Short List: September 11 - 18

September 11, 2013
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- Art by Jessica Freylinghausen.

Thu., Sept. 12 — Art

"[A]n environment burgeoning with opportunity" might not be how everyone would describe Detroit. But artists are different. And so as one of three new exhibitions marking its 35th anniversary, The Mattress Factory presents Detroit: Artists in Residence, featuring artists who live and work in The Largest American City to Declare Bankruptcy. As Design 99, Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope use abandoned houses as their medium, creating both art and off-the-grid structures; their work has been exhibited world-wide. Nationally known Jessica Frelinghuysen creates portable architectural spaces, like kids' backpacks that hold plant seedlings. Internationally exhibited Scott Hocking makes sculptural installations in iconic abandoned buildings in Detroit. Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller perform as the dark electronic pop band ADULT; their props and sets are exhibited as installations. Also exhibiting are Russ Orlando, who blends ceramics, performance and photography, and Frank Pahl, who creates large installations from found materials to produce orchestrated sound. The Sept. 12 Detroit opening in the museum's main building complements two other new solo shows: Janine Antoni, by the New York City-based performance and installation artist known for questioning the roles of femininity and the female body, in 1414 Monterey Street; and Chiharu Shiota: Trace of Memory, by the Japanese performance and installation artist, launching the museum's brand-new space at 516 Sampsonia Way. Bill O'Driscoll Reception: 7-9 p.m. Thu., Sept. 12. 500 Sampsonia Way, North Side. $15. 412-231-3169 or www.mattress.org

Thu., Sept. 12 — Stage

Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre has had a virtual lock locally on playwright Martin McDonagh, who in the 1990s stormed the theater world with profanely nervy, often bloody plays like The Lieutenant of Inishmore. But even PICT had never assayed A Skull in Connemara, from McDonagh's Leenane trilogy. Starting tonight, PICT stages this 1997 dark comedy, a whodunnit about a small-town gravedigger confronted with the bones of his own wife, who died mysteriously. Martin Giles directs a cast including nationally credited actor James Keegan. Bill O'Driscoll 8 p.m. Charity Randall Theatre, Stephen Foster Memorial, Forbes Avenue at Bigelow, Oakland. $20-48. 412-561-6000 or www.picttheatre.org

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Thu., Sept. 12 — Stage

With her spoken-word work and other performances — often through the arts group she co-founded, Sun Crumbs — Christina Springer was a key voice in Pittsburgh's 1990s art scene. After a decade away for motherhood, Springer returns as performer and presenter with her one-woman show She Diva Died. & Come Again? Text, sound and movement explore the conflict between the artist and the mother, with a focus on the challenges of raising a young black man. See it tonight and tomorrow at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater. BO 8 p.m. Also 8 p.m. Fri., Sept. 13. 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. $15-50. www.kelly-strayhorn.org

Fri., Sept. 13 — Festival

Fans of The Big Lebowski, your moment is now. Weather Permitting presents its first annual Pittsburgh Abides: "That's Not Her Toe, Dude" at Bayardstown Social Club. The evening features Lebowski-themed events including a costume contest and a bowling-ball-polishing competition, all culminating in a screening. The event is self-seating, so bring your own blankets and chairs — or maybe a nice rug, to really tie the room together. Brett Wilson 5 p.m. 3008 Penn Ave., Strip District. $10. www.pghabides.com

Art by Bea Chiappelli
  • Art by Bea Chiappelli

Fri., Sept. 13 — Art

Samuel Johnson called patriotism "the last refuge of a scoundrel." But in Pittsburgh-based photographer Bea Chiapelli's Proud to be an American?, there's more to it. "I began this project with a close-minded view of what it meant to be patriotic," says Chiapelli. But her views have changed, and the show explores how flags, songs and other expressions of patriotism often divide us in love of country. The opening reception at 709 Penn Gallery is tonight. BO 6-8 p.m. 709 Penn Ave., Downtown. Free. www.trustarts.org

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Fri., Sept. 13 — Art

From the 1920s until urban redevelopment blew it up a few decades later, the Hill District was a national locus of African-American culture — home to the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper, an iconic jazz scene and more. In a new exhibit of her paintings at Sweetwater Center for the Arts, Leslie Ansley honors that past, including Hill natives like photographer Teenie Harris and playwright August Wilson, and frequent visitors like Dizzy Gillespie. The opening reception for Oasis is tonight. BO 6-9 p.m. Exhibit continues through Nov. 2. 200 Broad St., Sewickley. Free. 412-741-4405 or www.sweetwaterartcenter.org

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Fri., Sept. 13 — Words

New York Times best-selling author Wiley Cash visits Chatham University as part of its annual Melanie Brown Lecturer Series. Cash gives a free reading from his upcoming novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, and from previous bestseller A Land More Kind Than Home, a tale about the evil two brothers must face. The New York Times Sunday Book Review called Land More Kind "intensely felt and beautifully told." BW 8 p.m. Mellon Board Room, Mellon Hall, Chatham campus, Shadyside. Free. 412-365-1100 or www.chatham.edu/mfa

Fri., Sept. 13 – Stage

Seems like almost anything can happen in Jason Burkett's play Saving the World, an absurdist comedy about a scientific discovery that could: (a) end hunger, or (b) destroy humanity. Reviewing the world-premiere 2003 production, in California, one critic summarized: "God arm-wrestles with the devil, bullets get shot out of the air, Dr. Sharon takes an inflatable T-Rex to the mat, and Dr. Healy goes into labor." And that's just in Act II. Starting tonight, Throughline Theatre Company tackles the local premiere of this philosophical slapstick. BO 8 p.m. Grey Box Theatre, 3595 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $12-15 (opening night: $22-25). www.throughlinetheatre.org

Photo courtesy of Louis Stein.
  • Photo courtesy of Louis Stein.

Fri., Sept. 13 — Comedy

All-female comedy troupe Frankly Scarlett lost a core member when Robin Hitchcock left the continent last year, moving to South Africa. But her current visit is a great excuse to name the group's new show The Frankly Scarlett Comedy Hour: World Domination. Tonight and tomorrow, at Arcade Comedy Theater, Hitchcock joins Abby Fudor and Liz Labacz for a night of original sketches, impromptu improv games, comic videos and a little song and dance. A couple male performers will contribute, but the improv is all-female. BO 8 p.m. Also 8 p.m. Sat., Sept. 14. 811 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $5-10. www.arcadecomedytheater.com

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Fri., Sept. 13 — Opera

Composer Tobias Picker and librettist Gene Scheer are big names in contemporary opera. Fans of Microscopic Opera Company know Picker's Fantastic Mr. Fox and Scheer's Three Decembers and To Hell and Back. Thérèse Raquin is the pair's 2001 adaptation of Emile Zola's tragic romance/murder story. Starting tonight, Microscopic stages the chamber version at CAPA High School Theater, with seven singers and an 18-piece orchestra. Katherine Drago, Dimitrie Lazich and Anna Singer star. Following tonight's opening-night performance, Picker himself joins company artists for a conversation. BO 8 p.m. Also Sun., Sept. 15; Tue., Sept. 17; Thu., Sept. 19; and Sat., Sept. 21. 111 Ninth St., Downtown. $15-35. www.microscopicopera.org

Sat., Sept. 14 — Stage

Black Angels Over Tuskegee is Layon Gray's 2010 play about the Tuskegee Airmen, who became, during World War II, the nation's first African-American military pilots, navigators, bombardiers and aircraft-maintenance men. An off-Broadway production had a long run, and now Pittsburgh's New Horizon Theater has teamed with the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial of the Greater Pittsburgh Region to stage the show, with the off-Broadway cast. The inspirational drama, focusing on six pilot trainees confronting racism and other obstacles, is on stage tonight only at the Byham Theater. BO 8 p.m. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $25-50 ($100 ticket includes reception). 412-456-6666 or www.trustarts.org

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Mon., Sept. 16 – Words

Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon's pretty much universally praised 2012 novel, is about neighborhoods, class, race, music geekery, record stores, kung fu, young love, married love and midwifery — but it's mostly about fathers and sons, long-lost, surrogate, conflicted and otherwise. And it's all propelled by Chabon's almost offhandedly gorgeous prose. The book is out in paperback — the occasion of Chabon's first visit in some years to the town where he studied creative writing, at Pitt, back in the '80s. His short book tour includes Barnes & Noble at the Waterfront, tonight. BO 6 p.m. 100 W. Bridge St., West Homestead. Free. 412-832-0622

Thu., Sept. 19 — Words

Charles Bock's first book, the 2008 novel Beautiful Children, was set in Las Vegas — where Bock grew up in a family of pawnbrokers — and focused on homeless teenage runaways. The novel was named a New York Times Notable Book and won the Sue Kaufman Award for First Fiction. Bock, who lives in New York, has also contributed to Esquire and Harper's on subjects like animation and youth basketball. His free reading tonight opens the University of Pittsburgh's Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers series. BO 8:30 p.m. Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, Schenley Plaza, Oakland. Free. 412-624-6506 or www.pghwriterseries.wordpress.com

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