KST Blog

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Kelly Strayhorn Theater Unveils New Summer Fundraiser “House Party,” Night of Interactive Performance, Community Building, and Celebration

EAST LIBERTY, PA—Kelly Strayhorn Theater is excited to announce a fresh interpretation of its annual summer fundraiser, House Party. Taking place at KST’s flagship location at 5941 Penn Avenue on Saturday, July 16, House Party promises an evening of unique and immersive performances, extravagant outfits, and an iconic dance party.

An evolution of KST’s historic Full Bloom event, House Party takes inspiration from KST’s updated mission to be a home for creative experimentation, community dialogue, and collective action rooted in the liberation of Black and queer people.

“House Party is the culmination of our 2021–22 Welcome Home season,” says Joseph Hall, Executive Director. “By attending this fabulous party and having an unforgettable night, attendees also support our programs that bring vibrant performances and events to East Liberty all year long.”

House Party promises a fashionable and celebratory evening inspired by The Met Gala by way of Studio 54. Set in an immersive art installation, this event comes alive through a performance  by artists and musicians. As KST’s signature fundraiser, House Party supports KST Presents’ diverse and engaging programming throughout the year.

Beginning at 7:00pm, the event invites VIP guests to explore an installation in the KST Lobby of digital portraits of House Party performers created by Scott Andrew, a multimedia queer-oriented video, installation, and performance artist. From the Lobby VIPs will encounter an immersive reception on the main stage, where attendees will hear from Executive Director Joseph Hall, enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres and have exclusive access to an open bar. 

The theater will transform into a dreamlike landscape, creating the background for VIP attendees to experience a live performance created by Ariel / and Justin Kelly—artists who recently participated in Freshworks, KST’s creative residency.

In May, KST hosted Bad Form: A Scratch Symphony, a performance piece by percussionist Justin Kelly and dancer Ariel / that uses improvisation and play to explore sound and movement. At House Party, Justin Kelly and Ariel / evolve Bad Form into a group performance that will emerge from and interact with the theater installation. Featured artists include Luis Erick Zul Rabasa, Marcus Shutrump, BB Kenda, Samira Mendoza, Merisa Skinner, Zim Syed, and AJ Leibert. This rhythmic performance will activate the theater with an improvised performance score that connects the intimate VIP reception with the exhilarating Dance Party.

At 9:00pm, KST opens its doors to all attendees as the legendary Dance Party kicks off in the KST Lobby. The Dance Party, an annual high point in Pittsburgh’s nightlife, welcomes community members of all ages and backgrounds to dress up and party down. ICY PISCES fka Deejay Aesthetics a.k.a Tresa Murphy Green starts the party with retro beats referencing the 1990s and early 2000s, followed by DJ Femi whose set will turn up the heat with global sounds. 

“House Party exemplifies the core of Kelly Strayhorn’s mission to be a home for Black and queer people,” says Hall. “Black homes are some of the first cultural institutions; they are places of music and artistry. Through our mission, we ensure that the historically Black neighborhood of East Liberty continues to be a site for Black and queer creativity, community building, and expression.”

Past KST summer fundraisers have included Hotline Ring—an innovative collective virtual fundraiser in 2020 and 2021 to support arts organizations led by or in community with Black and queer people—and Full Bloom, a summer dance party fundraiser that ran for 11 years.

Tickets for House Party on July 16 are available for $50–100 for the Dance Party and $150–250 for the VIP Reception, and can be reserved at kelly-strayhorn.org

For full season details, COVID policy updates, and tickets, go to kelly-strayhorn.org.

House Party is supported by the Host Committee: Nisha Blackwell and Calvin Jackson; Demeatria Boccella and J.G. Boccella; Brian Broome; Marita Garrett; Jake Goodman and Sean Shepherd; Kilolo Luckett and John Barbera Jr.; Lori Moran; Cynthia Oliver; Kendra Janelle Ross; Rick Soria and Scott Fech; Mark Anthony Thomas; and Alecia Dawn Young and Damon Young.

More Info and Ticketing Here

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ARTISTS

Ariel / is an independent performing artist and educator working in dance/film/theatre and is a maker of transdisciplinary artworks and choreographies. They made an appearance in Tribeca Film Festival award-winning short Black Ghost Son and has worked with companies including Allure, Makeup Forever, Brunch Theatre (NYC), Vangeline Butoh Theatre (NYC), Attack Theatre, and PearlArts Studio Extensions. Notable venues where they have performed and displayed works include SPACE Gallery, The Space Upstairs, GPAC Center, Baryshnikov Dance Center, Alloy Studios, and New Hazlett Theatre. Born in the Hawaiian Kingdom and raised between Raymaytush (Northern California) and Osage land (Pittsburgh, PA), Ariel grew up in a home that practiced TCM, which distilled an awareness of being part of a provocative legacy of intel and experience directly at odds with Western societal infrastructures. This greatly informs their creative process where ancestral modalities for wellness, memory-keeping, and liberation are archived via performance/celebration.

Justin Kelly is a percussionist, DJ, and event producer exploring rhythm, movement, celebratory ritual, and improvisation. His background as a classically trained percussionist has morphed into a musical practice centered around improvised rhythm making in the contexts of jazz, electronic music, and experimental music. Hailing from the Washington, D.C. area, Justin lives in Pittsburgh where he regularly performs and produces forward-thinking events that seek to foster community and spark imagination.

Scott Andrew is a multimedia queer-oriented video, installation, and performance artist. He creates speculative fantasies that peer into otherworldly portals and voids. He has exhibited at MoMA’s PopRally Performance Series (NYC), Ballroom Marfa (Marfa, TX), the Hammer Museum (LA), and the J. Paul Getty Museum (LA), among others. Recently, Andrew has worked as a media designer, director, producer for collaborative stage performances with dance artist Jesse Factor, drag performer Veronica Bleaus, the opera, ‘Looking at You’ with the Carnegie Mellon University School of Music, as well as VFX editor for the documentary film, ‘Workhorse Queen’ by Angela Washko, and the interactive music video, ‘Gestures of Devotion’, by Congregation of Drones.

Scott is an educator, advising and teaching animation, video, concept, and performance courses as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University, a Visiting Lecturer in the Studio Arts program at the University of Pittsburgh, and with the CMU Pre-college program. Scott has taught at Youngstown State University, Seaton Hill University, The Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School, and has conducted workshops at the Andy Warhol Museum, Mattress Factory, and Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

Scott co-curates TQ Live! a yearly LGBTQ+ variety series that has been presented at the Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art. Along with Angela Washko and Jesse Stiles, Scott organizes a National Endowment for the Arts funded performance series called Fail-Safe, which seeks to provide a supportive space for the presentation and potential failure of performative works-in-progress. Other previous curatorial projects include the drift and the Institute for New Feeling’s Felt Book.

ABOUT THE DJS

ICY PISCES fka Deejay Aesthetics a.k.a Tresa Murphy Green is a young, dynamic, multidisciplinary artist and cultural curator. Creative, visionary and thinker Tresa Murphy Green poet, deejay, self taught artisan and organizer makes an intentional step to center the voices, perspectives and lives of black women and femmes in all forms of their work.

DJ Femi is an extremely talented multifarious DJ based in the city of Pittsburgh. Her DJ career started 15 years ago when she attended a local performing arts school, CAPA. Femi is one of the most popular DJs in the City of Pittsburgh. As she represents for all of the women in the music industry. She continues to stand for women in the entertainment industry as well as women worldwide. She is a beacon of light in the night life and a prime example that women can be great DJ’s too.

ABOUT KELLY STRAYHORN THEATER 

Kelly Strayhorn Theater is a non-profit community performing arts center in East Liberty,  advancing live art through strategic vision and community collaboration with two venues running along Penn Avenue. KST’s Alloy Studios is a cultural hub in the heart of East  Liberty, and the historic Kelly Strayhorn Theater is located in the thriving business district. More than 20 years after its founding, KST continues to use its broad reach to impact the contemporary arts and the community. KST’s mission is to be a home for creative experimentation, community dialogue, and collective action rooted in the liberation of Black and queer people. Welcome Home!

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THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS

Duolingo, Northwest Bank, UPMC Health Plan, The Jewish Healthcare Foundation, Wagner Agency, Inc., Workhorse Collaborative