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Highlights in comedy, dance, and more. By Tanya Pai
Loren Bray and Josh Adams star in R+J: Star-Cross’d Death Match at Capital Fringe. Photograph via capitalfringe.org.

The annual quirk-fest that is the Capital Fringe Festival runs Thursday, July 10, through the 27th, offering around 140 works of theater, music, dance, and other performances. This year’s festival—the last to hold shows in Capital Fringe’s Fort Fringe before it moves to new digs—also features, for the first time, five site-specific works. We combed through the list of shows for some highlights; read on for a mostly unscientific sampling of the works we found intriguing. For the full list of shows, visit capitalfringe.org.

COMEDY

Homeboy Thanksgiving 
July 11, 19, 25, and 26 at Fort Fringe
The odd combo of a parolee, a rival ex-gang member, and an online gamer have to surmount their differences and make Thanksgiving dinner together. I enjoy mishmashed-family holiday stories almost as much as I enjoy saying the word “homeboy.” 

Brick Penguin Tries Its Best 
July 11, 12, 16, 18, 19, 23, 25, and 26 at the Fridge
The sketch comedy group collects some of its top sketches from the past four years for this new show. Laughs are guaranteed. 

The Inaugural Election for President of Mrs. Jacobson’s Sixth Grade Class 
July 12, 15, 19, 20, and 26 at Atlas Performing Arts Center
An interactive show lets you decide which of six sixth-graders should become class president, and gives politics-obsessed Washingtonians the chance to see the absurdities of modern elections the way kids do. 

Size Doesn’t Matter! Seven Shorts by DC Playwrights
July 12, 13, 16, 19, and 26 at Atlas Performing Arts Center
Local playwrights Mari Baldessari, Renee Calarco, Zachary Fernebok, and John Morogiello present a collection of seven unrelated works. 

What Would Tina and Amy Do?
July 11, 13, 16, 17, and 19 at Fort Fringe
Two recent college grads try to find their place in the world with the help of advice from everyone’s favorite superstar BFFs Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. 

Call Steve Guttenberg
July 12, 18, 20, 22, and 25 at Fort Fringe
Danny Pushkin’s work promises “Lovecraftian gothic horror, ancient artifacts mistaken for paraphernalia,” and maybe even some ’80s references—what’s not to love? 

Districtland
July 11, 13, 16, 19, 23, and 27 at Fort Fringe
Perhaps the most relatable work of the festival, this play based on true anecdotes satirizes the terrors and frustrations of trying to start a career in DC. 


DANCE

#Albatross 
July 11, 13, 19, 22, and 25 at Atlas Performing Arts Center
What do you get when you combine ballet, electric guitar, Twitter, and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner? I have no idea, actually, but it certainly sounds interesting. 

“Installment 1: Relax(h)er”
July 19 at Jet Set Hair Designs and Plush Beauty Box
As part of the festival’s site-specific series, dancer and choreographer Jasmine Hearn explores her memories and personal experiences centered on hair, in the first installment of a four-part series called That’s What She Said

Everybody Knows This Is Now Here
July 10, 12, 13, 15, and 17 at Goethe-Institut
This multimedia piece by Eliza Larson and Rachel Rugh examines friendship and connection in the digital age. Fittingly, the show was developed largely through Skype. 

Intrigue, A Mystery on Marley…
July 11, 18, 19, 22, and 27 at Atlas Performing Arts Center
Clue fans will enjoy this noirish physical-theater whodunit, conceived by DraMAStic Dance Works artistic director Mary A. Stiegelbauer. 

The Old Man Never Let It Go
July 10, 13, 18, 23, and 26 at Atlas Performing Arts Center
Relive your high school English class with this wordless adaptation of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, written and directed by Hector J. Reynoso and composed by Synetic Theater’s Koki Lortkipanidze.


DRAMA

Chesapeake by Lee Blessing
July 10, 13, 19, 23, and 26 at Fort Fringe
This work from the playwright behind A Walk in the Woods is a magical realist tale about a Southern politician, a performance artist, and a dog named Lucky. 

Bethesda 
July 12, 17, 22, 23, and 26 at Goethe-Institut
One to appeal to Washington’s scandal-loving side: When a disgraced diplomat returns to DC, he must deal with the impact his actions have had on his wife and kids. 

Contrafact of Freedom
July 15, 16, 17, 19, and 20 at Atlas Performing Arts Center
Learn about the man behind “The Star-Spangled Banner” (which has its bicentennial this year), in this work by Alex Pappas. 

Interrogation 
July 10, 12, 14, 18, 20, 24, and 26 at Mount Vernon United Methodist Church
John Feffer, who was behind 2012’s Fringe hit The Pundit and last year’s The Politician, returns with this dark comedy about surveillance and interrogation. 

R+J: Star-Cross’d Death Match
July 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, and 26 at DC Reynolds
An audience-involving take on Romeo and Juliet set in a bar and featuring rap battles and flip cup—like your usual weekend night, except with more iambic pentameter. 

Ten Principles
July 12, 18, 19, 23, and 26 at Fort Fringe
Ten people from the Washington area share their experiences at Burning Man, based on founder Larry Harvey’s “ten principles.” 

The Fever
July 22, 23, 24, and 25 at Goethe-Institut
This drama, written by Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride), stars Patrick O’Brien as a well-off traveler who has a crisis of conscience while suffering from a mysterious fever as he’s traveling in an impoverished country. 

MUSIC AND MUSICALS

Martin, Love, Sex & Rhythm
July 12, 16, 20, 22, and 27 at Atlas Performing Arts Center
This “sexy” all-male musical explores the topic of gay-on-gay shaming through choreography and top 40 songs. 

Cabaret XXX: Everybody F**king Dies
July 16, 17, 19, 22, 25, and 27
Pinky Swear Productions presents this raucous eulogy to Les Femmes Fatales. Spoiler: The show contains profanity. 

You, or Whatever I Can Get
July 16, 19, 20, 24, and 26 at Fort Fringe
The team behind last year’s Disco Jesus and the Apostles of Funk return with a look at the highs and lows of dating in your twenties and thirties. 

Coosje 
July 10, 12, 13, 15, and 16 at Goethe-Institut
This musical love story features a pear that gains consciousness and travels the world. If that’s not a must-see, what is? 

Rock Bottom (A Rock Opus)
July 10, 13, 16, 18, and 26 at Warehouse
Based on the novel by Michael Schilling, this is the story of a rock band in its death throes. The folks behind it also produced Diamond Dead, which won Best Musical at Fringe in 2008. 

Posted at 05:00 PM/ET, 07/10/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Bastille Day parties, puppet improv, and a Port City pub crawl. By Jason Koebler
Local spots are celebrating Bastille Day with Champagne this weekend. Image via Shutterstock.

Thursday, July 10

FASHION: The W Hotel is hosting its Summer Glamfest, featuring jewelry from local outfit Queen Bee Designs and pieces from New York City’s Stella & Dot. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Girls Health Ed. Your ticket will include a free drink and entry into a raffle to win free jewelry. Tickets ($15) are available online. 6:30 PM.

STORYTELLING: SpeakeasyDC and the Washington Improv Theatre present Unraveled, a hybrid storytelling/improv comedy night. A SpeakeasyDC storyteller will tell you a true tale, then Washington Improv will reimagine and expand on the facts in wacky, hilarious ways. Tickets ($15) are available online. 8 PM.

Friday, July 11

SEX: Twanna Hines, a popular sex columnist who goes by the name Funky Brown Chick, is doing a run of shows at the Goethe-Institut as part of the Fringe Festival. Her show, which has a name we can’t print here, is part adult sex ed, part trivia, part storytelling, and part comedy. Tickets ($17) are available online. 10:30 PM.

FRANCE: The French Embassy is hosting its annual Bastille Day party, which is one of the city’s best of the year. French restaurants and bars from around town will offer food, drinks, and pastries, and there’ll be French music and dancing as well as live jazz and swing music. It’s not cheap, but it’s reliably a good time. Dress fancy—it’s how the French would want you to do it. Tickets ($110) are available online. 7:30 PM.

HAPPY HOUR: It’s a good night to be at Black Cat: Right after work, you’ve got the Ten Forward Happy Hour, in which you’ll get to watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation with your fellow Trekkies. After that, you can either do Punk Rock Karaoke in the back room or head upstairs to catch Matt Koff, a Daily Show writer who has toured with John Oliver and is about to show up on Comedy Central. He’s also written for the Onion News Network. What I’m saying is, it’ll be funny.

Happy hour: Free, 7 PM

Karaoke: $8, 9:30 PM

Comedy: $12, 9 PM

Saturday, July 12

BEER: To help guide you through the wild world of Belgian beer, Joe and Tim Webb have written the aptly titled The Good Beer Guide to Belgium. They’ll be at ChurchKey with copies of the book, which has not yet been released stateside. Most important, 35 of the best Belgian beers from the book will be available on draft. Free. 2 PM.

ART: “DC Conspiracy” is a new exhibit at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop that’s actually not about 9/11 trutherism—it’s about comics, short-story authors, and that sort of thing. At the opening reception, there’ll be a chalkboard mural you can create you own interactive comic on, original art and prints, and some of the best works from DC Conspiracy, which has been around since 2005. Free. 5 PM.

COMEDY: Improv comedy with people is cool, but don’t you get sick of looking at humans sometimes? The DC Arts Center hosts The Fuzz Ups, which is exactly like the improv you know and love, except the cast is a bunch of puppets. That change offers quite a bit of flexibility, as you’d imagine. Tickets ($7) are available online. 10 PM.

PUB CRAWL: Port City is hosting a pub crawl all over Old Town Alexandria, which will hit Pizzeria Paradiso, Virtue Feed & Grain, the Fish Market, the Waterfront Market, and Union Street Public House. Hit them all, and you’ll get a free pint glass from Port City. The brewery’s beers will cost between $3 and $4 all day, and Union Street is going to have a 20 percent discount on all food. Free. 2 to 5:30 PM.

Sunday, July 13

FRANCE: Art Soiree celebrates Bastille Day in the Ritz-Carlton’s garden with a cake served by Marie Antoinette*, Champagne tastings, music, dancing, and all sorts of various French delights. Tickets ($20) are available online. 7 PM.

SOCCER: It’s been a crazy, high-scoring World Cup—and there’s one game left. Argentina takes on Germany in what lots of (silly) people are calling the battle of the old pope vs the new one. If you want to watch the game somewhere kinda fancy, the Ritz-Carlton is serving $5 beers, $8 cocktails, and $5 appetizers during and after the game. Free. 3 PM. Find more options for watch parties in our guide. 

BIKE: Generally we wouldn’t advise riding a bike in your Sunday best, but hey, if everyone else is doing it, why not. BicycleSpace is hosting A Day at the Races Social Ride, which ’round these parts is known as a seersucker ride. The ride goes along the Anacostia Riverwalk, where you’ll participate in games, obstacle courses, and lots of other fun stuff. Box lunches are available if you reserve one. Free. 10:30 AM.

Know of something cool going on around town? E-mail Jason Koebler at jasontpkoebler@gmail.com, or find him on Twitter

*Not actually Marie Antoinette.

Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 07/10/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
We talk with the founder and area native before the event’s debut on Saturday. By Tanya Pai
A scene from the second annual One-Minute Play Festival in Atlanta, in partnership with Actor’s Express. Photograph by Grant McGowen.

The phrase “one-minute play festival” might conjure the impression of theater designed to indulge the Vine generation. But producing artistic director Dominic D’Andrea had something else in mind entirely when he conceived the project: a way to paint a picture of a city’s culture through 60-second works that capture something essential about the time and place in which they were written. The first One-Minute Play Festival was held in New York City in 2006; it’s now expanded to 22 cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and Anchorage, and has featured original works by David Henry Hwang, Neil LaBute, Tina Howe, Mike Daisey, and many more. D’Andrea, a Washington native, brings the festival to the area for the first time this weekend—Saturday, July 12, through the 14th at Round House Bethesda—with brand-new contributions from nearly 60 local playwrights, including Psalmayene 24, Renee Calarco, and Stephen Spotswood. We chatted with D’Andrea about the genesis of the one-minute play concept, how the performances are structured, and what he’s discovered from the experience. 

How did you come up with the idea for a collection of one-minute plays? 

It originally came about as a challenge for some of my friends in New York, just something we did for fun. We wanted to look at how you could take a short play model and distill it down to the most essential moment of impact, and then use it to investigate the local zeitgeist—what topics, themes, ideas, trends, and points of view begin to bubble up to the surface. And then we wanted to figure out how to highlight them and reflect them back to the community. The thing about theater is that it normally takes so long to gestate and birth an idea, it’s hard to make works that engage with current topics. With this, the playwrights can actually just crank something out, and then it goes straight into production. This is our ninth year doing the festival in New York, and if I sat down and looked at what was said in the city in the first year of the festival versus the third year versus the ninth year, it’s just amazing to see that journey. 

Give me an idea of the structure of each performance. 

The Washington festival takes the form of 100 plays staged by ten directors, with almost 80 actors and 60 playwrights. Every minute there’s a pulse, and then a new play begins. They’re staged very simply, all with four chairs, and it’s lights up, lights down—we’re focusing on ideas and connections, things that are more meaningful than the tiny frame of the minute itself.

What sort of direction do you give the playwrights? 

I give them a pretty general prompt that says something like, “Consider the world around you, your city, your neighborhood, your community. Then think about moments that can only happen at this place and this time, and let the worlds around you inform the worlds you make.” I ask them to engage with the here and now, but I don’t tell them what to write about. What’s amazing is there are tons of connections that come up, these big broad sweeping topics that are unique to that place and time. What we’re doing is getting into that and presenting topics but also investigating the big framing questions: Who are we, and what is our relationship to our community and our work? 

How does the time constraint affect how people approach the writing process? 

I normally tell the playwrights to start with an idea and then “seed up”: to think of an image, a word, an action—something that’s the core of the idea they’re trying to express—and then build up to a minute on the page, including only what’s necessary to express that moment, rather than cramming in a bunch of stuff and having everyone onstage blur through it. When a one-minute play is really good, it suggests a world that is much wider, much fuller, much bigger than that moment you’re seeing; it suggests something that transcends the little frame we’re looking at. If it manages to express an idea that’s more universal than what’s in that minute, they’ve succeeded in making a really good one-minute play. That’s actually true of a play of any length, it’s just very much more present in this form. 

When you look at all the plays together, are the themes that emerge mostly universal, or are they more city-specific? 

There are some themes we see everywhere, but more or less they’re totally unique to the city. One thing I’ve seen come up often is the theme of technology, the reliance on it and the ways in which we communicate with it—or don’t. And then sometimes there’s stuff that’s really deeply specific to the city, where ten people will write about something and I have no idea what it is and have to do some research. There was this thing in Chicago where a lot of people were writing about a Swedish water tower, and I eventually realized there was this iconic water tower that had the Swedish flag on it that had been demolished. I can share that in DC, some of themes and ideas bubbling up are about women’s rights and gender, specifically looking at how women are treated differently from men. I’ve also noticed themes of gun control and gun violence, of gentrification and what neighborhoods look like, and just commentary on politics in general. I guess that’s a little bit to be expected in DC—but one of the things I’ve learned is never to expect anything, because you’ll never get what you expect. 

Have you ever found the format to be challenging for audiences to engage with? 

The thing is, we’re presenting 100 pulses of storytelling—it’s not about time constrictions. The name of the festival was developed back in the day, and if I were to choose it today I would probably call it the Barometer Project, because it’s looking at the bigger picture, at what themes and ideas come through the spectrum. You’re not gonna get a linear arc—it’s not gonna start in one place and land in another—it’s more cumulative, and the experience of watching it can be quite athletic and interesting. You’re being presented with a lot of information and then seeing what sticks, so each audience member probably keys into or remembers totally different moments. It’s up to you to measure what sticks. That’s why we use this metaphor of the barometer; it’s like you’re taking a core sample from the earth and examining the cross-section. 

Any advice you’d give people for how to take it all in?

One thing that’s unique is that it’s so much about the group over any individual, a chorus of voices as opposed to a soloist—it’s the whole bag of M&Ms, not the candy bar. The primary value of the work is that it’s sort of communal and looking at connective tissues. I’d encourage people not to get caught up in the goofy idea of a clock counting down. Instead, think of the bigger picture; think about all the stuff that’s going on in the world and the community. That’s what the takeaway should be. 

The One-Minute Play Festival is at Round House Bethesda Saturday, July 12, through Monday, July 14. Tickets ($20) are available online

Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 07/09/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Fishy fun for cheap. By Tanya Pai
See the puffins at the Baltimore Aquarium for less this summer. Photograph by Flickr user geopungo.

Looking for some family fun this summer? Here’s one option: Now on Fridays you can get into Baltimore’s National Aquarium after 5 PM for $18.12 a person. The special rates, offered weekly July 11 through September 12, are to commemorate the bicentennial of the 1812 Battle of Baltimore and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

This is good news for Washingtonians who’ve been missing their glimpses under the sea since the DC aquarium closed last September to renovate the building. Around 1,700 of the animals in the Washington collection were moved to Baltimore, so you can visit many of your old favorites, including Brownie the loggerhead sea turtle and Toby the rare blue lobster. Other animals on exhibit include puffins, stingrays, sharks, dolphins, sloths, and tamarins, to name a few.

Regular tickets to the Baltimore Aquarium are $34.95 for adults and $21.95 for children, and while the discount is only available for entry after 5, guests are allowed in the aquarium until 9:30 on these nights, giving you plenty of time to hang out with your fishy friends. All the regular activities and exhibits are included with admission, and there’ll also be a “star-spangled scavenger hunt” and snacks and drinks (yes, including beer and wine) available for purchase. Purchase tickets online until 7:30 the day of or at the ticket counter until 7:45. 

If the discount still doesn’t quite fit your budget, just wait a couple of months: The aquarium’s annual Fridays After 5 program, when tickets are just $12, resumes on September 19.

Posted at 11:55 AM/ET, 07/08/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A patriotic ride with DC Bike Party and a kickoff party for the Capital Fringe Festival. By Jason Koebler
Bring your bike to Dupont Circle on Wednesday for an America-themed ride with DC Bike Party. Image via Shutterstock.

Monday, July 7

MOVIES: The general obsession with Harry Potter doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, and with news that there are three more movies coming, why would we want it to? Black Cat hosts Muggle Mondays, where the bar will screen Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and have specials on “Butterbeer” all night, plus discounts on other drinks. Free. 8 PM.

Tuesday, July 8

FRINGE: Fringe Festival starts later this week and runs for the greater part of the month, but you can get a preview of what’s to come at the Baldacchino Tent Bar at Fort Fringe. The party starts late and features performances by Black Masala, a Balkan gypsy brass band; deejays Indanile and Mothershiester open. It’s a good chance to check out the digs—if you’re into Fringe-y stuff, you’ll surely be spending a lot of time at the tent this month. Free. 10:30 PM.

Wednesday, July 9

MOVIES: Two good outdoor movies this week: Dumbarton House hosts Emma as part of its Jane Austen outdoor film festival. Over on NoMa’s Loree Grand Field, you can catch a more modern classic with a screening of The Muppets. That showing features food trucks, music, and giveaways before the show. Free. 7 PM.

BIKE: DC Bike Party celebrates two years terrorizing DC traffic (in a totally cool way) with a patriotic ride featuring red, white, and blue balloons, lots of American flags, and loud music. Meet at 7:30 at the Dupont Circle fountain, ride around town for a couple of miles, and end up at Bardo Brewpub for a special bikers party. Free. 7:30 PM.

Thursday, July 10

STORYTELLING: The Perfect Liars Club takes over Fringe Festival for a super-size performance. As usual, you’ll have a host of storytellers—but at least one isn’t telling the truth. If you can guess correctly, you’ll earn a prize. This month’s shows are at Goethe-Institut instead of at Science Club. Tickets ($17) are available online. 6:30 PM.

Know of something cool going on around town? E-mail Jason Koebler at jasontpkoebler@gmail.com, or find him on Twitter

Posted at 10:15 AM/ET, 07/07/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
We preview the twists and turns of the museum’s latest exhibit. By Michael Gaynor
Rendering of the BIG Maze courtesy of the Bjarke Ingels Group.

Usually, the Fourth of July means navigating a maze of holiday weekend traffic. But this year, the National Building Museum would rather you navigate an actual maze. Its newest exhibit, the BIG Maze, opens July 4, and taking a wrong turn in it will probably be more fun than taking a wrong turn off the Bay Bridge and getting lost in the cornfields of the Delmarva Peninsula.

Located in the museum’s Great Hall, the maze is huge, measuring about 60 square feet with 18-foot-high walls. Yet it’s not your typical maze. As you make your way toward the center, the walls slope downward, getting lower and providing a clearer vision of the correct path. It’s a zen-like structure that has a lot of similarities to Washington’s many famous labyrinths.

The maze was designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group, a Danish firm; its architect, Bjarke Ingels, says the project was an attempt to bring a traditionally two-dimensional form into the third-dimension. In fact, the original concept involved using a net to suspend a cubed maze from the ceiling, but thankfully they ended up with something a little less terrifying.

The maze is very kid-friendly (despite the fact that this grown-up reporter got completely lost several times). You can make your way to the center relatively quickly if you hustle, but it’s much more satisfying to wander down each path, watching how the form of the corners blend together, creating optical illusions that make you think you’ve found a way through, only to be tricked into a dead end.

“Architecture suffers from being seen as either elitist or boring,” says Ingels—but it’s all around us every day. The maze is an effort to get kids interested in how these structures affect our lives. “Architecture is too important to leave to the architects.”

When you’re in the heart of the maze, it feels like you’re at the bottom of a cereal bowl, or the center of a stadium. Suddenly you can see the outline of the path you took to get there, and all the twists and turns that led you astray.

Ingels quoted a fellow Dane, the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, to explain the view: “Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.” 

Tip: After you go through the maze, head up to the museum’s third-floor balcony for a great aerial view—and laugh at everyone as you watch them hit each dead end.

The BIG Maze will run through September 1. Admission costs $16 for adults and $13 for kids ages 3 to 17, which includes access to all the museum’s other exhibits. Tickets are only available at the museum. 

Posted at 11:55 AM/ET, 07/03/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Independence Day celebrations, the DC MeetMarket, and the David vs. Goliath Poetry Slam. By Jason Koebler
Image via Shutterstock.

Thursday, July 3

BEER: Yuengling isn’t America’s best beer, but it is the oldest, having been brewed since 1829. Celebrate that incredible longevity at Penn Social, which is holding a birthday party for the beer and America. Yuengling will be discounted, people will be wearing red, white, and blue, and there’ll be sports, live music, and all the games you’re used to from the bar. Free. 7 PM.

#TBT: There are plenty of ’80s and ’90s theme nights these days, but how about one that’s just generally about the past? America’s birthday is as good a time as any to #TBT—Local 16 and DJ Miggl will be playing music videos from the ’80s, ’90s, and yesterday. That counts as the past, right? Free. 7 PM.

BURGERS: Now that the US is out of the World Cup, you’re going to need another excuse to sneak out of the office for hours at a time. Well, on this day before a long weekend, Z-Burger has you covered with its sixth annual Independence Burger Eating Contest. Starting at noon at the Tenleytown location, you can watch pro eaters gorge themselves trying to win a $1,500 prize. Just for attending, you’ll score a free burger.

Friday, July 4

AMERICA: Happy Independence Day! Check out our roundup of events for the scoop on parties, parades, and more, and visit our Guide to the Fourth for grilling tips, recipes, and other celebration suggestions.

Saturday, July 5

COOKOUT: Not gonna lie, most of the city is throwing all its eggs into the Fourth of July basket (wrong holiday?)—this weekend is looking pretty thin after Friday. One place that is on its game, however, is the DC MeetMarket, which is hosting a summer cookout featuring deejays, art installations, barbecue from No Kings Collective, gelato from Dolcezza, root beer and floats from Thunder Beast, and all the arts and crafts you’ve learned to expect from the market. Free. 11 AM to 5 PM.

FASHION: Urban Chic’s SyleCable trunk show ends this weekend, so if you didn’t get a chance to check it out yet, now’s your last chance. StyleCable’s pieces are normally sold online only, so this is a good opportunity if you prefer to do your shopping in person. Free. All day.

COMEDY: Dan St. Germain, who has been featured on Conan and was named one of Paste Magazine’s Top 10 Great Underrated Comedians (maybe that’s why you haven’t heard of him), is performing at Black Cat. He’s currently developing a show for Fox and is about to perform a standup special for Comedy Central, so catch him now before he blows up. Tickets ($10) are available online. 9 PM.

Sunday, July 6

SLAM POETRY: Penn Social hosts the David vs. Goliath Poetry Slam, a competition between the DC Youth Slam team and the decidedly non-youths of the Beltway Poetry Slam team. It may seem like an unfair matchup, but everybody wins—proceeds will help both teams compete in their respective national tournaments. $10 in advance or $20 the day of. 5 PM.

FESTIVALS: Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival ends this weekend. The Mall will be taken over with cooking lessons, dance performances, movies, music, kites, dragon-lion carts, and everything else you’d expect from a festival designed to teach you about the traditional cultures in China and Kenya. Free. 11 AM to 6 PM.

Know of something cool going on around town? E-mail Jason Koebler at jasontpkoebler@gmail.com, or find him on Twitter

Posted at 10:41 AM/ET, 07/03/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Parades, concerts, and other patriotic fun. By Tanya Pai
Parties, parades, and more way to celebrate the Fourth of July in Washington. Image via Shutterstock.

Dancing With the Stars’ Tom Bergeron hosts this year’s Capitol Fourth concert on the west lawn of the Capitol Building. The lineup includes performances by Frankie Valli, Patti LaBelle, Jordin Sparks, and the Muppets, among others, as well as music from the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Williams, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, and the US Army Band. Gates open at 3 PM, and the show is, as always, followed by fireworks. 

Mount Vernon holds its own celebration at George Washington’s former home, featuring a reading of the Declaration of Independence, daytime fireworks over the Potomac, a performance by the National Concert Band of America, and more. 8 to 5. 

The annual National Independence Day Parade starts in downtown DC at 11:45 AM. Bring the whole family to see fife and drum corps performances, floats, giant balloons, and more. 

The Hamilton hosts a post-fireworks show with the 19th Street Band, who’ve opened for acts such as Toby Keith and Rascal Flatts. Doors open at 8:30 so you can grab a seat and a drink before the show. 

The first annual Freedom Fest “celebrates the unification of our local brewing community.” Head to Takoma Park for beer from 16 local breweries, plus barbecue and live music. Tickets are $35, all-inclusive; the event runs 11 to 7. 

DC’s City Tap House has organized a BeerBQ Brewery Battle, in which the restaurant’s team competes with representatives from 3 Stars Brewing and Evolution Craft Brewing to see who can create the best barbecue. For $10 you get barbecue and sides, and suds from the breweries will be available for $5 each. When you’ve had your fill, you can compete in the cornhole tournament for the chance to win a City Tap House gift certificate. 

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Posted at 10:10 AM/ET, 07/03/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The BIG Maze at the Building Museum, Artscape Baltimore, and more this month. By Tanya Pai
See works by Italian-American artist Salvatore Scarpitta at the Hirshhorn this month. “Trevis Race Car (Sal Gambler Special),” 1985. Photograph by Lee Stalsworth.

MUSEUM EXHIBITS

“Once There Were Billions: Vanished Birds of North America” examines extinct species of birds that were once rampant in North America, as well as the fragile relationship between living creatures and their environments. At the Natural History Museum through October 2015. 

The National Portrait Gallery explores the private lives of, and rivalries between, Civil War generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee through photographs, documents, paintings, and more. “One Life: Grant and Lee: ‘It Is Well That War Is So Terrible . . .’” is at the museum July 4 through May 31. 

At the Corcoran July 19 through September 28 is “Mark Tribe: Plein Air,” which explores aerial photography through the artist’s use of computer-generated landscapes.

The BIG Maze—named both for its size (61 by 61 feet, 18 feet high) and for the Bjarke Ingels Group, the architecture firm that created it—opens July 4 at the National Building Museum and serves as a preview of the “amBIGuity” exhibit, opening next year. Through September 1. 

The Hirshhorn presents “Salvatore Scarpitta: Traveler,” one of the only shows in a major US museum dedicated to the works of the Italian-American artist. Among the pieces on display are the full-scale sprint-racing cars he built later in his career and the last work he created before his death in 2007. July 17 through January 11. 

“Behind the Badge” at the Postal Museum is an interactive exhibit centered on the United States Postal Inspection Service, one of the oldest law-enforcement agencies in the country. On display are an anthrax-laced letter sent to Senator Tom Daschle, handcuffs used during the arrest of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, and more. Ongoing. 

The Corcoran College of Art and Design presents “The Gray Area: Living in Transition,” a multimedia exhibit that examines the boundaries between military and civilian life and the way those boundaries can blur. July 2 through 20. 

Coming to the Air and Space Museum July 25 is “Hawaii by Air,” looking at how the journey to one of the most remote states has changed since the early days of flight. 

GALLERY SHOWS

At the Hillyer Art Space July 5 through 26 is “Flesh & Bone,” an exhibition of 33 works by local and regional artists focused on contemporary figurative art. 

Washington Project for the Arts presents “Harder, Glorious,” the latest in its Hothouse Video series. The group of video works by artists from the United States and abroad attempt to capture the beauty and futility of life. In the lobby of the Capitol Skyline Hotel July 10 through September 14. 

“Frozen Music” at the Torpedo Factory is a showcase of new works by DC photographer Alan Sislen that examine the relationship between music and architecture. Through August 3. 

VisArts presents “The Candy Store,” in which artist Jackie Hoysted uses encaustic painting—a technique that involves adding pigment to heated beeswax—to create a series of scented paintings that play off the idea of art as eye candy. July 11 through August 17.

Also at VisArts, American University alum Ruth Lozner presents “Fiction Non Fiction,” an exhibit of her surrealist art inspired by her family’s collection of thrift-store finds and memorabilia. July 18 through August 17.

“Glass Unpolished: Explorations of Time, Nature, and Technology” at Workhouse Arts Center exhibits pieces by Maryland and Virginia artists working with glass as a medium. July 12 through September 7. 

Stephen Walls’s “Transient States,” at the Torpedo Factory July 19 through August 31, examines the collective unconscious through the North Carolina artist’s large-scale paintings. 

EVENTS

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is back on the Mall July 2 through 6, exploring Chinese culture through food, dance, music, and more. 

This month’s Phillips After 5, on July 3, fittingly has an Independence Day theme.

Artscape Baltimore, billed as “America’s largest free arts festival,” offers visitors the chance to peruse works from more than 150 artists, designers, craftspeople, and more. July 18 through 20. 

Beginning July 7, “Design@: Sister Cities Exhibit and Festival” presents a show and a series of public programs that explore the culture and development of DC and Beijing. Through July 11 at Powerhouse

On July 18, DC Arts Center celebrates its 25th anniversary with an “uncurated art happening,” offering 25 hours of continuous performances and opportunities to peruse and buy art, culminating in a party with deejays and drinks. 

Posted at 10:39 AM/ET, 07/02/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
See who will be playing at the un-canceled concert series. By Benjamin Freed
Photograph by Flickr user Rudi Riet.

Now that we’ve all shared a collective sigh of relief that this summer will not be devoid of the Fort Reno concert series, following an agreement between the show organizers and the National Park Service, we can focus on what really matters: the music.

This year’s concerts run Mondays and Thursdays from the 7th through the 31st, beginning with the Captivators, a ska band, and art rockers Malatese from Harrisburg, Virginia. Also on the slate are punk ascendants Priests, Title Tracks, and Protect-U. Once again, there are no Fugazi reunions planned.

As always, the shows run from 7 to 9:30 PM, weather permitting. Bring snacks, friends, dogs, and babies. Leave the glass bottles and alcohol at home; you can always go to Guapo’s after the show.

See the full schedule below.

Monday, July 7

  • Captivators
  • Malatese

Thursday, July 10

  • Peanut Butter & Dave
  • Golden Looks
  • Calvera Skull

Monday, July 14

  • Baby Bry Bry
  • Aloners
  • Tiger Horse

Thursday, July 17

  • Priests
  • Sotano
  • Puff Pieces

Monday, July 21

  • Alarms & Controls
  • Talk It
  • Dissonance

Thursday, July 24

  • Title Tracks
  • The Effects
  • Myrrh Myrrh

Monday, July 28

  • Black Sparks
  • Stereosleep
  • The Raised by Wolves

Thursday, July 31

  • Give
  • Protect U

Posted at 11:51 AM/ET, 07/01/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()