Friday, January 31
Conversation, generally speaking, is remarkably well suited for clarifying questionable perspectives, particularly across the thorny landscape of America’s race relations and its even more problematic racial history. Within the stagebound world of the Stagecrafters Theater’s Bee-luther-hatchee, the concept of truthful, well-intentioned discourse is challenged and re-imagined in provocative ways by critically acclaimed local playwright Thomas Gibbons. In his story, African-American editor Shelita Burns publishes a collection of autobiographical letters written by a reclusive 72-year-old black woman named Libby Price. After the tome receives high praise in N.Y. publishing circles, Burns decides to deliver the good news to Price in person. To her shock and dismay, in lieu of finding a dotty old woman, an outraged Burns instead discovers Sean Leonard, a white man in his 40s.
The confrontation poses some important questions: Does the validity of struggle wane when it is explored by a non-participant? Can tales of racial and social injustice be effectively imparted if even partially fictional? How does one even broach the subject?
After the Friday night performance of Bee-luther-hatchee—which runs on successive weekends, Thursday through Sunday, through Feb. 9—the Chestnut Hill-based Stagecrafters will host a post-show Q&A session with Gibbons, director Barbara Mills and the drama’s cast. Like the play, its participating artists aim to fan the flames of authorial authenticity and introspective social commentary, using the most effective strategy in the playbook: Talking about it. / KENNEDY ALLEN
8pm. $17-$20. The Stagecrafters Theater, 8130 Germantown Ave. thestagecrafters.org
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Believed by many to be the reigning champs of South African a cappella, the members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo have a 50-year history and three Grammy awards to affirm their brilliance. 8pm. Various prices. Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut St. 215.898.6702. annenbergcenter.org
New York alternative act Brazilian Girls haven’t released any new material in almost six years, but anticipation among thier fanbase is almost certainly reaching new heights with their current tour. The band is known for mixing EDM with genres as diverse as reggae and lounge music. 8pm. $20. With El Malito & The 33rd Century. Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St. undergroundarts.org
Saturday, February 1
Tootie Heath-Ethan Iverson-Ben Street Trio
For a young Albert Heath—the little drummer boy who would eventually come to be affectionately known as “Tootie”—a career in music was never up for debate. Growing up in the heart of Philadelphia, he followed his older brothers, Percy and Jimmy, who played bass and saxophone respectively, into the hazy mystique of the city’s illustrious jazz scene, soaking up a knowledge that led him to his first recording alongside none other than John Coltrane in 1957.
Now at 78 years young, Heath has more than established himself as one of the scene’s most standout performers, particularly in the hard bop subgenre. Over the last half-century, he has shared his talents with Herbie Hancock, Nina Simone and Dexter Gordon among an impressive list of others. Whether adopting the role of bandleader, sideman or educator (he devotes part of his time to instructing at the Stanford Jazz Workshop), Heath never fails to add a fervent sort of energy to whatever his current project is. And the years don’t appear to be slowing him down, as evidenced by Tootie’s Tempo, his most recent collaboration featuring pianist Ethan Iverson (The Bad Plus) and celebrated double-bassist Ben Street. The record, which once again finds Heath holding the proverbial reigns, simultaneously honors the longstanding traditions of jazz while also offering a fresh take on classics like “The Charleston” and “Violets for Your Furs.” Like the legacy of the man himself, the music is guaranteed to transcend the boundaries of time. / JAKE ABBATE
8pm. $15. Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th St. 215.545.4302. philartalliance.org
Philly Materials Day
Drexel and UPenn team up again for the fourth annual Philly Materials Day. Free to the public, the days’ festivities will feature hands-on science and engineering activities, as well as child-friendly demonstrations and discussions. 10am. Free. Bossone Research Enterprise Center, 31st and Market sts. phillymaterials.org
GET LUCID! The Activist Dance Party
Underground Arts hosts this DJ, live music, visual art and spoken word hodgepodge. The Activist Dance Party proceeds will benefit Philly Urban Creators, a youth-driven organization seeking to brighten the blighted landscapes of inner-city Philadelphia. 8pm. $5-$8. Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St. getlucid.org
Drexel FreshDance Winter Concert: New Adventures
Check out the incredibly talented freshmen dancers at this special Drexel dance event. The dancers will perform a variety of numbers arranged by student and faculty choreographers. 8pm. $5-$10. Mandell Theater, 33rd & Chestnut Streets. 484.469.0288
Sunday, February 2
Gabriel Cabezas and Chloe Felesina
Sensational young cellist Gabriel Cabezas and dancer Chloe Felesina are looking to reinvent the way performance art is enjoyed and explored. Through their inventive collaboration, this gifted pair combine the established grace of classical music and ballet’s rigors with the spontaneity of improvisation and interpretation. Part of the goal of LiveConnections’ breathtaking ClassicAlive concert series, which includes this production, is to push the boundaries of classical music and attract new audiences; if this night’s any indication of what’s to come, ready your datebook.
Cabezas, originally from Chicago, studied at the illustrious Curtis Institute of Music in Rittenhouse Square and made his world debut with the Cleveland Orchestra when he was only 15 years old. From then on, his soloist credits boast the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the New World Symphony, and a host of other prestigious ensembles. A member of Philadelphia’s groundbreaking BalletX, Felesina received her primary training on the West coast from the Deane Dance Center and San Francisco Conservatory of Dance before joining the Sacramento Ballet. She moved on to develop a unique talent for contemporary collaboration, including improvising outdoors routines and working with poets.
Together, Cabezas and Felesina are pushing the boundaries of what’s considered traditional while putting a fresh spin on timeless classics. Whether you’re a seasoned ballet veteran, have season tickets to the Philadelphia Orchestra or are new to either scene, this brunch-time outing’s for you. / K.A.
Noon. $11-$16. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St, 215.222.1400. philly.worldcafelive.com
Taste of Philly Dance Fitness 2014 Workshop
Philly Dance Fitness hosts a jam-packed schedule of eight workout classes within their newest workshop. From Zumba to Bhangra Blast to Ballet, the workshop will have something for everyone. 2pm. $20-$25. The Arts Parlor, 1170 S. Broad St. phillydancefitness.com
Philadelphia Tattoo Arts
Villain Arts hosts Philly’s 16th annual gathering of tattooers and artists from across the globe. The Philly convention has grown into one of the largest and most respected festivals in the tattoo world. Contests, vendors, entertainment and, of course, plenty of buzzing machines highlight the weekend. Fri., Jan. 31-Sun., Feb. 2. $22-$45. Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch St. 215.765.1129. villainarts.com
Lisa D’Amour’s new stage comedy follows two couples into the woods—with some unintended consequences. 2013 Obie Award winner D’Amour weaves her unique comedic chops into this story of campers gone astray. 7:30pm. $66. Through Feb. 8. The Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St. 215.546.7824. wilmatheater.org
Calendar: March 25-April 1
PW's 2015 Philly Spring Guide