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Short List: Week of December 2 - 9 

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Discussing his acclaimed performance work runt, writer and actor Michael Phillip Edwards cites influences from Spalding Gray and Richard Pryor to Whoopi Goldberg and Eric Bogosian. But though he performs runt solo, Edwards doesn't call this autobiographical piece a "one-man show." And perhaps its biggest influence isn't a performer at all, but mythology scholar Joseph Campbell. Edwards, 43, was born in Jamaica and grew up in Toronto -- still terrorized, he says, by "the sins of the men in my family." Edwards feared he wasn't man enough for his father and grandfather. He was afraid of the dark; he was afraid of women. He wrote runt after learning he was to become a father himself: "I was worried I was going to be offering weakness to my son," he says by phone from his hometown, Los Angeles. The show debuted in 2001, at the prestigious Edinburgh Festival, where it won the Fringe First award; runt later toured internationally, and was adapted for BBC radio, and as a feature film. The hour-long show's Pittsburgh premiere -- eight performances Dec. 2-12, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust -- launches a new national tour. Meanwhile, runt has birthed The Runt Method, Edwards' approach to art inspired by Campbell's writings on the touchstone myth known as the Hero's Journey. Edwards' approach to learning to see yourself as the hero in your own life has led to both workshops (like ones he's leading in Pittsburgh) and another nationally touring stage show, I Am Not Sam, written and directed by Edwards and starring film actor Tom Sizemore. Edwards rejects the term "one-man show," so redolent of ego and show-offishness. He says runt is more like ritual -- a personal story shared for its universal resonance and usefulness to others. "When you become you and contribute to your community, it's golden," he says. Bill O'Driscoll Thu., Dec. 2-Dec. 12. (The Sat., Dec. 4, performance includes a talkback with Edwards.) Trust Arts Education Center, 805 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $25.75. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

 

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Fri., Dec. 3 -- Craft

'Round December, Pittsburgh's I Made It! Market offers a way to avoid the mall, support regional craftspeople and find gifts the recipient probably hasn't seen before. This year, a SouthSide Works storefront is the roving I Made It! For the Holidays venue for everything from handcrafted all-natural lip balm, greeting cards, clothing, handbags and jewelry to letterpress artwork, photography, ceramics, custom-made wood furniture and more. Fifty regional artists are vending today, and 50 different ones tomorrow. Bill O'Driscoll 5-10 p.m. Also Noon-5 p.m. Sat., Dec. 4. 428 S. 27th St., South Side. info@www.imadeitmarket.com

 

Fri., Dec. 3 -- Dance

Despite what you may hear, the holidays aren't entirely about the gift haul. That's one message of Attack Theatre's Holiday Unwrapped. The dance troupe's show was commissioned for in-school performances, and has been performed at more than 20 schools regionally. Now it's going public for kids and adults alike, its antics set to classical, jazz and klezmer music, and incorporating interactive games and more. The show, with three family-time friendly performances, co-stars socks as ice skates, empty packages as turntables. BO 6 p.m. Also 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Sat., Dec. 4. 2425 Liberty Ave., Strip District. $10 ($5 children). 412-394-3353 or www.attacktheatre.org

 

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF LAURA HEYMAN
  • Photo courtesy of Laura Heyman

Fri., Dec. 3 -- Art

Two contrasting views from abroad comprise the Silver Eye Center for Photography's Fellowship 2010 exhibition. Laura Heyman, who teaches at Syracuse University, earned the International Fellowship for Pa Bouje Ankò: Don't Move Again, her ongoing portrait series made in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, immediately before and after the January 2010 earthquake. And the first Keystone Fellowship (for Pennsylvania photographers) went to Laura Bell, of Girard, Pa., for The Alba Series, created during her first experience abroad, living in Scotland. Tonight's opening reception includes an artist talk. BO 6:30-8 p.m. Exhibit continues through Jan. 15. 1015 East Carson St., South Side. Free. 412-431-1810 or www.silvereye.org

 

Fri., Dec. 3 -- Acoustic

Meeting once a week at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, the Calliope Songwriters Circle gives regional songwriters a chance to showcase and share new songs; for the last five years, the Circle has presented the fruits of this creative process in an annual CD compilation. This year, more musicians have participated, resulting in a double CD featuring 21 songwriters -- Sue Gartland, John Hayes and Bruce Hoffman, and many more. Tonight, they're celebrating with a release party at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Aaron Jentzen 7 p.m. 6300 Fifth Ave., Shadyside. $5. 412-361-1915 or www.calliopehouse.org

 

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Fri., Dec 3 -- Film

Marilyn Monroe is often remembered for her sultry side, but the blonde beauty was also a winsome comedic actress. Tonight, The Andy Warhol Museum, as part of its ongoing Marilyn Monroe: Life As a Legend exhibit, screens two of Monroe's most fizzy and delightful comedies, both from 1953: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and How to Marry a Millionaire. Don't let those titles reflecting retro sexual politics fool you: The women in these films know what they want, and play hard to get it. "Diamonds," coos Monroe, in Gentlemen, "are a girl's best friend." Al Hoff 7 p.m. 117 Sandusky St., North Side. $10. 412-237-8300 or www.warhol.org

 

Fri., Dec. 3 -- Rock

Since forming in the 1990s, Pittsburgh-based band Persephone's Dream has made a name for itself through four albums of prog-rock and elaborate, infrequent live shows. The band recently released Pan: An Urban Pastoral, and tonight, they'll perform the epic album at the Rex Theater with elaborate lighting and effects, props and costumes. The concept album (appropriately dedicated to Claude Debussy, Guillermo Del Toro, Tom Robbins and Vaslav Nijinsky) follows a disillusioned urban youth who is confronted by Pan. Joining Persephone's Dream tonight are Tiffany Apan and Sergei Lamash. AJ 7:30 p.m. Rex Theater, 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. $10. 412-381-6811 or www.rextheater.com

 

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Fri., Dec. 3 -- Comedy

"I was at a party the other night and I saw a guy wearing a leather jacket. And I thought, 'That is cool.' Like 10 minutes later, I saw a guy wearing a leather vest, and I thought, 'That is not cool.' And that's when I realized that cool is all about leather sleeves." The former Daily Show contributor whose own show is called Important Things with Demetri Martin -- and who is in fact named Demetri Martin -- visits the Byham Theater tonight. BO 8 p.m. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $35. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

 

Fri., Dec. 3 -- Stage

Diana Son's play Stop Kiss, about two straight, young New York City women who fall in love, has been widely staged since its 1998 premiere. The dramedy's scenes alternate between before and after a violent assault that's left one character comatose. Small-but-accomplished Off The Wall Productions stages Stop Kiss with some inventive wrinkles. While Erika Cuenca plays Callie, the injured Sara is played by both Theo Allyn and Karen Baum, who on alternate nights rotate portraying her pre- and post-assault. And scene changes integrate live music by singer-songwriter (and Squonk Opera vocalist) Autumn Ayers. Robyne Parrish directs. The show opens tonight. BO 8 p.m. Shows continue through Dec. 18. 147 N. Main St., Washington, Pa. www.insideoffthewall.com

 

Fri., Dec. 3 -- Words

"It's not about suffering" is the mantra for the Gist Street Reading Series. And indeed, this monthly gathering has been like hanging out with smart people in your artist friend's loft during readings by talented poets and writers. With good snacks. The intimate venue (sculptor James Simon's studio) invariably sold out its 80 seats. But now it is time for Gist Street fans to suffer a little: After 10 years, co-founders Sherrie Flick and Nancy Krygowski have decided that this month's reading is the last. The valedictory readers are Holly Goddard Jones, of North Carolina, author of the short-story collection Girl Trouble, and San Diego-based poet Jericho Brown, whose 2009 collection Please won the American Book Award. BO 8 p.m. (doors at 7:15 p.m.). 305 Gist St., Uptown. $10. info@giststreet.org

 

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Sat., Dec. 4 -- Rock

At this point, nothing deserves an eye-roll like a New York band that combines glockenspiel, banjo, synthesizer, gang vocals and childhood nostalgia. But it's hard to deny Freelance Whales' wistful, impressionistic lyrics and winsome melodies. On the band's self-released debut, Weathervanes (re-released in April by labels French Kiss and Mom + Pop), Freelance Whales offer dreamy, electro-tinged indie-pop in the vein of Mobius Band and the Postal Service. The band plays Brillobox tonight with special guests Miniature Tigers and Mia Riddle. AJ 10 p.m. 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $10. 412-621-4900 or www.brillobox.net

 

Mon., Dec. 6 -- Planning

The City of Pittsburgh is developing PLANPGH, its official and first-ever comprehensive plan to guide the next 25 years in economic development, neighborhood identity, and natural and cultural resources. This week offers residents three chances to weigh in on the PreservePGH component, all about protecting Pittsburgh's historic and cultural assets (including old buildings). The first of three community meetings is tonight, on the South Side. BO 6:30-8 p.m. (Market House, 1 Bedford Square, South Side). Also 6:30-8 p.m. Tue., Dec. 7 (New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side) and Mon., Dec. 13 (Bakery Square, 6425 Penn Ave., Larimer). 412-255-0760 or www.planpgh.com

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