HOT SOUTHERN IMPROV: The Extemporaneous Theatre Company (ETC), “Birmingham’s Best Improvisational Theatre Company”, was founded back in 2008 with a few goals in mind: provide Birmingham with quality improvisational theatre; work with other artists to support live theatre; offer quality improvisational theatre training; and “to have a mighty good time doing it.” With a cast of 15 and a character list of dozens upon dozens, ETC has certainly achieved its goals. It’s last show of the season is entitled Hot Southern Porch. It’s the story of a Southern family that grows gradually more hostile as the temperature rises. Tensions reach the breaking point on the porch, and it remains to be seen whether or not the family can survive the heat. The show will take place at the Birmingham Festival Theatre at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door – down from their usual rates. Call (205) 687-5233 or visit www.extemporaneoustheatre.com to find out more and to reserve tickets.
SLAMMING AND BOOZING AT THE LIBRARY: The Birmingham Public Library is hosting its monthly Bards & Brews Poetry Slam at their Central Library. The competition will be held under Southern Fried Slam rules, and anyone is welcome to attend. Whether you’re a first-time slammer or a veteran of dozens of competitions, feel free to sign up. Every competitor must contribute $5 to the pot in order to enter, and the winner takes all. That covers the “Bards” portions of the competition. The “brews” comes from a vendor with a liquor license on the premises who will provide free craft beer samples to those in attendance. The organizers of the event figure that since interest in libraries has waned in the past few years while interest in craft beer just keeps growing, combining the two into one event could only be a positive thing. Just imagine it. Alcohol and a poetry competition in the public library. What more could you possibly want? The whole event will be hosted by performance artist and events director Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins. Participants must be 18 or older, and IDs will be checked. The competition will be held 6:30-9 p.m. Come early to sign up for the slam. Visit bplolinenews.blogspot.com for more information.
WATERPALOOZA: The East Lake Farmers Market is hosting a water fun day featuring free watermelon slices, a seed-spitting contest and a sprinkler set up for the kids to play in. There will be a cooking demonstration by Chef Shawn from LaCocina at 10 a.m. Waterpalooza’s special guest, the East Lake Fire Truck, will arrive at 11 a.m. As always, there will be freshly roasted coffee, goat cheese and fresh, local produce from regional farmers. The farmers market will be held 8 a.m.-noon. Come to Waterpalooza, support your local farmers, get some healthy food and beat the summer heat all in one trip. Call (205) 836-3201 or visit www.peerinc.org for more information.
BRUNCH WITH HOLLINGSWORTH: Prominent Birmingham musician Van Hollingsworth will play at Cosmo’s Pizza for brunch. Hollingsworth is an accomplished folk rocker who also plays with many local bands, including The Monarchs and The Magic Math. His tunes should complement Cosmo’s fantastic brunch nicely. Cosmo’s also features a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar. Brunch prices range from $5.50-$10.25. Pitchers of bloody marys, mimosas, sangria and screwdrivers are $19.95. Call Cosmo’s at (205) 930-9971 or visit www.birminghammenus.com/cosmos for more information.
EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY: When I was a kid, the Fourth of July (and New Years Eve—they both ran together in my young mind) were second only to Christmas and my own birthday (again, they ran together) in terms of my excitement and anticipation of their arrival. When Crazy Bill’s Fireworks would appear one day on Greensprings Highway, I knew that the day was near. My family would buy a few firecrackers and sparklers which I would inevitably set off days ahead of time, unable to wait for the holiday proper. They were peanuts compared to what would come on the Fourth, but I needed my fix before the big day. When the day finally arrived and the show started above Vulcan, I would stare, from the first bang to the grand finale, until my neck cramped. I loved the Fourth of July—still do, really—because those explosions in the sky above my town were the closest things to magic I had ever seen. Plenty of people like to go out of town for the Fourth of July, but I think they’re missing out. Stick around, find your favorite look-out and watch Birmingham light up. Just find a spot around town where you can see Vulcan to catch the show at 9 p.m. Start looking early though, because the choice spots close to Red Mountain fill up pretty early. Happy Fourth of July, Birmingham.
THE BLOW AT BOTTLETREE: Mikhaela Yvonne Maricich, better known by her stage name The Blow, will be playing at Bottletree. The Blow, formally known as “Get the Hell Out of the Way of the Volcano” and “Get the Hell Out of the Way of the Wave” is known for combining visual elements into her music, which is a combination of Maricich’s vocals and lo-fi electronic dance beats. Maricich is an artist in both the musical and the visual sense. She incorporates visual art into her shows and frequently adds performance art-elements to her sets, including monologues like “Blue Sky Versus Night Sky,” which she has toured with in the past. She has presented narrative performance art at venues such as The Kitchen, Irving Plaza, The Warhol Museum, Henry Fonda Theater, Great American Music Hall and Wexner Center. Maricich is also a former member of The Microphones, a lo-fi band from Olympia, Wash. Nightmare Boyzzz will be opening for her at Bottletree. The show is 18 and up only. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10. Call (205) 533-6288.
A WOLFE IN THE GALLERY: Johnna Wolfe is presenting a new solo show called “Pushing Water” at beta pictoris gallery. Wolfe graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Art History and earned her M.F.A. in Visual Arts at Columbia. She has worked in a variety of fields, including publishing, television production and film festivals. She now teaches undergraduate photography and presents exhibits across the country. The show presents pictures of Miami, Wolfe’s hometown, in a light that few who visit Miami recognize. Her pictures show the ports and harbors of Miami, the seedier, grittier side that the tourists never see. Birmingham natives can probably appreciate hav ing a hometown with a dark side. Head to beta pictoris between now and July 23 to see Wolfe’s show. Visit www.betapictorisgallery.com for more information.
A WARM FRIENDSHIP IN THE COLD WAR: It’s the height of the Cold War. The United States and the Soviet Union are at a political and economic impasse. The ideologies of the two nations are so diametrically opposed to one another that they cannot survive simultaneously for more than a few decades. It seems inevitable that nuclear war will break out one day soon and plunge the world into a man-made apocalypse. That is the world two arms negotiators, one American, one Russian, find themselves trying to navigate in Lee Blessing’s Tony Award nominated and Pulitzer Prize nominated play, A Walk in the Woods. Andrey Botvinnik, a gregarious, cynical Russian, plays the counterpart to John Honeyman, an idealistic American, as they participate in arms negotiation in Geneva. Taking a break from the hostility of the negotiation table, the two men take several walks in the woods over the next few months as their two respective nations try to reach an agreement. The story is relatively typical after its premise: both negotiators, initially at ends, come to respect one another over time. Each learns something from the other, and the two men change a little bit as people for their experience with one another. Therein lies Blessing’s central message: everyone would more or less be able to get along if all the faceless world leaders would simply have the decency to sit down and have a chat face-to-face. Sure, we’ve all seen that message before, and we’ve all seen the story of how two people from different worlds come to understand one another, but A Walk in the Woods presents its story with an urgency that makes its characters and its theme seem genuine. When the consequence of continued animosity is Armageddon, the two negotiators’ attempts at friendship could be what decides whether or not mankind survives. The Birmingham Park Players will be premier A Walk in the Woods at the Alabama School of Fine Arts’ main stage. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. Children under 16 are allowed in free with an adult admission. Call (205) 590-0155 or visit www.bhamparkplayers.com for more information.