Friday, March 24, 2017

Final performances of 'Virginia Woolf' at Pittsburgh's Cup-A-Jo Productions

Posted By on Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 10:04 AM

The folks who insisted to me that this staging of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a must-see — including two members of the local theater community who told me they saw it twice each — weren't kidding around.

From left: Hilary Caldwell, Joanna Lowe and Tom Kolos in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" - PHOTO COURTESY OF KEN KERR
  • Photo courtesy of Ken Kerr
  • From left: Hilary Caldwell, Joanna Lowe and Tom Kolos in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
By staging the show in the living room of a Point Breeze house, the small but ambitious Cup-A-Jo troupe puts you right in the action: At moments, the front row of the limited-seating audience had their knees a foot from the actors. Of course, the production must justify that kind of intimacy, and this one does. It's a tough, unsparing but ultimately empathetic — and highly entertaining — take on this monumental play, with director Everett Lowe drawing the best from his cast.

If you've only ever seen the iconic film adaptation (with Elizabeth Taylor), hustle on down. You'll discover whole new layers to Albee's play about one rough night between two married couples after an early-1960s college-faculty party — or at least (like me), you'll be reminded of the play's corrosive brilliance, as full of wordplay and humor as it is of harsh insight.

Here's Stuart Sheppard's formal review of the production for CP.

Virginia Woolf has two more performances, at 7:30 p.m. tonight and again tomorrow. You must reserve tickets by emailing or calling 412-334-3126; the address is revealed on reservation.

Tickets are $20-25 and must be paid for at the door by cash or check. For more info, see here.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Essay film 'Robopaths' to screen tomorrow at Glitter Box

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 2:21 PM

Everybody's talking about the roboticized future of autonomous cars and jobless humans. But what if another big danger were people becoming more like robots?

That's the question posed in a feature-length film by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE. The film, in turn, was inspired by the writings of sociologist Lewis Yablonsky, who wrote: "In a robopathic-producing social machine, conformity is a virtue. New or different behavior is viewed as strange and bizarre. 'Freaks' are feared. Originality is suspect."

tENT, a veteran experimental filmmaker, calls Robopaths a "pastiche film" that incorporates footage from everything from Stanley Milgram's infamous "obedience research" to clips from the 1953 cult classic The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, based on a story by Dr. Seuss.

Other reference points are Nazism and suicide bombers. For a rundown of some of the clips used, see here.

The film's first public screening is at 8 p.m. tomorrow at The Glitter Box Theater, the new space inside Oakland's Bloomcraft. Admission is $6.

The Glitter Box is located at 460 Melwood Ave.

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Tickets still left for tonight's 'Chad Deity' performance at Pittsburgh's barebones productions

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 12:53 PM

It's closing week for barebones' lively production of this unique, pro-wrestling-themed play at the Ace Hotel. But if you don't already have tickets, you'll need to go tonight, as Friday and Saturday's shows are sold out.

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity - PHOTO COURTESY OF LOUIS STEIN
  • Photo courtesy of Louis Stein
  • The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
The Obie-winning play, by Kristoffer Diaz, depicts a drama that plays out behind the scenes (and sometimes in the ring) of a fictional WWE-style wrestling league. The often-satirical story revolves around efforts to turn an Indian-American wrestler into a bearded and turbaned villain named "The Fundamentalist."

Here's Stuart Sheppard's review for CP.

The show, complete with pro-wrestling ring, is staged in the Ace's gym. barebones usually runs shows for three weekends, but had to limit Chad to two weekends because of prior bookings at the space.

Tickets are $35 and are available here.

The Ace Hotel is located at 120 S. Whitfield St., in East Liberty.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Program with renowned environmental artist Saturday at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art

Posted By on Thu, Jan 26, 2017 at 12:45 PM

Santa Fe, N.M.-based artist Andrea Polli, known locally for "Energy Flow" — the large-scale light installation on the Rachel Carson Bridge — gives a talk about how artists can help people visualize the environmental impact of their behavior.

Andrea Polli (center) and her "Energy Flow" on the Rachel Carson Bridge - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CARNEGIE MUSEUM OF ART
  • Photo courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art
  • Andrea Polli (center) and her "Energy Flow" on the Rachel Carson Bridge
The free, two-hour program in the museum’s Hall of Architecture is called Hack the Grid, and subtitled “A Conversation about Light, Energy, and Environmental Sensing, A Responsive Vision for Public Art.”

Polli will present and discuss the proposals made by teams of local artists, designers, architects, scientists and more whom she led in a five-day exploration of “creative visualization” based on Oakland’s locally famous Bellefield Boiler, or “cloud factory” (so nicknamed by novelist Michael Cabon in The Mysteries of Pittsburgh). The Boiler has long made the steam that heats most of Oakland's major institutions, including the Carnegie itself.

The teams will suggest ways to use the gas-fired Boiler as a site to help people understand data on matters like pollution, energy, weather and climate.

The problem the workshop means to address is that we typically lack visible proof of the damage done by environmental impact of such everyday actions as flipping a light switch. As press materials for the event ask, “What if each utility had a corresponding work of art, seen by everyone, that changed and morphed with our usage?”

Polli is one of four artists currently part of the Carnegie’s Hillman Photography Initiative. Her works include Energy Flow, which uses wind turbines installed on the Rachel Carson for last year’s Light Up Night to power a light installation which makes visual the amount of power the turbines produce. She also created "Particle Falls," the 2014 light installation projected on the side of Downtown's Benedum Center that made visible the amount of particulate matter in the air at any given moment.

Other permanent and building-scale works of Polli's are at the University of Utah and in San Jose, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Detroit; Philadelphia; Hagen, Germany; and Zagreb, Croatia. Her artwork has been featured in solo and group exhibitions around the world.

Hack the Grid runs from 1-3 p.m. on Sat., Jan. 28. A reception follows.

Admission is free but preregistration is suggested.

The Carnegie Museum is located at 4400 Forbes Ave., in Oakland.

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Final performances of “Between Riverside and Crazy” at Pittsburgh Public Theater

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 2:15 PM

Just five more performances remain of this fine production of last year’s Pulitzer winner for drama.

From left to right: Dawn McGee, Drew Stone and Eugene Lee in "Between Riverside and Crazy" - PHOTO COURTESY OF PITTSBURGH PUBLIC THEATER
  • Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Public Theater
  • From left to right: Dawn McGee, Drew Stone and Eugene Lee in "Between Riverside and Crazy"
The playwright, Stephen Adley Guirgis, is arguably the hottest in the country right now. Earlier plays of his to cause a stir on local stages in recent seasons include The Motherfucker With the Hat and Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (both at barebones theater); Our Lady of 121st Street (at Point Park’s Conservatory Theatre Co.); and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (at Throughline Theater Co.).

“Riverside” feels particularly incendiary at times. A retired, recently widowed cop is bitterly fighting a legal battle against the city while trying to hang on to his rent-controlled apartment and confronting his relationships with former police colleagues, his own ex-convict son, the son’s flighty girlfriend, unstable buddy and more.

Guirgis’ characters, as usual, inhabit a keyed-up world of salty humor and sudden violence, but the Public’s cast and crew ably bring out the script’s subtle emotions as well. It's a pungent mix of domestic drama, cop story, social commentary and sex comedy.

Here’s Ted Hoover’s review for City Paper.

Performances continue through this Sunday’s matinee.

Tickets are $15.75-56 and are available here.

The Public's O'Reilly Theater is located at 621 Penn Ave., Downtown.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Attack Theatre's "Unbolted"

Posted By on Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 4:15 PM

If you’re a dance fan in Pittsburgh, I probably don’t have to tell you about Attack Theatre. The city’s most tenured independent contemporary-dance company is also perhaps its most ubiquitous, with frequent site-specific shows, community performances, and collabos with other arts groups supplementing its own theatrical season.

Anthony Williams (foreground) rehearses Attack Theatre's "Unbolted" - PHOTO COURTESY OF RENEE ROSENSTEEL
  • Photo courtesy of Renee Rosensteel
  • Anthony Williams (foreground) rehearses Attack Theatre's "Unbolted"
But just in case you needed a reminder, the troupe’s latest full-length work served notice that Attack remains an important creative force in town, and arguably just keeps getting better. Unbolted is an ambitious yet accessible three-act show — as well as Attack’s first ever performed in the round, at its home base, at Pittsburgh Opera headquarters, in the Strip. (Here’s Steve Sucato’s preview for CP.)

Act one found the company’s five dancers interacting with each other and a couple of simple props — first a road map, and then an impossibly long piece of elastic line. In the second act, Kaitlinn Dann, Dane Toney, Anthony Williams, Ashley Williams and Sarah Zielinski played a very sophisticated game of musical chairs. And in the third (with inventive live accompaniment by percussionist Ian Green), the prop was a single huge chair, a work in aluminimum that after being assembled onstage stood 5 feet at seat level (with its backrest doubling that height).

As choreographed by co-artistic directors Michele de la Reza and Peter Kope, the group dances, duets and solos flowed beautifully to a soundtrack that ranged from dance-club beats to Appalachian fiddles and, in a recurring motif, what sounded like a soccer chant. Built from gesture and fleeting implied narratives, punctuated with moments of athleticism, the acts played out as a series of cinematic scenes – 90 minutes’ worth, broken up only by two short intermissions — that turned on a dime from antic to somber.

Unbolted’s four-performance run is over. (I saw the final showing, on Saturday night.) But keep it in mind when Attack returns with its next new show, in the spring.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Final Week for "The River" at Pittsburgh’s Quantum Theatre

Posted By on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 10:45 AM

When site-specific theater works well, it’s no gimmick: The real and the imaginary blend in ways that feed the themes of the play. That’s certainly the case with Quantum’s Pittsburgh-premiere production of this 2014 work by acclaimed British playwright Jez Butterworth, which runs through Sunday.

Siovhan Christensen and Andrew William Smith in "The River" - PHOTO COURTESY OF HEATHER MULL
  • Photo courtesy of Heather Mull
  • Siovhan Christensen and Andrew William Smith in "The River"
The site here is the boathouse of Aspinwall Riverfront Park, albeit amended: Onto the open mouth of the building’s giant door, Quantum has appended a sort of expressionist version of a rural fishing cabin whose principal conceit is the artificial brook that divides the wooden floor in half. (The audience sits indoors, and blankets are provided in case you feel chilled.) It’s the setting for an intermissionless series of scenes between a man and each of two women (none of the characters is named) whom he’s taken for a fly-fishing getaway.

Butterworth is a wonderful writer, but you can’t say too much more without giving away some of the pleasure of interpreting The River for yourself. Suffice it to say that the play name-checks Virginia Woolf and Ted Hughes, drops some fly-fishing science, and makes room for the real-time cleaning of a sea trout. And also that, when one character says, “It’s all trickery. It’a trick,” the subject might be fishing, theater or love.

Here’s Michelle Pilecki’s review for CP.

The River has six more performances, tonight through Sunday. Tickets are $38 and are available here. (A $56 option includes a hot boxed dinner.)

Aspinwall Riverfront Park (right on the banks of the Allegheny) is located at 285 River Road, in Aspinwall.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Associated Artists of Pittsburgh opens new-members’ show Saturday

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 6:18 PM

"Motherbird," a photograph by Joy Christiansen Erb - IMAGE COURTESY OF ASSOCIATED ARTISTS OF PITTSBURGH
  • Image courtesy of Associated Artists of Pittsburgh
  • "Motherbird," a photograph by Joy Christiansen Erb
"Desert Cranes," a hand-colored intaglio monoprint by Elizabeth Claire Rose - IMAGE COURTESY OF ASSOCIATED ARTISTS OF PITTSBURGH
  • Image courtesy of Associated Artists of Pittsburgh
  • "Desert Cranes," a hand-colored intaglio monoprint by Elizabeth Claire Rose
The Associated Artists of Pittsburgh holds an exhibit at the Mine Factory to showcase its newest members — those admitted during the spring screening or juried in for this year's annual, at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

The new show includes about 65 works by 35 participating artists include such widely exhibited local names as Ivette Spradlin, Clayton Merrell and Ed Parrish Jr. Other featured talents include Travis Mitzel, Andrew Allison, Elizabeth Claire Rose, Cristin Millett, Glen Gardner and Seth LeDonne.

The AAP, founded in 1910, is the oldest continuously exhibiting artist-membership organization in the U.S.

The New Members exhibit runs through Oct. 29.

The free opening reception will be help from 6-9 p.m. this Sat., Oct. 15. More info is here.

The Mine Factory is located at 201 N. Braddock Ave., in Point Breeze.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Review: CorningWorks’s "Remains" at the New Hazlett Theater

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 11:38 AM

The show, which wrapped this past Sunday, was Beth Corning’s thoughtful and poignant reboot of her 2013 one-woman dance-theater work.

  • Photo courtesy of C. Walsh Photography
  • Beth Corning in "Remains"
Remains is largely about how objects can spark the tenderest memories of those no longer with us. Britton Mauk’s set was built around an upstage wall of brown cardboard boxes from which Corning drew items of clothing (father’s shoes, mother’s coat) and even, with a sort of theatrical sleight-of-hand, which she entered, only to emerge with two halves of a full-sized dining-room table.

A recreation of a long-ago family dinner, in fact, is an early highlight, with Corning assuming multiple roles, mostly in pantomime. The sequence sets the tone for a series of imaginary reunions built around discovered objects, including a tete-a-tete inspired by two wine glasses, performed on a square of light on an otherwise darkened stage. The hour-long work is accompanied by concise texts projected on the brown-box backdrop, and by music from several composers, often featuring darting violin passages.

Corning originally developed Remains with Minneapolis-based, Tony-winning physical-theater director Dominque Serrand following the death of her mother and a close friend, and last year returned to work on it further after performing an excerpt in Sweden.

The payoff for Pittsburgh audiences in five performances last week (I attended on Saturday night) was solid, and came to a point with the moving final image of a meal prepared but not yet eaten, evoking both loss and the welcoming of new memories.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hollywood Theater in Dormont to screen two classic Gene Wilder films

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 12:47 PM

  • By Warner Brothers/Tandem Production (eBay) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
When word came earlier this week that actor Gene Wilder had died, folks took to social media to declare their affection for such classic Wilder films as Blazing Saddles, The Producers, Young Frankenstein, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

This holiday weekend, fans can honor Wilder's comic genius at the Hollywood Theater, in Dormont, which is screening Blazing Saddles, the 1974 Mel Brooks's cowboy caper, and 1971's adaptation of Roald Dahl's delightfully weird and nasty kids' book, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Blazing Saddles screens: 9:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 2; 4:30 p.m. Sun., Sept. 4; 9:30 p.m. Tue., Sept. 6; and 7 p.m. Wed., Sept. 7.

Willy Wonka screens: 7 p.m. Sat., Sept. 3; 2 p.m. Sun., Sept. 4; and 4 and 7 p.m. Mon,. Sept. 5.

UPDATE: Two other area theaters are running Wilder films in tribute.

Regent Square, in Edgewood, is showing Willy Wonka, at 8 p.m., Sun., Sept. 4, and The Producers, at 8 p.m. Sun., Sept. 11.

Row House Cinema, in Lawrenceville, has two screenings of Blazing Saddles on Sun., Sept. 11, at noon and 8 p.m.

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