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Short List: February 27 - March 2

Bricolage's 24-hour-play festival B.U.S. turns 10; magician Paul Gertner does TrickFlicks; Ira Glass presents Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host; author Sheri Fink speaks

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SPOTLIGHT: Fri., Feb. 27 — Stage

At 5:30 p.m. this Friday, six local playwrights will each board a different city bus and take a 90-minute ride. Then, at the New Hazlett Theater, they'll draft from among a pool of 25 actors the cast of the one-act play each will write (inspired by the bus ride) by 8 a.m. Saturday. Six directors will bid on the finished plays, then work all day with cast and crew to debut the plays at 8 p.m. Bricolage Production's B.U.S. 10 is the decennial of what's perhaps Pittsburgh's most artistically adventurous fundraiser. This year's participants, a mix of newcomers and B.U.S. vets, include playwrights Vanessa German, Matt Henderson, Melissa Martin and Mark Clayton Southers; directors Dana Hardy Bingham, Patrick Jordan and Cameron Knight; and a cross-section of some of the city's best actors. Bricolage Urban Scrawl moved to the Hazlett in 2013, after the event outgrew Bricolage's own Downtown space; the show's lots of fun for the audience, especially VIP ticket-holders who get to watch Friday's informal, audition-like "actor exhibition." But stuffing weeks' worth of stagecraft into 24 hours can be rough on the all-volunteer roster of artists. It's "incredibly risky stuff we're asking them to do, just because they love us," says Bricolage co-artistic director Tami Dixon. Bill O'Driscoll 7-9 p.m. Fri., Feb. 27 (VIP only) and 8 p.m. Sat., Feb. 28. 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $40-150. 412-471-0999 or www.BricolagePGH.org

Step Afrika! at Chatham University

Fri., Feb. 27 — Dance

Rhythmic stomps, lightning-quick handclaps and percussive chants overflow in the shows of Step Afrika!, the world's first professional troupe dedicated to stepping. Based on a long tradition in Africa, stepping draws from African dances like gumboot and thrived in the U.S. through historically African-American fraternities and sororities. Step Afrika!, a nationally touring advocate for the use of stepping in education, performs tonight at Chatham UniversityZacchiaus McKee 7 p.m. Eddy Theater, Chatham campus, Shadyside. Free. 412-365-1100 or www.stepafrika.org

Fri., Feb. 27 — Words

Jazz and poetry blend yet again as local poet Leslie Anne Mcilroy launches her new collection, titled Slag, with help from a trio led by saxophonist Kenny Blake. The Pittsburgh-based jazz master (and poetry fan) joins keyboardist Donna Davis and drummer Kevin Hindes to backup up Mcilroy at tonight's free show at Eclipse Lounge. Bill O'Driscoll 7 p.m. 3075 Butler St., Lawrenceville. Free. 412-251-0097

Paul Gertner Trick Flicks

Fri., Feb. 27 — Stage

You needn't be into stage magic to enjoy the work of Paul Gertner. His terrific 2013 show Braindrops cleverly incorporated his iPad into his sleight-of-hand and mind-reading bits. The globe-trotting, locally based magician — he's got a 30-city tour in China this summer — is back on stage with the world premiere of Paul Gertner's TrickFlicks. The show blends live sleight-of-hand and storytelling about life as a professional magician with larger-than-life images projected onscreen at the Oaks Theater. The family-friendly, evening-length show includes a VIP reception with Gertner as strolling magician. BO 8 p.m. 310 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont. $15-25. 412-828-6322 or www.theoakstheater.com

Carnegie Science Center, H2Oh
  • Photo courtesy of Carnegie Science Center

Sat., Feb. 28 — Exhibit

Americans use, on average, 150 gallons of water a day. Pittsburgh's three rivers are so integrated with the cityscape that it's easy to forget what a precious resource they are, and have been historically. A new permanent exhibit at Carnegie Science Center, H2Oh!, explores the science behind water, and Pittsburgh's rivers in particular. Learn about the environment, conservation, fluid dynamics and the web of life in an exhibit where you can make it rain, report the weather and interact with real fish. ZM 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 1 Allegheny Ave., North Side. $11.95-18.95. 412-237-3400 or www.carnegiesciencecenter.org

Sat., Feb. 28 — Stage

City Theatre stages the Pittsburgh premiere of Molly Smith Metzler's 2011 play Elemeno Pea. The play is a witty haves-and-have-nots comedy in which blue-collar Devon visits her well-to-do sister, Simone, personal assistant of trophy wife Michaela. The production, directed by City artistic director Tracy Brigden, features Ariel Woodiwiss (pictured), Anthony Comis and Tony Chiroldes in their City debuts. The cast also includes Kimberly Parker Green and Robin Abramson. The first performances are tonight. ZM 5:30 and 9 p.m. Continues through Sun., March 22. 1300 Bingham St., South Side. $36-61. 412-431-2489 or www.citytheatrecompany.org

Sat., Feb. 28 — Words

One of the bigger days on the Pittsburgh Poetry Collective's annual slam calendar is tonight's Battle of the Slams, at the Union Project. First, watch the hometown team, coached by Adriana Ramirez, square off against squads from Buffalo and Columbus for a chance to qualify for the National Poetry Slam this August, in Oakland, Calif. That's followed by a slam-off for individual poets, including Pittsburgh's Jesse Welch, Pareese Smith (a.k.a. Trust In God/TIG), Torrey Shineman and Jay Oriola. Tonight's event includes limited free drinks and food. BO Team slam: 7 p.m. Individual slam-off: 9 p.m. 801 N. Negley Ave., Highland Park. $10-15. BYOB. www.pghpoetry.org

Sat., Feb. 28 — Music

Weird science isn't just a 1980s John Hughes film. ArcAttack: Tesla Coil Music is an electrifying rock concert — literally. The Science Center's giant Tesla coil might light up the room, but this group of musican-scientists wield singing coils that throw 12-foot electrical arcs, and are accompanied by a robot drummer named King Beat. On the Tesla coil, ArcAttack plays songs ranging from the Doctor Who theme to "The Imperial March" from Star Wars. A family-friendly electricity lab takes place before tonight's Hillman Center for Performing Arts concert. ZM 7:30 p.m. Shadyside Academy, 423 Fox Chapel Road, Fox Chapel. $15-28. 412-968-3040 or www.thehillman.org

Sat., Feb. 28 — Opera

Opera needn't concern tragic queens; it can address contemporary life and social issues. To launch a series of commissioned operas, Opera Theater offers free workshop performances of A New Kind of Fallout, an opera based on the life and work of Rachel Carson. Composer Gilda Lyons and noted Pittsburgh-based playwright Tammy Ryan are creating this work about the Silent Spring author, set to premiere in July. At tonight's initial workshop, at Phipps Conservatory, cast members will perform selected scenes. Audiences can give feedback to help guide the work. BO 7:30 p.m. 1 Schenley Drive, Oakland. Free. 412-326-9687 or www.otsummerfest.org

PHOTO COURTESY OF ADRIANNE MATHIOWETZ
  • Photo courtesy of Adrianne Mathiowetz

Sat., Feb. 28 — Dance

Fortune smiled on Monica Bill Barnes when she met Ira Glass, host of public radio's This American Life, in 2012. She and her 18-year-old New York-based dance troupe, Monica Bill Barnes & Company Productions, have since enjoyed life-altering success, teaming with Glass for Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host. In its second year of touring, the 90-minute, intermissionless extravaganza blends music, radio interviews restaged as dance, and stories from the lives of performers Glass, Barnes and Anna Bass. Choreographed by Barnes — whose work is known for its potent mix of funny faces and heartache — the show is packed with humor, sight gags, confetti and Glass' own insights and charm. Stories include one about a group of Riverdance performers who are certain they'll win the lottery if they just dance hard enough, and Bass' experience dancing with strong-willed partner Barnes. "Chemically, we are similar movers," Barnes says of Bass, by phone from New York. "On stage she is a more generous performer than I am. I tend to be more reactive. Side-by-side it adds up to a perfect mixed message for audiences." Steve Sucato 8 p.m. Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $25-65. 412-456-6666 or www.trustarts.org

Journalist Susan Froetschel
  • Photo courtesy of Steve Dean

Sun., March 1 — Words

Susan Froetschel is a Pittsburgh native and a journalist who now works for online magazine YaleGlobal. She's also a novelist. Her fifth novel, Allure of Deceit (Prometheus Books), is a thriller set in postwar Afghanistan among aid workers scrambling to decide how best to spend a huge, unexpected bequest. Froetschel's previous novel, Fear of Beauty, was an award-winner; Publishers Weekly called Allure of Deceit a "subtle, thought-provoking mystery." Froetschel reads today at the book's Pittsburgh launch, at Amazing Books in Squirrel Hill. BO 1 p.m. 2030 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill. Free. 412-436-5535 or www.amazingbooksandrecords.com

Sheri Fink at Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures
  • Photo courtesy of Jen Dessinger

Mon., March 2 — Talk

Seven months after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Dr. Anna M. Pou and nurses Cheri Landry and Lori Budo were arrested for "plain and simple homicide" after giving lethal doses of morphine to suffering patients stranded in Memorial Medical Center. In her book Five Days at Memorial, physician and journalist Sheri Fink investigates the ethical dilemma these women faced and the resulting fallout. Fink, a Pulitzer Prize-winner for investigative reporting, speaks tonight at a Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Monday Night Lecture. ZM 7:30 p.m. Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $15-45. 412-622-8866 or www.pittsburghlectures.org

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