Washington Ensemble Theatre
Washington Ensemble Theater at the Little Theatre 608 19th Ave. E., 800-838-3006, www.brown papertickets.com. Previews 7:30 p.m. Wed. Aug. 30. Opens Fri. Sept. 1. 8 p.m. Thurs.-Mon.
Now starting its third season, Washington Ensemble Theater continues to push the envelope by producing new, collaborative works by talented young artists. First off, WET co-artistic director and founding member Marya Sea Kaminski will direct Seattle native Jordan Harrison's new work, The Museum Play, an absurdist meditation on memory and heartbreak set in a museum of natural history. (Pictured: Patricia Nelson, Marc Kenison.) WET is also hosting an art installment in conjunction with the play: Contagion, which celebrates its opening gala Wednesday, Aug. 30, is a multi-media installation presenting nine artists' explorations on the themes of science, transmission, and decay. Always challenging and fresh, look for WET to up the ante this year with a lineup that includes a new play by Daniel MacIvor, Never Swim Alone, as well as In DisDress, another work written and performed by Kaminski herself. This collective of UW drama grads, with their acting chops and driving sense of adventure, remains one of the theater troupes to keep an eye on. RICHARD MORIN
Annas Bay Music Festival
The area's newest festival celebrates American music with a packed schedule (26 events, by my count), including shape-note choral music, jazz, Seattle composers, a salute to Martha Graham, the Tudor Choir, chamber music, chamber opera (Lee Hoiby's Bon Appetit!, his musical setting of a Julia Child broadcast), and a 9/11 memorial concert to close the festival. Baritone Robert Orth (pictured), a Seattle Opera favorite in character roles from Rossini to Heggie, launches the festival with a recital of American folksongs. For the full schedule of hour-long afternoon recitals and full-length evening concerts, see the Web site. Great Hall, Harmony Hill Retreat Center, Union, Wash., 360-898-5000, www.annasbay.org. $32-$56. Various times and dates through Sept. 11. GAVIN BORCHERT
Among the lines for food vendors and music venues, Bumbershoot always comes up with a selection of dance events that you won't find many other places. This year there are roller derby champions on Saturday, dance films and a panel of dancemakers (moderated by Lynn Jacobson, Seattle Weekly's Deputy Managing Editor) on Sunday, and many modern dancers on Monday. It's all bookended by the out-of-towners Rubberbandance (pictured) with choreographer Victor Quijada. His work combines Montreal street dancing, Twyla Tharp's version of slamdancing, ballet with Eliot Feld, and anything else he's seen. His company performs on Saturday, with a cameo appearance by Pacific Northwest Ballet. The roles are reversed on Monday, when PNB showcases Quijada's new work for them. Seattle Center, 206-628-0888, www.bumbershoot.org. $25/day. Various times, Sat. Sept. 2-Mon. Sept. 4. SANDRA KURTZ