Sep 102017

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


A scene from "Hermia and Helena," screening at the MFA beginning on September 2nd.

A scene from “Hermia and Helena,” screening at the MFA.

Hermia & Helena
Through September 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 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

Welcome to Germany
September 10 at 11 a.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA

Simon Verhoeven’s film earned more than $20m at the German box office. It stars Senta Berger as retired head teacher and Belgian actor Eric Kabongo as Diallo, the Nigerian she meets in a refugee shelter. The educator’s decision to offer him a home triggers a series of life-changing events in her family.

The Reagan Show
September 11 at 7 p.m.
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

The DocYard, Boston’s award-winning documentary film series, kicks off the fall season with a film constructed entirely from thousands of hours of archival television footage produced by White House TV, a part of President Ronald Reagan’s public relations arm. The movie explores the ups and downs of Reagan’s “made-for-TV” approach to crafting his public persona in the midst of Cold War politics. Co-director and producer Sierra Pettengill will attend in person for a Q&A.

After Love
September 13 – 29
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, MA

Director Joachim Lafosse confines his movies to menacing bourgeois homes and claustrophobic spaces. After Love is a meticulous portrait of a breakup; it never leaves a ground floor apartment in its exploration of  a French couple’s bitter unraveling over the course of several months. Starring Berenice Bejo (The Artist) as a woman who tries to liberate herself from an increasingly unbearable situation. ScheduleTrailer.

The work of Jean Gabin is featured in Bertrand Tavernier's "My Journey Through French Cinema"

The work of actor Jean Gabin is featured in Bertrand Tavernier’s “My Journey Through French Cinema”

My Journey Through French Cinema
September 13 – 22
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, MA

French director Bertrand Tavernier shares his personal experiences and vast knowledge of film. The director’s charm and passion for his art and craft is supported through interviews, lectures, many, many clips, and personal reflections on his long relationship with French cinema. Clocking in at over three hours, this is the first chapter in an educational and entertaining look at neglected parts of French film history.

Newburyport Documentary Film Festival (NDFF)
September 15 – 17
Screening Room, Firehouse Center for the Arts, Newburyport, MA

The 12th Annual Festival opens with Stumped, the stunningly inspirational story of professor and filmmaker Will Lautzenheimer who, after losing all four limbs to a bacterial infection, turns to stand-up comedy as a form of therapy. The closing film, by local filmmakers Susan Gray & Bestor Cram, is the revelatory Birth of a Movement, which examines the battle that Boston African American newspaper editor (and activist) William M. Trotter waged against the racism of D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation. The rest of festival is a strange and diverse line:

The Sensitives: an exploration of the remote world to which people suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity are banished.

Losing Our Religion: a look at the isolation and turmoil felt by clergy who no longer believe in God

Furusato:  an examination of the agonizing decision that faced those who lives near the Fukushima nuclear plant. They had to choose between staying put or leaving the place they have called home for decades.

The Man in the Cowboy: A study of Carlos Arrendondo, best known for his life-saving efforts in the Boston Marathon bombing.

The Last Pig: we witness a Vermont pig farmer in his final year of slaughtering pigs.

Deej: Abandoned by his birth parents and presumed incompetent, DJ Savarese (“Deej”) found not only a loving family but also a life in words, which he types on a text-to-voice synthesizer.

There are also twelve short films, including subjects as diverse as activist street bands from Somerville, MA (Honk), a visual artist who loses an eye in an accident and tries to install a camera inside her prosthetic replacement (Eye, Camera), and three immigrants who survive by creating sand sculptures on London’s street (Sand Men).

September 20 at 7 p.m.
Slab, Portland, ME

As part of #DirectedbyWomen, an annual, worldwide celebration of women-directed films, this Free popup screening event is curated by Kate Kaminski, director of  the Bluestocking Film Series. The films on view will include: Meryl Fuckin Streep, Afro Punk Girl, Bluebeard, Get Action, Menai, You’re All Right, You’re OK, and Villebråd.

September 21 at 7 p.m.
Bright Family Screening Room, Emerson Paramount Center, Boston, MA

Director Laura Poitras’ controversial documentary about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Free. Followed by a discussion led by Professor Russell Newman.

Letters from Baghdad
September 21 – 29
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, MA

This is the astonishing story of Gertrude Bell (subject of Werner Herzog’s  not-so successful 2015 film The Queen of the Desert with Nicole Kidman). Bell was an Oxford-educated upper class Brit. She was also a British spy, explorer, and political powerhouse who traveled widely in the Middle East before being recruited by British Military Intelligence to help draw the border of Iraq after World War I. The film chronicles Bell’s extraordinary journey with documents from the Iraq National Library and Archive and hundreds of the woman’s own letters. The story is told entirely through the words of Bell (read by Tilda Swinton) and her contemporaries. The story helps us understand the tangled history of Iraq — the revelation of a  past that is eerily relevant today. TrailerSchedule.

Second Annual 70mm and WideScreen Festival
September 20 – October 1
Somerville Theater, Somerville, MA

All films are screened in 70mm. Not that many cities in America cities have the sense to do this kind of programming. Take advantage of the opportunity!

September 20

The Agony and the Ecstasy – 7:30 p.m.

September 21

Lawrence of Arabia - 7 p.m.

September 22

The Dark Crystal – 7:30 p.m.
Howard the Duck – 9:45 p.m.

September 23

Lawrence of Arabia – 12 p.m.

September 24

The Dark Crystal – 1 p.m.
Hook – 3:30pm – 70mm
The Untouchables – 7 p.m.

September 25

Days of Thunder – 7:30 p.m.

September 26

Wonder Woman – 7:30 p.m.

September 27

Top Gun – 7:30 p.m. - 70mm
Blue Thunder – 9:45 p.m.

September 28

Cleopatra – 7 p.m.

September 29

Gettysburg – 7 p.m.

October 1

North by Northwest – 1 p.m. - 35mm
Vertigo – 4 p.m. - 35mm Vistavision
2001: A Space Odyssey – 7:30 p.m.

Boston Film Festival
September 22 – 24
AMC Loews Boston Common 19, Boston, MA

September 22

7:00 p.m. – John Hume: In the Name of Peace
Armed with irreverent humor and a boundless love of life, paralytic Augie Nieto is a dazzling civic dynamo, a genius visionary who founded of LifeFitness. He has channeled his entrepreneur spirit towards the laudable goal of finding a cure for ALS.

9:00 p.m. – American Satan
East Coast Premiere: A young rock band, half from England and half from the United States, drop out of college and move to the Sunset Strip to chase their dreams.

September 23

4:30 p.m. – Heal
Director Kelly Noonan’s documentary takes us on a scientific and spiritual journey where we discover that our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions have a huge impact on our health and ability to heal.

5 p.m. – What Haunts Us
An investigation into the trials and tribulations of the 1979 class of Porter Gaud School in Charleston, South Carolina. Within a period of 35 years, six of the institution’s 49 male graduates had committed suicide.

7 p.m. – Damascus Cover
World Premiere: After the fall of the Berlin Wall, a veteran spy is sent undercover to Syria. His mission is to smuggle a chemical weapons scientist and his family out of Damascus. He finds himself caught in a maddening puzzle he must race to understand

9:15 p.m. – Dabka
In 2008, rookie journalist Jay Bahadur came up with a half-baked plan to embed himself among the pirates of Somalia. The first close-up look into who these men are, how they live, and the forces that drive them.

September 24

5 p.m. – The Bullish Farmer
Distraught over the loss of his best friend, John Ubaldo, a successful Wall Street investment banker, traded in his high finance career for 185 acres of land on the Battenkill River in Cambridge, NY, to live a quiet life as a small farmer. He has now become a passionate and outspoken activist.

7:15 p.m. – Crash Pad
Stensland (Domhnall Gleeson), a sentimental slacker and misfit, believes that he has found true love with an older woman (Christina Applegate). Then he finds out the truth:  she is only using him in order to have her revenge on her alpha male husband (Thomas Haden Church).

– Tim Jackson

Visual Arts

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.


A partial view of “The Former Emperor [Sutoku] from Sanuki Sends His Retainers to 
Rescue Tametomo” (Sanuki no in kenzoku o shite Tametomo o sukuu 
zu), Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Woodblock print. Photo: courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Showdown! Kuniyoshi vs. Kunisado
Through December 10
Gallery 184, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

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.

Kevork Mourad: Immortal City
Through January 21
At the Mildred S. Lee Gallery, Rose Art Museum, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA

“In times of conflict or crisis, artists can operate as our conscience,” explains Kristin Parker, deputy director of the Rose and the organizer of this exhibition. “Over 400,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict, and more than 6.5 million people have been displaced.” Syrian-Armenian artist, Kevork Mourad (b. Syria 1970) is best known for his process of spontaneous painting, applying his paint with sweeping gestures. This exhibition of new work, created almost entirely in black paint, proffers a defiant yet meditative display of creativity in the face of tragedy. The idea is to reveal “fragments of a rich culture destroyed – textiles, ancient fractured walls, Arabic calligraphy, and bodies crushed by war.”

Some examples of Shoe Bakery by Chris Campbell.

Some examples of Shoe Bakery by Chris Campbell.

Sweet Tooth: The Art of Dessert
Through February 18
At the Murphy Gallery, Shelburne Museum, 6000 Shelburne Road, Shelburne, VT

For those craving something sweet, this delectable exhibition of dessert-themed mixed media works is sure to please. Curated by Kory Rogers, these candy-coated images dramatize our culture’s insatiable appetite for sugar. On view: larger-than-life paintings of brilliant candy apples, interlaced stands of licorice, and decadent chocolates. Be warned: Chris Campbell’s “Teal and White Cake Heels” may pull you into a state of mouthwatering desire.

“Things of Beauty Growing”: British Studio Pottery
Through December 3
Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT

The iconic moon jar, first developed in Korea during the Joseon dynasty, kicks off this notable exhibition, which chronicles the history of studio pottery in Britain, from the early twentieth century to the present. For decades, these ceramic artists have skillfully invoked and transformed the ancient language of the vessel. Included are a number of visually arresting contemporary works, such as Clare Twomey’s installation Made in China – eighty fiery red vases, each made from the same mold and kiln. Only one is decorated by the skilled artisans of Staffordshire in eighteen karat gold. The glittery ornamentation costs more than the decoration and production of all of the other vases in the installation combined.

Ourglass – Seth David Rubin
Through October 15
Project Gallery, Gallery Kayafas, 450 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA

Showing for the first time at Gallery Kayafas, Rubin is a well-established photographer whose repertoire is known internationally. His most recent body of work is Abstractions, an unexpected but successful departure from his usual practice of distorted portraiture. His aim in this show is to evoke the transcendental vision of abstraction. His approach resonates with the efforts of color field painter Clyfford Still. Rubin explains his latest pictures in this way: “I am increasingly a painterly photographer… My technique, not digital but optical, enables me to compose in a manner that is closer to a painter’s process. Homemade lenses enable my imagination and emotion to shape and control what I see.”

Ariel Basson Freiberg – Trespass Daughter
Through October 10
Howard Yezerski Gallery, 460 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA

Freiburg’s contemporary figurative paintings border on the risqué. She poses her female figures in provocative states of undress, so her pictures like those of Lisa Yuskavage, are well worth viewing but may be considered tasteless by some. Her lush and exuberant paintings explore/critique, through a female perspective, a world of excess consumption and obsession with sexual fulfillment.

– Aimee Cotnoir


Third Life Studio Choreographers Showcase
September 15 at 8 p.m.
Third Life Studio
Somerville, MA

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.

Through September 24
Presented by ArtsEmerson at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston, MA

Hailed for its impressive integration of theater, dance, and acrobatics,  7 Fingers returns to Boston after it wowed the city last year with its production of Cuisine & Confessions. The company’s new work, Reversible, is “dedicated to past generations whose stories might hold the key to a better tomorrow.”

I.J. Chan will perform work by KAIROS Dance Theater/DeAnna Pellecchia in Dance Showcase 2017. Photo: Ricardo Villamil.

I.J. Chan will perform work by KAIROS Dance Theater/DeAnna Pellecchia in Dance Showcase 2017. Photo: Ricardo Villamil.

Dance Showcase 2017
September 22 & 23 at 8 p.m.
Boston University Dance Theater
Boston, MA

Both teen and seasoned performers take to the stage in Boston University’s Dance Showcase 2017. BU faculty choreographers Janelle Gilchrist, Lynn Modell, Margot Parsons, DeAnna Pellecchia, Marin Orlosky Randow, and Liz Roncka present new work, alongside excerpts from BBII’s repertory by Nikolai and Sergei Legat and Christopher Wheeldon. Also on the program: Reach, a piece from BU’s summer teen apprenticeship program.

Dance UP
September 22 and 23 at 8 p.m.
Institute of Contemporary Art
Boston, MA

Six local New England choreographers showcase 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.

And further afield…

Lorraine Chapman: The Company
September 22 at 8 p.m. & 23 at 6:30 p.m.
Hanaway Theatre, Plymouth State University
Plymouth, NH

Lorraine Chapman: The Company performs in New Hampshire, showcasing everything from choreography that challenges the “fourth wall” to work set to opera scores. The evening also debuts a new piece by Amanda Whitworth that highlights both LCTC and PSU alumni.

Love Poems to my Parents
September 23 at 8 p.m & 24 at 4 p.m.
School for Contemporary Dance & Thought/Studio 4
Northamption, MA

Michelle Marroquin’s Love Poems to my Parents proffers a collection of autobiographical solos that have been choreographed throughout the year. Immersing herself in the music that she loves, Marroquin has created a tapestry of films and movement that tells a poignant story.


Open for Dancing takes over Newport this weekend.

Open for Dancing
September 20-24
Various locations
Newport, RI

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

Dana Westover
September 11
Cantab Lounge, Cambridge, MA

Although best known as the longtime booker and soundman for Johnny D’s and the host of WUMB’s world music show “Odyssey,” Westover is also a thoughtful and surprising guitarist and songwriter whose recordings span from 1972’s highly collectible “Memorial to Fear” to brand new compositions. He’ll perform a feature set at 9:30 p.m. during the Cantab’s weekly folk open mic.


The Jeremy Kittel trio will perform at the Burren in Somerville this week.

Jeremy Kittel Trio
September 13
The Burren, Somerville, MA

Virtuoso violinist Kittel’s last LP, Chasing Sparks, was full of Celtic-inspired reels, as well as the jazz, bluegrass, and folk influences that make him such an exciting and fresh performer.

September 13
Brighton Music Hall, Brighton, MA

A new sound is coming from the youngest generation of the African diaspora: Afro-trap, which puts an African spin on the Atlanta trap hip-hop trend. One of its creators, France-based MHD, has already emerged as one of the biggest Afro-hip-hop stars in years.

September 15-17
MASSMoCA, North Adams, MA

Over the past 7 years FreshGrass has made its mark as one of the area’s more forward-looking bluegrass/Americana events. Besides acoustic stars, such as David Grisman, Del McCoury, and Railroad Earth, the gathering includes workshops, live scores performed with silent films, and out-of-left-field bookings, such as jazz guitarist Bill Frisell and Mali’s Cheick Hamala Diabate. Of particular note this time around is the appearance of an all-star band led by festival regular Alison Brown, which will feature a rare chance to see octogenarian Bobby Osborne, the man who first recorded the immortal “Rocky Top,” along with his brother Sonny. Arts Fuse interview with Oliver Wood of the Wood Brothers, who are performing at Fresh Grass on September 16.

Reggae on the Ave
September 15
Franklin Park Zoo, Boston, MA

Busy Signal’s lascivious dancehall hits, such as “Bedroom Bully,” have become the staples of any hot party. He’ll be making his Boston debut at this outdoor event, which also features one of reggae’s most enduring veterans, Barrington Levy.

New England Shakeup
September 22-24
Sturbridge Host Hotel, Sturbridge, MA

New England has long been one of the country’s most vibrant rockabilly scenes, and now it has a festival to match. The Shakeup offers a car show, Hawaiian music by the pool, vintage clothing vendors and, of course, scores of ’50s inspired bands. Highlights include West Coast visitors Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys, the manic Lil’ Mo and the Unholy 4, and the Western swing of the Lucky Stars.

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic
September 23
Everett Village Festival, Everett, MA

It’s hard to believe, but George Clinton and P-Funk are bringing the Mothership to a free food truck festival in Everett.

Clarence Thompson Sr. and the New Spirits 40th Anniversary
September 24
William E Reed Auditorium, Dorchester

One of Boston’s most beloved traditional gospel mainstays, Clarence Thompson Sr., celebrates a mighty big anniversary. Besides singing with his group, he’ll be bringing in special guests, including past Arts Fuse profile subject Spencer Taylor Jr. and the Highway QCs, the Hi-Lite Jrs. and local greats like Margaret Holmes and the Gospel Ts.

– Noah Schaffer


Poornima Kirby as Potpee in the Alley Kat Theater production of "Plank." Photo credit: Joan Mejia

Poornima Kirby as Potpee in the Alley Kat Theater production of “Plank.” Photo credit: Joan Mejia.

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.” Arts Fuse review

Constellations by Nick Payne. Directed by Scott Edmiston. A Catalyst Collaborative@MIT Production at the Central Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA, 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.

Flight of the Monarch by Jim Frangione. Directed by Jeff Zinn. At the Gloucester Stage Company, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA, through September 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.

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, 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.

Some of the explorers in "Men on Boats." Veronika Duerr, Robin Javonne Smith, and Ally Dawson.   Photo: Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots.

Some of the explorers in the SpeakEasy Stage production of “Men on Boats.” Veronika Duerr, Robin Javonne Smith, and Ally Dawson. Photo: Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots.

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, 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, through October 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, through September 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.”

The Aliens by Annie Baker. Directed and designed by Darren Evans. Staged by Theatre on Fire at Charlestown Working Theater, Charlestown, MA, September 15 through October 7.

Baker has become a playwright in demand. Here is a production of her script about male bonding: “Kasper and KJ – two best friends, slackers, and would-be geniuses – spend their afternoons holding court on the dilapidated back patio of a New England coffee shop, discussing Bukowski, masking frustrations and drinking ‘shroom tea. When Evan, an awkward and perennially humiliated teenager who is spending his summer working at the shop, tries to evict them, they instead take him under their wing as an unlikely young protégé.” Note: “The Aliens will be performed outdoors on the patio behind the Charlestown Working Theater. The box office and bathrooms are still inside, however, so stop inside to get your tickets before heading out back. Because of the unique nature of this found outdoor space, seating is limited – we strongly recommend that you reserve in advance.”

WARHOLCAPOTE, From the Words of Truman Capote and Andy Warhol. Adapted by Rob Roth. Directed by Michael Mayer. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, through October 13.

“In the late 1970s, Truman Capote and Andy Warhol decided that they were destined to create a Broadway play together. Over the course of the next several months, they would sit down to record a series of intimate, wide-ranging conversations. The play never came to be, and the hours and hours of tape were lost to the ages. Until now.”

The Royale by Marco Ramirez. Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre located at 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA, September 13 through October 8.

The New England premiere of “a new power-packed drama inspired by the life of Jack Johnson, the first black man to fight for the title of World Heavyweight Champion.”

The Caretaker by Harold Pinter. Directed by Steve Kidd. Staged by The Wilbury Group at 40 Sonoma Court, Providence, Rhode Island, September 14 through October 7.

An early play (1960) from Pinter that one of his early supporters, critic Harold Hobson, admired greatly: “Pinter possesses a gift which is valuable in even the most high-brow dramatist, but which too many avant-garde writers lack — his plays make the audience wonder what is going to happen next.”

Faceless by Selina Fillinge. Directed by David J. Miller. Staged by the Zeitgeist Stage Company at Plaza Black Box Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, September 15 through October 7.

The New England premiere of a very relevant script: “Eighteen-year-old Susie Glenn is on trial for conspiring to commit acts of terrorism, and recent Harvard Law grad and practicing Muslim, Claire Fathi, has been brought on to prosecute. Though pitted against one another in the courtroom, these two young women are fighting a similar battle to defend their morals, motives and religious freedoms in this riveting and timely new drama.”

Exit the King by Eugène Ionesco. Directed by Dmitry Troyanovsky. Staged by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project at the Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre at the Paramount Center, Boston, MA, September 13 through October 8.

Given how apolitical our theater companies have become, this is a welcome revival (an apt kickoff for ASP’s THE DOWNFALL OF DESPOTS season) of an absurdist study of gargantuan ineptness in high places: it is the tale of a “megalomaniacal ruler, King Berenger, whose incompetence has left his country in near ruin. Despite the efforts of his two queens and the other members of the court to convince the King he has only 90 minutes left to live, he refuses to relinquish any control.”

The Bitter Game, created, written, and performed by Keith A. Wallace. Directed and co-created by Deborah Stein. At Oberon, 2 Arrow Street, Cambridge, MA, September 15 through 16.

“Presented in five acts structured as the four quarters and overtime of a basketball game,” this one-man performance piece “blends poetry and prose to examine the impact of police brutality, the resulting trauma reflected on communities of color, and the value of Black lives. Artist-activist Keith A. Wallace draws on his own experiences growing up in Philadelphia as he portrays multiple characters in an exploration of the experience of being Black in America.”

The carnal corncob in "The Ear of Our Lord" in John Kuntz's "The Ear of Our Lord."

The carnal corncob in “The Ear of Our Lord” in John Kuntz’s “The Ear of Our Lord.”

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, through September 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.” Arts Fuse review

– Bill Marx


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.”

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.

The Katie Thiroux Trio comes to the Regattabar on September 12th.

The Katie Thiroux Trio comes to the Regattabar on September 12th.

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 improv with like-minded spirits on the Boston scene: trombonist Jeb Bishop, bassist Damon Smith, and drummer Matt Crane.

Tessa Souter
September 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

Singer Tessa Souter — born in London of English and Trinidadian parents — explores multiple strands of jazz, including Middle Eastern, Brazilian, and flamenco. Now living in Harlem, Souter, anticipating an upcoming new release, plays the R-bar with guitarist David Gilmore, bassist John Lockwood, drummer Austin McMahon, and guest vocalist Sara Bielanski.

Tom Rainy Trio
September 13 at 8 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.

Drummer Tim Rainey has been the lynchpin in saxophonist Tim Berne’s bands for 20 years, easily toggling between funk/rock beats and jazz swing, and handling all manner of written and free-improv compositions. His trio includes avant-jazz guitar goddess Mary Halvorson and saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock.

The Cookers
September 14 at 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.

Originally put together in tribute to a classic Freddie Hubbard live disc, the Cookers have since become a touring juggernaut in its own right: trumpeter (and musical director) David Weiss, saxophonist Billy Harper, trumpeter Eddie Henderson, alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, bassist Cecil McBee, and pianist George Cables.

Mike Stern Band
September 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

Guitarist Stern brings his hefty jazz-rock guitar chops to town for four big shows at the Regattabar, with a formidable band in tow: trumpeter Randy Brecker, bassist Tom Kennedy, and drummer Dennis Chambers.

Kevin Harris Project
September 15 at 8 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.

Pianist and composer Kevin Harris, trained early on in church music back in Lexington, Ky., plays with uncommon warmth and generosity. His new CD, Breathe, includes standards, blues, Chick Corea (“Humpty Dumpty”), spirituals, and a couple by himself and the band, also showing his flair for Afro-Cuban. A slightly different band plays with him at the Lily — bassist Simón Willson and drummer Tyson Jackson.

Pablo Ablanedo Octet(o)
September 16 at 6:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.

Pianist and composer Pablo Ablanedo brings his nine-player Octet(o) to the Lily to run down some of his provocative and beguiling charts: Ablanedo at the piano along with flutist Fernando Brandao, trumpeters Tony D’Aveni and Jerry Sabatini, reed players Daniel Ian Smith and Rick DiMuzio, guitarist Phil Sargent, bassist Fernando Huergo, and drummer Bertram Lehmann.

Cettina Donato plays Outpost 186 on September 17th.

Cettina Donato plays Outpost 186 on September 17th.

Cettina Donato
September 17 at 4 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.

As part of his fall series of Italian imports at Outpost 186, Boston-based pianist Pat Battstone brings in Sicilian-born, Berklee-educated pianist Cettina Donato to play with flutist Ilona Kudina, clarinetist and soprano saxophonist Todd Brunel, bassist Jon Dreyer, and drummer Joe Musacchia.

Quintet and Bolt
September 20 at 8:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.

Drummer Eric Rosenthal continues his .01 Percent series of double-bills at the Lilypad with a band identified simply as “Quintet” (pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, alto saxophonist Jorrit Dijkstra, trombonist Jeb Bishop, bassist Nathan McBride, and drummer Luther Gray) and Bolt (Rosenthal, with Jorrit Dijkstra on alto and Lyricon, guitarist Eric Hofbauer, and cellist Junko Fujiwara). The emphasis will be in spontaneous collective improv.

E.J. Strickland
September 21 at 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.

It might sound like a back-handed compliment to say that this is a very nice band, but it really is a very nice band: drummer E.J. Strickland (twin brother of saxophonist Marcus) with alto saxophonist Louis Godwin (once upon a time a member of Boston’s Either/Orchestra), saxophonist John Ellis (longtime sideman with guitarist Charlie Hunter as well as a slew of other folks, and an impressive composer-leader himself), pianist Victor Gould, and bassist Yasushi Nakamura. This will be post-bop from the heart and the head, rather than by-the-numbers.

Leo Blanco “Music Aid 4 Venezuela”
September 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

The accomplished Boston-based Venezuelan pianist and composer Leo Blanco gathers some like-minded friends for a performance that will explore the traditions of “classical chamber ensembles, jazz bands, and Venezuelan traditional music.” All proceeds to directly to the NGO Ayuda Humanitaria para Venezuela.

– Jon Garelick

Rock, Pop, and Folk

Roky Erickson with Death Valley Girls and Salem Wolves
September 11 (doors at 7)
Brighton Music Hall, Allston, MA

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.

Nas and Ms. Lauryn Hill with Chronixx
September 12 (show at 6:30)
Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, Boston, MA

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.

Mount Eerie
September 13 (doors at 6:30)
Arts at the Armory, Somerville, MA

According to Metacritic, A Crow Looked at Me by Mount Eerie is the second-best reviewed new release of 2017. (Number one is Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN., which is unlikely to be displaced.) Written and recorded following the death of singer-songwriter Phil Elverum’s wife, the album is a painful and meticulously detailed work of unalloyed catharsis. Prepare to be spellbound at Somerville’s Arts at the Armory on Wednesday.

Alison Moyet
September 13 (doors at 7, show at 8)
Royale, Boston, MA

Alison Moyet teamed up in 1981 with former Depeche Mode synthesizer player Vince Clarke to form Yazoo (aka Yaz). The duo split after two popular albums, and Moyet has recorded as solo artist since her 1984 debut. She is back this year with Other, her first new release since 2013. Her recordings are always separated by several-year spans, so her Wednesday night show at Royale might be your last opportunity this decade to see her live.

Protomartyr with John Maus and Blau Blau
September 14 (doors at 8)
Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, MA

The highly acclaimed Detroit post-punk quartet Protomartyr will preview material from its forthcoming album Relatives in Descent on Thursday at the Middle East Downstairs. Here is the interview that I did in 2015 via email with lead singer Joe Casey.

Matthew Sweet with Tommy Keene
September 16 (doors at 7, show at 8)
Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA

For fans of power pop, the double bill of Matthew Sweet and Tommy Keene is about as good as it gets. The two performed at the Paradise Rock Club in 2014 (click here for Brett Milano’s Arts Fuse review and here for my interview with Tommy Keene), and will return to Boston on September 16 to play Brighton Music Hall. Sweet will be showcasing his new double album Tomorrow Forever amid beloved favorites of the past three decades.

Other shows this week include Father John Misty with Phosphorescent at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion (September 13), The Afghan Whigs with Har Mar Superstar at Paradise Rock Club (September 14), Arcade Fire with Preservation Hall Jazz Band at TD Garden (September 15), and Sturgill Simpson with Fantastic Negrito at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion (September 16).

– Blake Maddux

Classical Music

The Assassination of the Duke of Guise
Presented by Grand Harmonie
September 15 at 7:30 p.m. and 17 at 3 p.m.
Second Church in Newton, Newton, MA

Grand Harmonie’s sixth season kicks off with the first film soundtrack written by a major composer, Camille Saint-Saens’ score to The Assassination of the Duke of Guise (which will accompany a rare screening of the 1908 movie). Also on the program is Saint-Saens’ Septet in E-flat and Benjamin Godard’s String Quartet in G minor.

The Maid of Orleans
Presented by Odyssey Opera
September 16, 7:30 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA

Odyssey’s fifth season, all of it built around the character of Joan of Arc, opens with a concert performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1881 grand opera. Maine native Kate Aldrich sings the title role. Kevin Thompson, Kevin Ray, Yeghishe Manucharyan, and David Kravitz headline the rest of the cast, and Gil Rose conducts.

Opening Night
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
September 22, 6 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

Andris Nelsons and the BSO open their season with a gala performance celebrating the life and music of Leonard Bernstein, whose 100th birthday would have fallen next summer. Familiar pieces – popular songs from his Broadway shows, the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story – mix with rarer fare (the Divertimento – written for the BSO’s centenary in 1981 – and the flute concerto/nocturne Halil). Frederica von Stade hosts, Julia Bullock sings, and Elizabeth Rowe is the orchestra’s first instrumental soloist of the fall.

Philip Glass Premiere
Presented by A Far Cry
September 22, 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein joins the Criers for the world premiere of Philip Glass’ Piano Concerto no. 3. Also on the program is Glass’ Symphony no. 3 and music by Bach.

Carter & Hoffer
Presented by Boston Musica Viva
September 23, 8 p.m.
Tsai Performance Center, Boston, MA

BMV begins its season with a new chamber concerto by Bernard Hoffer, music by John Aylward and Hannah Lash, and Elliott Carter’s masterful A Mirror on Which to Dwell. The latter features soprano Zorana Sadiq as the soloist. Richard Pittman conducts.

– Jonathan Blumhofer

A glimpse of

A glimpse of DÜNYA’s production of “Othello in the Seraglio,” which will be performed this week.

Othello in the Seraglio: The Tragedy of Sümbül the Black Eunuch
September 15 at 8 p.m.
At the First Lutheran Church of Boston, 299 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA

A DÜNYA production, co-presented by TurkInno. This “uniquely powerful ‘coffeehouse opera,’ tells an age-old story of passionate love and murderous jealousy, of a black slave at the 17th century Ottoman Court who rises to power and riches, only to come to a tragic end. The multi-layered script is by NEC music historian Robert Labaree, while the stunning score, by Boston composer and Grammy nominee Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol, weaves together Italian Baroque and Turkish sources with his own newly-composed music into a tapestry of uncanny beauty. Othello is performed on European period instruments and traditional Turkish instruments by an ensemble of 12 instrumentalists, singers and a dramatic storyteller. powerful encounter of Europe and Ottoman Turkey. A special performance to fund the upcoming film of Othello.

From Russia with Love
September 22 at 8 p.m.
At Hamilton Hall, 9 Chestnut Street, Salem, MA
September 24 at 3 p.m.
At St. Paul’s Church, 15 St. Paul Street, Brookline, MA

Boston Artists Ensemble presents a program that includes Schnittke’s String Trio (1985), Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Opus 110, and Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence, Opus 70.

Appalachian Spring: Creating an American Sound
September 23 at 8 p.m.
September 24 at 4 p.m.
At the First and Second Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA

Chameleon Arts Ensemble presents a program that includes Charles Ives’s Songs for soprano & piano, Amy Beach’s Piano Quintet in f sharp minor, Op. 67 (1908), Arthur Berger’s Quartet for Winds in C Major, John Harbison’s North & South II for soprano & English horn, clarinet, bassoon & strings, and Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Suite for 13 players.

Ellingwood Chapel Concert Series: An Evening of Songs
September 23 at 8 p.m.
At the Ellingwood Chapel, 195 Nahant Road, Nahant, MA

“Contralto Emily Marvosh and pianist Tanya Blaich reprise a program performed at the Goethe Institute in February, songs inspired by the relationship between Kathleen Ferrier and Bruno Walter. In 1946, the British contralto Kathleen Ferrier and the eminent German conductor Bruno Walter met at a dinner party. Their friendship and collaboration continued until her early death in 1953; their performances helped bring the music of Gustav Mahler, in particular, to wider audiences worldwide.”

Reflections on Diaspora
September 23 at 8 p.m.
At Jordan Hall/New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA

A concert presented by the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts that features Hu Jianbing and Bao Jian.

Classical Faculty Concert: Gone with the Winds
September 24 at 7 p.m.
At the Jewett Art Center Auditorium, 106 Central Street, Wellesley, MA

On the program: Beethoven’s Septet, Martinu’s Trio for Flute, Violin and Piano, and Walter Piston’s Three Pieces for Flute, Clarinet and Bassoon.

– Susan Miron

Author Events

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.

Little Fires Everywhere
September 12 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA

A fellow in the National Endowment for the Arts, Celeste Ng’s first novel was a surprise publishing sensation. Her second novel examines the conflicts and competition inherent in female friendship when a straight-laced, by-the-book woman is challenged — after she adopts a Chinese baby — by her friend and then the community at large.

Eileen Myles
Afterglow (A Dog Memoir)
September 14 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA

The Boston-raised poet will read from her latest book, which focuses on the decade plus relationship between her and her dog, whom she rescued from the streets. Touching on concepts of love, companionship, spirituality, and politics, Myles investigates what it means to have a pet.

Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Lethem will discuss his literary influences in Newton this week.

Jonathan Lethem
More Alive and Less Lonely: On Books and Writers
In Conversation with editor Christopher Boucher
September 16 at 7 p.m.
Newtonville Books, Newton Centre, MA

Lethem is the author of modern classics such as Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude; he is also a spectacularly well read critic and essayist. In his latest collection, he celebrates the writers who have inspired him over his long career, including Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler, Herman Melville, and Thomas Pynchon.

Stephen Greenblatt
The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve
September 18 at 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30)
First Parish Church, Cambridge MA
Tickets are $28.75 with copy of the book, $5 without

It’s not every day that works of academic scholarship can become mainstream successes, but Greenblatt’s previous books, Will in the World and The Swerve, have done just that for studies of Shakespeare and the Roman poet Lucretius. Now he sets his analytic sights on humankind’s first couple: Adam and Eve. He traces the various versions of their stories through history and literature, exploring the ambivalent moral lessons generated by the duo’s exile from the garden of Eden.

Skylar Kergil
Before I Had the Words
September 19 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Cooldige Corner MA

Kergil is a writer, activist, and trans man living in Boston who has documented his transition to life as a male over the past few years. His book chronicles his experience of changing his gender and offers advice on how others can talk about their circumstances.

– Matt Hanson


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