A Theatrical Thursday: PICT’s ‘Educating Rita,’ Corningworks ‘Beckett & beyond,’ and Pittsburgh New Works Fest (Thurs., 9/10/15)

Rita Poster w words1) PICT Classic Theatre specializes in plays by Irish and English playwrights, typically ones that were written or are set in the pre-Internet era (i.e., before the 1990s). That’s a lot of theater to choose from, and past productions have ranged from the works of Samuel Beckett to social comedies, light and dark. PICT’s latest offering in this back-to-school time of year is Willy Russell’s back-to-school comedy Educating Rita. The title’s Rita is a hairdresser who wants to expand her horizons by acquiring culture. She enrolls in a university literature course taught by an alcoholic professor who’s become cynical about the very academic life to which Rita aspires. A hit when it opened in London in 1980, Educating Rita was made into a 1983 movie with Michael Caine and Julie Walters. PICT has Martin Giles as the professor and Karen Baum as Rita. 8 p.m. preview performance. Runs through September 19. Charity Randall Theatre in the Stephen Foster Memorial, 4301 Forbes Ave., Oakland. (MV)


Alas! In 'BECKETT & beyond,' renowned Swedish dancer Yvan Auzely doesn't seem to be going beyond anywhere.

Alas! In ‘BECKETT & beyond,’ renowned Swedish dancer Yvan Auzely doesn’t seem to be going beyond anywhere. photo: Hakan Larsson

2) Modern dancer and choreographer Beth Corning presents original ensemble pieces under the flag of her ongoing project CORNINGWORKS. Her new creation, BECKETT & beyond, sets the dancers in radical renditions of a pair of short works by Samuel Beckett, combined with new material from Corning herself. One Beckett piece is the mime play “Act Without Words II”—no voices here, so we can easily imagine it being danced—and the other is “Rockaby,” which features a woman in a rocking chair awaiting death and includes a haunting, rambling monologue of the kind that Beckett reveled in. Corning has billed BECKETT & beyond as a humorous exploration of “the fickle landscape of existentialism.” We don’t know what Beckett would think of that, since he is no longer existing, but all’s fair in love and art. 8 p.m. Runs through Sunday. New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. (MV)





3) Why are some people big fans of one-act festivals? Because going to one, as opposed to seeing a full-length play, is like reading short stories versus reading a novel. You get a cross-section of stories in different styles and moods, which (a) is fun in itself, and (b) helps assure that you’ll see something you really like. The Pittsburgh New Works Festival, now in its 25th year, is one of the oldest and largest of its kind. During September, a total of 12 new one-acts are presented in four rotating evenings of three plays each; see the Festival website for schedules and details. This year’s entries come from playwrights living across the United States and beyond—there’s even one by an American expat in Barcelona—and the pieces range from high comedy to introspective drama. 8 p.m. Continues through September 27. Carnegie Stage, 25 W. Main St., Carnegie. (MV)


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Rick Handler

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