I can't decide which would be better. Going to Jessica Holter's show tonight in Carnegie with absolutely no idea of what to expect. Or, on the other hand, being familiar with her work as an author, orator, poet, comedian and "celebrated activist for sexual health" who goes by the name "Ghetto Girl Blue."
"She told me she was going to do a poetry cabaret," said Kim Crawford, general manager of Off the Wall Theater, where Ms. Holter will be performing. "That's how she explained the show to me."
Well, let's see how Yvonne Curtis described Ms. Holter's show in a recent article in Upscale Magazine:
"Far from your ordinary poet, wife, mother, performer, and entrepreneur, Ghetto Girl Blue encompasses the wisdom of your grandmother, the cutting edge of the girl next door, and the confidence of a mature, seasoned woman who knows what she desires, and boldly goes after it," Ms. Curtis wrote.
"She has been featured on HBO's "Real Sex," as well as BET. Her words are piercing, and often times provide shock value. So strap yourself in, sit back for the ride, and bask in the world of the sister better known as ... Ghetto Girl Blue."
The Off the Wall Theater sounds like the perfect place to strap yourself in tonight. The theater group, which relocated from Washington, Pa., last year, often serves as a showcase for works of interest and concern to women.
"We do focus on female playwrights because the percentage of female playwrights that actually are being produced across the country is minimal," said Ms. Crawford. "And there are so many amazing works out there by female playwrights. It's not that the men aren't great playwrights. It's just that they're the ones that are being produced more."
The Off the Wall Theater was started six years ago in Washington by the wife-and-husband team of Virginia and Hans Gruenert, who serve as artistic director and managing director, respectively. Here is what Post-Gazette theater critic Christopher Rawson wrote about their new digs on Main Street in Carnegie:
"This other place is a handsome new 96-seat thrust stage theater with such additional attractions as a capacious lobby, ample dressing rooms, a scene shop, a well-equipped control booth and plenty of adjacent parking," he said. "There's also plenty of money and sweat equity. The lobby even has a first-class espresso machine and a staff member who knows how to use it."
"A lot of our audience base and our talent are from Pittsburgh," Ms. Crawford said in explaining the move. "So, as much as we loved Washington, we wanted to get closer to the city.
"And we've been very well-received here. Carnegie is on the rise. There's a lot of new businesses that are supportive of the arts, and they've welcomed us with open arms. It's a great little community."
The theater's resident company produces four shows a year, targeting plays making their Pittsburgh premieres. So far they have presented "The Other Place," "Gruesome Playground Injuries," and "The Speed Queen."
The rest of the time, the theater opens its doors to visitors, such as Ms. Holter tonight.
"Tomorrow night, for example, we have a V-Day fundraiser called 'Stop the Violence Against Women and Young Girls,'" Ms. Crawford said. "We'll have seven ladies from the Pittsburgh Passion -- the local women's football team -- who are going to do monologues. They're doing readings from 'A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer.' You ought to see them on stage. We had a rehearsal and they're awesome."
The shows have attracted steady crowds.
"We have a diverse following," Ms. Crawford said. "Not only the local arts community, supporting one another. We have a lot of first-timers coming in and checking out the space. We have our regulars who have followed us from Washington. And, because of the nature of some of our content, we see a lot of college students.
"You get new folks coming in and they tell us they're going to be back. And they might bring a friend along. So we continue to expand our audience base and grow as a company, which is exciting."
Is there a chance that Carnegie might find tonight's show too edgy?
"That's the great thing about theater," Ms. Crawford said. "It's open to supporting people of different genres. Folks aren't always going to like what you do. But that's the beauty of the arts. Everybody has an opportunity to express themselves."
Off the Wall Theater is located at 25 W. Main St. "Ghetto Girl Blue" begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are priced at $25 and $40.
Check it out!
Get a preview of tonight's event!
Off the Wall Theater website: http://www.pittsburghtheaterrental.com/
Jessica Holter website: http://www.jessicaholter.com/Index.html
If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and we'll see if we can get some of our friends to join you. Contact Dan Majors at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1456.
This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/