GOTHIC GOODNESS: Last time I mentioned Theatre Downtown, I praised them for their willingness to experiment with different types of productions. The community theater is all about making their performances as creative and subversive as possible. In recent years they’ve taken on such diverse projects as Peter Shaffer’s Equus, David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross and Mary Chase’s Harvey. Even more recently, they’ve staged productions of Fahrenheit 451 and Night of the Living Dead, two sources of material that didn’t even originate in the theater. But this month, the company is taking somewhat of a more traditional route, adapting the 1847 Emily Bronte novel Wuthering Heights. Most know the story, even if they’ve never heard of the book before. A man and a woman (in this case, Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff) meet, fall in love and end up so head over heels for one another that you can smell the tragedy around the corner. Eventually, something comes along to undermine the couples’ passion, and the fallout affects not only the lives of the man and woman, but of their friends and family around them. Bronte’s novel has been adapted countless times over the years, as a play, ballet, opera and even a role-playing game. But most of the reboots I know of try to alter or update the story somehow. Not so with this week’s production. Anyone looking for a good, faithful adaptation of the source should check this out. The show starts this Thursday and continues the way until May 1. All shows begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 if you buy online, and $17 if you pay at the door. Students, seniors and groups receive a discount of $10 tickets. For more information, call (205) 306-1470 or visit www.theatredowntown.org.
NUTS ABOUT RODENTS: I wrote about David Sedaris’ last appearance in Birmingham back in November, but when an author with that amount of humor and talent wants to come back so soon, how can I deny him another mention? Sedaris is known best for his essay collections Barrel Fever, Naked, Holidays on Ice, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and When You Are Engulfed in Flames. Sedaris’ writing has been praised in its ability to mine vast amounts of humor out of his personal life—especially his family and his upbringing. But his new work, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, is a step in a different direction. The book is not an essay collection, but a collection of fables, all with animals in titular roles. In his appearance at Alabama Booksmith, he read the titular story, “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk”. The story is about two unnamed animals, yet the “one that got away” type story plays out entirely as if they’re human. As he said at the time, it’s easier to make sweeping, archetypal stories when you’ve no need for human characterization. Everyone knows what a squirrel and chipmunk look like, and the fact that they’re animals subtracts nothing from the story’s resonance. Sedaris will be coming to a larger venue this week—the Alys Stephens Center. He will conduct a reading and talk starting at 8 p.m., and then sign copies of his book as long as there are still people in attendance (seriously, try to get to the front of that line quickly if you don’t like standing for long periods of time). General admission costs $38, $48 or $58, depending on your seats. For more information, call (205) 975-2787 or visit www.alysstephens.uab.edu.
CHOCK FULL OF ART: This Saturday may hold more art events than I’ve ever seen in one day. Not only is it the last day of Sloss’ National Conference on Cast Iron Art, or BMoA’s “Birmingham Slow Art Day,” or the Hoover Shelby Art Association’s “Art in the Park,” or Alys Stephens’ “Art Play Art Day,” it’s Colonial Brookwood Village’s “Paint the Town Red”. The third annual event is, at least in conception, one of the coolest things I can think to have happen in downtown. It’s fun to go to an art festival, but sometimes they all seem similar. Walking from booth to booth, trying to figure out what’s worth seeing can become disillusioning. I’d say there’s no threat of disillusionment with “Paint the Town Red”. Instead of spreading art around a park or field or some other venue, this event cuts right to the chase by projecting each image onto windows and buildings of downtown Birmingham. Audiences can walk down Second Avenue North and marvel at each digitally created piece. Some of them are paintings and drawings, some are photographs, and some are even animated. The effect is a bit bewildering, but coupled with live music and a general festival vibe with street vendors and the like, this art event is my first choice for Saturday. Proceeds will benefit the Birmingham Chapter of the American Red Cross. Festivities go from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Advance tickets will run you $10, or $15 at the entrance. For more information, call (205) 825-2519 or visit paintthetownredbham.com.
MANY MOONS, ONE EVENT: In English, we call the full moon in April an Egg Moon. Hindus call it Hanuman Jayanti. Buddhists refer to it as Bak Poya. But Ruffner Mountain has chosen to honor the Native American Algonquian tribe’s name for the occurence: Pink Moon. Guides from the nature preserve will be leading a hike this week to take a gander at the once-in-a-year event. You’ll start at the edge of the preserve, and walk three miles inward to Ruffner’s Hawk View Overlook. When you reach your destination, your guides will present you with some complimentary snacks and drinks, and you can watch the moon rise while munching and mingling. And you know, if you’re the antisocial type, maybe bring some headphones along and play Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” while you do it. The hike will start at 6 p.m. and will take about three hours to complete. General admission is $7, and tickets for Ruffner members are $5. For more information, call (205) 833-8264 or visit www.ruffnermountain.org.
EVERYONE LIKES PASTA: No one likes Mondays (feel free to insert whatever “Case of the Mondays” joke is appropriate here). Even if you don’t work the typical work week, can you say that you’ve ever really looked forward to a Monday? One good thing that I’ve noticed, though, is restaurant specials. Eateries and other similar establishments understand as well as anyone else that each day needs a little excitement, however small or brief. So a lot of the time they use that desire to attract some customers. It’s a win-win, if you ask me. “Monday Night Pasta” at Silvertron Café in Lakeview is one such special deal, with pasta dishes sold for only $7.95 each Monday. They also take $1 off glasses of wine, and $4 off bottles of wine. The special begins at 5 p.m., and goes until Silvertron closes. For more information about times and prices, call (205) 591-3707 or visit www.silvertroncafe.us.
BORDER BEAUTY: Every week we have listings for the Birmingham Museum of Art’s “Artbreaks.” The 30minute gallery talks are the Museum’s most consistent events, taking place each Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. The discussions usually come from employees at the Museum, who take a specific artistic period or movement and expound on it for participants. Past lecturers have included curatorial fellow Nicole Jordan, assistant curators of education Kristen Greenwood, Samantha Kelly and Suzy Harris, as well as a few special guests like Shariff Simmons. But this week’s truly feels like a special occasion. The Museum has invited Jose Garcia to speak this week. A renowned frame maker, Garcia has recently moved to Birmingham from Madrid. But this hasn’t kept him from his work: he still regularly submits frames for the Museo del Prado in Spain, in addition to his many worldwide clients. It’s not too often Birminghamians come face to face with someone working in the foreign art scene, not to mention someone working for one of the premier galleries in all of Europe. His responses to some of the Birmingham Museum of Art’s frames should be enlightening. Again, the event starts at noon. As usual, it is free. Take some time afterwards if you feel like it to have lunch at the in-Museum restaurant, Oscar’s. For more information, call (205) 254-2565 or visit www.artsbma.org.
NOT AS RAUNCHY AS YOU’D THINK: My film pick for this week is Seven Stories from an Old Stripper, screening at Bottletree on Wednesday. The film was directed by Jack Truman (great nephew of president Harry S. Truman, as it turns out), who’s made a name for himself with his strange, short documentaries. Titles of these include Phone Sex Grandma, The X-Rated Grandma, Fuckin’ Old Bitch, and 2 Old Whores. At least you know what you’re getting yourself into—his new documentary is a compilation of seven different stories, revolving around (you guessed it) a former stripper in a ghost town. If nothing else, this won’t be boring. The film starts at 8 p.m., followed by a discussion from the director himself. Tickets are $5. For more information, call (205) 705-3775 or visit www.thebottletree.com.
SHINING A LIGHT ON FIRST LIGHT: There are a lot of locations in Birmingham that specialize in wine and wine alone, but Vintage Wine Shoppe may just be the most willing to mix up their events. Most of their wine tastings and classes are centered around one particular vineyard from one particular year, and the copy from their monthly newsletter suggests a wealth of knowledge on their part. But sometimes they’ll have an event like this week’s: a visit from Ellen Dossett. The educator, psychologist and Birmingham native stops by Vintage Wine Shoppe to talk and sign copies of her book Love at First Sight: The Story of a Shelter for Homeless Women and Children. The work is the story of the First Light Shelter in Birmingham, one that started as 12 pads in an inner-city Presbyterian church and has grown to operate out of 60-room hotel. Dossett explores just how this transformation came about, with interviews from early volunteers and staff members throughout. The Shoppe will conduct a wine tasting alongside the signing. The event starts at 5 p.m. and goes until 6:30 p.m. For more information, call (205) 980-9995 or visit www.vintagewineshoppe.net.