Short List: December 2-8 | This Week's Top Events | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Short List: December 2-8

Seasonal offerings; the Pillow Project revisits Paper Memory; the Beehive marks 25 caffeinated years; Handmade Arcade returns

Fri., Dec. 4 – Holidays

While Black Friday is a red-letter day for some, Pittsburgh’s arts community doesn’t really break out its yule log until the first week of December. Exhibits A, B and C are three established shows of various tenures. It’s year 14 for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker (Dec. 4-27), artistic director Terrence S. Orr’s Pittsburgh-set adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s classic. With more than 100 dancers wearing more than 200 costumes, and fresh production touches like a newly designed Christmas tree, this year’s staging gets 24 performances spanning four weekends at the Benedum Center ($28-110; 412-456-6666 or Over at the Pittsburgh CLO, tradition dictates A Musical Christmas Carol (Dec. 4-23), which repackages Dickens with holiday tunes at the Byham Theater; Tim Gregory directs such top locally based talents as Tom Atkins as Scrooge, with Lisa Ann Goldsmith, Jeffery Howell, Daniel Krell and Tim Hartman. This year, courtesy of Macy’s, Musical Christmas Carol tickets ($15.75-60.75) are half-price for kids ages 3 to 14 (412-281-3793 or And on Sat., Dec. 5, for the fifth year, Attack Theatre offers its own popular holiday party and performance, formerly Holiday Unwrapped and now known as Holiday Hijinks and Revue. This blend of performances and interactive fun has two incarnations at Attack headquarters, in the Strip District: a mid-day version for kids and families, and an evening one for 21-and-overs ($5-20; Bill O’Driscoll

Fri., Dec. 4 — Art

Silver Eye Center for Photography opens its exhibition Golden Hour: Thought on the Contemporary Photo Book with a two-day book fair. The fair features a curated selection of publishers and artists including Bo-Books, Conveyor Arts and Light Work. Bill O’Driscoll Fair: 4-9 p.m.; exhibit reception: 7-9 p.m. Fair also runs 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat., Dec. 5. 1015 E. Carson St., South Side. 412-431-1810 or

click to enlarge Short List: December 2-8
Art by Marike Vuga

Fri., Dec. 4 — Art

Gallerie Chiz offers an anthology of nine favorite artists. Its Trip the Light Fantastic! Holiday Show ranges from Dorren Baskin’s whimsical ceramics and the work of legendary local sculptor Peter Calaboyias to the mysterious paintings of Manuela Holban, Bruce Sencheshen’s assemblies of machine parts, and the uncanny vintage-linoleum collages of Bill Miller. The opening reception, part of Ellsworth Avenue’s FirstFriday ArtWalk, is tonight. BO 5:30-9 p.m. Exhibit continues through Jan. 9. 5831 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside. Free. 412-441-6005 or

Fri., Dec. 4 — Art

Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center hosts an exhibition by its first New Zealand Residency artist. In Like a Body Without Skin, Fiona Amundsen explores the steel industry’s involvement in World War II. It juxtaposes archival imagery with present-day images of Rankin’s old Carrie Furnace and a voice recording describing the incendiary-bombing of Tokyo, to suggest different versions of established histories and imagine alternate potential futures. The opening reception is tonight. BO 6 p.m. 1000 Madison Ave., North Side. Free.

Fri., Dec. 4 — Stage

Since 2008, Pittsburgh’s Alumni Theater Company has provided performing-arts training for area sixth- through 12th-graders, and created works reflecting the perspectives of young people growing up in cities. Many ATC graduates have gone on to college; the current troupe follows productions of Hair and Chicago with The Transcendents, which uses original writings, choreography and song to depict black teenagers’ struggles with racism. The show, with performances tonight and tomorrow, is recommended for ages 15 and older. BO 7 p.m. Also 7 p.m. Sat., Dec. 5. 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. $8-15. 412-945-0282 or

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Photo courtesy of Cassie Kay Rusnak

Fri., Dec. 4 — Dance

The Pillow Project has a holiday treat that’s not holiday-themed. Pearlann Porter’s troupe revisits Paper Memory, its terrific 2010 performance installation, for nine shows starting tonight. The hour-long show concerns a writer and the troubled, presumably fictional couple he’s writing about. Paper Memory uses movement, inventive video projections and imaginative lighting and staging to explore memory and the emotions that change it. At the troupe’s Space Upstairs, Taylor Knight reprises his role as the writer, joined by Andrew Swackhamer and Alexandra Bright. BO 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 12. 214 N. Lexington St., Point Breeze. $10-15. 412-225-9269 or

Sat., Dec. 5 — Fair

It’s a day of holiday fun for the whole family at the Braddock Carnegie Library Holiday Fair. Help artist Cheryl Capezzuti make giant wearable puppets to be used at the First Night Parade. Check out art made by local youth from the library’s ARTchives program. And shop local vendors from the Neighborhood Print Shop and Ceramics Studio; items include holiday decorations and ornaments made from discarded library books. Plus roving entertainment, a kids’ handmade gift-making area and food. Al Hoff 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 419 Library St., Braddock. Free. 412-351-5357 or 

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Photo courtesy of Joey Kennedy

Sat., Dec. 5 — Marketplace

In the era of cheapo stuff made overseas and sold in big-box stores, a reliable antidote is Handmade Arcade. Pittsburgh’s oldest and largest indie craft fair — which garners national press — marks its 12th year with another stop at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Browse the teeming aisles and meet more than 150 crafter-vendors from the region and the country, selling everything from tin art and children’s clothes made from vintage Ts to Pittsburgh-themed gifts, limited-edition prints, and organic bath and body products. There are DJs and puppet parades; an all-ages hands-on activity area; and the brand-new limited-edition, crafting-themed Handmade Arcade coloring book, Things Making Things. BO 11 a.m.-7 p.m. 1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd., Downtown. Free (Early Birdie passes: $15).

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Photo by Heather Mull

Sat., Dec. 5 — Festival

Believe it or don’t, kids, but once upon a time coffeehouses as we know them didn’t exist in these parts (and mermaid logos were for tuna). In 1991, in a still-funky, not yet gentrified or over-bro’d South Side, two Deadheads named Scott Kramer and Steve Zumoff opened a storefront joint that changed all that with its espresso, its murals, its pinball machines and its mismatched mugs, becoming a rendezvous for artists, punks and loiterers. A quarter-century later, Kramer and Zumoff have launched the Lava Lounge, the Doublewide Grill and more, but their Beehive Coffeehouse is with us still. Today, it anticipates its 25th anniversary by reuniting “historically accurate” performers from its early days, including musicians like Jenn Wertz and Chuck Owston, bands like Bingo Quixote and HellBelly, sideshow performer David Apocalypse and the belly-dancing Hamer Sisters. There’s also a full bar — something they didn’t have in the old days. BO 4 p.m. 1327 E. Carson St., South Side. 412-488-4483 or

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Photo courtesy of Dennis P. Callahan

Mon., Dec. 7 — Words

Raised outside Buffalo, Lenore Myka later served in the Peace Corps in Romania. That experience informs her new, award-wining short-story collection, King of the Gypsies (Bkmk Press), which features several tales in which American and Romanian threads intertwine. In one story, the adoptive American mother of a troubled Romanian boy confronts the impact his behavior has on the family; in another, the marriage between a Romanian farmer and an American musician crumbles. Myka reads from her work tonight at East End Book Exchange. AH 7 p.m. 4754 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. Free. 412-224-2847 or

Mon., Dec. 7 — Talk

Andrew Solomon’s Far from the Tree (2012) is a brief for the universality of diversity. So say that award-winning book’s admirers, some of whom add that Solomon’s portraits of families coping with everything from deafness and schizophrenia to children who are criminals actually makes its readers better people. Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, is a clinical psychologist, writer and lecturer, and an activist on LGBT rights, mental health and the arts. His talk tonight at Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures’ Monday Night Lecture Series is sold out, but a wait list and partial-view seats are available. BO 7:30 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $10-25. 412-622-8866 or

Wed., Dec. 9 — Human Rights

Each year, Amnesty International holds an international Write-a-thon for prisoners of conscience — activists, journalists and everyday people who have suffered torture and imprisonment for standing up for things like free speech, women’s rights and LGBT rights. Those on whose behalf volunteer letter-writers will write to political authorities this year include an Uzbeki journalist who’s been jailed for more than 15 years and an El Salvadoran woman serving 30 years for homicide after suffering a still-birth. Amnesty International Pittsburgh Group 39 regularly produces 500 to 1,000 letters at its Write-a-thon at Calvary Episcopal Church. All letter-writing materials are provided tonight, and participants may write one letter or 10. BO 6-9 p.m. 315 Shady Ave., Shadyside.