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Twain House, Real Art Ways Hosting Talks by Performance Artists

Special To The Courant

Karen And Kate Are Coming

Real Art Ways and the Mark Twain House and Museum are joining forces to bring two noted performance artists of the 1980s and '90s to Hartford.

Kate Bornstein, the transgender icon whose performance pieces include "Hard Candy" and "The Opposite Sex is Neither," will give a talk on "Trans, Beyond the Tipping Point," 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at Real Art Ways.

Karen Finley, one of the famed "NEA Four" who had their grants from the National Endowment for the Arts rescinded in 1990 due to a politicization of the grant-giving process and the supposedly controversial nature of their performances, will be at the Mark Twain House on Feb. 17 at 7 p.m., signing and discussing the 25th anniversary edition of her groundbreaking book "Shock Treatment."

Neither of these appearances is technically a performance, but Finley and Bornstein are vibrant, engaging personalities who deliver messages stridently and entertainingly. Real Art Ways (which, in its early days as a performance space, hosted all of the NEA Four, plus Bornstein and many other key political performance artists) and the Mark Twain House (which recently hosted trans comedian Ian Harvie) are co-producing and co-promoting the appearances.

'Lion' Cubs

Benjamin Scheuer won't be the only person telling a musical story at Long Wharf Theatre in January. Inspired by the autobiographical story-with-music vibe of Scheuer's solo show "The Lion," Long Wharf is holding a "Sing Your Story" night on Monday, Jan. 25. It's not an open mike; performers will be chosen based on submissions of original songs (five minutes long or less), which will both be judged by a panel of Long Wharf judges and "liked" by the masses via YouTube. The artists chosen will perform live on the Long Wharf mainstage Jan. 25. The event will be hosted by actress/singer Megan Chenot of New Haven Theater Company and the band Mission Zero. Submissions must be uploaded between Jan. 1 and 15. More details, and an online form, are at

Nunsense Series

With Seven Angels Theater founder Semina DeLaurentis recently returning to her Sister Mary Amnesia habit for Seven Angels' 25th anniversary last year, it's worth noting that Dan Goggins, who created the show and its umpteen sequels, has produced a pilot episode for a potential "Nunsense" TV series. The show stars Darlene Love, Karen Ziemba (the Tony winner who was in "Sylvia" at the Long Wharf and "Much Ado About Nothing" at Hartford Stage), Beth Level, Dee Hoty, Lee Roy Reams, Christopher Sieber, Jeff Blumenkrantz, Mary Stout, Phyllis Smith, Bambi Jones and June Gable. Amen!

Opera Rockers

Two modern masters of the fine grungy art of rock opera are touring together in 2016. Titus Andronicus, the New Jersey band whose latest album is the loud, insightful five-act, three-disk opus "The Most Lamentable Tragedy," is hitting the road alongside Craig Finn. This includes a gig at Toad's Place in New Haven on March 25. "Lamentable Tragedy" is a feverish tale of dreams, depression and madness that contains numerous Shakespeare references.

Finn, whose Brooklyn-based band The Hold Steady is known for the religious-themed contemporary youth-culture rock opera "Separation Sunday" as well as a series of songs on other albums featuring the same main characters, has just released his second solo album, "Faith in the Future." These are concerts, sure, and not staged theater events, but take your narrative-based indie-rock exhibitions where you can find 'em. "Tommy" and "American Idiot" began as rock tours, remember.

Calderon Breaks Boundaries

The Yale Repertory Theatre has added another event to its avant-garde "No Boundaries" international performance series. It's the "Fundación Teatro a Mil production of Escuela," written and directed by Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderón. The play shows young activists planning to overthrow the Chilean government in the late 1980s, and examines the nature of political awareness and justifications for violence. The production was seen in Chicago in November and will be at the New York Public Theater's Under the Radar festival Jan. 13-17. The New Haven dates are Feb. 24-26 at Yale's Iseman Theater.

Get a Kick Out of Cole

Yale grad Cole Porter (class of '10) will get a Carnegie Hall concert in New York on June 7, honoring the 125th anniversary of his birth. The composer, whose "Bulldog" sports anthem is still sung at Yale football games, was born June 9, 1891, in Indiana.

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