Pittsburgh's Best Cultural Events of October

Here are some of the finest plays, dance performances, exhibits and events to take in this month in Pittsburgh.

photo by Chuck Beard

Apparently the Carrie Furnace may be haunted by more than the historical memory of a cherished regional identity — staff members have reported strange sights, and Ghosts n’at Paranormal Adventures (an apparition expedition crew) claims to have documented paranormal activity. Now Steve Gonsalves, Dave Tango and Brett McGinnis of the popular SyFy show Ghost Hunters have agreed to visit the old mill to look for ghosts. The public is invited to tag along for the hunt, followed by a lecture and a Q&A session. [Ohio Street, Rankin; Oct. 2; ghostsnat.com] — Eric Lidji


photo by Carrie Anne Kelly

Society for Contemporary Craft, Through March 12/ This thought-provoking show, Mindful: Exploring Mental Health Through Art, demonstrates Society for Contemporary Craft’s emerging commitment to explore serious issues and push the boundaries and horizons of craft and art — as it did in 2014 with “Enough Violence: Artists Speak Out.” Through the forum of “Mindful,” the pain and challenges of mental illness for the individual and society are explored through more than 40 works created by 14 contemporary artists in a wide variety of media. “Mindful” includes the exhibition as well as a series of programs and events with a goal of breaking down stigmas and inspiring understanding. [2100 Smallman St., Strip District; 412/261-7003, contemporarycraft.org]

photo courtesy of Hetain patel

Cultural District, Through Dec. 31/ Big, culturally rich and often viewed as exotic and mysterious by Westerners, an ancient Asian land is celebrated through the lens of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s India in Focus. Dance and music performances as well as visual-art exhibitions are among the highlights of this major event with several participating venues downtown. Note: Shows began on Sept. 25, but ending dates vary. Namaste! [412/471-6070, trustarts.org/india]

Chris Antemann in collaboration with MEISSEN®, Tempted to Taste (detail), 2013 © MEISSEN COUTURE®

Frick Art Museum, Oct. 3-Jan. 10/ Forbidden Fruit: Chris Antemann at Meissen breaks the mold, so to speak, when it comes to reinventing a distinguished tradition in porcelain. Antemann, who grew up in Johnstown, spent several years working at Germany’s famous Meissen porcelain manufacturing facility. Putting a new twist on rococo traditions, she creates fresh porcelain fantasies that pay homage to the past but add new dimensions to iconic subjects such as flirtation and seduction and even traditional gender roles. As a complement to the show, Antemann is curating a mini-exhibit of porcelain that she selected from the Frick’s permanent collection. It will be displayed in the 18th-century French salon period room, open for the first time since 2003. [Frick Art & Historical Center, 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze; 412/371-0600, thefrickpittsburgh.org]

Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, Ongoing/ A new place, more space, an inaugural event and a special exhibit are among the reasons to visit the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh this month. The new facility, which opened in August, provides greater opportunities for the center to serve its mission as “a living memorial and a comprehensive resource center to convey the contemporary relevance of the atrocities of the Holocaust and its lessons.” The public grand opening is set for 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18 and will include the premiere of “In Celebration of Life: Living Legacy Project,” a special show honoring the region’s survivors of the Holocaust. [826 Hazelwood Ave., Squirrel Hill; 412/421-1500, holocaustcenterpgh.org]


Photo by joan marcus

PNC Broadway Across America, Oct. 27 – Nov. 1/ You may be a bigger Carole King fan than you realize. Long before the 1971 release of “Tapestry,” her breakthrough solo album as a singer/songwriter featuring such pop classics as “It’s Too Late” and “I Feel the Earth Move,” King had written or co-written dozens of Billboard chart toppers made famous by other recording artists. Among them: ”Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” “Up on the Roof,” “One Fine Day” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Nominated for multiple honors and winner of the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical will amaze you with the story of how a teenage, piano-playing prodigy of the 1950s evolved into America’s first female songwriting megastar. [Benedum Center, 237 Seventh St., downtown; 412/456-4800, trustarts.org]

City Theatre Company, Oct. 10 – Nov. 1 and Oct. 3-4/ In Conor McPherson’s riveting drama, The Night Alive, divorced dad Tommy has little time — or means — for heroics. Barely scraping by as a handyman, he’s also the sometime keeper of his hapless (and borderline homeless) helper, Doc. And yet, when Tommy reaches out to a bloodied young woman on a routine trip to buy chips, her broken life and violent boyfriend provide an unlikely route to redemption. Also: don’t forget to catch the public performances of the Young Playwrights Festival Oct. 3 and 4 at City Theatre. More than 350 local budding middle and high school-aged dramatists submitted plays, and only three from each age group were selected. [City Theatre, 1300 Bingham St., South Side; 412/431-2489, citytheatrecompany.org]

Pitt Theatre Arts, Oct. 22 – Nov. 1/ Real and online worlds share the stage en route to a high-stake collision in the haunting area premiere of Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegria Hudes, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Disabled Iraqi veteran Elliot struggles with the ghosts that hound him from the war to build a productive life. Meanwhile his estranged birth mother Odessa — a recovering crack abuser — serves as the unifying force in an online support group for fellow addicts. When the aunt who raised him dies of cancer, Elliot’s haywire grief and resentment wreak new havoc on already embattled lives. Actual and cyber “family” cross over to help mend the gashes. [Henry Heymann Theatre, Stephen Foster Memorial, 4301 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/624-7529, play.pitt.edu]


photo by duane rieder

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Oct. 23-25/ Jirí Kylián’s Sinfonietta (1978), a fluid and romantic modern ballet for seven couples, derives inspiration from composer Leos Janácek’s score. It highlights a triple bill that includes William Forsythe’s “In the middle, somewhat elevated” (1987), a minimalist work for nine set to pulsating electronic music, and George Balanchine’s paean to the Old West — “Western Symphony” (1954). [Benedum Center, 237 Seventh St., downtown; 412/456-6666, pbt.org]

Fresh Works, Oct. 9/ An initiative of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, this educational residency program affords local artists with resources for developing new works. For this work-in-progress showing, Slowdanger’s Anna Thompson and Taylor Knight offer memory 4, a sound-and-movement exploration of the impact of memories on experiences and relationships. [Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave., Friendship; 412/363-3000, kelly-strayhorn.org]

photo by nan melville

Nrityagram Dance Ensemble, Oct. 3/ The internationally lauded troupe from Bangalore, India, presents Samyoga: An Ode to Love, an exploration of love from the male and female perspectives. Known for infusing the sculpture-inspired Odissi dance form with contemporary interpretations, leading dancers Surupa Sen and Bijayini Satpathy embody gods and mortals to live vocal and instrumental accompaniment. [Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., downtown; 412/456-6666, trustarts.org]

Hillman Performing Arts Series, Oct. 17/ Grammy-winning musicians and an all-star troupe of street and contemporary dancers celebrate the artistic legacy of the moon-walking Michael Jackson, who died in 2009, in King Michael: A Glorious Tribute to the King of Pop. This multimedia extravaganza that emulates his unique musical and superb dance talents includes performances of his chart-toppers “Billie Jean,” “Thriller” and “Beat It.” [Hillman Center for Performing Arts, Shady Side Academy, 423 Fox Chapel Road, Fox Chapel; 412/968-3040, shadysideacademy.org]

Categories: Things To Do