Coming Attractions: September 8 through 24 — What Will Light Your Fire
Arts Fuse critics select the best in film, dance, visual art, theater, music, and author events for the coming weeks.
New England Aquarium IMAX Theater at 1 Central Wharf in Boston, MA
The film contains never-before-seen footage of the marine national monuments in the Pacific Ocean — the same national monuments that are at risk of being downsized by the doings of Trump and his administration. The film provides audiences with a glimpse of healthy ecosystems that are relatively untouched by humans and then the impacts generated by climate change and environmental degradation. We see the Pacific Ocean’s most pristine islands and atolls and specks of land bursting with diversity, jungles crawling with exotic animals before plunging beneath the ocean’s surface to see the abundance of marine life in the coral reefs. Learn the storied history of the islands and discover their current role as environmental research centers. Schedule of showtimes
September 9 at 7 p.m.
Presented by Doc Yard at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA
When the Taliban puts a bounty on Afghan director Hassan Fazili’s head, he is forced to flee with his wife and two young daughters. Capturing their uncertain journey, Fazili’s autobiographical documentary shows firsthand the dangers facing refugees seeking asylum and the love shared among family members on the run. Producer Su Kim will be attending via Skype for Q&A after the screening.
Ray and Liz
September 13 through 16
Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA
British photographer Richard Billingham takes a leap from still photography and video installation to the big screen with this lyrically gritty evocation of growing up in council housing on the outskirts of Birmingham — and the margins of society — during the Thatcher era.
“The film opens with elderly Ray — a wiry drunk and wastrel — living in the relative isolation of a subsidized garret where he seems to subsist solely on unmarked bottles of mysterious brown booze. The rest of the film flashes back over other episodes that focus on the imposing (at times menacing) presence of his ex-wife Liz, a chain-smoking harpy who lords over the family’s tiny house from her seat at the table, along with extraordinary episodes of child-endangerment, slow-witted relatives, cruelty, poverty, drunkenness, and many cigarettes. But there is humor and beauty in this stunningly gorgeous, warts-and-all film.”
The B-Film. Low-Budget Hollywood Cinema 1935 – 1959
September 13 through November 25
The Harvard Film Archive in Cambridge, MA
This retrospective reconsiders the history and legacy of a singular mode of low-budget filmmaking that was invented within (or around) the Hollywood studio system. These inexpensive efforts served as an ideal, even an inspiration, for diverse filmmakers in the future by show how much can be done with little. Link to series
September 13 at 7 p.m. (restored print); Sunday September 15 at 7 p.m. (original print)
Often called by many the ultimate “film noir,” made on a shoe-string budget, and utilizing “night-for-night cinematography, the movie creates a bleak, uncompromising, pessimistic nightmare world where its inhabitants can expect neither mercy, sympathy or justice Directer Edgar G. Ulmer, limited to a six day shooting schedule, while crude and lacking in finesse, succeeds in creating a memorable, dark, nightmare world, uncaring, cynical and brutal. Detour is a bleak gem which has gained well-deserved cult status.”
On a double bill with Five Came Back (1939)
A plane carrying twelve passengers crashes in a South American jungle. While working to repair the plane, they discover that it will only carry five back to safety. As the war drums of headhunters move closer, the passengers fight and deceive each other to be one of those who survive. Written by Nathanael West, Dalton Trumbo, and Jerry Cady.
Donovan’s Brain (1953)
September 13 at 9:15 p.m, b/w, 83 min
Based on the novel by Curt Siodmak, this horror film chronicles scientist Dr. Patrick J. Cory’s (Lew Ayres) discovery of a method to keep disembodied brains alive. However, when Cory gets a hold of the brain of a ruthless businessman who was killed in a plane crash, the brain takes on a power of its own and threatens to take control of the body and actions of the scientist.
Crime Wave (1954)
September 14 at 7 p.m. and September 22 at 3:30 p.m.
One of the great Hollywood films by the two-fisted, one-eyed Hungarian émigré director André De Toth. This a brisk cops-and-robbers caper that exemplifies the man’s lean economy, expressive style, and dark sense of embittered injustice. Sterling Hayden is the film’s the tough cop antihero. Features a young Charles Bronson.
On a double bill with Plunder Road (b/w, 72 minutes, 1957) a late-period, film noir about a very-well planned heist staged by 5 men. They rob a U.S. mint train and steal 10 million dollars in gold bullion. Directed by Hubert Cornfield.
Aretha Franklin: Amazing Grace
September 14 and 21
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston
Amazing Grace was the visual footage a live gospel album shot in January 1972 by Sydney Pollack of the American soul singer at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, with Reverend James Cleveland and the Southern California Community Choir accompanying Franklin in performance. After 48 years, the film finally reaches the big screen.
“There’s a glimpse of the young Mick Jagger cheering his ass off in the back row. Even Pollack’s team of camera operators look awestruck as they stalk the stage to record a once-in-a-lifetime event for posterity. The result is a concert film to rank with the best, including Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz and Jonathan Demme’s Stop Making Sense.” (Rolling Stone)
Wild Nights with Emily
Bright Screening Room, Paramount Center, Boston, MA
The poet Emily Dickinson’s delicate persona as a reclusive spinster is given a new spin in this humorous, unique, and surreal 2018 drama with Molly Shannon. The film captures the’ vivacious, irreverent side’ of the poet that was covered up for years — most notably Emily’s lifelong romantic relationship with another woman. After Emily’s death, a rivalry emerges when her brother’s mistress, along with editor T.W. Higginson, published a book of Emily’s poems. A post-screening discussion includes Professors Robin Fast, Christine Casson. and Anna Ross.
— Tim Jackson
September 8 and 9
At The Harvard Film Archive in Cambridge, MA
A marvelously sardonic adaptation of Swiss playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Visit that takes the play’s dissection of the brutal relativity of justice and mixes in political criticism of colonialism as well condemnation of the perfidy of international corporations. Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambéty (1945-1998)’s second feature sticks close to the original’s plot: one of the richest women in the world returns to her home village and offers the inhabitants a vast sum in exchange for the murder of the local man who seduced and abandoned her when she was young. After her condemnation, she became a renowned prostitute and married an enormously rich man. Now she has returned to Senegal for vengeance: “The world made a whore out of me, now I will turn it into a whorehouse.”
Dürrenmatt stayed away from the didactic (he was far more pessimist than Brecht), but Mambéty embraces it: “I do not refuse the word didactic,” the director said. “My task was to identify the enemy of humankind: money, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. I think my target is clear.” Hyenas lacks the tragic undercurrents of Dürrenmatt’s play, but this 2018 restoration is eye-filling, and its satiric attack on collective corruption (jackal-eat-jackal) remains powerful, with some added kick in the era of #MeToo.
— Bill Marx
Christian Sands Quartet
September 13 at 8 p.m.
Sculler Jazz Club, Boston, MA
The exciting, elegant pianist Christian Sands, a mainstay in Christian McBride’s bands for years, brings a quartet to Scullers: veteran drummer Clarence Penn, bassist Josh Allen, and guitarist Caio Afune.
Fox Wolf Duo
September 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
The dynamic pianist and composer Donal Fox rejoins one of his regular duo partners, the exciting vibraphonist (and former Christian McBride bandmember) Warren Wolf, for Fox’s arrangements of jazz and classical mashups (Monk-Bach, Scarlatti, etc.), a starting point for broader explorations.
Branford Marsalis Quartet
September 20 at 8 p.m.
Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport, MA.
Branford Marsalis grows more ferocious, determined, and “serious” by the years, exploring all manner of musical inspirations, from the jazz tradition to obsessions like Richard Strauss’s “Metamorphosen.” He brings his longstanding quartet to Rockport’s jewel-box-by-sea, the Shalin Liu Performance Center: pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Justin Faulkner.
Sofía Rei & JC Maillard
September 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
The Argentine-born singer Sofía Rei (familiar to Boston audiences from her years at Berklee) has joined with the French multi-instrumentalist Jean-Christophe Maillard for this provocative duo, combining voice, electronics, and Maillard’s electrified “saz bass,” a modified form of the Turkish stringed instrument. They’ll be performing music from Keter, their collaboration with composer John Zorn, as part of Zorn’s Masada series. The music is a beguiling mix of folkloric rhythms and song forms (with lyrics sung in Spanish) and more free improvisation.
Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet
September 21 at 8 p.m.
Hope Central Church, Jamaica Plain, MA.
Composer and cornettist Taylor Ho Bynum releases a new CD, The Ambiguity Manifesto, for nine pieces (which Bynum is calling a “9-tette”), on September 20 and then plays this show the next day with his longtime sextet from that album: alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs, guitarist Mary Halvorson, bass trombone and tuba player Bill Lowe, bassist Ken Filiano, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. Bynum describes the music as “designed to blur the lines between composition and improvisation, between individual and ensemble, between genres, timbres, and instrumentations; it celebrates the beauty and necessity of the unknown and the indefinable, the enigmatic and the subversive.”
Ingrid Laubrock Quartet
September 24 at 8 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA
The fine saxophonist and composer Ingrid Laubrock — whose collaborators have include Mary Halvorson, Kris Davis, Anthony Braxton, and drummer Tom Rainey — fronts a formidable quartet including Rainey, guitarist Brandon Seabrook, and bassist Michael Formanek.
Aardvark Jazz Orchestra
September 22 at 7 p.m.
First Parish Church, Concord, MA.
The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra and musical director Mark Harvey draw inspirations from varied jazz traditions, all with a keen ear for strains that forever remain new, including Charles Mingus, Sun Ra, or in this case, Duke Ellington. The program will include hits like “Satin Doll” and “Solitude” as well as selections from Ellington’s Sacred Concerts, “David Danced Before the Lord” and “It’s Freedom” — the latter “a powerful expression of Civil-Rights-era fervor with resonance for today.” The band — including vocalists Grace Hughes and Jerry Edwards — is joined by the choir of the First Parish Church of Concord.
— Jon Garelick
September 8 at 7 p.m.
The Lily Pad
Experimental cellist and multimedia artist Cellista performs material off of her new Transfigurations album while she celebrates the release of its accompanying book, A Listener’s Guide to Transfigurations, co-written with philosopher Frank Seeburger. Enjoy an evening of music, poetry, film, and dance featuring Mojo DeVille and Ransom Dance.
Floating Between Two Worlds: Dance Showcase
September 14 at 2 p.m.
Enjoy an afternoon of site-specific dance as Boston-based contemporary dance company Evolve Dynamicz engages with Esther Solondz’s outdoor sculpture Between Two Worlds, which was, in turn, inspired by the Transcendentalist history of the nearby Fruitlands Farmhouse. Evolve Dynamicz responds to Solondz’s work by way of a new dance film and a live performance on site. A talk back with Solondz and the choreographers follows the performance. Please note that space is limited and preregistration is required.
TEN TINY DANCES®
The Dance Complex’s Studio 7 will host a casually intimate performance this week, in which dancers and choreographers are challenged by confined space and time to create engaging new works on an impressively small stage.
Boston Opera House
Giselle is one of classical ballet’s most famed tales, following the story of a peasant girl who dies of a broken heart upon learning her lover is already engaged to another woman. Ballet Master Larissa Ponomarenko restages the tragic evening-length ballet, presented by Boston Ballet and featuring Adolphe Adam’s poignant score.
Bulgarian Dance Party with music by Bulgarika
September 21 from 8-11 p.m.
Payson Park Congregational Church
Looking for a participatory dance experience? Head to Payson Park Congregational Church next weekend for an evening of Bulgarian dance and music featuring Bulgarika, returning to Boston on its 2019 tour. Bulgarika includes Donka Koleva (vocals), Nikolay Kolev (gadulka), Temelko Ivanov (kaval), Nikolay Kodzhabashev (tambura), and Marin Chalamov (tupan).
— Merli V. Guerra
Crossing Lines, Constructing Home: Displacement and Belonging in Contemporary Art
Special Exhibitions Gallery, Harvard Art Museums
32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA
Through January 5
How do artists address the parallel concepts of borders and the spaces created by immigration? This exhibit features artists such as Do Ho Suh, Graciela Iturbide, Serena Chopra, and many more, whose work investigates the context of cultural and physical displacement through the lenses of history, identity, language, and belief. Curatorially framed to emphasize individual relationships along with geographic and historical specifics, the show explores spaces of displacement as traumatic and transformative experiences.
List Projects: Farah Al Qasimi
Through October 20
The MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA
Farah Al Qasimi’s multimedia works manipulate cultural norms of interpreting images, including the perspectives of gender, race, and class. Referencing such diverse mediums as Renaissance paintings and documentary photography, Al Qasimi critiques the concept of national identity by exploring how it is formed, through references to historical context, colonialism, and religion. This exhibit features a 40-minute video, stylized as a television documentary, about a jinn reflecting on centuries of Western colonial interference in the current region of the United Arab Emirates. Along with a series of recent photographs, this video delves into the disruptive energies of consumerism and colonialism.
Yayoi Kusama: Love Is Calling
September 24 through February 7, 2021
ICA Boston, 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston MA 02210
Premiering in Japan in 2013, and recently acquired as part of the ICA’s permanent collection, “Love Is Calling” is one of Kusama’s twenty infinity rooms. A darkened space, lined with mirrors and interspersed with repetitive, brightly colored sculptural forms, generates a kaleidoscopic effect that surrounds viewers as they traverse the visually crowded space. The experience is accompanied by a sound recording of the artist reciting her poem “Residing in a Castle of Shed Tears” in Japanese. This vibrant environment explores such themes as love, life, and death. It promises to be a remarkable experience.
Griffin Museum at WinCam
32 Swanton Street, Winchester, MA
September 19 through January 19
Melissa Lynn’s photographs address the multicultural heritage of the United States in the face of increasing intolerance. Discarding the phrase “melting pot” in favor of the more heterogeneous term “mosaic,” this series of portraits visualizes the artist’s dream of a country which preserves the unique traditions of its many peoples without becoming homogenized. Lynn visits diverse cultural heritage festivals: she requests to photograph individuals wearing traditional clothing, seeing this as a means to promote dialogue and understanding across cultures.
Wrestling with Angels: Icons from the Prosopon School
The Museum of Russian Icons
203 Union Street
Through October 27
The Prosopon School was founded in 2000 as one of the first American schools of Christian East iconography. It continues the art of traditional “icon-writing,” approaching the process through a series of ancient technical steps. Curated as if displayed in an Orthodox church, this exhibition of forty-six luminous contemporary icons from the Prosopon School explores the recent revival of this historic tradition. The show begins by dramatizing events and icons from Hebrew scripture, then moves onto traditional Christian Orthodox images, such as Jesus and Mary, concluding with principal religious feasts and symbols of the Second Coming of Christ.
Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect
September 21 through January 5
The Rose at Brandeis, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA
Gordon Matta-Clark coined the hybrid term “anarchitect” for his site-specific works erected in 1970s South Bronx. They have been celebrated as activist interventions within derelict urban communities. Trained as an architect, Matta-Clark critiqued the treatment of areas and people that capitalism had tragically failed. This exhibit focuses on the political content of these interventions, particuarly his pioneering approach to social activism through art.
Radical Compositions: AbEx Prints and Paintings
169 Newbury St. Boston, MA
Through November 3.
The Childs Gallery presents groundbreaking work by first and second generation Abstract Expressionists. The show follows a timeline, from the emergence of the movement to its international recognition, with the center of the Western art world shifting from Paris to New York. The exhibit includes a wide range of styles, from action painting to color field, and features works by Lee Krasner, Alexander Calder, Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Nevelson, and many more.
–- Rebekah Bonner
Roots and World Music
Sept. 8, 4 p.m.
Burren Backroom, Somerville, MA
The rarely heard traditional dance music of Northwestern Europe is the specialty of this powerful Vermont/Quebec trio, which focuses on the sounds of Brittany, France, and Sweden. The group includes masters of the accordion, whistle, English border pipes, and the Swedish nykelharpa.
Sept. 8, 7 p.m.
North Shore Events Center (Wonderland Ballroom), Revere, MA
Versatile Nigerian singer Tekno has become a megastar in the world of Afrobeats, as proven by his hundreds of millions of YouTube views. Lots of his past recordings have been sexy dance anthems, but his new single finds him supplying a socially conscious vibe with “Better (Hope For Africa).”
Ferron with Wendy Sobel
At City Winery Boston
As a pioneering queer women’s music songwriter, Ferron’s influence has been substantial. A master of the resonating metaphor, her intensely personal songs always cut deep. Lately, she’s been touring in a duo format with a heroine of Boston’s music scene, Wendy Sobel.
Session Americana “Northeast” LP Release Show
Oberon, Cambridge, MA
The “Americana” tag, as loose as it may be, is still largely applied to music with direct Southern roots. Now Boston’s Session Americana collective makes a case for New England as an essential contributor to our country’s roots music heritage. Their latest LP revisits the material of everyone from James Taylor to Donna Summer, all offered with verve and originality.
City Winery Boston
Global Arts Live, the entity formerly known as World Music/CrashArts, is kicking off another season with this beautiful, lilting Cape Verdean singer and her band.
— Noah Schaffer
The Lifespan of a Fact by Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell, and Gordon Farrell, based on the book by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal. Directed by Sam Weisman. Staged by the Gloucester Stage Company, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA, through September 22.
A regional premiere of a Broadway hit. The plot — “the ultimate showdown between truth and fiction. A determined young fact checker is about to stir up trouble. His demanding editor has given him a big new assignment: a groundbreaking piece by an unorthodox author. Together, they take on the high-stakes world of publishing.” The cast features GSC veterans Mickey Solis as John, the author, Lindsay Crouse as Emily, his editor, and GSC newcomer Derek Speedy as Jim, the fact checker. Arts Fuse review
The Purists by Dan McCabe. Directed by Billy Porter. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, through October 6.
The world premiere of a new play: “A former rapper, a DJ, and a showtunes-loving telesales director have become an unlikely group who hang out and spar about music on a stoop in Queens. But, when an impromptu rap battle erupts between two younger female emcees, everything gets questioned.”
Black Light, Created by Daniel Alexander Jones. Original Songs by Jomama Jones. Presented by the American Repertory Theater at Oberon, 2 Arrow Street, Cambridge, MA, September 19 through 29.
“Daniel Alexander Jones performs as the iconic Jomama Jones in a spiritual revival for turbulent times. This intimate journey through the darkness of personal and political upheaval and the shards of shattered illusions … With all original music, drawing influence from Prince, Sade, Diana Ross, and Tina Turner, Black Light is marked significantly by the Black American Freedom movement, Afromysticism, goddess mythology, and divination.”
Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies. Directed by Nicole Ricciard. Staged by Shakespeare & Company in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, Lenox, MA, September 13 through October 13.
This script from an accomplished veteran playwright was nominated for 2010 Tony Award Best Play. “There are exact times when the pursuit of what is important clashes with the consequences of one’s choices. Sarah Goodwin, a photo journalist recovering from the blast of a road side bomb overseas, must decide between her life’s work of revealing unsettling truths about the world, and domestic comfort.”
A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (Abridged), performed by Taylor Mac. Presented by Brown Arts Initiative (BAI) at Brown University and FirstWorks at The Vets, 1 Avenue of the Arts, Providence, Rhode Island, September 14 at 8 p.m.
A reduced version of Taylor Mac’s epic entertainment. Here is how the NYTimes assessed the uncut version: “246 songs spanning 240 years for 24 straight hours, including small breaks for him to eat, hydrate and use the loo, and starting in 1776 with a great-big band and ending with Mr. Mac, alone in 2016, doing original songs on piano and ukulele. He remembered all the lyrics and most of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself.” And he sang them — in every imaginable style, at every tempo, with every possible facial expression and every register of his handsome, protean voice.”
No doubt the Pulitzer Prize for Drama finalist and Tony-nominated theater artist will still be impressive with a whittled down version of an amazing feat. “He chronicles an unseen history of America through a hand-picked selection from his earlier music odyssey, ranging from murder ballads to disco and everything in between … the audience is central to the experience as Mac chronicles the ways in which communities build themselves because they are being torn apart. Bedecked in gloriously irreverent regalia designed by long time collaborator Machine Dazzle, Mac is joined on stage by Music Director Matt Ray and an incomparable band.”
The Prince of Providence by George Brant. Based on the book The Prince of Providence by Mike Stanton. Directed by Taibi Magar. Staged by Trinity Rep, 201 Washington Street, Providence, Rhode Island, September 12 through October 27.
A new play about a notorious figure in Providence’s history. “The nation knows him from Crimetown and Operation Plunder Dome, but Providence has a deeper and more complicated relationship with Buddy Cianci. A charismatic visionary who was also a corrupt philanderer, the long-time mayor defied the odds time after time – from his very first election to winning again after being arrested on assault charges.” Arts Fuse interview with playwright George Brant.
Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret, presented by The Dramatists Guild in partnership with the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund and PEN America st the Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St, Boston, MA, on September 23, 7-8:30 p.m. Free and open to the public.
A multi-city celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on America’s stages. The 4th Annual Banned Together will be performed during Banned Books Week, September 22-28, in cities including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Nashville, Philadelphia, and St. Petersburg. Banned Together was created to raise awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in the theater. The performances will feature selections from Cabaret, Chicago, An Octoroon, Rent, and Angels in America, among other notable works, with a libretto by DLDF president John Weidman (Assassins) and J.T. Rogers (Oslo, Blood and Gifts). The Banned Together Boston area cast includes Amy Barker, Margaret Ann Brady, Christopher Chew, Taavon Gamble, Curly Glynn, and Carolyn Saxon.
The Stone by Marius von Mayenburg. Directed by Igor Golyak. Staged by Arlekin Players Theatre at the Studio 368 at Hillside Avenue, Needham, MA, September 13 through 29.
“This past May and June, Arlekin presented this play by contemporary German playwright Marius von Mayenburg entirely in Russian, with English audio translations for our English-speaking audiences.” Arts Fuse review. The company is now “preparing to remount the play (with some tweaks).” This time, the same actors will perform it in English. The upcoming production “will be of interest as it touches the themes of immigration, family histories, and cultural responsibilities.”
Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Directed by Maurice Emmanuel Parent. Music Direction by David Freeman Coleman. Choreography by Yewande Odetoyinbo and Ruka White. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, September 13 through October 12.
“Nominated for four 2019 Tony Awards including Best Play,” this script “is a powerful coming-of-age story punctuated by the soaring harmonies of live gospel, spiritual, and R&B performances. For fifty years, the elite Charles R. Drew Prep School has been dedicated to the education of strong, ethical black men; its legendary choir an emblem of all it holds true. But for Pharus Young, the opportunity to take his rightful place as the leader of these talented vocalists comes at a price. Can he still earn his place in the hallowed halls and sing in his own key?”
The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Directed by Eric Tucker. Produced by The Nora Theatre Company in association with Bedlam, at the Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA, September 12 through October 13.
Coming from Bedlam, this will surely be a (welcome) shake up of the Arthur Miller warhorse. Of course, I am old enough to have seen the Wooster Group’s fabulous 1984 deconstruction of the script in Boston (a segment in the play L.S.D.), before the show went onto New York, where Miller had it closed. So this production has a very high bar to clear.
The America Plays by Patrick Gabridge. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Staged at At Mount Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA, September 12 through 22.
The world premiere of the second series of The America Plays: “These five plays present a journey through the American experience, highlighting the drama and philosophies of the men and women who struggled to find their place in this nation as the American identity was being formed. Hear the voices of sculptors Edmonia Lewis and Martin Milmore; strong women like Harriot Kezia Hunt and Charlotte Cushman who sought new opportunities beyond the social norms of their time; and an immigrant story highlighting some of Mount Auburn’s Armenian “residents” and the community concentrated in Watertown.”
“Audiences will experience the performances outdoors, at various spots across the grounds, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the natural world. Seating is provided and free on-site parking is available. The entire performance will run for approximately 90 minutes and will include walking within the Cemetery on paved and unpaved surfaces and steep inclines; total walking distance approx. 2 miles. Shows will run rain or shine. After each performance is an optional moderated discussion with the playwright, director, actors or an expert on a person or topic explored in the plays.”
Palestine, written and performed by Najla Said. At the Palestine Museum US, 1764 Litchfield Turnpike, Suite 200, Woodbridge, CT, September 15 at 2 p.m.
Najla Said’s one-person autobiographical show “shines a dialogic light on Palestinian and Arab points of view. Raised in privilege on New York City’s Upper West Side (where many of her best friends were Jewish), Said was forced as a teenager to take a family trip to the Middle East to visit her father’s homeland. Anorexic and depressed, obsessed with boys and the beach, her experiences nevertheless kindled a life-long exploration of what it means to be both Arab and American.” Najla Said’s father was the late Edward Said, a professor at Columbia University, the author of Orientalism among many other books, and a worldwide spokesman for Palestine and the Middle East.
Six by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. Directed by Moss and Jamie Armitage Presented by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, through September 29.
“Everyone is “losing their head” over this original pop concert musical; DIVORCED, BEHEADED, DIED, DIVORCED, BEHEADED, SURVIVED, for many years the six wives of Henry VIII have been reduced to a single rhyme. Now they have picked up the microphone to retell their stories, remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an 80-minute celebration of twenty-first century girl power.” The cast of Six comes to American Repertory Theater following a record-breaking run at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Arts Fuse review
— Bill Marx
Mehmet Ali Sanlikol: Faculty Recital: Jews and Sufis
September 12 at 7:30 p.m.
At Jordan Hall/New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA
New England Conservatory presents an unusual program: “Since at least the 16th century, the Turkish maftirim repertoire – Hebrew devotional poetry set to Turkish makam music for use in the synagogue – demonstrates the deep relationships Ottoman Jews established with members of Muslim mystical brotherhoods. Leading scholar, Prof. Edwin Seroussi will briefly introduce the cultural, historical, religious and musical aspects of the topic, and the following concert program will demonstrate examples of relevant musical repertoire.”
Beethoven Piano Sonatas
September 15 at 4 p.m.
First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA
Glissando Concert Series presents pianist Sergey Schepkin performing the program: Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 2 No. 1; Sonata No. 6 in F, Op. 10 No. 2; Sonata No. 22 in F, Op. 54; Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 (“Appassionata”).
The Enlightenment & Beyond
September 20 at 8 p.m.
At Hamilton Hall, 9 Chestnut Street, Salem, MA
September 22 at 3 p.m.
At St. Paul Church Brookline, MA
The Boston Artists Ensemble performs the program: Mozart’s Oboe Quartet in F, K 370; Beethoven’s String Trio in D, Opus 9, No. 2, and Janáček’s Quartet No. 1, “The Kreutzer Sonata.”
Copland, Still and More
September 22 at 2 p.m.
At King’s Chapel Parish House, 64 Beacon Street, Boston, MA
The King’s Chapel Concert Series presents violinist Zina Schiff and pianist Heinrich Christensen. A free concert to benefit Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry.
— Susan Miron
Poulenc, Beethoven, and Eric Nathan
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
September 19-21, 8 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
The BSO and Andris Nelsons return to action with two pieces by Francis Poulenc – the Concerto for Two Pianos (featuring brothers Lucas and Arthur Jussen) and the Gloria – plus Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and the world premiere of Eric Nathan’s Concerto for Orchestra.
Presented by Odyssey Opera
September 21, 7:30 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA
Odyssey Opera begins its season-long survey of Tudor-themed operas with a concert performance of Camille Saint-Saëns’ 1883 four-acter. Michael Chioldi sings the title role, Ellie Dehn is Catherine of Aragon, and Hilary Ginther Anne Boleyn. Gil Rose conducts.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
Dissent Magazine 2019 Summer Issue
September 8 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Bookstore, Cambridge MA
“Harvard Book Store welcomes senior editor Nick Serpe, guest editor Quinn Slobodian, and contributors Alyssa Battistoni and Adom Getachew for a panel discussion of Dissent Magazine‘s most recent issue, “What Is the Nation Good For?” Dissent is a quarterly magazine of politics and ideas. Founded by Irving Howe and Lewis Coser in 1954, it quickly established itself as one of America’s leading intellectual journals and a mainstay of the democratic left. Dissent has published articles by Hannah Arendt, Richard Wright, Norman Mailer, A. Philip Randolph, Michael Harrington, Dorothy Day, Bayard Rustin, Czesław Miłosz, Barbara Ehrenreich, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Chinua Achebe, Ellen Willis, Octavio Paz, Martha Nussbaum, Roxane Gay, and many others.”
Carlos Andres Gomez
September 9 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Bookstore, Cambridge MA
“Striking, searching, and serious. Carlos Andrés Gómez poems often leap landscapes beyond the West and ask us to consider the history we have been taught, how we speak it and carry it in our bodies. There is an earned depth and urgency to Gómez as a poet.” — Raymond Antrobus, Rathbones Folio Prize winner
Our Non-Christian Nation:How Atheists, Satanists, Pagans, and Others Are Demanding Their Rightful Place in Public Life
September 13 at 3 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
“In Our Non-Christian Nation, Jay Wexler travels the country to engage the non-Christians who have called on us to maintain our ideals of inclusivity and diversity. With his characteristic sympathy and humor, he introduces us to the Summum and their Seven Aphorisms, a Wiccan priestess who would deck her City Hall with a pagan holiday wreath, and other determined champions of free religious expression. As Wexler reminds us, anyone who cares about pluralism, equality, and fairness should support a public square filled with a variety of religious and nonreligious voices. The stakes are nothing short of long-term social peace.” Check out our recent Arts Fuse interview.
“The Screams We Make In Other People’s Dreams”: Edward Gorey, the Gay Gothic, and the Camp Macabre
September 15 at 2:30 p.m.
At the Provincetown Public Library, 356 Commercial St, Provincetown MA
The author and scholar will lecture on the longtime Cape Cod resident and his memorably macabre writing, including eccentric biographical details from his widely-reviewed biography of the “eccentric life and mysterious genius” of the author of The Gashleycrumb Tinies and countless other whimsically Gothic illustrations for outlets far and wide.
In conversation with Steve Buckley
My Life on the Line: How the NFL Damn Near Killed Me and Ended Up Saving My Life
September 23 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA
“Bubbling under the surface of Ryan’s entire NFL career was a collision course between his secret sexuality and his hidden drug use. When the league caught him smoking pot, he turned to NFL-sanctioned prescription painkillers that quickly sent his life into a tailspin. As injuries mounted and his daily intake of opioids reached a near-lethal level, he wrote his suicide note to his parents and plotted his death. Yet someone had been watching; a member of the Chiefs organization stepped in. Nearing the twilight of his career, Ryan faced the ultimate decision: end it all, or find out if his family and football friends could ever accept a gay man in their lives.”
The City-State of Boston
September 24 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA
“In the vaunted annals of America’s founding, Boston has long been held up as an exemplary “city upon a hill” and the “cradle of liberty” for an independent United States. Wresting this iconic urban center from these misleading, tired clich’s, The City-State of Boston highlights Boston’s overlooked past as an autonomous city-state, and in doing so, offers a pathbreaking and brilliant new history of early America. Following Boston’s development over three centuries, Mark Peterson discusses how this self-governing Atlantic trading center began as a refuge from Britain’s Stuart monarchs and how–through its bargain with slavery and ratification of the Constitution–it would tragically lose integrity and autonomy as it became incorporated into the greater United States.”
— Matt Hanson
Gun Island: A Novel
September 11 at 6 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30)
Presented by Harvard Book Store at the Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA
The latest novel from a writer acclaimed for this fiction and non-fiction, the latter including his provocative mediation on Climate Change, 2016’s The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. My review in the Arts Fuse. No doubt Gun Island will grapple with how Global Warming is changing economic, political, social, and cultural realities. “It is the story of a world on the brink, of increasing displacement and unstoppable transition. But it is also a story of hope, of a man whose faith in the world and the future is restored by two remarkable women.”
— Bill Marx
Pop, Rock, and Folk
At their best, The Selecter was every bit as good as their 2-Tone labelmates and fellow ska revivalists The Specials and Madness. Unfortunately, the band dissolved after their 1981 album Celebrate the Bullet proved to be a critically and commercially disappointing follow-up to its revered 1980 debut, Too Much Pressure. Thankfully, The Selecter has remained active since reuniting in the early 1990s and again earlier this decade. 2015’s Subculture, and 2017’s Daylight have been their best-reviewed albums since their classic first release. Thus, their 40th anniversary tour — which includes a stop in Somerville on Thursday — won’t be about nostalgia. Rhoda Dakar, the lead singer of Selecter contemporaries The Bodysnatchers, and Boston’s The New Limits will make what the evening triply awesome.
This Philadelphia-based quartet’s first two albums each stopped short of the 19-minute mark despite containing 10 songs in one case and 11 in the other. This year’s Patience is a whopping 25-1/2 minutes long with TWO of its 10 tracks clocking in at four-plus minutes. The characteristic briefness of the disc’s songs (among which are ones that run 39 and 54 seconds) reflects Mannequin Pussy’s punk ethos, but this is by no means limits the album’s sound. Half of tracks will provide unalloyed joy to longtime fans, but several others will require them to be a bit more attentive in order to appreciate the band’s talents. Their gig at Great Scott on September 15 could conceivably include all of their songs — a perfect crash course for newcomers.
In his more than 30 years as a musician, Ken Stringfellow has been a cofounder of The Posies, a member of the reunited Big Star with Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens, and an in-studio and onstage associate of R.E.M. He has also toured and recorded with the New England-based artists Fuzzy, Minky Starshine, Richie Parsons, Corin Ashley, and The Velvet Ants. Touched, the second of his several albums under his own name, was released on September 11, 2001. He will perform all of his most critically lauded solo discography entry at Lilypad on September 20. (Here is the interview that I did with him last year.)
Any doubts that one might have about to take a performer with this stage name will be quashed bu the first two songs — “Pressing Mesh” and “Do You One Better” — on his new album, There Is No Feeling Better. From there, one will most assuredly want to work through the Bloomington, Indiana, native’s handful of other singles, EPs, and LPs which date back to 2011. I’m not saying that MAAHHW will be playing stadiums or arenas soon, but his appearance at O’Brien’s is sure to be one of those “I saw him when…” gigs.
Kal Marks was “the loudest band in Boston” before they opted to deemphasize volume on 2018’s Universal Care. In spite of or irrespective of this new direction, Universal Care was nominated for Album of the Year and the band was in the running for Rock Artist of the Year at the 2018 Boston Music Awards. A year and a half after that album, the trio is back with an EP titled Let That Shit House Burn Down, which includes the singles “Heads Been Ringing” and “Science Is Science.” The band will play a release show two days ahead of the official street date at O’Brien’s.
— Blake Maddux