Here are the things NWT loved (or didn’t) this week, and a few (or more) things to look forward to this weekend.
This Mayday, NWT looks forward to a week which (fittingly) highlights a variety of arts with a social-justice theme. Highlights this week included shows centering Black artistic excellence and history, from Spectrum Dance Theatre (Strange Fruit) and Seattle Repertory Theatre (Nina Simone: Four Women); plus an upcoming transgender-centered film festival, a dance on immigration, and your last chance to see some interesting shows that close this week.
For details on any of the shows (like times & ticket info), view them by date on the Calendar page. (Note: NWT is a little behind, but missing shows will be added soon.)
For a few short runs, this week is both your first & last chance to catch them. Recommended shows in that category are:
Translations Film Festival (Thursday thru Sunday). It’s not theatre, but we definitely recommend the 17th annual Translations: Transgender Film Festival. A smaller lineup than years past, this year’s festival nonetheless includes several great-looking feature films; opening- and closing-night parties; and, perhaps most intriguing, full slates of short films around themes of Trans Joy and Trans Hirstory. More info here.
Immigration Stories (The Dance Guild, at YAW Theater) (Friday thru Saturday). A mixed-form evening of dance follows Alex Ung’s family’s immigration over decades from Southeast Asia to the Midwest U.S.
Black Sheep (18th & Union) (Thursday thru Monday). This debut play by Heidi Park explores her own journey, as a Korean American adoptee, to embrace her roots. Read NWT’s interview with Park and dramaturg Seayoung Yim, by Corinne Magin, here.
In addition, several shows with longer runs are closing this weekend, so your last chance to see them is fast approaching. Those shows include:
Language Rooms (Pony World Theatre) (thru Saturday), at Slate Theater. Read NWT’s review here.
Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons (Theater Schmeater) (thru Saturday), at Seattle Public Theater. Read NWT’s review here.
Queer, Mama. Crossroads (Annex Theatre) (thru Saturday). Read NWT’s review here.
Singlet (Washington Ensemble Theatre) (thru Sunday). The first installment of WET’s new dance series, “GUSH.”
Opening this weekend is Office Hour at ArtsWest, through 5/26. Inspired by the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, the play is all too timely, opening right after yet another deadly school shooting, this one at UNC-Charlotte. But Artistic Director Mathew Wright insists the play is about human themes, beyond gratuitous gun violence. NWT looks forward to seeing how the show, and this production, treats the issues.
Also opening this weekend is The Spitfire Grill, from Showtunes Theatre Company, performing at the Cornish Playhouse through 5/12. It’s a musical about a parolee starting over at a small-town cafe, featuring a strong cast including Alexandria Henderson and Suzy Hunt.
Lastly, this Monday is a pretty busy one, full of special events and industry nights. Here are some options:
In its Distilled readings series, Macha Theatre Works presents the latest from playwright Maggie Lee, called The Dark of the Lighthouse. Read an interview with Lee (on a recent production of her earlier play, called Sheathed) here. Free, no RSVP required.
(Also, this weekend you can support Macha’s season at its annual party on Saturday, 5/4. More info here.)
Seattle Public Theater will announce its next season, in party form. More info here.
Monday’s industry nights of longer-running shows include:
Devi (Pratidhwani at ACT)
Small Mouth Sounds (Thalia’s Umbrella at 12th Ave Arts)
Black Sheep (18th & Union)
Week in Review
This week NWT returned from vacation and saw a lot fewer shows than normal — but the ones we did see were good ones.
Strange Fruit (Spectrum Dance Theatre, at Washington Hall) closed out the company’s month-long Wokeness Festival, comprised of three weekend-long shows and three curated discussions. The show was a powerful end to the festival, and an intense one before the show even began. Spectrum Artistic Director and acclaimed choreographer Donald Byrd created the work, inspired by the country’s fading memory of its legacy of lynching. With intense and sometimes brutally suggestive imagery, the show occasionally bordered on trauma porn (especially right from the starting scenes); but it coalesced into an artistic, haunting reminder that our country’s obsession with violence against Black bodies is the modern incarnation of a history it never fully reckoned with, or repaired.
This week also marked the start of Nina Simone: Four Women at Seattle Repertory Theater. (It’s a fitting pairing, as Simone powerfully performed the song, Strange Fruit, which Billie Holiday made famous before.) Expect more coverage from NWT coming soon; but suffice it to say, this is among the most talented casts we’ve seen it anything recently. Add exceptional direction and choreography (from Valerie Curtis-Newton and Dani Tirrell, respectively) and a stunning set by Intiman Artistic Director Jennifer Zeyl, and the show is a must-see. It’s a mashup of Simone’s musical career (with plenty of songs) and the national events which pushed her from prodigious singer-pianist toward legendary artist-activist. Pro tips: the Rep has good rush deals; and we liked the show better from the balcony than the floor.
A lighter, but still thought-provoking, show we enjoyed was Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons from Theater Schmeater. Read more in NWT’s review here.
Other things to look forward to soon after? There are tons of things to choose from on May 10 — among them, Legendary Children at SAM, an opening party at MoPOP, and a cheeky drag show (Ah Yes, the Two Genders) at Copious. On May 13, Sara Porkalob performs in A Sensible Cabaret at Cafe Nordo’s Knife Room.