Coming Attractions: November 3 through 17 — 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.
Independent Film Festival Boston Fall Focus Series
Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA
IFFB presents its mini-festival of advance screenings of some of the best upcoming films. The series includes these promising movies: Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning Clemency, Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach), Wild Goose Lake, Waves, Honey Boy (Shia LaBeouf), The Kingmaker (Lauren Greenfield), The Two Popes, Portrait of A Lady On Fire (Céline Sciamma), and The Truth (Hirokazu Kore-eda). Complete schedule and descriptions
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound
Through November 20
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA
This documentary focuses on the first generation of professional sound designers, who mapped films with sound before a frame was ever shot. “Making Waves is about the evolution of film technology, yet the key to the documentary’s appeal is that it revels in the holistic, aesthetic side of technology: not just buttons and dials and gizmos, but technology as an expression of something human. Making Waves is a brisk 94 minutes, the last half hour of which is a quick-study primer on the categories of movie sound.” (Variety) Schedule of screenings
November 4 at 7 p.m.
Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA
Just out of high school, at the age of 18, Miles Lagoze enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was deployed to Afghanistan where he served as Combat Camera — his unit’s official videographer, tasked with shooting and editing footage for the Corps’ recruiting purposes and historical initiatives. But upon discharge, Lagoze took all the footage he and his fellow cameramen shot, and he assembled the kind of documentary the Corps does not want you to see, a groundbreaking look at daily life in a war zone as told by the Marines themselves. More than a mere compilation of violent scenes, the edit ingeniously repurposes the original footage to reveal the intensity and paradoxes of serving in an ambiguous war from an unvarnished perspective. A DocYard presentation. Miles Lagoze attending in person for Q&A.
We Are the Radical Monarchs
Bright Screening Room at the Paramount Center Washington St. in Boston, MA
Set in Oakland, a city with a deep history of social justice movements, this film documents the Radical Monarchs – an alternative to the Scout movement for girls of color, aged 8-13. Its members earn badges for completing units on social justice, including being an LGBTQ ally, helping the environment, and serving disability justice. The group was started by two fierce, queer women of color; it was a way to shape their daughter’s experience as a young brown girl. Discussion with director Linda Goldstein Knowlton to follow.
Boston Jewish Film Festival
The BJFF presents rich festival of screenings celebrating the richness of the Jewish experience through film and media. Many of the movies have multiple screening and appearances by writers and directors. Complete list of films.
The festival opens with Safe Spaces: Josh has a lot going on. His job as an adjunct writing professor is being threatened after a student accused him of being inappropriate in class, And his beloved grandmother (Lynn Cohen) is in the hospital, meaning his divorced parents (Fran Drescher, The Nanny, and Richard Schiff, The West Wing) and siblings (including Kate Berlant, Sorry to Bother You) need to all come together
The Closing Night Film is The Rabbi Goes West from Amy Geller and Arts Fuse critic Gerald Peary: When Rabbi Chaim Bruk moved from Brooklyn to Bozeman, Montana, he left a large Chabad Hasidic community. In all of Montana there are just 2,000 Jewish families. While Rabbi Chaim builds his community, becoming beloved by his congregants, some of the state’s Jews believe he is a threat to the other denominations of Judaism. At the same time, threats of anti-Semitism, including from neo-Nazis, loom. Calendar And there is an Arts Fuse feature on The Rabbi Goes West.
The Face Behind the Mask (1941)
November 8 at 7 p.m.
The Harvard Film Archive in Cambridge
A great Peter Lorre movie, brisk and unpredictable, always zigzagging from genre to genre. The tale starts out like Kafka’s Amerika, with a wide-eyed immigrant, our Lorre, on a liner cruising past the Statue of Liberty, on his way to unforeseeable opportunities in the West. The actor becomes a new American, drawing on a succession of acting styles that change as rapidly as the film careens through genres, from coming-of-age narrative to crime film, the romantic melodrama and fairy tale, before settling into revenge yarn. Part of the series The B-Film. Low-Budget Hollywood Cinema 1935 – 1959.
New Cinema from Brazil
Through November 9
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA
The most compelling and inspiring films from Brazil today (at least that is the claim). Selections will include: Karim Aïnouz’s The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão, Wagner Moura’s Marighella, Araby by directors Affonso Uchôa and João Dumans, and the Western adventure sci-fi effort Bacurau, a dark horse favorite from this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Complete Schedule
— Tim Jackson
November 10 through 30
At the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
A recent Anthony Lane review of a restoration of this 1976 Joseph Losey film in the New Yorker made me mighty curious. “Restored to its clammy glory,” the movie stars Alain Delon and “shows the director as a connoisseur of dread as he dissects the anti-Semitism of Occupied France.” The plot sounds as if this is a memorably lethal tale of “doubles” that fuses Nabokov (Despair) with Kafka.
— Bill Marx
Bert Seager’s Tetraptych
November 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.
Pianist Bert Seager’s quartet Tetraptych has been together for four years, releasing one excellent studio recording. Tonight the band (with saxophonist Hery Paz, bassist Max Ridley, and drummer Der Herskovits) digs in to record a live CD over the course of two sets at the Lily Pad. Tetraptych creates layered textures that are paradoxically rich in detail and beautifully transparent, traversing the tension between form and freedom.
November 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Arlington Street Church, Boston, MA.
On his latest CD, Sonero, alto saxophonist, composer, and MacArthur “genius” Fellow Miguel Zenón pays tribute to one of his heroes, the Puerto Rican composer Ismael “Maelo” Rivera (1931-1987). Rivera is tagged as a salsa musician, but for Zenón he exemplifies “the highest level of artistry. He was like Bird, Mozart, Einstein, Ali – he was that guy.” Zenón will be joined by two other members of his superb longtime quartet, pianist Luis Perdomo and drummer Henry Cole, with Matt Penman filling in for bassist Hans Glawischnig.
Blue Note Records 80th Anniversary
November 7 at 8 p.m.
Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport, MA.
The storied jazz label celebrates its 80th anniversary with a multi-generational tour featuring singer-pianist Kandace Springs (with drummer Taylor Moore and bassist Aneesa Faatin), pianist James Francis’s trio (with bassist Burniss Travis and drummer Jeremy Dutton), and the mighty James Carter Organ Trio (with the leader on multiple reeds, Gerard Gibbs on Hammond B3, and drummer Alex White).
November 8 at 8 p.m.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.
The Chilean-born alto saxophonist, composer, and educator Patricia Zárate-Pérez has at long last released her debut recording as a leader, Violetas, fusing elements of the folkloric music of her homeland with modern jazz and funk. And as we used to say in chem class, it’s a compound, not a mixture — all the elements fused into Zárate-Pérez’s soulful mixture. Events in Chile will surely inform tonight’s performance. (The pianist on the disc is her husband, Danilo Pérez, who also produced. No word on who the backing band will be at the MFA. )
Darrell Katz’s Oddsong
November 8 at 8 p.m.
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Jamaica Plain, MA
Composer Darrell Katz draws on a sub-group of the venerable Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra for his compelling ensemble OddSong (from his disc of the same name). The music includes pieces by Astor Piazzola and Julius Hemphill, and Katz’s own mix of those influences and others — like Ray Charles. Texts for Katz’s originals are from the poetry of his late wife, Paula Tatarunis (with whom he wrote the epic “The Death of Simone Weil,” among other pieces). The chamber-vocal ensemble set-up of OddSong includes singer Rebecca Shrimpton; the sax quartet of Melanie Howell Brooks, Lihi Haruvi, Phil Scarff, and Rick Stone; violinist Helen Sherrah-Davies; and marimba and vibraphone player Vessela Stoyanova.
Wynton Marsalis Quintet
November 10 at 8 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston MA
Wynton Marsalis’s Boston-area appearances with his quintet have become rare (compared with his annual visits with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra). The Celebrity Series of Boston venue is the same, however: august Symphony Hall. In the band with Marsalis are saxophonist Abdias Armenteros, bassist Carlos Henriquez, pianist Dan Nimmer, and drummer Obed Calvaire.
November 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
Pianist Laszlo Gardony was previously best known for recordings (and live performances) with his trio. But in recent years he’s made some of his deepest explorations with introspective solo CDs — Clarity (2013) and Serious Play (2017). He’s celebrating his latest, La Marseillaise, at the Regattabar and, as that title indicates, these solo excursions look outward as well as inward — the artist in the world. Arts Fuse review of La Marseillaise
Plamen Karadonev Trio
November 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Peabody Hall, Parish of All Saints, Dorchester, MA
The Bulgarian-born keyboardist Karadonev, a longtime Bostonian, has played with the likes of Randy Brecker, Jimmy Cobb, and David Liebman, and is most familiar to Boston audiences through his work with Jerry Bergonzi. His trio comprises harp player Charles Overton and drummer Austin McMahon, with Karadonev on piano and accordion. They’ll be playing Karadonev’s originals, drawing on “Eastern European folklore, 20th-century classical music, and other contemporary styles with a jazz foundation.
— Jon Garelick
Ken Field Nonstandards
November 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA
An evening of “lesser-known and rarely performed compositions and arrangements by leader & saxophonist/flautist Ken Field (Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Musaner, Sesame St, and Second Line Brass Band).” And it is no surprise that it will take some of the city’s heavyest hitters to do justice to what is sure to be some fascinating tunes. The line-up includes Mike Rivardo on bass, Yoron Israel on drums, Helen Sherrah-Davies on violin, and Amy Bellamy on keyboards.
— Bill Marx
When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston MA 02210
Through January 26
Borrowing its name from Somali-British poet Warsan Shire’s poem “Home,” this exhibit presents work by 20 artists from a myriad of countries, on the subject of migration and displacement. Currently witnessing the global movement of peoples on an unparalleled historical scale, artists like Kader Attia, Tania Bruguera, and Reena Saini Kallat respond to this exodus with highly diverse artwork, from poetic meditations to detailed individual accounts.
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 11 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 20 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 1950s, 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 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.
Andy Goldsworthy: Watershed
DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln, MA 01773
Opening November 9, 2019
This permanent, site-specific structure is installed in a hillside near the museum and pays structural homage to the homogeneous architectural style of New England. The granite stone installation is the latest in Goldsworthy’s many works that explore the nature of water, weather, and related natural occurrences that affect a particular landscape. Because it emphasizes and utilizes the impact of groundwater runoff in the vicinity, visitors can see and hear the structure being activated and, over the years, altered by the water flowing through it when it rains.
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
October 17 through December 29
Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts
24 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA
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 rejects 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 together, via different mediums, various kinds of nonfiction and biographical narratives. Over a five-year correspondence with his subjects, Berger created large, intricate, text-based installations that honor the distinctive bonds formed by each relationship.
–- Rebekah Bonner
Mass Ave, Cambridge: Photos by Karl Baden
November 12 through February 20, 2020
At Cambridge Arts’ Gallery 344, 344 Broadway, Cambridge, MA
“Mass Ave, Cambridge began with a conversation between photographer Karl Baden and Lillian Hsu, Cambridge Arts’ Director of Public Art and exhibitions. In recent years, Baden has developed a particular interest in the people, the serendipity, and the visual forms found along our streets and sidewalks. An idea for an exhibition sprung from what seemed like a simple objective: Karl could spend a year and a half recording life along Mass. Ave. from Arlington to the Charles River. But, of course, Mass. Ave. is vividly complex.
“Baden’s resulting Mass. Ave. photos mix objective documentation and personal interpretation. The pictures show people walking down the street, people dancing, people stepping out for a smoke, people bundled up against falling snow, people out in summer shorts. There are smiles and pain and love. You’ll recognize icons of the avenue—the Charles River, Out of Town News, Porter Square. There are dogs and buses, advertising signs, reflections in windows. Side by side, the photos add up to a portrait, unique to our time and place, of the jostle and jumble and life of the thoroughfare.”
— Bill Marx
In My Heart
November 8 & 9
Boston Center for the Arts,Boston, MA
Boston Moving Arts Productions presents In My Heart, a collection of new and recent works by local choreographers that connect love and loss. The performance includes choreographers Whitney Schmanski, Chavi Bansal, Ali Kenner Brodsky, and Aysha Upchurch. Note: There is nudity in this production; recommended age is 14 and up.
November 7 at 7 p.m., Codman Square Health Center, Dorchester, MA
November 14 at 7 p.m., Boston Public Library, Boston, MA
Thanks to a Live Arts Boston grant from the Boston Foundation, Fort Point Theatre Channel (FPTC) and its partners — Artists’ Theatre of Boston, The House of Escada, Luminarium Dance Company, OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center, and Petrichor — will present the final two performance of its Tempest Reconfigured series, which offers creative artistic takes on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Themes in the piece deal with colonialism and gender stereotypes as well as immigration and climate change. These performances are free and open to the public.
November 15 & 16 at 8pm
The Dance Complex
Contemporary dance group Alive Dance Collective celebrates five years since its founding. Join the collective as it brings back repertory favorites and debuts new works, the latter focuing on life experiences that connect with our communities at large. Proceeds from this show go towards You Care. We Care., a non-profit organization that provides services for underprivileged children.
Institute of Contemporary Art
Global Arts Live brings the acclaimed BODYTRAFFIC back to Boston, a troupe that expertly merges contemporary, jazz, and ballet. Hailing from Los Angeles, BODYTRAFFIC performs “Resolve” by Wewolf, ”George & Zalman” by Ohad Naharin, ”Snap” by Micaela Taylor, and “A Million Voices” by Matthew Neenan.
— Merli V. Guerra
Roots and World Music
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA
Portuguese singer Carminho bridges the soulful heritage of fado with contemporary jazz, pop, and Brazilian sounds.
First Church in Cambridge, MA
The Byzantine Music Festival presents this ambitious, large-scale Greek traditional music composition. It’s a collaborative effort featuring the Pharos Ensemble, composer Dr Kyriakos Kalaitzidis, and the Byzantine Choir of the Hellenic College Holy Cross.
Midway Cafe, Boston, MA
Although Doyle’s in Jamaica Plain is gone, its neighbor the Midway Cafe remains one of the last great rock dive bars in Boston. The beloved Rochester-based but globe-trotting Hi-Risers headline a night of ’50s- and ’60s-style big beat rock ‘n’ roll sure to please any fan of Gary U.S. Bonds, Freddie Cannon, or Bo Diddley. Also on tap are frat-rocking GOONS!, the rockabilly of the Bop Thrills, and DJ Easy Ed’s Record Hop.
City Winery, Boston, MA
It’s a return visit from this rising young Havana-bred Afro-Cuban diva.
Aida Cuevas Meets Berklee
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, A
The big voice of Aida Cuevas has been powering mariachi and ranchera anthems for decades. The pioneering female star of Mexican regional music is teaming up with an expanded ensemble of Berklee students for a night that will include her soaring versions of “Besume Mucho” and “México en la Piel.” Given her versatility, it won’t be surprising if both her pop and mariachi sides are explored.
— Noah Schaffer
Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Directed by Marti Lyons. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, a coproduction with Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago and City Theatre in Pittsburgh, at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre, Lowell, MA, 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.” Arts Fuse review
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, 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.” The conflict juxtaposes “the secular and the sacred, the familiar and the unknown, the accepted and the forbidden.” Arts Fuse review
The Thanksgiving Play by Larissa FastHorse. Directed by Scott Edmiston. Staged by the Lyric Stage at 140 Clarendon Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA, 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.” Arts Fuse review
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, 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.” Arts Fuse review
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, 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 they can’t stop reenacting and replaying their last day with the son they once had.”
RESCUE! Or, The Fish by Darcie Dennigan. Directed by Josh Short. A workshop production staged by the Wilbury Theatre Group’s Studio W at 40 Sonoma Court, Providence, R.I., October 30 through November 3.
Slowly but surely a challenging reality is beginning to creep into the New England theater scene. This spanking new script is billed as “a madcap commentary on the hypocrisies of a society on the precipice of irreversible climate disaster.” And think of it — the play didn’t have to be produced in New York first.
Admissions by Joshua Harmon. Directed by Paul Daigneault. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, through November 30.
A New England premiere: “The plot centers on Sherri Rosen-Mason and her headmaster husband Bill, who have worked hard to expand the racial diversity of the student body at the small New England prep school where they work. But when their son’s Ivy League dreams are on the line, personal ambition and progressive values collide in this no-holds-barred look at privilege, power, and the perils of hypocrisy.” The cast includes Marianna Bassham, Michael Kaye, Maureen Keiller, Nathan Malin, and Cheryl McMahon.
Jordan by Brenda Withers. Directed by Jess Chayes. Staged by Northern Stage at the Barrette Center for the Arts, White River Junction, VT through November 3.
“The world premiere of a script that deals with a vital issue that is rarely tackled on stage: ‘Lara’s world is turned upside down when she discovers that a hacker has invaded her online life. The mysterious presence, however, doesn’t seem interested in her money or her data but something more elusive.'” The script “asks its audience to examine how much we give away online and what we risk in our age of technology.” According to the Identity Theft Resource Center — a nonprofit organization that helps victims of identity theft and educates the public about cybersecurity — there were 10,818 data breaches in 2018 exposing over a billion records. 1,612,530,601 to be exact.” Who knows? Perhaps Facebook will be targeted on stage next? Arts Fuse review
X by Alistair McDowall. Directed by Lindsay Eagle. Staged by Flat Earth Theatre at the Mosesian Center of the Arts in Watertown, MA, November 1 through 16.
“On the dark, frigid wasteland of Pluto, a team of astronauts find themselves marooned and out of contact with Earth. With nothing to do but wait, the crew struggles to maintain their sanity as the very fabric of reality begins to unravel around them. Channeling sci-fi horror classics such as Alien, Event Horizon, and Sunshine, Alistair McDowall’s groundbreaking play poses the question: Can you solve for X?” Arts Fuse review
Tripytich (Eyes of One on Another) Directed by Kaneza Schaal. At the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont Street Boston, MA, October 30 through November 3.
“Thirty years after Robert Mapplethorpe’s death, the world still cannot turn away from the magnetism and emotional complexity of his influential photographs. With their startling union of erotic heat and cool classicism, his controversial works were images of a generation, shattering mainstream conceptions of conventional beauty.” This show “is the daring collaboration of a group of visionary artists working together for the first time, inspired by and featuring images from Mapplethorpe’s stunning body of work. The show features music composed by Bryce Dessner (guitarist for GRAMMY Award–winning band The National), a libretto by korde arrington tuttle and poetry by Essex Hemphill and Patti Smith, and is sung by the eight-person choral ensemble Roomful of Teeth with Alicia Hall Moran & Isaiah Robinson. TRIPTYCH was commissioned by ArtsEmerson. Arts Fuse review
The Ink Spot Festival presented by Fresh Ink Theatre at Deane Hall, Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, November 3.
“The festival showcases some of the most exciting voices in New England’s playwriting community through in-process staged readings and conversations, providing a platform for playwrights to hear their scripts out loud and with an audience – often for the very first time.” The line-up: Death Wings — Written by Bess Welden; Transactions: Fantasia on a Theme by Dan Price — Written by Keith Foster;¡MAMÁGUA! — Written by J. Sebastián Alberdi; The Last Ship to Proxima Centauri — Written by Greg Lam. Note: The Ink Spot festival is free, but Fresh Ink Theatre encourages audiences to donate to Fresh Ink. You can attend for free or offer a donation in any amount.
The Seagull by A Chekhov. Directed by Igor Golyak. An original adaptation staged by the Arlekin Players Theatre at 368 Hillside Ave, Needham, MA, November 8 through December 8.
Part of a message from the director: “Through this production, Arlekin seeks to bridge the world of Chekhov to today’s contemporary theatre scene, exploring how the timeless work speaks to artists of all cultures. By mixing different languages, and delving into Chekhov’s world through his journals, letters, and the play itself, we seek answers to our own struggles as artists, and as people in the 21st century.” Don’t expect the conventional …
JQA by Aaron Posner. Directed by Tony Estrella, Associate Director Tyler Dobrowsky. Staged by the Gamm Theatre, 1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick, RI, through November 17.
A play about a hard to like American President? Hey, he’s a son of New England, and Anthony Hopkins played him in Steven Spielberg’s film Amistad. “Complicated, passionate and difficult, John Quincy Adams was a brilliant diplomat, congressman, and ineffectual one-term president known for his eloquence, arrogance, and integrity. Posner’s play “imagines key confrontations between JQA and some of America’s most dynamic figures: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, his own father John Adams, and more.”
the smuggler written and directed by Ronán Noone. Staged by the Boston Playwrights Theatre at 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, November 7 through 24.
“The solo piece centers on Irish immigrant Tim Finnegan, a bartender on the fictional New England island of Amity, who has ambitions to be a writer but finds a darker side of the American dream instead. Playwright Noone received the Best Playwright Award for the play, which is written in rhyme, at Origin Theatre’s 1st Irish Festival last spring. The role of Tim Finnegan is played by award-winning actor Billy Meleady.”
Quixote Nuevo by Octavio Solis. Directed by KJ Sanchez. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Avenue of the Arts, Huntington Avenue Theatre, Boston, MA, November 15 through December 8.
“A hilarious and imaginative adaption of the classic novel, Don Quixote. Transported to a border town in Texas, the eccentric, brilliant knight embarks on a cross-desert quest to reunite with a long-lost love. Chased by Death himself – in the form of roving bands of guitar-playing Calacas – Quixote always leads with his heart in a world of people led astray by their brains.” Emilio Delgado stars.
Unusual Things Have Happened — Tales of Everyday Horror, performed and adapted by imaginary beasts. Directed by Matthew Woods. Staged by imaginary beasts at The Charlestown Working Theater, 442 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown, MA, through November 16.
“Unusual Things Have Happened brings Shirley Jackson’s tales of everyday horror to eerie life with a rare theatrical treatment of the author’s work. Ordinary household objects suddenly turn menacing, strange shadows loom over the most mundane of daily routines, and the sound of footsteps begins a feverish odyssey.”
The Magic Flute, an adaptation of Mozart’s opera performed by the Isango Ensemble. Adapted and directed by Mark Dornford-May. Presented by ArtsEmerson at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont Street Boston, MA, November 6 through 10.
“South Africa’s celebrated Isango Ensemble triumphantly returns to Boston with a reprisal of Mozart’s classic opera, The Magic Flute.” Here is the Arts Fuse’s review (by Debra Cash) of the 2014 production.
— Bill Marx
First Monday at Jordan Hall: Music of Felix Mendelssohn
November 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Jordan Hall/New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA
On the program: Mendelssohn’s Song without words in D Major, op. 109 (dedicated to Lisa Cristiani); Bach’s Concerto in D Minor for three harpsichords, BWV 1063; Bach’s “Erbarme dich” from St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244; Mendelssohn’s String Quintet No. 2 in B–flat Major, op. 87.
November 8 at 8 p.m.
Faneuil Hall, 1 Faneuil Hall Square, Boston, MA
The program: Free America! Early Songs for Resistance and Rebellion (1790-1860). Arts Fuse review of album.
November 9 at 8 p.m.
Sanders Theatre/Harvard University, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA
On the program: Vivaldi’s Gloria, Dixit Dominus and motets by Monteverdi.
Henry Purcell Society of Boston
November 17 at 4 p.m.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Brookline, 15 St. Paul Street, Brookline, MA
On the program: Mad Songs, Dialogues, and Trios.”With songs fixating on madness, sexual obsession and at times, sheer lunacy, soprano Teresa Wakim will be joined by baritone Jake Cooper, soprano MaryRuth Lown and a continuo section and a string trio led by Susanna Ogata. Our program features the vocal works of Eccles, Blow and Purcell, along with the string trios of William Boyce, showcasing England’s great musical heritage. Boyce’s appealing and well balanced fugues for string trio will balance the volatile mad songs with sweet harmonies.”
— Susan Miron
Nelsons conducts Shostakovich
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
November 7-9 and 12, 8 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
Andris Nelsons continues his Shostakovich series with the BSO, conducting that composer’s Symphony no. 12, “The Year 1917.” Also on tap are the American premiere of Betsy Jolas’ Letters from Bachville and Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G (with Mitsuko Uchida).
Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony
Presented by Handel & Haydn Society
November 8 (at 7:30 p.m.) and 10 (at 3 p.m.)
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
Bernard Labadie conducts Mozart’s final symphony, as well as Beethoven’s tempestuous Coriolan Overture and C.P.E. Bach’s A-major Cello Concerto. Guy Fishman is the soloist in the latter.
Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
November 13, 14, 16, 17 at 7:30 p.m. (3 p.m. on Sunday)
Cutler Majestic Theater, Boston, MA
BLO presents composer Gregory Spears’ and librettist Greg Pierce’s adaptation of Thomas Mallon’s eponymous novel about a same-sex love affair at the height of the McCarthy era. Jesse Darden, Jesse Blumberg, and Chelsea Basler headline the cast.
Liza Ferschtman plays Beethoven
Presented by Boston Philharmonic Orchestra
November 14 (at 7 p.m.), 16 (at 8 p.m.) & 17 (at 3 p.m.)
Sanders Theater, Cambridge (Thursday and Sunday) and Jordan Hall, Boston (Saturday), MA
Violinist Ferschtman is the soloist in Beethoven’s familiar Concerto – though with Benjamin Zander on the podium, you can expect that this will be anything but mundane. Carl Nielsen’s radiant Helios Overture and Rachmaninoff’s sweeping Symphonic Dances round out the concert.
Hope & Harmony
Presented by Mistral Music
November 17, 7:30 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA
Mistral’s benefit concert for underserved women fighting breast cancer brings Sir Simon Rattle to Jordan Hall to lead an orchestra made of players from the Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (among others) in favorites by Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
What Am I Doing Here, a live music performance given by vocalist Sirgourney Cook, accompanied by pianist Katie Barr.
November 14 at 6:30 p.m.
Co-presented by the Friends of the Charlestown Branch of the Boston Public Library and the North End Music & Performing at the Charlestown Branch Library, 179 Main Street, Charlestown, MA
“A solo performance that will contain a repertoire of music that also reflects the route soprano Sirgourney Cook has taken musically, from a childhood immersed in gospel music, to touring world-wide as a backup singer for international pop star Jennifer Hudson. With a narrative creatively woven throughout and one that is always questioning, Cook will take the audience on her personal musical journey, which will ultimately lead her back to her love for gospel, God, and classical music.”
— Bill Marx
PLAY! Improvisation & Beyond–Beethoven Sonata, Blues, and Ragtime
November 9, 8 p.m.
New England Conservatory of Music, Boston, MA
Classical pianist, singer, and NEC Prep faculty member Sarah Infini Takagi brings a sense of “play” to everything she does, exploring improvisation in her piano work and singing, and even venturing into stand-up comedy. For this event, she and Dana Gooley (piano), Mario Layne Fabrizio (percussion), and Evan Carley (bass) will give a cross-genre performance of works by Beethoven, presented with a spirit of playfulness: improvisation, elements of surprise, and jazz.
— Evelyn Rosenthal
Matt Saincome and Bill Conway
The Hard Times: The First 40 Years
November 6 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA
“The Hard Times: The First 40 Years is the first book from The Hard Times.net, the Internet’s favorite music satire site. Often referred to as “The Onion for punk rock,” the site has developed a sizable, devoted following for its razor-sharp takes on underground music and alternative culture. And with headlines like “Man Magically Transforms into Music Historian While Talking to Women” and “Pretentious Friend Only Listens to Podcasts on Vinyl,” you don’t have to be a punk rock diehard to appreciate their hilarious commentary.”
In Hoffa’s Shadow: A Stepfather, A Disappearance in Detroit, and My Search for the Truth
November 8 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
With the immanent release of Martin Scorsese’s epic The Irishman which stars Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci and is being heralded as the maestro’s apotheosis/farewell to the gangster genres he’s made a career out of mastering. The movie is partly based on Jimmy Hoffa (played by Al Pacino) and his connections to organized crime. Goldsmith, a professor of law at Harvard, tells the story of how “Goldsmith reunited with the stepfather he’d disowned and then set out to unravel one of the twentieth century’s most persistent mysteries and Chuckie’s role in it. Along the way, Goldsmith explores Hoffa’s rise and fall and why the golden age of blue-collar America came to an end, while also casting new light on the century-old surveillance state, the architects of Hoffa’s disappearance, and the heartrending complexities of love and loyalty.”
The Witches Are Coming
November 8 at 7 p.m. (Doors at 6:30)
First Parish Church, Cambridge MA
Tickets are $28.75 with copy of book
“In The Witches Are Coming, firebrand author of the New York Times bestselling memoir and now critically acclaimed Hulu TV series Shrill (Arts Fuse review), Lindy West, turns that refrain on its head. You think this is a witch hunt? Fine. You’ve got one.In a laugh-out-loud, incisive cultural critique, West extolls the world-changing magic of truth, urging readers to reckon with dark lies in the heart of the American mythos, and unpacking the complicated, and sometimes tragic, politics of not being a white man in the twenty-first century. She tracks the misogyny and propaganda hidden (or not so hidden) in the media she and her peers devoured growing up, a buffet of distortions, delusions, prejudice, and outright bullsh*t that has allowed white male mediocrity to maintain a death grip on American culture and politics—and that delivered us to this precarious, disorienting moment in history.”
Pastry Love: A Baker’s Journal of Favorite Recipes
November 11 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA
“James Beard award–winning baker Joanne Chang is best known around the country for her eight acclaimed Flour bakeries in Boston. Chang has published two books based on the offerings at Flour, such as her famous sticky buns, but Pastry Love is her most personal and comprehensive book yet. It includes 125 dessert recipes for many things she could never serve in the setting of a bakery–for example, items that are best served warm or with whipped cream on top.”
Terry Tempest Williams
Erosion: Essays of Undoing
November 14 at 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30)
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge MA
Tickets are $28.75 with book, $6 without
“Terry Tempest Williams is one of our most impassioned defenders of public lands. A naturalist, fervent activist, and stirring writer, she has spoken to us and for us in books like The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks and Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. In these new essays, Williams explores the concept of erosion: of the land, of the self, of belief, of fear. She wrangles with the paradox of desert lands and the truth of erosion: What is weathered, worn, and whittled away through wind, water, and time is as powerful as what remains. Our undoing is also our becoming.”
Christopher Boucher and Robert Coover
November 17 at 7 p.m.
Location TBD- RSVP First
“Porter Square Books’ Salon reading series is a new endeavor aiming to revive the salons of old — events where people would invite artists, writers, musicians, and other intellectuals into their homes and then invite their friends or their community in for an evening of performance, discussion, and conversation.” This installment will feature two legendary writers sitting down to discuss their work — Christopher Boucher is the author of several acclaimed novels like Golden Delicious and How To Keep Your Volkswagon Alive and Robert Coover has been writing brilliantly subversive fiction for decades, including The Public Burning and The Origin of the Brunists, which I’ve just started and is terrific.
— Matt Hanson
Boston Anarchist Bookfair New Locations!
November 9 and 10
It isn’t often that hypocrisy from a major academic institution comes this neatly packaged. Today’s Anarchist Book Fair has been moved from Boston University’s George Sherman Union to the Democracy Center, 45 Mt. Auburn St. in Cambridge, between noon and 5 p.m. In a statement, the organizers explained the sudden decision:
Boston University told the collective yesterday (Nov 7th) we would have to pay a (unknown) thousands of dollars to use the space and pay for several BU cops to be on site. The space has been booked since July 2019. No other year was this required. We tried to talk them down, but they did not relent. We do not have the funds and could not on good conscience raise money that would be given directly to cops.
We will accommodate as many booksellers and tablers as possible in the new space. All workshops are, unfortunately, cancelled.
A limited number of workshops including: Democratic Confederalism from Rojava to North America & The Certain Days Collective and Political Prisoner Support will be taking place on Sunday, November 10th at a new location: at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Make Shift Boston: 549 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA.
Meanwhile, self-proclaimed white supremacist Ben Shapiro is coming to speak at Boston University on November 13th — with the institution paying over 10,000 dollars for his security on campus. Shameful …
Boston Art Book Fair
November 8 through 10
At the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA
The third annual Boston Art Book Fair is here! This is one of the largest art book fairs on the East Coast and will feature over 130 exhibitors, artists, and publishers. “With art installations, DJs, workshops, panels, and a chance to mingle with truly innovative artists and creatives of our generation, this year’s fair invites audiences of all ages to engage in an art-filled weekend to expand their ideas about print.”
— Bill Marx
Rock, Pop, and Folk
As In the Morse Code of the Brake Lights — the title of the latest New Pornographers album — suggests, vocalist and main songwriter A.C. Newman remains prone to being too clever by half and seems to retrofit songs around phrases (e.g., “Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile“) that he is too proud of to discard. Thankfully, Newman keeps this propensity in check on In the Morse Code, thereby allowing the invigorating vocals of Newman and Neko Case and the band’s stellar off-kilter instrumentation to carry the tunes. An opening set by Brunswick, ME native Lady Lamb — who added Even in the Tremor to her discography in April — is sure to make an early arrival at Royale on Monday night well worth your while.
2019 marked 25 years since the release of Superchunk’s fourth album, Foolish. To celebrate, the Chapel Hill quartet recorded an all-acoustic version of it that features contributions by members of Wye Oak, The Mountain Goats, Swearin’, and The dB’s. Somerville — where the band recorded its fifth album, Here’s Where the Strings Come In — is among the five cities in which audiences will be treated to performances of AF (Acoustic Foolish) in its entirety. (Click here for my recent interview with lead signer Mac McCaughan.) Merge label mate Torres, who will release Silver Tongue in January 2020, will open Wednesday night’s show in Davis Square.
Associating any singer with likes of Shirley Collins, Anne Briggs, Sandy Denny, Maddy Prior, and Linda Thompson is a risky proposition. This is especially so when the person being compared was born in Kentucky in the ’80s rather than in the UK in the ’30s or ’40s. However, Joan Shelley is certainly RIYL (as the internet would say) any of those aforementioned luminaries. One person who can vouch for this is Richard Thompson, for whom Shelley opened many dates in recent years and who joined him in Linda’s stead for performances of the Thompsons’ classics “A Heart Needs a Home,” “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight,” and “Dimming of the Day.” Shelley will be showcasing Like the River Loves the Sea, which she recorded in Iceland and unveiled in August, at Berklee’s Cafe 939 on November 15.
— Blake Maddux
At the Sinclair in Cambridge, MA
Talented songwriters have a particular new function in the current era of popular music. On too many records it’s become easy to think “yeah, these tracks are complete – catchy sequence, enough beginning, middle and end, thoughtful production …”. If you then play a true talented songwriter you realize, hold on, that earlier stuff was merely a collection of moods, images, worn language and too-eager-to-please playing.
Fruit Bats is one of the finest examples of talented songwriting out there. I say “is” because Eric D. Johnson’s words and vocals are the only constant in Fruit Bats’ eight-album history (going back to 2001). Every track on the latest, Gold Past Life (Merge), works the way it’s supposed to: the music teases and tickles your attention inside so that with a few listens, Johnson’s realistic tales and inventive fables enchant, amuse, or disturb you.
A Fruit Bats show is also recommended because of Johnson’s bright personality on stage. He loves an audience and excels on carrying you on his multiple trips. Juicy deep fun indeed. Note: Fruit Bats also have shows this week in Portsmouth, NH (Thursday) and Burlington, VT (Friday)
— Milo Miles