Arts Fuse critics select the best in theater, film, music, author events, and dance for the coming weeks.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
February 7 at 7 p.m.
Bright Family Screening Room at Emerson/Paramount Center, Boston, MA
A brilliantly conceived and powerful film and one of the year’s best: On August 1st, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire, holding the campus hostage for 96 minutes. When the gunshots were finally silenced, the toll included 16 dead, three dozen wounded, and a shaken nation left trying to understand the reasons for the carnage. Combining archival footage with rotoscopic animation, Tower explores the untold stories of the witnesses, heroes, and survivors of America’s first mass school shooting. There will be a discussion with animation director Craig Staggs. Trailer
February 10 at 7 p.m.
The BU Cinematheque, Boston, MA
While ‘Senior Outreach Lead’ for Netflix, BU graduate Dan Schoenbrun managed to executive produce and organize this mind-bending anthology film. Five of America’s most adventurous and avant-garde independent filmmakers signed on to create short works based on each other’s strangest dreams. Schoenbrun will be attendance. Free.
The Russian Woodpecker
February 13 at 7 p.m.
Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA
The DocYard Series presents the Winner of the Grand Jury Prize in World Cinema Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival. The film is an investigation into the ghosts that haunt the history of the Soviet Union. It revolves around the mind of an irradiated Ukrainian artist, Fedor Alexandrovich, who is on a quest to discover the “criminal” behind the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. He begins his quest by revealing to the world an enormous secret Soviet weapon that stands in the shadow of Chernobyl, a machine Kremlinologists in the 1980s thought was a giant mind-control device. What Fedor discovers is much more sinister. One of the crew members is shot by a sniper and revolution, paranoia, and terror engulf the crew. Director Chad Gracia will attend in person for discussion.
Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival
February 10 through 20
Somerville Theater, Somerville, MA
The Boston Science Fiction Film Festival screens features, shorts, webisodes, and hosts workshops and parties. It highlights work by emerging directors from around the globe. The 42nd year of this, America’s oldest genre festival, concludes with The Marathon, a 24-hour orgiastic motion picture endurance test featuring classic, new, and schlock films. The festivities starts at noon on the 19th and ends at noon on President’s Day. List of films. Schedule TBD.
— Tim Jackson
A Hunger Artist
February 10 at 7 p.m.
At the Sandpaper Factory, Rockland, MA
For those in search of an avant-garde experience, A Hunger Artist may be for you. Inspired by Franz Kafka’s short story of the same name, the performance combines physical theater, jazz, improv, contemporary dance, theatre, and ‘alarming’ images. A Q&A will follow Friday’s performance, and the company will host an artistic workshop on Saturday, February 11.
February 10 & 11 at 8 p.m.
At the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA
World Music/CRASHarts presents Gallim Dance’s W H A L E next weekend. The new work—created by Artistic Director Andrea Miller in collaboration with the dancers, as well as live sound designer Jordan Chiolis and lighting designer Nicole Pearce—strives to expose the human desire to “love and be loved,” while navigating themes of vulnerability and forgiveness. Note to viewers: This performance contains nudity and strobe lights.
— Merli V. Guerra
Brecht on Brecht by Bertolt Brecht. Arranged by George Tabori from various translations. Directed by Jim Petosa. Staged by New Repertory Theatre in the Black Box Theater at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, through March 5.
This script “celebrates one of the 20th century’s greatest dramatists in a stunning revue of his life’s work. Featuring songs and scenes from Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler, and Bertolt Brecht’s most famous collaborations, and first-hand accounts from Brecht himself, Brecht on Brecht explores the political and social issues he faced as an artist fleeing Nazism and his eventual exile in America.” Of course, aside from The Scottsboro Boys over at SpeakEasy Stage, productions of Brecht-influenced theater (let along his plays) are scarce. Why? Increasingly, our theater is about inspiration and entertainment, part of what William Davies calls “The Happiness Industry.” May this show at least remind audiences (and theater artists) that theater can be so much more.
Imogen Says Nothing, by Aditi Brennan Kapil. Directed by Laurie Woolery. Staged by Yale Rep at the Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, through February 11.
World premiere of an intriguing attempt to deal with Shakespeare and gender:”All the world’s a stage, but in Elizabethan England, all the roles are given to men. Enter Imogen, who seizes a wordless walk-on in Shakespeare’s new comedy and recasts herself in a ferocious real-life leading role.” Yale Rep claims the script “is the wildly theatrical and subversively funny tale of an unforgettable creature refusing to let history erase her part.”
A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen. adapted by Bryony Lavery. Directed by Melia Bensussen. Staged by the Huntington Stage Company at the B.U.Theatre, Avenue of the Arts, Boston, MA, through February 5.
Another version of Ibsen’s great 19th century barn burner about the dehumanizing constraints of marriage: “Nora and Torvald Helmer are living their dream life: happily married with children and security. When Nora risks her reputation to save her husband’s life, the consequences test the limits of their love. In an acclaimed new translation by Bryony Lavery, Ibsen’s powerful, groundbreaking classic about marriage, money, and equality remains as compelling and relevant as ever.” Arts Fuse review
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee. Directed by Scott Edmunson. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston at 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, through February 12.
A very timely reminder of the brilliance of the late Edward Albee. The cast features Steven Barkhimer as George and Paula Plum as Martha. Arts Fuse review
Thurgood by George Stevens, Jr. Directed by Benny Sato Ambush Staged by the New Repertory Company at the Black Box Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, through February 5.
No surprises here, dramatically speaking, but a chance to see actor Johnny Lee Davenport strut his stuff as Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to sit on the Supreme Court.
The Atheist, written and directed by Ronan Noone. Staged at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, through February 5.
This is a solo piece centering on crooked tabloid journalist Augustine Early. Originally created for a male actor, Noone readdresses the piece here with a female protagonist played by Georgia Lyman. The script enjoyed an off-Broadway run (with Chris Pine in the titular role) in 2006. The play was also produced by the Huntington Theatre Company in 2007 and at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2008; both productions starred Campbell Scott. The play has also been produced in the U.K. (London and Edinburgh), Spain, Canada, the Philippines and Ireland.
Intimate Exchanges by Alan Ayckbourn. Directed by Olivia D’Ambrosio. Staged by the Nora Theatre Company at the Central Square Theater, Cambridge, MA, through February 12.
What is it with the Alan Ayckbourn resurgence? Here’s another production this season of one of his genial farces. “Two actors. Six characters. Four different courses of action. What will happen next? Alan Ayckbourn’s script follows marriages and love affairs in a London suburb. Meet Celia Teasdale, the wife of the drunken headmaster of the local school. And then, there’s Sylvie Bell, to whom there is more than meets the eye. In the opening scene, Celia steps into her backyard and eyes a pack of cigarettes. Her choice leads to one of four possibilities. On alternating performances, you can follow either Celia or Sylvie in their path throughout the play. At intermission, place your vote on how you want the play to end. And, if you don’t like the result, you’ve nobody to blame but yourself!” Arts Fuse review
Trans Scripts, Part I: The Women by Paul Lucas. Directed by Jo Bonney. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, through February 5.
“Drawn from dozens of interviews conducted around the world, Trans Scripts uses the real words of women to shed light on the rich and diverse experiences within the transgender community. Jo Bonney (Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)) directs a cast of seven in the US premiere of this moving, humorous, and timely work that received a Fringe First Award for new writing at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.” Arts Fuse review
“A series of complementary work, the I.D. Festival, will be presented at OBERON in January and February, 2017.” Here is a full listing of events.
Don’t Give Up the Ship by Laura Neill. Directed by Joshua Glenn-Kayden. Staged by Fresh Ink at the Plaza Blackbox at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, through February 25.
Sounds like a surrealist feminist romp: “When Diana, a middle-aged mother of two, wakes up as Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, hero of the War of 1812, she suddenly commands much more of her life than she used to. Imagining that her daughters are warring lieutenants, her ex-husband is her four-year-old son, and her nurse Lizzie is her darling wife, Diana establishes an identity that is much closer to her true self than anyone expected.”
I Spy Butterfly by Faye Dupras; Music by Max Weigert. Also, The Snow Queen and Finding Home by Monica Leo, Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre Staged by the Puppet Showplace Theater as part of its New Year! New Shows! series at 32 Station Street, Brookline, MA, through February 12.
I Spy Butterfly is a world premiere production running through February 5: “How does a nature-loving explorer kid become a bug’s best friend? Find out in this delightful eco-story about the ways we all grow and change. When Trudy’s caterpillar friend Harold suddenly transforms into a chrysalis, she’s determined to do the same. Just when she is about to give up hope, she learns that her tiny friend needs her now more than ever. Live music, colorful critters, and oodles of audience interaction make this show a fun ecological romp in the wild!” The Snow Queen runs from February 9 through 12. “Eulenspiegel’s adaptation of this beloved Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale springs to life on the snowy pages of two extra-large pop-up storybooks.” Finding Home by Monica Leo (of Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre) plays on February 10 and 11. The piece is made up of a trilogy of pieces — “poignant, joyful, and humorous” mini-dramas about puppeteer Leo’s parents and their immigration experiences.
Natasha’s Dream by Yaroslava Pulinovich. Translated by John Freedman. Directed by Igor Golyak. The Arlekin Players staging presented by New Rep in the Black Box Theater at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, February 14 through 21.
In this Russian script, “a girl tells the story of her life in a small-town orphanage, and her desire to be free; to fly away and break the vicious circle of life. From the inside of a courtroom, she makes twists and turns through her unique appeal to audiences, letting them into her world where she dreams about love, family, acceptance, adjusting, and her future.” Arlekin Players Theatre was created in Boston in 2009 and has since toured in New York, Chicago, and Hartford.
The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh. Directed by Garry Hynes. The Druid Theatre Company staging is presented by ArtsEmerson at the Emerson/Paramount Center, Robert J. Orchard Stage, Boston, MA, February 8 through 26.
A revival of “a subversive thriller that takes audiences through the twists and turns of the ultimate dysfunctional relationship, revealing what can happen when family ties go too far…way too far.” Twenty years ago, the Druid Theatre Company’s production of this deeply dark script was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning four. “Druid returns with Tony Award winning director, Garry Hynes’s remount of this spectacular production. Marie Mullen, who won the Tony for her performance as the daughter, returns this time in the role of the mother, while Aisling O’Sullivan takes the role of the daughter.”
Really by Jackie Sibblies Drury. Directed by Shawn LaCount. Staged by Company One in partnership with Matter & Light Fine Art, at Matter & Light Fine Art, 63 Thayer Street SOWA, Boston, MA, through March 4.
A New England premiere: “In a studio filled with photographs, two very different women work to process the disappearance of a charming, volatile artist. But which of them really knew him?” Arts Fuse review
— Bill Marx
Allan Chase’s Composers’ Collection
February 7 at 8:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.
Multi-reedman and composer Allan Chase convenes a stellar group, each providing original material: trumpeter Dan Rosenthal, trombonist Randy Pingrey, saxophonist and flutist Jason Robinson, guitarist Eric Hofbauer, bassist Bruno Råberg, and drummer Austin McMahon.
Alexei Tsiganov Group
February 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
The Russian-born pianist and vibes player Alexei Tsiganov happens to be one of the most in-demand players on the Boston Brazilian and Afro-Latin scene. His band at the Regattabar will include saxophonist and flutist Bill Vint, guitarist Freddie Bryant, bassist Fernando Huergo, drummer/percussionist Renato Malavasi, and special guest vocalist Yoko Kowata. Expect to hear Tsiganov’s own compositions on a program pitched simply as “Jazz, Latin, Brazilian, Russian.”
Guitar master John Scofield — whose great playing has always been informed by a sly sense of humor — brings his “Country for Old Men” project to the Regattabar for four shows over two nights. The band includes bassist Vicente Archer, pianist Sullivan Fortner, and drummer Bill Stewart. And yes, “country” means George Jones, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Bob Wills, Patti Page “and even Shania Twain.”
February 10 at 8 p.m.
Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, MA.
The superb violinist (and MacArthur “genius” fellow) Regina Carter never takes the easy way out, so one can expect a serious, joyful tribute to one of her inspirations, Ella Fitzgerald, in this program, called “Simply Ella,” a run-up to an album release. She’ll even sing a bit. She’s joined by guitarist Marvin Sewell, pianist Xavier Davis, bassist Chris Lightcap, and drummer Alvester Garnett.
February 10 at 8 p.m.
Villa Victoria Cultural Center, Boston, MA.
The phenomenal Puerto Rican alto saxophonist and composer Miquel Zenón (another MacArthur Fellow; see Regina Carter, above) celebrates the release of a new CD, Tipico, with his longtime bandmates — pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Henry Cole.
February 12 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.
Probably best known as a singer-songwriter (since her days in a duo with Jonatha Brooke), Jennifer Kimball is a versatile artist who can swing in a lot of different directions. Judging from her website, a new album seems to be on the way, with more shows planned this spring. But in the meantime you can catch her in this show, at the intimate Outpost 186, with a couple of regular collaborators, saxophonist Alex Spiegelman and pianist Christopher McDonald, both of Cuddle Magic.
February 14 at 7:30 and 10 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
Freddy Cole, now 85, has long established himself with a talent distinct from his older brother Nat — with his own attack and swing and deeply felt sense of the blues, he’s a fine singer and pianist. He’s coming to the R-bar for these two Valentine’s Day shows with his longtime bandmates, guitarist Randy Napoleon, bassist Elias Bailey, and drummer Quentin Baxter.
February 14 at 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
The French-born singer Cyrille Aimée has virtuoso chops, a pliant voice, and a singing storyteller’s careful, detailed approach to lyrics — both English and French. Even her scat singing has a narrative logic, and her feel for Gypsy jazz and Latin beats doesn’t hurt either.
— Jon Garelick
Joshua Weilerstein @ NEC
Presented by New England Conservatory
February 8, 7:30 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA
Weilerstein leads the NEC Philharmonia in two standard favorites – Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony no. 2 – plus the string orchestra arrangement of Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte.
Benjamin’s Dream of Song
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
February 9-11, 8 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
Andris Nelsons’ winter residency continues with the local premiere of George Benjamin’s Dream of Song, featuring countertenor Bejun Mehta and Lorelei Ensemble. Also on tap are Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.
Presented by Boston Conservatory
February 9-12, 8 p.m. (2 p.m. on Sunday)
Boston Conservatory Theater, Boston, MA
The Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s New Music Festival, this year built around the music of Nico Muhly, culminates in four performances of Muhly’s Dark Sisters, a 2011 opera about a woman trying to escape the clutches of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints Church. Andrew Altenbach conducts.
Kurtág @ 90
Presented by Tufts University
February 11 at 8 p.m. and 12 at 3 p.m.
Distler Hall, Medford, MA
Ludovico Ensemble presents two different programs to celebrate the 90th birthday of the Hungarian master, György Kurtág. Saturday’s is built around music involving the cimbalom (a traditional Hungarian instrument, akin to a hammered dulcimer). Sunday’s features solo voices and string quartets. Both are free.
Czechs & Diamonds
Presented by the Lexington Symphony
February 11, 8 p.m.
Cary Hall, Lexington, MA
Jonathan McPhee leads the LSO in a Valentine’s Day-ish-themed program of music by David Diamond, Leos Janacek, and Dvorak.
Budapest Festival Orchestra
Presented by the Celebrity Series
February 12, 3 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
Ivan Fischer brings the BFO to Boston for an all-Beethoven concert featuring the First and Fifth Symphonies. In between, Richard Goode plays the Piano Concerto no. 4.
Concerto Competition Winners et al.
Presented by Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra
February 12, 3 p.m.
Sanders Theater, Cambridge, MA
The BPYO’s annual Concerto Competition winners play seven pieces (or movements from concerti) ranging from Saint-Saens to Lars Erick Larsson. Benjamin Zander also conducts the world premiere of Michael Gandolfi’s Ballet’s Ruse and Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
Seraphim Singers: Visions of War, Peace, and Paradise
February 5 at 3 p.m.
At First Church (Congregational), 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA
February 10 at 8 p.m.
At St. Cecilia Parish, 18 Belvidere Street, Boston, MA
February 12 at 4 p.m.
Trinitarian Congregational Church, 54 Walden Street, Concord, MA
“Texts by Thomas Merton, William Blake, and George Herbert are set by composers Hilary Tann, Calvin Hampton, Carlyle Sharpe, McNeil Robinson, and others, leading us from visions of destruction toward the “new heaven and new earth” promised in Revelations. With Heinrich Christensen, organ.”
Pianist Gila Goldstein
February 6 at 8 p.m.
At Boston University/Tsai Performance Center, 685 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA
On the program: works for piano by Janacek, Liszt, Bartók, Nedtner, and Prokofiev.
Guitarist Aniello Desiderio
February 10 at 7:30 p.m.
At the First Lutheran Church of Boston, 299 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA
“Aniello Desiderio is a wildly gifted musician and one of the strongest interpretive voices on our instrument. He has been praised by celebrated artists Chick Corea and John McLaughlin. He is uncommonly adept at moving from classic masterpieces to modern repertoire and we can’t wait to hear him in his debut recital for the BCGS.”
Boston: Hear & Now… and Then
February 12 at 8 p.m.
At Boston Conservatory/Seully Hall, Boston, MA
“This String Masters Series performance celebrates Boston composers with works by Irving Fine and Robert Aldridge, as well as two world premieres: a new work for violin and piano by Scott Wheeler and a work for violin and marimba by Leo Blanco. Featuring faculty members Sharan Leventhal (violin) and Nancy Zeltsman (marimba), with guest artists Randall Hodgkinson (piano) and Jonathan Singer (tabla).”
— Susan Miron
Along with Cloud Nothings, The Werks will be the second band from my home state of Ohio to roll into the area within the next 10 days. Their teaming up with Boston’s Strange Machines at ONCE Ballroom will make for a night of tasty jams that fuse rock, funk, and psychedelia.
Meg Duffy, aka Hand Habits, is the headliner of this sure-to-be delightfully quirky triple bill in Inman Square. However, I am giving John Andrews top-billing because he is a converted New Englander (Barrington, NH by way of Yardville, NJ). Hand Habits has released three EPs since 2012, and her first full-length album will have been on the market for three days by the night of this gig. John Andrews, meanwhile, put out his psychedelic without being tritely retro debut Bit By the Fang in 2015. The follow-up, Bad Posture, is set for unveiling on March 10. The Boston-based Ryan Major & The Love Strangers, which released its first EP three weeks ago, will get the evening rolling.
— Blake Maddux
Roots and World Music
Red Room at Berklee, Boston, MA
Berklee alumna Magda Giannikou has garnered international acclaim for her Banda Magda, which plays the kind of pan-global mix one would expect from a group whose members hail from Greece, Argentina, Japan, Colombia, and the US. She comes to town for a concert which will be live steamed by NPR.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA
One of the most enticing shows in the current World Music/CRASHArts season is the Boston debut of this Tunisian oudist, singer, and composer. Tonight he appears with his ‘mystical’ jazz-leaning quartet.
Nando Reis & Os Infernais
Wonderland Ballroom, Revere, MA
As is often the case, a major superstar from another country plays to the diaspora at the intimate Wonderland Ballroom. In this case it’s veteran Brazilian folk/rock singer/songwriter Reis, whose heartfelt tunes have garnered tens of millions of YouTube views. Word about Reis has gotten around; performers on his most recent albums include members of REM, Pearl Jam, and Guns ‘n Roses.
— Noah Schaffer
Daniel C Dennett
In Conversation with Daniel Gilbert
From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds
February 6 at 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30)
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge MA
Tickets are $29.75 including copy of the book/ $5 without
Tufts University professor and one of America’s leading philosophers comes to Cambridge to read from his latest work, which discusses how humans came to have minds. Utilizing information from computer science and biology as well as language theory, Dennett leads the reader on a journey to discover how humans evolved self-consciousness through a seemingly mindless process — natural selection.
Michael Bennett M.D and Sarah Bennett
F*ck Love: One Shrink’s Sensible Advice for Finding A Lasting Relationship
February 7 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA
In this “refreshingly blunt” take on modern relationships, Dr. Michael Bennett and his comedy-writing daughter Sarah explain how to get yourself out of the false promise of true love and find the help you need to find a true and lasting relationship.
In conversation with Kelly Luce
Universal Harvester: A Novel
February 8 at 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30)
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA
Tickets include price of the book $26.25
Darnielle is one of the few songwriters who has also established himself as a novelist. As the main songwriter for the fiercely loved cult band The Mountain Goats, he has written many songs to fit his various fictional characters; he recently published his second novel, to wide acclaim. Darnielle will discuss his latest venture into prose, concerning a loner who works at a video store in the late ’90s. The Brattle Theatre will screen Peter Bogdanovich’s movie Targets which plays a role in the novel, which Darnielle will introduce.
We’ll Always Have Casablanca:
The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Movie
February 13 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
The famous phrase ‘Play It Again, Sam’ does not actually appear in Casablanca, but does that really matter? Isenberg is a film critic who takes a long look at the way the film’s classic story of redeemed cynicism, along with its quotable lines and indelible cast has embedded itself in our cultural consciousness.
Flashpoint!: A Public Lecture
February 16 at 7 p.m.
Gamble Auditorium, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley MA
The bestselling author of Bad Feminist, pundit, New York Times op-ed writer, and contributor to PANK and The Rumpus has been called one of the sharpest writers our times. Her work has been praised as “trailblazing” amid praise that she is one of the most important leaders of contemporary feminism. She will speak on social critique, gender, race and identity.
— Matt Hanson