Short List: Oct. 26-Nov. 2 | Featured Events | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Short List: Oct. 26-Nov. 2

We Are Nature at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History; Quantum tackles Stoppard’s Hard Problem; Spirit’s Psychedelic Creep Show Vault; Fair Moans for good sex


Human activity has so affected the Earth that its residue will be part of the fossil record millions of years from now: It’s a sobering idea. Think of molten rock fused with plastic (a real phenomenon), and you’ll get a sense of what many scientists propose we call the Anthropocene, a new geologic time period measured partly by our pollutants. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History calls We Are Nature: Living in the Anthropocene, which opens Oct. 28, the first exhibit in North American to focus exclusively on the concept. Exhibit designer Jaron Keener says that despite the gravity of the issue, the museum strived to make We Are Nature accessible, hopeful and even fun. Global warming, for instance, is explicated in the form of a display that’s a “funeral” for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, mortally threatened by rising ocean temperatures. Sea turtles are also endangered because warmer waters results in more female turtles than male. Another display explores human-made habitat alteration, like the golf courses so appealing to Canada geese that some have ceased migrating. 

But, Keener says, “It’s not all gloom and doom.” The exhibit also tracks success stories like bringing the gray wolf back from extinction, and saving eagles from DDT. Extinction is a key theme: One tongue-in-cheek display asks visitors to vote on the next “celebrity animal extinction” — which among a list of six endangered animals (black rhino, Sumatran tiger, etc.) would you miss most? — thereby emphasizing that most species saved from the brink of extinction were driven there by us. (“Votes” are cast with pocket change that goes toward relevant conservation efforts.)

The flip side is that our behavior is something we can alter — and must, because, as the show’s title says, “we are nature.” The goal, says Keener, is “to break down the line that people have sort of put up between themselves and nature.”

— Bill O’Driscoll

Exhibit opens 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat., Oct. 28. Exhibit continues through Sept. 4. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. 412-622-3131 or

Thu., Oct. 26 – Stage

Tonight’s workshop performance of Between Us and Grace, a play with music, kicks off the New Hazlett’s Theater’s Community Supported Art Performance Series season. The play, written by Clare Drobot and with music by Nathan Zoob, stars Chantelle Guido as Stella, 17, who looks to music to escape the strictures of her small-town religious upbringing; Ethan Saks plays a restless songwriter she meets one Sunday night. CSA is a subscription series, but single tickets are available. Bill O’Driscoll 8 p.m. 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $25.

Photo courtesy of John Altdorfer

Thu., Oct 26 – Stage

The Hard Problem, the 2015 work by iconic playwright Tom Stoppard that’s his first new one in nearly a decade, gets its regional premiere courtesy of Quantum Theatre. Here, the ever-witty and intellectually probing Stoppard (The Real Thing, Arcadia) tackles the “hard problem” of explaining why humans have consciousness through the story of Hilary, a young neurological researcher. Quantum takes over the fifth floor of the Energy Innovation Center for the production, directed by Rachel Stevens, the Point Park grad who assistant-directed acclaimed Broadway smash Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. The cast stars Alex Spieth, as Hilary, and includes such Pittsburgh favorites as Ken Bolden and Daina Michelle Griffith. The first performance is tonight. BO 8 p.m. (pay-what-you-can preview). Continues through Nov. 19. 1435 Bedford Ave., Hill District. $18-55.

Photo courtesy of Jordan Beckham

Thu., Oct. 26 – Party

Spending some of Halloween season at a place called Spirit makes sense. Especially when this year’s attraction is the Psychedelic Creep Show Vault, artist Ian Brill’s immersive, sound-responsive installation. The flashing, patterned colored lights are complemented by DJs, live music, people in costume, and booze. Events in the Vault series include tonight’s 21+, clothing-optional Underwear Ride After Party. Tomorrow, attractions include the DJs of Strangeways, and Los Angeles rapper Jonwayne. Saturday’s big Halloween bash features Jonathan Toubin, Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds and more, including a costume contest and free pizza until 10 p.m. BO 9 p.m. ($5 suggested donation). Vault events continue through Nov. 12 (ticket prices vary). 242 51st St., Lawrenceville. 412-586-4441 or

Art by Ricardo Vicente Jose Ruiz

Fri., Oct. 27 – Art

Join Artist Image Resource tonight for the opening of its Resident Artist Project Exhibition, featuring Ricardo Ruiz, Alisha Wormsley and Robert Hodge. With some of the artwork completed, and some still in progress, the show provides a look into the artists’ processes and their role in our community. Works touch upon themes of migration, time, women of color, and women in music. Amanda Reed 6-8 p.m. Exhibit continues through Nov. 26. 518 Foreland St., North Side. Free. 412-321-8664 or

Fri., Oct. 27 – Party

Fair Moans, a sex-positive Pittsburgh collective founded in 2015, kicks off a month-long workshop series at Los Sobrosos Dance Studio. Titled Sex Magick, tonight’s event explores what arouses us. But that’s not all: Things will heat up with a Sexy Gear & Gender Queer Fashion show, where attendees can strut down the runway in Fair Moans’ own handcrafted costumes. Stick around for the dance party, with tunes provided by DJs Mary Mack and Ginger Brooks Takahashi. AR 7-11 p.m. 4909 Penn Ave., Garfield. $10 suggested donation.

Photo courtesy of Harald Hoffmann

Fri., Oct. 27 – Music

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra continues marking music director Manfred Honeck’s 10th anniversary with the group this weekend. On the program are: a world premiere of former PSO Composer of the Year Sir James MacMillan’s Larghetto for Orchestra, originally for a cappella choir; Schumann’s Cello Concerto, with soloist Alisa Weilerstein; and Beethoven’s iconic Eroica, which will be recorded for future release. AR 8 p.m. Also 8 p.m. Sat., Oct. 28, and 2:30 p.m. Sun, Oct. 29. Heinz Hall, 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $20-94. 412-392-4900 or

Fri., Oct. 27 – Stage

What happens when physicists collaborate with improvisational artists? Tonight, The Ellipses Condition hosts another in its Invisible Jazz Labs series. Carnegie Mellon University physicists Alan McGaughey and Rebecca Taylor talk science, and artists from The Space Upstairs — musicians, movement artists, poet, chalk artist — get physical and visual with the concepts. Pearlann Porter hosts. BO 8 p.m. 214 N. Lexington St., Point Breeze. $10-15. (“invisible jazz”)

Fri., Oct. 27 – Dance

Balafon West African Dance Ensemble presents its Black River Showcase: Generations Together tonight, in collaboration with the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater. The program is a contemporary take on West African traditions and culture through energetic dance, elaborate costumes and emphatic live drumming, featuring choreography by Chicago-based, Guinean-born dance master Moustapha Bangoura. The troupe is led by “Mama” Kadiatou Conte-Forte. On Saturday, join Bangoura for a community dance workshop. AR 8 p.m. 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty (pay what you want). Workshop: 2 p.m. Sat., Oct. 28 (5530 Penn Ave., Friendship). $15 suggested donation. 412-363-3000 or

Fri., Oct. 27 – Party

Every so often, Renaissance Fulton Pittsburgh Hotel resurrects Heaven, the Downtown disco that occupied its grand lobby back in the early 1980s. Halloween’s as good a reason as any, so here’s Heaven once again, hosting Hell Bent or Heaven Sent, a 21+ party featuring the club’s original disco ball, a costume contest and even Metro Mix DJ John Hohman, one of Heaven’s original DJs. Expect an ’80s-heavy playlist. BO 9 p.m.-2 a.m. 107 Sixth St., Downtown. $20 (VIP: $50). (“heavenly pittsburgh”)

click to enlarge ART BY CHARLEE BRODSKY
Art by Charlee Brodsky

Sat., Oct. 28 – Art

For a city that touts its working-class heritage, Pittsburgh hasn’t really gone out of its way to represent working people in art (statues of sports heroes notwithstanding). The Battle of Homestead Foundation addresses the issue with Working Class Images, an exhibit featuring work by four notable local artists: photographer Charlee Brodsky and painters Robert Qualters, Jennifer Rempel and Peter Oresick. The show at the Bost Building, opens today with a reception honoring the artists, with the late Oresick represented by his wife, Stephanie Flom. BO Reception: 1-3 p.m. (free). Exhibit continues through Dec. 16. 623 E. Eighth Ave., Homestead. 412-478-5907 or

Photo courtesy of Nick Conti, Imagebox Productions

Sat., Oct. 28 – Music

Pittsburgh Camerata is unique here for its focus on choral music from the Renaissance and Baroque period and the 20th century, sung by a professional ensemble. This weekend’s program, Memories and Remembrances, includes compositions by Tomas Luis da Victoria (1548-1611) and contemporary talents like Daniel Elder, Ola Gjello and Ēriks Ešenvalds. Tonight’s performance is at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, in Highland Park, with a matinee tomorrow, at Heinz Chapel. BO 7:30 p.m. (5801 Hampton St.). Also 3 p.m. Sun., Oct. 29 (South Bellefield Avenue, Oakland). $5-25. 412-421-5884 or

Sat., Oct. 28 - Screen

Wes Craven fans, rejoice! View every entry of the 48 Hour Film Horror Project, locally sponsored by Pittsburgh Filmmakers, tonight at The Oaks Theater, featuring shorts by 12 local production companies like Gaff Tape and a Prayer and Goat Milk Fudge. Each seven-minute film was written, shot and edited Oct. 20-22. After tonight’s screening, learn the judge’s pick that will move on to Filmapalooza, an international festival in Paris, exclusively for films made in just two days. AR 7:30 p.m. 310 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont. Ticket prices TBD. 412-828-6322 or

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