Barebones Productions Opens ‘The Animal Kingdom,’ Pittsburgh Juneteenth Kicks Off With Arrested Development (Fri., 6/14/24)

The character Sam, from barebones productions 'The Animal Kingdom,' has a pensive moment.

The character Sam, from barebones productions ‘The Animal Kingdom,’ has a pensive moment.

1) Once again, barebones productions gives Pittsburgh-area audiences a first look at something new and unusual in contemporary theater. The company’s latest play—The Animal Kingdom—is not about mammals and reptiles, except in a metaphorical sense. Rather, this ensemble piece by English playwright Ruby Thomas is part of an emerging U.K. trend that has drawn commentary from the London theater press: psychotherapy plays, with dramatic therapy sessions enacted onstage. One could say the granddaddy of the genre was Peter Shaffer’s 1973 classic Equus, in which a psychiatrist tries to learn what drove a young man to commit a gruesome crime. Equus is still performed and remains a gripper, but nothing similar of note has come along until recently. The Animal Kingdom invites us to sit in on a series of crackling family-therapy sessions, centered around a teenaged boy who’s gotten into self-harm. The kid compares his mom and sister to battling bonobos and his dad to a lumbering hippo. Meanwhile, to borrow a metaphor from William Blake, the real question is: whence come reptiles of the mind? See The Animal Kingdom in the barebones black box. 8 p.m. Through June 30 at 1211 Braddock Ave., Braddock. (M.V.)

2) At one point there were two dueling Shadyside Arts Festivals and now there are two Juneteenth Festivals. The more the merrier right! Especially celebrating a great occasion such as the news that slavery had finally ended reaching slaves in Texas after the Civil War had ended. The WPA Juneteenth & Black Music Festival is the first big Pittsburgh Juneteenth Celebration and is produced by Pittsburgher B Marshall of the Stop the Violence. It is reportedly the largest Juneteenth Celebration in the nation. Several of the hallmarks of this festival are top-notch soul and hip-hop acts, African American cultural events, and vendors who are Black owned businesses.  This evening at Point State Park is Freeway + Beanie Sigel and Arrested Development. KLYMAXX plays Market Square, Downtown. (CM)


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Mike Vargo

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