Quantum Working With ‘Collaborators’; Jukebox the Ghost to Appear at Mr. Smalls (Thurs., 4/13/17)

Bulgakov (Anthony Bingham, L) and Stalin (Martin Giles) engage in spirited dialectics while Bulgakov's wife Yelena (Dana Hardy) tries to sleep it off in 'Collaborators.'

Bulgakov (Anthony Bingham, L) and Stalin (Martin Giles) engage in spirited dialectics while Bulgakov’s wife Yelena (Dana Hardy) tries to sleep it off in ‘Collaborators.’

1) British dramatist John Hodge is best known as the screenwriter for the Danny Boyle films Trainspotting and its new sequel T2 Trainspotting. But Hodge can also write a mean stage play. His 2011 entry Collaborators won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play—England’s equivalent of the Best-Play Tony Award—and Quantum Theatre is presenting Collaborators here. Set in Stalin’s Russia during 1938-40, the story is a wild fictional imagining of a real dilemma faced by the Soviet writer Mikhail Bulgakov, who was a striking character in his own right. Bulgakov lived on a knife-edge, admired for his bizarre satirical humor but suppressed as a dissident intellectual. The personal favor of Stalin (who had loved some of his early work) helped to keep the writer alive but did not extend to letting him publish what he wanted. In Collaborators, the secret police make him an offer he can’t refuse: to write a cheesy propaganda play glorifying Stalin. When Bulgakov struggles with the job, the dictator himself offers to help—and the rest is alternative history. Performances through April 30. At 6500 Hamilton Ave. behind Bakery Square, East Liberty. (MV)

2) For the third time in three years, Jukebox the Ghost return to Mr. Smalls. Not much new to report about the trio, who formed in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area. They released an EP and a live album in 2016. The EP, titled Thump Sessions, is a six-song collection of acoustic versions of older songs. The album, Long Way Home, contains live cuts from throughout their tour earlier that year. (Listen closely. You might be able to hear yourself, provided they used a song from their last Smalls show.) Jukebox the Ghost have opened for Ben Folds, Motion City Soundtrack and, in 2010, made a coveted appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman.” In 2015, they performed “Postcard” on “Conan,” just one of over 150 performances they average annually. Their 2014 self-titled album is their latest studio LP. The Elwins open. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)