An ad hoc group of performers is staging a curious sort of multimedia show tomorrow.
Starting at noon, in a nondescript building on Bigelow Boulevard, in Polish Hill, they’ll enact the stages of a single human life. Each hour of performance or screening time will cover several years of the life depicted.
Each of 12 artist groups is assigned an hour. The noon-1 p.m. slot covers birth to age 4; at 2 p.m. they’ll start working on ages 4 and 5; and so on.
Starting around 6 p.m., as tends to happens when we get older, things speed up, and they’ll cover a decade per hour.
It all ends, predictably enough, at midnight. But in between, there’ll be dinner (and other snacks), a wedding and, at 10 p.m., a dance party. (The latter is during the ages 65-74 sequence.)
The event has no formal title, but a press release also promises “storytelling … games, film screenings, a spelling bee, art-making … a mid-life crisis, an impossible task” and more.
In a phone interview today, organizer Christopher St. Pierre said that some of the hours are scripted plays (there’s one of those at 4 p.m., for instance), while others involve audience interaction. Performers include musicians from the band Lungs, Face, Feet.
Visitors can come and go at any time.
The venue is an art studio at 3577 Bigelow Blvd. It’s accessible from Bigelow if you’re westbound. But if you are eastbound, park on nearby Beethoven Street and walk up.
Admission is on a sliding scale of $5-10.
For more information, contact St. Pierre at 412-302-0248 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Four performances remain of this Pittsburgh-premiere production of a recent play about a Polish war atrocity little-known in the U.S.
Our Class, by Tadeusz Slobodzianek, is an artful docudrama that follows from childhood — and until death — a group of 10 classmates in the Polish village where, in 1941, Catholic villagers herded as many as 1,600 of their Jewish neighbors into a barn and set it on fire. Half the play's characters are Jews, half Catholics.
The show closes after Saturday’s performance. On Sunday, Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre sponsors a panel discussion titled “Good Neighbors/Bad Neighbors: How War & Conflict Change the Relationships Between Us.”
Panelists include none other than Jan Gross, the Polish historian who wrote Neighbors, the controversial 2000 book that was the basis for the play. Gross is now a history professor at Princeton University.
Other panelists include Penn State history professor Robert Szymczak; Pitt lecturer Anthony Novosel; Pitt psychology professor Edward Orchek; and Pitt associate professor of history Gregor Thum. The moderator is Dan Simpson, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist and former U.S. ambassador.
The discussion is at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Frick Fine Arts Building, on Pitt’s campus. Admission is free. A light reception and book sale follow.
For what it’s worth, I saw Our Class last night, and it’s sobering stuff that certainly provides plenty to talk about.
The play is an unblinking but not unsympathetic portrait of human weakness and human brutality. Slobodzianek shows how anti-Semitism and other social fissures were part of the classmates’ lives from an early age. (“The things you learn when you’re young stay with you your whole life,” says one character, now elderly, late the in play, without irony.) But these traits only achieved fullest and most terrifying expression under the stresses of consecutive occupations by the Soviets and the Nazis.
The play scores hypocrisy, especially the religious kind, but implicitly asks audience members how they would act under similar circumstances (assuming we could even imagine ourselves in them).
While it’s hard to view a few characters as anything but villains, and a couple as anything but victims, the lion’s share exist on the same plane most of us do, sometimes laudable, often not. It is startling to learn in the program book that some of the real people who inspired these characters, perpetrators and near-victims both, were still living past the turn of the millennium.
Here's Ted Hoover's review of the play for CP.
An idea new to Pittsburgh, community-supported art, has spurred two initiatives to launch practically at once. You can preview the art on offer at tonight's Gallery Crawl.
The concept is modeled on community-supported agriculture, in which shareholders in local farms get a weekly box in season of farm products. CSAs help farmers because it provides them with cash before the growing season, when they need it most.
Artists, as it happens, can use money upfront, too.
The New Hazlett’s Community Supported Art program — music, theater and dance. Shares cost $100, and shareholders gain admittance to six original performances at the theater — one every other month for a year starting in August.
Learn more about the artists and the program here.
The New Hazlett started selling shares this morning and had already sold eight by early afternoon, theater executive director Rene Conrad tells CP. She said the theater hopes to sell 300 shares.
Meantime, CSA PGH is offering physical artworks, from prints and sculptures to CDs. CSA PGH shares are $350 in exchange for six limited-edition artworks to be delivered to shareholders this summer. Learn more about the artists here.
CSA PGH starts selling shares next Tuesday. Only 50 will be sold. Casey Droege, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh assistant professor who spearheaded the project, tells CP she’s confident they’ll sell out quickly.
Several artists from both the New Hazlett CSA and CSA PGH will be at 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown, as part of tonight’s Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Gallery Crawl.
Look for more coverage of the art CSAs in an upcoming CP.
You might have seen them amazing the host on Letterman — Mark Hayward using a yo-yo to light a match stuck betweeen Jonathan Burns’ teeth. Or maybe you’ve heard of Stunt Lab, their well-reviewed comedy show that’s played New York City.
Mark & Jonathan's Fireside Chat is a vaudeville/talk-show hybrid Hayward describes as “Ed Sullivan meets Johnny Carson.” Basically, they’ll host guest performers, then interview them about their work.
Friday’s two performances of Fireside Chat feature Cleveland-based magician Michael Kent and local musical-comedy troupe Bait & Switch. Also on the bill are comedy commercials from the resident Arcade Comedy Theater.
Hayward and Burns are longtime solo performers who recently teamed up. (Basically, as you can see in the photo, Burns is the goofy one, Hayward the serious one.)
Hayward is a top yo-yo artist and juggler who in addition to The Late Show with David Letterman has been on America’s Got Talent. Burns is a contortionist who’s had gigs around the world.
Their best-known collaboration might be Stunt Lab, which The New York Times called “extremely funny.” The show involves the pair using an array of everyday items — garbage bags, whipped cream, marshmallows, rat traps — to create comedic stunts.
Fireside Chat premieres with two performances Friday, at 8 and 10 p.m. Tickets are just $5-10.
Arcade Comedy Theater is at 811 Liberty Ave., Downtown.
After 44 years at the University of Pittsburgh, the man who founded the school’s theater department is retiring.
The lecture, titled “The Last Class,” delves into a favorite Favorini topic: memory and the work of “memographers,” a word he coined to describe anyone who explores that terrain.
Favorini is a former New Yorker who joined Pitt’s faculty in 1969, after earning a doctorate in the history of theater at Yale. He was later named head of the school’s Division of Theatre Arts, which in 1982 became the Department of Theatre Arts, with Favorini as founding chair.
He chaired the department from 1982-92, and again from 1999-2006, and has served since as director of graduate studies in theater arts. But Favorini is perhaps best known to the theater-going public as a playwright and as longtime director of the Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival, which he founded in 1980. The festival ran for 13 seasons.
Favorini’s own plays often explored Pittsburgh history. His Steel/City (1976) looked at the corporate giants who founded the steel industry as well as at its workers. In the Garden of Live Flowers (2001), written with Lynne Connor, was about Rachel Carson. And 2012’s docudrama The Gammage Project explored the death of black motorist Jonny Gammage while in the custody of five white police officers. Favorini’s plays have been performed both locally and in other cities.
At Pitt, his accomplishments also include creation of the Teaching-Artist-in-Residence program for visiting faculty members. He also oversaw construction of Pitt’s Henry Heymann Theatre, located in the basement of the Stephen Foster Memorial, and a key venue for Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre (whose presence as the professional theater-in-residence there Favorini helped secure). And Shakespeare-in-the-Schools has provided in-school performances to more than 100,000 area students for more than two decades, according to a Pitt press release.
Favorini is also an editor and author. His works include the 2008 book Memory in Play: From Aeschylus to Sam Shepard.
Favorini’s retirement is official with the end of the spring semester. He says that during retirement he’ll focus on writing plays.
“I think I’m finished with the research part of my professional life and I’m going to direct more attention to the creative side,” he said in a phone interview with CP today.
Favorini delivers his lecture “The Last Class” at 4 p.m. tomorrow.
The event, meant to introduce local writers to the community, will be held May 4 at — of course — Bruster’s Ice Cream of Ingomar, 9600 Perry Highway. What goes better with literature than ice cream?
As of last week’s announcement, Sauret said nine other other authors would be tabling at the Saturday-evening event, but more are welcome. While any published local author with a physical book to sell is eligible, Sauret says he is wrapping up the roster this week. There is no tabling fee.
Refreshments will be available (and not just ice cream). A percentage of Bruster’s sales during the event will benefit the Northland Public Library.
Interested authors should contact Marta Greca at email@example.com.
Sauret is the author of 2012 short-story collection Amidst Traffic.
On April 7, 1968, three days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., residents of Pittsburgh's Hill District peacefully marched through the city, mourning the civil-rights leader's death.
Pittsburgh's nonviolent response came as public reaction to King's assassination was marked by intense riots in dozens of major cities, including Chicago and Los Angeles.
Informed of the potential for the march to become violent, freelance photographer, Charles R. “Chuck” Martin — who then worked as a photographer for United Way — walked across the Sixth Street Bridge, from the North Side, to shoot photos of the rally.
“The only thing anyone was talking about that day was the assassination. It felt like such a significant moment in history and it needed to be documented,” says Martin, now 85.
Armed with a pocket full of film and two cameras around his neck, Martin took more than 120 photos, documenting the peaceful demonstration.
Now, 45 years later, Martin has donated his entire collection negatives and black-and-white photos to the University of Pittsburgh. And tomorrow, Pitt hosts "MLK Jr. Pittsburgh March: Through the Lens of Charles Martin," displaying Martin’s photographs from that day.
The event, held in the Dick Thornburgh Room of the Hillman Library, will feature talks from Michael Dabrishus, Pitt’s assistant University librarian; Laurence Glasco, a Pitt professor of history; and Martin himself.
Pitt Library Communications Manager Crystal McCormick-Ware says few people would otherwise see these photos.
"When we received the collection, we were just ecstatic,” McCormick-Ware said.
Martin says he donated his images to the university’s library because so much of his work was in Allegheny County, and it seemed natural to want to preserve his photos at Pitt.
Twelve of Martin’s photos from the April 7, 1968, march will be on display inside the library, on the ground floor, through summer. Friday’s event runs 10-11 a.m.
Martin says it is important to recognize the events of 1968 in honoring Pittsburgh’s civil-right history.
“One of the last photos in the set is a pair of clenched hands — one black, one white — and the sign for Centre Avenue in the background. How it ought to be.”
Performer Ben Sota’s troupe — now 10 years old! — is doing a cute little show called “Cake” as its first Pittsburgh performance in a bit. It’s performed for free, outdoors in Market Square, Downtown, through Sunday.
Sota (as the dad) does some nice juggling and other tricks; Erin Carey some fine trapeze work (that’s her pictured, and bundled up); and Becca Bernard (as the birthday girl) and Bob Shryock contribute clowning and other talents, plus audience—participation hijinks. Cream pies are also involved.
The half-hour show had it first performance at noon today. I caught the 5 p.m. performance; the audience was just a couple dozen but appreciative (even if the applause was somewhat muffled by mittens).
“Cake” is on courtesy of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. There are six more performances, at noon, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. tomorrow, and 2, 5 and 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Four notable zine-makers visit The Big Idea Cooperative Bookstore & Café on Wednesday night.
The Thank You For Being A Friend Zine Tour includes Taryn Hipp, JC, Kerri Radley and Sarah Rose.
Hipp, of New Jersey, calls herself “an old tattooed college lady who has been making zines for more than half her life.” Her current project is Sub Rosa, a collection of personal stories.
JC, who lives in Maryland, writes Tributaries, a perzine about growing up with rheumatoid arthritis.
Radley, of Philadelphia, writes the perzine Deafula, about her life as a deaf person.
And Rose, also of Philadelphia, puts out Tazewell’s Favorite Eccentric, about everything from surviving sexual abuse to making balloon animals for a living. Rose is also an organizer for Philly Zine Fest.
The tour (yes, the name’s a Golden Girls reference) hits Big Idea from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday. The joint’s at 4812 Liberty Ave., in Bloomfield.
The show’s in a new venue for the Opera Theater, The Father Ryan Arts Center, in McKees Rocks.
The 1993 opera dramatizes events between 1903 and 1914 — pre-Fallingwater — as the legendary architect decides to leave his wife and children, including the storied murders and fire at Taliesen.
The opera features music by lauded American composer Daron Hagen and a libretto by Paul Muldoon, the Pulitzer-winning Irish poet. The Opera Theater production — which will get a full run at this year’s SummerFest, in July — will be staged by the troupe’s artistic director, Jonathan Eaton.
The cast of five includes Pittsburgh area native Kevin Kees as Wright and Lara Lynn Cottrill as Wright's lover, Mamah Cheney.
The show is at 7 p.m. tomorrow, at The Father Ryan Arts Center, 420 Chartiers Ave., in McKees Rocks.
Tickets are $9, or $19 for VIP seating. Call 412-771-3052 for more info.