Every Friday, we highlight three great shows from local performing artists that you can see this coming weekend.

Activated Art
Friday, April 4th and Saturday April 5th at 8PM and Sunday, April 6th at 6PM at Ackland Art Museum


There’s no getting around it: a painting has to hang on a wall; a sculpture has to stand on a pedestal. It’s not their fault they’re stationary objects! Since 2012, the Ackland Art Museum has been trying to leapfrog that inconvenience by “activating” their art.

Communications professor Dana Coen, himself a playwright and television writer, dreamed up the idea to bring five local writers into the gallery. Each finds an artwork from the Ackland’s permanent collection and builds a short play around it. The play can bring the characters in a painting to life, or tell the artist’s story, or just take place around a sculpture. Working together with a dedicated team of actors, directors and designers, each writer locates the dramatic heart of a piece of art, and lifts it out into the room.

The evening doubles as a tour of the gallery, as the audience follows the plays around from piece to piece. For an audience, it’s a chance to see a familiar place in an all-new way.

ConvergeNC Southern Music Festival
Saturday, April 5th from 3-11PM at Bell Tower Amphitheater


What is Southern music? Is it music made in a handful of states below the Mason-Dixon line? Do the musicians have to be born in those states? Do they have to use fiddles and banjos? Does the music have to come from the Old Time or Delta Blues or Bluegrass traditions? Does it have to be sung in a particular accent?

The ConvergeNC Southern Music Festival has an answer to offer: it all counts, and everyone’s welcome. Their version of Southern music is a centuries-long conversation that’s still raging today. You can see their inclusiveness in the map-busting lineup for Saturday’s main event at Bell Tower Amphitheater: from the Lumbee-accented soul of Dark Water Rising to the heartfelt folk of the Chilean-born Bascuñan family, and from the minimalist hip-hop of Rome Fortune to the electronic pop of T0W3RS. The fact that the second-year festival is free just drives home the message: Southern music is a very big tent.

Friday, April 4th and Saturday April 5th at 7:30PM and Sunday, April 6th at 2:30 and 8 PM at the Center For Dramatic Art


Sure, cats seemed like an unlikely subject for a hit Broadway musical. The unsuccessful Paris uprising of 1832 didn’t seem much more promising. And those worked out just fine!

But for sheer degree of difficulty, nothing beats Assassins, Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s 1990 musical about nine Americans who have tried to kill their Presidents. From Booth to Hinckley, they’re all here, in a literal rogues’ gallery that spans the centuries. It’s an oddball idea, but it works because it’s interested in much more than a dry history lesson. The assassins become a window into that peculiar American longing for notoriety. For these nobodies trying to become somebodies, even the most desperate act seems vital. In the age of the reality show and fame-for-fame’s-sake, it’s a show that suddenly has a lot to say to us again. And in the hands of Playmakers’ masterful repertory company of actors, each sharply-drawn character becomes a sort of funhouse mirror, reflecting back America.

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