The election of Barack Obama was hardly the first time people considered degrees of "Blackness." Slavery spawned a vocabulary of ancestral fractions, with people of mixed descent being described as "mulattoes," "quadroons," "octaroons" and more, depending on how much European and African blood had mixed in their family histories. Julius Lyles has been exploring the idea of "Blackness" in his own work; he joined with Heather C. Terry to curate Black Is . . . Black Ain't in tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Lakeland Community College. The show brings together 50 works by more than a dozen artists from Northeast Ohio. From 6-9 p.m. Monday, January 18, there will be an artist reception, which includes poetry performances in tribute to Dr. King, in the gallery (7700 Clocktower Dr., Kirtland, 440.525.7000, lakelandcc.edu). The show runs through January 28.
PlayhouseSquare has announced that it will host the International Children's Festival May 3-8. The festival offers Cleveland area families a slew of opportunity to see shows from around the world, aimed at young audiences. For example, Teatro Di Piazza D'Occassione, of Italy, brings Farfalle, a movement, sound and imagery performance that portrays the life cycle of butterflies. The Puppet State Theatre Company of Scotland brings a stage adaptation of the Jean Giono story of reforestation, The Man Who Planted Trees. And from the USA, the Dream Jam Band —which lots of kids have seen on PBS — will perform their pop-influenced kid rock. There's plenty more. Go to playhousesquare.com for details and performance times.
Playwright Michael Oatman's take on the men behind the East Coast vs. West Coast hip-hop war, Eclipse: The War Between Pac and B.I.G., had its premiere in a semi-staged production last year at Karamu. The company will give it a full production opening March 26. And national magazine American Theatre has taken note. It will feature the play and playwright in the Front and Center column of its March issue, according to Karamu artistic director Terrence Spivey.
Countertenor Philippe Jaroussky won the French equivalent of a Grammy in two of the past four years. He's booked to sing Baroque music with Apollo's Fire in 2011, but Cleveland audiences can get a preview when he gives a recital at 8 p.m. Saturday, January 16, at the Cleveland Institute of Music's Mixon Hall (11021 East Blvd., cim.edu, 216. 320.0012 ex. 1). Tickets: $25-$45.