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Short List: June 1-8

An Act of God at the Public; Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival; Roots Pride takes its bow; Sinbad at the Carnegie Homestead

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SPOTLIGHT: Thu., June 1 — Stage

While living in Pittsburgh, Marcus Stevens graduated from Point Park University and racked up numerous stage credits in shows like the comedy musical Forever Plaid. After relocating to New York City, he added Forbidden Broadway to his resume. Now he can claim another monumental role: God. “I certainly don’t feel very God-like,” Stevens (pictured) says in an interview during rehearsals for An Act of God, at Pittsburgh Public Theater. “But that’s part of the joke of the show.” The play’s plot finds God, aided by the archangels Michael (Tim McGeever) and Gabriel (John Shepard), deciding to visit Earth to offer some new proclamations. It’s not a role that came easily to Stevens, who’s used to being a character actor rather than the lead. “It felt like I was scaling a mountain every day,” he says. Being back in town helped. “I haven’t been back performing in Pittsburgh in years,” he said. “It felt like coming home.” 

Stevens isn’t new to comedy that takes jabs, considering his work on Forbidden Broadway, which parodied hits like Annie and Phantom of the Opera. Act of God was written by David Javerbaum, a former writer on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Javerbaum also created the popular Twitter account @TheTweetOfGod, responsible for blunt quips about religion and current events, like: “You happened because I created monkeys and got arrogant.” The Public’s production is directed by artistic director Ted Pappas, whom Stevens said he has kept in touch with since he graduated college. Of Act of God, Stevens says, “I think it’s so smart. … It’s one of the smartest comedies I’ve read in a long time.” He stressed that An Act of God is very much for mature audiences. “If you’re not an adventurous theater-goer, you may want to give your ticket to someone else,” he says with a laugh.

Matt Petras 8 p.m. Continues through July 2. 621 Penn Ave., Downtown. $15.75-56. 412-316-1600 or www.ppt.org

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Thu., June 1 – Talk

Here come four days of big ideas at the August Wilson Center. Today’s day-long CREATE 2017, co-sponsored by the Pittsburgh Technology Council and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, offers two free attractions: the Innovation Salon exhibition and marketplace, with everything from 3D-printing workshops to tiny-house tours, and Ideafest, a series of talks and performances exploring innovation. (Ticketed events follow at night.) And from Friday evening through Sunday, pop-up research center The AWC Lab gives “artists whose work affirms and projects the futures of people of African descent” the chance to share their findings with the public. AWC Labs’ free workshops, panels, performances and film screenings include “Building Future Cities,” our relationship with plants, a youth music showcase, and much more. Bill O’Driscoll CREATE: Noon-9 p.m.; www.pghtech.org. AWC Lab: Fri., June 2-Sun., June 4; www.awclab.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF MO HARRIS
  • Photo courtesy of Mo Harris

Thu., June 1 – Stage

Starting tonight, 12 Peers Theater stages the one-man play Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) at Pitt’s Studio Theatre. The production stars Matt Henderson, an actor with a broad portfolio in the Pittsburgh area. Written by Will Eno, the 2004 play is composed mainly of strange, meandering narration about discomforting memories; past productions have involved audience interaction. “Eno’s brilliantly crafted monologue is a direct descendant of the spare, absurdist writings of Samuel Beckett,” writes Philip Brandes of the Los Angeles Times. Matt Petras 8 p.m. Continues through June 18. 4200 Fifth Ave, Oakland. $20. 412-626-6784 or www.12peerstheater.org

PHOTO COURTESY OF AARON JACKENDOFF
  • Photo courtesy of Aaron Jackendoff

Fri., June 2 – Dance

There’s a good chance you’ve never seen anything quite like Thought Pockets. This site-specific street-performance series by The Ellipses Condition employs choreography and colored chalk. Performers draw on the pavement to accent the dance, which Ellipses calls “impossibly slow movement.” The dancers, often in groups, contort their bodies in elegant patterns that unfold glacially. View today’s installment near the corner of Stanwix and Forbes; two more performances follow next weekend, at new locations. MP 4-7 p.m. Also June 9 and June 10 (locations and times TBA). Downtown. Free. www.thoughtpockets.com

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Fri., June 2 – Festival

The Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival begins with a splash — a building-side rappelling-dance number by Austin, Texas-based troupe Blue Lapis Light. But there’s plenty more to the 10 days of free music and art that comprise the 58th annual fest. Big draws include such music headliners as Rebirth Brass Band (tonight), Las Cafeteras (Sun., June 4) and St. Paul and the Broken Bones (June 11). Public art includes the Portugal-born Umbrella Sky Project (just what it sounds like), in Gateway Center, and Tidal (lead artist: Shilo Shiv Suleman), an interactive geofeedback piece with metal and fabric “clouds” whose LEDs mimic the motion of the three rivers in real time. The fest’s art exhibits include a Pittsburgh incarnation of Drap Art, the Barcelona, Spain-based festival for artists who use trash as medium, and the annual Juried Visual Art Exhibition, with work by 50 artists from the region. There are also plenty of kids’ activities, movies at the Harris Theater, the familiar artists’ market and food vendors, and more, all in and around Point State Park and the Cultural District. BO Noon-9 p.m. Continues daily through June 11. Free. Downtown. 412-456-6666 or www.trustarts.org

PHOTO COURTESY OF DAN DION
  • Photo Courtesy of Dan Dion

Fri., June 2 – Comedy

Tom Papa is a comic’s comic. You might not have heard of him, but some comedians call him one of the best in the business. Jerry Seinfeld recruited Papa to open for him on tour after seeing Papa do a set at New York’s Comedy Cellar. Tonight’s show, at the Oaks Theater, is all-ages, but Papa, who looks like your father’s accountant, still delivers with an edge, working in the classic style of Dick Cavett or Mort Sahl. Like his take on the difference between the super-rich and the rest of us: “They don’t do this. They don’t come out to the ass-end of Cleveland, sit in the dark and listen to jokes.” Charlie Deitch 7 p.m. 310 Allegheny Blvd., Oakmont. $30-35. 412-828-6322 or www.theoakstheater.com

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Fri., June 2 – Comedy

Beloved comedian and actor Sinbad comes to the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall. While many remember him as the obnoxious mailman in the Christmas classic Jingle All the Way, Sinbad has decades of experience doing standup. Although his material is clean, he doesn’t shy from talking serious topics like race and politics. The comic recently told Slate that he doesn’t strictly follow a script: “If you watch me three times, I’m going to give you three different shows.” MP 8 p.m. 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. $36-56. 877-435-9849 or www.librarymusichall.com

Sat., June 3 – Festival

Roots Pride Pittsburgh calls tonight’s party, at the August Wilson Center, The Final Turn Up. That’s because it’s the final edition of this 3-year-old grassroots alternative to the Delta Foundation’s annual Pride Festival, which Roots Pride organizers called too corporate and not inclusive enough. Tonight’s headliner is nationally known, Brooklyn-based rapper Junglepussy, along with Philadelphia’s DJ Delish and local talents Joy KMT and kNOwSHADE, a tribute to ballroom culture and more. Roots Pride, presented by Sanctuary and True T Entertainment, also includes Sunday afternoon’s Roots Pride panel, with local artists and activists addressing the topic QT Futurisms: What’s Next For Pittsburgh. BO Party: 9 p.m.-2 a.m. (admission is pay-what-you-can). Panel: 3:30 p.m. Sun., June 4 (free). 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown. www.facebook.com (“roots pride pittsburgh”)

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Sun., June 4 – Words

TEDx Pittsburgh is the independently organized local incarnation of those widely social-media’d TED talks exploring new ideas in technology, entertainment and design. This year’s event, grandly titled “Awakening Ideas on the Rise,” features a day-long roster of speakers, performers and filmmakers delving into their “moments of clarity” on ideas ranging from mental health, empathy and medical technology to behavioral design, and truth-telling in news media. Presenters at the Byham Theater at this Pittsburgh Cultural Trust-sponsored event include Manchester Craftsman’s Guild founder Bill Strickland; PublicSource executive director Mila Sanina; mental-health advocate Julius Boatwright (pictured);  Carnegie Mellon University’s Hannah du Plessis; and Chris #2 Barker, of Anti-Flag. Filmmaker Emmai Alaquiva and comedian Gab Bonnesso host. Tickets include lunch; a VIP ticket comes with a one-year Pittsburgh Cultural Trust membership. BO 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $30 (VIP: $50). 412-456-6666 or www.trustarts.org

PHOTO COURTESY OF LAILA ARCHULETA
  • Photo courtesy of Laila Archuleta

Wed., June 7 – Music

Shadyside Presbyterian Church is presenting a series of Wednesday-night concerts called Music for Midsummer Nights. Tonight, for the first of these, the church welcomes the Pittsburgh Camerata, a choral group, and Chatham Baroque, an ensemble that uses 17th- and 18th-century instruments. Tonight’s program features music by Handel, including Chandos Anthems. The groups have a sterling reputation; when Chatham Baroque accompanied a performance of Handel’s Julius Caesar last year, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Mark Kanny called them “world-class.” Students can attend for free. MP 7 p.m. 5121 Westminster Place, Shadyside. $10-15. 412-682-4300 or www.shadysidepres.org


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