Arts Fuse critics select the best in film, theater, music, dance, visual arts, and author events for the coming week.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
Life on the V: The Story of V66
August 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Somerville Theatre, Somerville, MA
Nostalgic for Boston music of the 1980s? Through copious use of music clips and interviews, this locally produced documentary chronicles the life of a celebrated music video channel on VHF-TV. It popped up in Boston in 1985 and disappeared from the airwaves after 18 months. V66 was a unique chapter in the history of the music video revolution.
August 29 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA
The HFA’s excellent Sam Fuller retrospective presents one of his truly gonzo films. A reporter checks into a mental institution to catch a killer (he hopes to win a Pulitzer Prize). When he finds himself trapped in the institution, the film becomes a dark metaphor for the ’60’s given that Fuller’s inmates have been driven crazy by the hypocrisies of the American Dream: racism, anti-communism and the Bomb. This is a too-little-seen cult wonder and nutty as a fruitcake.
The Last Picture Show
August 31 at 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline
Based on the excellent novel by Larry McMurtry, this stunning Peter Bogdanovich film is shot in rich black and white and full of classic American characters who are brought to life by a cast of first-rate actors early in their careers: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, Eileen Brennan, Clu Gallagher, and Randy Quaid. Ben Johnson adds gritty gravitas and Cybill Shepherd is terrific in her first film role. (Smitten with his new star, the director began an affair with her while still married to the film’s brilliant production designer, Polly Platt.) This is a complex masterpiece, a coming-of-age story that also works as an n elegy for small town rural America. The film seamlessly blends multiple story lines and is at once tender, romantic, heartbreaking, and very funny. Not to be missed.
— Tim Jackson
The Boston dance scene is quiet this week, but that doesn’t mean great dance isn’t within your grasp! Take a day trip to Western Mass to see:
August 26-29 at 8:15 p.m.; August 29 & 30 at 2:15 p.m.
Doris Duke Theatre, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival
MADBOOTS DANCE has been hailed as a young company to watch. The all-male company presents two new works at the Pillow this weakend — BEAU and (SADBOYS) — that span the range of athletic and emotional expression in dance. Warning: this performance contains nudity.
Martha Graham Dance Company
August 26-29 at 8 P.M.; August 29 & 30 at 2 P.M.
Ted Shawn Theatre, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival closes its season this week with a bang: the world-renowned Martha Graham Dance Company will celebrate the launch of its 90th anniversary. The program features the choreography of Martha Graham, Andonis Foniadakis, Nacho Duato, and Mats Ek.
Or travel up to Maine to view:
Wiscasset Art Walk
August 27 from 5-9 p.m.
This Thursday, Luminarium Dance Company returns to Wiscasset, ME, for the art- and music-filled Wiscasset Art Walk. Join the company as its dancers wander the coastal galleries, cafes, and artisanal shops, and pause to enjoy the artwork along the way.
— Merli V. Guerra
The ICA opens two exhibitions this week, both of them looking at the ways photographs shape our perceptions of reality.
Erin Shirreff exploits a conundrum that began when museums started photographing their collections in the mid-19th-century: how to represent a three-dimensional art work, especially sculpture, in two dimensions. The choice of scale, lighting, color, and film or video format used over the years has varied considerably, and tends to skew our view of the history of art.
Shirreff’s work looks at the difference between seeing a sculpture in real time and look-ing through the dazzling lenses of various media. She photographs her own or other sculptures and, in her ICA show, presents them as a commentary on modes of expression and interpretation and as a way to slow down the process of looking.
The disturbing idea that TV sets and vacuum cleaners and other household gadgets might have ideas and powers of their own has been the stuff of Twilight Zone episodes and horror films for decades. In eight works that draw on sculpture, video, and photography, Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum looks at how easily ordinary objects can become unruly or even menacing, at least in your imagination. In Hatoum’s case, the work carries a dark metaphor of her turbulent homeland in Lebanon, where the most tranquil domestic setting can suddenly erupt in violence.
Forever the poor cousin of Fine Art, so-called “crafts” (in the U.S., usually handmade ceramics, wood- or metalwork, or textiles) is lucky to get invited to the wedding at all, much less get asked to be a bridesmaid. Yet craft-oriented artists have frequently found themselves on the front lines of innovation in the visual arts. The MFA’s Objects in Flux suggests this is one of those times. The show’s organizers point to “increasingly blurred boundaries between art, craft, and design” and artists who combine “cutting edge concepts” with traditional skills, making use of new materials and technologies. Some thirty international artists, all rethinking the “poor cousin” concept, will be on view.
The MFA also opens this week a survey of the greatest pupils and apprentices of the master Japanese print maker, Katsushika Hokusai. Following up on the museum’s major Hokusai exhibition earlier this summer, the sequel focuses on three important makers of surimono: high-end prints often made on commission for particular clients. Ho-kusai’s powerful example, the exhibition shows, set off a wave across generations of Japanese artists and patrons, a wave that reached all the way to the West and which influences the visual arts to this day.
1863 Jane Stickle Quilt
August 29 – October 12
Bennington Museum, Bennington, VT
No other museum represents the traditional visual culture of New England better than the Bennington. The 1863 Jane Stickle Quilt, created by a Shaftsbury, Vermont, native during the American Civil War, is one of its greatest treasures. Shown only a few weeks at a time to protect it from fading, this world-famous textile, comprised of 5,602 separate pieces of fabric, is so important to the history of American quilts that master quilters, important quilt collectors, and folk art connoisseurs travel from around world to see it during the brief periods it is made available. Newly uncovered information about the quilt, its maker, and related works by Jane Stickle will make the 2015 viewing especially important.
— Peter Walsh
George W. Russell Jr.
August 26, 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA
The pianist, composer, and Berklee prof celebrates his 50th birthday with his trio and special guests. Russell’s bop-to-funk explorations are informed by deep knowledge and a genial stage presence. You can expect those special guests to be top-shelf.
August 27, 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA
Guitarist Eric Hofbauer and trumpeter Daniel Rosenthal front a quartet with bassist
Aaron Darrell and drummer Austin McMahon. Accomplished and lyrical players all, with a deep streak of experimentation, they tell us to be prepared for music by Rosenthal, Hofbauer, McMahon, Monk, and Mulligan.
— Jon Garelick
His Girl Friday, adapted by John Guare from the The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur and the Columbia Pictures film His Girl Friday. Directed by Julianne Boyd. Staged by Barrington Stage at the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage, 30 Union Street, Pittsfield, MA, through August 30. Arts Fuse review
“Editor Walter Burns will do anything to find an ace reporter cunning enough to scoop a story in the cutthroat Chicago press world, even if that means turning to his ex-wife, Hildy Johnson, who comes back to the newsroom one last time before leaving the game for good. In Guare’s adaptation, the play takes place in 1939, the day before war breaks out in Europe, which adds a political framework to the otherwise antic proceedings.”
Waitress, Book by Jessie Nelson, Music and Lyrics by Sara Bareilles. Directed by Diane Paulus. Choreography by Chase Brock. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, through September 20.
The world premiere of a musical based on the motion picture written by Adrienne Shelly. “Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker, is stuck in a small town and a loveless marriage. When a baking contest in a nearby county offers her a chance at escape, Jenna must weigh her commitments against a rare shot at freedom and recognition.” Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller (Beautiful) stars as the food server at the center of it all.
Detroit by Lisa D’amour. Directed by Daisy Walker. Staged by the Harbor Stage Company, Wellfleet, MA, through September 5.
A strong cast (Stacy Fischer, Jonathan Fielding, Allen Kennedy, Robert Kropf, and Brenda Withers) tackles the Boston premiere production of “this fiercely funny, Pulitzer Prize-nominated take on the dissolving American Dream, two very different couples try to bridge the gap between suburban civility and our hearts’ desires.”
The Road to Where by Cass Morgan. Directed by Steve Stettler. Staged by the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company at the Weston Playhouse 12 Park Street, Weston, VT, through August 30.
“A trio of seasoned actors/musicians joins Cass Morgan as she journeys back to Ireland to find her family’s roots and discovers what home really means.”
Thoroughly Muslim Millie by Ryan Landry. Performed by The Gold Dust Orphans. At the Provincetown Theater, 238 Bradford Street, Provincetown, MA, through September 6.
Leave it to Landry to take musical parody where most American theaters fear to tread. Seen many plays about the Middle East lately? With music? The satiric set-up: “A young girl from a Canadian convent! Thrust across the border into the Middle East and straight into the arms of the Prince of Persia! And what do Dick and Lynne Cheney have to do with all this?” WARNING: This is an ADULT parody! DO NOT BRING YOUR CHILDREN!
The Lion, Written and performed by Benjamin Scheuer. Directed by Sean Daniels. In the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA, August 26 through September 20.
“After highly-praised runs in Edinburgh and London, two Off-Broadway productions, and several awards, The Lion is beginning a two-year national tour at the MRT. The gripping musical takes the audience on one man’s musical journey from boyhood to manhood, through pain and healing, to discover the redemptive power of music.”
Van Gogh’s Ear by Eve Wolf. Directed by Donald T. Sanders. Staged by the Ensemble for the Romantic Century in partnership with the American Institute for Economic Research and the Clark Art Institute. At the Stone House at the American Institute for Economic Research, 250 Division Street, Great Barrington, MA, through August 30.
Presented in tandem with The Clark’s Van Gogh and Nature exhibition, this “theatrical concert” takes “the audience on a journey through the artist’s final years in the south of France. Based on Vincent van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo, the fully staged production interweaves an original script that dramatizes Van Gogh (played by Simon Fortin) with live performances of vocal and instrumental works by French composers.”
The Unexpected Man by Yasmina Reza. Translated by Christopher Hampton. Directed by Seth Gordon. Staged by Shakespeare & Company at the Tina Packer Playhouse, Lenox, MA, through September 6.
The production stars Corinna May and, making his S&Co. debut, John Woodson in a story that “follows a middle-aged man and woman who sit opposite each other in the detached intimacy of a train compartment on a journey from Paris to Frankfurt. He is a world famous author; she, one of his biggest fans, carries his latest novel in her handbag and ponders the dilemma of reading it in front of him.”
Engagements by Lucy Teitler. Directed by Louisa Proske. Staged by Barrington Stage at the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield, MA, through August 30.
World premiere production of a script that is about intimate relationships today — and the news is not good. “When reality looks this good, who cares if it’s all an illusion? Definitely not Lauren, the unforgettable heroine of this pitch-black anti-romantic comedy, a midsummer night’s dream about the conflicted Millennial generation.” Warning: “Show contains mature language, and adult themes. Viewer discretion is advised.”
Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti. Directed by Daniela Varon. Staged by Shakespeare and Company at the Tina Packer Playhouse, Lenox, MA, through September 13.
A powerhouse line-up, featuring OBIE Award-winning actor John Douglas Thompson, presents the American premiere production of a play about the legendary Ira Aldridge, the first African-American actor to play Othello on the English stage in 1833. Aldridge played a number of roles in Shakespeare’s plays (including King Lear, Macbeth, Shylock, and Richard III), but Othello was his signature part. In his fine new book Great Shakespeare Actors, Stanley Wells writes that “he continued to develop [the role] over the course of his career. Aided (like Paul Robeson after him) by a powerful physique and noble voice, he played Othello with deep self-identification and at times terrifying passion.” Arts Fuse preview Arts Fuse review
The Flick by Annie Baker. Directed by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary. Staged by the Gloucester Stage Company, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA, through September 12.
The Pulitzer prize-winning script is “a hilarious and heart-rending cry for authenticity in a fast-changing world.” Cast members Nael Nacer, Melissa Jesser, Marc Pierre, and James Wechsler are all making their Gloucester Stage debut in this production. Arts Fuse review
— Bill Marx
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Presented by Boston Landmarks Orchestra
August 26, 7 p.m.
Hatch Band Shell, Boston, MA
Mendelssohn’s complete incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream receives a local airing in BLO’s season finale, which features a fully staged production of Shakespeare’s great play (courtesy of Commonwealth Shakespeare Company).
— Jonathan Blumhofer
Borromeo String Quartet
August 26 at 7:30 p.m.
First Congregational Church, 650 Main Street, Chatham, MA
On the program: Beethoven’s String Quartet in A Minor, Opus 132; F. Schubert’s Quartet No. 14 in D Minor, D. 810 (“Death and the Maiden”).
Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival — Grand Finale
September 28 at 7:30 p.m.
At the First Congregational Church, 200 Main St, Wellfleet, MA
An impressive round-up of musicians (Nicholas Kitchen, violin; Cynde Iverson, bassoon; Mai Motobuchi, viola; Kevin Cobb, trumpet; Yeesun Kim, cello; John D. Rojak, trombone; Tony Falanga, bass; Ted Atkatz, percussion; Jon Manasse, clarinet; Jon Nakamatsu, piano; Eric Reed, horn) play a program that includes Stravinsky’s L’histoire du Soldat Suite (The Soldier’s Tale) and Dohnányi’s Sextet in C Major for Piano, Clarinet, Horn and String Trio, Opus 37.
— Susan Miron
J. Geils Band
Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, Boston, MA
When it comes to classic Boston groups, you can take Aerosmith, I’ll take J. Geils Band. See the legends at the Hub’s best summer venue in a concert that pays homage to the 30th anniversary of WZLX.
Rock and Blues Concert Cruise, Boston, MA
Speedy Ortiz is arguably the best band in Boston. And could there be a more distinctive way to see them than on a Rock and Blues Concert Cruise? The ship boards at noon at World Trade Center Pier and sails from 1 to 4. The Downtown Boys from Providence, Francine from Boston, and DJ Michael V will also perform.
Upcoming and On Sale…
Cat Power (9/10/2015, Paradise Rock Club); Death Cab For Cutie (9/11/2015, Blue Hills Bank Pavilion); Rancid (9/15/2015, House of Blues); A$AP Rocky & Tyler, The Creator (9/19/2015, Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell), Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters (9/20/2015, Blue Hills Bank Pavilion); Albert Hammond Jr. (9/20/2015, The Sinclair); Bob Mould (9/23/2015, The Sinclair); Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls (9/25/2015, House of Blues); Boston Calling (featuring Avett Brothers, Alt-J, and Alabama Shakes) (9/25-27/2015, City Hall Plaza); Ghost (9/28/2015, House of Blues); The Jesus and Mary Chain (9/29/2015, House of Blues); Kurt Vile and the Violators (10/2/2015, Paradise Rock Club); FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks) (10/2/2015, Orpheum Theatre); Kraftwerk (10/3/2015, Wang Theatre); Ride (10/3/2015, Paradise Rock Club); Mark Knopfler (10/9/2015, Orpheum Theatre); Catfish and the Bottlemen (10/16/2015, Royale); Garbage (10/21/2015, Orpheum Theatre); Ringo Starr and His All Star Band (10/23/2015, Citi Performing Arts Center); The Who (10/29/2015, TD Garden); My Morning Jacket (11/20-21/2015, Orpheum Theatre); The Flamin’ Groovies (11/25/2015, Brighton Music Hall); Parquet Courts (12/5/2015, Middle East-Downstairs)
— Adam Ellsworth
Second Annual Seamus Heaney Memorial Reading
Greg Delanty and Thomas O’Leary
August 26 at 7 p.m.
Hastings Room, First Church Congregationalist, Cambridge MA
Nobel prize-winning writer Seamus Heaney was Irish-born, but he became a beloved figure in Boston poetry circles as a revered mentor and Harvard University professor. Acclaimed local poet Mike Steffen hosts this second annual reading in the cozy Hastings Room in Cambridge, where poets Delanty and O’Leary will read their work in tribute.
Reading Claudius: A Memoir in Two Parts
August 27 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA
Part one of Heller’s memoir focuses on the prewar cafe culture of 1930’s Prague, which thrived during the rise of fascism throughout Europe. That portion of the volume includes the experiences of her parent’s generation, including their experiences with the Nazi death camps. Part two concentrates on Heller’s story and how she came to terms with her harrowing family legacy.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
Every Friday this summer, the Harvard Book Store is offering 15% off fiction purchases. The promotion isn’t limited to fiction alone, however. Book lovers can get the discount on poetry, graphic novels, audiobooks, and YA fiction as well.
Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor
August 31 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA
O’Connell was a Harvard Medical School graduate with a bright future ahead of him when he started working with Boston’s homeless population at the behest of his mentor, a Boston humanitarian. Offering assistance to the “rough sleepers” became a growing passion for him and he ended up staying on for years. He comes to Porter Square to tell his story and share what he’s learned.
Joe Hill and Ben Blacker
Nerdist Writers Panel
August 31 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner, Brookline MA
Come participate in a live podcast of the Nerdist Writers Panel, a popular podcast in which moderator Ben Blacker interviews professional writers of all kinds; the discussion focuses on the writing life and the various ways to revise and publish interesting work. This live taping features a visit by author Joe Hill. Ticket proceeds will go to benefit 826 Boston, the Beantown chapter of the national non-profit tutoring program.
— Matt Hanson