Recession be damned, the metro is somehow experiencing a renaissance of that most economically challenged of art forms: live, local, ambitious theater, much of it community-minded. This weekend, for example, while the professional theaters are still gearing up for their new seasons, audiences can head to the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center (3700 Blue Parkway) for tonight's 7:30 performance of Pearl Cleage's frontier melodrama, Flyin' West, the inaugural production from JERIC Productions. JERIC's Jeremy Gassen and Ric Jefferson promise a commitment to African-American theater, cultural diversity and, as they put it, "modern masterworks." Set in 1898, Flyin' West tells the story of black pioneers striking out for Nicodemus, Kansas, a real-world settlement founded by African-Americans after the Civil War. The show runs this weekend and next; tickets cost $20. Call 816-569-1413 for reservations and more information.
Fri., Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 5, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 6, 3 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 11, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 12, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 13, 3 p.m., 2009