• Appearing this past weekend at On the Boards, Annie Dorsen's A Piece of Work was one of the most audience-repelling shows in the contemporary performance space's history. Opening night saw a couple dozen audience members flee before the final curtain, with subsequent nights seeing fewer but still plenty of walkouts. Regarding the show itself: It involved the text of Hamlet being subjected to a computer algorithm that reassembled the words of the play into sentences spoken first by a man (Scott Shepherd, heroic star of Elevator Repair Service's Gatz) and, eventually, just a computer, via words and code projected onto a stage-sized screen. To some viewers, it was an entrancing puzzle. For others, it was a glorified screen saver. "You know Pig Latin?" said one early exiter. "That was Ham Latin."
• Last week, the day before 11,000 books flooded in to fill its empty shelves, The Stranger sat down with Queen Anne Book Company owners Judy and Krijn de Jonge and Janis Segress to discuss their plans for the brand-new bookstore that happens to fill the same retail space as the late, lamented Queen Anne Books. The new owners were surprised by how much support they've gotten from the literary community: Some of the store's shelves were given to QABC by University Book Store, and lots of local authors volunteered to help spice up the opening weekend festivities. Starting this Friday, March 1, authors such as Maria Semple, Sherman Alexie, Matt Ruff, Jonathan Evison, and Jennie Shortridge will be in the store not to give readings, but simply to hang out, talk with the neighbors, sign books, and browse the stacks. Go join them! This ought to be a fun reminder of what neighborhood bookstores can be.
• Seattle's beloved bug chef David George Gordon suffered a stroke recently, but, friends tell us, he has thankfully "not experienced any loss of his cognitive abilities, musical skills, or insect-cooking prowess." The Cafe Racer family is holding a fundraiser to offset his medical costs with original illustrations from his Eat-a-Bug Cookbook for sale, plus lots of live music and a bake sale (no bugs). It's March 7, from 6 p.m. to midnight, at Cafe Racer. Please do go!
• Balagan Theater is getting a new artistic director and is considering leaving the Erickson Theater Off Broadway. The company signed a two-year management contract with Seattle Central Community College and moved into the Erickson in the summer of 2011. Since then, Balagan has produced a string of musicals including Avenue Q, Next to Normal, and Spring Awakening. (They also performed Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Moore Theater.) "Given that we're already selling out the Erickson on a regular basis," said marketing director Christine Bateman, "our board of directors has formed an exploratory committee to research larger venues." She also said that SCCC hasn't committed to renewing the contract. This week, Balagan also announced that artistic director Shawn Belyea will be replaced by Louis Hobson, who has appeared in several Broadway musicals including the original cast of Next to Normal.