The Stranger's arts and culture critics' event picks for Jan 16-22, 2017.
by Stranger Things To Do Staff
Our music critics have already chosen the 21 best concerts in Seattle this week, and we've compiled all of the inauguration resistance events and Martin Luther King Jr. events happening—but now it's time for our arts and culture critics to pick the best events happening this week in their areas of expertise. See below for excellent theater, literature, food, and other art events this week, including the (free!) opening week of Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series at SAM, Adept: A Sick & Disabled LGBTQ Show, and The Stranger's Blabbermouth Podcast Live. For even more events, check out our complete Things To Do calendar.
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READINGS & TALKS
Letter from Birmingham Jail: A Community Reading
Revisit a turning point in American civil rights history with a group reading of Martin Luther King’s 1963 "Letter from Birmingham Jail," and celebrate King's fiery call to action. Readers include King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, Executive Director of Got Green Jill Mangaliman, Program Director at Puget Sound Sage Ubax Gardheere, artist Juan Alonso-Rodriguez, former executive director at the Washington Bus Toby Crittenden, and KEXP Street Sounds host Stasia Irons.
Velocity invites artists from all media and genres to contribute up to five minutes of risky material to this very supportive open mic night.
See precocious kids ("young children extraordinarily skilled in adult mediocrity") in this group show featuring works by Krissy Downing.
This exhibit closes on Tuesday.
READINGS & TALKS
David Sedaris: Manuscript Workshop
After his yearly reading at Benaroya, the witty, self-deprecating, hilariously judgmental David Sedaris will return to Seattle to workshop his new manuscript, Theft by Finding. His work will probably be polished and beautifully performed, with perfect timing and absurdly funny material. Feel lucky that he chose our town, and help him out by being a responsive, honest audience.
Portrayal: Contemporary Portraiture
This show will use portraiture to examine the personal and the collective: it will "help us investigate different viewpoints of our shared humanity as well as help explicate our individual experiences and truths." Featuring artists Marita Dingus, Tatiana Garmendia, Sabina Zeba Haque, Ellen Hochberg, Rochelle Kulei, Yoona Lee, Kathy Liao, Anne Petty, and Samantha Wall.
This exhibit closes on Friday.
Every Five Minutes
Every Five Minutes by Scottish playwright Linda McLean (known for her celebrated debut work, Any Given Day) examines the lasting effects of prolonged torture. Presented by Washington Ensemble Theatre and directed by Ryan Purcell.
There will not be performances on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Madame Dragon’s 60th Birthday Party
The shows I've seen at Cafe Nordo have been aggressively mediocre. But then Madame Dragon's 60th Birthday Bash comes along and saves the day by finally making sense of the venue's nouveau dinner theater. We're all gathered, Madame Dragon (Sara Porkalob) says in her humorously blunt manner, because she's getting old. To preserve her legacy, she must tell us all, her honorary grandchildren, her story, which ends up being a wild series of vignettes that involves Filipino gang rivalries, brothels, excellent sex, love, and hard living. The Birthday Bash is the latest iteration of Porkalob's Dragon Lady play, a solo show she's been developing for a few years. This version is completely different: The show is now a musical with original songs, and Porkalob has swapped the first and second acts, deciding to lead with the Dragon Lady's salacious, almost surreal life history and end the play with the family drama of her children and grandchildren gathering together to celebrate her 60th birthday. The conceptual overhaul payed off. The version she's created for Cafe Nordo is, I think, where the show wants to be. It's variously hilarious and moving, though all the glitz favors the comedy. That Porkalob had the ability to re-conceptualize a show to this degree speaks to the size of her creative mind and the tenacity of her spirit as a theater-maker. RICH SMITH
There will not be a performance on Tuesday.
READINGS & TALKS
Conflict Is Not Abuse: Conversation with Sarah Schulman
Let's pretend you're a well-respected, white, female professor at a state university and you've just discovered that one of your promising students, a young guy from a minority community, has been confessing his love for you on his blog, describing exactly what he likes and doesn't like about your body and your habits.
What do you do about it?
Distinguished professor, prolific novelist, Guggenheim-fellowship-winning playwright, and lesbian activist Sarah Schulman addresses that scenario and many other complexities of power and action in her latest book, Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair, which was published in October 2016 by Arsenal. Today, she'll read from Conflict at the Central Library. Local writer and activist Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore will join her onstage for a discussion. RICH SMITH
Panel: Race and Police Brutality
This panel discussion on police brutality and race will feature moderator Marcus Green (founder of South Seattle Emerald), and panelists Sheley Secrest (Vice President of the Alaska Oregon Washington State Area Conference NAACP and Black Lives Matter activist), Lisa Daugaard (Director of the Public Defender Association in Seattle), the inimitable Donald Byrd (Executive Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater), and Riall Johnson (former NFL player and field director for I-1491).
If this panel interests you, make sure to see Spectrum Dance's Shot, an exploration of police brutality and racism through dance theater.
The Stranger's Blabbermouth Podcast Live
Well, it happened. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million, but the Electoral College failed. The Hamilton Electors failed. The Democrats failed. The Never-Trumpers failed. The pollsters failed. Cable news peddled false equivalency after false equivalency, and now Trump is going to be sworn in as president in a matter of days. WHAT WILL WE DO? What can be done? And what should our theme song be? The Stranger's Pulitzer Prize–winning Eli Sanders, celebrity-prize-winning Dan Savage, non-prize-winning Rich Smith, and a bunch of guests (including Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and brilliant musician Sean Nelson) will tell you at this live recording session of the Blabbermouth podcast. RICH SMITH
Christopher Shaw: The Tea Library III
This exhibition is a collaboration between sculptor and ceramicist Christopher Shaw and visual and performance artist Red Square—each artist inspired by tea, its rituals, and its fluidity.
This exhibit closes on Saturday.
James Martin: Lion Around
See new, less new, and never-before-seen work by James Martin, known for his colorful, disorienting paintings and Bosch-like scenes populated by characters with a certain grimacing crudeness and features that recall Punch and Judy puppets.
This exhibit closes on Saturday.
Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie
Folk legend Woody Guthrie mixed his progressive politics with his music in a way that elevated both enterprises. He scrawled "This Machine Kills Fascists" across his acoustic guitar, wrote about Trump's housing discrimination and racist slumlordery back when he was living in a tenement owned by the president-elect's father, and acknowledged the oppression of Native Americans and other subjugated peoples even as he celebrated the beauty and promise of the US in songs such as "This Land Is Your Land." (He wrote a whole mess of songs about this part of the country, too! If you haven't already, check out The Columbia River Collection.) This show, directed by Nick Corley, presents a musical portrait of his life, with David Lutken in the leading role. RICH SMITH
READINGS & TALKS
Seattle Arts & Lectures presents this iteration of Local Voices, featuring Seattle writers and educators in their Writers in the School program reading their original works. This time, the featured writers will be Aaron Counts, Alex Gallo-Brown, Corinne Manning, Jeanine Walker, Kathleen Flenniken, Michael Overa, Samar Abulhassan, Vicky Edmonds, and Jourdan Keith.
WordsWest 22: Claudia Rowe and Anastacia Tolbert
On the week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Inauguration Day, journalist and Pulitzer nominee Claudia Rowe (Mother Jones, the New York Times, the Seattle Times) and local "super-shero" poet Anastacia Tolbert will appear to discuss "the consequences of 'Dreams Deferred'" (a reference to Langston Hughes).
Showgirls with David Schmader — A Benefit for Planned Parenthood
David Schmader's legendary screening with commentary of the acclaimed Vegas disaster film Showgirls is back at the Triple Door for one night only, as a benefit for Planned Parenthood.
Giuseppe Verdi's classic tale of a courtesan who finds love gets the full stage treatment this season with the Seattle Opera. This production will be performed in the original Italian, with English subtitles.
There will not be performances on Thursday or Friday.
READINGS & TALKS
Emily Robbins will read from A Word for Love, her debut novel—set in Syria—about "a young American woman transformed by language, risk, war, and a startling new understanding of love."
Fuckery and Cocktails
Lori Eberly and Jon Sabol's new book, Fuckery, is about dysfunctional, toxic office behavior and how to fix it. In this discussion and workshop, part of Ada's Technical Books new "The Lab" series, you'll learn to "map negative habits to reclaim lost productivity, repair disabled communication, and root out what threatens success," while drinking a cocktail (included in the ticket price, along with the book).
Suzanne O'Sullivan: It's Not All in Your Head
Learn about psychosomatic and unexplained illness at this event with neurologist Suzanne O'Sullivan, who will share excerpts of her debut book It's All in Your Head: True Stories of Imaginary Illness, which won the 2016 Wellcome Book Prize.
Art Collecting 101
SAM Gallery and Shop Manager Jody Bento will go over the basics of beginning an art collection at this popular, free workshop.
Re:definition 2017 1st Exhibit Launch Party
The Seattle Theatre Group has transformed the lobby of the Paramount into a socially conscious art gallery space and will celebrate with free drinks, snacks, and music. The first exhibit will feature indigenous artists chosen by Tracy Rector, 2016's Stranger Genius Award winner in film.
Adept: A Sick & Disabled LGBTQ Show
The voices of the sick and the disabled have long been neglected. The fact that Donald Trump openly mocked New York Times investigative reporter Serge Kovaleski for his disability and still found a path to the presidency speaks to this, and it gives us all the more reason to pay attention to and amplify those voices now. Well, Gay City is here with a bullhorn. Watch Mateo Cruz, Fatima, poets Tara Hardy and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Nic Masangkay, billie rain, and comic hero E.T. Russian sing, dance, tell stories, and otherwise spread joy for all. This show is subtitled and accessible for deaf and blind people. RICH SMITH
Strawshop honcho Greg Carter directs Proof, David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play about Catherine, the daughter of a late University of Chicago professor and mathematical wizard of prime numbers. Catherine is a math genius herself, and she worries she's inherited her father's mental illness along with his smarts. Invariably, one of Seattle's theaters produces this contemporary classic each year, but Carter's sure to pull out the political fire burning just beneath the play's surface. RICH SMITH
Mothers and Sons
Terrence McNally's Mothers and Sons is a Tony Award-nominated play about queerness, AIDS, family, and romance. It's a drawing room drama, showing just an hour and a half of the characters' lives, and is about a woman visiting her late son's former partner.
Shot is an exploration of police brutality and racism through dance theater, presented as part of Spectrum Dance's season examining American identity, race, and culture.
The Trojan Women
Caroline Bird's take on Euripides' The Trojan Women is set in the present day, in a prison hospital. Madness, suffering, and the feeling of being powerless in the face of great danger are transformed into horrifying and modern reality.
Company Wayne McGregor: Atomos
Atomos is an ambitious show by British choreographer Wayne McGregor, who is known for incorporating various artistic representations (especially visual art) into modern dance performance. Featuring a cast of 10 dancers, lighting design by Lucy Carter, film by Ravi Deepres, and described as "sculptural, rigorous, jarring and hauntingly beautiful."
Pink Carpet Project
On Trump's inauguration day, revel in music, food, art, and performance while raising money for (and celebrating the existence of) Planned Parenthood. The Pink Carpet Project promises "burlesque performance by the inimitable J Von Stratton, inspirational words from our keynote, Amelia Bonow from #ShoutYourAbortion, music by DJ Lady Coco, delicious appetizers from Madres Kitchen, cocktails by The Rhino Room, and booth installations of art, fashion, conversation curated by BadWill Market, featuring various woman owned businesses and artists. There will also be a silent auction where participating vendors will create and donate a one of a kind piece towards the cause." All proceeds from ticket sales and the silent auction, plus a portion of bar profits, will go towards Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.
Rainier Beach Flashmob for Love & Diversity
Survive Inauguration Day through dance and community. Either attend rehearsals beforehand (Wednesday the 18th) or learn the dance via video. Then, on day one of our Brave New World, wear bright colors and boogie with your fellow Rainier Beach resistants.
Rough Draft #5 Inauguration Day
I don't need to explain why Rough Draft is awesome, because I've been big-upping them since I went to the first one and was bowled over by the ambitious, adventurous 12-course tasting menu—and the venue and the genuine festivity and the eclectic mix of guests and so on ad infinitum. Every subsequent Rough Draft I've been to has been similarly boundary pushing, delicious, and, most importantly, fun as fuck. This one, however, is special. That it falls on Inauguration Day is no accident—the Rough Draft crew is donating all proceeds from the event to the ACLU as a big "fuck you" to Trump. A big, six-course, boozy fuck you that culminates in a "drink till it's gone" after-party. It's also at LoveCityLove, which only furthers the theme of exuberant cultural expression in the face of our nation's dangerous flirtation with fascism. Maybe I'm not the most ardent activist, but if I can protest Cheeto Jesus with guava pork cheek and elderflower cured salmon, followed by a Bacchanalian art dance party, that's how I'm going to do it. Two birds, one stone, and all that. TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE
Salon de la Résistance: An Anti-Inaugural Ball
Fight despair with fellow resistants on Inauguration Day! Buy some cool posters at the pop-up shop: all proceeds from the shop and the bar will benefit the ACLU and El Centro de la Raza. Dress fancy, "whatever whatever that means to you," and prepare to be enlightened by activist Elmer Dixon and poet Elisa Chavez.
Voices of a People's History of the United States
Donald Trump and his cretinous cabinet aren't the first authoritarian administration to occupy this country's highest executive offices. One good way to remember that, and to resist its coming, is to focus your attention not on Trump but on the stories from US history your textbooks may have neglected, unless your history teacher (aka Matt Damon) somehow slipped Howard Zinn's brick into your locker. Ha, gross. Anyway, some of Seattle's most passionate, powerful, and gallant readers will give voice to these stories of colonial terror and humanitarian triumph, including comedian Brett Hamil, South Seattle Emerald's Marcus Harrison Green, Jarrell Davis, Seattle civic poet Claudia Castro Luna, Stranger Genius Award winner Valerie Curtis-Newton, Carlynne Newhouse, Shontina Vernon, and others. It will be a bracing reminder of the events that led up to this moment, as well as a road map for resistance. RICH SMITH
We Defy: Voices and Stories From Our Progressive Community
On Inauguration Day, Planned Parenthood will present a panel discussion on the new administration and its effect on the community going forward. Featured presenters include Sherman Alexie, Ijeoma Oluo, Sonya Renee, the ACLU, Casa Latina, One America, and the Washington Conservation Voters.
Whim W'Him presents SENSATION
SENSATION promises a variety of new works from exciting choreographers, including Larry Keigwin (Keigwin + Company), Penny Saunders (Hubbard Street Dance Chicago), and, of course, Olivier Wevers (Whim W'Him artistic director).
Concrete — Lines — Fluid — Curves
Spotlighting five new compositions for chamber jazz ensemble, this performance, curated and composed by Chris Stover, incorporates spoken word, found sounds, and dance in a spread inspired by the Brazilian poets Ana Cristina Cesar, Angélica Freitas, and Augusta de Campos.
Trixie Mattel: Ages 3 & Up
Meet a crowd favorite from RuPaul's Drag Race (season 7, to be exact): Miss Trixie Mattel. Trixie's show Ages 3 and Up, they say, is "packed with plastic and heart!" Fall in love again with her Barbie strut and original songs.
Welcome to Corridor, the second annual festival of music, light, and sound presented by Elevator, with artists responsible for visual installation, performance, and movement to cover all bases of creative tangibility. Sound artists include Kevin Drumm, Madalyn Merkey, Russell E L Butler, You’re Me, JS Aurelius, Beast Nest, Cameron Shafii, Monadh, Hanna Benn, Austin Larkin, Nordra, Cruel Diagonals, Prius, and CCL. Visual artists presenting light works include Anissa Amalia, Jon Womack, Coldbrew Collective, Rosen, Plamena Milusheva, Scott Crawford, and Leena Joshi. Visual artists presenting movement works include Jasmyn Fyffe, Beth Gracyck, Matt Drews, and Campbell Thibo.
At this edition of the monthly variety show Mixed Bag, expect new music from The Drop Shadows, a didgeridoo performance by Zach Bainter, a new stop-motion video from Steve Mauer, and comedy sketches about the electoral college and the nuances of a name. Jeanine Walker will host, and actors include Johnny Horton, Mike Kent, and Amelia Peacock.
K. Brian Neel has taken on a variety of roles in Seattle theater, from an elastic solo performance about a man dreaming that he's falling from a top of a building to staging Waiting for Godot (twice!) at the Seattle Fringe Festival. Now Neel has written and directed a new 18th & Union production, Oroboro, which is described as a comedy "made up of scenes that swirl and wrap around each other...brainy and physical, a psychedelic fractal of a show."
The great protest art of the Donald Trump era is already happening, with Mama and her chickadees choosing a daring show to stage as their latest 30ish-minute musical. They're doing the show Cabaret, a song-and-dance extravaganza set in the days of Hitler's rise to power. The allegories to today are chillingly perfect, from nationalist Nazis singing "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" to the gut-wrenching appearance of the Star of David. For 50 years, Cabaret has been a reflection on the past, but now it's a scream of alarm about the future. You won't just cry at this show, you will sob. MATT BAUME
Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series: Free Opening Weekend
Last year around this time, I was so excited about the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition of all 60 of Jacob Lawrence's paintings of the Great Migration that I wrote about it, even though I couldn't get there to see the art in person. But now all 60 panels—all 60 panels!—are coming to Seattle Art Museum. This is the first time they've been seen all together on the West Coast in two decades. Lawrence lived the last years of his life in Seattle, teaching at the University of Washington, so the venue makes good sense. At MoMA, it was the first time in two decades they'd been seen together on the East Coast. It nearly takes an act of heaven itself for it to happen, since half of the series is held at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, and the other half at MoMA. MoMA's iteration included included works of poetry, music, and photography, to place the 23-year-old Lawrence, whose own parents fled north, in the creative context of his peers. The exhibition was appealing and in-depth, unlike the all-too-often "uniformly flat-footed and sentimentalist uses of Jacob Lawrence,” described by Darby English. Let's hope it's as good at SAM. At least one fascinating historical aspect will be that the show will include both Lawrence's original captions for the paintings and his later changed writings for comparison.
Conversation with Chris E. Vargas
Bellingham-based artist Chris E. Vargas (organizer of the "imaginary" Museum of Transgender Hirstory and Art, and creator of the exhibit Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects) will speak immediately after micha cárdenas' reading of Este suelo secreto (To Be Human Once More). Vargas will "expand upon themes of intergenerational connection raised in this reading and also speak to the process of bringing past and present together within the exhibition."
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