oct. 10-13
Contemporary Choreographers
The students of Point Park University’s Conservatory Dance Company take to the stage in a showcase of new and existing works by award-winning and internationally lauded women choreographers. New York-based contemporary jazz artist Martha Nichols, director of Martha Nichols Dance, offers a premiere, while Yin Yue, founder of New York’s YY Dance Company and developer of FoCo dance technique, sets “Citizen” (2019), a physically demanding ensemble work examining influences and challenges in today’s political environment. Also on tap are contributions from Amy Hall Garner, an adjunct instructor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and The Pillow Project, in this show at the George Rowland White Performance Studio at Point Park.
DOWNTOWN: 201 Wood St.

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