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
The B-Film. Low-Budget Hollywood Cinema 1935 – 1959
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
The Hottest August
October 7 at 7 p.m.
Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA
New York City, including its outer boroughs, filmed over the course of August 2017. It’s a month heavy with the tension of a new President, growing anxiety over everything from rising rents to marching white nationalists, and unrelenting news of either wildfires or hurricanes on every coast. The film pivots on the question of futurity: what does the future look like from where we are standing? And what if we are not all standing in the same place? The Hottest August offers a mirror onto a society on the verge of catastrophe, registering the anxieties, distractions, and survival strategies that preoccupy ordinary lives. A DocYard presentation with director Brett Story in person for Q&A.
Animation Show of Shows
October 10 at 7 p.m.
Bright Lights Screening Room at the Paramount Center, Washington Street Boston, MA
The 20th Annual Animation Show of Shows represents work of artists from six countries, including six student films. 15 thought-provoking, poignant, and very funny animated shorts from around the world. Discussion led by associate professor Anya Belkina to follow.
Lonely Seal International Film, Screenplay & Music Festival
Oct 11 through 13
Regent Theater in Arlington, MA
This under-the-radar festival presents 64 films, documentaries, shorts and music videos, 77 screenplays, and four songs from 18 countries over 3 days. The programs shorts and features are available via 15 program blocks. Schedule, trailers, and descriptions
October 17 at 7 p.m.
Bright Lights Screening Room at the Paramount Center, Washington Street, Boston, MA
Co-presented with Wicked Queer, the Boston Women’s Film Festival and ArtsEmerson. The film explores Mapplethorpe’s life, beginning from when the iconoclastic artist and Patti Smith moved into the famed Chelsea hotel, home to a world of bohemian chic. The narratives goes on to examine the intersection of Mapplethorpe’s art and his sexuality, along with his struggle for mainstream recognition. His portraits, images of calla lilies, and chronicles of New York City’s underground BDSM scene remain touchstones of 20th-century photography today, nearly three decades after his death from complications of HIV/AIDS in 1989. Discussion led by VMA professor Ken Feil to follow. Free of charge
The Boston Palestine Film Festival
October 18 through 27
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Brookline Library, Paramount Center, and Brattle Theatre
The festival features a lineup of compelling and politically challenging films, including documentaries, features, rare early works, video art pieces, and new films by emerging artists and youth. These works from directors around the world offer refreshingly honest, independent views of Palestine and its history, culture, and geographically dispersed society. Complete Schedule
October 17 – 20
The Somerville Theatre, Davis Square, Somerville, MA
For the first time in its 22-year history, the Boston Underground Film Festival launches a mid-year mini-fest. It is a selection of seasonally appropriate thrills and chills tailored for New England cinephiles! Complete Schedule
— Tim Jackson
I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians
October 9 at 5:00 p.m. and October 18 at 3:30 p.m.
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA
“I do not care if we go down in history as barbarians” were the words spoken by Romania’s military dictator Marshal Ion Antonescu in the Council of Ministers in the summer of 1941. Once the Nazis liberated the Romanians from the Russians the hometown folk enthusiastically began a mass slaughter of the Jews whose ferocity even upset the Germans, who liked things done more systematically. Director Radu Jude’s sardonic satire revolves around an “accurate” reenactment of the Odessa Massacre masterminded by a young theater director who fights the municipal government’s attempt to censor her efforts. (The politicos are paying for the contemporary dramatization.)
This is an overlong film with some windy self-indulgences: an unresolved subplot about the director’s unwanted (?) pregnancy; high-brow reinforcement via quotes from Hannah Arendt (though an excerpt of an Isaac Babel story is marvelous); and where are the Romanian Jewish voices? Still, Barbarians dramatizes the enduring appeal of xenophobia, antisemitism, and self-exculpatory amnesia. The suggestion is that hatred has become second nature: confronting the truth would mean revealing enduring moral rot. For another look at the same issues, please read Jan T Gross’s masterly Neighbors: the Destruction of the Jewish Community at Jewabne, Poland.
— Bill Marx
October 11-12, at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
Whether covering Ray Charles, Hank Williams, or Abbey Lincoln, or assaying one of his distinctive originals — by turns lyrical, funky, and funny — master guitarist John Scofield always digs deep, with the consummate phrasing of a great vocalist. He’s playing two nights of solo guitar at the Regattabar.
Bill Charlap Trio
October 12 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
No one explores the Great American Songbook like pianist Bill Charlap — erudite, swinging, inventive, the lyrics and meanings of the tune always deeply embedded in his interpretations. His trio these days is rounded out by bassist Sean Smith and drummer Willie Jones III.
Ethan Iverson Quartet
October 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
Pianist and composer Ethan Iverson, a founding member of the Bad Plus, has played in all manner of formats, including in a duo with saxophonist Mark Turner, a quartet with Billy Hart, and the late Paul Motian’s trio. His new quartet record on ECM, Common Practice, features the great trumpeter Tom Harrell. They’ll be joined here by bassist Ben Street and drummer Eric McPherson in a program of “standards and blues.”
Jazz Advance: The Legacy of Cecil Taylor
October 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA.
New England Conservatory celebrates one of its own — NEC grad Cecil Taylor, one of the great visionaries in the music. Featured faculty and alumni performers will include pianists Ran Blake, Bruce Brubaker, Ethan Iverson, Matthew Shipp, and Dan Tepfer; singer Dominique Eade; guitarist Joe Morris; and the NEC Jazz Orchestra performing arrangements of a piece by former Taylor bandmate (and NEC faculty member) Steve Lacy, “Rain,” as well as Taylor’s “Bulbs.” There’s a pre-concert panel discussion at NEC’s Brown Hall at 5 p.m. It’s all free, but tickets are recommended, available at www.necmusic.edu/Jazz50.com.
Chick Corea Trilogy
October 20 at 7:00 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
Last year jazz piano god Chick Corea played four nights at Scullers Jazz Club with his Vigilette Trio (bassist Carlitos Del Puerto and drummer Marcus Gilmore). Now he’s returning for a show at Symphony Hall with his Trilogy trio — bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade — on the heels of a new album, released October 4.
Pedrito Martinez Group
October 20 at 7 p.m.
City Winery, Boston, MA.
The 46-year-old Havana-born singer and percussionist Pedrito Martinez has been a valued sideman with all manner of pop and jazz stars — Wynton Marsalis, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Sting — and has had fancy jazz soloists on his own albums (Marsalis, John Scofield). For this gig, he does his own thing with his quartet.
Kenny Werner & Nat Mugavero with Friends
October 22 at 10:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.
The esteemed pianist, composer, and teacher Kenny Werner (these days teaching Berklee kids how to chill) fronts a quintet with drummer Nat Mugavero that includes singer Vivienne Aerts, clarinetist Matt Stubbs, and bassist James Robbins.
— Jon Garelick
Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, Mark Harvey (mus dir, cond) on October 12, at 8 p.m., Killian Hall at MIT, 180 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA.
Harvey’s remarkable local orchestra, composed of veterans and newcomers – all of superior talent – takes the stage at MIT once again for a program that will consist mostly of Harvey originals. “Trumputin Tango” will show off his usual puckish political humor, while a new work, “Consecration,” will display his more serious side. Aardvark’s work never fails to challenge and delight, and this show should be well worth your time.
New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra, Carl Atkins & Ken Schaphorst (cond), Alan Pasqua (kb), Antonio Sanchez (dm) on October 17, 730 p.m. at Jordan Hall, Boston, MA.
This fall marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of jazz studies at NEC, and this is one of a series of concerts looking back. NEC has been home to four great jazz composers — George Russell, Jaki Byard, Steve Lacy, and Bob Brookmeyer. Ken Schaphorst is keeping the tradition alive today. Music by Russell and Byard is already slated for this evening, and I would not be surprised to see the other three represented as well. Pasqua and Sanchez are among NEC’s distinguished alumni, and they will have featured roles. Atkins worked closely with Russell, so you can expect that he will bring special authenticity to the Russell works on the program. After the concert, some players will move over to Brown Hall for an impromptu jam scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. Considering the caliber of talent on display this evening, including that of the always-impressive NEC students, the jam promises to be well worth hearing as well.
Macy Gray (vo), with supporting players to be announced, on October 17, 8 p.m. & 10 p.m.; Friday, October 18, 8 p.m. & 10 p.m.; October 19, 8 p.m. & 10 p.m. All at Scullers, 400 Soldiers Field Rd, Boston, MA.
A small-club date for Macy Gray is something to take note of, even if it’s not hard-core jazz. Gray’s gritty voice crosses genre boundaries with ease, and she has an enormous book of hits and obscurities. It’s been a year since the release of her last album, Ruby, but these shows will probably draw from it. On the other hand, a small club is an ideal venue to try out new material. No matter what the repertoire, you can expect these shows to be more intimate and personal than Gray’s big-hall concerts.
— Steve Elman
Fernanda Ghi Dance Company
October 11 & 12 at 8 p.m.; October 13 at 3 p.m.
The Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts
Global Arts Live presents the Fernanda Ghi Dance Company, which fuses Argentine tango with other dance styles, by way of the Boston premiere of Black + White. This theatrical dance performance embraces the concept of opposition in four acts: “Love + Hate,” “Dream + Reality,” “Man + Woman,” and “Naked + Clothed.” World-renowned tango artist Fernanda Ghi choreographs to the renowned music of Astor Piazzolla. Photos by Andrés Mario de Varona are used as inspiration for each of the show’s four acts.
October 14 and 17
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
All Ready — the famed female dance duo from South Korea who performed on NBC TV’s World of Dance — caps its residency at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum with performances inspired by the museum’s collection. Experience three newly commissioned works that bring the museum’s rooms to life through an integration of Latin, street, and hip-hop dance forms.
The Nature of Light
Newport Congregational Church
Island Moving Company presents The Nature of Light, featuring new works by Artistic Director Miki Ohlsen alongside choreography by Colin Connor, Danielle Genest, and the iconic José Limon. Performed in the newly renovated Newport Congregational Church, the performance pays homage to this historic venue’s luminous La Farge stained glass windows. There will be a live orchestra under the direction of Adrienne Taylor.
Racines Black Dance Festival
October 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Roxbury Community College
The Racines Black Dance Festival returns for its third year, once again embracing a wide spectrum of the African-American dance forms that evolved across the Americas, in addition to the traditional dances of West Africa. This year’s opening night performance showcases new works sparked by the concept of “continuum,” while incorporating hip-hop, House, and traditional West African dance and drumming.
— 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.
Human Impact: Stories of the Opioid Epidemic
Fuller Craft Museum
455 Oak Street, Brockton, MA 02301
September 28 through May 3
This exhibit brings together eleven invited artists, who share perspectives on the opioid crisis from the viewpoint of those who are closest to the subject. Working in collaboration with families deeply affected by opiate use, these artists create works that communicate stories of pain, hope, and courage. Jodi Colella’s “Once Was (Remembrance)” is a towering, monolithic poppy field, a monument to the lives lost to this epidemic, while another piece, John Anderson’s “Sacrificial Lamb,” an altar of prescription pill bottles and cage-like wire, illustrates the chaos unleashed by the force of addiction. The Fuller Craft Museum presents this show in cooperation with the District Attorney’s office, Brockton Hospital, High Point Treatment Center, and Stonehill College, which advocate for the spread of awareness and information on this subject.
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.
Photo Revolution: Andy Warhol to Cindy Sherman
Worcester Art Museum
55 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA
November 16 through February, 2020
In the 1950’s, once consumerism, television, and image-sharing became commonplace, a new era of photographic experimentation commenced. Photo Revolution presents a wide range of works at the center of this transformation, featuring a wide range of mediums, from artists whose work centered on photography, such as Chris Burden, Nan Goldin, John Baldessari and many more. These artists used photography and video to make social and political statements, turning what was seen as a practical, secondary medium into the inspiration for a new movements in art. Easy access to photo and video production led to a diversification of format, which stirred artists to not only make work using photography, but to make work about photography.
Griffin Museum at WinCam
32 Swanton Street, Winchester, MA
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.
Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect
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, particularly his pioneering approach to social activism through art. Arts Fuse review
Jonathan Berger: An Introduction to Nameless Love
Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts
24 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA
October 17 through December 29.
Commissioned by the Carpenter Center and PARTICIPANT INC, this exhibit presents an archive of several extraordinary relationships, each of which bears the characteristics of “true love,” but reject traditional romantic associations. Instead, each of the couplings is based on connections established by religion, friendship, or community. This body of work is the largest ever created by the artist, gathering togehter, via different mediums, various kinds of non-fiction and biographical narratives. Berger created, over a five-year correspondence with his subjects, large, intricate, text-based installations that honor the distinctive bonds formed by each relationship.
–- Rebekah Bonner
Roots and World Music
Petroloukas Halkias & Vasilis Kostas
October 6 at 4 p.m.
Taxiarchae Greek Orthodox Church, 25 Bigelow Ave, Watertown, MA )
Octogenarian Greek clarinet legend Halkias may be a few generations removed from fast-fingered laouto (four-stringed lute) virtuoso Kostas, but they share a commitment to both tradition and innovation. Their new LP The Soul of Epirus celebrates the unique musical traditions of Northeast Greece. They’ll celebrate the recording by playing this very special concert as a quartet that includes Panagiotis Georgakopoulos (defi) and Beth Bahia Cohen (violin).
Jah Spirit “Blessed Fire” Release Party
La Fabrica Central, Cambridge, MA
New England’s longest running roots reggae band Jah Spirit has been spreading its Rastafarian message of unity since 1984, an impressive legacy that has brought their music to tens of thousands. Ras Michael Wolfe and his bandmates (including fellow pioneer Ras Ipa who previously was part of Zion Initiation) celebrate their latest CD, Blessed Fire, which includes a reggae rework of Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World” and plenty of dub tracks.
Peter Johnson Book Release
October 12 at 2 p.m.
Club Passim, Cambridge, MA
You couldn’t tell the story of the New England folk scene without including Peter Johnson. The founder of Living Folk records and longtime concert presenter has spent decades connecting audiences with traditional American, British, and Celtic songs. Now the noted raconteur has completed his memoir, The Laughing Lesson, which chronicles his life and music through stories and rare photos. Johnson whoops it up with a few other traditional folk legends: Lorraine and Bennett Hammond, Heather Wood, and John Roberts.
Oceanside Events Center, Revere, MA
Cowboy music is alive and well in Brazil. The Southern Brazilian sounds of tchê combine polkas (which most likely came along with the Germans who immigrated to the country in the 19th century) with samba and rock rhythms. The tunes tell stories of rural life. One of the genre’s biggest stars are the swaggering, accordion-wielding Tchê Garotos, who embody the gaucho (horseman) lifestyle of their native Rio Grande do Sul.
Blue Hill MCs Gospel Anniversary
Oct 13, 3:30 p.m.
Global Ministries Christian Church, 670 Washington Street, Dorchester, MA
Tireless promoter Jeannette Farrell and Boston greats the Blue Hill MCs are back for another marathon celebration of traditional quartet-style gospel. Among the highlights will be a visit from the latest incarnation of the decades-old Augusta, Georgia-based Swanee Quintet and Philadelphia’s explosive Little Sammy and the New Flying Clouds, plus “Boston’s own” Spiritual Encouragers, Lincoln Men of Witness, Bishop Harold Branch, and Test-A-Mony.
Christina Goh/Noah Preminger Duo
Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, Cambridge, MA
The Boilerhouse Jazz Series continues to pair disparate artists to see what happens when they collaborate. Here’s an especially intriguing pairing: Ivory Coast-raised vocalist, poet, and activist Christina Goh and Boston saxophone hero Noah Preminger. The only guarantee is that the music they make together will be interesting.
La Fabrica Central, Cambridge, MA
These days are seeing a welcome resurgence for rub-a-dub reggae, which ruled the dance halls in the early to mid-’80s. The breakout reggae act of the year, Koffee (Mikayla Simpson), is clearly inspired by the playful wordplay and dubwise riddims that marked rub-a-dub’s heyday long before she was born. Many of the music’s veterans are still on the scene, like Papa Michigan, who was half of the beloved duo Michigan and Smiley. He appears with members of Dub Apocalypse as part of the third anniversary of the invaluable Reggae Takeova series at La Fabrica Central.
Rev. Sekou and the Freedom Fighters
The Porch, Medford, MA
Anyone who wonders why today’s music often fails to reflect our turbulent times should meet Rev. Sekou. Mississippi-raised Reverend Osagyefo Sekou is a real life theologian as well as a recording artist. (One of his past stints was pastor for formation and justice at First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain.) He’s also recorded multiple albums of modern-day protest soul and blues with his Brooklyn-based combo the Freedom Fighters. His powerful music, lectures, and writings address everything from climate change to police brutality.
— Noah Schaffer
HONK 2019: A Festival of Street Bands, a wide variety of events, musical and inspirational, planned in Somerville, Cambridge, & Boston, October 11 through 13. Free. Check the website for details.
The 14th annual HONK! is guaranteed to be “a rousing socio-political music spectacle, featuring social activist street bands from all over the world, who come together to share their different approaches in merrily instigating positive changes in their communities.” It’s a sonic extravaganza that entertains and provokes — a one-of-a-kind event that should not be missed.
— Bill Marx
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, 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.” Arts Fuse review
Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies. Directed by Nicole Ricciard. Staged by Shakespeare & Company in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, Lenox, MA, 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.” Arts Fuse review
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, 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. Arts Fuse feature
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, through October 19.
“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, 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 on to New York, where Miller had it closed. So this production has a very high bar to clear. Arts Fuse review
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard. Directed by Peter DuBois. Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Avenue of the Arts / Huntington Avenue Theatre (264 Huntington Avenue), Boston, MA, through October 20.
A revival of one of Stoppard’s most popular mind-benders, now over 50 years old: “This modern-day classic tragicomedy imagines the lives of two minor characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. As the story unfolds, they voice their confusion about the play that’s being performed without them, untangling bigger questions about life and death, reality and art.” Arts Fuse review
Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Directed by Marti Lyons. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, a co-production with Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago and City Theatre in Pittsburgh, at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre, Lowell, MA, October 16 through November 16.
The East Coast premiere of Yee’s script. The plot: “In 1978, a father flees Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime. Thirty years later, his daughter attempts to piece together her family history, celebrating the resilient bond of family through hardship and sacrifice and the enduring power of ’70s music.” “The actors play their own instruments with powerful performances of 13 songs in Cambodia’s signature sound: a jubilant mix of melodic pop, 60s psychedelia, and California surf rock.”
King Lear by William Shakespeare. Directed by Doug Lockwood. Presented by Actors’ Shakespeare Project, at Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet Street, Chelsea, MA, through October 27.
“ASP last produced King Lear in its second season in 2005. This production is dedicated to the memory of Alvin Epstein, a true inspiration and driving force in the early development of ASP. Alvin played Lear in the 2005 production, which transferred to La Mama in New York in 2006.” Robert Walsh plays the aging patriarch gone mad.
The Book Club Play by Karen Zacarías. Directed by Shana Gozansky. Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre at 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, through October 13.
A Boston premiere: “Ana is a Type A personality who lives in a letter-perfect world with an adoring husband, the perfect job, and her greatest passion: Book Club. But when her cherished group becomes the focus of a documentary film, their intimate discussions about life and literature take a turn for the hilarious in front of the inescapable camera lens. Add a provocative new member along with some surprising new book titles, and these six friends are bound for pandemonium.”
Passengers, performed by The 7 Fingers. Presented by Arts Emerson at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston, MA, through October 13.
“The 7 Fingers’ electrifying and heart-stirring mix of circus, music, and dance” returns in a show (an American premiere) that “reminds us that we always have somewhere we’ve got to go, but often don’t know where we’re headed or who we’ll meet along the way.”
Trayf by Lindsay Joelle. Directed by Celine Rosenthal. Staged by the New Repertory Theatre in the MainStage Theater at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, October 12 through November 3.
A New England premiere: “Best friends Zalmy and Shmuel spend their days as the Rebbe’s loyal foot soldiers, driving their “Mitzvah Tank” through 1990s Manhattan, performing good deeds. The two young men soon find themselves at odds, as a newcomer wishing to learn more about their Chasidic ways creates discord between them. Juxtaposing the secular and the sacred, the familiar and the unknown, the accepted and the forbidden.”
The Thanksgiving Play by Larissa FastHorse. Directed by Scott Edmiston. Staged by the Lyric Stage at 140 Clarendon Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA, October 18 through November 10.
“Thanksgiving, that most American of holidays: when families gather to celebrate the warmth of home, the bounty of the harvest – and a legacy of genocide and violent colonial expansion. Good intentions collide with absurd assumptions in this wickedly funny satire, as a troupe of terminally “woke” teaching artists scrambles to create a pageant that somehow manages to celebrate both Turkey Day and Native American Heritage Month.”
Leonora’s World. Directed by Stacy Klein, created with Jennifer Johnson, designed with Jeremy Louise Eaton. Staged by Double Edge Theatre at the Farm Center, Ashfield, MA, October 10 through 13 at 6 p.m. (Sold Out and Wait List is Closed)
A revival of a much admired Double Edge production. Impossible to get into, but I am listing it because maybe someone in Boston will bring this spectacular production into town. “Living Art Spectacle that invites the audience to journey through the mysterious, magical, whimsical paintings of Leonora Carrington. Leonora’s paintings are brought to life in the fields, gardens, stream, and pond of Double Edge’s Farm Center. Saturated in the colors of Fall, a golden field becomes a winding labyrinth, a Wheel of Fortune spins the waters of the stream, and luminous characters wander through hidden interiors in the landscape. The performance includes an indoor vision of Carrington’s boundless painting The House Opposite in song and setting, and then travels into a moonlit discovery of dimensions moving from ancient terrain to the arctic.”
Coriolanus by William Shakespeare. Co-directed by Audrey Seraphin and Daniel Boudreau. Staged by Praxis Stage at Dorchester’s Little House, 275 E. Cottage St., Dorchester, MA, October 17 through November 3.
A very activist-oriented interpretation of the Bard’s study in heroic aristocracy thwarted: “In the stratified, famine-plagued, torn-up-and-on-the-brink society that is the Rome of our play, just as democracy seems about to expand to appease the demands of the riotous underclass, the trumpets of war blast. In this world of haves and have-nots, rulers and ruled, perpetual war maintains the status-quo but threatens all who live within the ceaselessly warring nations depicted.” Of course, Shakespeare didn’t seem to have all that much sympathy for the “underclass.”
Girls, After The Bacchae by Euripides, by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Choreography by Raja Feather Kelly. Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Staged by Yale Rep at University Theatre, 222 York Street, New Haven, CT, through October 26.
Should Euripides be concerned with this world premiere production of an adaptation of one of his greatest hits by one of our leading playwrights? I suspect he would be delighted by the promised sensual/sound meltdown. “Exiled to boarding schools for his entire life, Deon returns to his birthplace with a vengeance –– luring the women of the town to the woods for a night of uninhibited partying. Meanwhile, a young reactionary with a big social media following condemns the debauchery and vows to restore order.” The script “is an electrifying contemporary spin on the classic Greek tragedy, The Bacchae, with a killer DJ, bumping dance music, and live-streaming video.” Note that the production “contains coarse language and violence, haze, fog, strobe lights, loud music, and gunfire (from a semi-automatic weapon and from pistols). Earplugs will be available.”
The Institute for The Opposite of Longing, written, directed, and starring Lindsay Beamish and Vanessa Peters. At Chelsea Theatre Works in their Black Box Theater, 189 Winnisimmet St. Chelsea, MA, October 24 through November 22
“This show is the inaugural performance of Apollinaire Theatre’s new Resident Artist Program, which was funded by a significant grant from the Boston Foundation’s Open Door Grants program, and is intended to bring new voices to the Boston theatre scene.” We could sure use new voices. Billed as the smash hit and critical darling of the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival, this two-person show “explores the condition of chronic yearning via a fictional “institute” where people come to have the thing they can’t let go of enacted with the Institute’s owners — who play the parts of the longed for. But the owners of the Institute are secretly harboring a loss of their own, and are trapped in an endless longing cycle in which that they can’t stop reenacting and replaying their last day with the son they once had.”
Saltonstall Trials: The Salem Witch Trial’s Untold Story by Michael Cormier and Myriam Cyr. Directed by Cyr. Staged by Punctuate4 Productions at the Larcom Theatre, 13 Wallis Street, Beverly, MA, October 17 through 27.
If The Crucible was not enough … The script “tells the true, courageous story of Nathaniel Saltonstall who was appointed to the panel of judges trying dozens of witchcraft cases as fear and hysteria gripped the region. During his first trial, Saltonstall questions the legitimacy of the proceedings, then suddenly he is forced to choose between integrity and self-preservation. The truth will put his loved ones at risk, and himself on trial.” Ben Evett stars.
— Bill Marx
Attacca Quartet, playing Billy Childs’s String Quartet No. 3, “Unrequited” and works by Haydn, Verdi and Caroline Shaw on October 6, 1:30 p.m. at Calderwood Hall, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way (The Fenway), Boston, MA.
Another in the Gardner’s fall series of concerts featuring performers and/or composers of color, curated by George Steel. Billy Childs has a distinguished double-sided career as a jazz pianist and classical composer, with four Grammy awards honoring his formal compositions and arranging.
Sphinx Virtuosi, with Annelle Gregory (v), Christine Lamprea (cel), Thomas Mesa (cel), Xavier Foley (b), playing Foley’s For Justice and Peace and works by Bartok, Aldemaro Romero, Michael Abels, and Philip Hebert on October 13, 1:30 p.m. at Calderwood Hall, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way (The Fenway), Boston, MA.
This concert is part of the Gardner’s fall series of concerts featuring performers and/or composers of color, curated by George Steel. Sphinx Virtuosi is a chamber orchestra of Black and Latinx classical musicians. The ensemble made its debut last year at the Gardner and is returning by popular demand.
— Steve Elman
First Monday: Clara and Robert Schumann
October 7 at 7:30 p.m.
At the Jordan Hall/New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA
The New England Conservatory First Monday program: Clara Schumann’s Three Romances for Violin and Piano, op. 22 (dedicated to Joseph Joachim); Robert Schumann’s Spanische Liebeslieder, op.138 and his Piano Quintet in E–flat Major, op. 44.
October 12 at 8 p.m.
First Congregational Church Cambridge, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA
“From its inception, Lorelei Ensemble has been committed to defying musical and cultural barriers.” This program features pieces that “juxtapose sacred and secular, ancient and modern, solo and ensemble singing — including the much anticipated world premiere of Jessica Meyer’s I long and seek after (winner of Chorus America’s 2019 Dale Warland Commissioning Award), alongside works by Pérotin, Sungji Hong, David Lang, and Jonathan Woody.
October 12 at 8 p.m.
October 13 at 4 p.m.
At First and Second Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA
Chameleon Arts Ensemble insists that “there’s no better place to begin than at the beginning.… Mahler’s first and only chamber work offers a glimpse of the Romantic titan he would become, Jeremy Gill explores the limitlessness of sea and sky, and Milhaud blurs the line between Parisian fashion and pagan ritual with his jazz-influenced imagining of the creation of the world.”
October 19 at 7 p.m.
Eliot Church of Newton, 474 Centre Street, Newton, MA
Sunday, October 20 at 5 p.m.
At St. Paul’s Church Brookline, 15 St. Paul Street, Brookline, MA
An unusual presentation from Cappella Clausura. It is “an installation/exhibition inspired by a recently discovered manuscript, the Salzinnes Antiphonal, scribed in 1554 at a convent in what is now Belgium. We exhibit high-resolution photographs from the manuscript, reproductions of the paintings on 12 banners suspended mid-air, and tools/materials for making a medieval book on loan from Boston’s North Bennet Street School. We offer food and drink that replicates the diet of the nuns in that particular convent,in that particular time and season. Clothed in habits from the order and the era, CC’s women chant the hours in the medieval monastic day, telescoped down from 9 hours to about 1.5, so that each hour lasts about 10 minutes. In between the chanting of the hours, the audience is invited to walk around, inspect, read, listen to scholars, eat and drink. Scholar Judith Dietz, discoverer of the Salzinnes Antiphonal, will be present for Q&A’s.”
Pianist Sergey Schepkin
October 20 at 4 p.m.
At First and Second Church of Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA
Glissando Concert Series presents Beethoven Sonatas II: Sonata No. 2 in A, Op. 2 No. 2; Sonata No. 12 in A-flat, Op. 26 (“Funeral March”); Sonata No. 31 in A-flat, Op. 110; and Sonata No. 28 in A, Op. 101.
— Susan Miron
Dessa in conversation with Michael Pollan
My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road On Music, Science, and Senseless Love
October 8 at 6:30 p.m.
Public Library of Brookline, Brookline Village MA
“Dessa is a rapper, a singer, an essayist, and a proud member of the Doomtree hip-hop crew. She’s performed around the world at opera houses and rock clubs and while standing on barroom tables. She’s landed on the Billboard Top 200 Albums list as a solo artist (Parts of Speech, Chime), as a Doomtree member (All Hands), and as a contributor to The Hamilton Mixtape. As a writer, she’s contributed to the New York Times Magazine, Minnesota Public Radio, the Star Tribune (Minneapolis), Minnesota Monthly, literary journals across the country, and has published two short collections of poetry and essays. My Own Devices is an uncompromising and candid account of a life in motion, in music, and in love. Dessa is as compelling on the page as she is onstage, making My Own Devices the debut of a unique and deft literary voice.” She will sit down with Michael Pollan, bestselling author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America
October 9 at 7 p.m.
First Parish Church, Cambridge MA
“For five decades, CEO Charles Koch has kept Koch Industries quietly operating in deepest secrecy, with a view toward very, very long-term profits. He’s a genius businessman: patient with earnings, able to learn from his mistakes, determined that his employees develop a reverence for free-market ruthlessness, and a master disrupter. These strategies have made him and his brother David together richer than Bill Gates. But there’s another side to this story. If you want to understand how we killed the unions in this country, how we widened the income divide, stalled progress on climate change, and how our corporations bought the influence industry, all you have to do is read this book.”
No Stopping Us Now: The Adventures of Older Women in American History
October 17 at 6 p.m.
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge MA
Tickets are $32 with book, $6 general
“In her lively social history of American women and aging, acclaimed New York Times columnist Gail Collins illustrates the ways in which age is an arbitrary concept that has swung back and forth over the centuries. From Plymouth Rock (when a woman was considered marriageable if “civil and under fifty years of age”), to a few generations later, when they were quietly retired to elderdom once they had passed the optimum age for reproduction, to recent decades when freedom from striving in the workplace and caretaking at home is often celebrated, to the first female nominee for president, American attitudes towards age have been a moving target. Gail Collins gives women reason to expect the best of their golden years.”
John Grisham & Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Guardians: A Novel & Leadership: In Turbulent Times
October 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Back Bay Events Center, 180 Berkeley St, Boston
Tickets are $58 with both books, $38 with The Guardians, $26 with Leadership, and $18 for admission only
Grisham’s novel deals with a case of the wrong man being pinned for a murder and the berserk legal system that keeps him that way, while Goodwin’s book offers inspiring examples of how four presidents—her beloved Lincoln, both Roosevelts, and Lyndon Johnson—demonstrated leadership skills during difficult times.
Fatima Farheen Mirza
A Place for Us: A Novel
October 21 at 7 p.m.
Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley MA
“A Place for Us tells the story of one family, but all family life is here. Rafiq and Layla must come to terms with the choices their children have made, while Hadia, Huda, and Amar must reconcile their present culture with their parents’ world, treading a path between old and new. And they must all learn how the smallest decisions can lead to the deepest betrayals. This is a novel for our times: a deeply moving examination of love, identity and belonging that turns our preconceptions over one by one. It announces Fatima Farheen Mirza as a major new literary talent.”
Addiction On Trial: Tragedy In Downeast Maine
October 22 at 7 p.m.
Newtonville Books, West Newton MA
“Steven Kassels MD has had the privilege of treating patients from all walks of life during his years of practice in both emergency medicine and addiction medicine. He believes that everyone deserves compassion and access to medical care regardless of the nature of the illness. He wrote Addiction on Trial to both entertain and educate, and to depict the struggles of addiction for an audience of avid readers who may expand their understanding of addiction on the basis of evidence. Dedicated to his work in addiction medicine, he is also passionate about tennis, back-country skiing, biking, music, and the Boston Red Sox. Kassels turns his addiction medicine and emergency medicine experiences into a journey of suspense while exploring love and loss, family dysfunction, and the what-ifs of life; the journey will continue in the next Shawn Marks Thriller, Lost to Addiction.”
— Matt Hanson
Rock, Pop, and Folk
Few artists get nominated for five Boston Music Awards in their whole career, and even fewer do so in one year. However, that was the feat that Weakened Friends achieved in 2017 when they were in the running for Artist of the Year, Unsigned Artist of the Year (which they won), Song of the Year, Live Artist of the Year, and Alternative/Indie Artist of the Year. In 2018, they were nominated again for Artist of the Year and won the Alternative/Indie Artist honor. Sure enough, they are among the Alternative/Indie candidates again this year. Those who wonder what the fuss is all about can find out on Friday when the Portland/Boston-based trio plays Great Scott.
Mike Watt secured his position as one of the most important artists in hardcore specifically and punk rock generally as the bassist for Minutemen in the early ’80s and FIREHOSE for a decade thereafter. He has also played on albums by a range of artists that includes Sonic Youth, Juliana Hatfield, Porno For Pyros, Gov’t Mule, Rickie Lee Jones, The Stooges, and Kelly Clarkson (yes, that one). Watt’s current 2-1/2-month tour of the U.S. (and Toronto) includes a stop at ONCE on Friday.
Great Scott will host another multi-BMA-nominated artist when Bent Knee takes the stage on October 14. In the past three years, the sextet has been in contention for Female Vocalist (Courtney Swain, 2017), Alternative/Indie Artist (2017 and 2018), and Video of the Year (“Hold Me In,” 2019). The sextet’s Allston gig will take place three days after the release of their new album, You Know What They Mean, and three weeks before the start of a 30-city US tour.
The Brooklyn noise pop trio Vivian Girls broke up in 2014 after releasing three moderately to very well-received albums between 2008 and 2011. Eight years after they were last heard from as a unit, Cassie Ramone, Katy Goodman, and Ali Koehler are back with Memory and the critics are being at least as kind as they ever were. If you missed them the first time around, climb on board now by devoting 33 minutes to these 12 new songs and catch up on the rest at ONCE on October 20.
— Blake Maddux