This Week in Arts: Wednesday Roundup (4/3)
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 included the annual multicultural playwrights’ festival; an unusual fashion show; a trip behind bars; and upcoming shows from excellent Black artists in playwriting, poetry, dance, and more; plus tons of short-run show openings.
For details on any of the shows (like times & ticket info), view them by date on the Calendar page.
This week was, let’s say, an unusual one — yet with surprising internal consistency: all good things, all short runs and one-time happenings, all new works. You can read up on them in the week’s recap further down.
Up next, this weekend is a great one for people who place value on showing up for Black artists, to live out those values. Opening this weekend at Annex is a play from Anastacia-Reneé, Seattle’s Civic Poet and a familiar face in writing communities especially. Queer, Mama. Crossroads, which opens at Annex Theatre this Friday, explores the societal and individual injustices committed against queer people of color who are mothers. It features a talented cast (including well-known poets Naa Akua and Ebo Barton, plus Kamari Bright, Simone Dawson, and Jalayna Jiovanni. (Fun fact: also see Bright this Sunday afternoon at the aforementioned show at Base, and Akua this Sunday evening at the below-mentioned reading of the Book of John.)
Anastacia-Reneé is experienced in turning her poetic gifts into thought-provoking, lyrical performances. Her first foray into playwriting was 9 Ounces, an intimate one-woman show featuring three central characters, of three unrelated generations, pulled together as neighbors but linked together like family. She has performed it in several iterations, including video/multimedia; and the piece is crafted to morph with the times, and the space. This piece, however, is a first for her: writing a play to be performed by others. It had a short premiere run at Gay City Arts, which was solid and showcased the writer’s gift with the poetic. We’re excited to see its new form on a larger stage.
Thursday through Sunday, barry johnson’s no hard feelings showcase at Base invites you to see and hear diverse works (dance, sound, film) from “some of Seattle’s dopest creatives.” With this lineup of artists — Adam Jabari, Aramis Hamer, Che Sehyun, Kamari Bright, Nijuana Chardonay, Noelle Price, Jen Moore and Taqueet$ — that description probably isn’t an overstatement. And reservations are FREE (with donations accepted at the door). (Trying to choose one? If you must: we especially love dancer Noelle Price, whose show is Saturday night. Her company’s tagline is “Arts. Community. Freedom.” She is both a badass and a joy.)
Sunday afternoon, you can partake in Sunday Dinner (with catered Ethiopian food!) with Dani Tirrell and David Rue. The premise is the audience gets to be a fly in the wall while two venerable creatives (Tirrell and guest) talk about timely topics. It’s a great meal, and a great show; sponsored by the Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas.
Later Sunday, catch Kamari Bright’s show at the aforementioned Base showcase, then head to Sodo where Naa Akua hosts Marcus C. John reading from his new book, the Book of John.
Split up the word “John” and add a bunch of letters, and you might arrive at Jono Vaughan, who will be discussing her work in Project 42 at the Tacoma Art Museum on Thursday night. The project centers primarily around remembering and honoring trans people, and especially trans women of color, who have been murdered in America. Hearing her talk is worth the traffic. Also, admission is free. For more information, see our preview here.
This weekend, a whole bunch of interesting shows open up. Among them:
At Theatre Off Jackson, theatre simple is remounting its acclaimed devised work, The Master & Margarita.
Immigration is a common theme in shows this month and next, and two of them are happening this weekend: Mirror Stage’s double-feature of short plays (in the U-District this weekend and Georgetown next), and Bocón from Tacoma’s Screaming Butterflies.
The Springshot Festival at 18th & Union showcases loads of different artists all month, mostly in solo shows, which range from clowning to magical drama to a skewering of illness and the healthcare industrial complex.
Tons of shows have short runs at Cornish, including Animal Farm and Jesus Christ Superstar; plus two nights (only!) of UW Drama’s third-year students’ solo shows.
Cafe Racer (on Roosevelt) hosts something called Beer & Puppet Theater. Can’t say we’re not intrigued.
Michelle Ellsworth is doing some things we don’t totally understand at On the Boards, but which people apparently like (and will pay $75 for?); cheaper shows also occurring.
On Monday, there’s something called Bard in a Bar. We don’t like the Bard that much, mostly, but we do like bars, and in particular we do like Solo Bar, a dear friend to the theatre & arts community. Also, we’ve heard this is fun. Also, it’s free.
This past week was Represent!: A Multicultural Playwrights Festival, which is a great lineup every year. It’s a collaboration between several small, accomplished local theatre companies, which each claim one night and put up a reading from an affiliated playwright, usually a local one; and kicks off with a combined “local playwrights’ showcase,” which features short works, one each from the participating companies. The companies are Pratidhwani (South Asian focused); eSe Teatro (Latinx focused), joined this year by Parley (a playwrights group focused on generating and showcasing new works); SIS Productions (Asian American women focused); and the Hansberry Project (African American focused).
This past weekend, Village Theatre’s Beta Series welcomed Homefront back, its first performance since its reading at the Festival of New Musicals. I liked it then, and I liked it now. Particularly poignant was a theme of abandoning some in order to serve “the cause” (here, White women casting Black women aside, after they had done a lot of the work, in order to deliver a supposedly more winnable list of demands). A great cast, likable songs, and direction from Malika Oyetimein made for a great show. Village’s in-development musicals are also one of the best bargains in town: an almost-always great show (often as good or better than some mainstage shows I see around town), for a cheap ticket price ($16 for this one). Keep an eye out for future shows.
We had a blast at the debut of Fashion Is ART which, although it didn’t sound descriptive at the time, could indeed be described as a “a fashion art happening” — here, a combination of slow runway/poses, portrait rooms, yummy swag, and overall fashion-oriented fun. Read more/see pics here. Another great-sounding show from from Fashion District NW will be held in July: this one is called Cars & Couture with, yes, cars at the LeMay car museum.
The highlight of the week for NWT, though, was going to prison. Sound odd? It’s typical: every year we love the performances from Freehold Engaged Theatre, Pat Graney’s Keeping the Faith, and more. The women’s stories, along with their descriptions of the process of opening their souls up to others, is unique, moving, and memorable. Read more about the projects in my write-up here. This year’s Freehold performance was, no foolin’, on April 1. (Note: unlike all the others, prison performances are not listed on the Calendar, as they are by invitation only and require preclearance well in advance.)
Want to plan your show schedule further out? See what’s happening on NWT’s Calendar page. And for news on all the openings this month, see Miryam Gordon’s April coverage here.