This Week in Arts: Wednesday Roundup (7/31)

It might be light on standard-run theatre openings and closings this week, but there are loads of interesting events happening. Highlights include a bustling First Thursday, two openings of intriguing new works, and a free arts & performance festival; plus, a 20-hour come-and-go showing of new dance, and the return of new play readings to Solo Bar.   

For details (like times & ticket info) on these shows and more, view them by date on the Calendar page.


Openings & Closings

Two intriguing recent works have openings this week, both on Capitol Hill.

Opening Thursday is Salty by playwright AJ Clauss (directed by David Hsieh), a piece “about penguins and people on a bittersweet journey to what might be the end of the world — set years from now at one of the nation’s few remaining zoos.” It looks like a combo of thought-provoking, unusual, and fun — one of NWT’s favorite combinations — and ReAct Theatre has assembled a great cast for it. It runs through August 18 at 12th Avenue Arts. And if you’re up for a double-feature of animal-themed shows, catch Gills! Gills! Gills! by local playwright Celeste Mari Williams (directed by Rebecca Tourino Collinsworth), which plays directly after Salty in the same theatre. Double-feature days include Friday & Saturdays through the run.

Opening Friday at Annex Theatre is The Neverborn, the latest from Kelleen Conway Blanchard (directed by Catherine Blake Smith). Annex’s relationship with Blanchard runs deep, with several Annex premieres (Blood Countess, Kittens in a Cage, Last Stop on Lilac, Small Town, The Underneath); the theatre describes her as “Annex’s Gothic Sweetheart” — which seems an apt description. Blanchard’s pieces are weird, and this one’s no exception: set in the Dustbowl era, it centers on two orphaned sisters who “murder the Matron at the Starling Home for Feeble Minded children and set out to find their – probably not dead – mother. Soon they are pursued by a tormented detective, a gifted Reverend’s son, and a vengeful haunted baby painting.” While Blanchard’s plays are always super out-there, they’re not really “horror” shows, with far more wit and off-beat humor shining through than murder and despair. Though there will probably be some of that, too.

Closing this weekend is The Little Mermaid, the first of two Kidstage Summerstock productions at Village Theatre; it runs on the mainstage in Issaquah through Sunday. (The other, School of Rock, will open the following week, in Everett.)


Short Runs in Non-Traditional Spaces

Many theatre companies don’t travel well (or, in many cases, don’t bother to try). On the Boards is not one of those companies. Their production of keyon gaskin’s work last season filled the space wonderfully at Oxbow Gallery in Georgetown, much more robustly than it would have at either of the theatre spaces in their usual home. Now, opening their big 40th anniversary season, On the Boards has paired up with Base, another space in Georgetown to present Morgan Thorson’s Still Life. It’s comprised of 20 hours of durational work, carved up into four five-hour segments with five dancers (including local favorites Alyza DelPan-Monley and Fox Whitney). Attendees may come and go during the work, and may return on any date(s) throughout the run on one (non-transferable) ticket. It runs through Sunday (8/4).

Into the ever-changing, newly-hip landscape of Ballard comes a welcome, comfortable new space: Copious, which moved into the former Ballard Underground earlier this year. Remodeling the physical space with comfy chairs and an ample bar, the venue has taken on a cabaret feel; it also centers queer art (from drag to individual storytelling and more), and operates on a model that encourages membership and rewards nearby residents for showing up, offering discounts for both. This weekend, performer Matt Dela Cruz puts on a solo show called Tita Ester: Motherly Reminders from a Filipina Mom. It also runs through Sunday (8/4).

Speaking of Copious — with the New Plays on Tap series, they’re bringing back readings of new work to Solo Bar in Lower Queen Anne, a bar/restaurant (and sometimes venue) that’s a great friend to the theatre community. First up is on Monday, with Bethany Sees the Stars by Emily Golden (directed by Kathryn Stewart). No word yet on future series dates or frequency — but we look forward to this excuse to eat brie, drink sangria, mingle with theatre friends, and listen to new work.


Other Events

This week has great variety and quality — and if ever there was a weekend to try to cram in as many of them as possible, this one’s a good contender.


First Thursday

Wander around Pioneer Square and you’ll be awash in free-entry, come-and-go options (and, apparently, free parking vouchers at select garages; details here). But it can be overwhelming to navigate, so here are a few promising picks as anchors: Kimya Dawson and Clyde Petersen: Road Dawgz (at Party Hat, 312 S. Washington St., info here); First Thursday at the Knife Room, featuring puppet-making with Emmett Montgomery, a jazz jam, and mac and cheese bar (underneath Cafe Nordo, at 103 S. Main St., info here); and on that very same block, the opening of the creepy ’50s nostalgia/children’s book mashup of Chad Yenney: Can’t Wait for Yesterday (at A Gallery, 117 S. Main St., info here).

Opening this week at the Center on Contemporary Art (114 3rd Ave. S.) is a group show of feminist artists, Girlfriends of the Guerrila Girls. Its opening reception coincides with First Thursday. but the exhibition will be on display through September 21 (info here). Next door, SOIL (112 3rd Ave. S.) opens Repossessed, an exhibit of artists grappling, through various art forms, with the legacy of redlining in Seattle (info here) (through August 31).

And if sitting is more appealing, from 7-8 pm Living Voices presents a free theatrical performance of Klondike: The Last Great Adventure at the Klondike Gold Rush Museum (319 2nd Ave. S.).

The above are just a few picks. On First Thursdays, the whole Pioneer Square area comes to life with people, openings, and other arts events — so the more you wander, the more you’ll see. If you’d like to browse more ahead of time, The Stranger has a robust guide, found here.

Most galleries are open only during the daytime, but stay open late for First Thursday. How late, however, depends on the gallery — so make sure to check the event time if there’s something in particular you want to see. Generally, most activity occurs in the 5-8 pm range — kind of like a late happy hour. And speaking of happy hour, most galleries serve some wine or beer at receptions, but food offerings are limited (or none) — so you’d be wise to snack first, pick out a local restaurant, or head to the mac & cheese bar at the aforementioned Knife Room.


More Arts Events 

Friday night and Saturday all day, check out festival:festival, an all-free, multi-genre, many-artist gathering on Capitol Hill, featuring performances and more; info here. It’s an artist-driven alternative to Seattle Art Fair, the mammoth Vulcan-produced event also taking place this weekend.

On Saturday is the Dead Baby Bikes race, which on Capitol Hill and concludes in a big drunken carnival in Georgetown. While you’re there, visit artist Timothy White Eagle on his birthday at the Oxbow Gallery in Georgetown, enjoy some tea, and see art that White Eagle and Adrain Chesser have installed as resident artists (info here); and drop in down the street at Base, for the aforementioned durational work by Morgan Thorson/On the Boards.

All this weekend, you can catch 25 performers in six shows at FRESHfest, a showcase of local drag talent curated by Arson Nicki, held at 18th & Union (at the edge of the Central District/East Capitol Hill). It runs from Thursday through Sunday, with two performances each on Saturday/Sunday. We’re not easily amazed, but NWT saw one of the performers, Lavish Leone, recently at Copious, and she was amazing — go see her (at the Sunday evening early show) if you can. Show schedule and info here.

On the usually quiet Sunday evenings, this Sunday you can hang out with the fine folks at Macha Theatre (and have a cold beverage on their tab) at the Macha Mixer at West of Lenin in Fremont (info here); or you can head to Annex Theatre, for the August episode of the long-running monthly variety show, Weird & Awesome with Emmett Montgomery. And if you need more Emmett Montgomery in your life (who doesn’t?), he does two weekly shows, too: Magic Hat, a storytelling show at the Rendezvous Grotto every Monday, and Joketellers Union Comedy Showcase at the Clock-Out Lounge every Wednesday.

On Tuesday is a great excuse to visit Wa Na Wari, an art space dedicated to reclaiming and preserving Black space in the Central District. Alchemy Poetry, a recurring series, will bring in poet and lawyer/arts mentor/civic leader Nikkita Oliver; info here. And the next day (8/7), celebrate both the Youth Speaks Seattle and Seattle Poetry Slam teams, returning this weekend from competitions, with a gathering and free event at the new Hugo House; info here.

It’s a week of many possibilities — enjoy!

Wednesday Roundup is a weekly feature, with NWT’s picks for the upcoming week and recaps around town.  

Want to plan your show schedule further out? See what’s happening on NWT’s Calendar pageAnd for news on all the openings in August, see Miryam Gordon’s openings coverage, posted here when available.