Arts Fuse critics select the best in film, theater, dance, music, visual arts, and author events for the coming week.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
Through May 23
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA
In 1964 author Samuel Beckett set out on one of the strangest ventures in cinematic history: his embattled collaboration with silent era genius Buster Keaton on the production of a short, untitled, avant-garde film. Beckett was nearing the peak of his fame, which would culminate in his receiving a Nobel Prize five years later. Keaton, in his waning years, never lived to see Beckett’s canonization. The film has been the subject of praise, condemnation, and controversy for decades. Yet the eclectic participants are just one part of a story that stretches to the very birth of cinema, and spreads out to our understanding of human consciousness itself.
This is the feature-length movie on FILM’s production and its philosophical implications, utilizing additional outtakes, never before heard audio recordings of the production meetings, and other rare archival elements. Screens with FILM (1965). (Brattle Theatre notes).
Youth of the Beast (Yaju no seishun)
May 23 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA
“The densely plotted Youth of the Beast takes off from a familiar arrangement of yakuza tropes—a hard-ass outsider with a hidden agenda ingratiates himself with a mob honcho—and quickly turns madcap, hurling at the screen an unfurling network of cops-turned-criminals and violent sociopaths, vengeful kingpins and their suspicious molls. Eventually, when the distinctions become more-or-less null, the brashness of Suzuki’s developing style takes precedent.” (HFA)
Seijun Suzuki at the Brattle
Through June 1
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA
The quirky, hard-boiled art cinema of Suzuki continues with the following screenings. See link to schedule for details:
Eight Hours of Fear
May 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Passport to Darkness
May 24 at 9 p.m.
May 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Smashing the O-Line
May 25 at 9:30 p.m.
By and About Chantal Akerman
Through May 29
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Chantal Akerman died last year at the age of 65. The Criterion Collection sees her as “one of the boldest cinematic visionaries of the past quarter century [who] takes a profoundly personal and aesthetically idiosyncratic approach to the form, using it to investigate geography and identity, space and time, sexuality and religion.” The museum presents Akerman’s last film, No Home Movie, which chronicles several conversations between the filmmaker and her mother just months before the latter’s death. It will also screen the new documentary I Don’t Belong Anywhere: The Cinema of Chantal Akerman.
– Tim Jackson
The Newton Dance Concert
May 22 at 3 p.m.
Newton Highlands Congregational Church
Head to Newton this afternoon for the second annual Newton Dance Concert—part of the Newton Festival for the Arts. New works take the stage by CreationDance, directed by Helena Froehlich; Dance Currents Inc., directed by Kathy Hassinger; Selmadanse, directed by Joanie Block; and Thaillai Fine Arts Academy, directed by Sunanda Narayanan.
May 22 at 1 p.m., May 27 at 7:30 p.m., and May 28 at 1 p.m.
Boston Opera House
Boston Ballet presents a captivating program of contemporary dance, featuring four works by José Martinez, Yury Yanowsky, Norbert Vesak, and Karole Armitage. Arts Fuse review
May 29 at 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Casey Theatre at Regis College
Flying Ink visualizes the beauty and power of traditional Chinese calligraphy by way of production ‘staged’ on the bodies of men and women.
– Merli V. Guerra
A Celebration of Spring. Directed by Patrick Swanson. Music Direction by George Emlen. Presented by Revels and Perkins School for the Blind at the Perkins School for the Blind, Dwight Hall, 175 No. Beacon Street, Watertown, MA, on May 26.
The 16th annual presentation of “this hour-long performance of seasonal music and dance” which “will feature the Perkins Secondary Chorus (Arnie Harris, director), Revels Singers, song leader and musician David Coffin, a young rapper sword team, and a great band of musicians. And it wouldn’t be a Revels celebration of spring without morris dancing and a visit from the ancient and mysterious Padstow ‘Obby ‘Oss, all the way from Cornwall, England!”
– Bill Marx
Paul Strand in Vermont: 1943-1946
May 27 – August 7
Middlebury College Museum of Art, Middlebury, VT
One of the great American modernists, Paul Strand had a career as a photographer and filmmaker that took him from his native New York City to Mexico, Italy, Scotland, North and West Africa, and eventually France, where he spent the last three decades of his life. After almost a decade of concentrating on socially-engaged films, Strand spent the years 1943 to 1946 in Vermont, returning to still photography. This exhibition gathers some two dozen images from Strand’s mid-career New England sojourn, exploring some of his most famous and powerful works. The selection sheds light on Strand’s thoughts about the past and future of his art while he was working on a 1945 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art and making plans for his book Time in New England (1950). The show will feature photographs which helped remake the aesthetic profile of Northern New England.
Julien Prévieux: What Shall We Do Next and Patterns of Life
May 27 -
RISD Museum, Providence, RI
In 2014, artist Julien Prévieux won the Marcel Duchamp Prize for his project “What Shall We Do Next.” According to the artist, the work is based on “the regulated behaviors of our everyday life.” The piece is performed by actors and dancers and combines both choreography and filmmaking. Prévieux’s work has been widely shown in his native France and internationally. His vision puts a 21st-century urge to combine old and new media at the service of a classically French, absurdist outlook on politics, economics, and the routine indignities of human existence. This RISD show includes his videos “What Shall We Do” (Sequence #2) (2014) and “Patterns of Life” (2015).
‘Explode Every Day’ An Inquiry into the Phenomena of Wonder
MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA
With “Explode Every Day,” MASS MoCA promises to “harness the concept of wonder for an exhibition.” The presenation includes the work of twenty-one contemporary artists from New England, New York, California, London, and Paris. “The state of wonder agitates, mesmerizes, and is almost forcible and shocking,” says curator Denise Markonish. “It is a sudden intake of breath, a gaping mouth, a relinquishing of understanding.” The show’s title was inspired by the late fantasy writer Ray Bradbury, a connoisseur and noted purveyor of wonder, who once remarked “you remain invested in your inner child by exploding every day.”
May 28 – July 18
The Saint-Gardens Memorial, Cornish, NH
Brooklyn-based sculptor Kirsten Hassenfeld combines recycled paper and other found objects into installations of an oddly fantastic beauty, transformations that suggest a desert mirage or a summer garden under candle-lit lanterns. Hassenfeld’s exhibition at the Saint-Gardens Memorial (which follows a 2015 fellowship at the country place of the Gilded Age sculptor) would seem to be perfectly suited to this environment: an idealized fin-de-siècle setting in rural New Hampshire, with its rolling lawns, converted country tavern, and Italian loges and walkways.
– Peter Walsh
World Music and Roots
Pianist and Klezmer Conservatory Band founder Hankus Netsky joins singer/fiddler and fellow NEC professor Eden MacAdam-Somer for a night of Yiddish cabaret.
Boston’s internationally loved Ethiopian-inspired collective celebrates the release of their first LP in four years. Providence’s boisterous What Cheer? Brigade brass band are the inspired opener for this World Music Crasharts presentation. Arts Fuse interview with Debo Band leader Danny Mekonnen.
18th Annual Memorial Day campfire
Club Passim, Cambridge, MA
Perhaps spelled with a lowercase c to dispel any expectations that an actual campfire will be raging in Club Passim, this weekend marathon of “in-the-round” sets features about 100 local songwriters in different configurations.
Although summer events like the New Bedford and Lowell folk festivals frequently feature traditional Québécois outfits, these groups rarely make it to town the rest of the year. This quartet is one of the Québécois scene’s most enduring and energetic.
– Noah Schaffer
In the Body of the World, written and performed by Eve Ensler. Directed by Diane Paulus. Staged by the American Repertory Theatre at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA, through May 29.
A “world-premiere adaptation of Ensler’s critically acclaimed 2013 memoir of the same name” In this solo piece, the activist and artist (The Vagina Monologues, Emotional Creature, The Good Body, O.P.C.) “celebrates the strength and joy that connect a single body to the planet.” “While working in the Congo, where war continues to inflict devastating violence on women, Ensler was diagnosed with stage III/IV uterine cancer. This diagnosis erased the boundaries between Ensler’s art, her work, and her own body. This production charts the connections between the personal and the public, inviting and challenging all of us to come back into our bodies, and thus the world.”
Laura, adapted for the stage by George Sklar and Vera Caspary. Directed by Sarah Gazdowicz. At the Stoneham Theatre, 395 Main Street, Stoneham, MA, through May 22.
A stage version of Otto Preminger’s terrific 1944 film noir: “Everyone is a suspect in the murder of Laura Hunt, an irresistibly attractive business woman trying to make her way in the world of advertising. A hardboiled detective on the case becomes infatuated with her portrait after reading her memoirs and her closest friends don’t trust him.” I have my doubts that any actor come close to Clifton Webb’s consummate Waldo Lydecker?
Eyes Shut. Door Open. by Cassie M. Seinuk. Directed by Christopher Randolph. Staged by Wax Wings Productions at Warehouse XI, Union Square, Somerville, MA, through May 26.
A revival of Seinuk’s intriguing drama; about the play’s earlier production (in August 2015), Arts Fuse critic Ian Thal thought that “weak production elements [obscured] a powerful performance of an intensely relentless script.”
Freud’s Last Session by Mark St. Germain. Directed by Jim Petosa. Staged by New Repertory Theatre at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in the Charles Mosesian Theater, Watertown, MA, through May 22.
“The imagined meeting of two of the 20th century’s greatest academics, Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis.” In the cast: Shelley Bolman and Joel Colodner. Arts Fuse review
Mud Blue Sky by Marisa Wegrzyn. Directed by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary. Staged by Bridge Repertory Theater at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, through June 5.
The plot of this comedy: “three flight attendants approaching their retirement years find themselves on a typical layover, only to be joined in their hotel by Jonathan, the local teenage pot-dealer who has just left his hot date at the prom.” A sterling cast includes Deb Martin, Adrianne Krstansky, Leigh Barrett, and Kaya Simmons.
The Taming by Lauren Gunderson. Directed by Nicole Ricciardi. Staged by Shakespeare & Company at the Elayne Bernstein Theatre, Lenox, MA, May 27 through July 30.
A political satire/farce with a cartoon premise: “Super-patriot Miss Georgia has something bigger in mind for the Miss America pageant than winning a crown. She wants to jump-start a movement to rewrite the Constitution. So she’s locked herself in a hotel room with two captive political opposites and the ensuing conflict plays out in hilarious fashion, complete with a screwball chase scene, underwear gags, and slyly developing sexual attractions.”
I Was Most Alive with You, written and directed by Craig Lucas. Staged by the Huntington Theater Company, at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, May 27 through June 26.
“A family’s faith is severely tested when their adult son, a Deaf, gay, recovering addict played by Russell Harvard (Fargo, Spring Awakening), sees his carefully calibrated world fall apart after an accident. Performed simultaneously in English and American Sign Language.”
Dogfight, based on the Warner Bros. film and screenplay by Bob Comfort. Music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Book by Peter Duchan. Directed by Paul Daigneaut. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Boston Center for the Arts, through June 4.
The Boston premiere of a musical set in the Vietnam era: “It’s November 21, 1963; and on the eve of their deployment to a small but growing conflict in Southeast Asia, three young Marines set out for one final boys’ night of debauchery, partying, and maybe a little trouble. But when Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets Rose, an awkward and idealistic waitress he enlists to win a cruel bet with his fellow recruits, she rewrites the rules of the game and teaches him the power of love and compassion.” Arts Fuse review
Blood on the Snow by Patrick Gabridge. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Presented by the Bostonian Society in partnership with the National Park Service at the Old State House, 206 Washington Street, Boston, MA, through May 29.
A historical drama that sets out to reexamine the Boston Massacre and shed “light on its ties to contemporary events.” The impressive cast includes Dale Place, Ken Baltin, Bill Mootos, and Lewis Wheeler.
Peter and the Starcatcher by Rick Elice, based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Music by Wayne Barker. Directed by Spiro Veloudos. Music Director, Catherine Stornetta, Choreography by Ilyse Robbins. Staged by Lyric Stage of Boston, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, through June 26.
A prequel to Peter Pan: “An acclaimed new play (partly inspired by the theatricality of Nicholas Nickleby) that uses ingenious stagecraft, the talents of a dozen of our favorite actors, and the limitless possibilities of your imagination to create theatrical magic.” The show “chronicles the adventures of Molly, a girl charged to protect a cargo of stardust from falling into the wrong hands, and an orphan named Peter who eventually becomes The Boy Who Never Grew Up.” The cast includes some real pros — Margaret Ann Brady, Ed Hoopman, Margarita Martinez, Will McGarrahan, Marc Pierre, and Robert Saoud. Arts Fuse review
Presto Change-O Book and Lyrics by Eric Price. Music by Joel Waggoner. Choreography by Chris Bailey. Directed by Marc Bruni. Staged by Barrington Stage Company at the St. Germain Stage, Pittsfield, MA, through June 11.
World premiere production of an “exciting new musical tells the story of three generations of magicians who find themselves under one roof for the first time in years. When the grandfather causes real magic to happen, they must confront their past mistakes and re-examine what it means to be a family.”
“On a hallucinatory road trip from the Badlands to Graceland, the spirits of Elvis Presley and Theodore Roosevelt battle over the soul of the painfully shy meat processing plant worker, Ann, and over what kind of man or woman Ann should become. Set against the boundless blue skies of the Great Plains and endless American highway, RoosevElvis is a new work about gender, appetite, and the multitudes we contain.” Arts Fuse review
– Bill Marx
Grace Kelly with David Sanborn
May 22 at 7 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA.
Now 23, the former girl wonder of Boston jazz has a fine new album, Trying To Figure It Out, is appearing five nights a week with Jon Batiste & Stay Human on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and has been featured on the Amazon Prime TV series Bosch (based on the Michael Connelly character). Tonight she faces off with “special guest” David Sanborn, a formidable foil. Besides having chops to spare, Kelly has become an especially effective ballad-standard player and singer. She’s now old enough to know what those songs are about. Arts Fuse interview
If Gypsy swing is your thing (with a dash of flamenco), Ameranouche delivers with ace Djangological guitarist Richard Sheppard, rhythm guitarist Jack Soref providing the requisite “pomp” chords, and Michael K. Harrist on contrabass.
Daniel Levin 4tet
May 26 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Somerville, MA.
“Cellist Daniel Levin’s drummerless quartet occupies a musical space bordered by many kinds of music, but fully defined by none of them.” Works for me! And we like the ingredients: Levin with vibist Matt Moran, bassist Toby Cederberg, and Mat Maneri on viola and violin.
– Jon Garelick
Presented by Grand Harmonie
May 26 and 27, 7:30 p.m.
Second Church, Newton (Thursday) and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Cambridge (Friday)
Grand Harmonie wraps up its season with a program devoted to music for 18th- and 19th-century brasswinds, including Jacques-Francois Gallet’s Grand Quartet; a pair of Mozart Divertimenti; and fanfares by C.P.E. Bach, Salieri, and others.
Chameleon Arts Ensemble
May 22 at 4 p.m.
Goethe-Institut, 170 Beacon Street, Boston, MA
A program entitled “songs of earth and sky.” The musical line-up: Ernest Bloch’s Baal Shem, Three Pictures of Chassidic Life for violin & piano, Elena Firsova’s Meditation in a Japanese Garden for flute, viola & piano, Olivier Messiaen’s Chants de terre et de ciel for soprano & piano, David Ludwig, Haiku Catharsis for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano & percussion, and Camille Saint-Saëns’s Piano Trio No. 2 in e minor, Op. 92.
May 22 at 3 p.m.
Cathedral Church of St. Paul, 138 Tremont Street, Boston, MA
The program is entitled “The American Vocalist.” “Camerata’s pioneering exploration of folk hymnody in the young Republic includes spiritual songs, hymns, and anthems in a vigorous and authentic homegrown manner. This style, recalling many elements of European early music, grew up in the singing schools of colonial New England, travelled South and West in the 19th century, and continues to live on thanks to a new generation of motivated singers in all parts of the country. This collaboration with the newly-renovated Cathedral Church of St. Paul includes singers from local parish choirs.”
May 24 at 7 p.m
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 15 St. Paul Street, Brookline, MA
“Rising star George Li returns to Winsor Music as the Young Artist for the final concert of the season, performing the Brahms Quintet for piano and strings in f minor, Op. 34. Portuguese composer Andreia Pinto-Correia gives the world premiere of her new quartet for oboe and strings, Dalla Legenda aurea.”
West Stockbridge Chamber Players Benefit Concert
May 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Lutheran Church of the Newtons, 1310 Centre Street, Newton, MA
A concert that features “professional musicians who play with the BSO, Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, and other leading ensembles.” On the program: Halvorsen’s Passacaglia for violin and cello, Prokofiev’s Quintet, Op. 39 (oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, and bass), and Mozart’s Divertimento in Eb, K563 for string trio.
– Susan Miron
Rock, Pop, and Folk
The Vaccines will be in town for Boston Calling, so they must have figured that it wouldn’t hurt to squeeze in another show while they were here. This sounds-of-yesteryear-embracing British quartet, which released its third album English Graffiti last May, has drawn comparisons to The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Strokes. Check out the band’s warm-up gig Friday night at The Sinclair.
May 27 through 29
City Hall Plaza, Boston, MA
3-day General Admission: $185
3-day VIP: $375
Weekend 2-day General Admission: $160
Weekend 3-day VIP: $325
Friday: General Admission—$60, VIP—$150
Saturday: General Admission—$85, VIP—$185
Sunday: General Admission—$85, VIP—$185
Friday, May 27
Sia, Sufjan Stevens, Lisa Hannigan and Aaron Dessner
Saturday, May 2
Robyn, Odesza, Miike Snow, City and Color, Courtney Barnett, Børns, The Vaccines, Battles, Lizzo, Palehound
Sunday, May 29
Disclosure, Haim, Janelle Monáe, Elle King, The Front Bottoms, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Vince Staples, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Christine and The Queens, Michael Christmas
Like The Vaccines, singer Charles Bradley decided to tack on a second performance during his weekend visit to Beantown. Bradley, however, will be hitting up The Sinclair several hours after dispensing his Boston Calling performance. Having released his debut album at age 62 in 2011 and a follow-up two years later, the classic soul-style singer is now three for three with this year’s Changes, the title track to which is a cover of a Black Sabbath song. That might seem unlikely, but it unfolds beautifully thanks to Bradley’s extraordinary set of pipes.
Upcoming and on sale:
Ruby Rose Fox (June 3, Middle East Downstairs); Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (June 7, Regent Theatre); Diiv (June 7, The Sinclair); Modern English (June 7, Middle East Downstairs); Bearstronaut (June 10, The Sinclair); Cherie Currie (June 11, Brighton Music Hall); Buffalo Tom (June 11, Paradise Rock Club); The Jayhawks (June 13, Royale); John Doe (June 13, Atwood’s Tavern); Dungen (June 16, The Sinclair); Wye Oak (June 19, The Sinclair); Deerhoof (June 24, Brighton Music Hall); Dead Kennedys (June 25, Paradise Rock Club); Pere Ubu (June 27, Sinclair); And the Kids (July 7, The Sinclair); Guided By Voices (July 11, Paradise Rock Club); Sonny & The Sunsets (July 12, ONCE Ballroom); Wussy (July 13, Middle East Upstairs); Rhett Miller (July 16, ONCE Ballroom); Paul McCartney (July 17, Fenway Park); Super Furry Animals (July 24, The Sinclair); White Lung (July 30, Brighton Music Hall); Bryan Ferry (July 31, Blue Hills Bank Pavilion); Yes (August 4, Lynn Auditorium); Belly (August 9, Royale); X (August 15, Brighton Music Hall); Ani DiFranco (September 1 and 2, Shalin Liu Performance Center); Little Feat (September 8, Wilbur Theatre); Echo & The Bunnymen (September 8, House of Blues); The Specials (September 12, House of Blues); Okkervil River (August 14-15, The Sinclair); Pet Shop Boys (November 9, Orpheum Theatre); Peter Hook & The Light (November 26, The Sinclair)
– Blake Maddux
Cass R Sunstein
The World According to Star Wars
Introduction by Jonanthan Zittrain
May 23 at 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30)
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA
Who knew that the venerable law professor and public intellectual was a Star Wars superfan? Sunstein will discuss the world of Star Wars and how its legendary themes touch on eternally relevant issues: family, fate, good vs. evil, rebellion and the real meaning of The Force.
Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating
In Conversation with Meredith Goldstein
May 23 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA
There’s been quite a bit of hand-wringing in the media about the end of dating, and the rules and routines of courtship have certainly changed with the times. Weigel is a PhD candidate at Yale who has been researching the new trends in dating with a feminist approach that emphasizes how our look for love changes who we are.
Ari Rabin-Havt and Media Matters for America
Lies, Incorporated: The World of Post-Truth Politics
May 24 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner, MA
Now that Trump has effectively secured the presidential nomination, the fact that he has yet to actually offer anything in the way of substance says a lot about our current low standards of political rhetoric. The experts at Media Matters for America round up some of our most egregious examples of truth-free political claims on topics ranging from heath care to climate change.
Finding Fontainebleau: An American Boy in France
May 24 at 7 p.m.
The Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley MA
At the end of WWII, the Carhart family and their NATO officer father left Virginia and moved to Fontainebleau, a bustling provincial town surrounding the Chateau, one of the masterworks of French architecture. Carhart intertwines his own family background with the history of the location, in an effort to restore it to its former glory.
The Noise of Time
May 26 at 6 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Coolidge Corner MA
Tickets from $5.70- $26.55 (includes copy of the book)
In his first novel since the Booker Prize-winning The Sense of An Ending, Barnes immerses the reader into the brilliant music and nightmarish circumstances of Dimitri Shostakovich, who composed his haunting, haunted compositions under the constant threat of Stalin’s police state.
The Inventors: A Memoir
May 31 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA
Selgin is an award-winning novelist who recounts the story of his becoming the close friend of a charismatic high school teacher, whose personal story seemed uncannily like his own. Selgin was shocked to discover years later that everything his mentor had told him about his own past turned out to be an exotic fabrication.
Unspeakable Things: A Novel
June 1 at 7 p.m.
Newtonville Books, Newton Centre MA
Spivak’s latest novel takes place amid the febrile world of European intellectuals on the run from Nazism and the surreal, heart-rending ways in which they seek freedom and peace. The Boston Globe calls it “Wildly imaginative and heart-piercingly direct, ringing with poetry.”
The Politicians and the Egalitarians: The Hidden History of American Politics
June 1 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
The esteemed historian begins his latest book with the claim that “there are two keys unlocking the secrets of American politics and American history.” The first is the egalitarian tradition — the founder’s belief that social inequality and economic extremes will destroy democracy. The second is hyper partisanship, a permanent fixture in American life and, according to Wilentz, the country is the better for it.
– Matt Hanson