Fuse Coming Attractions: What Will Light Your Fire This Week

Arts Fuse critics select the best in film, theater, music, dance, and author events for the coming week.

By The Arts Fuse Staff


Boston Area Film Schedules — What is playing today, Where and When


Birgitte Helm is looking for love in “L’Argent.”

Money, directed by Marcel L’Herbier. At the Collins Cinema, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, February 22 at 3 p.m.

A 1928 French silent film masterpiece that updates Zola’s zesty 1891 novel about banking freud, placing its plot about chicanery among the rich in the 1920s and its mania for stock market speculation. Produced on an epic scale that rivals films like Napoléon (1927) and Metropolis (1927), this eye-popper is the dazzling cornerstone of a Wellesley College Spring series dedicated to films that “explore our many orientations to money: greed, lust, power and impotence, the temptations of gambling, global economies and personal struggles, and stock market manipulations from 1909 to 2009.”

— Bill Marx

The Year We Thought About Love
Tuesday, February 17, 7 p.m.
Bright Family Screening Room, Emerson College
559 Washington Street, Boston

Ellen Brodsky 2014 film asks: What happens when LGBTQ youth of color band together and dare to be “out” and on stage to reveal their lives and their loves? With wit, candor and attitude, the cast of characters captivates audiences surprised to hear such stories in school settings. There will a discussion with director Ellen Brodsky and Boston True Colors troupe members following the screening. Free and open to the public

Sunday, February 22, 7 p.m.
Harvard Film Archives, Cambridge

This 1919 Abel Gance (Napoleon) classic will show with live accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis. It is the director’s breakthrough work, a WWI drama considered to be one of the most technically advanced films of the era and the first major pacifist film: “a human cry against the bellicose din of armies.” It concerns a woman, Edith, unhappily married to an older man, François, but actually in love with a young poet, Jean Diaz. Both Jean and François end up on the front lines of World War I, while Edith is captured by German forces and suffers atrocities at the hands of the soldiers. Gance contrasts individual human suffering with the larger horrors of war depicted with stark realism. (Fandor) Part of a larger series of rare silent classic films. Full Schedule

Home from Home

Home from Home

Home From Home  – Chronicle Of A Vision
Sunday, February 22, 10 a.m.
Coolidge Corner Theater

Goethe German Film Series presents the latest installment of the famous Heimat Trilogy. “Any fate is better than death” – that was the motto for hundreds of thousands of Europeans who emigrated to South America in the mid-19th century in a desperate attempt to escape the famine, poverty and despotism that ruled at home. The film centers on two brothers who realize that only their dreams can save them. Romantic farm boy Jakob dreams of a better world: a paradise in the tropical forests of Brazil. The return of his brother from the Prussian military service, however, will steer Jakob’s life in an entirely different direction.

— Tim Jackson


Albattross, an adaptation for the stage of S.T. Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Matthew Spangler & Benjamin Evett. Directed by Rick Lombardo. Staged by The Poets’ Theatre in the Jackie Liebergott Black Box at The Emerson Paramount Center, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA through March 1.

This ‘from the page to the stage’ version of the venerable “water, water every where” poem stars Ben Evett: it promises to bring “you face to face with the Ancient Mariner, doomed for eternity to retell his harrowing story of an old ship, a voyage to the bottom of the world, and a mystical seabird.”


Charlotte Kinder, one of the cast members of Apollinaire Theatre Company’s production of “Greenland.” Photo: Danielle Fauteux Jacques

Greenland by Nicolas Billon. Directed by Meg Taintor. Staged by the Apollinaire Theatre Company, Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea, MA, February 20 through March 15.

According to the director of this Meg Taintor, former artistic director of the heralded local company Whistler in the Dark “all people in this play are writing their own creation myth, and then pitching it to us.” The script “centers on a family that has fallen apart after a serious internal tragedy, which is mirrored by one of the characters discovering a new island off of Greenland’s coast. In three monologues, we meet husband, wife, and adopted daughter, and we learn that something is seriously broken in their family dynamic. The island has separated from the mainland in the same way the three characters have separated from each other, and there is no turning back.”

Canadian dramatist Billon has been receiving a lot of attention lately, including critical praise for the lyrical intensity of his language. Greenland (2009) has been published in Billon’s Fault Lines: Three Plays: the other two scripts are Iceland (2012) and Faroe Islands (2013). According to a review of the volume on pageandstage.com: “Billon’s three plays are broadly related by the idea of fault lines or fractures, discontinuities wherein stress is both accumulative and instantaneous, and where energy is most strikingly experienced as a dramatic upheaval. Billon has affinities with Wallace Shawn as well as with Neil Labute. He is less political than Shawn, but he shares with the American satirist a facility with the monologue form.”

Talk to Strangers, staged by Liars and Believers and the Boston Circus Guild at Oberon, Cambridge, MA, February 19.

Are you lonely? Looking for companionship? Wary of the bar scene? This might be the show for you — theater as ice-breaker. “In collaboration with the Boston Circus Guild and fifteen local performers, Liars & Believers brings you this immersive theatrical event. Through live music, installation art, mask, video, aerial performance, dance, poetry, and more, we invite you to interact with the people moving through the world with you, and to … Talk to Strangers.”

A scene from Trinity Rep's production of "Middletown." Photo: Mark Turek

Joe Wilson Jr. plays the Policeman and Lee Osori is the Mechanic in a scene from Trinity Rep’s production of “Middletown.” Photo: Mark Turek.

Middletown by Will Eno. Directed by Curt Columbus. Staged by the Trinity Repertory Company in the Dowling Theatre at 201 Washington Street, Providence, RI, through February 22.

Playwright Will Eno’s acclaimed 2010 play is a “wry, bittersweet and achingly beautiful” look at small-town American living” that reveals “universal themes of love, birth, death, loneliness, elation, forgiveness, disappointment and redemption.”

The Big Meal by Dan LeFranc. Directed by David J. Miller. Staged by Zeitgeist Stage Company at the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) Plaza Black Box Theatre, Boston, MA, through March 7.

Foodies Unite! LeFranc’s play focuses on how serious things can happen while we munch away. 8 actors play 26 characters, and their experiences chowing down at various tables, according to The New York Times, “manages to telescope more than three generations of family life — and strife — into less than 90 minutes.”

The King of Second Avenue (based on The King of the Schnorrers by Israel Zangwill). Book and Lyrics by Robert Brustein. Music by Hankus Netsky. Directed by Matthew ‘Motl’ Didner. Staged by the New Repertory Theatre in the Arsenal Center for the Arts at the Charles Mosesian Theater, Watertown, MA, through March 1.

This is the world premiere production of a musical based on a story by Israel Zangwill. The update features “a Romeo and Juliet love story set against the background of antagonistic Jewish sects in the Lower East Side of 1960s Manhattan.” The klezmer score is composed by Hankus Netsky.

Terra Nova by Ted Tally. Directed by Jake Scaltreto. Staged by Flat Earth Theatre at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown, MA, February 20 through 28.

Ask yourself this: Do you want to venture through the frozen tundra that is the Boston area to see a show about being stuck in the frozen tundra? The play focuses on Scott’s infamous expedition, in which “patriotism and confidence urge them achingly forward through nature’s coldest, most inhospitable environment in a harrowing race to be the first in history to step foot on the South Pole.” Perhaps it will put our current snowy plight in perspective.

Benten Greene (Hero) in the foreground during a scene in "Part 1: A Measure of a Man. " Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva

Benton Greene (Hero) in the foreground during a scene in “Part 1: A Measure of a Man.” Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva.

Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) by Suzan Lori-Parks. Directed by Jo Bonney. A co-production between the American Repertory Theater and The Public Theater in New York, at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, through March 1.

“A devastatingly beautiful new play set over the course of the Civil War” that impressed a number of New York theater critics. “A masterful new work from one of our most lyrical and powerful writers” — and at her best Suzan Lori-Parks lives up to the latter description — the drama “is a deeply personal epic about love and hope in a world of impossible choices.” Arts Fuse Review

Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage. Directed by Summer L. William. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston at 40 Clarendon Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA, through March 14.

Nottage’s tough but tender play deals with race, sex, and class. The script is a “loving and evocative portrait of Esther, an independent but lonely African American seamstress in early 20th-century Manhattan who earns a living sewing exquisite lingerie for wealthy socialites uptown, and women of ill repute downtown. When Esther receives a letter from a stranger who is laboring on the Panama Canal, she begins an epistolary courtship with him, only to discover that he is not all that he seems.”

Uncle Jack written and directed by Michael Hammond. A co-production of the Boston Center for American Performance (BCAP) and Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (BPT) at the Boston University Theatre’s Lane-Comley Studio 210, Boston, MA, through March 1.

“In this modern-day retelling of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, Uncle Jack, his niece Sonya, and his British brother-in-law Derek struggle to save their small summer theatre company in the Berkshires…and the company’s looming demise causes old wounds to bleed afresh.” Playwright Hammond is a member of the Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre faculty, and Uncle Jack is his first full-length play. The strong cast includes award-winning local performers Will Lyman, Steven Barkhimer, and Nancy E. Carroll.

Oceanside by Nick Gandiello. Directed by Melia Bensussen. At the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell, MA, through March 8.

Sounds like (another) intense family drama, though this is a world premiere: “Gwen thought she had successfully walked away from her troubled past. But then her ex-husband returns with news of their grown daughter’s disappearance and with him come the demons that she sought to erase from her idyllic new life.” The cast includes Allyn Burrows, Joey Collins, Caroline Lawton, and Carolyn Baeumler. Warning: Contains Adult Content

Familiar by Dabau Gurira. Directed by Rebecca Taichman. Staged by the Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven CT, through February 21.

The world premiere of a script (Yale Rep commissioned Gurira, an OBIE and Whiting Writers Award winning playwright) that is billed as “a richly funny and deeply moving new play about the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters, sisters, wives and husbands—the customs they keep, and the secrets they keep buried.”

Christopher Donahue and Kathleen McElfresh in the Huntington Theatre Company production of the moving Irish drama The Second Girl by Ronan Noone, directed by Campbell Scott, playing January 16 – February 21, 2015 at the South End/Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Christopher Donahue and Kathleen McElfresh in the Huntington Theatre Company production of “The Second Girl.” Photo: T. Charles Erickson.

The Second Girl by Ronan Noone. Directed by Campbell Scott. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Virginia Wimberly Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, through February 21.

Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night is the backdrop for this play, “which is set in the downstairs world of the Tyrone family kitchen in August 1912. Two Irish immigrant servant girls and the chauffeur search for love, success, and a sense of belonging in their new world.” This is the world premiere production of a script by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Ronan Noone. Arts Fuse Review

Wit by Margaret Edison. Directed by Sidney Friedman. A co-production of the Boston Center for American Performance (BCAP) and Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (BPT) at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, Roberts Theatre, Boston, MA, February 20 through 28.

A revival of Edison’s powerful play about “Vivian Bearing, Ph.D., a renowned professor of English who has spent years studying and teaching the brilliant and difficult metaphysical sonnets of John Donne, has been diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer.” The cast includes Judy Braha, Mark Cohen, and Paula Langton.

— Bill Marx

Classical Music

Richard Egarr conducts Mozart and Beethoven
Presented by the Handel & Haydn Society
February 15, 3 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA

Early music by Mozart – the Weisenhaus Mass, written when he was just thirteen – and Beethoven’s Symphony no. 1 are the focus of this latest installment to H&H’s bicentennial season. Richard Egarr conducts the Period Instrument Orchestra and the excellent H&H Chorus.

Music of György Ligeti
Presented by Composer Focus Concerts
February 15, 7 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA

Arguably the 20th century’s greatest postwar composer, a wide swath of Ligeti’s output is on display in CFC’s latest program. The program includes Ligeti’s Bartók-inflected Musica ricercata; the Sonata for Solo Cello; the awesome, formidable String Quartet no. 2; and excerpts from his path-breaking Piano Etudes

Stéphane Denève conducts the BSO
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
February 19-21, 8 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

Denève returns to the BSO podium for an all-French (or French-influenced) program of pieces premiered in Paris in the 1920s. Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite, Poulenc’s Les Biches, and Milhaud’s La creation du monde frame Prokofiev’s lyrical Violin Concerto no. 1. James Ehnes is the soloist in the latter work.

Mahler Chamber Orchestra with Leif Ove Andsne
Presented by the Celebrity Series
February 22, 3 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

Andsnes’s “Beethoven Journey” comes to Boston with three of that composer’s piano concertos, nos. 2-4. Andsnes is joined by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, which he also conducts.

Berio: Sequenze
Presented by New England Conservatory
February 23, 8 p.m.
Williams Hall, Boston, MA

Seven of Berio’s extraordinary (and extraordinarily) virtuosic compositions for solo instruments – here for flute, voice, piano, trombone, violin, guitar, and double bass – receive performances by NEC’s Avant-Garde Ensemble.

— Jonathan Blumhofer

Boston Artists Ensemble
February 18, 8 p.m.
Hamilton Hall, 9 Chestnut St., Salem, MA

Chamber music featuring Mozart’s Duo in B flat for Bassoon and Cello, K.292; J.S. Bach’s Suite No. 3 in C major for Cello, BWV 1009; and Janáček’s Mládí (Youth) for Wind Sextet. Performing will be Clint Foreman, flute; John Ferrillo, oboe; Thomas Martin, clarinet; Rachel Childers, horn; Richard Ranti, bassoon; Craig Nordstrom, bass clarinet; Jonathan Miller, cello.

Lorelei on the Rocks
February 20, 7 p.m.
Sloane Merrill Gallery, 75 Charles St., Boston, MA

The Lorelei Ensemble (sopranos Sonja Tengblad and Emily Culler and mezzo-soprano Clare McNamara with tenor Jason McStoots and harpsichordist Dylan Sauerwald) presents a post-Valentine’s evening of 16th-century Italian and English madrigals, including works by Palestrina, Willaert, Monte, Weelkes, and Morley.

Calder Quartet, presented by the Celebrity Series of Boston
February 20, 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall, NEC, Boston, MA

The Calder Quartet’s program features Andrew Norman’s Sabina; Ravel’s String Quartet in F major; Thomas Adès’s Arcadiana; and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Opus 95, “Serioso.”

Ockeghem@600, presented by Blue Heron
February 21, 8 p.m.
First Church, 11 Garden Street,  Cambridge, MA

With the 600th anniversary (more or less) of the birth of Johannes Ockeghem approaching, Blue Heron’s concert features his Missa De plus en plus, as well as works by his contemporaries Gilles Binchois and Guillaume Du Fay.

Aurora Borealis, presented by A Far Cry
February 21, 4 p.m.
St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1 Roanoke Ave., Jamaica Plain, MA

The ensemble A Far Cry looks northward for a program including Steve Reich’s Duet from “Triple Quartet”; Benjamin Britten’s Prelude and Fugue for 18 Strings; Ingvar Lidholm’s Music for Strings; Edvard Grieg’s Two Elegiac Melodies, op. 34; and a set of traditional Swedish fiddle tunes.

Boston Chamber Music Society
February 22, 3 p.m.
Fitzgerald Theater, Cambridge Street (between Felton and Ellery), Cambridge, MA

Violinists Yura Lee and Harumi Rhodes, violists Dimitri Murrath and Marcus Thompson, and cellist Ronald Thomas offer a program of selections from Mozart’s arrangements of J.S. Bach’s Preludes and Fugues for String Trio, K. 404a; Mozart’s Duo in G major for Violin and Viola, K. 423; Alfred Schnittke’s Moz-Art for Two Violins; and Mozart’s String Quintet in D major, K. 593.

— Susan Miron


Lizzo --

Lizzo — she’s as adroit with subjects like food and childhood as she is with sex and partying.

Opening for Sleater-Kinney
February 22, 7 p.m.
House of Blues, Boston, MA

The local stop on the reunion tour by Sleater-Kinney was already enough to command standing-room only, so take this as more of a notice that it’s just as important to get there early enough for Minneapolis-based alt-rapper Lizzo. She moves through diverse styles and has attitude connections to the headliners through association with outfits like Grrrl Party, but more fundamentally, a Lizzo connection with Sleater-Kinney through a fondness for old-school hard riffs, irresistible catchphrases and shapely-punchy tunes. (You did notice that Missy Elliot stole the Super Bowl halftime show, right?) Plus Lizzo’s as adroit with subjects like food and childhood as she is with sex and partying. The consensus pick from her Lizzobangers album is “Batches and Cookies,” but right behind are “Bus Passes and Happy Meals” and (bound to be a local favorite) “Lizzie Borden.”

— Milo Miles


Lux Deluxe
February 19, 2015
Church of Boston, Boston, MA

As a native of Western Massachusetts, it brings me great joy to recommend Northampton’s own Lux Deluxe, playing this week at Church of Boston. The five-piece is ridiculously young, but they’re already on their second album, It’s a Girl. Good, straight ahead, rock and roll has been in short supply lately, so Lux Deluxe is a breath of fresh air.

Upcoming and On Sale…

Gang of Four (3/6/2015, Paradise Rock Club); Will Butler (of Arcade Fire) (3/6/2015, TT the Bears); of Montreal (3/10/2015, Paradise Rock Club); Swervedriver (3/28/2015, The Sinclair); Carl Barat and the Jackals (3/28/2015, Brighton Music Hall); Belle and Sebastian (3/30/2015, House of Blues); Jeff Beck (4/19/2015, Orpheum Theatre); They Might Be Giants (4/23/2015, House of Blues); Manic Street Preachers (4/24/2015, The Sinclair); Sufjan Stevens (5/4/2015, Citi Performing Arts Center); Faith No More (5/11/2015, Orpheum Theatre); Kasabian (5/15/2015, House of Blues); Primal Scream (5/17/2015, Royale); Crosby, Stills and Nash (5/19/2015, Citi Performing Arts Center); Boston Calling (featuring Beck, Pixies, My Morning Jacket) (5/22-24/2015, City Hall Plaza); The Who (5/24/2015, Mohegan Sun Arena); Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (6/6/2015, Boston Opera House); Spoon (6/18/2015, House of Blues); Rush (6/23/2015, TD Garden); Huey Lewis and the News (6/27/2015, Indian Ranch); U2 (7/10, 11, 14, 15/2015, TD Garden); Billy Joel (7/16/2015, Fenway Park); Foo Fighters (7/18-19/2015, Fenway Park); Interpool (7/23-24/2015, House of Blues); AC/DC (8/22/2015, Gillette Stadium); Death Cab For Cutie (9/11/2015, Blue Hills Bank Pavilion); Mark Knopfler (10/9/2015, Orpheum Theatre); The Who (10/29/2015, TD Garden)

— Adam Ellsworth


Benkadi Drum & Dance
February 18, 10:30 a.m.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum, Boston

In honor of African-American heritage month, the Benkadi Drum & Dance group brings the energetic rhythms of Mali and Guinea to the JFK Library in this free performance. Note to viewers: This performance is in the morning and requires reservations. Visit website to reserve.

What is the Color of Movement?
February 24, 5:15 p.m.
The Dance Complex
Cambridge, MA

The Dance Complex launches its inaugural discussion series Listen/Talk/Do this week with its first community dialogue, What is the Color of Movement? Open to the public, this first topic of the series encourages the local arts community to delve deeper into the discussion of race, gender, class, and legacy as told through movement in the field of dance. RSVPs appreciated.

Urbanity Dance
February 20 & 21, 8 p.m.
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

World Music/CRASHarts presents an evening of Urbanity Dance at the ICA. A local contemporary dance company of Boston, Urbanity brings works by choreographers Betsi Graves, Jeremy Stewart, Andy Noble, and Jaclyn Walsh. A free pre-show talk with dance critic Debra Cash will take place 30 minutes prior to curtain in the ICA lobby.

Further afield…

Brazilian dance company Grupo Corpo brings Sem Mim to the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall on February 24

Brazilian dance company Grupo Corpo brings Sem Mim to the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall on February 24

Grupo Corpo
February 24, 7:30 p.m.
Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, UMass-Amherst

Grupo Corpo is a dynamic Brazilian dance company bridging the genres of contemporary, jazz, and ballet with the emotion and physicality of Afro-Brazilian dance. Featuring company favorite—and medieval troubadour-inspired—Sem Mim, this performance is well worth the 1.5-hour drive from Boston.

— Merli V. Guerra


Revolutionary Snake Ensemble with Charles Neville
February 17, 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA

The Boston band Revolutionary Snake Ensemble has a knack for mixing the New Orleans brass band tradition with African music and avant-garde streams of jazz. They again team up with Neville Brother Charles (alto saxophone) for a Mardi Gras bash at the Regattabar, with Charles’s son Khalif on piano, the fine young alto saxophonist (and Thelonious Monk Competition finalist) Godwin Louis, and RSE regulars Ken Field and Tom Hall (saxophones), trumpeter Jerry Sabatini, drummer Phil Neighbors, and bassist Blake Newman.

Charlie Kohlhase’s Explorers Club
February 19, 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA

The Boston multi-reedman and composer Charlie Kohlhase convenes his truly exploratory Explorers Club, with trumpeter Jerry Sabatini, pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, tubist Josiah Reibstein, bassist Aaron Darrell, and drummer Curt Newton.

Joey DeFrancesco
February 20, 8 and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA

Joey DeFrancesco is the dominant purveyor of the organ-trio tradition of greasy grooves and bebop-driven funk. He cranks up the house at Scullers for two shows, playing organ, a bit of trumpet, and singing. In this case he fronts a quartet with guitarist Dan Wilson, drummer Jason Brown, and bassist Mike Boone.

Aaron Goldberg Trio
February 21, 7:30 and 10 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA

Pianist and composer Aaron Goldberg, who has served alongside bandleaders like Joshua Redman and Kurt Rosenwinkel, laces his swing and balladry with a sly, spontaneous wit that always serves the song and whatever particular moment he and his bandmates happen to be inhabiting. In this case, that would be his longtime trio mates, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland.

February 24, 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA

The Armenian-born, Los Angeles-raised pianist and songwriter Tigran Hamasyan, winner of the 2006 Thelonious Monk Piano Competition, plays music with a pan-stylistic, global reach, personal and probing, easily at home with folkloric grooves or layered cinematic electronic pastiche.

Fred Hersch Trio
February 25, 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA

Pianist and composer Fred Hersch’s deep lyricism and probing musical intelligence has no better showcase than his longstanding trio with bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson.

— Jon Garelick

Author Events

Kelly Link
Get in Trouble
February 16, 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner, Brookline, MA

The publishing world is abuzz with the release of Kelly Link’s latest collection of short stories. Magic for Beginners, her last story collection for adults, built a steady cult following over the decade since its release, earning the praise from the likes of Neil Gaiman and Michael Chabon. Link is back with a highly anticipated series of imaginative fiction featuring hurricanes, astronauts, Ouija boards, Pyramids, and The Wizard of Oz, woven through with an eye for human foibles and frailty.

Mary Pilon
The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game
February 17, 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

The accepted origin story of Monopoly is that an unemployed man sold the idea to the Parker Brothers during the Depression for a ton of money and lived happily ever after. In fact, the story is more complex than that. Pilon, an award-winning New York Times sports reporter, tells the real story of America’s favorite property-trading game, a tale which incorporates Abraham Lincoln, the Quakers, and a little-known Progressive Era feminist named Lizzie Magie who initially created a nearly identical version of the game as we know it.

Belinda Rathbone
The Boston Raphael: A Mysterious Painting, an Embattled Museum in an Era of Change & A Daughter’s Search for the Truth
February 18, 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner, Brookline, MA

In 1969, the MFA acquired an unknown and extremely rare painting attributed to Raphael. Suddenly, a transatlantic controversy erupted over its authenticity and the museum’s right to ownership. In the middle of this was Basil Rathbone, the MFA’s charismatic curator, who faced the biggest crisis of his thirty year career. His daughter comes to Coolidge Corner to tell the true story of the painting, the MFA, and the controversy which changed Rathbone’s life.

Steven Pinker
“Three Reasons to Affirm Free Speech”
February 18, 7:30 p.m.
Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Ballroom
Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA

The issue of free speech is often controversial in these politically fraught times. Are there limits to free speech? Should there be? Steven Pinker, the renowned experimental psychologist, author, and #26 on Prospect Magazine’s top 100 public intellectuals will address the question—and argue for the affirmative—at Wellesley College this Wednesday.

Christine McKinley
Physics for Rock Stars: Making the Laws of the Universe Work for You
February 21, 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA

For many people physics is intimidatingly complex, the ultimate “too smart for me” subject. Luckily, we have McKinley, a licensed mechanical engineer and the host of the popular History Channel series Brad Meltzer’s Decoded to write a book that makes physics not only accessible but interesting. She will come by Porter Square to read from her book, which explains exiting topics, such as the scientific basis for stage diving and the rules of magnetic attraction.

Vladimir Pistalo
Tesla: A Portrait with Masks
February 23, 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA

Nicola Tesla is one of the most influential—and most misunderstood—inventors of the 20th Century. For every successful invention there were hundreds of failures. His rivalry with Thomas Edison was the stuff of legend. Pistalo is a Croatian novelist who teaches at Becker College. Tesla won Croatia’s most prestigious literary prize and is his first novel to be translated into English. He will read and discuss his novel, which Charles Simic has called a “beautifully written, immensely entertaining, astonishingly original portrait.”

— Matt Hanson

Roots and World Music

The Mavericks
February 19, 9 p.m.
Wilbur Theater, Boston

Once upon a time the Mavericks were a Miami band that played country. Today they’re a Nashville band that’s as likely to play a ska or Tejano number than a twangy torch song. Although the group recently ejected founder Robert Reynolds, its quickly rebounded with the release of the excellent “Mono”—and, true to its name, the collection of Caribbean dance numbers and moody torch songs is not available in stereo. As good a live band as can be found, the Mavs kick off their tour at the Wilbur. Click here to read an ArtsFuse interview with drummer Paul Deakin.

Yaeko Miranda Elmaleh
February 21, 8 p.m.
Arts at the Armory Café, Somerville

Violinist Elmaleh, a Cambridge native, has been turning heads with her work in the Klezmer Conservatory Band. Tonight she steps out with a smaller but still all-star combo consisting of Ehud Eutton, Grant Smith and Michael McLaughlin.

— Noah Schaffer

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