Edwidge Danticat graces the stage of the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium on April 13 as part of the University of Pittsburgh’s Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series. Danticat is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and the MacArthur “genius grant”-winning author of more than a dozen books, including The Farming of the Bones, an American Book Award winner; Brother, I’m Dying, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award nominee; and the young-adult novel Untwine. Danticat, the Haiti-born author, debuted in 1994 with Breath, Eyes, Memory, a critically acclaimed novel about a complicated mother-daughter relationship that became a runaway bestseller after Oprah Winfrey selected it for her book club in 1998.
After so many accolades over the years, does Danticat remember how it feels to be an unknown writer? “Sometimes I wonder,” Danticat says, speaking by phone. “It’s been awhile. When the 20th anniversary [of Breath, Eyes, Memory] came, I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness, has it been that long?” But with a soft laugh, she says that neither the enthusiasm nor the anxiety surrounding writing dissipates with time. “I feel that excitement still. I remember that when I was young, I would think, ‘No one is going to read this.’ But I couldn’t stop writing, I was in love with the process. Every new piece of writing is a new conversation,” she says.
In Pittsburgh, Danticat will read a selection from her forthcoming The Art of Death, to be published in July by Graywolf Press. A blend of memoir, philosophy and literary criticism, the book explores Danticat’s fear of, and quest for, understanding about death. Danticat began writing the book two years ago, after losing her mother. It’s the latest installment in Graywolf’s The Art of series, slim texts authored by contemporary writers on important issues.
Amani Newton 8:30 p.m. Thu., April 13. 650 Schenley Plaza, Oakland. Free. www.english.pitt.edu
The monthly Pittsburgh Documentary Salon returns with four shorts about characters, local and otherwise. This edition of the Pittsburgh Filmmakers series includes “No Place But Home,” Ryan Loew and Matthew Newton’s recent profile of iconic local filmmaker Tony Buba; Julie Sokolow’s “The John Show,” about the project to create 250 original portraits of Pittsburgh’s John Riegert; a profile of former child actor Raven-Symoné, from the LGBT-themed “It Got Better” series; and doc-salon organizer Will Zavala’s “Dealing With the Truth,” a 1997 portrait of a “dishonest” car dealer. Filmmakers from all four works will attend. BO 7 p.m. (6:30 p.m. potluck reception). 477 Melwood Ave., Oakland. Free. www.pfpca.org
So there’s a new live-action Power Rangers movie? Must be time for a live-action Power Rangers parody — with fuzzy hand puppets. Locally based comedian Frank McDade, whose troupe has performed at the Chicago Improv Festival and Pittsburgh’s First Night, conceived this show that finds a re-animated Walt Disney kidnapping McDade’s Stranded With Strangers puppets; human actors play the teenage Rangers trying to rescue them. And Stranded With Rangers, McDade promises, concludes with “an epic fight scene.” There are two shows at Arcade Comedy Theater, tonight and tomorrow. BO 8 p.m. Also 8 p.m. Fri., April 14. 811 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $12. www.arcadecomedytheater.com
Famed Irish novelist Patrick McCabe, who’s teaching at Pitt this semester, hosts screenings of three films based on his books, all directed by Neil Jordan. Patrick McCabe & The Wild West North Film Screening Series starts tonight with Michael Collins (1996), starring Liam Neeson as the legendary Irish revolutionary. Tomorrow’s screenings include 1997’s The Butcher Boy, about a deeply troubled boy in the early 1960s, and Breakfast on Pluto (2005), a dark comedy about a transgender woman, set in the 1970s. McCabe will attend all three screenings at the Carnegie Museum of Art Theater. Admission includes a signed book. BO Collins: 7 p.m. Butcher Boy: 2 p.m. Sat., April 15. Pluto: 5 p.m. Sat., April 15. $10-18 per film; $24-45 for all three. www.cmoa.org
The Frick Art Museum has been around awhile, but here’s something new: the first-ever art show in the Frick’s greenhouse. Elise Adibi: Respiration Paintings features work by this nationally known artist who frequently uses pigments from plant oils, and creates oxidation paintings with urine on copper, among other techniques. The show includes 18 abstract works displayed in the greenhouse and two more in the museum proper; the exhibit also incorporates custom greenhouse plantings, including tulips and citrus trees, for a multi-sensory experience. The show opens today. BO 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Exhibit continues through Oct. 15. 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze. 412-371-0600 or www.thefrickpittsburgh.org
SPOTLIGHT!: Monologue Night is the first ever live-performance competition at Future Tenant. Actors, spoken-word performers, and slam poets are invited to come out and participate in the open-mic event. After the performances, the audience votes on the best act and the winner (or winners) takes home a $200 cash prize. Admission price includes complimentary adult beverages. AN 7 p.m. 819 Penn Ave., Downtown. $7 ($10 at the door). www.futuretenant.org
Critically acclaimed Germany-based Ensemble SurPlus visit for tonight’s concert of an eclectic set of works, including two by Pittsburgh-based composers. The 11-member chamber-music ensemble (strings, wind instruments and percussion) focuses on new or unknown works. Tonight, at The Andy Warhol Museum, the troupe performs pieces by Wolfgang Motz, Thomas Bruttger, Amy Williams, Steve Reich and Bruno Mantovani, along with locally based Mathew Rosenblum’s “Northern Flicker” and Eric Moe’s “Strenuous Pleasures.” The show is presented by the Warhol and Music on the Edge. BO 8 p.m. 117 Sandusky St., North Side. $10-20. 412-624-7529 or www.music.pitt.edu
“A club owner once told me to never talk about religion or politics. Man, am I glad I didn’t listen!” So says comedian Ron Placone, the Forest Hills native whose gigs now include one as writer, producer and panelist on the Los Angeles-based Jimmy Dore Show, which brings comedic political commentary to radio and the stage. Most recently, Placone and nationally touring comic Patrick Cunningham have teamed up for Morrissey’s Favorite Bacon, a tour that stops tonight at two Lawrenceville spots: Unplanned Comedy (early) and Hambone’s (late). So hopefully, the jokes come wrapped in both ham and bacon. BO 8 p.m. (5601 Butler St.; $10). Also 10 p.m. (4207 Butler St., Lawrenceville; $7). www.ronplacone.com
Expect a whole lotta love, or at least related feelings, at James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy tonight with Zepp-Lesque: A Led Zeppelin Burlesque Tribute. Local burlesque performer and impresario Viva Valezz (pictured) presents an evening of saucy neoclassical burlesque, bellydance, flow arts (like fire-spinning), drag and spoken-word acts, all set to Led Zep’s hits. Guest performers include Cleveland-based Shrimp Cocktail. The production also features a pre-show Zep listening and dance party courtesy of DJ Tanner, and a live set by members of local Zep cover band Bled Zeppelin Too. BO 10 p.m. (listening party at 9 p.m.). 422 Foreland St., North Side. 412-904-3335
FULLTIME, the festival celebrating the hard-working creative entrepreneurs of Pittsburgh, is back for its third year. It returns with 11 independently produced events at different venues city-wide, staring with tonight’s PGH Tee, a show of screen-printed T-shirt art. Highlights include Raw Talent: The High School Art Throwback Show and Happy Hour, at East End Brewery Taproom (tagline: Your High School Art Is Embarrassing); Designer Discard, where designers and artists will sell you their handmade designer seconds, vintage items, original artwork, posters, housewares and more; and Beer Barge, presented by festival organizer Commonwealth Press, featuring dozens of local breweries plus live music. Amani Newton PGH Tee: 6 p.m. (Commonwealth Press, 2315 Wharton St., South Side). Events continue through April 23 (various venues). www.fulltimepgh.com
Gee, Brain, what are we gonna do today? Check out Animaniacs LIVE! at the Carnegie of Homestead Musical Hall. This touring musical revue of the animated variety show, produced on The WB between 1992 and 1998, stars original cast members Rob Paulsen (Yakko), Jess Harnell (Wakko) and Tress MacNeille (Dot). They’re accompanied by Emmy-winning composer Randy Rogel, who created many of this toon’s most memorable songs. The event promises 20 songs from the run of the show, including an updated “Yakko’s World,” set alongside a live orchestra and cued-up clips. AN 8 p.m. 510 E. 10th Ave, Munhall. $39-59. 877-435-9849 or www.librarymusichall.com
Annie Proulx, the National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who gave us The Shipping News and “Brokeback Mountain,” joins Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures for a special event. In conversation with Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh President Jo Ellen Parker, Proulx will discuss her latest novel, Barkskins, which follows the fate of two families in the North American timber industry, and the way their capitalist fortunes entwine with the despoilment of the forest. A book signing will take place after the lecture. AN 7 p.m. Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $15-45. 412-622-8866 or www.pittsburghlectures.org