ANNUAL MANUAL- PERFORMANCE- Play date: No worries about things to do

As we all know, the English language is a growing, living creature, almost always expanding, rarely contracting. "No worries," "way cool!" and "speed dating" are expressions unknown 15 years ago. One that some moms find particularly interesting is "play date." 

That's one with interesting implications for performance fans. The "play date" scene in central Virginia is certainly way cool, and the area's many productions can be perfect destinations if things go right at a speed dating session.

First it's important to note that performance includes richness beyond theatrical performances. Barhoppers productions, projects at Belmont's Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, the Bent Theater's improv evenings, belly dancing at Bashir's, tango and salsa demonstrations at Zabor's studio, and modern dances at McGuffey– all stimulating shows without plots and scenery changes.

But traditional (or avant-garde) three-acts really are the traditional play dates. And there's certainly no shortage of offerings on that score.

From the ultra-local, heart-of-downtown Live Arts space in the Water Street arts complex to the New Lyric Theatre's Gilbert & Sullivan operettas at Piedmont Virginia Community College and the relatively new Play On! troupe over in the Ix Building, there's theater for everyone.

Over Afton mountain, the world-class American Shakespeare Center offers year-round productions not only of Shakespeare's plays, but of modern adaptations and works by the master's contemporaries. In 2009 the shows range from Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry VI, part I, and the Comedy of Errors to Middleton and Rowley's The Changeling, Chapman's The Blind Beggar of Alexandria, and Tourneur's The Revenger's Tragedy. 

This year's Ash Lawn Opera spiced up the summer with Carmen and My Fair Lady in the gardens at President Monroe's estate, but rumors abound that future productions might be right on the Mall at the newly restor(ing) Jefferson Theater. The Culbreth and Helms theatres schedules are most widely known in the summer, but UVA's drama department schedules performances during the school year, too.

So, no worries, theater lovers. Whatever the venue, whatever the kind of performance, play dates around Charlottesville are assuredly guaranteed to be the bee's knees.