Our music critics have already chosen the 43 best music shows this week, but now it's our arts & culture critics' turn to recommend the best events in their areas of expertise. Here are their picks in every genre—from an evening with Pulitzer Prize-winning #MeToo journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey to a chance to hear New Yorker writer Anna Wiener in conversation with Kristi Coulter, and from a stand-up show with Julia Sweeney to Darren Canady's speculative drama Reparations. See them all below, and find even more events on our complete Things To Do calendar.
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MONDAYFOOD & DRINK
GONG FU'D: An Evening of Traditional Chinese Tea Service
Lecosho executive chef Cody Westerfield's "hyperlocal" farm-to-table pop-up De La Soil and Tuk Muk Farms will team up for a traditional Chinese tea service, with five courses of food paired with different teas and a "few little surprises."
Porsha Olayiwola: I Shimmer Sometimes, Too
The Boston-based queer feminist poet, an Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and the artistic director of the youth organization MassLEAP, will share some of her sexy, personal Afro-Futurist poetry.
Beyond Borders: Oaxaca-Seattle Print Exchange
Seattle Central College is doing its part to foster cross-cultural communication and artistry exchange with this exhibition uniting work by Oaxacan and Seattleite printmakers, like Fulgencio Lazo, Mario Guzmán, César Chavéz, Romson Regarde Bustillo, and many others.
Monir & Mehdi Ghanbeigy: Persian Garden
The internationally exhibited Iranian brothers have once again created a multimedia/ceramic tribute to ancient Persian culture with classically influenced miniatures, painting, ceramics, and pottery.
Stonington Celebrates 40: 40th Anniversary Group Exhibition
Celebrate 40 years of top-notch Northwest Coastal and Alaskan art with a Native focus as this excellent gallery hosts a group exhibition. There is awesome talent on view here, in everything from Preston Singletary's Wood Carver's Totem to Maynard Johnny, Jr.'s Heron Paddle to Paige Pettibon's caləɫali Altarpiece, the latter a fascinating merging of European painting tradition and Lushootseed language.
Yunmi Her: Natural Individuals
Every morning outside Seattle-based artist Yunmi Her’s window, a factory worker stepped outside, ordered a sausage and drink from a food truck behind the building, ate it on the lid of a trash bin, and entered back through the blue door he exited from. Her—riveted by this quotidian routine—recorded her observations with a camera. Compelled by the idea of closeness to this worker, she created a video work based on her extrapolations of the factory worker’s life outside those brief moments they spent “together.” Using a two-channel video, male and female voice-overs, and Twitter accounts, Her explores the “shared but different” perspectives of subject and observer. JASMYNE KEIMIG
MONDAY & THURSDAY-SUNDAYPERFORMANCE
Washington Ensemble Theatre's press materials promise "intense feminine energy" from Dance Nation, a Pulitzer Prize–nominated play by Clare Barron about a preteen dance troupe gunning for nationals under the guidance of their frazzled coach. In an interview, Barron, a Yale grad who hails from Wenatchee (!), says the show was inspired by the complex portrait of ambition presented in Lifetime's reality television series Dance Moms, which means there's no way this isn't going to be good. Extra insurance for this prediction comes from the fact that Bobbin Ramsey, who has a gift for organizing chaos onstage, is codirecting the performance with Alyza DelPan-Monley. RICH SMITH
The Suspense Is Killing Us Presents: 'Blow Out'
Genre-specific movie podcast The Suspense is Killing Us goes deep into thrillers from the '80s and '90s. For this live taping, the hosts will show a screening of Blow Out, Brian De Palma's 1981 flick wherein John Travolta plays a slasher movie sound-effects guy who believes he has accidentally recorded a political assassination.
Black on Craft: Porsha Olayiwola and Quenton Baker
Former Hugo House poet in residence Amber Flame will curate and host this evening with black writers, including a conversation between local writer Quenton Baker and Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola.
Daniel Estrin: Behind the Scenes with NPR’s Correspondent in Jerusalem
NPR international correspondent Daniel Estrin will shed light on his reporting in Israel, Gaza, Syria, and the White House.
Ingrid Newkirk: Animalkind
Ingrid Newkirk has spent her career advocating against animal cruelty. The president of PETA and coauthor Gene Stone are out with a new book, Animalkind: Remarkable Discoveries About Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassion. An inspection of the inner lives of animals (“Animals love,” they write. “They grieve. They feel emotional pain. They worry. And they can anticipate pain”), the text offers compelling arguments against animal testing and circuses and in favor of veganism and low-oil diets. They make less compelling arguments against leather, but you still may want to avoid wearing Birkenstocks to their reading. KATIE HERZOG
Science Fiction-Fantasy Writers of America
This month's edition of the quarterly event with local and visiting authors will welcome Daniel H. Wilson (Robopocalypse), Django Wexler (The Shadow Campaigns), and Catherynne M. Valente (The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, among many other fantasy books). Meet the authors and buy their books.
Drama Tops, This Is For You
Prolific dancer Elby Brosch, seen in such innovative showcases as Northwest New Works and Next Fest, will present an expansion of his previous work for On the Boards, Falling Short. With two collaborators (non-binary dancer Jordan Macintosh-Hougham and cis male dancer Shane Donohue), this transmasculine choreographer will use elements of drag and cabaret to explore masculinity.
A Circle Around the Sun
ArtXchange displays new works by member artists, such as proponent of "Bubblism" Marcio Diaz, encaustic monotype painter Caryn Friedlander, mixed-media photographer Yuko Ishii, sumi-e painter Alan Lau, and abstract oil painter William Song. If you're feeling some inter-holiday gloom, your eyes will appreciate the lightness, exuberance, energy, peace, and mystery of these creators' new pieces.
Antiquated Boundaries: Five Centuries of Maps
Revisit lost worlds with these exhibitions of antique maps that highlight the impermanence and instability of borders.
Artemio Rodriguez: Full Scale
See Mexican artist Artemio Rodriguez's pastoral, mystical, and politically-charged large-scale linocut The Garden, an adaptation of Hieronymus Bosch's trippy triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights.
Jessica Cantlin: Latitude
The eye of fine-art photographer and traveler Jessica Cantlin is exacting, creating compositions that favor grandiosity, scale, and pattern. In her solo show Latitude, Cantlin will be presenting photos from her recent travels to Iceland and Lençóis Maranhenses, Brazil. Though the terrains of the countries could not be more different (the craggy, rocky, snow-filled landscapes of Iceland versus the pure white sands and glittering blue stretches of Brazil), through the use of light and color, the series deals with the effect weather has on our experience of different places in the world. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Klara Glosova, Mya Kerner
This show brings us work by two Seattle-based artists. Klara Glosova is a Czech-born multidisciplinary artist who creates primarily through drawing and painting. Drawing inspiration from her history growing up in Eastern Europe, as well as her experiences as an artist and mother, Glosova’s work is bright, its figures draped in bold swatches of color. Mya Kerner—a multidisciplinary artist with a background in permaculture—works in mediums like paint and wire to create tranquil mountainscapes that seemingly exist outside of space and time. Her approach to her work is influenced by her Eastern European forester lineage, which aids in her exploration of place and memory. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Paul Rucker: Forever
In Forever, Rucker constructed 15 commemorative stamp prints out of aluminum. Eschewing "traditional" subjects like presidents, state flowers, and American flags, Rucker opted instead to place the faces of civil rights–era activists, schoolchildren, and falsely accused teens who were murdered or framed by white supremacists. While some of the people depicted might be familiar to viewers—like Emmett Till or the four little girls who were murdered in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing by members of the Ku Klux Klan—others may prove unfamiliar. By centering these martyrs, Rucker investigates how we as a country remember our violent history and who gets remembered as being fundamental in the telling of the story. While some may point to nonviolent activists like Rosa Parks as the beginning of their civil rights knowledge, it was really the 1955 violent murder of Emmett Till (who was falsely accused by a white woman of harassment) that spurred Black Americans to fight for recognition of their civil rights. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Ross Palmer Beecher: Quilts and Assemblages
This Seattle-based mixed-media artist subverts iconography by creating assemblages that form flags, portraits, and quilts.
America’s favorite masc4masc playwright Sam Shepard is dead. He passed away in 2017, but the swaggering cowboy, called the “greatest American playwright of his generation” by New York magazine, is continuing to get a retrospective on stages across the country. Now the celebration comes to the Seattle Rep, with the theater putting on True West, a gritty and funny play about two brothers and some identity theft. Expect brawls and belly laughs. CHASE BURNS
WEDNESDAYREADINGS & TALKS
Aaron Goings: Red Coast
Aaron Goings will share his "lively and readable informal history" of the labor, left-wing, and progressive activists who worked and organized in southwest Washington State from the late 19th century until World War II.
Andrea Bernstein: American Oligarchs
You probably know award-winning journalist Andrea Bernstein as the cohost of the terrific podcast Trump, Inc., which correctly posits the current administration as a money-making venture for Donald Trump and his goons, and also looks at the news of the week through that lens. In her deeply researched book American Oligarchs, Bernstein reviews the family histories of the Kushners and the Trumps and reveals the ways that each family leveraged government programs for private gain. The Stranger’s very own award-winning journalist Eli Sanders will join her in conversation at this event. RICH SMITH
Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey are the #MeToo heroes who were instrumental in the fall of Harvey Weinstein after their Pulitzer Prize–winning exposé of the Hollywood mogul and alleged rapist was published in the New York Times in 2017. In their new book, She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement, the journalists explain how, exactly, they managed to publish a story that had gone unreported, but whispered about, for so long. The Washington Post called it “an instant classic of investigative journalism,” and the New York Times named it an instant best seller. KATIE HERZOG
Josiah Bell: Kalos Eidos
This artist's first-ever solo show in Seattle displays his frenetic abstract monotypes in 2D with wide, visible brushstrokes, as well as three-dimensional monotype sculptures. Think of ancient seashells, chaotic trajectories, and exploded flowers.
An ambitious young man in 1920s Paris works his way up in a ritzy nightclub in Can Can's latest kitschy-glam, flesh-baring, plot-driven revue.
She Loves Me
Joe Masteroff, Jerry Bock, and Sheldon Harnick, progenitors of the deathless Fiddler on the Roof, also wrote this sweet musical about two perfume store clerks who butt heads constantly—not realizing that they're also in a romantic letter-writing relationship thanks to a classified. Yes, it's the plot of You've Got Mail.
Model Minority: An Asian Womxn Comedy Show
Watch Asian diaspora womxn bust stereotypes about "model minorities" at this Caracol Productions showcase, featuring such talents as Ellen Acuario, Stephanie Nam, Nisha Srinivasan, and others. Dewa Dorje will host.
Macallan Scotch Reception
Start your evening with a cocktail before moving onto tastings of vintage scotches paired with fine cheeses and charcuterie.
Ugly Time: A Cabaret
Local celebrities of the quirky Seattle theatrical, comedic, and literary scenes—Emmett Montgomery, Webster Crowell, Adrian Ryan, Clyde Petersen, Tara Thomas, Adé a Cônnère, and Rachel Kessler—will join poet Sarah Galvin and musician Marcus Wilson for a multi-arts night that is sure to make your "emotional washing machines overflow with sexy foam like a 1990s foam party of the arts!" Expect animation, readings, jokes, maybe some drag, and more.
Crissy Van Meter: Creatures
A Southern Californian woman's wedding day is marred by potential tragedy, unexpected family reappearances, and a dead whale in this novel that's drawn praise from Leni Zumas, Kristen Arnett, and many reviewers.
An Evening with Northwest Poets Kellie Richardson, Robert Lashley, and Nicole McCarthy
Three acclaimed local poets—Kellie Richardson (Tacoma's Poet Laureate), Nicole McCarthy, and Robert Lashley—will link up for a reading.
Isabel Allende: A Long Petal of the Sea
Now is the time to read and listen to Chilean writer Isabel Allende. In the middle of October of last year, protests exploded in Santiago. These demonstrations, which involved millions of Chileans, were sparked by a rise in the city’s subway fare. But the crisis is not isolated; it’s occurring against the backdrop of Chile’s early experiment with neoliberalism, which was imposed on the country by the brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet. In her 1982 novel The House of the Spirits, Allende attempted to exorcize the ghosts of that exceptionally bloody dictatorship, which began with the murder of the novelist’s uncle, the democratically elected president Salvador Allende. The ghosts of Pinochet still haunt the slim South American country. Allende will certainly have lots to say about how these ghosts have returned as the young protesters on the streets of Santiago, despite the fact that her latest novel shifts the time period backward, to the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. CHARLES MUDEDE
Noir at the Bar
Seattle crime writers will gather in the Pike Place pizza spot to drink whiskey and read from their latest murder-filled, hard-boiled stories. This evening's lineup will include Bethany Maines, G. G. Silverman, Michael Fowles, David B. Schlosser, Karen Tully, Scotti Andrews, and Renee Patrick.
Word Lit Zine Presents: The Literary Nerd Hour!
Packed with puzzles and games (plus poetry, prose, and articles on writing), Seattle-based publication World Lit Zine adds some geeky fun to the world of local lit. For this event, they'll "take the page to the stage" to explore the intersectionality of storytelling and performance, including a screening of Z-Sides—a local TV program featuring Northwest writers and poets—and a quiz show hosted by Jekeva Phillips.
Brian Brooks Moving Company
UW Creative Research Fellow Brian Brooks has developed dance pieces inspired by bodies on stage and within the realm of "immersive technologies." For this program, see three world premieres, including a solo by Brooks, a duet called MOTOR, the premiere of Torrent, and the ensemble piece Closing Distance, set to Partita for 8 Voices by Pulitzer Prize-winning violinist/singer Caroline Shaw.
Our Country's Good
Timberlake Wertenbaker's play, staged here by Strawberry Theatre Workshop, depicts a group of convicts in 18th-century New South Wales who are encouraged by British Navy officers to put on George Farquhar's restoration comedy The Recruiting Officer. In the words of the Workshop, the play is especially relevant to the current day, because "The United States incarcerates more people than any country in the world; the US constitutes 4% of the world population, but keeps 22% of the world's prisoners behind bars. Many prison inmates haven't been convicted of anything—they are jailed awaiting trial or a hearing on their immigration status."
Geoffrey Asmus, Mike Devore
Asmus has an actually pretty witty bio: "Geoffrey Asmus began performing stand-up in 2013 immediately after wasting $143,548 in college. Within a short time Geoffrey won Comedy on State’s 'Funniest Person in Madison 2015' and Penguin Comedy Club’s 'Funniest Person in Iowa 2015,' both times beating out the guy who invented meth, Quentin [...] No matter where he performs Geoffrey never makes eye contact, which is a blessing for all." Experience the awkwardness after an opening set by Mike Devore, a finalist in the 2019 Seattle International Comedy Competition.
Sound Theatre Company kicks off its 2020 season with the world premiere of Darren Canady's Reparations, a speculative drama about healing inherited traumas using a device that transforms your blood into a time machine. The cast features Allyson Lee Brown, whose turn as Serena Williams in Citizen: An American Lyric drew effusive praise from Stranger editor Christopher Frizzelle: "[Brown is] such a captivating presence onstage, it's hard to look away from her." Jay O'Leary, who did such a great job pulling the good acting out of the players in Washington Ensemble Theatre's B, will direct. This production is stacked with so much talent—it is certainly one of the most highly anticipated shows of the season. RICH SMITH
Prolific director Kelly Kitchens will stage Lauren Gunderson's comedy about four strong women in perilous revolutionary France: the feminist playwright Olympe de Gouges, the assassin Charlotte Corday, the prisoner Marie Antoinette, and the Haitian freedom fighter Marianne Angelle.
Scarecrow Video and Lance Rhoades Present Oscar Preview Night
Scarecrow Video and film historian Lance Rhoades will continue their tradition of pregaming the Academy Awards with an Oscar preview show, where Rhoades will resurrect highlights and controversies from previous Academy Awards ceremonies and share his predictions for this year's winners.
Dine Out for Fred Hutch at Patagōn
Dine on South American fare, wine, and craft cocktails at the Argentine-inspired grill to support cancer research at Fred Hutch.
Spotlight Poetry: Sherwin Bitsui with Elee Kraljii Gardiner
Join acclaimed Diné poet Sherwin Bitsui (Dissolve) and Canadian writer Elee Kraljii Gardiner (Trauma Head) for a joint reading.
Youth Speaks Seattle Qualifying Slam Featuring Christopher Diaz
The top three contestants of this slam for those aged 13 to 19 will compete at the Grand Slam in May, where they'll duke it out for the honor of representing the Youth Speaks Seattle team at the international youth poetry competition Brave New Voices.
Golden Lady: A Retrospective into the Life & Loves of Catherine Harris-White to Date
Known best for her music-making moniker SassyBlack, Catherine Harris-White has many identities across disciplines. In conjunction with the release of her latest album, Ancient Mahogany Gold, the artist will present a multimedia exhibition that explores her complexities—and the complexities of humans in general—writing, "Now it is time for me to let you in a step closer to my being and to reveal another layer."
The quintessential fairy tale, performed here by the dancers of Pacific Northwest Ballet, gets the Kent Stowell choreography treatment with music by Sergei Prokofiev performed by the great Pacific Northwest Ballet orchestra, a set by Tony Straiges, and fancy costumes by Martin Pakledinaz.
Julia Sweeney: Older & Wider
Comedian and actor Julia Sweeney starred on Saturday Night Live in the early 1990s, made a few one-woman shows about religion and other subjects after she left SNL, took a 10-year break from the entertainment industry to be a full-time mom, and is now enjoying a TV comeback on shows like Shrill and Work in Progress. As for this one-woman show at the Neptune, Sweeney says: "It’s funny. It’s my most mainstream show, where I tried to be funny the most. In my other shows, it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m going to talk about religion,’ or 'I’m going to talk about cancer,’ or whatever. This one’s just ‘I’m just going to be funny!’” Stories include the tale of her daughter dating a Trump voter and how Sweeney and her husband “lost our minds over it.” CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
Well, this sounds a little dangerous: Improvisers violate secret rules (secret from them, that is) as they play and must take a shot every time they do so. Poor things! After they reach their limit, they're booted off the stage, presumably for their own safety.
SAD Winter Beer Fest
Rival your SAD (Seasonal Affectedness Disorder) with SAD (Strong and Dark) brews. Tickets get you five pours.
The Best of Everything
2014 Stranger Theater Genius Valerie Curtis-Newton directs UW graduate actors in Julie Kramer's adaptation of Rona Jaffe's novel about an ambitious woman in a 1950s typing pool who's determined to make her way to the top.
It's All Happening: The Harlem Renaissance
Seattle's favorite literary burlesque company Noveltease Theatre will combine the powerful forces of poetry, striptease, and live music. This edition with Onyx Asili, Caféaulait Olé, Carson St. Clair, and others will celebrate Langston Hughes' birthday and the poets of the Harlem Renaissance.
Anna Wiener with Kristi Coulter: Uncanny Valley
When New Yorker writer Anna Weiner left her job in book publishing to pursue a career in the then-new digital economy, she wound up in the dead center of Silicon Valley. According to press materials, her book Uncanny Valley "charts the tech industry’s shift from self-appointed world savior to democracy-endangering liability, alongside a personal narrative of aspiration, ambivalence, and disillusionment." She'll be joined in conversation by local author Kristi Coulter.
Jacob A. Riis: How the Other Half Lives
In this era of extreme inequality, the work of groundbreaking Danish American photojournalist Jacob Riis reminds us that the desperation of the urban poor is nothing new. Exploiting newly invented flash powder to explore night scenes, Riis documented life in tenements, sweatshops, and city streets. The exhibition Jacob A. Riis: How the Other Half Lives reveals moving photos by Riis and other photographers of the time, as well as excerpts from his journals and letters.