Best Things To Do

The 43 Best Things To Do in Seattle This Week: July 22-28, 2019

Citizen: An American Lyric, Game of Chefs, and More Arts & Culture Critics' Picks
July 21, 2019
It's the last week to see Citizen: An American Lyric, a play about what it's like to deal with the daily insults of racism. (Jovelle Tamayo)

Our music critics have already chosen the 40 best music shows this week, but now it's our arts critics' turn to recommend the best events in their areas of expertise. Here are their picks in every genre—from Game of Chefs to Bon Appétit! The Julia Child Operetta, and from Japanese garden-set butoh performances at Wandering and Wondering to the opening of Re:definition 2019: The Latinx Diaspora. See them all below, and find even more events on our complete Things To Do calendar.

Found something you like and don't want to forget about it later? Click "Save Event" on any of the linked events below to add it to your own private list.


Jump to: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday

MONDAY

READINGS & TALKS

Elissa Washuta and Theresa Warburton: Shapes of Native Nonfiction
It makes all the sense in the world for Elissa Washuta—an erstwhile fixture of the Seattle literary scene who's now flourishing in Ohio—to use craft as a way to shape this fantastic anthology of 27 Native American essays. In her own work, Washuta is known for wrapping her personal experiences and private theories around found forms, such as popular television scripts and reverse timelines. In Shapes of Native Nonfiction, she and Theresa Warburton use concepts from the art of basket weaving to coil and plait these coiled and plaited stories together. The book offers a collection of work from new and more established writers, including Stephen Graham Jones (Mapping the Interior and about a million others), Terese Marie Mailhot (Heart Berries), Billy-Ray Belcourt (a Griffin Poetry Prize winner and author of NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field), and scholar Kim TallBear. RICH SMITH

MONDAY-SATURDAY

VISUAL ART

Claire Partington: The Hunting Party
Fresh off the debut of her two-year installation Taking Tea in the Porcelain Room at Seattle Art Museum, British ceramicist Claire Partington is back in town showing new work. Instead of focusing on the tea trade, her Winston Wachter exhibit is a playful dissection and send-up of a European hunting party. Each figure in the group has a removable head that can be swapped with an animal one (bear, warthog, etc.). And the Roman goddess of the hunt, Diana, is depicted with gold hoops and pubes to match. Partington’s work is equal parts exquisite, fun, timeless, and modern. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Closing Saturday

MONDAY & THURSDAY-SUNDAY

PERFORMANCE

Citizen: An American Lyric
Citizen: An American Lyric is a new play based on the evocative and enraging book of prose fragments by Claudia Rankine about what it's like to deal with the daily insults of racism. The show was adapted for the stage by Stephen Sachs and directed by Jay O'Leary. Each prose fragment in Citizen tells a different anecdote. For example: "At the end of a brief phone conversation, you tell the manager you are speaking with that you will come by his office to sign the form. When you arrive and announce yourself, he blurts out, I didn't know you were black!" Each anecdote is dramatized with actors playing a variety of roles. If you have not read Citizen, if a book of nonfiction prose-poetry is not something you're ever going to crack, you owe it to yourself—and to your imagination, and to the world around you—to go see this. If you have already read Citizen, it will you remind you all over again of the power and poetry of Rankine's work. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE

MONDAY, FRIDAY & SUNDAY

PERFORMANCE

Bon Appétit! The Julia Child Operetta
Strolling through the Smithsonian Museum one afternoon, I stumbled upon a full replica of Julia Child's kitchen. I walked in because I had recently finished watching some classic episodes of The French Chef, including her infamous lobster show. "You have to cut him right here," Child says as she sticks her knife into the lobster's neck, "where all of his brains and hearts and feelings are." Genius. Anyway, in the Smithsonian exhibit, I saw a picture of Child bent over a counter in a small French kitchen. On the placard next to the photo was a quote from the famously tall chef: "When I get my own kitchen, I'm going to build the counters up to my waist. I'm through with this French pygmy bullshit!" If you haven't figured it out yet, Child is one of the greatest and funniest people ever to wield an eight-inch knife. In this light opera, a shade of the chef will crack you up while also making you a giant chocolate cake, which I am told will be made with Theo Chocolate. The slice of cake is included in the ticket price. RICH SMITH

MONDAY-SUNDAY

VISUAL ART

Re:definition: Latinx Diaspora
Seattle Arts Commissioner Juan-Alonso Rodriguez has curated the newest incarnation of Re:definition, a series transforming the theater's lobby bar into an exhibition space (with an opening reception on Sunday). Artist Monica Arche (born in Puerto Rico to Cuban parents), writer Felicia Gonzalez (born in Cuba), and painter/printmaker Fulgencio Lazo (born in Oaxaca, Mexico), all currently based in Seattle, display works that manifest their contributions to the city's artistic and cultural scene. (Gonzalez sits on the board of 4Culture; Lazo, according to press materials, has boosted traditions like the Day of the Dead in Seattle for the past 30 years or so.)
Closing Saturday

TUESDAY

FILM

48 Hour Film Festival
Dozens of teams of Seattle fly filmmakers had only 48 hours to make a film, and now you can watch the results on the big screen. Winning films will go on to Filmapalooza and Cannes 2019 Short Film Corner.

READINGS & TALKS

Clarion West Presents Jack Dann and Jonathan Strahan
Two World Fantasy Award-winners who are teaching at Clarion West's Writers Workshop will read their excellent speculative work. Most recently, Strahan presided over the anthologies The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 13 and Mission: Critical; he's also edited works by Alastair Reynolds, R.A. Lafferty, Saad Z. Hossein, Catherynne M. Valente, and many other prominent fantasists and sci-fi authors. Dann has more than 75 books to his name as either author or editor and is an Esteemed Knight of the Mark Twain Society.

Kristen Arnett: Mostly Dead Things
Arnett amassed a large following, in part, for refusing to reveal the location of a lizard to 7-Eleven's corporate Twitter account because she didn't want to "narc" on her new reptilian friend. The only thing more Florida than that is her debut novel, Mostly Dead Things. This deeply weird and deeply queer novel begins with one of the most gorgeously and gorily rendered first chapters I've read. Jessa-Lynn Morton's father kills himself in his own taxidermy shop, leaving her to carry on the family business and to deal with the family's damage. Her mom's new habit doesn't appear to be helping. In response to the suicide, she has begun ripping up the inventory and transforming it into her art, which involves arranging the mounted animals into acrobatic sex positions and decorating them with ball gags and dildos. Arnett's literary elevation of the grotesque smartly embodies the primary philosophical question underlying the story. Jessa-Lynn and her father use honed craft and hard work to create pristine mounts of animals as they would have ideally appeared in the forest, while Jessa-Lynn's mother rips up all of that work and shows the animals mid-coitus, with all the blood and guts and tooth and claw of life that repulses and weirdly attracts us. RICH SMITH

Margaret O'Mara: The Code
Some would have you believe that our current tech hellscape utopia emerged from the pure power of hacker culture, innovative entrepreneurship, and rugged ideation—or whatever the fuck they're all saying now. But Margaret O'Mara sets the record straight in The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America. She witnessed the birth of big tech from her perch in the Clinton White House, and she's here to remind us all that it was much rockier—and much more publicly funded—than our corporate overlords let on. RICH SMITH

TUESDAY-WEDNESDAY

COMEDY

Hari Kondabolu's New Material Nights
It's not always a guaranteed pleasure to watch comedians working out new material, but Hari Kondabolu is not just any comedian. You could make the case that his asides, self-edits, and ad-libs are as funny as the individual finished bits. Though the finished work is, all in all, a whole other level of funny. These shows give small audiences an intimate look at the process of a comic whose trajectory is thrilling to behold. Plus, when you see the final, polished gems months from now, in video clips from TV appearances shared on your Facebook feed, you'll be in a great position to make the comments all about how YOU saw it first. Everybody wins! SEAN NELSON

TUESDAY-SATURDAY

PERFORMANCE

Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation
The Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation, presented by Velocity Dance Center, is a diverse weeklong exploration of the art, with intensive classes, drop-in workshops, talks, jams, and performances.

VISUAL ART

As in Also: An Alternative Too
Brooklyn artist and instructor John Drury guest curates As in Also: An Alternative Too, a follow-up to his New York City exhibition from earlier this year. Drury continues to bring together artists of diverse backgrounds who push the boundaries (and expectations) of what glass as a medium can do. In this show, see Buster Simpson’s almost-tipped-all-the-way-over glasses lined up in a row; Jen Elek’s funky lace-maker lamp replete with candles, lenses, and glass of water; and Megan Stelljes’s arrangement of glass fruit sculptures to resemble cock and balls. It’s fun. Others artists featured in this show are Scott Darlington, Eli Hansen, Robbie Miller, Jerry Pethick, Brian Pike, George Sawchuk, Amy Lemaire, Morgan Peterson, Leo Tecosky and Simon Klenell. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Closing Saturday

Nine Years | Graceful Exit
It's been a brutal year for art galleries in Seattle: We've lost Mount Analogue, the Alice, and now, it seems, Prographica is going the same way. Stop in on their last exhibition to see work by more than 20 artists who've been helped along in their careers by gallery owner Norman Lundin, who writes poignantly: "While nine years is not long enough, it will have to do."
Closing Saturday

Prince Tiao Nithakhong Somsanith: The Impermanence of Life
Laotian artist Tiao Nith uses gold and silver thread to embroider ephemeral works on dead leaves gathered during his perambulations. Contemplate the transience of life as you gaze at these shimmery patterns.
Closing Saturday

TUESDAY-SUNDAY

PERFORMANCE

The Year of Magical Thinking
Many people know Joan Didion’s nonfiction book The Year of Magical Thinking, about the sudden death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne—it was a surprise best seller and won a National Book Award. And many people also know that Didion’s daughter died right after the book was completed. The daughter’s death is not mentioned in the book, but it’s discussed in the play adapted from the book, which Didion completed a few years later. For my money, the play is the better work of art. It tells the full story. It is a one-woman show, and for this production, Didion will be played by Suzanne Bouchard. The very talented Victor Pappas directs. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE

WEDNESDAY

FOOD & DRINK

Game of Chefs
When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. Luckily, the stakes of Game of Chefs—Seattle Business Network’s cutthroat culinary competition in which Iron Chef meets the Iron Throne—are not quite so dire. In a Chopped-style cook-off, chefs from Seattle Restaurant Week will duke it out using a basket of Seattle Made products and a pantry of local ingredients, with the top chef crowned by local celebrity judges and the audience. This year will feature chef Kimberley Cosway of Heartwood Provisions, chef Kristi Brown of That Brown Girl Cooks!, and chef Kevin J David of Orfeo. Guests can try bites, signature cocktails, beer, and wine, mingle with the participating chefs and producers, and purchase Seattle Made products. JULIANNE BELL

READINGS & TALKS

David Nickles: Confronting Questions of Psychedelics
In the past few years, psychedelics are increasingly being seen in a positive light as more people recognize their benefits and uses beyond recreational diversion, from treatment for depression to creativity enhancement to spiritual awakening, and attitudes have shifted from fear to curiosity and interest. Increasing research into the therapeutic uses of psilocybin has come back with positive results, and numerous publications, most recently the Economist, argue that this research should not be bogged down in legal difficulties. Even AOC is getting on the bandwagon; after filing legislation to encourage studies of psilocybin, ecstasy, and other drugs for medicinal use, she told the New York Post, “We need to get drugs and drug use out of criminal consideration and into medical consideration.” In sum, there’s no better time for a talk on “access, social control, and power dynamics that have crystallized since the psychedelic revolution of the 1960s” by psychedelic advocate David Nickles, a moderator for the DMT-Nexus community and editor of the Nexian online journal. LEILANI POLK

Fonda Lee: Jade War
In the Asia-resemblant fantasy metropolis of Kekon, the Kaul family fights for control of the capital city and its supply of the magical jade that gives Green Bone warriors special powers. The family is forced to form dangerous alliances, fight off enemies, and ensure their own survival in Jade War, the sequel to Fonda Lee's Green Bone saga. Lee has won the Nebula and Audie Awards for her vivid, well-structured, richly imagined novels.

Mark Arax: The Dreamt Land
Yes, climate change is responsible for the intensity of the droughts we see in California every summer. But capitalism really greased the wheels with this one. In The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California, reporter Mark Arax offers a full history of California's Central Valley region, a swath of land so promising that a US government survey said it could "harvest all the cultivated products of New England and Florida at once." Financial interest in developing the land for agriculture (while paying the farmers very little) led to massive farming projects that more or less fucked up the whole water system. Despite all that, Arax, who was raised in the region and who has reported on it for his entire career, paints a gorgeous picture of the land and of the myriad subcultures still thriving or fighting to survive in that lonesome valley. RICH SMITH

WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY

FILM

The Beacon Housewarming: A Week of Free Screenings
The 50-seat theater—which opened on Friday, July 19—is a new addition to Seattle's cinema scene, cofounded by Tommy Swenson and Casey Moore. They plan to screen an eclectic, curated selection of both new and old, avant-garde and mainstream films. This ethos was summed up in the opening-night double feature: pre-Code-era musical Gold Diggers of 1933 and iconic male-stripper-focused dramedy Magic Mike XXL. "They're two movies made 80 years apart that both have a lot to say about pleasure and sex and economy, and are just so much about the spirit of getting together and putting on a show," says Swenson with a smile. To start, the Beacon will present afternoon matinees and a few evening showings during the week, and three or four showings on weekends. Some of Swenson's selections will be informed by his anti-capitalist convictions and experience as a labor organizer in Portland. He and Moore hope to bring radical perspectives into an entertaining context—films that don't feel like "eating your vegetables and doing homework." During the Beacon's first week, admission will be free, in order to introduce the theater to as many people as possible. JASMYNE KEIMIG
This week's films are High and Low, Django, Magic Mike XXL, and Gold Diggers of 1933

WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY

COMEDY

Crazy Woke Asians
The Los Angeles-originated Crazy Woke Asians comedy tour will grace Seattle for the first time with sets by Justin Rivera (America's Got Talent, Comedy Central Asia), Aidan Park (Laugh Factory, Westside Comedy), JR De Guzman (StandUp NBC Winner), Ellen Acuario, (HBO's Women in Comedy Festival), Kazu Kusano, and Dewa Dorje. Kiki Yeung hosts.

WEDNESDAY-SUNDAY

PERFORMANCE

7th and Jackson
Three friends from different communities in the International District dream of having their own nightclub. Even when Pearl Harbor is bombed and the country gears up for war, they swear loyalty to their visions. Sara Porkalob's musical, scored to jazz classics from the likes of the Andrews Sisters, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald, takes place over three decades in one of the most fascinating parts of Seattle.

The Little Mermaid
One of the most charming (old school 2D non-CGI) Disney films is The Little Mermaid—the young dulcet-voiced princess Ariel wants to give up her tail and life under the sea for legs and a new life on the land with the man of her dreams, a prince in his own land. They’re equals, see! If it wasn’t for an octopus witch with nefarious intentions and an overprotective father who is also the king of everything underwater, she might be all good. This theatrical adaptation is based on the Disney Broadway musical. It’s presented by Village Theatre and features children from the theatre’s Kidstage program. This is a family affair. LEILANI POLK

VISUAL ART

You Are on Indigenous Land: Places/Displaces
Traditional and contemporary art of Native peoples reflects matters of land, ancestry, and kinship through modern forms and handicrafts like basketry and weaving. Go for the artists' mastery of their media, but also for a reminder of the deep roots of pre-Western cultures and the urgency of sovereignty and environmental issues.
Closing Sunday

THURSDAY

FOOD & DRINK

Red, White & Brew 2019
Sample the winning Washington-made brews and wines featured in Seattle magazine's Washington Wine and Beer Awards.

THURSDAY-SATURDAY

PERFORMANCE

Vicinity/Memoryall: A Play
Christine Deavel and J.W. Marshall used to own Open Books, one of the few poetry-only bookstores in the nation. They are the smartest, kindest, funniest people in any room, and they're also incredible poets. This year, they're branching out with a new play that should resonate with Seattleites who walk around town slightly aghast at all the new glassy scenery. Vicinity/Memoryall follows two characters as they struggle to find the memorial that marks the site of a violent act that had a traumatic effect on their city, according to press materials. "Lost in their rapidly changing and now unfamiliar downtown, they are led to unexpected places and responses." Deavel and Marshall are linguistic wizards, and I have no doubt their poetic talents will translate to the stage. RICH SMITH

VISUAL ART

Aaron Brady and Greg Pierce: Changing Waters
Brady and Pierce issue an artistic warning about the pollution of water sources by "oil extraction processes and chemicals." Brady works with mixed media to emulate "videos of liquid recombination in progress," while Pierce renders "pustules of degraded water oozing from beneath the surface" with reclaimed glass, rock, and glaze.
Closing Saturday

Amjad Faur and Paula Rebsom: In Our Absence
Everyone is familiar with the thought experiment “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” A riddle for the ages. The local artists of In Our Absence are interested in exploring what happens in environments they feel intimately connected to when they are not there. Using infrared motion-sensor camera traps, Amjad Faur documents a hunting reserve just south of Olympia, while Paula Rebsom documents her backyard in Greenwood. Both look to highlight parallels between their own experiences in these spaces and what happens when neither of them is around. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Closing Saturday

THURSDAY-SUNDAY

PERFORMANCE

The Events
A handful of arts patrons and US Bank are funding free tickets for all who want to see Intiman's production of David Greig's The Events, directed by Paul Budraitis. Greig's play is a look at the aftermath of a deadly mass shooting. The show features two actors and a chorus, which, as in all the Greek tragedies, represents the figure of the general populace. (In this case, a rotating cast of local community choirs will play the chorus.) In this production, Claire is a lesbian choir director who witnessed the mass shooting, and "the Boy" plays the shooter and Claire's partner/psychiatrist (plus seven other characters). The shooting in the play, according to a favorable review in the New York Times, was inspired by the racist terrorism of Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011. RICH SMITH

VISUAL ART

Alisa Sikelianos-Carter: Selected Works from 'Crowns'
I recently ran into an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in a while. I had just gotten box braids (a kind of long-lasting Black hairstyle that involves braiding extensions into the person's hair). For the first few seconds, he didn’t recognize me—my hair had transformed me into someone else, something else. While latent racism is probably also a culprit here, my braids were a technology that allowed me to become and inhabit another being. Alisa Sikelianos-Carter’s exhibition at Wa Na Wari, a home gallery dedicated to Black artists in the historically Black Central District, explores this technology, braids. Juxtaposing pictures of cornrows, Senegalese twists, box braids, locs, etc. with organic and abstract-looking shapes, Sikelianos-Carter pays homage to and creates a new paradigm through which we can look at and appreciate Black hair. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Closing Sunday

FRIDAY

FOOD & DRINK

Tasting Flight Presented by Alaska Airlines
Make wandering through the zoo's exhibits extra fun by sipping wine from over 60 different wineries while you stroll.

FRIDAY-SATURDAY

FOOD & DRINK

Hawaiian Nights
Canlis knows how to throw a party. Seattle’s illustrious fine-dining institution is notorious for its extravagant New Year's Eve blowouts—this year’s Hawaiian-inspired luau featured real waterfalls, a koi pond, and live animals; the previous year’s glamorous 1950s-inspired affair boasted a period-accurate, Spady-family-approved re-creation of a mid-century Dick’s Drive-In; and a prior ski-chalet-themed soiree had hot tubs, real snow, and Saint Bernard dogs. A ticket doesn’t come cheap, though, so it’s all the more exciting that they’ve decided to throw an “unfancy, laidback, lowbrow” weekend bash in their parking lot this summer for the rest of us non-one-percenters. They’ll transform the lot into an island paradise with an actual pool, and have teased thatched tiki huts, a pig roast, a bar, pizza, kalbi ribs, shishito peppers, and mac salad. Bring your bathing suit. JULIANNE BELL

PERFORMANCE

The Future is 0: Summer Series
I’m often told of a magical TV show that aired during the even more magical era that was Seattle in the 1980s and ’90s, a time when everyone lived in a punk house and everyone sucked gay cock. That TV show was Almost Live!, and it was basically like Seattle’s SNL, and everyone loved it. While I never watched Almost Live! live, I've spent a good deal of time watching it on (gasp) the internet, and I’d like to posit that The Future Is 0—a live game show—carries on the tradition of Almost Live!’s nerdy, affable, charismatic humor. But, of course, they are not the same thing, and Seattle has sucked since Almost Live! ended and the Kingdome exploded. CHASE BURNS

Strictly Seattle
If you love dance, you can't miss this festival of innovative choreography and experimental workshops. Dancers will have collaborated with nationally and internationally known choreographers like Pat Graney, Dani Tirrell, Veronica Lee-Baik, Jaret Hughes, Kate Wallich, and Mark Haim. Watch them perform the pieces they developed over several weeks as well as films from KT Niehoff's Film Track Frame by Frame dance movie program.

VISUAL ART

Leah Gerrard: Element
Leah Gerrard’s wiry creations speak to the delicacy—and rigidity—of the material. Gerrard incorporates the natural (rocks, wood, organic forms) into the metallic sinew of the wire, which is often suspended from rusty iron chains. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Closing Saturday

FRIDAY-SUNDAY

FESTIVALS

BAM ARTSfair
Shop arts from more than 300 creators and take advantage of free museum admission at this annual festival, which they claim is the largest arts and crafts fair in the Northwest. The event includes the KIDSFair, the BAMboozle children's stage, a Sound & Movement stage with international acts, and a chalkfest.

SATURDAY

COMEDY

Kiss Our Asses, Anthony Householder
Seattle is about to lose a wonderful indie actor and improviser: Anthony Householder, who's never shied from bringing a core of gentle vulnerability with him onstage, no matter how silly the concept he's acting out. Mostly seen on indie stages, he's also appeared in shows like Jet City Improv's hilarious Empty Orchestra. He'll perform with the group Kangaroo Court during this farewell performance. See him off and wish him well.

Ten Percent Luck
Two improv groups (laugh machine hosts Yeah Okay plus local hit duo Mykaela and Your Kayla) will do their comedic thang with instruction and suggestions by a featured stand-up comic (Bo Johnson).

FOOD & DRINK

3rd Annual Anderson School Summer Brewfest
School's out for summer, but you can seek out some extracurricular edification at this beer festival with handcrafted ales and ciders from McMenamins as well as local guest breweries and cideries. Admission is free, and multiple bands will provide live music.

Sweet Tooth Pop-Up
Sate your bottomless need for sweets at this South Lake Union pop-up, which will provide a selection of confections, including cookies, ice cream, macarons, doughnuts, pastries, and other sucrose-laden treats, from a range of artisan vendors.

PERFORMANCE

Valtesse
For those with a yen for high-end kink, the performers of Valtesse will revel in opulent "couture burlesque, aerial, whips, chains, dance, and doms." Wear black, red, and/or fetish gear to fit in, and stay on after the show for a party by the fireplace.

SATURDAY-SUNDAY

PERFORMANCE

Paige Barnes: Mother
Prolific dance artist Barnes will spend the month of July in residency at Oxbow, developing a piece melding East Asian traditional medicine (including acupuncture and pulse listening) and dance.

SUNDAY

PERFORMANCE

Wandering and Wondering
As you wander through the Kubota Garden, you'll find butoh (Japanese avant-garde dance) performers scattered around the landscape. Joan Laage of Kogut Butoh will direct, while Gyre will provide music. If you can't make it to these events, you can still check out photo exhibitions at the Japanese Garden and at Fresh Flours.