TERRIFIC OLD THEATRE: It doesn’t take a historian to tell you that the medium of theatre has waned in popularity over the course of the last several decades. There are many things you could attribute this to—new technologies, more modern forms of art—though it’s nothing everyone hasn’t already heard. What’s discussed less than the actual downslope of theatre, is the effects that the decline has had. One of the biggest results, to me, is a higher reliance on adaptation. With less writers and producers working in the art form, more and more plays are getting recycled for new audiences. This, to me, seemed unfortunate at first—and to a certain extent, it is—but upon rethinking it, I’ve come to see how it can be a positive thing. While remaking films or television shows is usually just a way to make more money off a stale idea, theatre allows for so much more development and craftwork. It’s a lot harder to half-ass an adaptation when you’ve got to perform it multiple times in a week, and you’ve got countless other productions to live up to. Lend Me a Tenor is a play that opened in London in 1986, with subsequent productions on Broadway. Since then, it’s been adapted in sixteen different languages, and enjoyed a revival on Broadway in 2010. In the spirit of that revival, Birmingham’s own Terrific New Theatre will be performing a version of the play. The story surrounds its own characters’ production of Otello. The lead opera tenor is pulled out of the show at the last minute and replaced by the company general manager’s assistant, but all the scrambling leads to a comedy of errors. The show will be running from Thursdays to Saturdays until February 12, and all shows start at 8 p.m. General admission is $20. For more information, call (205) 328-0868 or visit www.terrificnewtheatre.com.
CLASSICAL CLASSICS: The Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s “Regions Masterworks” series is nothing if not a good way to expose yourself to some classical music. I’ll be the first one to tell you that it’s hard to take on the classical genre, especially when pretty much all the media around us (save some public domain soundtracks) has forgotten it. So I recommend attending “Peter Serkin plays Brahms” this week. It will be in the Jemison Concert Hall of the Alys Stephens Center on Friday and Saturday, with Serkin performing Johannes Brahm’s second concerto. But that’s not all. The show will also include Samuel Barber’s First Essay for Orchestra and Franz Schubert’s Symphony No., “Unfinished.” Justin Brown will conduct. Both performances start at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $19 to $78, depending on the seats. Students can get in for $15. For more information, call (205) 975-ARTS or visit www.alabamasymphony.org.
SACRED AMAZMENT: A few weeks ago, I lamented the fact that most art shows only give you work from one artist, and one perspective. But if all shows could be like Tres Taylor’s “Amaze: A Sacred Journey,” opening this week at his new studio in Avondale, I wouldn’t have such a problem. The exhibition is a whopping 300 feet of plywood and roofing paper extended to fill an entire gallery space. The continuous imagery is highly concerned with self-discovery. Taylor based the work on a “spiritual experience” he had in Japan in 1992 with a live hawk. Later, he would find out that the hawk is a long-standing symbol—“considered to be a messenger from God whose purpose is to draw the creative spirit out of a person”—and indeed, his “spiritual experience” led to a period of prolificacy that Taylor had never seen in himself before. The 100-foot mural that makes its way around the gallery is centered around one of Taylor’s favorite images, a monk, with a labyrinthian spiral on his chest—“an ancient symbol representing the expedition into one’s own being and back out into the world.” The exhibition is swinging by Birmingham before moving on to venues in Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and California. You can see it starting this Saturday, and ending on February 26. The opening reception for the exhibition will go from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. In the next few weeks, keep an eye out for some workshops inspired by the piece, including a yoga workshop on February 9 and a children’s show on February 12. For more information, email email@example.com or visit www.trestaylor.com.
06 SUNGAME ON: The Super Bowl is upon us yet again, and as with any given year, you’ve probably got a lot of options as to where you’re going to spend the evening. But if you’ve somehow not made your plans yet, let me throw a suggestion out there: Matthew’s Bar & Grill. The Morris Avenue venue is throwing their very own “Super Bowl Party,” complete with $.49 wings, $2 Coors Lights and $5 Jager Bombs. The party will last from 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., and there’s no cover to get in. For more information, call (205) 488-9191 or visit www.matthewsbarandgrill.com.
SHOW-BUSINESS: If I said the words “star-studded spectacular” to you, you probably wouldn’t first think of a seminar. But this week, that’s exactly what’s coming to town. “Get Motivated!” is the Super Bowl of business lectures. Guests include Colin Powell, Nick Saban, Rudy Giuliani, Rick Belluzzo, Gene Chizik, Zig Ziglar and Krish Dhanam. Particulars that will be discussed include “time management, leadership, goal achievement, sales training, negotiation, finances, investing, relationships, health, spiritual success, business strategies, motivation, communication skills and much more.” If you don’t care about business, you can come for the pyrotechnics! (Nah, you probably shouldn’t.) The daylong event will go from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. The seminar is designed for entire businesses to attend, and there are some highly affordable rates. To learn more or register a spot for yourself, call (800) 880-7058 or visit www.getmotivated.com.
THINK FOR YOURSELF: If you’re not spending every Tuesday night either at Barking Kudu’s “$2 Tuesday Trivia With Amber” or Steel Urban Lounge’s “Trivia With Reed,” you’d do yourself well to head over to Parkside Café and check out “Thinking Man’s Trivia.” Started just a few weeks ago, the game is a casual, no-nonsense-style trivia challenge, hosted by Ben Lewellyn. The competition is split into eight different categories: literature, sports, music, history & politics, radio, television & film, geography, food & drink, and general knowledge. At the end of every night, contestants have the option of participating in a bonus round, where they can wager up to half of the points they’ve earned over the night, like Jeopardy. A few weeks ago, I myself used the brilliant strategy of doing nothing in the bonus round, and my team went from eighth place to fifth with absolutely no effort on my part. The winner of the game is rewarded with a $50 tab at the bar. Drink specials throughout the night include $3 Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboys, $5 Jim Beam and Tito’s, and $3.50 “mystery shots.” For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ ParksideCafe.
CHOCOHOLICS REJOICE: If you love chocolate, there’s no better week for you than this one. Specifically, there’s no better two days than Wednesday and Thursday of this week. While I’m only using this space to cover them, two events are worthy of inclusion. One is Debby Maugans’ book signing at Alabama Booksmith on Wednesday. Maugans is a food writer whose new book is called Small-Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers. The book is designed to help you make desserts for everyday occasions, when you just want a few cookies, or a small piece of cake. Recipes include “a fool-proof birthday chocolate cake recipe, a chocolate orange tart for Valentine’s Day” and “a chocolate souffle sized for one”. The signing will start at 4 p.m. You can preorder a copy of the cookbook by visiting www.alabamabooksmith.com. For more information, call (205) 870-4242. The other event I want to tell you about is essentially a continuation of the first. Maugans will make her way over to Birmingham Bake & Cook on Thursday to conduct a demonstration with tips and tricks from her book. Anyone who isn’t satisfied just reading a recipe will want to check this out, as there’s surely instruction that goes beyond the page. The class starts at 6:30 p.m. and goes until 9 p.m. It will be followed by yet another book signing. Admission is $35. For more information or to make reservations, call (205) 980-3661 or visit www.bakeandcookco.com.
THEATRE MASH-UP: I’ve mentioned quite a few theatre productions in these picks, especially in the last month or so. But it’s been a long time since I remember two organizations doing a collaboration. It’s something that should happen more, in all art, really. When two creative forces collide, it’s bound to produce some interesting results, regardless of the temperaments at play. So I’m recommending City Equity Theatre and The Alabama School of Fine Art’s performance of Spring Awakening this week. Besides being highly controversial upon its release, the play is a rock musical. I’d be curious to see what any local theatre company did with it. The coproduction begins on Thursday, and continues until February 20. All showtimes (on Thursday, friday and Saturday) begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students. For more information, visit www.asfa.k12.al.us or www.cityequitytheatre.com.