Here are the things NWT loved (or didn’t) this week, and a few (or more) things to look forward to this weekend.
Highlights this week were beautiful & jarring performative memorials (in theatre, visual arts & dance) to queer Black mothers, trans women of color, and Black lives stolen by police violence; a Sunday Dinner; plus new openers and short runs this weekend.
For details on any of the shows (like times & ticket info), view them by date on the Calendar page.
This week in shows was way more intense than anticipated. It turned out to be, from start to finish, a week connected by incredibly tough, moving, timely, beautiful art — about murder. Lots of murder, lots of guns, lots of silencing of already marginalized and minimized voices. But in those memorials, they also carried hope and strength.
Read on below for NWT’s week in review. But first, here are a few things to catch this week.
For a few short runs, this week is both your first & last chance to catch them. Recommended shows in that category are:
SHOT (Spectrum Dance Theatre) (thru Saturday). See below.
Black Tones album release (Thursday only). It’s not theatre, but we definitely recommend the album release show for this great local rock band’s debut full-length album, Cobain and Cornbread (paying homage to their Seattle roots and Southern family). Their songs are both lyrically convicting and smooth, catchy, rockin’ rock, and their live shows are all that, too. (Since music doesn’t much end up on the NWT Calendar, find show info here and read about the band here.)
cherubin (Parley) (Thursday thru Saturday). A new dive into The Tempest, this one focusing on the character Miranda, whom the Bard’s original largely overlooked. Playwright Rebecca Tourino Collinsworth has a gift for parsing out classics to bring out the story from the perspective of a female character who’s important to the story, but glossed over or merely acted upon in the original. Possibilities for that genre abound. Tourino Collinsworth previously rewrote The Odyssey, focused on Penelope’s heroics with keeping up the family as her husband returns to reclaim his throne.
The Goddess Solo-Reveal (Aviona Rodriguez Brown) (Saturday only – afternoon). In this new solo show, the talented writer/performer/director shares stories from the past and will give inspiration for your own journey. Aviona is one of the most genuine, open, welcoming storytellers I’ve ever had the chance to see, and this show should be a great one. The solo performance is followed by a guided writing workshop, then an open mic.
Fuck Yes! Oh Fuck (Studio Current) (Saturday only – all day). The third-annual festival features art pop-ups and film screenings (2-5 pm), a happy hour with art, music, and cheap drinks (5-7 pm), and performances in music, dance, theatre, and more (7-10 pm). The whole thing closes with a dance party late into the night.
Bard in a Bar (Solo Bar) (Monday only). No Shakespeare fans here to speak of, but this is supposedly a funny and fun experience. This episode is King Lear; postponed from last week.
Longer runs closing this weekend include Dry Land (at Seattle Public Theater), a show about teen girls trying to figure out how to end an unplanned pregnancy; and Expand Upon: Immigration (from Mirror Stage at Yaw Theater), two short new plays about immigration, performed as a staged reading.
Throughout April: Scattered through the month are several interesting-looking short runs, most of them solo shows, comprising the Springshot Festival at 18th & Union. We’re also curious about Renton Civic Theatre’s production of 12 Angry Men, which runs through April 20.
Opening this weekend are Yussef El Guindi’s Language Rooms (Pony World) (on captivity and immigration themes), and the musical Urinetown (ACT & 5th Avenue annual co-production) (on … urine … and freedoms and dystopia).
Week in Review
As previously alluded to, this week turned out to be a heavy one — and specifically, one that could be called the week of the performative memorial. It started with a trip back to the Tacoma Art Museum to hear one of our very favorite visual artists, Jono Vaughan, talk about her work in Project 42.
Project 42 is a remembrance of trans people, and primarily trans women of color, who have been murdered in the United States. You can read more about it here. Vaughan doesn’t like to make the work about herself, so instead she talks about the process by which the visual pieces are made, and her collaborators — people who share commonalities with the person being honored and who turn the static visual piece into a living memorial. Through video, photos, and explanation, the artist shared the care that went into making each piece, which begins by learning about the person through research into the person, place, and identity. I’m not one to sit still through artist talks, but I did, and it was a really beautiful presentation. At close to two hours, it closed out the museum; and at the end I overheard a museum staff member remark, “This ran way over, but it was so good I don’t even care.”
And so I was still thinking about Vaughan’s talk going into the opening of Queer, Mama. Crossroads at Annex the next evening — the piece I would go on to view as and call a performative memorial. (See my review here.)
Although they’re much different forms with different purposes, Queer, Mama. Crossroads and Project 42 share some important commonalities. Chief among them is the artists compulsion to both remember and proclaim those among us who were stolen far too soon, and whose lives and deaths often receive little attention.
Fast forward to today, to SHOT. The performance by Spectrum Dance Theatre at Washington Hall is a remount of the performances two years ago, choreographed by Donald Byrd and held at the Seattle Rep. It, too, is a performative memorial: inspired by the taking of Keith Lamont Scott and the response of his wife, Rakeyia Scott, as he was killed right in front of her, it honors both them and the many other Black lives stolen by police. You can read my full review shortly, but don’t wait around for that: it only runs through Saturday.
And on a related but different note: the night before was ArtsWest’s recurring “First Look” program — which brings together the cast, director, and design team — for its upcoming show, Office Hour by Julia Cho, which also centers on gun violence. The First Look was great and informative; we can’t wait to see the full show. But it’s an intense one: inspired by the Virginia Tech mass shooting, Office Hour examines mass shootings, tragedy, and the different facets of being labeled a monster.
This week was the showcase no hard feelings at Base, with artists curated by barry johnson. We saw Noelle Price’s show, Void, which was (happily) unrelated to guns, but dealt with sadness and mental health and could perhaps be described as a performative memorial to different stages of life — coming out of sadness and self-doubt, or going back into them. Price was engaging and funny (sometimes), and puts on beautiful art. This show was different in that it involved no dance, her primary medium. Instead, she brought viewers into a world of strewn-about failure represented by crumpled papers everywhere, surrounding a living room in a state of disarray that suggests having given up. Over the course of the short piece, she seemed to heal by inviting others in and giving herself time and space to find her footing. Like with the works by Vaughan, Anastacia-Renee, and Spectrum, there was no precise narrative arc with a natural ending; and while sad and raw, and still contending with the world and self, it nonetheless concluded in what felt like a happier place.
On Monday, we had planned to attend Bard in a Bar for a comedic break, but it got postponed to next Monday. So … no bar(d) for us. Sad.
We did, however, get a welcome break on Sunday, as Dani Tirrell held a deep, stylish and funny interview with David Rue at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute. The Sunday Dinners are a series presented by the CD Forum for Arts & Ideas, and will start up again next season. Rue is a leader in arts programming and community engagement at Seattle Art Museum, as well as an accomplished dancer and fashion aficionado. With cupcakes by Bessie’s Cakes and Ethiopian food by East African Imports, we left full of food and wisdom — a happy combination.
R. Barron reviewed arts behind the scenes (awards, grants, etc.), before writing for Seattle Gay Scene & NWTheatre.org. Passions include theatre, new works, and arts showcasing underrepresented voices.