16 Best Things To Do in Seattle in May 2018

Our hand-picked list of best bets for entertainment this month
12 Minutes Max delivers the unexpected with performances such as choreographer Seth Sexton's "DYBBUK"

This article appears in print in the May 2018 issue. Click here to subscribe.

12 Minutes Max
The name of this short-works performance series is the first rule; keep your technical requirements simple is another; no live animals is a third. (Not sure we want to know what happened there.…) For years a mainstay of experimental dance workshop On the Boards’ schedule, this series—an informal showcase for new adventures in dance, theater, music or any combination thereof one’s imagination can devise—is now presented in collaboration with dance performance space, Base. 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., $12. Base: Experimental Arts + Space, Georgetown, 6520 Fifth Ave. S; thisisbase.org

Foster/White Gallery

George Rodriguez
Through 6/4
Ceramics may not be the first medium that comes to mind when you think “political art.” But it’s just a short step from its utilitarian folk roots to the uses this El Paso–born, University of Washington–trained, globe-trotting artist strives for in his work, currently on view with Guardian, his first solo museum exhibition in the Northwest. Rodriguez’s figures and sculptures are studies of marginalized communities and reflections on community and belonging, and aim, he says, “to bring people closer.”10 a.m.–6 p.m daily. Free. Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Bainbridge Island, 550 Winslow Way E; 206.842.4451; biartmuseum.org

Through 5/27
Danai Gurira may be known for her role as Michonne on The Walking Dead and Okoye in Black Panther, but her skill as a playwright—notably for her play Eclipsed, about female sex slaves in Liberia—has generated its own share of acclaim. (The production was nominated for multiple awards and won, among others, the 2016 Tony for Best Costume Design in a Play.) In this coproduction with Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater, Gurira weaves a tale about a Zimbabwean family in Minnesota preparing for the marriage of their oldest daughter; the Rep promises “layers of complexities rooted in the search for a sense of belonging.” Times and prices vary. Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center, 155 Mercer St.; 206.443.2222; seattlerep.org

Alan Cumming
Cumming is elfin and a bit androgynous, in a way that’s made him a natural for roles like the emcee in Cabaret. Yet when he lets his Scottish brogue loose on a song, he can give it a ferocious, punky edge, and he applies it to surprising repertory, ranging from Katy Perry to Sondheim. Cumming is equally skilled as a sparkling raconteur, and the Seattle stop on his Legal Immigrant tour will be an intimate evening of music and story. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.215.4747; seattlesymphony.org

Ijeoma Oluo. Photo by Hugo House

Lidia Yuknavitch, Tarfia Faizullah and Ijeoma Oluo
As literary center Hugo House lingers between homes—it’s currently slated to reopen its brand-new facility sometime in the fall—the theme of Hugo’s Literary Series event is, rather naturally, “There Goes the Neighborhood.” It brings together two-time Oregon Book Award–winning novelist Lidia Yuknavitch (The Small Backs of Children), Bangladeshi-American poet Tarfia Faizullah and Seattle-based essayist Ijeoma Oluo (whose first book, So You Want to Talk About Race, was published in January) to present new work on the subject. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Northwest Film Forum, Capitol Hill, 1515 12th Ave.; 206.322.7030; hugohouse.org

Joshua Roman
Although he didn’t grow up here, Seattle can claim cellist/composer Joshua Roman as sort of a native son—the two seasons, 2006–2008, that he spent as head of the Seattle Symphony’s cello section were an early milestone before his career went worldwide. (If you’re a Seattle Sounders fan, think of Roman as sort of the classical equivalent of DeAndre Yedlin.) His 10th season of curating Town Hall’s new-music-friendly “Town Music” series will culminate in an appearance by the JACK Quartet; its members will join Roman for the premiere of his piece Tornado. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Plymouth Church, 1217 Sixth Ave.; townhallseattle.org

Taylor Swift
Perhaps taylor swift’s greatest hit of 2017 was the pop deity’s testimony in her sexual-assault suit against radio host David Mueller; sharply witty, ferociously righteous and utterly undaunted, that testimony marked a milestone in the #MeToo movement. Like the best pop tunes, it came to an exhilarating climax: “I’m not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault. Here we are years later, and I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are the product of his decisions—not mine,” stated Swift. The superstar visits Seattle in support of her chart-topping sixth studio album, Reputation. 7 p.m. Prices vary. CenturyLink Field, downtown, 800 Occidental Ave. S; centurylinkfield.com

Photo by Cory Weaver

Audiences expect spectacle in productions of Aida, and always have; Verdi’s 1871 tale of a love triangle set in ancient Egypt was even then a throwback to the grand-opera approach of an earlier generation, extravagant affairs full of processions, ballets and as many extras as you can pack onto a stage. But how, today, do you present visual dazzle without merely copying the fusty traditions of the century before last? For its new production, Seattle Opera will restage San Francisco Opera’s edgy version, which incorporates LA-based street artist Retna’s hieroglyphic-inspired designs; the result should be both gorgeous and up to the minute. Times and prices vary. McCaw Hall, Seattle Center, 321 Mercer St.; 206.389.7676; seattleopera.org

Paul Simon
“A little unsettling, a touch exhilarating and something of a relief” is how the icon described his decision to end regular concert touring—an announcement that when he tweeted it on February 5 must have crushed the fans he’s gathered over half a century. (He did leave the door open for “the occasional performance” for charity.) Seattle’s the second stop on the tour slated to end July 15 in London. 8 p.m. Prices vary. KeyArena, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.; 206.684.7200; keyarena.com

“Prison—it takes one’s dreaming….the process of killing dreams continues even on the outside,” says actor Cornell Alston, who during his 33 years in the New York State prison system performed in many plays there (starring in August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, in one example). Yet JACK &, created in collaboration with NYC-based theater artist Kaneza Schaal, is, Schaal emphasizes, not to be assumed “a personal narrative reportage drama.” Instead their stage duet examines the re-entry into society after prison,from assimilation programs to, Schaal promises, “personal stories, ‘50s sitcoms and cotillion balls.” Times and prices vary. On the Boards, 100 W Roy St.; 206.217.9886; ontheboards.org

Towards Impressionism: Landscape Painting from Corot to Monet
One hundred and fifty years ago, Impressionism was a reviled avant-garde movement, but somewhere along the line, popular taste did a 180, and the works of artists such as Degas, Renoir and Monet became beloved for their prettiness. Get a better sense of why it was such a departure in its day from this collection, combining works from the Frye’s permanent collection with others from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Reims, France. Times vary. Free. Frye Art Museum, First Hill, 704 Terry Ave.; 206.622.9250; fryemuseum.org

Jenny Han and Nicola Yoon
Presented by Seattle Arts and Lectures, these two young-adult authors will chat with prolific local YA author Martha Brockenbrough. Yoon’s two acclaimed novels are Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also a Star; she keeps empty pens, and her go-to karaoke number is Air Supply’s “Making Love Out of Nothing at All.” Han’s work includes three trilogies and two children’s books; she loves Kazuo Ishiguro and is certain she’d be a Slytherin. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.215.4747; lectures.org

Seattle Transgender Film Fest
In its 13th year, Translations is one of the slate of programs organized by queer-media presenter Three Dollar Bill Cinema. Last year’s fest gathered more than 70 films, telling stories of transgender issues and obstacles, loves and triumphs. This year the fest is branching beyond film, partnering with Velocity Dance Center to bring in San Francisco dancer Sean Dorsey for a trio of performances and workshops. Times, prices and locations vary. threedollarbillcinema.org

David Shields and Rikki Ducornet
Shields is an essayist (best known for 2010’s Reality Hunger: A Manifesto) who once said, “[My book] calls into question the illusion of an objective reality.” Ducornet is a writer, painter and illustrator (her most recent novel is Brightfellow) who once said, “There is nothing wrong with order and nothing wrong with rationality.” We’re betting their conversation will be fascinating. 7 p.m. Free. University Book Store, University District, 4326 University Way NE; 800.335.7323; ubookstore.com

Photo by Shervin Lainez

Madeleine Peyroux
The microphone loves Peyroux and she loves it back, using it to give every song she touches conversational frankness and sly, unstudied nuance. In a tune like “Walkin’ After Midnight,” she proves she can even hold her own against the supreme mistress of artless emotional intimacy, Patsy Cline herself. Her latest, Anthem, will be released in August. Times vary. $46.50. Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, downtown, 2033 Sixth Ave.; 206.441.9729; jazzalley.com

Russell Wilson, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Ciara and the Seattle Symphony
He can play football, obviously. He can play baseball. He can make adorable Alaska Airlines commercials. But can Russell Wilson sing? Well, if it’s for charity and if he’ll be surrounded by his wife, the premier Seattle hip-hop duo and a full orchestra, I’m sure he’ll rise to the occasion. Proceeds for this special evening support each performer’s respective philanthropic programs. 8 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.215.4747; seattlesymphony.org

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