16 Best Things To Do in Seattle in May 2018

Our hand-picked list of best bets for entertainment this month

By Gavin Borchert with Gwendolyn Elliott

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April 27, 2018

This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Seattle Magazine.

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

12 Minutes Max
5/20–5/21
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

Familiar 
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
5/3
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
5/11
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
5/10
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
5/22
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

Aida
5/5–5/19
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

Photography by Tyree Harris

Book Excerpt: Marmots May Be Running Out of Time

New book explores endangered species in Pacific Northwest

In her debut as a book author, Josephine Woolington turns back the clock to examine events that have shaped Pacific Northwest wildlife in an effort to provide a deeper sense of place for those who call this unique and beautiful region home. Where We Call Home: Lands, Seas, and Skies of the Pacific Northwest sheds…

Illustration by Arthur Mount

Seattle Artifacts: The Mystery of Chief Seattle’s Death Mask

Is it real? Where did it come from?

In different parts of the world, and throughout the course of history, death has been memorialized in a variety of different ways. One of the more intriguing was death masks. Typically, a wax or plaster cast was made of a deceased person’s face, which then served as a model for sculptors when creating statues and busts.  …

Photography by Sage Chen

The Art of Weathering Winter: Foraging, Bathing, and Gold Dust

Two Seattle Chefs on the Soothing Hobbies that Get Them through the Winter

Though I’ve lived in Seattle nearly my entire life, the early winter sunsets, which fall like a set of blackout curtains over the world, never fail to feel like a curse. This year, though, I wanted to challenge myself to find a better way to get through it. Could it be an opportunity to surrender…

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Hip-Hop Healing in Seattle

Rapper Carter Costello’s house is more than just a venue for artists

The last time I was at Seattle rapper Carter Costello’s house was under the cloak of night. I had been invited to an art and music show — featuring Seattle photographer and artist Baby Claypool, a duo of fire dancers, rapper Nobi and Costello — by local photographer James Gerde. Once I set foot on…

Seattle artist and curator Anthony White challenges consumerism and societal hierarchy in his work.

Seattle’s Prince of Plastic

Artist Anthony White’s work offers deep, and sometimes uncomfortable, cultural commentary

Overheard conversation at artist Anthony White’s current exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum plays out like a zeitgeisty spoken-word soundtrack that weaves between the past and present, hitting various cultural milestones along the way. “Is that Lindsay Lohan?” “Look, Nintendo!” “Do you notice the Greek columns?” “Ah, Lisa Frank!” The joyful cacophony is a reaction…

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Time Warp: ‘Seattle’ Magazine Cover Still Relevant, Five Decades Later

Magazine cover from 1968 still applicable today

Rising prices. Concern over firearms. The above cover from “Seattle” magazine is from September 1968, but it’s sadly just as relevant today. At 4.19%, inflation in 1968 was less than half what it is today (9.1% in July), but was rising rapidly. For perspective, an item that cost $1 back then would cost $8.51 today….