(Click the following links for a look at other cultural events coming up this fall)
In 2004, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust engineered a pair of hits with its Quebec Festival and the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, both multi-genre series of exhibits and performances. Among the shows and companies were many not previously seen in the U.S., and Pittsburghers, by and large, seemed to like them.
In the spirit of Quebec Fest especially, the Trust and its partners have another go at saturating our corner of Western Pennsylvania with art from another patch of far-away real estate. Starting Oct. 10, the Australia Festival (don't call it "Oz Fest"!), presented with The Australia Council for the Arts, offers six weeks of theater, dance, spectacle, visual art and more. Again, all of it is new to Pittsburgh; much of it is new to the States; and some of it is even free.
Offerings of broadest potential appeal include Circus Oz, which visits the Byham Theater Oct. 11-14. The acclaimed troupe's show is Laughing at Gravity, a mix of acrobatics, stunts, pyrotechnics and live music; think "chick rolling across the stage in giant wheel of fire." That family-friendly production finds its complement in The Candy Butchers -- self-described as "elegant stunts, dirty acrobatics and dark clowning," performing A Circus Sweetmeat at the New Hazlett Theater, Nov. 7-10. Melbourne troupe The Suitcase Royale, meanwhile, presents its more intimate theatrical performance Chronicles of a Sleepless Moon at The Andy Warhol Museum, on Nov. 8-10. (For info on U.S. premieres by Aussie dance troupes Chunky Move and Lucy Guerin, Inc., see our fall dance preview.)
Fans of film, music, native crafts and live performance might all be drawn to the Harris Theater on Nov. 10, for the screening of William Barton: Kalkadoon Man. It's a feature-length documentary about a musician's quest to make a didgeridoo using traditional family methods. Barton himself performs afterward.
For those who need a couple months to soak things in, a series of art exhibits take up residence Downtown and on the North Side. Shows include Workin'Down Under (Oct. 19-Dec. 31), with contemporary video and installation art from the likes of Tracy Moffatt, John Gillies and Denis Beaubois, free of charge at Wood Street Galleries. Contemporary Aboriginal culture gets some space at SPACE gallery with New Works from Utopia: Paintings by Australian Aboriginal Artists (Oct. 19-Dec. 31, and also free). Then there's Andy and Oz: Parallel Visions (Oct. 21-Dec. 30), an exhibit at the Warhol with work from seven Australians with Warholian affinities.
Pittsburgh's shortest residents get their own Australian connections. Down Under Day, Oct. 27 at the Children's Museum, includes Aboriginal-themed activities (which presumably don't include getting cleared from one's ancestral lands by the white man) that are free with admission. And on Nov. 2-4, at the Benedum Center, Windmill Performing Arts presents The Green Sheep, interactive show for toddlers.
If all that art makes you thirsty (or thirsty for more), the Trust's Craft Beer School series presents Coopers Ales & Lagers of Australia (Oct. 23), and Wednesday Wine Flight holds an Australia-themed night (Nov. 7). Both events take place at the Cabaret at Theater Square, and they can't but help you understand Australian, um, culture all the better.
-- Bill O'Driscoll