The Best Things to Do in St. Louis This Week, September 14 to 19

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The Great Forest Park Balloon Race is back this weekend. - Photo courtesy of Flickr / David Shane
Photo courtesy of Flickr / David Shane
The Great Forest Park Balloon Race is back this weekend.

Since you're all St. Louisans, you're no doubt checking the weather every morning to see if you need a sweater (or a rain coat). Have you looked ahead at this weekend's weather? Back up into the 90s. Bring your sunscreen on Saturday, because there's a lot of stuff to do in the great outdoors this week.

1. See a film about a chef perhaps too devoted to her work
Martha (Martina Gedeck) is a chef so devoted to her craft that she's practically unaware of the outside world. For her, it's all about control: control of herself, her ingredients and her environment. When her sister perishes in an auto accident, Martha becomes the unlikely guardian of her niece, Lina. Their relationship is strained by Lina's stubbornness (a family trait, apparently), which tests Martha's control at home. Matters only become more difficult when her new sous chef Mario, a handsome Italian man who does everything differently, threatens her kitchen — her sanctuary. Can Martha adapt to her new reality, or will she retreat to her deep freezer and never return? Sandra Nettelback's film Bella Martha explores the life of a woman whose world could become larger, and happier, if she would only allow it. The Webster Film Series screens Bella Martha at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; Tickets are $5 to $7.

2. See Miyazaki's heist film on the big screen
Hayao Miyazaki's first film as a director was the fast-paced heist film Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro. Titular antihero and natural goofball Arsene Lupin III comes from a long line of thieves; when his latest crime nets him nothing but counterfeit dollars, he decides to find the forger. The search leads him to the small country of Cagliostro, where a forbidding castle hides a beautiful woman and a conspiracy stretching back years. The Castle of Cagliostro has fantastic action, beautiful animation and a delightfully loopy hero — and now it finally gets released in American theaters. Fathom Events presents two screenings of the film, with bonus footage and commentary from legendary animator John Lasseter, at 7 p.m. Thursday and Tuesday (September 14 and 19) at the Marcus Wehrenberg Ronnies 20 Cine (5320 South Lindbergh Boulevard; The dubbed version of the film is shown on Thursday and the subtitled version on Tuesday. Tickets are $7.50 to $12.

3. Enjoy some street theater
William Shakespeare's King Lear pushes away the daughter who loves him and gives everything to his manipulative children, only to go mad from grief when he realizes what he's done. His actions lead to the ruination of his kingdom and death for his people. Inspired by the scene in King Lear in which Lear meets a beggar and understands immediately the hardship he's allowed to flourish by abdicating his responsibilities, Nancy Bell wrote an adaptation of the play set in, and focused on, St. Louis. Blow, Winds is the story of a kingdom that has allowed poverty to grow and problems to build up — but perhaps it's not too late to undo the damage. Blow, Winds is this year's Shakespeare in the Streets production. It will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday (September 15 to 17) at the St. Louis Public Library's Central branch (1301 Olive Street; Admission is free.

4. See a play about a woman suffering a crisis of faith
Susan is a 50-something divorcee who lives in England's Hampshire countryside. She leads a very proper and normal life, participating in the local theater and gossiping with and about her neighbors. Everything in her life is fine, except that her son lives in London (she doesn't like to go to the city if she can help it) and he's still unmarried. But suddenly, everything in her life isn't fine. The police raid her house, looking for clues that could explain how her son became the lead suspect in a suicide bombing that took place in London. Stewart Permutt's one-woman show Unsuspecting Susan charts a woman trying to figure out what went wrong, and when. The Inevitable Theatre Company presents Unsuspecting Susan at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (September 15 to 30) at the Chapel (6238 Alexander Drive; Tickets are $15 to $25.

5. Look! Up in the sky!
Saturday marks the 45th anniversary of the Great Forest Park Balloon Race, which has grown a great deal since its first year, when perhaps a dozen people showed up to watch six balloons take off. There are many more balloons this year, and incredible numbers of spectators — the park will be packed. Festivities start at noon with performances by the Muny Kids and Ignite Theatre Company. Activities for the kids include inflatables, games and mural painting, which should keep them occupied until balloons launch from the base of Art Hill at 4:45 p.m. As always, admission is free.

6. Celebrate Mexico's actual national holiday
Americans have wholeheartedly embraced Cinco de Mayo but have been less responsive toward Fiestas Patrias, or Mexican Independence Day. It doesn't make you any less American to celebrate another nation's independence; any time a country throws off the yoke of tyranny, Americans should celebrate. This year's festivities take place from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday on Cherokee Street between Nebraska and Iowa avenues ( It's the first year the organization Latinos en Axíon STL has presented and planned the event, and the group hopes to make a good impression. Food and drink will be available from neighborhood restaurants and businesses, and live entertainment includes music by Dukes, Grupo Paso Norteño and Valentia Musical. Admission is free.

7. It's a fine day for a beer or three
The mornings are crispy and the afternoons are pleasant, so it must be time for Schlafly's Hop in the City. The annual celebration of the many beer styles brewed by the city's oldest craft brewery takes place Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Schlafly Tap Room (2100 Locust Street; A couple of changes have been introduced to the event this year: More of each style of beer has been brewed, with a limited number of tickets available. Those tickets cost $35 to $40 and include unlimited beer samples. Try up to 40 styles, plus six specialty tappings. In addition, the seating area has been doubled.

8. It's the golden hour all month at Art Saint Louis
Art Saint Louis challenged artists to capture the golden hour — that magic time at dawn and dusk when sunlight gives the world a luminous beauty — in the medium of their choice for the gallery's new show. The works selected for the juried exhibit run the gamut. Lorraine Cange photographed a Jewel Box lily pond in black and white, focusing on the pattern of shadows formed on the lily pads. Russell Vanecek captured the glory of a Flad Avenue alley bisected by a bright box of brilliant sunlight. Bob Rickert's abstract photograph of the Palouse hills in Washington State is a model of contrasts, with stark shadows giving way to glowing hilltops. The Golden Hour opens with a free reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Art Saint Louis (1223 Pine Street; The show continues through October 27, and the gallery is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

9. Margaret Atwood comes to town to pick up another award
The TV adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale has raised writer Margaret Atwood's profile in the public consciousness, but for those in the know, Atwood was already a singular artist. She has written novels, poetry, criticism, short fiction, children's books and libretti. Throughout her writing she advocates for women's rights, animal rights, a better relationship with nature and a more humanistic approach to the world and each other. She's prickly about how her work is classified by others, and about how her homeland — Canada — is viewed by Americans. She's a true original; brilliant, thoughtful and a gifted stylist. At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Margaret Atwood receives the 2017 St. Louis Literary Award at the Sheldon (3648 Washington Boulevard). Admission is free, but registration is required. Visit for details.

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