Festivals are not just for summer anymore. March has an epic event for every Pittsburgher—from foodies and knitters, to outdoor explorers and virtual reality enthusiasts. So strap on a pair of VR goggles and blast off into spring at our top 11 events not to miss in Pittsburgh this March.
1. Wild & Scenic Film Festival at Chatham University: March 9, 6 p.m.
Of the many niche film festivals in rotation all over the world, the Wild & Scenic Film Festival is one that eco-minded cinephiles should have on their radar. Showcasing 13 award-winning, short documentaries—such as Plastico and Nature Rx—the country’s premier environmental and adventure film festival explores everything from the elusive wolverine population in Utah to the impact of the U.S./Mexico border wall to the burgeoning fair trade clothing movement. Take a 60-day backpacking trip with adventure photographer Ace Kvale and his dog Genghis Khan, discover how Jim Cochran invented the organic strawberry industry and watch in awe as Wasfia Nazreen becomes the first Bangladeshi to scale the Seven Summits. Showcasing breathtaking ecosystems, films tackle issues like climate change, species extinction, environmental justice, and conservation. The event also serves as a call to action for residents, who can sign up on-site to volunteer with Pennsylvania Resources Council and Allegheny CleanWays. Buy tickets.
2. BUS: Bricolage’s Annual Fundraiser at the August Wilson Center: March 11, 6:30 p.m.
What if you had to produce an original 10-minute play in 24 hours—and it had to be based on a 90-minute Port Authority bus ride?! Find out how Pittsburgh’s top directors, playwrights and performers are embracing this formidable challenge at Bricolage’s 12th annual BUS. One of the local theater scene’s most anticipated happenings, the fiercely imaginative—and friendly—smackdown embodies the spirit of risk-taking and innovation that underscores the company’s mission. This year’s brave B.U.S. riders include 40 award-winning performers, seasoned playwrights, and local stars on the rise. From writer Gab Cody and director Patrick Jordan, to performer Wali Jamal—this team is bringing their A-game. The guerrilla theater adventure kicks off when six courageous playwrights get their creative juices flowing during a Friday night bus ride. Equal parts benefit bash, performance art and reality theater, B.U.S. also includes a Friday night VIP reception and live actor exhibition. Witness the artful and arduous results during the grand finale of plays and celebrate cutting-edge theater with a post-show toast. Buy tickets.
3. HUMP! Film Festival at Spirit: March 10 & 11, 7 & 9:15 p.m.
He has 288,000 Twitter followers, founded the award-winning It Gets Better Project, and slings advice via a wildly popular, syndicated sex column. But did you know that the oft-provocative writer, media pundit and LGBT activist Dan Savage is also the brainchild behind a festival dedicated to erotic home movies, amateur sex cinema, and DIY porn? What hatched as an eccentric idea in 2005—basically Savage asked people to send him “homemade dirty movies” and they did, in droves—is now an internationally touring festival 12 years in the making. With provocative titles like Sock Puppet and Boat Daddy, this year’s lusty lineup of 22 new films will showcase all body types, ages, colors, sexualities, genders, and fetishes under the sun. Equal parts hot and hilarious, HUMP has a way of simultaneously easing people out of their comfort zones while uniting viewers in an unapologetic celebration of sexual diversity, positivity and expression. HUMP is on a mission to redefine the genre, and you’re invited to come along for the ride. Buy tickets.
4. Virtual Reality Museum & Third Thursday at Carnegie Museum of Art: March 16, 7—11 p.m.
Strap on some VR goggles and morph into an imaginary future. No, you’ve not been cast as an extra in a science fiction flick: all of this and more await at Carnegie Museum of Art. The night blasts off with a free presentation on “The Virtual Reality Museum.” Be the first to see exciting new virtual reality and photographic technologies being created for CMOA by leading new media artists. Afterward, trek further into the outer limits at the Third Thursday party. Attend the launch of Styles and Customs of the 2020s, a virtual reality experience created by NYC-based art collectives Scatter x DIS. Watch firsthand as historic preservation expert Chad Keller uses laser scanning to create 3-D models of the Hall of Architecture, and take a tour of the new exhibition of fantastical fashions by Dutch design sensation, Iris van Herpen. Lori Hepner will teach you how to draw with light, and DJ duo Tracksploitation will help you get your groove on. Buy tickets.
5. Ta-Nehisi Coates at University of Pittsburgh: March 20, 6:30 p.m.
He received the coveted MacArthur Genius Grant in 2015, was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2016, and is outspoken on Twitter, where he addresses current events and race relations while engaging with his 833,000-plus followers. Fans of the award-winning American author, journalist, and educator Ta-Nehisi Coates should mark their calendars now for his very special local appearance at the William Pitt Assembly Room. A highlight of the 17th annual Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series, the reading is free (Please note: there will NOT be a book signing with Coates as previously reported here). Author of the award-winning books, The Beautiful Struggle and Between the World and Me, Coates is a former writer for The Village Voice and The Atlantic. He is the recipient of numerous prestigious accolades, such as the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism and the George Polk Award. Most recently, Coates wrote 11 issues of Marvel Comics’ Black Panther series, which became the first comic book to feature a black superhero when it debuted in the 1960s.
6. FUSE@PSO at Heinz Hall: March 22, 6:30 p.m.
Radiohead and Brahms. Beethoven and Coldplay. To some, these may seem like incongruous pairings, but in the mind of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Conductor Steve Hackman, they are fruitful fodder for his genre-bending concert series. Continually seeking out cutting-edge composers to mine, mashup and reinvent—and forging refreshing connections between historic and contemporary musical genres—Hackman is now tapping into he artistry of Tchaikovsky and Drake for the next edition of FUSE. The world premiere performance will weave Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 with 12 Drake songs, including “We’re Going Home” and “Hotline Bling,” and will showcase rapper Jecorey “1200” Arthur and vocalists Malia Katherine Civetz, India Carney and Mario Jose. Arrive at 5 p.m. for a lively happy hour (in the tranquil garden, weather permitting) featuring cocktails, snacks, activities, and mingling with the musicians. The concert is open seating with drinks allowed. Buy tickets.