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Unseam'd does "Shakespeare in the Raw," PICT mines for art and City gains Momentum with readings

A play by Jonatha Brooke gets a reading at City Theatre's Momentum.

A play by Jonatha Brooke gets a reading at City Theatre's Momentum.

The phrase "Shakespeare in the Raw" might conjure graphic scenes from Macbeth or Titus Andronicus, but Unseam'd Shakespeare Company is interested primarily in historical authenticity, not gratuitousness. For the first time, Unseam'd will stage two comedies, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Two Gentlemen of Verona, using 16th-century production methods. Like actors of that period, Unseam'd cast members receive scrolls containing only their characters' lines (with stage directions indicated by variations in capitalization, punctuation and such) and the last few words the preceding speaker says.

"You have to be very acutely aware of what's going on onstage at all times," says Unseam'd artistic director Laura Smiley. "All of this is very in-the-moment."

Other irregularities — including a constantly changing cast and an on-stage human prompter — promise one of the summer's livelier local productions. "Pittsburgh being a blue-collar town, we wanted to do a blue-collar Shakespeare," says Two Gentlemen director Andy Kirtland. Wed., June 6-June 23. Cathedral of Learning Studio Theater, 4200 Fifth Ave., Oakland. $15-25. 412-394-3353 or www.unseamd.com

In 1934, a group of British miners recruited Robert Lyton, a master of painting at England's King's College, Newcastle, to teach art appreciation classes at the local YMCA. Unsurprisingly, Lyton had trouble connecting with his working-class pupils — until he encouraged them to create their own paintings. Their remarkable artistic growth, and subsequent rise to fame, is the subject of The Pitmen Painters, a 2009 play by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) that's enjoyed widespread popularity in the U.K. A new Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre production, directed by Andrew S. Paul, features Alan Stanford, Simon Bradbury and Larry John Meyers. Thu., May 31-June 23. Henry Heymann Theatre, 4301 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $26-48. 412-394-3353 or www.picttheatre.org

Momentum, City Theatre's annual festival, is as much a celebration of the production process as it is of the plays themselves.Four new plays get readings: My Mother Has Four Noses, by singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke; Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher About Evolution, by City favorite Stephen Massicotte (The Clockmaker); Anton Dudley, Keith Gordon, and Charlie Sohne's musical The Shadow Sparrow; and Janine Nabers' A Swell in the Ground. City Theatre also hosts a playwrights' panel, a songwriting workshop and more.

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