I’ve taken a bit of a vacation from blogging the last few weeks, but the hiatus is about to come to an end! Lots of exciting stuff coming up, some of which I’ll have a chance to see and write about, others I thought I’d share with you, dear Readers, even though I won’t have a chance to write about them.

So, here’s what I’m looking forward to in the next few weeks…if I’ve missed something important, let me know in the comments!

Kinetic Theatre opens Hound of the Baskervilles tonight at 8 pm – it runs until August 7 at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre downtown. David Whalen will return to Pittsburgh to reprise his Sherlock Holmes, with James FitzGerald and Connor McCanlus rounding out the cast. Director Andrew Paul promises hilarity; I can’t wait.

Also this weekend – and this weekend only – is the inaugural production of the Entertainment Consortium Inc. African American Conservatory: Lynn Nottage’s play Ruined, which is a hardhitting, moving, and timely play about the ways the conflict in war-torn Congo has impacted civilians, and in particular women, who are the victims of indiscriminate sexual violence (and then cast out from their families because they are considered “ruined”). It’s playing at the August Wilson Center on Sunday at 4; I’m sorry that I won’t be able to catch this production, as I’m an admirer of the play.

Another production I’m going to miss, but wish I could see, is the Alumni Theater Company’s upcoming presentation of Green Day’s musical, American Idiot, July 29-31 at the New Hazlett Theater. They tell me it’ll be rock meets Afro-punk. Looks cool: here’s a link to their trailer: https://youtu.be/-kfLmZWGcSo

Quantum Theatre begins its new season with the US Premiere of Lope de Vega’s play Peribañez, in Mellon Park. The play traces the efforts of a peasant couple to preserve their marriage in the face of a local Commander’s lust for the young wife. Lope de Vega could justifiably be called the Spanish Shakespeare; the production, directed by my colleague Megan Monaghan Rivas and Tlaloc Rivas, features a number of CMU students as well as local professional actors. It opens Aug. 5 and runs through the end of August.

Also opening that weekend is the 12 Peers Theatre production of Conor McPherson’s The Birds, directed by Vince Ventura. Based on the same story as the Hitchcock film, the play takes a different look at the toll taken when birds mass against humanity. It runs Aug. 4-21 at the Studio Theatre in the Cathedral of Learning.

Pittsburgh Playwrights will stage August Wilson’s play Seven Guitars in the backyard of August Wilson’s home in the Hill District – how insanely cool is that?! The production will be directed by Mark Clayton Southers, opens Aug. 5, and plays through Aug. 28 (thanks to Dina Fulmer for letting me know that I left this off the list – I hadn’t meant to!).

Two new works open the second week of August: Hatch Arts Collective’s Driftless (Aug 11- 14) – a new play about the impacts of fracking on our community – and Off the Wall’s Mother Lode (Aug 12-14) – Virginia Wall Gruenert’s new play about mother-daughter relationships.

September brings the opening of new seasons at City Theatre and the Pittsburgh Public Theater. City starts things off with a production of Hand to God, a show I’m very much looking forward to – it was a big hit on Broadway, telling the story of a blasphemous puppet that has hijacked the hand of a Christian teen. Opens September 22. The Public opens its season with The Fantasticks, a show I think I last saw in 1980 – which makes sense, as this musical has the distinction of having been the longest running musical ever. The run begins on September 29, and lasts through the end of October.

But I won’t be at the Public on September 29 (I’ll see the show another day), because that’s the evening of DRAMA QUEENS! at CMU – an event I helped to plan, and have been looking forward to for the last year and a half. My colleague Kristina Straub and I invited three of the foremost feminist performance artists of the 80s – Holly Hughes, Deb Margolin, and Carmelita Tropicana – to come to CMU to participate in a celebration of feminist performance. We also asked each of them to invite an artist whose work they wanted to showcase. Hughes invited Erin Markey; Margolin invited Desiree Burch; and Tropicana invited Dynasty Handbag. All six of these amazing artists will perform short “samplers” of their work on September 29, at 6:30 pm in the Rauh Studio Theater, in the CMU Purnell Center for the Arts. Tickets will be free, and the event is open to the public. If this is your kind of thing (and really, why wouldn’t it be?), mark it on your calendar now and call for tickets at the School of Drama box office after Labor Day.

See yinz at the theater!