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Arts

Kinetic Theatre’s World Premiere of “The Illustrious Invalid”

There is a saying in the world of martial arts that “Control is the mother of speed,” and it could be said that in the world of theater, control – in the form of precise writing, acting, and directing – is the mother of farce.  In both cases, when speed is the sole objective, things …

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The Tamburitzans, Pittsburgh’s Oldest Stage Act, Holds Fundraising Gala

“The Tamburitzans share the world’s cultures through folk song and dance, as well as through authentic ethnic dress, with audiences across the United States,” said Alyssa Bushunow, Tamburitzans Executive Director. “By coming together to celebrate the folk culture of diverse nations — most traditionally those in Central and Eastern Europe —The Tamburitzans transcend politics to …

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PICT Theatre’s “Endgame”

“Endgame” is an enormous play set in a small room occupied by four persons who speak absurdly, recounting stories or delivering monologues apropos of nothing — as nursing home residents often do — prompted by memories that float into their minds from the effects of old age, disease, or boredom.  Written by Samuel Beckett as …

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Pittsburgh Opera’s “In a Grove” – a Revelation of Sound and Sight

In speaking of opera, French composer Claude Debussy praised what he termed “music that’s lit from within,” and this might be the best way to describe Pittsburgh Opera’s world premiere of “In a Grove,” a phantasmagoric reinterpretation of the eponymous story by Japan’s great modernist writer, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa.  The original narrative, published in 1922 — …

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The War Against Aesthetics in Contemporary Literature

There used to be a saying in the painting department at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, “If you can’t make it good, make it red; if you can’t make it red, make it big,” which, as I understand, was not meant to be cynical, but to mock those attending art school for reasons …

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Jazz Renaissance

It’s hard to play the alto sax when you’re wearing a mask, so Tony Campbell simply cut a hole in his and played right through the pandemic, appearing at any number of venues from Wallace’s Whiskey Room + Kitchen in East Liberty to a concert on the lawn at a private home in Forest Hills …

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Back in the Lights!

After a one-year hiatus, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Pointe in Time gala returned to The Westin Saturday with an evening of dining, dancing and performance, including a sneak peek at choreography from Artistic Director Susan Jaffe’s new staging of “Swan Lake,” which will debut at the Benedum Center in May. The event welcomed 400 guests and took …

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PICT Emerges from the Darkness with a Brilliant “As You Like It”

It’s certainly more than a little ironic that the last play I reviewed before the pandemic shut down all the theaters nearly two years ago was a work by Shakespeare, set in a forest, and performed by PICT Classical Theatre in the Fred Rogers Studio at WQED. . . and now in reviewing the first …

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Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Myth?

In all the productions I’ve attended over the past several decades, I’ve never seen a playwright attack the play he was adapting in the program notes. Jay Ball writes that when director Jed Allen Harris asked him to collaborate on a production of Homer’s eighth century BCE epic poem “The Odyssey” for Quantum Theatre, he …

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The Triumph of “The Current War”

Since the emergence of drama two-and-a-half-millennia ago, the theater’s greatest enemy has always been the plague. It is no coincidence that during the fifth century BCE, as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides were writing the first great tragedies, Hippocrates was writing the first great medical treatise, called the Epidemics. Theater, unlike virtually any other art form, …

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Decorating the Silver Screen

Jan Pascale would be really great on a scavenger hunt. Fifty place settings of vintage Blue Willow china? A candlestick telephone? Camera equipment from the 1930s? A lineup of old, clunky manual typewriters? As a set decorator, she found all this and much more just for one movie, “Mank.” As Pascale said, “We did a …

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Who Quotes Nero?

Poems have birthdays but no funerals. They somehow manage to outlive their creators as well as the times and cultures in which they were written. Why? How? Numerous answers have been given—some academic, others pedestrian, and still others with silence and a shrug. The common theme that appears in these various answers is that poems …

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George Lange: Through a Joyful Lens

Internationally renowned photographer George Lange grew up in Squirrel Hill and recently returned with his family to live in his childhood home. He credits the joy from his Pittsburgh childhood with influencing his playful approach to photography, which often involves allowing his subjects to reveal sides of themselves that are not often shared. “I am …

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Photo as Fact?

Living through the COVID-19 pandemic will become another watershed moment in our lives, and we will be asking “Where were you when…” for years to come. I remember what I was doing when the planes hit the twin towers on 9/11, but the event that rocked my world was the assassination of JFK. I might …

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Restarting Pittsburgh’s Arts Economy

In late summer of 1606, one of the liveliest theatre seasons London, England, had known was abruptly shut down by the sudden onset of bubonic plague. When public entertainments were allowed to resume almost two years later in April 1608, several drama companies that had flourished pre-plague were nowhere to be found. William Shakespeare’s company, …

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Austin’s “South by Southwest”—Should It Happen in Pittsburgh?

Until the sudden cancellation Friday due to coronavirus concerns, the world’s biggest annual Spring Break for tech/media hotshots and musicians was ready to reconvene March 13–22 all over the fair city of Austin, Texas. South By Southwest (SXSW) is a massive gathering of music, film, comedy, interactive media performers and speakers that in 2019 hosted 2,200 musical …

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The Carnegie’s Jasper Johns Exhibition: Out of Step With His Time and Ours

The major fall show at the Carnegie Museum of Art, “An Art of Changes: Jasper Johns Prints, 1960–2018,” raises questions about the museum’s programming. Jasper Johns is an American master whose work set the stage for pop art, which, in turn, changed the course of art of the last 75 years. He merged abstract expressionist …

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Pittsburgh Cultural Events Calendar

In every issue, in partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Quarterly presents a calendar of arts and events happening in Downtown Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. Copies of this 16-page guide are also made available in theaters, venues, restaurants and hotels across downtown. Complete with a 3-month season-at-a-glance calendar, you’ll see just how many not-to-miss events …

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PICT’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

There is an effulgence to William Shakespeare’s work that is always better to channel than to distort. And this is especially true of the luminous “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” his first undeniable masterpiece, composed during the winter of 1595-96, and performed this midwinter in sly context by PICT Classic Theatre. For when better to have …

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City Theatre’s “Downstairs” Showcases Pittsburgh’s Dazzling Acting Talent

The stage of City Theatre’s “Downstairs” is an open maw of things forsaken, a dirty basement stuffed with so many neglected and discarded items—tools and tires and crates and old clothes and worn-out furniture—that it casts the audience in the dingy ether of pathos well before the lights go down. Tony Ferrieri’s overpowering set is …

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Liberty Magic: Magic on Liberty

“I know what you’re thinking.” It’s a common expression, an uncommon occurrence—you don’t actually know what somebody is thinking. Were that the case, we’d hardly do any thinking at all. But Liberty Magic knows what you’re thinking. This hidden gem is tucked away on Liberty Avenue, right in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. The 60-seat …

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Nuts About Nutcrackers

When Steubenville comes to mind, you probably don’t think of the Rust Belt town as a travel destination. Mayor Jerry Barilla has been intent on changing that and the narrative of industrial decline that has dominated the town. Its population of 18,000 is less than half what it was in 1940—between 1980 and 2000, Weirton-Steubenville …

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