Sunday, June 29, 2014
Tonight's the second and final chance to see this lively, fun and moving show about four political refugees who wound up in Pittsburgh.
And if you like brass-band music, you'll love the concert afterward.
And the whole thing's free.
Lost and Found: Finding Refuge in Pittsburgh consists of four short performance works by the Czech Republic's Archa Theatre, each telling the story of a different refugee — in most cases, with said refugee being part of the show. The concert's by the Allstar Refugee Band, a multinational effort that for this weekend's concerts includes some Pittsburgh musicians among its 14 members.
The North Side shebang is made possible by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh.
I saw last night's show, and it's well worth the 3.5 hours: a little theater, a little geopolitical consciousness-raising, and some foot-stomping tunes to cap it off.
You'll congregate at COAP's Sampsonia Way tent by 5:45 p.m., get assigned to a group, and then sent, in sequence, to four nearby ad hoc performance spaces. (One of them is Randyland, which every Pittsburgher should see anyway.)
The refugees whose stories are told with the help of actors from Archa and the Pittsburgh community include: dissident Iraqi engineer Mazen Al Qatia; Congolese teachers Lina and Manuel Kateng; Bhutanese refugee Dahdi Ram Chhetri; and Nepalese refugee Menuka Bhattarai.
If you're not up on the plight of the world's millions of political and economic refugees — and maybe even if you are — these stories are astounding. Three of these refugees, for instance, spent more than a decade in a refugee camp before they managed to emigrate to the U.S. Al Qatia's hair's-breadth escape from Saddam's Iraq alone is a thriller.
The stories are told straightforwardly, with stagecraft adding depth. My only quibble is that you never learn exactly why any of the refugees ended up in Pittsburgh, of all place.
The concert is an all-out party, complete with raucous beats and an accordion solo. The Allstar Refugee Band is an ensemble effort, but if there's a star it's probably Jing Lu, a native of China now living in Prague. She's a hell of a vocalist and a skilled ham. (Earlier in the evening, she also helps tell Menuka's story.)
As of last night, there were still open spots for tonight's show. You can also show up early — say, 5:30 p.m. for the 6 p.m. performance — and get on a waiting list, because no-shows and cancellations are likely.
The theater pieces start at 6 p.m., the concert at 8:30 p.m. (In between, there's a short street parade for musicians and the audience.) And bring an umbrella: Last night we got rained on a little between the halves. But no one seemed to mind.