Arts Fuse critics select the best in theater, film, music, author events, and dance for the coming weeks.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival
through February 20
Somerville Theater, Somerville, MA
The Boston Science Fiction Film Festival screens features, shorts, webisodes, and hosts workshops and parties. It highlights work by emerging directors from around the globe. The 42nd year of this, America’s oldest genre festival, concludes with The Marathon, a 24-hour orgiastic motion picture endurance test featuring classic, new, and schlock films. The festivities starts at noon on the 19th and ends at noon on President’s Day. List of films.
2017 Oscar Nominated Shorts: Live Action
Opens on February 17
At the Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline, MA
Following two programs of Oscar nominated Documentary Short films, the theater presents a program of short live-action films that includes Ennemis Interieurs (France), Silent Nights (Denmark), Sing (Hungary), Timecode (Spain), and La Femme et la TGV (Switzerland).
Other People’s Footage
February 21 at 7 p.m.
Bright Lights Screening Room, Paramount Theater, Boston, MA
Other People’s Footage: Copyright & Fair Use explores three questions that are crucial to determining fair use exemptions. The film presents illustrative examples from nonfiction, fiction, and experimental films that use pre-existing footage, music, and sound from the creations of others — without having obtained permission or paid any fees. Through on-camera interviews with noted documentarians, film, and legal experts, OPF also reviews relevant court cases and clarifies legal issues regarding trademark, parody, and shooting on location or in a controlled setting. Discussion with directors Diane E. Carson Robert Johnson to follow led by Dr. Deborah Geisler from Suffolk University. Free
The Sunshine Makers
February 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m.
At the Regent Theater, Arlington, MA
This is the untold story of Nicholas San and Tim Scully, the unlikely duo at the heart of 1960s American drug counterculture. The pair’s mind-expanding utopian mission: to save the planet through the consciousness-raising power of LSD. These underground chemists manufactured a massive amount of acid all while staying one step ahead of the Feds.
The Boston Society of Film Critics Annual Awards Ceremony and Screening
February 19 at 7 p.m.
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA
After a three-year hiatus, The BSFC will once again present its annual awards ceremony (with a local focus) at the Brattle Theatre. The documentary The Dying Of The Light will screen in honor of award recipient Peter Flynn. The film explores the history and craft of motion picture presentation through the lives and stories of the last generation of projectionists. Trailer
Other local recipients include Connie White, director of the Provincetown International Film Festival, the Alloy Orchestra, the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra, the Somerville Theatre for its innovative 70mm and widescreen presentations, and the Boston University Cinémathèque Film Program. Filmmaker Guy Maddin will appear in Person. The ceremony will include moments of musical entertainment and, as in years past, a charity raffle with unique prizes. The event will be preceded by a cocktail reception. A share of the proceeds will go to the ACLU.
February 25 at 8 p.m.
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA
This cult classic will be shown on 35mm. It concerns five New Yorkers with self-styled movie obsessions that border on the psychotic. Eric Chadbourne, who is an obsessive collector as well as viewer who is living on disability payments; Harvey Schwartz, who memorizes enormous amounts of factual data, such as movie running times; and Roberta Hill, who is such an aggressive audience member that she has been kicked out of several theaters. Unemployed and living in denial, Bill Heidbreder is into European art films to a serious degree, while the somewhat self-aware Jack Angstreich lives off of his inheritance and claims to keep up a schedule of watching five movies a day. The conclusion, appropriately enough, features the five subjects screening a rough cut of the documentary and offering their comments. Shot on digital video, Cinemania contains a cinema-themed soundtrack provided by witty French indie pop band Stereo Total. Trailer
– Tim Jackson
through March 5
José Mateo Ballet Theatre brings three original ballets to the stage this week, each focused on a different facet of romance, from lust to love. With cabaret seating, and wines selected by Jen Fields of Alden and Harlow, this performance makes for a unique night out.
February 23-March 5
Boston Opera House
Utilizing spoken word, artful sets, and challenging choreography, famed choreographer William Forsythe’s Artifact makes its North American debut, performed by the dancers of Boston Ballet.
Kelley Donovan & Dancers
February 24 & 25 at 8pm
Green Street Studios
Kelley Donovan & Dancers presents two works in Cambridge: Shifting Earth and The Body Becomes the Messenger. While the first focuses on events that make one feel vulnerable (loss, sudden change, illness, etc.), the second explores the connection between body and spirit—creating a well-balanced evening of works.
– Merli V. Guerra
Brecht on Brecht by Bertolt Brecht. Arranged by George Tabori from various translations. Directed by Jim Petosa. Staged by New Repertory Theatre in the Black Box Theater at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, through March 5.
This script “celebrates one of the 20th century’s greatest dramatists in a stunning revue of his life’s work. Featuring songs and scenes from Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler, and Bertolt Brecht’s most famous collaborations, and first-hand accounts from Brecht himself, Brecht on Brecht explores the political and social issues he faced as an artist fleeing Nazism and his eventual exile in America.” Of course, aside from The Scottsboro Boys over at SpeakEasy Stage, productions of Brecht-influenced theater (let along his plays) are scarce. Why? Increasingly, our theater is about inspiration and entertainment, part of what William Davies calls “The Happiness Industry.” May this show at least remind audiences (and theater artists) that theater can be so much more.
Don’t Give Up the Ship by Laura Neill. Directed by Joshua Glenn-Kayden. Staged by Fresh Ink at the Plaza Blackbox at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, through February 25.
Sounds like a surrealist feminist romp: “When Diana, a middle-aged mother of two, wakes up as Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, hero of the War of 1812, she suddenly commands much more of her life than she used to. Imagining that her daughters are warring lieutenants, her ex-husband is her four-year-old son, and her nurse Lizzie is her darling wife, Diana establishes an identity that is much closer to her true self than anyone expected.”
Natasha’s Dream by Yaroslava Pulinovich. Translated by John Freedman. Directed by Igor Golyak. The Arlekin Players staging presented by New Rep in the Black Box Theater at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, through February 21.
In this Russian script, “a girl tells the story of her life in a small-town orphanage, and her desire to be free; to fly away and break the vicious circle of life. From the inside of a courtroom, she makes twists and turns through her unique appeal to audiences, letting them into her world where she dreams about love, family, acceptance, adjusting, and her future.” Arlekin Players Theatre was created in Boston in 2009 and has since toured in New York, Chicago, and Hartford.
Really by Jackie Sibblies Drury. Directed by Shawn LaCount. Staged by Company One in partnership with Matter & Light Fine Art, at Matter & Light Fine Art, 63 Thayer Street SOWA, Boston, MA, through March 4.
A New England premiere: “In a studio filled with photographs, two very different women work to process the disappearance of a charming, volatile artist. But which of them really knew him?” Arts Fuse review
Edward II by Christopher Marlowe. Directed by David R. Gammons. Staged by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project at the Charlestown Working Theater, Charlestown, MA, February 22 through March 19.
A rare outing in Boston for Marlowe’s prophetic exploration of the social consequences of homosexual desire: The playwright “uses the tumultuous history of 14th century England to share one man’s struggle between self identity and the demands of his court and kingdom, presented in a taut new version that pares the work to eight characters.”
Exit Strategy by Ike Holter. Directed David J. Miller. Staged by the Zeitgeist Stage Company at the Boston Center for the Arts, Plaza Theatre Boston, MA, through March 11.
Sounds like a very relevant script, given the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education under the Trump Administration. The play “examines the human implications of one school closing in a taut comedy/drama about the future of public education. A large city school is slated to permanently close at the end of the school year. The school’s staff reacts with different modes of self-survival, while a precocious student redirects the school’s website to an Indiegogo campaign to fund the school’s survival.”
Stage Kiss by Sarah Ruhl. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company at 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, February 24 through March 26.
“Life imitates Art. Art imitates Life — and Love.” In this script, “two squabbling long-lost loves are cast as long-lost lovers, and quickly lose touch with reality in this comic, romantic, and revealing play-within-a-play.”
Women in Jeopardy! by Wendy MacLeod. Directed by Sean Daniels. At the Merrimack Repertory Theatre at 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA, February 15 through March 12.
This “riotous” comedy ‘follows Mary and Jo, two middle-aged women who jump to the rescue when their best friend Liz falls for a creepy (and potentially murderous) dentist.” You have to love/hate the show’s marketing motto: “Screw the mid-life crisis; let’s solve some crimes!”
The Honey Trap by Leo McGann. Directed by Adam Kassim. A BU New Play Initiative production staged by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and the Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, through February 26.
“What seems to be a typical night at a pub turns into something much darker for two off-duty British soldiers in 1979. Decades later, an oral history project reopens old wounds for one of the soldiers and sends him back to Ireland in search of answers and revenge.”
Ill Seen Ill Said & Not I by Samuel Beckett. Directed by Erik Ehn. Staged by Wilbury Theatre Group’s Studio W at 393 Broad Street, Providence, RI, February 23 through 26.
A rare opportunity to see Ill Seen Ill Said, “a late work from Samuel Beckett that paints a haunting picture of an old woman alone in a cabin, who watches the evening and the morning star and ventures out chiefly to visit a grave.” Also on the existential bill: Not I.
Informed Consent by Deborah Zoe Laufer. Directed by Dale J. Young. Staged by Apollinaire Theatre Company at the Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea, MA, through March 12.
Sounds like a scientific/political problem play: “An ambitious geneticist is hired to help solve why a Native American tribe is being devastated by diabetes, but her research threatens to destroy their most sacred traditions.”
Jonah and the Whale Book by Tyler Mills. Music and Lyrics by David Darrow and Blake Thomas. Orchestrations by Robert Frost. Directed by Weylin Symes. At the Stoneham Theatre, 395 Main Street, Stoneham, MA, February 23 through March 12.
An East Coast premiere of a new musical that is an “epic musical journey that re-imagines one of the strangest and most familiar stories in the Old Testament.” It is “an unforgettable story of faith, loss, and survival against unbeatable odds” and “features a completely original pop/folk score.” I hope the whale gets to sing …
The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh. Directed by Garry Hynes. The Druid Theatre Company staging is presented by ArtsEmerson at the Emerson/Paramount Center, Robert J. Orchard Stage, Boston, MA, through February 26.
A revival of “a subversive thriller that takes audiences through the twists and turns of the ultimate dysfunctional relationship, revealing what can happen when family ties go too far…way too far.” Twenty years ago, the Druid Theatre Company’s production of this deeply dark script was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning four. “Druid returns with Tony Award winning director, Garry Hynes’s remount of this spectacular production. Marie Mullen, who won the Tony for her performance as the daughter, returns this time in the role of the mother, while Aisling O’Sullivan takes the role of the daughter.”
The Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams. Directed by Michael Wilson. Presented by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, through March 18.
“On the edge of the Mexican jungle, a group of troubled travelers seek shelter from a storm. Tennessee Williams’ feverishly poetic 1961 drama follows a hotel proprietress and the scandal-soaked Southern preacher who turns up on her veranda. A Nantucket portrait artist traveling with her ancient grandfather, a bus full of fuming Texan college administrators, and a party of vacationers collide in this drama about how far we travel to outrun the demons within.” The cast of for this revival is high-powered — it includes Dana Delany, Bill Heck, Amanda Plummer, Elizabeth Ashley, James Earl Jones, and Sussanah Perkins.”
– Bill Marx
The Django-inspired Rhythm Future Quartet is violinist Jason Anick and guitarist Olli Soikkeli, rhythm guitarist Max O’Rourke, and bassist Greg Loughman. Named for one of Django Reinhardt’s most adventurous compositions, the band blend a sure grasp of the tradition — with the requisite stunning chops — and an ambitious handful of original compositions.
Dave Bryant/Eric Hofbauer/Jacob William
February 21 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.
Keyboardist Dave Bryant and guitarist Eric Hofbauer have always been interested in extending the jazz language, as composers and players (Bryant was a longtime member of Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time). Here they join forces with the estimable bassist Jacob William.
Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica
February 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge. MA.
The composer and polymath percussionist Brian O’Neill convenes the quintet version of his “exotica” project, Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica, with its intricate web of musical influences and combination of detailed writing and directed improvisation. The crew includes Geni Skendo on bass flute, flute, and shakuhachi; bassist Brad Barrett; Tev Stevig on oud, tanbur, and resonator guitar; and Jeremy Smith on percussion. O’Neill’s pieces include adaptions of Bach, Gershwin, Shostakovich, and John Adams in “cinematic, layered music for armchair travelers ready to journey off road.”
Eric Harland/James Francies/Love Science Music
February 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
Drummer Eric Harland anchors any number of big-name projects, including bands with Charles Lloyd, Dave Holland, and Joshua Redman. This group shows off his skills with chill grooves, a collaboration with keyboardist James Francies and the producer, DJ, drummer, and electronics guy Josh Giunta, dba Love Science Music.
February 25 at 7 p.m.
Piano Craft Gallery, Boston, MA.
The distinguished Boston bassist and composer Bruno Råberg celebrates the release of Triloka, an album-length piece for “for strings and soloists.” The beguiling blend of South Indian (Carnatic) music, Western classical, and jazz improvisation will feature, in this performance, violinists Layth Sidiq and Bengisu Gokce, violist David Wallace, and cellist Naseem Alatrash, along with Råberg’s bass.
February 25 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
Veteran composer, trombonist, and seashells player Steve Turre brings his “Quartet + 1”: pianist Oscar Perez, bassist Endea Owens, drummer Orion Turre, and special guest vocalist Andromeda Turre. As for Steve, he plays internationally infused post-bop with charismatic flair (those seashells were never just a gimmick). Daughter Andromeda seems to match her dad in combining impressive chops with sure musical taste.
Michael Olatuja and Lagos Pepper Soup
February 27 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
The virtuoso British-Nigerian bassist and composer Michael Olatuja plays an exuberant, crafty, ambitious fusion in a Metheny-esque vein.
Revolutionary Snake Ensemble
February 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
Boston’s venerable second-line influenced brass band, the RSE, coming off their latest release, I Want That Sound (Arts Fuse review), again celebrates Mardi Gras with saxophonist Charles Neville, of New Orleans legends the Neville Brothers, and one of his regular runnin’ partners, the fine vocalist Henri Smith.
Rebecca Cline/Rich Greenblatt
February 28 at 8:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.
Pianist Rebecca Cline, known for her mastery of Afro-Latin grooves in bands like Enclave, Obbini Tumbao, and Mango Blue, teams up with multi-directional vibist and composer Rich Greenblatt for a show they’re billing as “funky, groovy, in the pocket, and altogether unexpected.”
– Jon Garelick
Beethoven and Bruckner
Presented by the Boston Philharmonic
February 23 at 7:30 p.m., 25 at 8 p.m., and 26 at 3 p.m.
Sanders Theater, Cambridge (on the 23rd and 26th) and Jordan Hall, Boston, MA (on the 25th)
Benjamin Zander leads the BPO in Bruckner’s epic Symphony no. 9. Before that, the Boston Trio (Irina Muresanu, Jonah Ellsworth, and Heng-Jin Park) join them for Beethoven’s Triple Concerto.
Gubaidulina Premiere and Shostakovich Leningrad
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
February 23-25 at 8 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
Andris Nelsons’ winter residency wraps up with the world premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Bayan. Shostakovich’s sprawling Leningrad Symphony completes the program.
– Jonathan Blumhofer
Music for Food presents: From Bach to Berio
February 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Fenway Center/Northeastern University, 77 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA
On the program: Cowell’s Sonata for Violin and Piano (1945), performed by Daniel Koo, violin, and Vivian Weilerstein, piano; Berio’s Sequenza XIVb, performed by Edward Kass, bass; Martinu’s Madrigals, performed by Ayano Ninomiya, violin, and Dimitri Murrath, viola; Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet in g, Op. 57, performed by Don Weilerstein, violin; Kim Kashkashian, viola; Laurence Lesser, cello; Vivian Weilerstein, piano.
Boston Conservatory Wind Ensemble
February 24 at 8 p.m.
Old South Church
645 Boylston Street, Boston, MA
On the program: Schmidt’s Hommage à Stravinsky; Holland’s Dream Elegy; Stravinsky’s Mass (George Case, guest conductor); Kevin Kopsco (new work); Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol.
Boston Conservatory Chamber Series
February 24 at 8 p.m.
Boston Conservatory/Seully Hall, 8 Fenway, Boston, MA
On the program: Mozart’s Divertimento in E-flat, K.563; Lee’s Ecco! for violin and clarinet; Brahms’ Horn Trio.
J.S. Bach’s B Minor Mass
February 24 at 8 p.m.
At Jordan Hall/New England Conservatory, 290 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA
February 26 at 3 p.m.
At Cary Hall, 1605 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, MA
Cantata Singers returns to a piece that continues to be a touchstone for the organization: Bach’s great Mass in B minor.
Boston Cello Quartet
February 26 at 3 p.m.
At Temple Emanuel. 385 Ward Street, Newton, MA
Hammond Residential Real Estate Performing Arts Series presents the Boston Cello Quartet, which is comprised of Boston Symphony Orchestra cellists Blaise Dejardin, Adam Esbensen, Mihail Jojatu, and Alexandre Lecarme. “Their exciting program will feature works from international composers including Germany’s Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, Argentina’s Astor Piazzolla, the United States’ John Williams and Chick Corea, Italy’s Tomaso Albinoni and more.”
– Susan Miron
Rock, Pop, and Folk
Vancouver, BC duo Japandroids gave rock and roll fans a good bruising with its 2009 debut, Post-Nothing, and the 2012 follow-up, Celebration Rock. Five years later, guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse have delivered Near to the Wild Heart of Life, a third-straight eight-track, 30-something-minute, black-and-white covered collection that King describes as the duo’s “first attempt to make a proper studio album.” (He also cites Tom Waits as the prime influence on the duo during the making of this record.) The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn—who was born in Boston, raised in Minnesota, and educated at Boston College—will open the President’s Day show at Royale.
Montreal’s No Joy will speak for the Quebec scene on the day after Japandroids serves as British Columbia’s musical representatives. No Joy is also a duo, but one consisting of females, namely, Jasamine White-Glutz and Laura Lloyd. Together, they will bring their shoegaze revival stylings to Great Scott for the first date of a U.S. tour to promote the forthcoming EP Creep.
Lisa Hannigan is an Irish singer-songwriter who spent the early years of her career collaborating with fellow Emerald Isle native Damien Rice. As a solo artist, she has released three solo albums, including 2016’s At Swim, and covered songs by the immortal British folkies Bert Jansch, Nick Drake, and John Martyn. Having played day one of Boston Calling last year, she returns to Beantown on Tuesday to perform at Brighton Music Hall.
Despite having released an album in 1990, it was not until 1993’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) that GZA—aka, The Genius—secured his place in the halls of hip-hop immortality as a member of Wu-Tang Clan. Two years later, GZA reaffirmed his status a one of rap’s finest MCs with his solo album Liquid Swords. Outside of his music career, GZA is a committed advocate of science education who has appeared on Neil Degrasse Tyson’s radio show “Star Talk and lectured at Harvard and MIT. His Wednesday night gig at ONCE Ballroom, however, will (presumably) be all about the beats and the rhymes.
In the early and mid-90s, Tempe, AZ’s Gin Blossoms released at least half a dozen songs that my high school classmates and I can still sing word for word more than twenty years later. The band broke up in 1997, but regrouped in the early aughts to tour and put out new albums in 2006 and 2010. Hopefully, the ever-dependable quintet will preview material from its currently-in-the-works project at The Cabot on Friday.
“They’re so good at this that it seems almost unfair in its effortlessness,” wrote Neil Z. Yeung—if that is his real name—in his allmusic.com review of the third eponymous album by rap duo Run the Jewels. As with their first two releases, El-P and Killer Mike are happy to let you download RTJ3 free of charge from their website. If you do and like what you hear, then show them how much you appreciate it by starting off your weekend with them at House of Blues. (Before that, listen to their recent appearance on “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” here.)
– Blake Maddux
Roots and World Music
Joe Val Bluegrass Festival
Sheraton Framingham, MA
Once again the Boston Bluegrass Union’s celebration of all things bluegrass takes over that hotel on Route 9 that looks like a castle. There will be performances from stars like Jerry Douglas’ Earls of Leicester, Blue Highway, and Danny Paisley & Southern Grass, workshops, a regional showcase stage, and hours and hours of jam sessions for players of all levels everywhere in the building, from the hallways to the hotel rooms.
Boston Stands: A Mardi Gras Benefit for the ACLU
ONCE Ballroom, Somerville, MA
This annual New Orleans R&B salute by Boston roots rockers has been floating around local clubs for years. It’s now been reborn as a benefit for the ACLU. The wide-ranging cast includes Dennis Brennan, Chris Cote, Jittery Jack and Miss Amy among many others, all backed by Shawn Wolf Wortis and the Legendary Vudu Krewe.
Columbus Theater, Providence, Rhode Island
Some have wondered whether the current climate will make music more political. Of course, some artists never stopped being political. At 76, the Massachusetts-raised Native Canadian songwriter and social activist Buffy Sainte-Marie is as fired up as ever, as proven by her ferocious 2015 LP Fire in the Blood.
– Noah Schaffer
The River at Night
February 21 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA
Boston’s own Ferencik reads from her new thriller, involving four friends lost in the Maine woods whose friendships are tested after a sudden trauma causes them to suspect one another.
Bucky F*cking Dent: A Novel
February 22 from 12-1 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA
Tickets are $26, including copy and are required
In his first novel, the actor behind The X Files‘ enigmatic Agent Scully and hedonistic writer Hank Moody on Californication tells a story of fathers and sons set against the immortal Red Sox /Yankees rivalry. He will give a short reading and sign copies of the book.
The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap
February 28 at 7 p.m.
It’s no secret that the world is more interconnected, but the cultural differences of east and west becoming more and more pronounced. Drawing on a lifetime of experience living within both spaces, second generation Chinese-American Gish Jen explores — through personal anecdotes and research in cultural psychology — our cultural interdependence.
– Matt Hanson