Short List: September 25 - October 2 

SPOTLIGHT: Fri., Sept. 27 — Event

Fair warning: Starting Friday, there'll be a 40-foot-tall yellow rubber duckie floating in the Allegheny. That night, the duck docks by the Roberto Clemente Bridge to mark the start of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. The month-long Pittsburgh Cultural Trust showcase features world and U.S. premieres by international artists. It includes not only the first North American appearance of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's world-famous duck, but also dance and stage works (covered elsewhere in this section) and cutting-edge audiovisual installations by Austrian artist Kurt Hentschlager at three galleries: Wood Street (the 3-D-animated "Hive," pictured), Space and 943 Liberty. And there's more: The festival opening coincides with the Trust's fall Gallery Crawl. About 30 galleries, performance spaces and other venues — including outdoors spaces — will be open late with exhibits, comedy, dance, short films and more. But the capper's back on the Clemente Bridge, which is shutting down for the night for The Rubber Duck Bridge Party, featuring the art and food vendors of Night Market IV. All Gallery Crawl events including the Bridge party are free. Bill O'Driscoll 5:30-10 p.m. Downtown. Free. 412-456-6666 or www.trustarts.org

click to enlarge Jasmine Hearn dance at the pillow project
  • Photo courtesy of Abby Gleason

Fri., Sept. 27 — Dance

No, dancer/choreographer Jasmine Hearn's that's what she said doesn't refer to the punchline of some crude joke. Rather, this site-specific dance series explores the rites of passage that females of color experience in America. The monthly series funded by The Pittsburgh Foundation continues Sat., Sept. 28, with three performances of "Installment 4: Swimming," at Assemble gallery. Hearn is a Point Park grad who has worked with The Pillow Project and Staycee Pearl dance project. Of "Swimming," she says, "It focuses on the idea of learning how to swim and what that means in our culture." The 30-minute program also addresses the stereotype that black people don't swim. Hearn will perform the solo work accompanied live by a soundscape of singing and spoken word performed by Pittsburgh's Alaina M. Dopico. Like the series' prior installments, "Swimming" will make the most of its venue. Hearn says of Assemble: "It's an intimate and open space with some nooks and crannies that can be used to create powerful images." Steve Sucato 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28. 5125 Penn Ave., Garfield. $10 suggested donation. www.facebook.com/events/527113180702805

click to enlarge Our town,Pittsburgh Public Theater

Thu., Sept. 26 — Stage

The short list of crucial American plays surely includes Our Town. Thornton Wilder's 1938 classic about families in a small, early-20th-century community remains a staple on high school reading lists. But Pittsburgh Public Theater bets the play also still has the power to move and surprise you. The Public begins its season by peopling Grover's Corners with a huge, all-Pittsburgh cast led by Tom Atkins as the Stage Manager. The cast of 24, directed by the Public's Ted Pappas, also includes Tony Bingham, Bridget Connors, Wali Jamal and Larry John Meyers. The first performance is tonight. Bill O'Driscoll 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. 655 Penn Ave., Downtown. $15.75-55. 412-316-1600 or www.ppt.org

Thu., Sept. 26 — Stage

With its Midnight Radio series, Bricolage has had as much affectionate fun as anyone with Pittsburghese and other local folkways. So expect the latest of these live radio-style performances to walk that fine line between parody and homage. This week and next, Shakesburgh blends the Bard and the 'Burgh; think, "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crahn!" and you're there. Elena Alexandratos, Jeffrey Carpenter, Patrick Jordan, Maggie Ryan and Sam Turich provide the voices for this evening of comedy, with live music. BO 9 p.m. Continues through Oct. 5 . 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $15-25. www.bricolagepgh.org

Fri., Sept. 27 — Art

Over the past year the nation has suffered several mass shootings, not to mention the steady drumbeat of everyday gun violence. Tonight, the Society for Contemporary Craft opens ENOUGH Violence: Artists Speak Out. These 40 works by 14 contemporary artists from around the world illuminate the impact of violence on our communities and even suggest solutions. The works, ranging from ceramics, metals and fiber to mixed media, are on display starting with tonight's opening reception. Brett Wilson 5:30-8 p.m. 2100 Smallman St., Strip District. Free. 412-261-7003 or www.contemporarycraft.org

click to enlarge The Scarehouse haunted house in etna
  • Photo courtesy of Jason Cohn

Fri., Sept. 27 — Scares

It's haunted-house season again, but The Scarehouse is upping the ante. Starting tonight, the popular seasonal attraction in Etna complements its zombies and scary clowns with "The Basement," promising "adult content, explicit language, crawling, handcuffs, and physical contact with disturbing characters in disgusting situations" — you know, like your last office party. In any case, visiting The Basement costs a bit extra; only one or two guests can enter at a time; and you have be 18 or older and sign a waiver. Enjoy. BO 7 p.m.-midnight. Continues through Nov. 2. 118 Locust St., Etna. $19.99-$34.99. 412-781-5885 or www.scarehouse.com

click to enlarge 17 Border Crossings at Kelly-Strayhorn Theater

Fri., Sept. 27 — Stage

Few of us are as well traveled as Thaddeus Phillips. The writer and performer — based in Philadelphia and Colombia — shares his experiences in 17 Border Crossings, an hour-long one-man show about his adventures at international borderlines during 15 years of travel. Incorporating influences from the cinema and Austrian musicals to standup comedy and "cheap magic," Phillips takes us from Tunisia and Cuba to Bali, Bosnia and Israel. Tonight's performance at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater — the first of two shows this weekend — is preceded by the theater's season-launch party. BO 8 p.m. (7 p.m. party). Also 8 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28. 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. $10-20. 412-363-3000 or www.kelly-strayhorn.org

click to enlarge Solider's Heart Point Park University's professional theater
  • Photo courtesy of Jeff Swensen

Fri., Sept. 27 — Stage

In works like The Music Lesson and Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods, Pittsburgh-based playwright Tammy Ryan has made her name tackling tough social issues. Ryan's back with Soldier's Heart. Point Park University's professional theater company, The REP, world-premieres this drama about a Western Pennsylvania soldier who returns from Iraq to her life as a mother with deep psychological scars. John Amplas directs a cast headed by Marie Elena O'Brien. The first performance is tonight. BO 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 13. Pittsburgh Playhouse, 222 Craft Ave., Oakland. $15-27 (Sept. 28 performance is pay-what-you-will). 412-392-8000 or www.pittsburghplayhouse.com 

Sat., Sept. 28 — Talk

"Economic recovery" sounds like a myth anymore unless you're in the 1 percent. If it seems like it's always been that way ... well, it hasn't, and it needn't be. Today, the Thomas Merton Center's New Economy Working Group hosts a day-long Summit "Unconference" to explore economic growth and how Pittsburghers can help remake the local economy into one "where the benefits are equitably shared between ... employees or employee-owners, stakeholders and host communities," all while strengthening social ties and restoring nature. Equitably, the unconference is free. BW 10 a.m.-4 p.m. First United Methodist Church of Pittsburgh, 5401 Centre Ave., Shadyside. Free. 412-361-3022 or www.thomasmertoncenter.org

Sat., Sept. 28 — Art

No longer just the preserve of the history-minded, the Carrie Furnaces National Historic Landmark has also been a film set and the subject of a photo exhibit. Now — some years after a certain giant deer-head sculpture paved the way — it's also an art venue itself. Local artists Sean Derry and Chris McGinnis, working with Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Kipp Gallery and the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, have organized 14 area emerging artists for Alloy Pittsburgh 2013. The grand-scale show of temporary, site-based works building on the region's industrial heritage opens with a reception this afternoon. BO 2-6 p.m. ($20). Ticketed tours continue Saturdays through Oct. 26. Rankin. www.alloypittsburgh.blogspot.com

Mon., Sept. 30 — Words

Who Asked You? is the title of Terry McMillan's new novel. But if there's a Q&A afterward, perhaps you can put a question to McMillan herself when the best-selling Waiting to Exhale author speaks at the Byham Theater tonight. Who Asked You? is a seriocomic story about family. The evening, presented by Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, includes a book-signing. BO 7:30 p.m. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $10-40. 412-www.pittsburghlectures.org or 412-622-8866

click to enlarge Emerson String Quartet play carnegie music hall

Tue., Oct. 1 — Music

Just back from a European tour, the venerable Emerson String Quartet plays Carnegie Music Hall. The Grammy-winning New York City-based group's 37th season is also its first with cellist Paul Watkins, himself an acclaimed soloist and conductor. Watkins joins violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer and violist Lawrence Dutton for a program including Beethoven's String Quartet in C Major, Mozart's String Quartet No. 16 and Britten's String Quartet No. 3. Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society hosts. BO 7:30 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $15-35. 412-624-4129 or www.pittsburghchambermusic.org



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