20 Best Things to Do in Seattle in June 2019

Our handpicked list of the best bets for entertainment this month
  • Seattle Symphony's Ludovic Morlot conducting
Catch Ludovic Morlot's farewell concerts this month

This article appears in print in the June 2019 issue. Click here to subscribe.

Ludovic Morlot’s Final Concerts with the Seattle Symphony
Morlot has conceived his two-weekend farewell to eight seasons as SSO music director as one big program, with music by Wagner, Debussy and Richard Strauss for June 13–15; then Wagner, Debussy and Leoš Janáček for June 20–23. As his last word before taking time off to study and guest-conduct in Europe, Morlot has chosen Janáček’s rarely played The Eternal Gospel, with its luminous and soaring closing chorus. Times and prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.215.4747; seattlesymphony.org

NW New Works Festival
Please, no patronizing euphemisms like “Rubenesque” or “zaftig”: Portland troupe Body Home Fat Dance lays it out there, creating performance opportunities for movement, body positivity and what it calls “fat-celebrating dance.” Its performers are among the many artists, from drag to flute improv, taking over On the Boards in its annual showcase of all things avant. Times and prices vary. On the Boards, Lower Queen Anne, 100 W Roy St.; 206.217.9886

Pass Over
Through 6/23
Some people, per Beckett, wait for Godot; some, as in the Book of Exodus, wait for deliverance; and some, like the two young African-American men in New York playwright Antoinette Nwandu’s play, wait to see what happens when a white cop shows up. (Spike Lee has already made a film adaptation for Amazon Prime.) Times and prices vary. ACT – A Contemporary Theatre, downtown, 700 Union St.; 206.292.7676

Solmaz Sharif
The devastation of war is perhaps expectably a frequent subject in this Stanford lecturer’s poetry, being that Sharif is the child of Iranian parents, but her 2016 collection, Look, a finalist for the National Book Award, also examines another sort of devastation: Her publisher, Graywolf Press, calls it “the insidious abuses against our everyday speech.” 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Broadway Performance Hall, Capitol Hill, 1625 Broadway Ave.; 206.621.2230; lectures.org

A still from Andrey Paounov’s documentary, Walking on Water, about the artist Christo. Photo by Kino Lorber

Walking on Water
Through 6/13
Whatever the aesthetic value of Christo’s immense public installations is, the logistics and engineering behind them are perhaps even more impressive. Andrey Paounov’s new documentary brings the audience right into Christo’s process as he plans, constructs and unveils “The Floating Piers” on Italy’s Lake Iseo while battling both bureaucracies and the elements. Times and prices vary. Northwest Film Forum, Capitol Hill, 1515 12th Ave.; 206.329.2629

Chelsea Handler
As funny on the page as on the stage, Handler founded her stand-up career on mordant confessionals of her hard-living past and has since expanded into a talk-show host, activist and documentarian, her comedy fangs as sharp as ever. The ticket price for this show includes a copy of her sixth book, Life Will Be the Death of Me. 8 p.m. Prices vary. The Moore Theatre, downtown, 1932 Second Ave.; 206.467.5510

Beverly Semmes
Since the early ’90s, Semmes has made installations out of oversize or otherwise distorted clothing—always prodding the viewer to muse on the female body evoked but never present. In her new work at the Henry, Six Silvers, her use of silver lamé in larger-than-life sizes radiates a sort of intimidating glamour. Times and prices vary. Henry Art Gallery, University District, 4100 15th Ave. NE; 206.543.2280

Karin Stevens Dance
This local troupe will be a part of a worldwide collaborative day of dance (at press time, 60 performances in the U.S. and others on every continent but Antarctica) to bring attention to water conservation issues. Stevens’ troupe contributes Sea Change Within Us, a 60-minute work in the round set to a soundscape for piano, string quartet and spoken word. 3 p.m. Free. South Lake Union Park, 860 Terry Ave. N; karinstevensdance.com

Ronan Farrow
If cultural changes could be measured on the Richter scale, Farrow’s October 2017 exposé in The New Yorker outlining Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual predation would be The Big One; the resulting seismic waves toppled icons thought untouchable, and the aftershocks will be felt for generations. Hear how he did it at this rescheduled lecture (originally for February 11) in the “Unique Lives” series. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. McCaw Hall, Seattle Center, 321 Mercer St.; 206.733.9725; uniquelives.com

Hannah Gadsby
A year ago, Gadsby’s Netflix comedy special "Nanette" shattered everyone who saw it: jokes transforming into a de profundis soliloquy about the traumas of growing up lesbian in right-wing Tasmania, and the inadequacy of traditional stand-up tropes to address them. She accompanied Jill Soloway at her Temple De Hirsch Sinai reading last fall, offering sharp asides from, hilariously, behind a curtain. Now she’s back in town and out in the solo spotlight for a two-night stand. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. The Moore Theatre, downtown, 1932 Second Ave.; 206.467.5510

Tacocat released its fourth album in May; the band plays the Showbox this month. Photo by Helen Moga

This SDeattle quartet’s fourth album, This Mess Is a Place, came out in May on Sub Pop Records—a literal, and figurative, step up from Hardly Art, Sub Pop’s smaller imprint, which released the group’s first three albums. Always socially aware, the band members, like so many artists, found an abundance of material—to put it mildly—in the 2016 election. One representative lyric: “Truth spread so thin/It stops existing.” 9 p.m. $17. The Showbox, downtown, 1426 First Ave.; 206.628.3151

Jane Wong
Poet and Western Washington University professor Jane Wong’s family life was shaped by food: its presence, in the New Jersey Chinese restaurant her family ran; and its absence, in the unspeakable famines of Mao’s Great Leap Forward, which some of her family members witnessed. In an exhibit of poetry and personal memorabilia, After Preparing the Altar, the Ghosts Feast Feverishly, these two impactful events are tied together. Times vary. Free. Frye Art Museum, First Hill, 704 Terry Ave.; 206.622.9250; fryemuseum.org

Seattle International Film Festival
Closing-night Gala 6/9
Knowing its matriarch doesn’t have long to live, a Chinese-American family gathers to say goodbye, staging a fake wedding as a rationale in this dramedy that SIFF’s chosen for its closing-night gala. Rapper Awkwafina, who made a splash as a flamboyant friend of the bride in Crazy Rich Asians, stars, and writer/director Lulu Wang is scheduled to attend. 6 p.m. $14. SIFF Egyptian Theater, 805 E Pine St.; 206.464.5830

West Side Story
Sure, it’s based on Shakespeare, but as long as one tribe feels threatened by a more recently arrived tribe—and every single day brings more tragic evidence that they do—Leonard Bernstein’s masterpiece will never stop being as timely as a CNN news crawl. Spectrum Dance Theater has been tapped to bring the all-important dance element to this production. Times and prices vary. The 5th Avenue Theatre, downtown, 1308 Fifth Ave.; 206.625.1900

Tiny Beautiful Things
Through 6/23
Cheryl Strayed (Wild) wrote about her experiences as an online advice columnist in Tiny Beautiful Things, and Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) adapted the book into a play; the deeply moving result, The New York Times says, “turned out to be about the endangered art of listening to—and really hearing and responding to—other people.” Times and prices vary. Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center, 155 Mercer St.; 206.443.2222

Contemporary dance company Robert Moses’ Kin returns to the Seattle International Dance Festival. Photo by RJ Muna

A Festival of Festivals
Whether you celebrate in a park, in the streets or at a concert hall, this month officially launches the summer festival season. Here are your best bets for June (for more ideas, see our Must List):

5/31–6/2: Honk! Fest West: Playful and raucous street bands could pop up anywhere in town during this weekend celebration of DIY music. Free. Specific locations TBA. honkfestwest.org

6/7–6/22: Seattle International Dance Festival: Three weeks of shows reflecting the latest in contemporary dance by performers from Seattle and around the world, plus a free show in Denny Park at noon on June 8. Times, prices and venues vary. seattleidf.org

6/22: Allen Ginsberg in Art and Action: Western Bridge art initiative and Hugo House organized this salute to the beat poet, with staged performances of his poetry and 50 framed photos of the writer, in various stages of his life, scattered throughout the park. Free. Volunteer Park, Capitol Hill, 1247 15th Ave. E; hugohouse.org

6/29–6/30: Arts in Nature: Art and performance among the trees at Camp Long, West Seattle’s unique urban park and event space. Since it’s pride weekend, there’s a special focus this year on queer, trans and gender-nonconforming artists. Free. Camp Long, West Seattle, 5200 35th Ave. SW; dnda.org/festival

Imbolo Mbue. Photo by Kiriko Sano

Shades of Mbue
The celebrated author visits Seattle as her award-winning work is adapted for the stage

When Oprah selected Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers for her book club in 2017, the year after its release, she described it as examining “everything our culture is grappling with right now.” The acclaimed debut novel compares the experiences, and details the relationship, of two families: one whose members are immigrants, the other made up of one-percenters, and both affected by the Great Recession of 2008. Mbue is an immigrant herself, from Cameroon, and wove her own perspective into the story. In a poetic coincidence, Mbue visits Seattle on June 7 for a Seattle Arts & Lectures presentation (7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Town Hall, First Hill, 1119 Eighth Ave.; 206.652.4255; lectures.org), just as Myra Platt has adapted the book for the last production of Book-It Repertory Theatre’s season. 6/6–6/30. Times and prices vary. Book-It Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.; 206.216.0833

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