New Projects Are Passing Strange

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Whether you’re slogging to work in below-freezing drizzle (thanks, New York) or basking in the first, warm days of sunny Spring — there’s one thing we all still have in common. Loving new projects! Are you with me?! Check out a few of our favorites from this week, below, and seek out even more on our always-surprising Discover Projects page.

Midwest Premiere of Passing Strange — by Baliwick Chicago

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Here is the thing: I’ve been wonderfully fortunate to have seen a ton — nay, a butt-ton! — of theater, and I can honestly say without hesitation that Passing Strange is The Greatest Musical of Our Time. (Ed’s Note: You don’t even have to like musicals to enjoy it. You can even go so far as to hate musicals, and you’ll still enjoy it. Let’s bet $5. Let’s bet $5 right now.) Passing Strange is a powerhouse revelation. It is a highly nuanced, hilarious, sincere, empowering, brilliant, and beautiful exploration of what it means to be a young person on the verge of adulthood. In this show, that young person happens to be an artist who happens to be black in a place that happens to be 1970s South Central. Journeying from L.A. to Amsterdam, Berlin, and back in search of “the real,” Passing Strange is a show about the explosive intersections and epic synergies of race, class, individuality, sex, drugs, rock and the place we can’t help but call home. This Spring, Chicago’s Bailiwick Society intends to bring the Midwest an experience that Spike Lee knew he had to commit to film. Heads up to the Heartland: Run.Don’t.Walk. — Elisabeth H.

PDXYAR and the Quest for a Pirate Ship — by Jaime Kirk

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The historical fictioneers of PDXYAR (pronounced “Pee-Dee-Ex Yaaaarrrrr”) excel at piracy, and not the internet kind. These swashbucklers hail from a much older piratical tradition, embracing skills like swordplay, cannon firing, tomahawk throwing, and whip work. The one thing they’re missing? A pirate ship! They’re creating a 48-foot scale model of the HMY Mary that they can then use as a backdrop and stage for their traveling show. But don’t worry, the ship won’t be hitting the high seas any time soon. It’s a modular design meant to stay safely on land, and quite frankly, these pirates are less about plundering and more about performing. Anyways, if you’ve started watching their video (featuring knife-throwing, fire AND explosions) then you probably won’t make it to this sentence…so I’m just gonna go now. — Cindy A.

Dreamscape Memory Cave - by rainb0wLightning

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I’d never heard of Cavescapes before, but as someone who spent the majority of his youth draping blankets over bunkbeds and putting tents in the middle of my room, Akron, Ohio’s rainb0wLightning’s Dreamscape Memory Cave tapped into a memory I seemingly tucked into some odd nook in a crevice in the back of my mind. Nostalgia kicks galore at the duo’s upcoming installation, which will be as much an art opening as a slumber party. Rad. — Mike M.

Hella Bitter Citrus Cocktail Bitters — by Benjamin Ahr Harrison

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I like this guy because he knows what he wants out of life: to wear a pocket square, and “to make the world a more bitter place.” He said that in his video, that’s not just my interpretation. The label apparently has a picture of his face on it, which I also support. If you are going to manufacture your own cocktail bitters in what I can only assume is the basement of your Williamsburg apartment, you might as well put your face on the label your print off in your friend’s graphic design studio down the block. He wants to make a batch of 50, and while he could use some help in the Creative Rewards Department (right down the hall from the Pitch Video That Connects Your Project to An Audience on a Personal Level), I have to love a creator that just wants to make their cocktail bitters and share them with the world! I am not even totally sure what cocktail bitters are! But I think having them in your cabinet is a crucial step in adulthood. — Meaghan O.

Gigantic Sequins, a literary arts journal, issue 2.2. — by Kimberly Ann Southwick

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This project just goes to show that Mom had it right: “Just be yourself.” The ambitious and, frankly, adorable crew behind literary arts journal Gigantic Sequins are not “hi-fi,” but they’re articulate, thoughtful, and clever. Yes, that is a fake mustache. Yes, that is a well-placed poster on her bedroom wall which features the mags logo (cuuuute!). Yes, I want a copy of this uniquely designed, bi-annual, black-and-white, literarily-inclined work of art. Yes, I do. Side note: did I just make up a word? — Cassie M.

AxleArt Haiku Roadsign Project — by Axle Contemporary

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Not only do these mobile-gallery-ites ooze with southwestern good cheer, they also have a new bright idea to letter a roadside sign with haiku. Earlier in its life, the sign they’ll soon thrift advertised the coldest beer in town and then the hottest chile in the Española valley. But as they say, “not everything that is cool is in the fridge and not all things hot are edible.” Thus, this sign’s future as a rotating poetry gallery. The plan is to feature two different haiku (one on each side of the sign) each week for four months during summer ‘11 as it makes its way around Santa Fe for drivers, bikers, and pedestrians to enjoy. ¡Que Viva La Poesia! (and I quote, believe it or not!). — Daniella J.

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