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Short List: May 8 - 16 

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SPOTLIGHT: Wed., May 15 — Stage

Five featured acts and one giant, walk-in artwork are the signatures of the 27th annual Pittsburgh International Children's Festival. This five-day offering from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Pittsburgh International Children's Theater takes place in Oakland, with ticketed shows in University of Pittsburgh theaters and free outdoor activities and local performers on and near Schenley Plaza. (See website for showtimes.) The visiting acts include Australia's Erth Visual & Physical Inc., whose interactive puppet dinosaurs star in Dinosaur Zoo. Storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston delivers animal-based stories in African Pourquoi Tales. The U.K.'s Lyngo Theatre stages "Egg and Spoon," a multimedia celebration of nature. From Ireland, there's "The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly," a comic travel adventure about a girl who's never on key. Meanwhile, back from last year's fest are Aga-Boom (pictured), theatrical clowns with Russian roots. Finally, it'll be hard to miss the third festival installation running from the U.K.'s Architects of the Air. "Exxopolis" is a temporary structure on Schenley Plaza, three stories tall and as big as half a soccer field. Step inside to fully appreciate its domes and the stained-glass effects of light on its translucent walls. Bill O'Driscoll Wed., May 15-Sun., May 19. Pitt campus and Schenley Plaza, Oakland. $8 (free for ages 2 and under). 412-456-6666 or www.PghKids.org

Thu., May 9 — Talk

Forget quick fixes and half-measures; David Orr wants "Full Spectrum Sustainability." That means that individuals, governments, businesses and other institutions and organizations team up to remake our systems for energy, water, food and economic development so they're environmentally sustainable and healthy for everyone. The longtime environmental advocate and Oberlin College professor is leading just such an initiative: the Oberlin Project, designed to eliminate carbon emissions while improving everyone's quality of life. Hear Orr talk about "Ecodistrict planning" and other ways to redesign our communities tonight at the Inspire Speakers Series, at Phipps Conservatory, sponsored by Phipps and the Green Building Alliance. Bill O'Driscoll 5:30-8:30 p.m. Schenley Drive, Oakland. $25-45. www.go-gba.org

Fri., May 10 — Outdoors

Instead of the usual rush-hour grind, Kayak Pittsburgh offers the quiet, flat waters of the Allegheny River through its Happy Hour Paddle. This moderately paced paddle will take visitors on the water for an hour-long guided tour, offering an often-overlooked view of the city. After tonight's paddle, guests are encouraged to come to SoHo, near PNC Park, for a round of drinks and appetizers. Beginner instruction not included; the minimum age is 21. Jeff Ihaza 5:45 p.m. Meet beneath the Clemente Bridge, North Side. $20. www.ventureoutdoors.org

click to enlarge ART BY JUDITH KLAUSNER.
  • Art by Judith Klausner.

Fri., May 10 — Art

The headline on the Facebook alert read "Possible Opening Reception!" But rest assured, the exhibit Possible is actually happening. It's a group show for artists "using traditional materials in nontraditional ways and using nontraditional materials to create something truly magical." Think Judith Klausner's mold embroidered on toast (pictured) or cross-sectioned drinking straws contoured into abstract sculpture. The limited-run exhibit, at Unsmoke Artspace was conceived by Natalie Grandinetti and Staci Offutt. The opening reception is tonight. BO 6-9 p.m. Exhibit continues through Mon., May 13. 1137 Braddock Ave., Braddock. Free. www.unsmokeartspace.com

Fri., May 10 — Dance

The next two weekends are your prime chance to see ballet stars of tomorrow in action, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School. This weekend's Spring Performance, at the August Wilson Center, features nearly 200 students performing a range of classical and contemporary works, including David Lichine's festive "Graduation Ball" and a piece by August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble dancer James Washington. And in the May 17-19 Pre-Professional Showcase, at Point Park University, the international roster of students ages 14-22 reprises this weekend's program, plus a new all-male work created by PBT faculty member Andre Reyes. BO Spring Performance: 7 p.m. Also 7 p.m. Sat., May 11 (980 Liberty Ave., Downtown; $16.75-28.75; 412-456-6666). Pre-Professional Showcase: May 17-19 (Point Park campus, Downtown; $20; 412-281-0360). www.pbt.org

Fri., May 10 — Art

The South Side's Brew House opens its first 2013 Featured Artist Exhibition. The show is Edith Abeyta's Botanizing the Asphalt, a site-specific work that engages in psychogeography, that newly named practice of playfully interacting with urban environments. Two-dimensional wall work, T-shirts and three-dimensional installations combine with flyers designed by local artists. There's a reception tonight. BO 7-9 p.m. Exhibit continues through June 17. 2100 Mary St., South Side. 412-381-7767

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Fri., May 10 — Comedy

"I like getting senior discounted movie tickets, but I like to ask for them," quips Kate Clinton. The proudly political lesbian comic jokes about working through eight presidential inaugurals over 31 years. But she doesn't seem to be slowing down much — touring nationally, writing op-eds and books, vlogging, guesting on chat shows and more. Teaming silly faces with sharp-witted, slyly worded commentary, Clinton is "brilliantly, elegantly funny about everything that terrifies us," says no less than Tony Kushner. Clinton's SIS-BOOM-BAH tour's got one night in Pittsburgh, and it's tonight at Cruze Bar. BO 8 p.m. 1600 Smallman St., Strip District. $25-50. 412-471-1400 or www.facebook.com/cruzebar

Fri., May 10 — Stage

Sharon Creech's 1994 novel Walk Two Moons won the famed Newberry Medal for children's literature. Now the story of 13-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle, taking a cross-country trip with her grandparents to find her mysteriously missing mother, is reborn as a play. Adapted by Tom Arvetis, it makes its Pittsburgh premiere courtesy of Prime Stage Theatre. The show's 10-day run begins tonight at the New Hazlett Theater. Saturday's performance includes the opening-night reception. BO 8 p.m. Continues through May 19. 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $10-35. 724-773-0700 or www.primestage.com

Sat., May 11 — Art

Running a whole marathon isn't for everyone. Some might prefer a brisk, if less exhausting, saunter through town. Today, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust hosts a six-hour drawing marathon in which guests are invited to draw what they see throughout Downtown's Cultural District. Attendees must bring their own art supplies, sketchbook and lunch. Artist and illustrator Rick Antolic will be on hand at each scheduled location to assist with sketches and coach artists through this art-making marathon. Children must be accompanied by an adult. JI 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Downtown. Free. 412-471-6079 or www.trustarts.culturaldistrict.org

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Sat., May 11 — Comedy

Anthony Jeselnik looks for intelligence in women because "if she doesn't have that, then she's mine." The offbeat and often slyly rebarbative comic, who hosts the new Comedy Central show The Jeselnik Offensive, makes a return to his hometown tonight at Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead. Tonight's performance will also feature special guests of Jeselnik, an Upper St. Clair native whose routines are often collaborative. JI 6:30 p.m. 510 E. 10th Ave., Homestead. $25-28. 412-368-5225

Sun., May 12 — Outdoors

The spring bloom is fleeting. So today might be your best chance to fully appreciate the season florally, at Jennings Environmental Education Center's Spring Wildflower Walk. The guided 90-minute walk covers the flowers' folklore and uses — as food and medicine — by both Native Americans and early European settlers. Besides, what goes better with Mothers' Day than flowers? Jennings is part of the state-park system. BO 2 p.m. 2951 Prospect Road, Slippery Rock. Free. 724-794-6011 or jenningssp@pa.gov

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF ELLEN WARNER
  • Photo courtesy of Ellen Warner

Thu., May 16 — Words

It's always nice to welcome back Nathaniel Philbrick, the Pittsburgh native who's written such critically acclaimed works of American history as In the Heart of the Sea and The Last Stand. Philbrick's latest is Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution, an excavation of that iconic Revolutionary War battle notable for its focus on Dr. Joseph Warren, a key revolutionary leader who died in the battle. Philbrick speaks in Oakland tonight as part of Pittsburgh Arts & Lecture's Writers LIVE series. The talk and a book-signing are free, but registration is required. BO 6 p.m. Carnegie Library Lecture Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Free. 412-622-8866 or www.pittsburghlectures.org

Thu., May 16 — Words

Writer and poet Jasmine Dream Wagner won the 2012 Ahsahta Press Chapbook contest for her most recent book of poems, Rewilding. Her earlier Listening for Earthquakes won local publisher Caketrain Press' chapbook contest and was published last year. Wagner, who teaches creative writing at Western Connecticut State University, reads tonight at The New Yinzer Reading Series. She's joined at ModernFormations Gallery by local writers Alicia Salvadeo and T.C. Jones. JI 8 p.m. 4919 Penn Ave., Garfield. $5. www.tnypresents.blogspot.com

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