Cherry blossoms bloom, the sun is shining a little later, and warm temperatures linger longer in the afternoons. While spring is with us, there is much happening that can’t be diluted by beautiful sunshine. I don’t have to reiterate the list of things that have happened to people of color in the US since last week, but the weekend offers some solace and joy. One Book, One Philadelphia’s conversation around poetry and Blackness promises to be sobering. UArts and Philly Theatre Week show us what’s on the horizon, giving us something to look forward to. Crossroads Comedy has laughs to help ease the pain, and the Annenberg Center gets moving through dance.
I wish I could write a brighter introduction for you. Nonetheless, I implore you to find time this weekend to rest, restore, and renew. We need all the strength we can to continue to strive toward accountability.
One Book, One Philadelphia has partnered with the Paul Robeson House to present a talk on the poetry of Jericho Brown, who is credited for inventing the duplex, a poetic form that combines the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues. Join Philly poets Kirwyn Sutherland and Andrea Walls and science fiction writer Alex Smith for a conversation on Wednesday, April 21 at 6pm. If you can’t catch the talk, be sure to pick up The Tradition by Jericho Brown, Jump Ship by Sutherland, keep an eye out for the upcoming Black Vans by Smith, and check out Walls works on Instagram. The event is free.
The seventh annual Polyphone Festival of New and Emerging Musicals arrives virtually, beginning April 21. The four musicals that make up this year’s festival include an interactive queer superhero comic book universe, an expansive virtual world created by a self-aware A.I. program, a soundscape-driven present-day exploration of primal redemption, and an intersectional odyssey unpacking American literary history and oppressive forces. The musicals are available for streaming through Sunday, May 2 and admission is $10, which grants you access to every performance.
The theater community is coming together Thursday, April 22 at 6pm to celebrate the fourth annual Philly Theatre Week. The virtual get-together is pay-what-you-can (suggested donation of $15) and will feature previews and performances from the likes of The Hum'n'bards Theater Troupe, Theatre Ariel, Aporia Artists Collective, 11th Hour Theatre Company, Cirque du Nuit, and many more.
Marlon Riggs’ 1989 film Tongues United is a key entry in LGBTQ documentary cinema, and Scribe Video Center is screening the film on Thursday, April 22 at 7pm. The film captures the Black gay community through poetry, personal testimony, rap, and more. Admission is on a sliding scale, ranging from $5 to $20.
The Annenberg Center hosts the world premiere of The Wind, performed by Kun-Yang Lin, a storied dancer who hasn’t stepped foot on stage in eight years. The Taiwan-native, Philly-raised performer brings a collective piece that reflects on the state of the world as it wrestles with a pandemic and the isolation it brings. Check it out on Thursday, April 22 at 7pm. Tickets are $25.
A new theater company opening during the pandemic? A bold choice, but we’re a fan of bold. Crossroads Comedy Theater is a new online home for comedy shows and podcasts featuring performers from the Philadelphia area and beyond. The online stage opens its curtains with Not Yet Rated: An Improvised Movie. The interactive performance puts genre tropes and suggestions into a blender to create a new and fully improvised show right in front of the audience. Not Yet Rated streams at various times through Sunday, May 2, beginning Thursday, April 22 at 8:30pm.
Phoenix Theatre is hosting its second annual surprise birthday party for Shakespeare on Friday, April 23 at 7pm. The company will present scenes, monologues, sonnets, and songs that highlight some of his best work. And who knows, Shakespeare himself might hop in the chat!
Image Description: Two ballet dancers pose in movement. One dancer wears a flowing dress, kicking one leg in the air, her arms out, and her hair in motion. The other dancer is positioned on the floor, her stomach facing down and her legs bent mostly toward her head, wearing all white.