The Best Things to Do in St. Louis This Week, April 28 to May 3

Cry Havoc is performed at the St. Louis Public Library's Central branch Saturday and Sunday as part of Shake 38.
Cry Havoc is performed at the St. Louis Public Library's Central branch Saturday and Sunday as part of Shake 38.

This weekend, see a series of art shows, catch a theatrical performance (free!) at the Central library or watch the dances of India. Whatever you do, don't stay home.

Here are our choices for the best picks this weekend, and into next week.

1. See a new show at the Reese Gallery

The steppes of Mongolia are an austere landscape broken by mountains and the encroaching Gobi desert. The starkness of the region reshaped ceramicist Erica Iman's work during her stint in the Peace Corps. Her functional, hand-built vessels mimic the primordial nature of Mongolia's open terrain, appearing more as geological eruptions of rock and hard-packed soil with their raw edges and weathered finishes. Erica Iman: Formation, the new exhibit at the Reese Gallery (3410 Wisconsin Avenue;, offers a selection of Iman's recent work. The show opens with a free reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 28. The gallery is open from 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Saturday, and Formation remains up through Wednesday, May 31. Admission is free. —Paul Friswold

2. View photos of immigrants at the Dark Room
St. Louis prides itself on the diversity of its community, and rightfully so. Portraying Humanity, the new exhibition at the Dark Room at the Grandel (3610 Grandel Square; shines a spotlight on the city's immigrant population. The show features the work of photographer Lindy Drew of Humans of St. Louis, which has been documenting the life of everyday St. Louisans through portrait photography and first-person essays. Sponsored by the Migrant and Immigrant Community Action (MICA) Project, Portraying Humanity is designed to show the similarities we all share, no matter where we're from. The exhibit is open from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. —Bill Loellke

3. See a Scandinavian film at Webster U.
Packing up your life and moving to a strange new country is never easy, and it only gets harder when your new neighbors shun and scorn you. Pelle and his father Lasse leave Sweden for Denmark after the death of Lasse's wife, but have a hard time finding work. Pelle is too young and Lasse is too old for most jobs. They end up as laborers on a large farm, which is dominated by the foreman, Kongstrup. While Pelle tries to assimilate and learn the language, his father ends up in a dangerous relationship with a woman whose husband may or may not ever be coming back. All the while Pelle dreams of heading out into the wider world to see America and parts beyond. Billie August's film adaption of Martin Andersen Nexø's novel Pelle the Conqueror won an Academy Award for Best Foreign film and stars Max von Sydow in one of his greatest performances. The film screens at 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday (April 28 to 30) at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; as part of the Webster Film Series. Tickets are $5 to $7. —Paul Friswold

Left Bank Books is one of the many stores celebrating Independent Bookstore Day this Saturday. - PHOTO BY HARLAN MCCARTHY
Left Bank Books is one of the many stores celebrating Independent Bookstore Day this Saturday.

4. Celebrate at Independent Bookstore Day at a store near you

Hopefully you've planned ahead and saved your money for this year's Independent Bookstore Day, because there's a ton of great merchandise on offer at participating stores. You can buy a recipe book of authors' favorite cocktails, an LP of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast's best bits and special commentary tracks, and an incendiary stencil featuring a quotation from Henry Louis Gates Jr. ("Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice"). Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue; celebrates all day Saturday with surprise guest authors, a selection of rare and collectible books and cocktails from the aforementioned recipe book (for a small donation to River City Readers). The Novel Neighbor (7905 Big Bend Boulevard, Webster Groves; also gets in on that cocktail goodness and merch magic, as well as offering a silly scoops celebration and special story time. And even if you're not into boozing, you can just show up and buy books — it's the traditional gift on this most special day. —Paul Friswold

5. Catch a free show at the library downtown

Back from a very successful Off Broadway run, Stephan Wolfert's one-man show Cry Havoc returns to this year's Shake 38 festival for two shows. The play integrates Shakespeare's many military characters and their experiences with those of modern soldiers to underline the difficulty veterans confront when trying to reenter civilian life. The grim nature of war hasn't changed much since Shakespeare's day, but it continues to change the men and women who serve. Cry Havoc is performed at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (April 29 and 30) at the Central branch of the St. Louis Public Library (1301 Olive Street; Tickets are free, but must be reserved online because of the limited seating. —Paul Friswold

6. Listen to the Voices Beneath the Veil at Foam
The Afghan Women's Writing Project allows Afghani women and girls to let their voices be heard, a dangerous thing in their corner of the world. Through essays and poetry, the women express their hopes for the future, their fears and their innermost feelings. Saturday at 7 p.m. at Foam (3359 Jefferson Avenue; local actresses Madeline Finn, Michelle Rebollo, London Reynolds, Casey Renee Richards and Michelle Zielinski read selected works of fifteen Afghani women during Voices Beneath the Veil. The performance will be recorded and sent to Afghanistan so that the writers can see the impact their work has on others. Admission to Voices Beneath the Veil is free. —Bill Loellke

The St. Louis Dance Festival celebrates the dances of India this Sunday.
The St. Louis Dance Festival celebrates the dances of India this Sunday.

7. View the Dances of India

The St. Louis Dance Festival celebrates the best the metro area has to offer in terms of dance. Longtime festival organizer Dances of India has lined up twelve companies representing classical ballet, contemporary, jazz and folk dancing for this eighteenth installment, which takes place at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Skip Viragh Center for the Arts (425 South Lindbergh Blvd.; Participants include Consuming Kinetics Dance Co., Dance Hipnotique, Midwest Ballet Theatre and Wei Dance Arts. Tickets are $15. —Bill Loellke

8. Cheer on the St. Louis Cardinals
There are worse ways to welcome May to St. Louis than at a baseball game. The Milwaukee Brewers are in town for a four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals, and they have a new secret weapon in the form of tater-mashing Eric Thames. Thames spent the previous three years playing for South Korea's NC Dinos, where he hit 124 home runs, and has returned a smarter, more disciplined hitter. Can the Cardinals' pitchers get him out? That's sure to be a sweat-inducing question for fans for the next few days. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and at 12:45 p.m. Thursday (May 1 to 4) at Busch Stadium (601 Clark Avenue; Tuesday and Wednesday's games are both promotions-heavy evenings, with a Tom Pagnozzi bobblehead available to Bud Bash ticket buyers, and special prices for firefighters, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts on Wednesday. Standard tickets are $5 to $221.90. —Paul Friswold

9. Witness the return of the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis
Following on the resounding success of the inaugural Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis, the second year of the celebration kicks off with a bang. Anita Jackson's one-woman show Bertha in Paradise is inspired by Williams' play, Hello from Bertha. The heroine is on her deathbed, lamenting her sorry end. Jackson imagines that Bertha rallies, and instead of dying in sorrow, goes out singing about all the fantastic times she had. Bertha in Paradise features songs by Cole Porter as well as lesser-known gems such as "If It Don't Fit, Don't Force It" and "I Want a Little Sugar in my Bowl." Jackson officially opens the festival at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 3, in the Curtain Call Lounge at the Fox Theatre (521 North Grand Boulevard; Opening night tickets are $50. Bertha in Paradise continues at 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday (May 5 to 14); tickets are $35 for these shows. —Paul Friswold

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