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Friday, August 5, 2016

8 Things to Do This Week for $20 or Less

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 6:35 AM

click to enlarge The Great Puppet Festival: just $5 for two hilarious shows. - PHOTO BY MIKE HORNER
  • The Great Puppet Festival: just $5 for two hilarious shows.

The weekend is here, at long last. So don't waste these precious moments on a bar stool — check out some of the fascinating arts and culture events happening around town. (Oh, and we also recommend these two additional art openings tonight; consider that free advice your bonus for surviving the workweek.)

Not into arts and culture? For shame. But we've got debauchery covered, too. Just check out our newly published guide to the city's amazing dive bars — and start drinking!

This week's eight best things to do are below.

1. See a quirky musical
Hope Falls, West Virginia, is atwitter with news that one of the Taylor children has been attacked by something neither fully animal nor human. Fortunately the Taylors have captured the creature, which is now in the custody of the town veterinarian. The doctor's wife takes pity on the half-bat, half-human thing. She names him and begins teaching him about Christian morals and the importance of education. But the people are skeeved out, and become more agitated when their cattle start dying in strange ways. The Laurence O'Keefe, Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming show Bat Boy: The Musical, draws inspiration from a Weekly World News tabloid story and deals with our fears of the other, as well as our twin addictions of hypocrisy and violence. Stray Dog Theatre closes its current season with the off-kilter musical. Performances take place at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (August 4 to 20) and 8 p.m. Wednesday (August 10 to 17) at Tower Grove Abbey (2336 Tennessee Avenue; Tickets are $20 to $25.

2. Indulge in Brew Madness on the Landing
St. Louis Craft Beer Week is in full swing, but we'd bet you're not tapped out just yet. This is St. Louis, after all — we order a beer to keep us hydrated while we peruse the beer menu. Venture out to the Morgan Street Brewery (721 North Second Street) Friday between 6 and 11 p.m. and you can sample great local brews while helping a charity during Brew Madness. All you need to do is make a donation to Backstoppers, the group that provides financial assistance to the families of fallen police and firefighters. Admission is free, so give what you can afford and have a good time. For the full Craft Beer Week schedule, visit

3. Journey to Middle Earth for First Friday
You've probably grown up believing that martial arts are the sole provenance of the Far East, but that's just not true. Plenty of wars were fought in Europe, and the men who prosecuted them needed to know more than just how to swing wildly with a sword. From the hints that Icelandic sagas give us about the ritual duals called
holmgang to the transcribed teachings of German sword master Johannes Liechtenauer, it's clear that the West has a well-developed martial history. You can see modern practitioners demonstrate various techniques for unarmed, up-close fighting Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Saint Louis Science Center (5050 Oakland Avenue; It's part of the First Friday celebration Journey to Middle Earth. In addition to the fight demo the event offers free screenings of The Fellowship of the Ring and the first episode of the BBC's Merlin series, "Call of the Dragon." You can also check out the "Fires of Mordor" science demo and a performance on the Celtic harp by Melissa Purves. Admission is free, but some events require a small fee. 

4. Check out a puppet festival
Puppets in the American consciousness range from the Muppets to Crank Yankers, with very little in between. But puppets were the original mass entertainment in the pre-literate era. (Punch and Judy's brutal escapades were the Big Bang Theory of the Middle Ages, after all.) The Great Regional Puppet Festival offers you the opportunity to see many types of puppets engaged in a variety of shows. Mike Sandbank's Shadow Factory presents the mostly non-verbal performance Still Life at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Saint Louis University Theatre (3733 West Pine Boulevard;, using shadow puppets to relate the struggles of a group of people dealing with a world that doesn't bend to their will. Mike Horner's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Death Star follows at 3:15 p.m. Musician Curt Bright imagined what Star Wars would have looked like with puppets instead of pioneering special effects, and puppeteer Mike Horner brings Bright's fever dream to life. Admission to both shows is $5.

Turn the page for more events — some of them free!

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