Monthly Archives: October 2016

Travel apps you shoudn’t leave home without

There are few possessions as valuable to the modern traveler as their smartphone. Not only does this compact, easy to carry device offer value through a wealth of information, it can also help you save a packet on your next trip. Via a huge array of inexpensive – and often free – apps, your ultimate travel experience can be just a few taps away, and at a budget that suits you.

Check out our summary of the top five money-saving apps you shouldn’t leave home without.

Kiwi.com: Kiwi.com’s unique algorithm will help you find the cheapest flights on the market. It sifts through enormous amounts of online data to quickly source you the best deal. Kiwi.com is useful for finding specific journeys or even if you’re flexible regarding your travel date or point of departure.

Their interactive map shows the prices of different travel destinations, so if you’re not decided on where to travel, use this as an inspiration board to see how far you can get within your budget! To keep you up to date on your travel plans, the app offers an option to receive automatic push notifications regarding your booking status.

Maps.Me: Offers completely free navigation and unlimited access to maps around the world. As it relies only on your GPS signal, you can even use the app offline, meaning there’s no need to pay expensive roaming charges or for additional data from your provider.

You can also pinpoint locations you would like to visit, curating your own free city tours before your journey starts. Just remember to download the map of your destination before you leave Wi-Fi!

GasBuddy: If you hire a car whilst abroad, don’t forget to download GasBuddy. This helpful app allows you to find the cheapest gas station in your vicinity using either your GPS or by inputting your address. As many of the prices are user based, GasBuddy rewards contributors with points for sending in updated details on a station’s prices. And high scorers are eligible for regular raffles of prizes such as free fuel!

Couchsurfing: Offering the ultimate in budget accommodation, the Couchsurfing app allows you to search for locals who have opened their homes to guests, free of charge. Offering one of the most authentic traveling experiences by staying with people who live in your chosen destination, Couchsurfing even insist no money changes hands. However, you can always take your hosts out for dinner if you really want to show your appreciation.

GetYourGuide: GetYourGuide offers a huge range of hand-picked tours and activities at the lowest prices, meaning you shouldn’t forget to check this app to make sure you get the best deals for your travel itinerary. It’s also perfect for on-the-go inspiration and even makes it possible to book activities last minute. With many exclusive offers, GetYourGuide is the key to fun but budget-friendly, memorable travel experiences.

All apps mentioned are available on both iOS and Android.

The world has long noted: The Gettysburg Address

Illustration of Lincoln's Address at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery, Nov. 19, 1863. Copyright 1905, Sherwood, Lithograph Co. Chicago --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Illustration of Lincoln’s Address at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery, Nov. 19, 1863. Copyright 1905, Sherwood, Lithograph Co. Chicago — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

November 19th marks the 153rd anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. We all know it, or at least the opening line. We all had to learn it in school at some point. Remember?

It starts like this: “Standing beneath this serene sky, overlooking these broad fields now reposing from the labors of the waning year, the mighty Alleghenies dimly towering before us, the graves of our brethren beneath our feet, it is with hesitation that I raise my poor voice to break the eloquent silence of God and Nature.”

Wait, that can’t be right. It was President Abraham Lincoln that delivered it, right? Actually, no, it is not. The Gettysburg Address was a two-hour oration delivered by the Honorable Edward Everett. Most have never heard of either, yet it was indeed identified as the Gettysburg Address on the day of the battlefield dedication.

President Lincoln’s speech was listed as ‘Dedicatory Remarks by the President of the United States.’ It was only after Everett’s long oratory, although two hours was common at that time, that the ten sentence, less than four minute presentation, was delivered. This dedication would stand as one of the most significant speeches in United States history. On this anniversary, we only see it fitting to share those great words again.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

There are five known manuscripts of President Lincoln’s dedication, each named for the person who received it. Each version differed a little from the other. The Bliss version is considered the standard text of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as it was hand titled and signed by the President himself. The John Hay and John Nicolay (his personal secretaries) versions are the ones within the Library of Congress in sealed containers with argon gas to prevent deterioration. The forth, the Everett copy is on display at the Treasures Gallery of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum. The final copy, the Bancroft copy is currently held by the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections at Cornell University.

Before giving his speech, President Lincoln had a severe headache and was dizzy, seeming almost mournful and haggard. He later came down with a mild form of smallpox. He pushed through it anyway.

So much for “The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but can never forget what they did here.”

Story by Fred Terling for Pennsylvania Bridges

It’s your right! A history of voting rights in America

lbjmlkI often hear, when faced with choosing in elections where neither candidate seems particularly desirable, “why vote? My vote doesn’t matter anyway!” Hopefully at the conclusion of this article, you will change your mind on this all important right.

This year particularly requires your participating in your democracy. At 52 years of age, I am embarrassed over this election and the constant negative barrage and 24 hour news cycles of the circus it has become. That’s why you should care even more. Yes, reader of Pennsylvania Bridges, I am talking to you. We live in an information age and libraries and vast resources are at your fingertips with the internet.

I know it is fun to swap recipes, chuckle at cute cat videos and catch up with old classmates. However, everything you need to know about party candidates, for whatever office, is out there too. Their voting records, videos of their presentation, legislation they’ve backed, charitable institutions they’ve supported, etc. It’s all there with a little bit of digging. Don’t necessary rely on cable media to deliver opinions for you. Check the source!

suffrage2With that in mind, I’d like to take the opportunity to provide some information that I found, simply with a few keywords to offer that “why should I vote?” person.

The right to vote wasn’t exactly a universal right in this country. For white men it has been, but obviously they aren’t the only class of people in the United States. The struggle to get that right for women and blacks came at a pretty high cost.

Women’s suffrage had strong local movements in the later part of the 1800’s, but not recognized nationally until 1920. We have all heard of Susan B. Anthony. Most only know her as the woman on the dollar coin. Who was she really and what earned that significant honor to be placed on the coin?

She became the leader of two organizations that merged into the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA). The two prominent organizations at the time before the merger, had been hostile bipartisan rivals for years and could have arguably disrupted their own agenda by failing to pull together for the central core of their existence.

Anthony was the first woman to vote in 1872 and arrested for her act. The trial was widely publicized and instead of quashing the suffrage movement, it gave it more momentum. After the trial, in which Anthony was not permitted to speak, she responded, “…you have trampled underfoot every vital principle of our government. My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, are all alike ignored.”

This began the decades-long campaign for an amendment to the US Constitution that would enfranchise women the right to vote. The seed had been planted.

Years later in 1916, Alice Paul formed the Nation Women’s Party (NWP). Over 200 members of the NWP, known as the “Silent Sentinels,” were arrested while picketing the White House. Some of the members went on a hunger strike, declared mental deviants, institutionalized and force fed through feeding tubes. This did not dissuade the movement. The NAWSA had become two million members strong and under the new leadership of Carrie Chapman Catt. It brought its national agenda to Washington, DC. Following non-stop pressure on US Congress and the State Legislatures, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified on August 26, 1920. It states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall NOT be defined or abridged by the United States or by any State on the account of sex.”

In stark comparison, a different story emerged for our African-American brothers and sisters. Following the Civil War in 1870, 50 years before women could vote, the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified prohibiting states from denying a male citizen the right to vote based on “race, color or previous servitude.” In the following decades this proved to be nothing more than words on paper as people of color were bombarded with various discriminatory practices and roadblocks from exercising this right. This was particularly egregious in the south.

Much like the suffrage movement, it would take decades until this right was actually secured. The civil rights movement began in the 1950’s not long after President Truman desegregated the armed forces with Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948. Yes, the military was segregated until 1948. Black members who served our country could not eat with the white soldiers, attend their clubs, serve in the same units, etc.

Many events helped to shape the civil rights movement. One of the most famous of course is Rosa Parks. On December 1, 1955 Ms. Parks refused to move a row back on a Montgomery, Alabama bus because a white man had entered and the ordinance stated there was to be a certain number of rows between black and white passengers. She was arrested and fined $14 including court costs. This led to the Montgomery Bus boycott.

The tipping point for most Americans that this type of segregation was not only still prominent, but running rampant took place on March 7, 1965. Peaceful participants had gathered in Selma, Alabama for a march to the state capitol in Montgomery. The marchers were met by Alabama state troopers and attacked brutally with nightsticks, tear gas and whips when they refused to turn back. All of this was captured on television. America had woken up to the problem.

In the wake of Selma, as it had become known to historians, President Johnson called for comprehensive voting rights. He also called into light some of the devious ways electors were making it more difficult for black voters to exercise their rights. On August 6, 1965, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law.

Many leaders in the civil rights movement came to prominence during this time. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, Medgar Evers, Robert Kennedy.

All would be assassinated during the turbulent decade for their standing and beliefs that all men and women are created equal.

This concludes my brief history lesson. The next time you think your vote doesn’t matter, think of the women who were institutionalized and tube fed against their wills. Reflect on the beatings at Selma. Think about how much more quickly women’s suffering would may have come about if the two organizations worked together. Finally, remember all of those who took a podium to speak out against social injustice and lost their lives to bullets from cowards, just because they thought a different way.

One final note. While suggesting at the beginning of the piece we use the information available on the internet, it is of the utmost importance we all still meet and converse face to face. Sometimes standing on completely different sides of things helps us to find common ground. We still have a lot of work to do America, but if we do it together, all things are possible.

Story by Fred Terling for Pennsylvania Bridges

PA Freemasons support “Raising a Reader”

GutzyGear_4KidsGroupShotAIn their continuing support for communities across Pennsylvania, the Masons have provided more than a quarter million dollars to be used for a statewide program that will improve the literacy of children throughout Pennsylvania. The program will be coordinated by Raising A Reader, a national nonprofit organization that provides resources and guidance for families to implement home-based literacy routines.

The Masons of Pennsylvania have donated $270,000, which will be used to bring the Raising A Reader program to approximately 2,500 children and their families. The program will be implemented through more than 60 public elementary school classrooms across Pennsylvania.

“As Freemasons, we understand the value of family and the importance of education,” said Raymond Dietz, Grand Master of Masons of Pennsylvania. “More importantly, we believe in helping those who are less fortunate; nearly 80 percent of the families we will help through this program are at or below the poverty level. Partnering with Raising A Reader allows us to commit our resources to something that is family-oriented and important to the community.”

Children who participate in the program will be given a Raising A Reader book bag with several age-appropriate books to take home and read with their parents. Every week the bags will be rotated into children’s homes, with approximately 100 books being brought into the child’s home every year. The program will also provide support and guidance to help families develop, practice and maintain home-based literacy habits.

“The Masons of Pennsylvania have enabled us to put a program in place that will have a significant impact on the literacy of children throughout Pennsylvania,” said Gabrielle Miller, Ed.D., president and CEO of Raising A Reader. “Thousands of children will have access to books and, more importantly, their parents will have the tools necessary to teach their children to become readers.”

Freemasonry is the oldest, largest and most widely known fraternity in the world, based on the cardinal virtues of brotherly love, charity and truth. Its roots can be traced back hundreds of years in Europe. Today, there are more than 105,000 members statewide, 1.2 million members nationally and 3.5 million members worldwide. Freemasons contribute more than $2 million a day to charity. For more information about Pennsylvania Masonry, including how to join, visit pamasons.org or call 215-988-1901.

Raising A Reader is a 501c3 charitable organization dedicated to helping families develop, practice and maintain literacy habits for children ages 0-8 that are critical for a child’s success in school and in life. The program is evidence-based, with more than 32 independent evaluations showing that Raising A Reader significantly improves language and literacy skills, cognitive development, communication and comprehension skills, school readiness and social competence. Raising A Reader is implemented through a network of community partners that comprise more than 2,500 locations across the country including public school systems, libraries, afterschool programs, community agencies and other organizations both public and private. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, Raising

A Reader was founded in 1999 and has served more than 1.25 million families nationwide.

FMI: RaisingAReader.org

PBT to perform haunting ballet “Giselle”

ballet2016_-412

Photo: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Artists Amanda Cochrane & Yoshiaki Nakano. Photo by Duane Rieder.

Three days before Halloween, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre opens its 47th season with a story of haunting beauty: “Giselle” with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra, onstage Oct. 28-30, at the Benedum Center.

In honor of Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr’s 20th anniversary season, the company will unveil new scenic and costume designs unique to PBT’s interpretation of this 19th century classic.

“Giselle” is a masterpiece of the Romantic era, when themes in ballet shifted to nature, individuality and the supernatural. The inspiration was a Slavonic legend of the Wilis, ghosts of young maidens who were jilted before their wedding day. As the legend goes, their spirits haunt the highways in the dark of night, luring young men and forcing them to dance to their deaths.

“Giselle” premiered in 1841 at the Paris Opera Ballet with choreography after Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot and score by French composer Adolphe Adam. Especially for this season, Maestro Charles Barker and the PBT Orchestra will revive the original Adam score.

“Giselle is one of my favorite ballets of all time. I’ll never forget the first time I saw my wife Marianna Tcherkassky, our ballet mistress, perform it,” said Terrence S. Orr, PBT artistic director. “She was one of the most renowned Giselles of her generation, dancing opposite partners like Mikhail Baryshnikov at American Ballet Theatre. It was incredible to see the soul searching and sensitivity she put into her work. For both of us, it’s very moving to see a new generation of ballerinas continue to put so much of themselves into this character.”

The story opens with a blossoming village girl, euphoric in love. But Giselle’s hopes are soon shattered when she learns her love, masquerading as a peasant, is already engaged to a noblewoman from his own class.  Here the story unmoors from the mortal world. When the curtain rises on Act II, Giselle is no longer among the living.

The scenic and costume designs are crucial to the story’s startling shift in setting. The ballet opens on the autumnal colors of a harvest festival. In Act II, fog rises between the trees of a moonlit forest as more than 20 veiled ballerinas – the Wilis – drift onto the stage in spectral tutus – opening one of ballet’s most famous “ballet en blanc” scenes.

PBT commissioned international artist Peter Farmer to conceive the costume and scenic designs, which will bring this world to life.

Starting with over a quarter mile of white tulle, PBT Costumier Janet Groom Campbell and her team have brought his sketches to life: drawing custom patterns, hand dying fabric and stitching and adorning a total of 85 costumes, including the 20 romantic tutus of the Corps de Ballet.

It all sets the stage for a heroine with a chilling character arc. For the ballerina, this role is iconic. As Giselle spirals from joie de vivre to darkness, her dancing shifts from effervescent leaps and turns to an ethereal weightlessness.

One of the pairs portraying the ill-fated love story of Giselle and Albrecht are PBT principals and real-life husband and wife, Alexandra Kochis and Christopher Budzynski. For Budzynski, this role will mark the final performance of his 10-year career with PBT. Following the performance, he plans to retire from the stage and share his talents with a new generation of dancers as a faculty member for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School.

“It has been a wonderful journey dancing here at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. There are many moments and people that I will hold close to my heart,” Budzynski said. “I am excited to begin making my transition towards working within the organization in other facets at this burgeoning point in its growth.”

For casting announcements and other information, visit pbt.org/giselle2016. Tickets start at $28, and are available at www.pbt.org, 412-456-6666 or the Box Office at Theater Square. Groups of 10 or more can save up to 50 percent on tickets by emailing groupsales@pittsburghballet.org or calling 412-454-9101.

Photo: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Artists Amanda Cochrane & Yoshiaki Nakano. Photo by Duane Rieder.

“Abstractionista – Impressions – Intuitive – Treasure”

melega-fall-postcard-2016“Abstractionista – Impressions – Intuitive – Treasure” are four words representing four artists, painters Mary Jean Kenton and Leslie Robbins, printmaker Thomas J. Norulak, and photographs by Dr. Jean Braun in a new exhibition at the Frank L. Melega Art Museum.

Leslie Robbins has been exhibiting at the Carnegie Art Museum and Westmoreland Museum of American Art. Her subject is dogs, painting in a style all her own.

Thomas J. Norulak is one of Pittsburgh’s most well known and respected printmakers. A prolific artist, Norulak is constantly exploring the potential of the medium.

Mary Jean Kenton has spent much of her artistic life focused on color. Her art has a sometimes subtle, sometimes brash, juxtaposition of colors, shapes, and values.

Dr. Jean Braun will be exhibiting her photographs that will be featured in a new novel by author Jean Gottlieb Bradley “Beyond the Crossroads a Journey of Love”. The fictional novel continues the saga of Joan Bradley, introduced in the successful “At the Crossroads: A Southern Daughter’s Story”. The exhibition will run through Sunday, Dec. 18.

FMI: melegaartmuseum.com

JazzLive, a year-round FREE live jazz series

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and BNY Mellon Jazz Presents JazzLive, a year-round FREE live jazz series taking place at the Backstage Bar, Cabaret at Theater Square and Katz Plaza. Open to the public, this popular Pittsburgh Cultural Trust music series showcases some of the region’s finest jazz musicians every Tuesday from 5-7 PM in the heart of the Cultural District. From September to May, all performances take place in the Backstage Bar at Theater Square, 655 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA.

This season will feature local favorites, as well as flavors from every genre, including Latin and reggae. The fall season will end with a holiday performance by Benny Benack III, a Pittsburgh-born musician who, at the age of the 25, is heralded as one of the most versatile and virtuosic voices of his generation.

The following is a schedule of the fall JazzLive performances:

October 11 – David Throckmorton

October 18 – Kevin Howard

October 25 – Stevee Wellons

November 1 – DK Cypher

November 8 – Jevon Rushton

November 15 – Kenny Blake

November 22 – Dr. Nelson Harrison

November 29 – Thomas Wendt

December 6 – Yoko Suzuki

December 13 – Poogie Bell

December 20 – Roger Humphries

December 27 – Benny Benack III: The Holiday Session

For more information and a full schedule, call 412-456-6666.

Costumes of THE WIZ LIVE! on display

THE WIZ LIVE! -- Season: 2015 -- Pictured: (l-r) Amber Riley as Addapearle, Uzo Aduba as Glinda, Mary J. Blige as Evillene -- (Photo by: Paul Gilmore/NBC)

THE WIZ LIVE! — Season: 2015 — Pictured: (l-r) Amber Riley as Addapearle, Uzo Aduba as Glinda, Mary J. Blige as Evillene — (Photo by: Paul Gilmore/NBC)

FashionAFRICANA is pleased to announce the world premiere of COSTUMES of THE WIZ LIVE!, presented in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust at the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The exhibition is free and open to the public and will be on display through November 30.

This one-of-a-kind multi-media exhibition celebrates the work of Tony Award winning costume designer, Paul Tazewell and features costumes and other theatrical pieces from the critically-acclaimed NBC televised broadcast, THE WIZ LIVE!, directed by Kenny Leon. Pittsburgh is the only city to see these costumes up close before they hit Broadway in 2017.

The exhibit will be located in the Claude Worthington Benedum Gallery,  Second Floor and gallery hours are Wednesday and Thursday: 11am-6pm; Friday and Saturday: 11am-8pm; Sunday: 10am-5pm.

Through characterization, theme, narrative, and a beloved film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz (1939), adults and children alike experienced the fantastic tale in a vivid new format. Through song, costuming, and set design, consumers of the new medium of film could envision what words could only partially convey.

In 1939, only 74 years after the abolition of slavery in the United States, the cultural contributions originated by African Americans were scarcely included within the mainstream entertainment and social landscape. The Yellow Brick Road may have embodied the pathway to the dreams of some, but it certainly was not true for all.

The Wiz! debuted on Broadway in 1975 and answered the call for a funky new and more inclusive interpretation of Baum’s tale. The musical piece won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Audiences filling the seats more closely resembled the diversity of characters portrayed in this newer more relevant rendition.

The Wiz Live! premiered live on NBC on December 3, 2015. Bursting on the scene of the small screen, the live broadcast was viewed by millions on the day of its debut.

Through the initiative and foresight of local arts organization FashionAFRICANA, the larger-than-live costumes of The Wiz Live! along with set pieces, drawings, and other engaging material serve as a testament to the fine workmanship, verve, and cultural excellence-the likes of which embodied and emboldened August Wilson himself.

Pictured top: (l-r) Amber Riley as Addapearle, Uzo Aduba as Glinda, Mary J. Blige as Evillene — (Photo by: Paul Gilmore/NBC)

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust offers accessibility services

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announced today that it remains committed to making performances and facilities accessible to all Pittsburgh Cultural Trust patrons and visitors to Trust facilities. Various amenities are available for people who are blind or have low vision, deaf or hard of hearing, and individuals with mobility disabilities. Guests at the August Wilson Center, Benedum Center, Byham Theater and Cabaret at Theater Square can anticipate the use of services that include: specialized playbills, audio-described performances, assisted listening devices, sign language interpretation, captioned performances and a host of parking and seating options.

The Trust invests in excess of $120,000 annually in improving accessibility and offering more opportunities for individuals with disabilities. In 2013, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust created a Guest Services Center at the Benedum Center (237 7th Street) where the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series is held (as well as a host of other programs produced by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and other Cultural District organizations). The area provides guests with an accessible entrance, access to a box-office representative, and a seamless way for guests to pick up their assisted listening devices, audio description headsets and closed captioning devices before the show. Among the audio description devices available is one developed by local individuals including Chris Evans and Stephani Ezatoff.

During the 2016-17 PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh season the following accommodations are available at the select performances included below.

American Sign Language Interpreted Performances take place on the final Sunday matinee of each Broadway run. Additionally, if there is a need for sign language interpretation for another Cultural Trust performance, please call 412-456-6666 and a representative would be happy to arrange the service. We request a minimum of two weeks to arrange the interpretive services. This service has been offered for PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh productions for the past 15 years. To reserve seats in the section, in view of the signers please email customerservice@trustarts.org or call 412-456-6666.

2016-2017 ASL Performance Schedule

Kinky Boots-Sunday, September 25 at 1 pm, Benedum Center; Finding Neverland-Sunday, October 23 at 1 pm, Benedum Center; A Christmas Story-Sunday, November 27 at 1 pm, Benedum Center; Cheers Live-Sunday, January 1 at 1 pm, Heinz Hall; Curious Incident-Sunday, January 8 at 1 pm, Heinz Hall; Something Rotten!-Sunday, February 5 at 1 pm, Benedum Center; The Book of Mormon-Sunday, February 26 at 1 pm, Benedum Center; Riverdance-Sunday, March 19 at 1 pm, Benedum Center; The King and I-Sunday, April 9 at 1 pm, Benedum Center; Fun Home-Sunday, April 16 at 1 pm, Heinz Hall; Dirty Dancing-Sunday, May 28 at 1 pm, Heinz Hall; and An American in Paris – A New Musical-Sunday, June 4 at 1 pm, Benedum Center

Audio Description, is a service designed for use by the blind and visually impaired. A trained describer details the action, set, props, and costumes seen on stage for the benefit of the audience members. The describer begins preshow notes 15 to 20 minutes prior to curtain.

To make use of this service, patrons can pick up a wireless Sennheiser headset from Guest Services. To check out a headset for use during the performance, be prepared to leave your state identification card, driver’s license, or other form of ID with the house staff member working the Guest Service Center. Your card will be returned to you upon receipt of a headset following the show. Headsets are distributed on a first-come first-serve basis.

In addition to the performances listed, Audio Description can also be provided upon request for any show at the Benedum Center or Byham Theater. We ask that we’re given two weeks’ notice to make the necessary preparations.

2016-2017 Audio Described Performances

Kinky Boots-Saturday, September 24 at 2 pm, Benedum Center; Finding Neverland-Saturday, October 23 at 2 pm, Benedum Center; A Christmas Story-Saturday, November 26 at 2 pm, Benedum Center; Something Rotten!-Saturday, February 4 at 2 pm, Benedum Center; The Book of Mormon-Saturday, February 25 at 2 pm, Benedum Center; Riverdance-Saturday, March 18 at 2 pm, Benedum Center; The King and I-Saturday, April 8 at 2 pm, Benedum Center; and An American in Paris – A New Musical-Saturday, June 3 at 2 pm, Benedum Center

The Closed Captioning technology involves an operator scrolling through the script, in time with what is taking place on stage. Patrons will be given hand held devices where text will appear in time with the dialog. The service is designed to benefit patrons who are deaf, hard of hearing and may use English as a second language.

2016-2017 Closed Captioned Performances

Kinky Boots-Sunday, September 25 at 1 pm, Benedum Center; Finding Neverland-Sunday, October 23 at 1 pm, Benedum Center; A Christmas Story-Sunday, November 27 at 1 pm, Benedum Center; Cheers Live-Sunday, January 1 at 1 pm, Heinz Hall; Curious Incident-Sunday, January 8 at 1 pm, Heinz Hall; Something Rotten!-Sunday, February 5 at 1 pm, Benedum Center; The Book of Mormon-Sunday, February 26 at 1 pm, Benedum Center; Riverdance-Sunday, March 19 at 1 pm, Benedum Center; The King and I-Sunday, April 9 at 1 pm, Benedum Center; Fun Home-Sunday, April 16 at 1 pm, Heinz Hall; Dirty Dancing-Sunday, May 28 at 1 pm, Heinz Hall; and An American in Paris – A New Musical-Sunday, June 4 at 1 pm, Benedum Center

Available amenities for individuals who are Blind or Have Low Vision:

Large Print Playbills available at all PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh shows, all Trust Presents shows, and all Citizen’s Bank Children’s Theater Series and EQT Bridge Theater Series shows. Braille Programs available at select events. Audio-Described Performances for select shows at the Benedum Center. Guide dogs gladly accommodated. Please inquire when buying tickets.

Available amenities for individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing:

Assistive Listening Devices available at the Benedum Center, Byham Theater, August Wilson Center, and Cabaret at Theater Square. Hearing loop technology for guests who have t-coil enabled hearing aids. Sign Language Interpretation at the last Sunday matinee of each Broadway show and upon request. Captioned Performances at the last Sunday evening of each Broadway show.

Available amenities for individuals who have Mobility Disabilities:

Accessible Parking located close to venues, Courtesy Wheelchairs, Curbside Assistance, Accessible Entrances, Accessible Seating & Accessible Restrooms

Doormen and ushers are available for assistance at every performance.

If you have specific questions, please feel free to ask your ticketing representative or call the facility directly:

August Wilson Center: 412-471-2833

Benedum Center: 412-456-2600

Byham Theater: 412-456-1350

Harris Theater: 412-456-1350

O’Reilly Theater: 412-316-8200

Wood Street Galleries: 412-471-5605

If a wheelchair location is desired, please notify the ticket service representative at the time of purchase.

This will help us ensure that the fixed seat will be removed prior to your arrival at the theater.

Legend of Stingy Jack: Origin of Jack-o-Lanterns

jackolanternsThey come in all shapes and sizes. Recently, even colors. The earth has a lot to do what eventually turns out on the vine, but we do all the carving and roasting of its seeds. The traditional has two eyes, a nose and jagged set of teeth. As carvers have become more creative, you can even invest in carving tools to layer the gourds into multi-dimensional works of art. These are the jack o’ lanterns.

Pumpkins have been around forever, but where did the idea to turn these common garden gourds into frightening monikers of Halloween originate? Well, it wasn’t always pumpkins. Originally it was turnips and potatoes. To understand the tradition, we must turn to Irish folklore.

It all begins with an Irish myth about a man named, “Stingy Jack.” As legend has it, Jack invited the devil for a drink. Well, considering his nickname, you can imagine how that went. When it was time to pay, Jack refused. He instead made a suggestion to the devil for him to turn himself into a coin so he could pay for the drinks. The devil went along and did so. Again, Jack being stingy, he decided to put the coin in his pocket next to a silver cross which prevented the devil from changing back to his true form. Of course this perturbed the devil to no end. Eventually after much pleading, Jack agreed to let the devil free. Of course our new stingy friend had a condition. The condition being that the devil would not bother Jack for an entire year. One additional condition was also added, if Jack were to die, he could not claim his soul.

The following year and one day, the devil was able to visit Jack again. He promptly did so. This time, Jack tricked him into a tree to pick a piece of fruit for them to share and catch up on what had transpired over their past year apart. As the devil climbed the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross in the bark so the devil could not get down from the tree.

stingyjackThis time, Jack’s condition was ten years of non-interference. The devil had no choice. He acquiesced.

Not long after their encounter, Jack died. God found Stingy Jack rather unsavory and denied him entrance into heaven. The devil, however, was upset at Jack’s multiple tricks on him and wanted to get even. Ah, but there was the condition of not being able to claim his soul. The devil decided to send Stingy Jack off into the night with only a burning coal as his light. Jack put the coal in a hollowed out turnip and has been roaming the earth ever since. This is when the Irish began referring to the ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern.”

In Ireland and Scotland people began carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them in windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other malevolent spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the tradition to the United States. Once they discovered that native pumpkins were so plentiful, they began carving pumpkins instead.

This Halloween when you place you Jack o’ Lanterns on the porch, keep an eye out for Stingy Jack!

Story by Fred Terling for Pennsylvania Bridges