Posted by: Anya Martin | October 11, 2008

Live Like a Tourist (in your own city)

“Opening night for the Festival! Who-hoo!” I think, and I’m sure I feel a buzz in the mild October air in Pittsburgh. “But then it’s probably just me,” I relent as I hurriedly push my way through the crowd to get to the Byham Theater for the performance of Ballet Maribor. Then I stop suddenly. “Wait, are those scalpers outside?!” Answer: Yes.

A professional Pittsburgh scalper practiced in the art of buying and selling Steelers tickets, and maybe even Pirates tickets on fireworks night, was outside the Byham offering to buy Ballet Maribor tickets. As I went in, I heard him offering to buy them for $25 or $30. Eyewitnesses tell me that later he was selling tickets for $60 and even $100 outside.

I am amazed. I am giddy. I have a flashback of sitting in Starbucks on 14th Street in the South Side in early September. Mark Power, PR person for PIFOF, hands me my blogging contract. We lean back in our purple plush chairs and dream for a moment over steaming lattes. Mark says something to the effect of, “Just imagine if PIFOF tickets were the hottest tickets in town, I mean I’d love that, if everybody was clamoring to get a ticket to an international dance performance or art show.”

“Yeah” I’d said with a sigh, “That would be wonderful…”

After Ballet Maribor’s stunning performance I head to the Festival kick off party where I talk with Mark Freeman, a member of the Cultural Trusts‘ Partners Board. By day Freeman works as an accomplished chemical engineer, by night he’s a professional Pittsburgh arts patron. (The guy is amazing. It seems like he sees almost every dance, theatre, opera, and art show in the city!) I question him on his professional patron status, and ask why he’s chosen to see PIFOF’s opening performances tonight.

“Well,” he says, “I used to travel all around the world for work, to China and, everywhere. And when I would travel I would always try to go out and see things, dances, and shows, music, everything. And then I thought, ‘What if you started living like a tourist in your own city?'” He anxiously checks his watch. “I really gotta go, I got to get up to the New Hazlett by 9pm for Rudresh Mahanthappa.”

After the party, I begrudgingly climb to the top of nearest parking garage to catch a ride with my “theatre collabrateur,” good friend, and local scenic designer, Michelle Carello. “I always think the best place to park in a parking garage is on top. It inevitably always has a great view of the city.” We reach the car and I look out. Beyond the smooth PPG building lies Mt Washington. The blue and green lights of the Monongahela incline track gleaming in front of us.

Now I live on Mt Washington and I have admired the city’s breathtaking views from the Grandview look-outs countless times. But I have never noticed the parking garage where I am now standing. And I have never stood on a man-made peak and looked back at my neighborhood.

What a precious gift it is to see home in a new way.



  1. I don’t wish to take anything away from the performance on Friday night — spectacular! — but I also was in awe of the AUDIENCE. Far younger, on average, than I’ve seen at District events. I felt like one of the old farts! Kudos to Paul and his team at the Trust!

  2. Always a great sign of success when tickets are being scalped!

  3. […] have been resounding successes. Ballet Maribor selling out their two performances and, as Anya points out, inspiring probably Pittsburgh’s first-ever ballet scalpers, for one. Hosting Teatro de los […]

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