Monthly Planner

The Top Things to Do in Seattle This November

The Godmother of Rock and Roll gets a musical, the Henry makes the invisible seen, and a sitar goes electric.

By Stefan Milne October 22, 2019 Published in the November 2019 issue of Seattle Met

Ebony G. Patterson’s …love… (…when they grow up…) comes to Henry Art Gallery. 

Visual Art

Ko Kirk Yamahira

Nov 7–Dec 5 At least since modernism, deconstruction has been central in art. No one can pick apart, though, quite like Ko Kirk Yamahira. The Seattle artist paints canvases (often just a single color—black, pink), then unravels them. Perhaps the center sags into a crescent of threads between two intact rectangles. Or he dismantles the whole thing and creates a sort of string canoe. Or he strips the threads back so the frame bristles. The results are breathtaking in their dedication and in their spare, geometric beauty. Gallery 4Culture, Free

In Plain Sight

Nov 23–Apr 26 In Plain Sight—a group show, which spreads across Henry Art Gallery with paintings, installations, video, and performance—aims to forefront the people and stories normally hidden in our society. But work in the exhibition needn’t take that tamely: Jamaican artist Ebony G. Patterson’s …love… (…when they grow up…) explodes the idea into a mixed media representation of women with tapestry, beads, paper-mache balloons, and glitter. Henry Art Gallery, $10

Books & Talks

David Sedaris

Nov 10 David Sedaris is funny on the page. He’s funnier live. Last year’s essay collection, Calypso, was nominated for no major book awards, but did pull a Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Word Album. There’s something curiously perfect about hearing his gentle, whimsical voice describe one of his favorite Tokyo stores: “The clothes they sell are new but appear to have been previously worn, perhaps by someone who was shot or stabbed and then thrown off a boat.” Benaroya Hall, $52–$61

Ben Lerner

“My participation in debate and competitive speech could just barely escape nerdiness if I narrated it to nondebaters as a form of linguistic combat.” —Ben Lerner

Nov 23 Ben Lerner’s new novel The Topeka School balances ecstatic intellect with tenderness as it parses what Lerner calls a “violent identity crisis among white men.” Elliott Bay Book Company, Free

Kikagaku Moyo, who started as buskers in Japan, play the Crocodile this month. 


Mikal Cronin with Shannon Lay

Nov 10 To call Mikal Cronin’s music power pop is maybe only to say it straddles the cafe and the garage, taking the considered songwriting of the former and affixing it to the latter’s bedraggled hooks. Equally as exciting is opener Shannon Lay and her recent Sub Pop debut, August. She deploys folk’s central tenets—fingerpicked guitar, a strong voice—to deliver lyrics apparently simple, but subtly twisting. Tractor Tavern, $16

Young Thug

Nov 10 Lord of the loopy, elastic-voiced, what-the-hell school of rap, Young Thug remains somehow both influential and an anomaly. His latest record, So Much Fun, furthers this. Even hit single “The London” subverts, beginning in J. Cole’s guest verse before Thug takes over with bars that ascend into a scratchy falsetto halfway through as he brags about his date eschewing fries for “steaks with the fish sides.” WaMu Theater, $32

Black Midi

Nov 24 At first listen, Black Midi, a four-piece out of London, seems to be just another post-punk band. Its debut album, Schlagenheim, begins in a crucible of distortion, all knuckle and elbow, and returns to the mode frequently. But soon, it explores passages more peculiar, blending gentle prog, the cinematic roar of bands like Swans, and John Zorn’s jagged jazz. The Crocodile, $13

Cautious Clay

Nov 27 Cautious Clay, an R&B singer-producer out of Brooklyn, may be the only songwriter who can drop a lyric like “You only swipe right if you fuck for follows / Welcome to the days of the broke and shallow” and earnestly pull it off. Chalk that up to his casually brilliant voice and his willingness to garnish a performance with a flute solo mid-track. Showbox, $20

Kikagaku Moyo

Nov 29 Kikagaku Moyo began as a group of buskers, playing on Tokyo streets, but has since ascended to world touring. On last year’s Masana Temples, the band takes its grooving astral folk, then occasionally spikes it with heady, heavy psychedelia. The results frequently sound like Can, the German avant-rock progenitor, at its most gentle and accessible. Truly: You have never heard an electric sitar rock this hard. The Crocodile, $20

With Pilobolus, an acrobatic dance company, spectacle is assured.


Keith Hennessy

Nov 9 & 10 Provoked by the current brutal world—Trump, Brexit, mosque bombings, neo-Nazis, mass shootings—dancer Keith Hennessey responds with Sink. The show merges satire, ranting, interpretive and aerial dance (one long stretch has Hennessey dressed in sweats and a blond wig and gold chain swaying on a stool), group chants, and singing—all of it centered on the role of art, and the artist, in the world at this moment. Velocity Dance Center, $20


Nov 14–16 What do you get when you smash together Cirque du Soleil with contemporary dance? Pilobolus, probably. The dance company, at it since 1971, moves in stunning synchronicity, part acrobatic, part choreographic. Its new show, Come to Your Senses, stems from collaborations with Radiolab and MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab. It dives into life itself, its beginnings and continuation. Meany Hall, $61–$69

Classical & More

Stravinsky the Rite of Spring

Nov 21 & 23 Perhaps you already know that Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and its early raucous modernism were so jarring to listeners at its Paris debut that the evening devolved, according to at least one account, into a riot, the audience chucking vegetables at the stage. The reason this story gets trotted out so frequently, perhaps, is that Stravinsky’s tempest of strings and dissonance is a brilliant soundtrack for such a fight. Benaroya Hall, $39–$134

Gabriel Kahane

Nov 23 On November 9, 2016, singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane got on an Amtrak train and started a two-week, 8,980-mile journey around America, hanging in the dining car and talking to strangers. He turned those conversations into an album called Book of Travelers, which braids together people’s stories with his own, told over his piano, creating a yarn about a country destabilized. Meany Hall, $31–$39

Don't know about the Godmother of Rock and Roll? Shout Sister Shout! is here to change that. 


Shout Sister Shout!

Nov 8–Dec 22 Recorded in 1941, Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Shout, Sister, Shout!” is still a remarkable thing to hear. Tharpe’s swaggering voice cuts through a men’s chorus, handclaps, and a swinging orchestra to stake its claim as a formative, if often forgotten, instrument in rock and roll. Now, her life—that of a queer, black gospel singer, who played such strutting blues guitar that Elvis and Chuck Berry cited her as influence—gets told in a musical play, Shout Sister Shout! Seattle Repertory Theatre, $17–$82

Mrs. Doubtfire

Nov 26–Dec 29 That did not take long. Tootsie—the comedy in which Dustin Hoffman pretends to be a woman—opened on Broadway as a musical this year. Now, for its newest production, 5th Avenue Theatre adapts Mrs. Doubtfire—the comedy in which Robin Williams pretends to be a woman. Whatever happens in this new production, the character’s transformation into Doubtfire is set to become a rousing beauty pageant of a number. 5th Avenue Theatre, $29–$129

Howl's Moving Castle

Nov 29–Dec 29 Howl’s Moving Castle, a young adult novel by Diana Wynne Jones, adapted into an animated movie by Hayao Miyazaki, relies on those mediums’ imaginative permissions: People fly, and that massive castle plods along on four thin legs. A small, local theater company like Book-It Repertory, of course, can’t swing such big-budget fantasy. Instead, this production focuses on the songs and narrative, about a girl who’s magically transformed into an old woman. Book-It Repertory, $20–$50

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