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Lisa Jarnot returns for "BIG NIGHT"

The assertion that the poetic "self" is necessarily a linguistic construct is a central tenet for all post-modern writers, but few have explored its lyric residue as productively as Lisa Jarnot has.

Ms. Jarnot, who is the featured reader at Just Buffalo Literary Center's first "BIG NIGHT!" event of 2011 at 8 tonight in the Western New York Book Arts Center, 468 Washington St. (near Mohawk St.), is a Buffalo-area native who has become a leading voice in innovative poetries and poetics as well as a significant presence on the New York City poetry scene.

"It would be difficult for me to talk about my identity as a writer without acknowledging first my identity as a reader," wrote Jarnot in her essay "On Identity," prepared for a 1998 St. Mark's Poetry Project symposium. "What I learned to do early in life, as a survival mechanism of sorts, was to invent a self, or a composite of selves, as if my own life was formed out of a distant memory of who all the other versions of me had been throughout the history of my kind."

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Scott Behrend on 'Bitch Bares All'

Today's Gusto cover story takes a look at some productions to look out for across the next several months. One of those shows is Lisa Vitrano's original one-woman show "Bitch Bares All," which opens tonight in the Road Less Traveled Theatre. Last year, News videographer Joseph Popiolkowski and I sat down with RLTP artistic director Scott Behrend to chat about the play. Here's what he had to say:

--Colin Dabkowski

The Thursday Theater Roundup

Buffalo stages will be quite busy this coming weekend, with classics like the Irish Classical Theatre Company's "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" to relative rarities like American Repertory Theatre of Western New York's production of Sam Shepard and Patti Smith's "Cowboy Mouth," which opens Friday in Buffalo East.

Tomorrow's Gusto cover story takes a look at some shows to watch out for over the next few months. But for now, here's a glimpse at what our critics recommend this week:

Buffalo United Artists Theatre
Justin Ryan and John Kaczorowski star in Buffalo United Artists' production of "Anita Bryant Died For Your Sins." Photo by Sharon Cantillon / The Buffalo News.

"Anita Bryant Died For Your Sins," through Feb. 12 in the Buffalo United Artists Theatre. From the review (coming in Friday's Gusto): "Playwright Brian Christopher Williams has made a valiant and at points successful attempt to evoke the joys and frustrations of growing up gay in a small town before the advent of AIDS. The charm of the script -- thanks to excellent performances by Justin Ryan and the rest of this gifted cast and Chris Kelly's ever-savvy direction -- can't help but shine through." --Colin Dabkowski

Diane Curley and Neal Moeller in the Irish Classical Theatre Company's "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," through Feb. 6 in the Irish Classical Theatre Company's Andrews Theatre. From the review: "The brilliance of the play’s construction and its crackling dialogue, in order to have their full and devastating effect, have to be matched by the director and cast. For the most part, director Greg Natale and his actors deliver. [Neal] Moeller visibly seethes with disdain for everyone — including himself. It is a thrill to watch him go ego-to-ego with [Dan] Walker’s Big Daddy, who spouts his own peculiar brand of disgust. But while Curley, as Maggie, does catty quite well, she refuses to allow even a spark of warmth or vulnerability through the veneer. But with Natale’s keen attention to detail, the show’s natural pacing and the talents of the cast and production team, this “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is itself far too rare to be normal." --Colin Dabkowski

Promo shot landscape & closest
David Butler and Tim Newell star in "Gutenberg! The Musical!" in the Alt Theatre.

"Gutenberg! The Musical!" through Feb. 5 in the Alt Theatre. From the review: "No profound truths were uncovered, no shocking insights into the human condition revealed, no conceptual depths plumbed. The show is simply two straight hours of the most low-brow, crass and depraved theater we’ve seen in Buffalo for some time. For all those reasons and more, it was wonderful." --Colin Dabkowski

THIRD Press Photo
Eileen Dugan and Patrick Cameron in "Third," running through Feb. 6 in the Kavinoky Theatre.

"Third," through Feb. 6 in the Kavinoky Theatre. From the review (coming Friday): " The production is solid, moving at a quick pace with a short intermission and it's over before you look twice at your watch. Wasserstein died of cancer at age 55, not long after finishing this play, and you can't help making assumptions of how her illness may have affected her writing. [Protagnoist] Laurie has a 'therapy session' monologue to help anchor the play, but other scenes seem out of place, even unnecessary -- especially a feel-good ending that could be excised with no harm done at all. But the actors carry it off splendidly, handling the smart dialogue with finesse, although everyone does sound a lot like Wasserstein." --Melinda Miller

"I Am a Man," through Feb. 5 in Subversive Theatre's Manny Fried Playhouse. From the review: "Annette Daniels-Taylor’s direction captures the integrity of these men’s stories, employing a number of theatrical devices that collectively work in harmony. In other hands, these dramatic layers might have appeared thrown together or disconnected, but here they complement not only each other, but also the text." --Ben Siegel

GustoTV: An Expert's Guide to the Weekend

Andrew Galarneau hosts this week's episode of GustoTV. He gets the scoop on club concerts from Jeff Miers, theater from Colin Dabkowski and classical music from Mary Kunz Goldman.

Reynolds Price (1933-2011)

Reynolds Price, the prolific North Carolina-based fiction writer, essayist, literary scholar, memoirist, and longtime professor of English at Duke University, who was widely considered his generation's foremost successor to the Southern literary tradition of William Faulkner, Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor, died Thursday in Durham, N.C., of complications following a heart attack he suffered last Saturday. He was 77.

Price was the author of more than 40 books, including his debut novel "A Long and Happy Life" (1962), with its gamboling, paragraph-long opening sentence that evoked both Faulkner's baroque narrative style and the post-war energy of Mailer, Bellow, Kerouac and the Beats. The novel was published in its entirety as a supplement to Harper's Magazine, and established Price at age 30 as the presumptive heir to and spokesperson for the Southern literary voice in the United States.

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News Pop Music Critic Jeff Miers chat live at 11 a.m.

Iron & Wine to play Town Ballroom

Iron & Wine's newly announced tour includes a stop at Town Ballroom on Friday, April 15.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at Tickets.com outlets.

The band's new release, "Kiss Each Other," comes out Tuesday.

Remembering Milton Rogovin

In late 2009, the Burchfield Penney Art Center hosted an exhibition of photographs from Milton Rogovin's series documenting the residents of Buffalo's Lower West Side. In honor of Rogovin, who died this morning at 101, we're reposting a slideshow of Rovogin's photos with Gansworth reading poems from their collaboration, "From the Western Door to the Lower West Side."

Kenneth Tynan on 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof'

In doing a little reading on "Cat on  Hot Tin Roof," now onstage at the Andrews Theatre in an Irish Classical Theatre Company production, I ran across this interesting paragraph in a profile of Tennessee Williams by the late British critic Kenneth Tynan. He's writing about the difference between the play as originally written and in its Broadway debut, directed and modified by Elia Kazan:

“'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' was eighteen months in the writing. I now think it his best work, but when I first saw it, it struck me as an edifice somehow tilted, like a giant architectural folly. It was august, all right, and turbulent, but there were moments of unaccountable wrongness, as if a kazoo had intruded into a string quartet. When I saw the published text and read, side by side, the original third act and the version that was presented on Broadway, I guessed at once what had happened. The kazoo was Kazan."

-Kenneth Tynan, "Profiles"

A look into the Albright-Knox's 'Artists in Depth'

Take a look at this slideshow, which features rarely seen works by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Fernand Leger and Sonia Delaunay that will soon be on view in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery as part of its collection-based exhibition "Artists in Depth."

--Colin Dabkowski

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