Short List: Jan 13 - 21 | This Week's Top Events | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Short List: Jan 13 - 21

David Lee White’s one-man Panther Hollow; comic Jermaine Fowler; Martin Luther King Jr. Day events; William Close & The Earth Harp Collective at the Byham

SPOTLIGHT: Fri., Jan. 15 — Stage 

In 1995, aspiring actor David Lee White — who’d recently completed the University of Pittsburgh’s graduate acting program — found a dead body near his home in Panther Hollow, that isolated neighborhood where Oakland meets Schenley Park. The body was hanging from a tree, an apparent suicide. White, 25, was already in what he now calls “a very deep depression,” and began having suicidal thoughts himself. Eventually, he undertook therapy, and prescription anti-depressants; met the woman he’d later marry; and left town. He’s now a playwright and educator, and associate artistic director at Trenton, N.J.’s Passage Theatre. But after rediscovering his journal from that time (“I write the worst poems,” he acknowledges), White realized that those dark days were his life’s turning point, when he confronted the difference between his self-image and reality. The result, from the writer of plays including Blood: A Comedy and Slippery as Sin, was Panther Hollow, a solo dark comedy. Speaking by phone, White says the play was inspired by work he’s seen that “acknowledges the cringey, embarrassing aspects” of life without being sentimental. In November, Panther Hollow, performed by White, premiered to strong reviews at New York’s United Solo Festival. On Jan. 15, White brings the play home, in a sense, staging its Pittsburgh premiere at Arcade Comedy Theater. Bill O’Driscoll 8 p.m. Fri., Jan. 15. 811 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $10. 412-339-0608 or

Thu., Jan. 14 — Music

See — and hear — everything from a piano to the dulcimer-like santoor and the soran (an ancient woodwind instrument) as The Segâh Festival of Persian and Turkish Music celebrates eight centuries of exchange between the two cultures. The three-day festival, presented by Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Iranian Music, begins tonight with a free concert of solo pianist Layla Ramezan performing piano music by Iranian and Turkish composers. Ticketed programs include Friday’s Traditional and Contemporary Persian and Turkish Music and Saturday’s Showcase of Persian and Turkish Instruments (including Ismail Lumanovski, pictured, on Turkish clarinet). All shows are at CMU’s College of Fine Arts building. BO 8 p.m. (free). Also 8 p.m. Fri., Jan. 15 ($10) and 5:30 p.m. Sat., Jan. 16 ($10). CMU campus, Oakland. 724-799-2067 or

Fri., Jan. 15 — Comedy

“I was the first person to go to college in my family, but I dropped out,” notes Jermaine Fowler. “The only reason I went was to prove to my family, We can do this. We’re not losers. After two weeks, I was like, ‘I think I proved my point.’” Fresh off his Showtime special, Give ’Em Hell, Kid, the fast-rising young comic’s North American tour brings him to Club Café. Also on the bill are local comics Norlex Belma and John Dick Winters. BO 7 p.m. 56 12th St., South Side. $12-15 (21 and over). 866-468-3401 or

click to enlarge Short List: Jan 13 - 21
Photo courtesy of Briana Blasko

Fri., Jan. 15 — Music

This week’s BNY Mellon Grand Classics program marks the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra debut of renowned American violinist Tim Fain (pictured), whose playing has been heard on stages around the world and in films including Black Swan and 12 Years a Slave. It’s also the PSO’s reprise of a perennial favorite — Beethoven’s Pastoral — and the Pittsburgh premiere of Philip Glass’ violin concerto The American Four Seasons, featuring Fain. The program is led by German conductor Christoph König. The first of three performances is tonight. BO 8 p.m. Also 8 p.m. Fri., Jan. 16, and 2:30 p.m. Sun., Jan. 17. 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $20-94. 412-392-4900 or

click to enlarge Short List: Jan 13 - 21
Photo courtesy of Paul G. Wiegman

Sat., Jan. 16 — Exhibit

Trade the winter blues for a palette of pastel pinks and yellows at Phipps Conservatory’s Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show, opening today. Inside the glasshouse, the Sunken Garden room displays selections of vibrant orchids spilling from their baskets, while the Serpentine room offers a spread of ancient-looking bonsai plants. Avid growers: Get tips on raising orchids and shaping delicate bonsai branches. Inspire your blue digits to become green thumbs. Courtney Linder 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Exhibit continues through Feb. 28. 1 Schenley Drive, Oakland. $11-15 (children under 2 free). 412-622-6914 or

click to enlarge Short List: Jan 13 - 21
Art by Tony Havrilla

Sat., Jan. 16 — Art

A circa-1900 bathroom, rendered in luminous shades of gray; a supermarket aisle with a lone shopper, the shelved merchandise abstracted into intriguing patches of mottled color. The paintings of Pittsburgh-based Tony Havrilla explore the contemporary world in a style reminiscent of classic impressionism. A show of Havrilla’s work opens tonight with a reception at Christine Frechard Gallery. BO 5-8 p.m. Exhibit continues through Feb. 25. 5871 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill. Free. 412-421-8888 or

Sat., Jan. 16 — Words

Jonathan Moody returns to Pittsburgh with his second poetry collection, Olympic Butter Gold (Northwestern University Press), which looks at life through the lens of hip hop’s golden age. In “Dear 2Pac,” for instance, Moody writes about connecting to his high school English students through the poems of Tupac Shakur: “Dear 2Pac, Daniel, who yesterday refused / to copy notes on enjambment / & end-stopped lines, handwrites your longest / poem word for word.” Moody, who earned his master’s of fine arts at Pitt, now lives in Houston. Tonight at Versify, at East End Book Exchange, he reads with Kristofer Collins and Angele Ellis. BO 7 p.m. 4754 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. Free.

Mon., Jan. 18 — Celebration

The kids are off from school for Martin Luther King Jr. Day (and maybe you’re off, too). Community-based celebrations honoring King and his legacy include: the day-long Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration, at the Children’s Museum (10 a.m.-5 p.m.; free with museum admission;, activities and performances at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater (noon-4 p.m.; free;; the Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Bash, at the Mattress Factory, with art activities, birthday cake, DJ Pandemic Pete and give-what-you-can museum admission (noon-4 p.m.;; and the Ninth Annual Let Freedom Sing! concerts (, featuring gospel choirs from around the region. The 7 p.m. Sat., Jan. 16, concert at Ebenezer Baptist Church, in the Hill District, is followed by one at 7 p.m. tonight, at Franklin Regional High School, in Murrysville, with local jazz icon Etta Cox. The concerts are free, with monetary donations accepted for area food banks. BO

Tue., Jan. 19 — Words

The Steel City Slam, Pittsburgh’s pipeline to the National Poetry Slam and regional tourneys, is live every Tuesday at Capri Pizzeria and Bar. At this all-ages event, grab a slice and a drink, and hear local spoken-poetry talent vie for prizes (first place = cash) and a chance to qualify for the nationally competing Steel City Slam Team. To participate, prepare three three-minute poems and be one of the first eight poets to sign up. There’s also an open mic. BO 7:45-11 p.m. 6001 Penn Ave., East Liberty. $5 (two-for-one student discount).

Wed., Jan. 20 — Words

Rare for an avant-garde writer, Mario Bellatin is also popular: “one of Mexico’s best-known novelists,” according to a recent New Yorker profile that dubbed him “Mexico’s literary prankster.” The award-winning author of more than 40 books translated into 15 languages visits City of Asylum tonight with his latest. The Large Glass: Three Autobiographies (Phoneme Media) explores the complexity of stories we tell about ourselves. Joining Bellatin is the book’s publisher and translator, David Shook, of San Francisco-based Phoneme. BO 7:30 p.m. (7 p.m. reception). 330 Sampsonia Way, North Side. Free. RSVP at 412-323-0278 or

Thu., Jan. 21 — Kids

Buzzword Pittsburgh is a series of play-based events to help kids ages 5 and younger build vocabulary and explore math, science and art. It’s organized by groups including the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the Carnegie Science Center and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Tonight, at the Homewood-Brushton Family Support Center (YMCA), kids can try Nature Play, with activities built around clay. On Wed., Jan. 27, East Liberty Presbyterian Church hosts Violet’s Opera, an interactive music performance based on the popular children’s book (reservations required). BO Nature Play: 6-7 p.m. (7101 Hamilton Ave., Homewood; free). 412-471-6079 or

Thu., Jan. 21 — Music

Why simply watch a musician play an instrument when you can sit inside it instead? An America’s Got Talent finalist brings his world-touring “earth harp” and full band for tonight’s William Close & the Earth Harp Collective concert, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Sit beneath the harp’s 1,000-foot strings, which will extend from a wooden ring on the Byham Theater stage to the rear balcony, transforming the entire space into an instrument. Discover how architecture coalesces with the ethereal sound of the world’s largest stringed instrument. CL 7:30 p.m. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $30-45. 412-456-6666 or