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Short List: March 25

ESP TV gets mental at The Shop; fireWALL Dance gets Perspectives; Sally Wiggin gets the Mondo! treatment; Terrance Hayes gets a book-launch

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Spotlight: Thu., April 2 — Screen

If ESP TV sounds like a bizarre brainwashing cult, it's because that's what they want you to think. A Brooklyn-based mobile studio that works with artists to broadcast performance and visual art on public-access television, ESP TV uses a full team of cameramen, sound engineers and video mixers in front of an audience to expose the process of production. Following international screenings and work with institutions like the Whitney Museum and the New School, ESP TV travels to Pittsburgh for a live taping at The Shop, in Bloomfield. Performers include: locally based, internationally known movement artist Bill Shannon; Pittsburgh-based rock bands Robin Vote and Come Holy Spirit; and the Institute for New Feeling, an art collective dedicated to "ways of feeling new." In a multimedia night, also expect oddly trippy videos by Sabrina Ratté, Jeremy Couillard, Jeremy Rotzstain and Peter Burr. "Our mission is threefold: to expand on the idea of an artist collaboration and the live experience, to preserve television as a relevant outlet for cultural practice, and to create programming that works against the categorization of creative communities," ESP TV director Scott Kiernan has said. "Unclassifiable" is a word used to describe ESP TV events. Zacchiaus McKee 9 p.m. 4312 Main St., Bloomfield. Free. 412-951-0622 or www.esptv.com

Thu., March 26 — Games

For reasons mysterious, the classic kids' pastime of marbles remains more popular in Pittsburgh than almost anywhere; eight of the past 10 national champions have hailed from Allegheny County. This week, the Allegheny County Marbles Program begins, with free games and lessons for "mibsters" 14 and under at various schools, parks and community centers through May. Today and tomorrow, it's at the Millvale Boys & Girls Club; March 30-April 10, the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills hosts sessions. Winners of the county tournament, May 28-30, qualify for nationals in Wildwood, N.J. Bill O'Driscoll 3-5 p.m. 500 Farragut St., Millvale; 412-821-5779. Program continues through May 27. www.alleghenycounty.us/parks

Thu., March 26 — Stage

Point Park's professional theatre company, The REP, closes its season with the premiere of Pittsburgh playwright Anthony McKay's Endless Lawns. This dramedy follows a man revisiting his old Connecticut stomping grounds and trying to convince his childhood friends to capitalize on their departed father's career. The production, directed by Gregory Lehane, features Laurie Klatscher, Cary Anne Spear, Jason McCune and Mark Staley. The first performance is tonight. Zacchiaus McKee 8 p.m. Continues through April 12. Pittsburgh Playhouse, 222 Craft Ave., Oakland. $15-27. 412-392-8000 or www.pittsburghplayhouse.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF MIGUEL ANGEL
  • Photo courtesy of Miguel Angel

Thu., March 26 — Dance

Two journeys of self-discovery collide in fireWALL Dance Theater's Perspectives (as). The hour-long production interweaves solo dances by Madrid, Spain-based dancer/choreographer Carlotta Storelli and fireWALL artistic director Elisa-Marie Alaio. Excerpted from her "Falling Leaves" and set to original music by Jan Huge Saabye, Storelli's three solos are about "stripping herself down to her most vulnerable state," says co-choreographer Jenna Rae Smith. "She unmasks herself to come to terms with who she is." Alaio's Smith-choreographed solos, set to original music by Ryan McMasters, depict feelings of alienation and the struggle to retain one's mask. Performed on a stage divided by a band of light, the six alternating solos culminate in a duet choreographed by Smith in which the two journeys combine. Perspectives (as) marks Switzerland native Storelli's U.S. debut. Smith says that the show arose after off the WALL Performing Arts Center managing director Hans H. Gruenert ran across Storelli's work during a random Vimeo search. Perspectives (as) receives five performances this weekend. Steve Sucato 8 p.m. Continues through Sun., March 29. 25 W. Main St., Carnegie. $5-25. 888-718-4253 or www.insideoffthewall.com

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Thu., March 26 — Comedy

Felipe Esparza was performing standup comedy long before he won NBC's Last Comic Standing in 2010. But he's since worked hard to develop a distinct delivery (quick, yet deliberate) and a distinct look (think love child of Luis Guzman and Hurley from Lost). His material ranges from Latino stereotypes to fatherhood: "There's no self-help book for single dads. There's no book called How to Raise a Perfect Kid From 12-9 on Saturdays." He brings his unique style to the Pittsburgh Improv for six shows starting tonight. Charlie Deitch 8 p.m. Continues through Sun., March 29. 166 E. Bridge St., West Homestead (The Waterfront). $15. 412-462-5233 or www.pittsburgh.improv.com

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Fri., March 27 — Crafts

In 2013, the "Knit the Bridge" yarn installation covered The Andy Warhol Bridge. Now in its 11th year, the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival returns with new installations and activities for knitters and crocheters everywhere. Special events include a PJ party and design contest; a yarn-sampling party; an exhibitor marketplace; and a 78-foot waterfall of yarn art hanging from the third and second floors of the Westin Hotel Convention Center lobby. The three-day convention begins today. ZM 1-7 p.m. Also 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily Sat., March 28, and Sun., March 29. 1000 Penn Ave., Downtown. $10-25. 412-281-3700 or www.pghknitandcrotchet.com

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Fri., March 27 — Astronomy

Eighteen miles outside of the city, the skies are clearer and the stars look brighter. At Wagman Observatory, in Deer Lake Regional Park, the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh hosts its March Star Parties. Visitors can inspect the spring sky and say goodbye to some of the winter constellations. The first quarter moon, Venus and Jupiter will also be visible. Tonight is the first of this weekend's two weather-permitting star parties. ZM 7:40 p.m. Also 7:40 p.m. Sat., March 28. 1090 Bailey Run Road, Frazer. Free. 724-224-2510 or www.3ap.org

Sat., March 28 — Words

"He is a novelty in this little community of ranch houses, of assistant managers and teachers and housewives," Dave Housley writes about the lead singer of a KISS cover band. In his new collection of rock 'n' roll short stories, If I Knew the Way, I Would Take You Home, State College-based Housley examines the desperation and triumphs of growing older through the prism of music. Local writers Kris Collins, Shelia Squillante and Rachel Ann Brickner join Housley tonight for a launch party and reading at East End Book Exchange. ZM 7 p.m. 4754 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. Free. 412-224-2847 or www.eastendbookexchange.com

Sat., March 28 — Comedy

What becomes a local TV-news legend most? How about improv comedy? Sally Wiggin is the special guest tonight for Mondo! onstage at the Oaks Theater. The troupe Make Nice Boom starts things off with an audience-judged team improv contest. At 9:30 p.m., Wiggin (in her second turn at Mondo!) tells "true-to-life stories" as the raw material for improvised comedic scenes. BO 8 p.m. 310 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont. $12-17. www.oakstheater.com

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Mon., March 30 – Words

A half-century after the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, Ethel Payne's name remains largely unspoken. But in his new book, Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, The First Lady of the Black Press, biographer James McGrath Morris tells the story of this pioneering African-American journalist. Payne, who wrote for the Chicago Defender and Pittsburgh Courier, reported on the civil-rights era from a black perspective. Morris will discuss and sign copies of his book tonight at Big Idea Bookstore. ZM 7 p.m. 4812 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. Free. 412-687-4323 or www.thebigideapgh.wordpress.com

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Tue., March 31 — Words

"It was when or because she became two kinds / of mad, both a feral nail biting into a plank / and a deranged screw cranking into a wood beam, / the aunt — I shouldn't say her name, / went at the fullest hour of the night, / the moon there like an unflowered bulb / in a darkness like mud, or covered in darkness / as a bulb or skull is covered in mud ..." So begins "The Carpenter Ant," from How to Be Drawn, Terrance Hayes' eagerly awaited follow-up his National Book Award-winning Lighthead (2010). The poet, a Pitt professor, reads tonight at the free book-launch at The University Store on Fifth. BO 7 p.m. 4000 Fifth Ave., Oakland. Free. 412-648-1455

Thu., April 2 — Stage

Anya Martin has been intrigued by the legend of John Henry since childhood. But the Hiawatha Project theater artist's new play, JH: Mechanics of a Legend, is heavily influenced by Scott Reynolds Nelson's Steel Drivin' Man, a 2006 book that argued that the fellow who the song tells us "died with his hammer in his hand" while racing a steam-drill through a mountain was a real-life African-American laborer (in West Virginia, no less). The music-filled work-in-progress exploring race, slavery, capitalism and more, featuring Monteze Freeland as John Henry, is staged tonight as part of the New Hazlett Theater's Community Supported Art series. BO 8 p.m. 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $20. 412-320-4610 or www.newhazletttheater.org

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