Bricolage's B.U.S., Pittsburgh Playwrights' Valu-Mart | Program Notes

Bricolage's B.U.S., Pittsburgh Playwrights' Valu-Mart

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We're entering high season for Pittsburgh theater, so there's plenty going on, but here's a couple last or only chances for this weekend.

Both involve smaller companies that consistently do good work in the shadow of much bigger cultural institutions Downtown.

The last chance is for Valu-Mart, a Pittsburgh premiere by West Virginia-based playwright Sean O'Leary. The drama concerns a demographically mixed group of employees at a Wal-Martish superstore, all locked in a room because a display-case key is missing. It's gotten solid reviews as the kind of entertaining yet socially conscious work Playwrights is known for. (Here's CP's review, by Ted Hoover: www.pittsburghcitypaper.ws/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A76591.)

Valu-Mart concludes with shows at 8 p.m. Fri., March 27; 8 p.m. Sat., March 28; and 2 p.m. Sun., March 29 (412-394-3353 or www.pghplaywrights.com).

The lone chance is for Bricolage Urban Scrawl. This is the troupe's annual fundraiser, but as fundraisers go, B.U.S. is as original, as ambitious, and as much about the art itself, as they come.

Each year for the past four, Bricolage braintrusters Jeff Carpenter and Tami Dixon have sent six playwrights on city bus rides on a Friday night, and ordered them to turn up 12 hours later, each with a completed one-act play inspired by the experience.

Then the playwrights -- plus six directors and a couple dozen actors -- get a whole 'nother 12 hours to hole up and mount the premiere of said play. And the six premieres constitute the fundraiser.

I attended the first B.U.S., in 2006, and recall it as a raucous affair. (Comedies, as you'd imagine, predominated.) This year's is similarly promising, with such seasoned playwrights as Lynne Conner, F.J. Hartland, Amy Hartman, Sloan MacRae, Dean Poyner and Tammy Ryan.

Moreover, Bricolage has also corraled some of the city's best directors -- John Amplas, Lisa Ann Goldsmith, Sheila McKenna, Robin Walsh, Mark Clayton Southers and Brad Stephenson -- and a host of top actors.

At $50, B.U.S. is pretty cheap for a fundraiser. For the talent on hand, that's an even smaller price to pay.

B.U.S. rolls at 7:30 p.m. Sat., March 27, at the Bricolage space, 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown. (412-381-6999 or tami@webbricolage.org)

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