Arts Fuse critics select the best in film, dance, visual arts, theater, music, and author events for the coming weeks.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
September 1 through 7
At the Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA
Plenty of critical huzzahs for the “final film from legendary documentarian Albert Maysles,” which “journeys into the hearts and minds of everyday passengers aboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder, the busiest long-distance train route in America. Captured in the tradition of Direct Cinema, the film unfolds as a series of interconnected vignettes, ranging from overheard conversations to moments of deep intimacy, in which passengers share their fears, hopes and dreams.”
Hermia & Helena
September 3 through 20
At the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Shakespeare lends a hand in this film from award-winning director Matías Piñeiro (Viola). The MFA tells us that this is an “absorbing tale of a young Argentine theater director named Camila who leaves behind her friends and lover to move to New York and work on a Spanish translation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Camila feels lonely and out of place in her new city, until a distraction arrives in the form of mysterious postcards.”
Contemporary Queer Films of Mexico
September 7 through 10
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
“In September, MFA Film presents a series of compelling new LGBT-themed shorts and feature films from Mexico. These films in this program use queer stories and characters to examine questions of sexism, crime, class, and Mexico’s colonial history, and offering a very different view of the country than that seen through American pop culture.” The line-up includes I Dream in Another Language, Carmin Tropical, and Tigers and Flowers: Queer Short Films from Mexico.
– Bill Marx
Hans Hofmann: Works on Paper
Through September 3
Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square, Portland, ME
It is a particular treat when you are given the chance to discover the less charted nooks and crannies of an acclaimed artist’s repertoire. In this case, it is the driven, intimate, and voluptuous works on paper by the celebrated German-American abstract painter and theoretician Hans Hofmann. His famed pictures have gotten the lion’s share of attention, but these works, which he created throughout the entirety of his vibrant career, are a must-see.
James Turrell – Into The Light
Through 2018 (perhaps longer)
MASS MoCA, 1040 Mass Moca Way, North Adams, MA
“My work is more about your seeing than it is about my seeing, although it is a product of my seeing. I’m also interested in the sense of presence of space; that is space where you feel a presence, almost an entity — that physical feeling and power that space can give.” Trained in perceptual psychology and fascinated with light since his childhood, American artist James Turrell pulls viewers into immersive environments of optic brilliance; his visuals raise questions about our powers of perception. The famed illusionist of air and space has explored light as a physical medium for over half a century. Through an undetermined date in 2018, MASS MoCA will house a multi–decade retrospective of his work, customizing its galleries for his installation — two of which have limited viewing space, so make your appointments in advance.
Through August 27
Davis Gallery, Colby Museum of Art, 5600 Mayflower Hill, Waterville, Maine
The exhibition presents a selection of works that show artists in compelling dialogue with the work of Marsden Hartley. Painter Alex Katz credits Hartley with creating ‘a vision of Maine that dominates people’s minds even today.’ The show considers how the American modernist’s thematic and stylistic meandering has resonated with postwar and contemporary painters internationally. Katz even includes the Maine-born folk artist William Matthew Prior in the exhibition to establish historical antecedents for Hartley’s eccentric figuration. It turns out that the work of postwar and contemporary painters Chantal Joffee, Lois Dodd, and Francesco Clemente reflect (in unexpected ways) Hartley’s thematically varied, fond gestural renderings of his cherished Maine landscape.
Showdown! Kuniyoshi vs. Kunisado
Through December 10
Gallery 184, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
It’s the ultimate showdown! Two highly talented Japanese woodcut artists, Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) and Utagawa Kunisado (1786-1864), are compared side by side in a substantial display of 100 exquisitely rendered ukiyo-e woodblock prints. The works of Kunisado, the master of ethereal Kabuki actor portraits, are framed in black ash; the dynamic tattooed heroes and supernatural monsters created by my personal favorite, Kuniyoshi, the forefather of anime and manga, are framed in cherry. Visitors can cast their own vote for the champion on an iPad in the gallery or online. Arts Fuse review
The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766-1820
Through December 31
Special Exhibitions Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy St, Cambridge, MA
Even in a busy fall season for museum shows, this intellectually stimulating, visual feast is not to be missed. Curator Ethan W. Lasser, the head of the Division of European and American Art at the Harvard Art Museums, has lovingly reconstructed the university’s eccentric Philosophy Chamber, a highly revered collection of objects that touched on art, science, and social ideas. Works that have been dispersed to various collections in the United States and the United Kingdom have been reunited. The result is an astounding assemblage of paintings, prints, and scientific instruments that includes full length portraits by John Singleton Copley, Native Hawaiian feather work, and an orrery (a mechanical model of the solar system) by Joseph Pope.
Nexus: An Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition
Through October 31
The Mount, 2 Plunkett St, Lenox, MA
29 contemporary works, created by professional artists from New York to New Mexico, line an outdoor sculpture walk that traverses the lush historical grounds of Edith Wharton’s summer home. Each installation in this annual exhibition is meticulously planned; standouts this time around include Yellow Peril by artist Setsuko Winchester – 120 tea bowls, ceremoniously brought to the 10 U.S. internment camps in which 120,000 Japanese-Americans had been imprisoned during World War II. Guided tours are available.
– Aimee Cotnoir
Third Life Studio Choreographers Showcase
September 15 at 8 p.m.
Third Life Studio
Local performance groups and choreographers Disco Brats/Honey Blonder, stb x at, Cambridge Dance Company, Alex Davis, Slow Motion Dancers, Evolve Dynamicz, Nozama Dance Collective, OnStage Dance Company, and Kelley Donovan strut their stuff at Third Life Studio’s intimate space. The performance celebrates the series’ 5th anniversary.
September 22 and 23 at 8 p.m.
Institute of Contemporary Art
Six local New England choreographers showcased their work in this production at the ICA; tap, hip hop, and contemporary are among the styles on display. A free pre-performance talk will given by Boston Dance Alliance Executive Director Debra Cash (and Arts Fuse contributor) 30 minutes prior to curtain in the ICA lobby.
Wiscasset Art Walk
August 31, 5-8 p.m.
Head to the beautiful shore of Wiscasset, ME, for its August Art Walk. Boston’s Luminarium Dance Company makes its annual trip to the coast to dance through Wiscasset’s many art galleries, shops, and sidewalks, interacting with viewers as they traverse downtown.
Open for Dancing
It’s time for Island Moving Co.’s biennial Open for Dancing festival, which offers five days of site-specific dances across Newport’s historic landscapes. The event features new work by choreographers Mary Scott, Thom Dancy, and Teresa Fellion, in addition to improvised performances by the Festival’s Phantom Limb.
– Merli V. Guerra
World Music and Roots
Rhythm and Roots
Sept. 1 – 3
Ninigret Park, Charlestown, RI
The region’s preeminent celebration of Cajun, zydeco, and anything North American roots-related celebrates its 20th anniversary. This year each of the festival’s three stages is expanding its programming. Among the riches on display: music from recent Arts Fuse interview subjects The Revelers and Los Texmaniacs. Both groups will be performing multiple sets as well as participating in workshops. The headliners include Roseanne Cash, who is making some of the most personal and effective music of her career, the always fun Mavericks, and the unique pairing of Prince Edward Island’s Ten Strings and A Goatskin with Leonard Podolak of Winnipeg’s Duhks.
Long one of Boston’s most valuable musical performers, Brian Carpenter, with the assistance of The Confessions, has recently been showing off his mastery of what could be called American gothic songwriting. This inspired double bill also features another introspective virtuoso, Eszter Balint who, besides being a violinist and songwriter, also has a long list of acting credits, from Stranger to Paradise to Louie.
The splendidly eclectic Journeys in Sound series is kicking off its fall season with a pairing of the multi-ethnic folk improvisers Night Tree and, another open-eared troubadour, fiddler and composer Christine Hedden.
– Noah Schaffer
Out of the Mouths of Babes written and directed by Israel Horowitz. Staged by Gloucester Stage, 267 Main Street, Gloucester, MA, through September 2.
The New England premiere of a new comedy by Israel Horowitz: “Four women arrive in Paris for the funeral of the 100-year-old man who loved each of them–at times variously, at times simultaneously. For 24 hours they share his apartment, delicious secrets, and a dead cat.” Paula Plum stars. The script is currently en route to its premiere in London’s West End. (There will be a live cat onstage in this production.) Arts Fuse review
Burn All Night, Book and Lyrics by Andy Mientus. Music by Van Hughes, Nick LaGrasta, and Brett Moses. Choreography by Sam Pinkleton. Directed by Jenny Koons. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, through September 8.
The world premiere of yet another musical from the American Repertory Theater geared to the appetites of younger theatergoers. “In an age of uncertainty, four lost souls come to the city in search of themselves. An unflinching look at being young on the eve of global catastrophe.” The world may be ending — so let’s sing, sing, sing. Arts Fuse review
Plank by John Greiner-Ferris. Directed by Megan Schy Gleeson. Staged by Alley Cat Theater at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, through September 16.
The world premiere from a local playwright of a “the funny, thoughtful, irreverent, sometimes sad story about a woman who is happy and content, adrift on a plank of wood in the middle of the ocean. Then she’s “rescued.” Plank addresses some of the most important issues of our time including climate change, refugees, the TSA, Sponge Bob, and how certain political parties resemble swarms of killer bees.”
Constellations by Nick Payne. Directed by Scott Edmiston. A Catalyst Collaborative@MIT Production at the Central Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA, September 7 through October 8.
Dramatist Nick Payne’s oft-revived play “shows us that when it comes to love, the possibilities are Infinite.” Marianna Bassham and Nael Nacer star. Arts Fuse review of the Peterborough Players production of Constellations.
The Weird by Kirsten Greenidge, Obehi Janice, Lila Rose Kaplan, and John Kuntz. Directed by Steven Bogart. Staged by the Off the Grid Theatre Company at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, September 1 through 16.
Off the Grid’s production of Blasted was one of last season’s finest productions,so I have high hopes for this one, which will be unusual, to say the least. The new script is set at “the intersection of witchcraft and politics.”
Flight of the Monarch by Jim Frangione. Directed by Jeff Zinn. At the Gloucester Stage Company, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA, September 8 through 30.
World premiere of a play about “two middle-aged siblings, Sheila and Thomas, born, raised and still living in a small fishing town on the New England coast. This darkly comic play explores how siblings’ lives are intertwined, what we owe to the people who know and love us best and, how family members’ needs and desires may push the boundaries of what we are expected to do for others.” Nancy E. Carroll and J. Tucker Smith star.
Ada, Soon, written and directed by Lelaina Vogel. Staged by the Underlings Theatre at the Auspicious Phoenix The Space Studio, 438 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA, September 8 and 9.
“After the apocalypse, Ada struggles to survive with only an AI companion and a copy of The Tempest. Then a stranger comes knocking.” This Providence Fringe Festival production “interweaves the text and themes of The Tempest with a contemporary exploration of loneliness, artificial intelligence, and human resilience.” A mash-up of the Bard and sci-fi in the spirit of Forbidden Planet.
Gypsy, Music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Arthur Laurents. Directed and choreographed by Rachel Bertone. Music direction by Dan Rodriguez. Staged by The Lyric Stage of Boston at 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, September 1 through October 8.
A revival of one of the great American musicals, which is based on the real-life memoirs of burlesque mega-star, Gypsy Rose Lee, and her stage-mother behind the curtain, Mama Rose.
Men on Boats by Jaclyn Backhaus. Directed by Dawn M. Simmons. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, September 8 through October 7
A “gender-flipping adventure tale, about an actual 1869 expedition to chart the Colorado River.”
Merrily We Roll Along, Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by George Firth. Directed by Maria Friedman. Music direction by Matthew Stern. Choreography by Tim Jackson, Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Boston University Theatre, Boston, MA, September 8 through 15.
Maria Friedman has been brought to Boston to recreate here her “stunning London production of Merrily We Roll Along, which received universal rave reviews – the most five star reviews in West End history – and the Olivier Award for Best Musical.” “Traveling backwards in time over 30 years in the entertainment business, this legendary, cult favorite musical charts the relationships of close friends Franklin, Charley, and Mary, and features some of Sondheim’s most beautiful songs, including “Good Thing Going,” “Old Friends,” and “Not a Day Goes By.”
Ideation by Aaron Loeb. Directed by Jim Petosa. Staged by New Repertory Theatre (co-produced with Boston Center for American Performance) on the MainStage at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, September 2 through 24.
The Boston area premiere of a “darkly comic psychological thriller, a group of top-tier consultants are tasked with a mysterious project for an unnamed client. The team must come up with a solution to a morally and ethically ambiguous hypothetical—one that threatens to tear the team apart.”
– Bill Marx
September 2 at 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
The dynamic drummer and composer Ralph Peterson leads his band Aggregate Prime: saxophonist Gary Thomas, guitarist Mark Whitfield, pianist Christian Sands, and bassist Kenny Davis.
Billy Hart Quartet
September 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
Drummer Billy Hart makes any band he plays in worth hearing. In this case, he’s leading a band of must-see collaborators as well: pianist Ethan Iverson (of the Bad Plus), saxophonist Mark Turner, and bassist Ben Street. (Their 2012 album All Our Reasons was one of the best of that year.)
Avishai Cohen Quartet
September 7 at 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
Trumpeter and composer Avishai Cohen established himself with a series of inventive acoustic trio records and a couple of impressionistic, exploratory albums on ECM. His new Cross My Palm with Silver is moving in a more rockist vein, with plenty of guitar. (Is that what the title is about?) He remains a uniquely lyrical player.
September 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
Pianist and composer Donal Fox has become renown for his original mash-ups of classical and jazz (Monk, Bach, Scarlatti, Coltrane, Stravinsky) as well as galvanizing collaborations (including with Oliver Lake, Regina Carter, Stefon Harris, Terri Lyne Carrington, Warren Wolf, Maya Beiser, and the poet Quincy Troupe). This one looks like a chance to hear Fox stretch out solo.
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah
September 8 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah has been setting his virtuoso trumpet chops in increasingly expansive contexts drawing from all manner of jazz, rock, and hip-hop, all informed by his social awareness and activism. His exciting band lately has included the equally compelling young flutist Elena Pinderhughes.
Charles Overton Group
September 9 at 8 p.m.
Third Life Studio, Somerville, MA.
Because Charles Overton is a harp player, his group draws inevitable comparisons with Alice Coltrane. But this band creates their own kind of uplift, and they have an admirable taste for Wayne Shorter. The other members of the group are tenor saxophonist Gregory Groover Jr., bassist Max Ridley, and drummer Peter Barnick.
Fred Taylor Scholarship Fund Benefit Concert
September 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA.
Legendary impresario Fred Taylor, whose career goes back to booking jazz haunts Paul’s Mall and the Jazz Workshop and extends through Scullers and, now, the Cabot Theatre in Beverly, MA, is the subject of this benefit concert to establish an endowed scholarship in his name at Berklee College of Music. The stellar cast of thousands thus far is scheduled to include Kurt Elling, Danilo Pérez, Terri Lyne Carrington, Grace Kelly, Catherine Russell, Kat Edmonson, John Patitucci, Jason Palmer, James Montgomery, Monty Alexander, Bo Winiker, and a “special appearance by Pat Metheny.”
Katie Thiroux Trio
September 12 at 7:30
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
The bassist, singer, and composer Katie Thiroux has a great ear for a broad range of less-than-familiar standards — Frank Loesser’s “Brotherhood of Man,” Ellington’s “Happy Reunion,” Lieber and Stoller’s “Some Cats Know.” She has a pliant singing style that comes with shades of Mose Allison in her blues, and she’s a formidable bass player (“Ray’s Idea” gets a good airing). It’s all on her appealing new album, Off Beat (Capri). She visits the Regattabar with the drummer from that album, Matt Witek, and pianist Steven Feifke.
Dan Clucas Boston Quartet
September 12 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.
Los Angeles cornet player Dan Clucas digs into the heavy improve with like-minded spirits on the Boston scene: trombonist Jeb Bishop, bassist Damon Smith, and drummer Matt Crane.
– Jon Garelick
Rock, Pop, and Folk
Being a fan of Kevin Morby requires being able to tolerate his determination to faultlessly replicate all of Bob Dylan’s vocal mannerisms. Apparently, many have been able to do so, as the former member of Woods and The Babies has established himself as one the most admired songwriters in the indie realm. The Kansas City, MO native’s fourth solo album is this year’s City Music, and he will headline The Sinclair on Wednesday.
Mississippian Dent May has also built solid reputation for himself over the course of a number of releases equal to that of Morby. Despite May’s geographical origins, his brand new album, Across the Multiverse, is more southern California than the Deep South. If Morby isn’t your thing, then check out May at ONCE.
For Cindy Wilson, 2017 will be bookended by life and career milestones. In February, the beloved B-52’s vocalist turned 60 years old. In November, she will release her first solo effort, Change. It has probably been a while since she has played a venue as cozy as the Middle East Upstairs, which is where she will be on Saturday for what is guaranteed to be a treat of a show.
Were I not willing to pay the price of admission, I would still look through the windows of Brighton Music Hall on September 11 just to confirm that Roky Erickson is alive and as well as can be expected. But I would never be unwilling to fork over the amount to see this living legend up close. Erickson’s first band may very well have invented psychedelia in 1966 with The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators. The fact that he has re-emerged in the new millennium after struggling with mental illness for decades should serve as an inspiration to all who have also done so.
The reputations of Nas and Lauryn Hill would have been secured had each of them had nothing more than their massively influential, game-changing debuts to their respective credits. However, Hill was a member of Fugees before winning myriad awards for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1998 and Nas quickly demonstrated that 1994’s Illmatic was no fluke and has remained prolific ever since. The unstoppable hip-hop forces will collide at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on September 12.
– Blake Maddux
Faculty Recital: American Voices with Pamela Dellal and the Endicott Players
September 9 at 8 p.m.
Seully Hall, 8 Fenway, Boston, MA,
“The Endicott Players (Pamela Dellal, mezzo-soprano; Roy Sansom, recorder; and Michael Manning, piano) present music by 20th- and 21st-century American composers, including a premiere of a piece written specially for the ensemble.”
Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (Liszt transcription)
September 9 at 8 p.m.
Presented by the Natant Historical Society at Ellingwood Chapel, 195 Nahant Road, Natant, MA.
“Frans Liszt was a composer and a performer. Men were astonished and women fainted at his recitals. One of his crowning achievements was to arrange the magnificent 9th Symphony by Ludwig von Beethoven. The performer will be the renowned pianist and composer Thomas Stumpf of the New England Conservatory and Tufts University.”
– Susan Miron
Haiti Will Not Perish: A Recent History
August 30 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
Tragically, Haiti, the first independent black republic, has a history of multiple catastrophes. Over the years, these horrors have included the legacy of colonialism, government corruption, dictatorship, and natural disasters. Deibert has been writing about the country for decades; in this book he explores the past and future a war-torn country that is still trying to live up to its historic achievements.
The Burning Girl
In Conversation with Christopher Lydon
September 5 at 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30)
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge MA
Tickets $27 w book, $5 without book
The venerable author of The Emperor’s Children and The Woman Upstairs will read from her latest novel. It’s a coming-of-age story about best friends who grew up in a fictional small town in Massachusetts. Friends since nursery school, Julia and Cassie have shared everything in their lives, until one of them breaks away and puts their friendship – and their lives — in serious danger.
Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate
September 6 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA
Quinn is a programmer, writer, and creator of the online interactive game Depression Quest. In 2014, Quinn was subjected to brutal personal online threats after an ex posted misleading information about her online. She ended up fearing for her safety, an experience that shed light on the virulently sexist world of online gaming. She will appear in person to read and sign copies of her book, which not only chronicles her story but looks at how to safeguard ourselves from the misuse of the internet.
Daniel Goleman and Richard J Davidson
Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body
September 6 at 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30)
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge MA
Tickets are $28 with copy of the book, $5 without
If you’re a sentient human being, the current state of our country might make meditation seem like a good idea. ‘Mindfulness’ has been used as a catch-all remedy for depression. Two acclaimed scientists explain that it is fine to generate pleasant mental states. But the creation of positive personality traits, as long as egotism is restrained, are more effective.
Agni Event: Readings by Sumita Chakraborty, David Ebenbach, and Mary O’Donoghue
Hosted by William Pierce
September 7 at 7 p.m.
Newtonville Books, Newton Centre MA
Based in Boston University, the highly respected literary magazine Agni has published many established as well as up-and-coming literary voices. Three of its latest contributors come to Newton to read from their work. Senior editor William Pierce hosts the event.
The Golden House
In Conversation with Homi K Bhabha
September 8 at 6:30 p.m. (Doors open at 6)
First Parish Church, Cambridge MA
Tickets are $29.75, including a copy of the book
Hailed as Rushdie’s “return to realism,” The Golden House slots itself in the social criticism tradition of The Great Gatsby and Bonfire of the Vanities. It is the story of a shady international billionaire and his eccentric family who have far-reaching political ambitions. Any reference to contemporary persons living or dead is entirely non-coincidental.
Karl Ove Knausgaard
In Conversation with James Wood. Introduction by William Pierce
September 12 at 8 p.m. (Doors open at 7:30)
First Parish Church, Cambridge MA
Tickets are $28, including a copy of the book
Norwegian novelist Knausgaard’s epic six volume novel My Struggle is a publishing sensation, with readers worldwide eagerly turning its thousands of pages, most of them dedicated to detailed observations of the minutiae of life. The lauded author will discuss his work with esteemed literary critic James Wood. Boston University’s William Pierce, who has written about Knausgaard extensively, will introduce the event. The get-together will probably sell out quickly, so don’t wait to get your tickets.
– Matt Hanson