When Rochester activist Emily Good earned international attention after her 2011 arrest (for filming a cop during a traffic stop), not many Rochesterians realized that Good comes from deep socially-conscious stock. During the Vietnam War, her father, Bob Good, was charged with raiding a Camden, New Jersey, draft board as a member of the Camden 28. His mother, Elizabeth, a middle class American farm mother of 10, volunteered to testify on behalf of Bob at his 1973 trail. Her testimony is recreated in "Conscience," with Caroline Yeager appearing as Elizabeth, and Bob Good as himself. I'm rocking out to John Lennon's "Free the People" while I make plans to see this 45-minute, Challenge-The-Man show, the day before International Day of Peace. (Sunday, September 20, 3 p.m. MuCCC. $5. Appropriate for ages 18 and older.)
By now you've probably heard that Rochester has more than its share of issues with poverty and just about every problem that spirals from it. And our children are suffering some of the worst pains. To specifically highlight child poverty and child mortality rates, Table Top Opera will present "Kindertotenlieder" (songs on the death of children), a song cycle by Gustav Mahler based on 425 poems by Friedrich Rückert, penned in the supreme despair of having lost two of his young children in rapid succession to illness. A new version of the work will be performed at Kilbourn Hall by members of Eastman School of Music, "accompanied by historical photographs of children who have succumbed to lack of proper care in Rochester." (Tuesday, September 22, 7 p.m. Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music. $10. Appropriate for ages 13 and older.)
Did you know drawings by the Genesee River Strangler, Arthur Shawcross, were sold online? There's a market for everything. I mean, Dubya's dumb doodles got all that press, in part because banality coming from killers is so fascinating. But back to Shawcross — his life is the subject of "Mystic Castle," a play by Lori Marra, which comes to Fringe after its 2010 reading at Geva. The story introduces journalist John Ehrlich, who asks the serial killer, "If you could paint one picture, what would it be?" As Ehrlich chats with the detained, disturbed man, he begins to ponder the demons in his own life. The two-hour play includes adult language and content, and is recommended for mature audiences. (Saturday, September 19, 9 p.m.; Sunday, September 20, 7 p.m. MuCCC. $12. Appropriate for mature audiences.)
"Marx in Soho"
Historical counter-revisionist Howard Zinn is known for his books on American and world history from the people's perspective, but he also wrote a whimsical, one-man play, "Marx in Soho: A Play on History." Zinn envisions a resurrected Marx, returned to clear his name. But due to a bureaucratic mix-up, he lands in modern-day New York City instead of London. See what Marx might think of the world of today, and how his ideas are still relevant and applicable. Veteran local actor and MuCCC Artist-in-Residence Jack Simel plays the man-before-the-ism in this hour-long work. (Thursday, September 24, 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, September 26, 5:30 p.m. MuCCC. $10. Appropriate for ages 13 and older.)
"Erik and the Wolf"
Hnossa is a New York City-based project of solo and collaborative work by Didrik Söderström, which brings the magic of ancient Scandinavian stories to the flesh. In "Erik and the Wolf," a young soldier learns of love and change at the hands of a mysterious young woman and a wood of ancient spirits. The 40-minute performance will include spoken word, prose, and song. (Thursday, September 24, 9 p.m.; Friday, September 25, 10 p.m. Writers & Books. $7. All ages.)
The social environment in schools has always been a crucible, but for so long, the response from adults has been little more than a shrugging "kids will be kids." Most — but not all — adolescents used to at least have a break from the pressure cooker while at home with families, but the relentless nature of social media creates a sort of paranoid hyper-vigilance in kids; they're tormented even in their sanctuaries. It's taken school shootings, elevated suicide rates, and lower rates of success for adults to seriously consider the teenage experience. "Percentage" is a play conceived and written by students from School of the Arts, which through a series of raw and hopeful vignettes takes a realistic look at tragedies cause by bullying. (Saturday, September 19, 4 p.m. RAPA at School of the Arts: Black Box Theatre. $10. Appropriate for ages 13 and older.)
"Bridge Club of Death"
"Bridge Club of Death" blends gallows humor and death-with-dignity activism to make the funniest show about euthanasia you'll probably ever see. This new dramatic comedy by local playwright Mark Jabaut centers on four residents of a nursing home who challenge the law and their own divided consciences by providing the reaper's sweet kiss of relief. I humbly suggest a title for the club's continued adventures: "Shuffleboard off This Mortal Coil." The show is directed by Devin Goodman, and no elders were hurt in the making of the production. (Saturday, September 19, 8 p.m.; Sunday, September 20, 5 p.m.; Saturday, September 26, 2 p.m. Writers & Books. $10. Appropriate for ages 13 and older.)