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Not Just Spinach: Fourth Annual Pittsburgh Humanities Festival Aims To Entertain

Virginia Alvino Young
90.5 WESA
Reginald Douglas and Demeatria Boccella are among the participants in the 2019 Pittsburgh Humanities Festival.

The fourth annual Pittsburgh Humanities Festival will feature artists, academics, and influencers this spring.

The tagline for the festival is “smart talk about stuff that really matters.” A range of themes will be explored through interviews, conversations, and performances at venues throughout Downtown’s Cultural District.

“The humanities deal with everything humans do and make, and the Humanities Festival celebrates that by making it entertaining,” said David Shumway, co-founder and co-director of the event. “We like to think of it not as spinach, but carrot cake with chocolate chips.”

Kicking off the event at the Byham Theater is “An evening with Kevin Kwan: ‘Crazy Rich Asians and the Power of Representation.” Kwan is the best-selling author behind the 2013 novel Crazy Rich Asians which was later turned into a blockbuster film.

The second main event will include the comedians behind "Last Podcast on the Left."  

Pittsburgh area artists and influencers will participate in 14 conversations around themes of fashion, music, social media and more. Participants include editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers, and David Newell who portrayed Mr. McFeely on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

City Theatre Artistic Producer Reginald Douglas will participate in the festival for the first time this year. He’s directing one of the festivals partner events at City Theatre, the play “The Roommate.

“To me the power of art is to imagine the world as it could be if we were to dream it into existence,” said Douglas. “And I think sparking those conversations with other panelists and with audiences is what excites me about this festival and why I’m so honored to be a part of it.”

Tickets for the series of conversations are $5 each.

New this year is a day of free teen programming based on the growing genre of young adult literature. It will bring acclaimed young adult authors and readers together for conversations and writing workshops.

Among the participants will be best-selling author and Pittsburgher Siobhan Vivian.

“It just gives these kids a place to go and celebrate together a body of literature that really reveres and respects them,” said Vivian.

The Pittsburgh Humanities Festival is centered in the downtown cultural district March 22nd through 24th.

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