MUSIC Antsy McClain Amir ElSaffar and the Two Rivers Ensemble THEATER ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ ‘Dust’ RUBBERBANDance Group ART Eric Van Nielsen Second Nature: Junk Rethunk COMEDY Comedy-Gasm: Two Year Anniversary BOOKS NoViolet Bulawayo MOVIES Ulrike Ottinger: Berlin Trilogy
Thursday, 8 p.m.
20 S. Second St.
Country music has been drifting ever closer to mainstream pop for more than two decades, but as long as singer-songwriters like Antsy McClain stick around, the pop-ification of Nashville won’t ever be complete. With his band the Trailer Park Troubadours, he performs a classic country/rockabilly style with a sardonic storytelling humor, as evidenced by song titles like “Prozac Made Me Stay.”
Saturday, 8 p.m.
300 S. Broad St.
Led by trumpeter Amir ElSaffar, the Two Rivers Ensemble is a fusion of Middle Eastern sounds and jazz music, using mostly western instruments but also featuring the buzuq, a kind of flute. It’s hardly the first attempt to integrate the two musical traditions, but Two Rivers strives to create their own unique expression.
Through May 17
Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre
2111 Sansom St.
Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre performs this classic work by the Immortal Bard, which they describe as his “mediation on erotic fascination.” That it is, but it’s also full of pure silliness, because such fascination has to make fools of all of us at one point or another. The question is whether we allow it to — or whether some mischievous magic will do it for us.
‘She Stoops to Conquer’
The Powel House
244 S. Third St.
Mechanical Theater presents this 18th century comedy by Oliver Goldsmith, about Charles Marlow, an upper class cad who’s a Casanova with working class ladies but finds himself intimidated by women of his own breeding. Once such woman, Kate Hardcastle, takes a shine to him, and endeavors to break through this barrier by posing as a maid. Sneaky, sneaky.
Thursday through Saturday
140 N. Columbus Blvd.
FringeArts presents this opera by Robert Ashley with choreography by Megan Bridge and a video component that reacts in real time to the dancers’ movements. “Dust” is set on an unidentified street corner, where a few street dwellers recall the tale of their comrade, a war veteran and leg amputee who believed that he spoke to God under the influence of morphine.
Thursday through Saturday
2680 Walnut St.
This contemporary dance ensemble combines the rather different training of its co-heads, former Los Angeles street breakdancer Victor Quijada and French-Canadian Anne Plamondon, whose background is ballet. The spontaneous freedom of the former and the rigorous formality of the latter produce a unique tension, reflecting those primal opposing forces that seem to form the stuff of our lives.
Saturday through April 30
The Resource Exchange
1701 N. 2nd St.
Painter Eric Van Nielsen began as a draftsman, but found himself increasingly drawn towards abstract art that utilizes pure color and form to affect the viewer. “Color is the language of emotion,” he writes in his artist’s statement, and his work does indeed affect powerfully through color. He made these evocative works by a new method he considers more environmentally sustainable.
Through October 31
3400 W. Girard Ave
Philadelphia Zoo hosts an art exhibition featuring animal-themed sculpture made from recycled materials, meant to inspire enthusiasm for recycling. The pieces are large-scale, including a 13-foot-tall gorilla made from car parts and a five-foot-long alligator made from chewing gum — that’s a lot of gum! There are 12 works all, each contributed by a different artist or group.
Saturday, 8 to 11 p.m.
114 Market St.
$7-$10, 21+, 800-838-3006
This comedy showcase celebrates two years of “comedy by the unashamed, for the unashamed,” as well as the Irish Pol’s recent move to a new, larger location. It’s hosted by Rachel Fogletto and features stand-up from Pete Steele, Sonia Zambrana, Keane Cobb and Lou Misiano, plus live music by Kate Nyx and storytelling from Martha Cooney.
Thursday, 6 p.m.
Kelly Writers House
3805 Locust Walk
Zimbabwe-born novelist NoViolet Bulawayo, whose most debut novel, 2013’s “We Need New Names” earned recognition from the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Man Booker Prize and other quarters, will give a reading at Kelly Writers House. The book tells the story of Darling, a young girl growing up amidst violence in Zimbabwe who travels to America to live with her aunt.
Friday and Saturday
3701 Chestnut St.
International House screens three films by German filmmaker Ulrike Ottinger: 1979’s “Ticket of No Return,” 1981’s “Freak Orlando” and 1984’s “Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press.” The movies aren’t explicitly connected, but many of the same crew worked on all three, and they share Ottinger’s interests in performance art and socially critical sci-fi surrealism.
Amir ElSaffar and the Two Rivers Ensemble
‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’
Eric Van Nielsen
Second Nature: Junk Rethunk
Comedy-Gasm: Two Year Anniversary
Ulrike Ottinger: Berlin Trilogy