* Events that are $15 or less
Three days later and I’m still thinking about this show. It’s that good. Confession: I’ll go see anything that Intiman puts on; their annual festival always impresses me. And what they deliver here, kicking off its three-show summer festival, is a wickedly powerful story about a very unhappy shopkeeper in a terrible marriage and her attraction to a young, wild musician. This is a little known Tennessee Williams play and Intiman is producing it in collaboration with The Williams Project, a new theater troupe featuring eight actors from all over the country. Those actors, sometimes playing multiple roles, are cast across race and age — you start thinking, Is she Italian? Is he black? — but that’s part of what made the experience so rich. The show feeds your brain, holds you captive and that ending. I walked out unable to pick a favorite character or a performer. What a pleasure to watch such a tight and talented ensemble.
If you go: Orpheus Descending, 12th Avenue Arts Mainstage, Through August 2 (Tickets start at $25)—F.D.
The Two-Character Play
And clearly, lesser-known Tennessee Williams plays are having a moment because the
much-applauded Civic Rep theater company is also staging a work that falls in that category. Two actors play a pair of sibling actors, Clare and Felice, who find themselves abandoned by their theater troupe and forced to perform in front of an audience that is anything but kind. According to production notes, the play was written during one of Williams' darkest periods when he struggled with severe drug and alcohol addiction; it's personal and haunting. Those who saw actors Robin Jones and Sam Read in Civic Rep's "A Streetcar Named Desire" roared about their performances. They return here.
If you go: The Two-Character Play, New City Theater, Now through August 1 (Tickets start at $20)—F.D.
The Decemberists, Calexico
Continuing its run of excellent concerts this summer, Marymoor Park hosts two of folk rock’s greatest and most prolific bands this week. The Decemberists, who headline the event, have seven albums to their name. Their most recent, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, marked the end of a multi-year hiatus. Most critics (the ever-picky Pitchfork notwithstanding) agreed the album was a solid addition to the group’s acclaimed catalog of material. As the title of this newest LP confirms, lead singer Colin Meloy’s lyrics and delivery are very earnest and high-minded, but his musings are couched in such pure indie-folk their authenticity can’t be questioned. Calexico, another long-standing alt-country band with an affinity for horns and Latin sounds, has nine albums out, not including an excellent joint release with Iron and Wine called In The Reins.
If you go: The Decemberists and Calexico, Marymoor Park, July 16 ($45). All ages—J.S.H.
The Moth *
If you’ve somehow missed out, The Moth StorySLAM is a storytelling event that takes place in cities across the U.S. Here in Seattle, we’re lucky enough to have TWO a month; the first Thursday one takes place at the Fremont Abbey, and the second one is always at St. Mark’s. Inspired by founder George Dawes Green’s summer nights in Georgia where he slung stories on a friend’s porch, The Moth brings this intimacy and laughter and surprise to the stage. This event reminds us that the age-old art of storytelling is alive and well, worth stopping for and appreciating and it’s something we can all hope to master. The prompt for this challenge’s five-minute stories: Balance.
If you go: The Moth, Bloedel Hall at St. Mark’s Cathedral, 8 p.m. July 17 ($8)—N.C.
With clear inspiration from Sergio Leone, director Pablo Fendrik christens the “machete Western,” set on an Argentinean tobacco farm abutting the jungle. Gael Garcia Bernal, who seems to possess both endless good looks and talent, plays a mysterious man who emerges from the jungle to help a woman whose farm is under siege. Dark, moody, beautiful, mystical — it’s what the setting and cinematography strive for and, with the powerful on-location shots and strong acting, hopefully achieve. If you want a perfect date night, head to Argentine winery Hand of God, located in South Lake Union, which will be doing a special pre-movie wine tasting soiree (plus empanadas) in celebration of South American pride.
If you go: Ardor, SIFF Cinema Uptown, July 17 through 23 ($11)—N.C.
There are more than a few of us who have waited a very, very long time for this moment — eight years, to be precise. Eight years ago, David Terry, who performs (usually with a band) as Aqueduct, released a polished-to-a-mirror-sheen LP titled Or Give Me Death. After that, as KEXP so aptly puts it “our hero seemingly rode off into the sunset.” This week at The Tractor Tavern, our champion of the 3-minute pop ballad rides back into town on waves of synth and organs to release a new record, Wild Knights. His insightful, bittersweet lyrics are sassy and biting as ever on the new material. “Talking is easy /when you get started / I’ll start with a vodka soda with lemon.” His mastery over the keyboard — his instrument of choice during live shows, although he is a multi-instrumentalist — has clearly increased during his hiatus as well. This new material is perhaps the best thing Terry has ever released.
If you go: Aqueduct, The Tractor Tavern, July 18 ($10). 21+. — J.S.H.
Cut Copy (DJ Set)
Many contemporary dance bands cling to a desperate love of ’70s and ’80s dance music (LCD Soundsystem, Hercules and Love Affair, Twin Shadow, Daft Punk and Hot Chip for starters) At this point, it’s fair to say Australian band Cut Copy has earned a seat at this table of electronica heroes. Group frontman/founder Dan Whitford has a rich, soul-stirring voice and innumerable sparkling pop hooks tucked up his sleeves, as evidenced by the four excellent albums the group has released since their inception in 2001. This week, Whitford will hit the tables at Q for a DJ set. He was a DJ before becoming the frontman of Cut Copy, so I’m confidant his set will be impeccably delivered, albeit likely devoid of Cut Copy tracks. Still, these DJ sets almost always function as an expression of the artist’s musical personality. Hence, the spirit of Cut Copy will be present in the room. Fans of the band (or dancing in general) will enjoy themselves immensely.
If you go: Cut Copy (DJ Set), Q nightclub, July 16 ($16.22). 21+. — J.S.H.
Cherdonna’s Slow Dance Cake Party *
Cherdonna Shinatra, the outré and talented drag queen persona embodied by Jody Kuehner, will be hosting a 4 ½-hour Slow Dance Cake Party at Seattle University’s Hedreen Gallery. And what is the aforementioned event? Explains the artist herself: “As a feminist art maker how do I contribute to modern day radical movements pushing change into action? This is my effort. Let’s connect, have a human moment, make a work of art together.” And, eat cake. I’ve seen Cherdonna perform and let me tell you, she can make walking look interesting and it’s not just because she’s in those platform shoes.
The free show is just one of 18 free performances that make up the month-long Yellow Fish//Epic Durational Performance Festival, which continues through Aug. 5. The festival embraces performances that last a minimum of an hour up to a maximum of 48 hours — yes, this is serious art and the unnervingly talented Alice Gosti curates it all. Go here for a full list of performances that span readings and dance and the giving away of free beer.
If you go: Cherdonna’s Slow Dance Cake Party, Hedreen Gallery at Seattle U, 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. July 22 (Free)—F.D.