October is usually bustling with art, festivals, and events, but the ongoing pandemic has cancelled many (Oakhurst Porch Fest and the Fall Festival on Ponce, to name two) and forced others to go virtual or adopt strict social distancing measures.

But it’s not all gloom and doom on the arts and culture scene. As we reported last month, the Alliance Theatre is returning to live productions, while the Atlanta Symphony will offer virtual concerts. For October, you’ll see that more live theatre and music is making a comeback and Halloween is mask season, so read on to find out what’s happening around Intown.

The Atlanta Opera

The Opera will return to live performances in October in a large open-air tent on the Oglethorpe University campus in Brookhaven. To adhere to COVID-19 safety precautions, Atlanta Opera is hosting the “Molly Blank Big Tent Series,” which will include six productions. The tent will be set up on the field at Oglethorpe’s Hermance Stadium, 4462 Peachtree Road. The series will start with Ruggero Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci” and Viktor Ullman’s “The Kaiser of Atlantis,” which will run from Oct. 22 to Nov. 14. The tent has the capacity for 240 audience members and has no walls in order to promote air flow. Tickets and safety information can be found at atlantaopera.org.

Julie Mehretu,Stadia II, 2004

High Museum of Art
This fall, the High Museum will present “Julie Mehretu,” a major traveling exhibition for the celebrated Ethiopian artist from Oct. 23 to  Jan. 31. This is the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s career, covering more than two decades of her work, from 1996 to the present, and uniting nearly 40 drawings and prints and 35 paintings predominantly monumental in size and scale. Mehretu’s process involves compiling a vast and diverse archive of sources, including diagrams and maps, cave markings, Chinese calligraphy, architectural renderings, graffiti, photojournalism and texts. For more information, visit high.org.

Synchronicity Theatre
The company has announced that its 2020-2021 season, which opens Oct. 5, will feature both live and virtual performances. “In the Theatre” performances will have a live, physically-distanced small salon audience for a limited run at Synchronicity’s Midtown space. Each production will be recorded and available to view digitally at home via an “On the Screen” ticket option for up to three-weeks after the performance opens. Some of the season’s highlights will include “4×4” (Oct. 5-Nov. 8); “Stiff” (Oct. 7-11); “Chorus of Bears” (Oct. 14-18); “RIP” (Oct. 21-25); “A Year With Frog and Toad” (Dec. 11-Jan. 3); “Mirandy and Brother Wind” (Jan. 29-Feb. 21); “Blue Angel’s Weekend” (March 12-April 4); and an adaptation of Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” (June 4-27) For tickets or more information, visit synchrotheatre.com.

Atlanta Pride (Photo by Asep Mawardi)

Atlanta Pride Festival
Due to the pandemic, this year’s celebration of the LGBTQ+ community will be virtual Oct. 9-11. The 50th anniversary line-up features an interactive virtual marketplace with a scavenger hunt, children’s programming, music, artist and author talks, and collaborative programming with several community partners. There will also be wellness programming including yoga, exercise and nutrition tips, a virtual 5k, suicide prevention workshops, and a townhall on the impacts of COVID-19 in the LGBTQ+ community. Visit atlantapride.org for the complete schedule.

Tayari Jones

The public art festival returns virtually Oct. 4-10 to examine issues of inequity and injustice while inspiring community building, activism, and hope in West End. With a theme of “Equity, Activism, Engagement,”  some of this year’s events include a mural installation honoring civil rights leader Rev. James Orange and Black women activists from the West End community; a conversation between bestselling authors Tayari Jones and Pearl Cleage; a conversation between the executive directors of Atlanta Contemporary and Les Abattoirs/Toulouse to discuss challenges of promoting art during COVID-19, gender equality, and racism; a screening of the “John Lewis: Good Trouble”; an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performance of Lazarus created by acclaimed hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris; a public art initiative  featuring renowned artist Carrie Mae Weems, in collaboration with SCAD, to raise critical heath awareness; and musical performances by Kebbi Williams and The Wolf Pack, The Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra, Gritz and Jelly Butter, Tony Hightower, and Julie Dexter. For the full schedule, visit elevateart.com.

Voices Carry
The 16th annual poetry reading presented by Poetry Atlanta and Georgia Center for the Book will be virtual this year on Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. This year’s reading will feature work by award-winning poets Cecilia Woloch, Theresa Davis, Karen Head, Julie E. Bloemeke, and Gustavo Hernandez. Visit georgiacenterforthebook.org for more information.

Little 5 Points Halloween Parade
This year’s parade is going virtual with participants having submitted videos wearing their spooky and gory finest. The virtual grand marshal will be that melancholy clown, Puddles Pity Party. The virtual parade is set for Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. and can be watched online at facebook.com/L5PHalloween.

Named one of the scariest haunted houses in the world year after year, Netherworld will be scaring the pants off visitors at its new Stone Mountain home, but in fewer numbers and with social distancing. Timed tickets purchased online will be required, while all guests are required to wear masks and get a temperature check. At press time, exact dates and times had not been announced, so visit fearworld.com for the latest updates.

Atlanta Botanical Garden
The annual “Scarecrows in the Garden” returns starting Oct. 1-Nov. 1 with more than 100 kooky and creative characters perched throughout the Midtown greenspace. They’re all the creative handiwork of area schools, businesses, organizations and individuals. On Oct. 25,  kids are invited to dress up in their best costumes and participate in socially-distanced activities during “Goblins in the Garden” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit atlantabg.org.

Scarecrows in the Garden

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.