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Short List: Week of March 31 - April 7 

click to enlarge Art by Sarah Wojdylak - PHOTO COURTESY OF LISA TOBOZ

Last year's inaugural Geek Art/Green Innovators festival piggybacked on Penn Avenue's Unblurred, sparking the monthly gallery crawl's biggest night ever. Nearly 4,000 visitors saw everything from a fashion show of clothing made from recycled materials to a solar cell/rainwater-collector shaped like a sunflower. The next day, enthused festival-goers came back ... to find GA/GI over: The festival had no second day. GA/GI isn't making that mistake this April 1 and 2, says organizer Christine Bethea. Friday night, GA/GI enlists 50-some venues showcasing art exhibits, environmental spoken-word performances, games, "eco-tech" fashion show Fuzion and even Carnegie Mellon scientists demonstrating the chemistry of cooking (including liquid-nitrogen ice cream), all while CMU and Pitt's Quality of Life Technology Center spotlights new tech for the disabled. The brand-new Saturday line-up finds Highland Park's Union Project hosting a GA/GI for Kids day (with robots doing Legos, and more). Up and down Penn on Saturday, events include I Made It Market's recycled-crafts showcase I (re)Made It SMART, at the Glass Lofts, plus live music and more. "What we hope comes out of this is more collaboration between science, art and technology," says Bethea. "Everyone gets to see what everyone else is doing, and have fun while they're doing it." She adds, "We want to see cool stuff whether it's in digital or dirt. ... We don't want the regular stuff. We want the weird stuff." Bill O'Driscoll Fri., April 1, and Sat., April 2. Various locations. Free. www.gagifest11.blogspot.com

 

click to enlarge 13_short3_squonk.jpg

Thu., March 31 -- Music

One of Pittsburgh's top ongoing exports is Squonk Opera. The art-rock band/performance troupe nationally tours its playfully surreal, prop-filled musical extravaganzas, like the extraterrestrial-themed Astrorama. No exception Mayhem and Majesty, whose stagings have included a slot last year at Seattle's huge Bumbershoot Festival. Now Mayhem, which premiered here last March, visits the New Hazlett Theater. With the work honed on the road, "This is more like the real premiere," says Squonk co-founder Steve O'Hearn. The show that seeks to make music visual has four more performances here, starting tonight. Bill O'Driscoll 8 p.m. Also 8 p.m. Fri., April 1; 8 p.m. Sat., April 2; and 2 p.m. Sun., April 3. 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $10-25. 412-320-4610 or www.squonkopera.org

 

Fri., April 1 -- Words

Globally acclaimed author, artist and activist Trinh Minh-Ha visits Duquesne University. The Vietnamese-American feminist theorist is known for films like 1982's "Reassemblage," which implicitly critiques standard documentary. Her talk today, titled "Miles of Strangeness," explores identity, citizenship, war and what travel means, whether literally, historically or emotionally. BO 4 p.m. Power Center Ballroom, Duquesne University, Uptown. Free. 412-396-1527

 

Fri., April 1 -- Music

The music of Schumann, Liszt and Strauss comes to Heinz Hall tonight, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The guest conductor is internationally noted Spanish maestro Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, a PSO favorite for nearly 30 years. Pianist Jorge Frederico Osorio makes his second-ever PSO appearance, soloing on Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2. The performance will also feature Schumann's Symphony No. 3 and Strauss' suite from Der Rosenkavalier. Lucy Steigerwald 8 p.m. Also 2:30 p.m. Sun., April 3. 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $20-88. 412-392-4900 or pittsburghsymphony.org

 

Fri., April 1 -- Stage

"I write poems and I am a poem," declares Vanessa German in her solo "spoken-word opera" titled root. If you missed the show's one-off premiere last year, now's your chance to catch the galvanizing locally based performance artist lyrically summoning everything from civil-rights-era Memphis to her childhood in 1980s Los Angeles, Hurricane Katrina and contemporary racial politics. German's love poem to poetry -- directed by Heather Scarlet Arnet and inspired by Ella Fitzgerald and the Mississippi River -- plays tonight and tomorrow at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater. BO 8 p.m. Also 8 p.m. Sat., April 2. 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. $5-15. 412-363-3000 or www.kelly-strayhorn.org

 

Fri., April 1 -- Comedy

Previously seen in these parts shooting Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Dogma, filmmaker Kevin Smith returns as both himself and in the guise of cinematic alter ego Silent Bob. Jay & Silent Bob Get Old is Smith's comedy podcast (www.smodcast.com/getold) with longtime partner-in-crime Jason Mewes, and its road trip hits the Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead. Though Smith is busy touting his upcoming horror thriller, Red State, tonight the focus is on storytelling and, as Smith fans going back to Clerks could guess, it's typically irreverent and often raunchy. BO 8 p.m. 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. $40-55. 412-368-5225 or www.LibraryMusicHall.com

 

Sat., April 2 -- Stage

A one-woman theater production inspired by Pennsylvania's tragic 2006 Amish schoolhouse shooting might risk melodrama, or even exploitation. But The New York Times gave writer/actor Jessica Dickey's The Amish Project rave reviews upon its Off-Broadway premiere, in 2009. Dickey portrays seven characters -- including the shooter and two of his young victims -- in this drama exploring the power of forgiveness. A run at City Theatre, directed by New York-based director Sarah Cameron Sunde, begins this evening. LS 5:30 p.m. Show continues through May 8. 1300 Bingham St., South Side. $22-60. 412-431-2489 or www.citytheatrecompany.org

 

Sat., April 2 -- Words

Oakmont's Mystery Lovers Bookshop, known for its visiting authors, hosts a hometown resident. Nancy Martin is best known for her Philly-set Blackbird Sisters mysteries. But today is the publication party for Sticky Fingers (Minotaur Books), the second in Martin's new series starring Pittsburgher Roxy Abruzzo. Abruzzo is the tough, mob-tied owner of an architectural-salvage operation. The mystery begins when she salvages a statue worth killing for. Grittier than the romantic Blackbird Sisters, Martin's mystery takes readers through some of Pittsburgh's rougher locations. LS 2 p.m. 514 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont. Free. 412-828-4877 or www.mysterylovers.com

 

Sat., April 2

Winds and strings aren't necessarily code for "old music." IonSound, the ensemble-in-residence at Pitt's music department, continually presents music from contemporary composers using traditional chamber instrumentation. Tonight's final installment of this year's HEAR series is called Drama, and includes Nathan Currier's "A Kafka Cantata," Christian Kriegeskotte's "Triangulum" and, tantalizingly, a piece by Gracie Sutherland called "Overture to a Zombie Apocalypse." Andy Mulkerin 8 p.m. Bellefield Hall Auditorium, 4500 Bellefield Ave., Oakland. $10-15. All ages. 412-394-3353 or www.ionsound.org

 

click to enlarge Stacy Schiff
  • Stacy Schiff

Mon., April 4 -- Words

If you think Cleopatra was a mere seductress, you haven't read Cleopatra: A Life (Little, Brown & Co.). Stacy Schiff's universally acclaimed 2010 bio -- The New York Times called it "far more complex and compelling than any fictional creation" -- says that the Egyptian queen (who was actually Greek) was mostly a shrewd politician and canny monarch ... though she did boink both Caesar and Mark Antony. Tonight, the engaging Schiff, a Pulitzer-winner for her book Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov), wraps up the season at the Drue Heinz Lectures. BO 7:30 p.m. Carnegie Lecture Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $10-25. 412-622-8866 or www.pittsburghlectures.org

 

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF CRAIG SCHWARTZ
  • Photo courtesy of Craig Schwartz

Tue., April 5 -- Stage

One of the more acclaimed new musicals in recent memory stops at the Benedum Center for eight shows starring the actress who helped take it to the top. Alice Ripley won a Tony as Diana in Next to Normal, itself a Pulitzer- and Tony-winner in 2009. The show about a family struggling with mental illness, with music by Tom Kitt and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, was widely hailed for its emotional power. The touring production's first performance in Pittsburgh is tonight, courtesy of PNC Broadway Across America. BO 7:30 p.m. 719 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $21-57. 412-456-6666 or www.pgharts.org

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