Compiled by Bill Marx
In the age of COVID-19, Arts Fuse critics have come up with a guide to film, dance, visual art, theater, and music — mostly available by streaming — for the coming weeks. More offerings will be added as they come in.
Attractions in Film through September 20
Mr. Soul tells the story of Ellis Haizlip, a New York City-based dance producer and stage manager who hosted the extraordinary TV series Soul! between 1968 and 1973. The film is crammed with highlights: Wilson Pickett’s roof-raising performance of ‘Oh Happy Day!’ with gospel singer Marion Williams, Rahsaan Roland Kirk simultaneously blowing three wind instruments and then smashing a chair to pieces, the astonishing dancing of Carmen De Lavallade. There are TV debuts by Earth, Wind & Fire, the Last Poets and Toni Morrison. Nikki Giovanni reads poetry set to gospel music. There are even political figures., including Louis Farrakhan, who is questioned by the gay host about homophobia in the Nation of Islam. Trailer;
Claire Denis‘s film is based on Herman Melville’s novella Billy Budd. Beau Travail (1998) is set in a remote coastal outpost in the former French colony of Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa. Here a battalion of Foreign Legionnaires spend their days enacting grueling training regimes on desert terrain. Their evenings are spent with the girls at the local nightclub. Throughout her body of work, Denis has toyed with subjective and objective realities – with whether her characters are living through externally manifested events, self-protective imaginings, or symbol-heavy dreams. Like the legionnaire whose true identity is masked behind a false name, Beau Travail is cagey about the point of view it occupies. (BFI)
The Coolidge offers a one hour Seminar on Thursday, Sept 10 at 8 p.m. with critic and historian Imogen Sara Smith
Herzog’s latest film offers a thought-provoking tribute to writer Bruce Chatwin, whose work explores human restlessness and wandering, borders and exile, art and objects. Told in Werner Herzog’s distinctive style, Nomad is a portrait of one of the 20th century’s most charismatic authors, his travel writing filled with memorable characters and encounters. It is also a portrait of two kindred spirits; the film offers a fascinating insight into Herzog’s own obsessions and imagination. A fine recent study of Herzog’s films offers a broad perspective on his oeuvre (Arts Fuse review). Werner Herzog Live streamed Q&A about Nomad on Sept. 8 at 8 p.m.
This is first theater listing in some time. Note: The Kendall Square Cinema (and all open theaters) has “an extensive, detailed list of CDC-approved protocols that we will follow to ensure that your experience is as comfortable and safe as possible.”
David Copperfield offers a post-modern ,ethnically diverse twist on the novel. “David Copperfield is written as a first-person autobiography by the titular character, which the movie acknowledges through voice-over and with a frame story in which an adult David is reading his book to an audience—much like the real Dickens did. “Whether I turn out to be the hero of my own story, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these moments must show,” he begins in the theater, a paraphrase of the novel’s real opening line. Adult David also walks into scenes from his early childhood to observe, even standing watch as his mother is in labor. Since David’s is the only perspective the book provides, everything is filtered through his viewpoint, something the film conveys visually.” (Slate)
The 12th Annual Online New England Film Festival will be live as of September 8, 2020. There are over 50 short films with a New England connection. It is sponsored by NewEnglandFilm.com. Many of the short films from previous festivals are still available online.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
From Charlie Kaufman, auteur of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Synecdoche, New York. As is expected of any Kaufman movie, it runs runs the gamut of human emotions, reminding us that though we may feel strongly, those feelings are often misguided.Jessie Buckley stars as a young woman who travels with her new boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) to his parents’ (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) secluded farm. She experienced a preternaturally strong connection to him at first but now she’s thinking about ending things.The mind-bending weekend away with the boyfriends’ parents will only make things more … complicated. Two top notch Arts Fuse reviews! Isaac Feldberg and Peg Aloi.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
On Amazon Prime
Eliza Hitman’s (It Felt Like Love) latest is a feminist tale of a young woman named Autumn, who travels to New York City with her cousin to obtain an abortion — without her parents knowing. This is one of the year’s best films, a simple and devastating tale that is particularly relevant to today’s political environment and #MeToo moment. First-time actress Sidney Flanigan was discovered for the film and she is ably supported by an excellent performance from Talia Ryder. The spare dialogue, lean story line, naturalistic performances, location photography by French cinematographer Hélène Louvart, and careful research regarding scenes dealing with Planned Parenthood contribute to a devastating film.
Guest of Honor
On Amazon Prime
The titular character is Jim (David Thewlis), a doleful and earnest restaurant food inspector. He is meticulous is his work but his life is fraught with family conflicts, which are revealed slowly and across multiple time periods that jump back and forth. We meet his grown daughter Veronica (Laysla De Oliveira) in the present day. She is making funeral arraignments for her late father while confessing to a priest (Luke Wilson) who will deliver the eulogy. Veronica spent time in jail accused of seducing a student and also has had to contend with a boyfriend’s suicide. Her mother died of cancer and she has grappled with serious issues raised by her late father.
This cascade of domestic details are revealed via multiple flashbacks from Veronica’s childhood, from her relationship with a pet rabbit to her professional life as a “hot teacher” and music conductor. Meanwhile, the minutiae of Jim’s professional life offers a bizarre parallel story that touches on stacks of dead bunnies and fried rabbit ears. Yes, there are flaws in director Adam Egoyan’s film, from an odd lack of character development to a puzzling lack of motivation. The discursive , overstuffed narrative will leave you asking many questions. Still, I found the movie’s dry humor and wild vicissitudes madly engaging. Recommended especially for Egoyan and Thewlis fans.
— Tim Jackson
The previous recommendation of Claire Denis’ new version of Melville’s Billy Budd inspired me to plug this 1962 film adaptation (produced, directed, and co-written by Peter Ustinov) for a companion viewing. It is based on a 1951 dramatization by poet Louis O. Coxe (a Bowdoin College professor I studied with) and Robert Chapman that successfully ran on Broadway. The script’s treatment of this masterpiece about the fragility of goodness reflects the squared-off ’50s more than the rise of dissent in the ’60s: the ship’s officers could just as easily be wearing jackets and ties for a showdown in an executive suite. The climax comes off as more of a tearful acceptance of the status quo than an anarchistic fist raised against the savage injustice of the world. But the film offers a pair of terrific performances — Terence Stamp as Budd, innocence personified, and Robert Ryan as Budd’s tormentor, Claggart, a sociopathic, narcissistic bully — filled to the brim with ressentiment — who would be right at home at a Trump rally.
— Bill Marx
In 2018, Paris-based artist JR traveled to San Francisco to create an epic “video mural” he called. “The Chronicle of San Francisco.” The journey was inspired by the city’s astonishing diversity and Diego Rivera’s 1931 visit, credited with sparking the city’s long tradition of socially engaged mural-making.
Tasha Van Zandt’s short documentary film, One Thousand Stories: The Making of a Mural, follows JR’s fascinating process as he and his team travel around the city in a 53-foot, technology-stocked trailer, video taping anyone who wants to be part of the project, eventually digitally capturing some 1200 citizens of all walks of life, from well-healed professionals to members of the city’s large homeless population. The result, exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, has an oddly bloodless, Norman Rockwell vibe, with each portrait jammed against the next and everyone perpetually trapped in a stereotyped costume and pose— diversity but with little of the interaction and tension that makes it a so vital and challenging a part of American life.
— Peter Walsh
Free Jazz, Outdoors on September 12 at 5:30 p.m., at the intersection of Grand Union Blvd & Fellsway, Assembly Square, Somerville, MA.
The expert trio playing under the stars: Ellwood Epps – Trumpet, Luther Gray – Drums, and Matt Crane – Percussion. Free admittance, donations accepted.
(Re)Building a Vibrant Boston-Area Jazz Community Post-Pandemic, a virtual panel discussion and town meeting, held via Zoom September 17 at 7 through 8:30 p.m.
Details on the Zoom meeting:
Meeting ID: 966 9095 7215 Passcode: 774510
It should come as no surprise that the Boston-area jazz community has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with music venues closed indefinitely, festivals cancelled, on-site live gigs non-existent. What is next? What are the plans for its future? What can the jazz community and those who care about the music do to ensure its survival? JazzBoston has organized a conversation to answer these questions.
A panel discussion and town hall will mull over these issues .The panel includes Arts Fuse jazz writer Jon Garelick along with Kevin Harris, Faculty, Berklee College of Music; Adrienne Petrillo, Senior Program Director, New England Foundation for the Arts; Larry Ward, Co-Founder, Cambridge Jazz Foundation; Dan Blask, Program Officer for Music Composition, Massachusetts Cultural Council; Julia Ryan, Artist Resource Manager, Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture, City of Boston.
The meeting will begin with welcoming words from the Dean of Boston Jazz Radio, JazzBoston Board member Eric Jackson. Incoming JazzBoston Board President, saxophonist/composer Ken Field, will then introduce the panelists who will share information and perspectives on financial and other resources for jazz musicians and venues/presenters, as well as concrete ideas for community building and support on the part of jazz fans & audience members.
Following the panel presentations, there will be time allocated for JazzBoston leadership to hear attendees’ questions and comments regarding the role of JazzBoston within the shared jazz community. To conclude the event, there will be an online live performance by acclaimed pianist, composer, and educator Kevin Harris.
— Bill Marx
The Third Annual Playwrights Lab, presented by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Music and Theater Arts (MTA), September 18 through October 3. All readings at 8 p.m. RSVP link for all performances. Tickets to all virtual readings are free with RSVP, with a $5 donation encouraged. Donations go directly to future MTA Playwrights Labs and other dramatic writing initiatives that bring students and industry professionals together.
“This virtual festival of eight staged readings brings together MIT students and professional theatre artists to showcase new works by the student writers in the Playwrights Lab workshop. Led by playwright and Senior Lecturer Ken Urban, the virtual readings feature directors such as Ashley Tata, Steve Cosson, and Vanessa Stalling, along with actors such as three-time TONY nominee Mary Testa, Lortel Award nominee Zoë Winters, and Eliot Norton and IRNE award-winner Adrianne Krstansky.”
The Legion Tapes, a new sci-fi theatre podcast written by Erin Lerch and directed by Josh Glenn-Kayden.
Makes sense to me, given that our own meltdown has become routine. We need to spice it up with “radio broadcasts from an alien apocalypse.” The podcast features “a cast of 14 actors with Boston ties.” The project launched last week and just dropped episodes 4-6. The dystopian set-up: “selections from an archive chronicling the world after the end. The alien Legion takes over worlds and absorbs the sentients of those worlds. They’ve assimilated eleven species so far, and humanity is next on their list. But even after the nations of the world fall, and even after being reduced to communicating solely by radio, humanity’s fighting back. ”
“The Boston Project is SpeakEasy Stage Company’s new works initiative, which supports the creation of new plays set in the Greater Boston area. In an effort to reach a wider audience and engage with new work even while in quarantine, the company has launched a new wing of this program – the Boston Project Podcast!” A new episode each Friday. We are up to episode 4 (I believe) of MJ Halberstadt’s The Usual Unusual, directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian.
The action centers on a “scrappy and quaint bookstore where Boston’s LGBTQ+ community has gathered to shop, organize, and flirt since the 70’s. When the store’s charismatic founder Penn announces his retirement, neurotic staff-member Charlie persuades him to pass leadership on, rather than close the store. The staff’s efforts to unite a fractured community under one banner – or simply coordinate a weekly reading night — stoke generational disputes about identity, community, and trauma, and lead to fraught and hilarious results.”
The Gay Agenda (TGA): A Documentary Play About the LGBTQ+ Community. Based on interviews by members of the LGBTQ+ community Created by Joey Frangieh. Presented by the Boston Theater Company as part of the Fierce Urgency of Now Festival on September 19 at 8 p.m. 9 p.m. virtual talkback with guest speakers. The performance is free but ZOOM registration is required. Visit gayagendaplay.com to register. BTC is encouraging a suggested donation of $10 to The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25. Donations can be made here.
This script “offers a heart-wrenching, at times amusing, and always glitter-filled peek into what it is like to identify as LGBTQ+ in today’s world. Using words taken directly from interviews, TGA takes us on a journey through the interviewees’ most memorable and impactful memories. These interviews are approached through the eyes of artists who are attempting to create theater in partnership with those being interviewed. Every word in the script is verbatim from interviews, and this unique approach to theater gives a voice to these real-life people. TGA connects the lives of many different individuals, all growing up in the modern age while carrying the burden that inevitably comes along with deviating from the societal “norm.” Interviews in the piece represent the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community; the TGA team hopes to solidify 100 interviews before their world premiere.
Insulted. Belarus(sia), by Andrei Kureichik, with English translation by John Freedman. Zoom readings presented by Arlekin Players Theatre, and its presenting partner Cherry Orchard Festival in NY on September 18 at 8 p.m. and September 21 at 8 p.m.
The reading will be in Russian on September 17 (directed by Igor Golyak) and in English on September 21 (directed by Blair Cadden). Both readings will offer a post-show discussion with the playwright, who is currently in hiding from Berlarus authorities. The presentations will take place online via the Zoom platform. Tickets are FREE, but must be reserved in advance. For more information or to reserve a Zoom spot, visit arlekinplayers.com or call (617) 942-0022.
Andrei Kureichik is a well-known Belarusian playwright and a member of the Coordination Council of Belarus — a group working to lead the transition to a new government and institute free elections in the wake of the falsified election that took place this August and the massive, ongoing protests that followed. Many members of this group are now in prison. Others have been forced into hiding or out of the country. Less than a week ago, while in hiding, Kureichik sent the text of his just-finished play to his translator with a request to quickly arrange readings so that others could know what they were experiencing. Within a week, over twenty theaters have signed on to present readings, and that number continues to grow
The play tells the story of the first month of the Belarusian revolution, its ups and downs on the eve of the inevitable democratization of the country after 26 years of dictatorship. All characters have real prototypes; in some you will recognize former and current leaders of the country, in others — incredible Belarusians who have gone out to battle the totalitarian machine, sometimes at the cost of their lives, their freedom, and their loved ones. They represent polar points of view in the awakened Belarusian society. The author seeks to understand how the Belarusian revolution differs from Prague in 1968, Russia in 1991 and Ukraine in 2014. He tells of the tragic escalation of violence and repression employed by the authorities to repress freedom-seeking Belarusians with bayonets and clubs, and how solidarity, truth and faith in human values inevitably lead to victory over evil.
Apollinaire at Home, a free online play & film script reading gathering (by video meeting), for the coming weeks.
Your chance to become part of the show — from the safety of your couch! An enterprising idea that revolves around an inclusive staged reading: viewers are invited to read the script, choose their favorite parts and, if their names are drawn, to become part of the production. You can just sit watch if you wish. Note from the company: “No worries if you are not among the technologically gifted. We’re as new to this as you are, and there’s sure to be some glitchiness at first, but with a bit of humor and perseverance we’ll make this work!” Check the website for this week’s readings
The First Pineapple and Other Folktales, written & Performed by Michael Rosegrant. Directed by Sarah Shin. Presented by Central Square Theater at Starlight Square, Cambridge, MA. on September 16 & 17 at 7:30 p.m.
“Part oral history, part play, part concert, The First Pineapple and Other Folktales is the ritual of memory evoked when a queer filipinx poet appears on a stage somewhere in our settler-nation called America. As divides between performance and personhood collide, blur, and flood, we see the author at their most vulnerable, which may also be their most holy.”
“Joshua Wolf Coleman stars as Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to sit on the Supreme Court, Thurgood spans Marshall’s impressive career as a lawyer, arguing such landmark cases as Brown v. Board of Education.” During this turbulent election season, the one-man show serves as a moving tribute to Marshall’s enduring legacy.
Stono created by Step Afrika! Presented online by ArtsEmerson which has announced that both the Stono program and the post-performance panel discussion are now available to stream online through September 16.
A world premiere of scenes from Step Afrika!’s “powerful, pulsing piece entitled Stono—a new work highlighting the spirit of resistance and activism of the oft forgotten parts of American history” “On September 9, 1739, the largest insurrection of enslaved Africans in North America began in South Carolina on the banks of the Stono River.”
These Step Afrika! virtual events are free, however, guests are encouraged to donate to Step Afrika! to help the organization navigate this unprecedented time and fortify their work to explore digital opportunities ahead. For more information on how to access these virtual events, visit ArtsEmerson.org.
Dream Plays, a new series of short audio plays produced by the Huntington Theatre Company: By the Rude Bridge by Melinda Lopez; Overture by Kate Snodgrass; McKim by Brenda Withers: and The 54th in ’22 by Kirsten Greenidge.
“Conceived and commissioned by the Huntington artistic department, the company asked Huntington Playwriting Fellow alumni Kirsten Greenidge, Kate Snodgrass, and Brenda Withers, and Huntington Artist-in-Residence Melinda Lopez, to imagine their favorite locations, landmarks, and friends in a future Boston, when people can once again meet and thrive in the city – a vision of a future Boston that is somewhere between dream and reality.”
Sacred Emily by Gertrude Stein. An online staging of the poem the Fort Point Theatre Channel.
Somehow the times seem right for Stein’s playfully sardonic absurdity. “A live streaming production of Gertrude Stein’s poem Sacred Emily, from her 1922 book Geography and Plays, adapted for Zoom meeting by Greg Kowalski and Mitchel K Ahern, artistic directors at FPTC. Featuring 16 performers, the poem will be performed sequentially, with self-actuated lighting effects.”
Sixteen performers isolated from each other, performing live.
Sixteen performers creating their own stage.
Sixteen performers managing their own broadcast technology.
Sixteen performers setting up and operating their own lighting effects.
Sixteen performers performing one of Gertrude Stein’s surrealist poems,
— Bill Marx
Luminarium’s Final TEN4TEN Performance
Online Performance through September 12.
Luminarium Dance Company triumphantly ends its TEN4TEN Online Performance Series with its 2019 Season feature production LUMINARIUM IN CONCERT — a melding of contemporary and classical Odissi Indian dance and distinctive lighting. Venture into Luminarium’s world of movement and light: see fanciful animals brought to life through shadow-play; witness the exhilaration of combat sport beyond the ring; sink into the luscious imagery of a new screendance film; and delight in an amusing and provocative examination of “self.”
Step Afrika! Stono
Arts Emerson has announced that both the Stono program and the post-performance panel discussion are now available to stream online through September 16.
Step Afrika! premieres its newest feature-length production, commemorating the 281st anniversary of the Stono Rebellion, which still stands as an inspiring example of the fight to make the American ideal of freedom a reality for all. This online performance is followed by a live panel talkback moderated by Lesli Foster (Evening Anchor, WUSA) and joined by C. Brian Williams (Founder and Executive Director, Step Afrika!), Dr. Aimee Cox (Associate Professor of Anthropology and African American Studies, Yale University), Kendall Thomas (Nash Professor of Law, Columbia University Law School), and Bruce Teague (Mayor of Iowa City, IA). Panelists will discuss the Stono Rebellion’s relevance to such current issues as racial inequity and political protest.
Table of Silence Project
September 11 at 7:55 a.m. EDT
Live Performance: Lincoln Center’s Revson Fountain (New York, NY)
Buglisi Dance Theatre and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, together with Dance/NYC, present a new rendition of this year’s Table of Silence Project. Begun in 2011, this event is held annually on 9/11, promoting peace through a free outdoor performance. This year’s event will also be viewable online. The performance features dancers from Buglisi Dance Theatre, Ailey II, Alison Cook Beatty Dance, Ballet Hispánico’s BHdos, The Juilliard School, Limón Dance Company, Martha Graham Dance Company, and professional NYC performers, alongside electric violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain and spoken-word poet Marc Bamuthi Joseph.
The Wondertwins: BLACK
September 12 & 13 at 8 p.m. EDT
Live Performance: Starlight Stage, Central Sq, Cambridge MA
Experience an evening of live, thought-provoking performance as The Wondertwins debut their newest hip hop piece, BLACK. Merging dance, video, and audio, BLACK investigates police brutality against the black community. Partially developed through The Dance Complex’s CATALYSTS residency program, this new production is funded in part by the Expeditions program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the six New England state arts agencies.
— Merli V. Guerra
As promised, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art reopened to the public on August 29, with drastically reduced capacity and reservations required. Ironically, the COVID-19 era restrictions may make for an attractive visit for art lovers used to the Met’s overwhelming crush of visitors and out-of-town tourists, which at peak times, including popular special exhibitions, threatened to overwhelm the works on view. Less neck and eye strain may be in store for the short term.
In Hartford, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art reopens on September 5. Hours will be reduced and capacity reductions,, along with face mask and distancing rules, will be in place though, because the under appreciated Wadsworth is rarely packed, these may not have a significant impact. Timed reservations are required but the museum will accommodate walk-ins when space permits. Meanwhile, outdoor and virtual programs will continue.
The Harvard Art Museums remain indefinitely closed to visitors outside the University community but has just announced a new round of virtual tours and events for September. At some point during the month (dates to be announced) the museums will present A History of Color featuring a largely hidden resource, the Forbes Pigment Collection, begun early in the 20th century under legendary director, Edward Forbes, and his art conservation staff, who were then pioneering the scientific study of works of art. The idea was to collect all the traditional pigments used by artists over the thousands-year history of art so that their chemical and physical properties could be analyzed and compared to works being studied at the museum. The collection currently includes over 2700 sample, covering all the brilliant colors of the rainbow and well beyond, from Egyptian blue and Tyrian purple to potter’s pink and Mars yellow. Now housed in the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies on Level 4 of the museum, the collection can normally be glimpsed only at a considerably distance through the Center’s glass walls. It is now getting ready for its closeup.
Boston College’s McMullen Museum of Art, also still closed to the general public, will initiate Weekly Friday Visual Docent tours, beginning on September 11 and running through November 30, of Indian Ocean Currents: Six Artistic Narratives. The tours start at 3:00 pm and run about 45 minutes. They are free but registration is required on the museum’s website.
— Peter Walsh
Chase Young Gallery, at 450 Harrison Ave, No. 57 Boston, MA
September 10 – October 10
Meet the Artist: September 11 from 4 to 8 p.m.
Sarah Meyers Brent is the creative force behind a show –that includes paintings, sculpture, and installation work — that creates something beautiful out of the craziness of motherhood and environmental destruction.
— Bill Marx
While the coronavirus pandemic has caused, essentially, the early wrap-up of classical music’s 2019-20 concert season, numerous ensembles are either live-streaming live, no-audience performances, or opening their performance archives to the public. Below are links to some of them (local and international).
BSO at Home (new music released daily at 10 a.m. starting March 23)
Pianist Igor Levit presents daily (or nearly so) Hauskonzerte via Twitter
London Symphony Orchestra performance archive (new concerts streamed every Sunday and Thursday)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Digital Concert Hall, free access if you register before March 31 (voucher code: BERLINPHIL
A number of new broadcast series and streamed performances have emerged over the past few days and weeks. Below are some of the highlights.
Boston Baroque Radio: a collection of recorded performances from the ensemble’s extensive discography
BMOP Radio: showcases the exceptional and wide-ranging discography of Boston’s flagship new-music orchestra
Terezin Music Foundation: the TMF releases Yom HaShoah Concert & Memorial Film, featuring performances from Yo-Yo Ma, Andris Nelsons, Simone Dinnerstein and others. Available free on YouTube from April 19 at 12 p.m.
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center: presents an archive of past performances as well as a livestream series
Lake George Music Festival Quarantine Concerts: live concerts on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, 7 p.m.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
Three British musicians have posted daily Tweets that invariably make my day cheerier.
Two friends, the fabulous cellist @StevenIsserlis and opera singer Matthew Rose (@roseandfriends), began a daily tweet exchange, talking (briefly) about the pieces they had chosen for us to enjoy, and then supplying us with YouTube info. This has been a delight every morning.
Jamie W. Hall, a British baritone, #JWHallBaritone, has endeared himself to me and many others with his daily #bathroberecitals, in which he accompanies himself (beautifully) on the piano. Yes, in his bathrobe. Lots of charm here and great, unexpectedly lovely songs.
The Metropolitan Opera has been presenting daily operas, a huge joy. Who knows how long this will continue, but the first three weeks have been a huge pleasure. You can log on in the early evening, before the 7:30 starting time, and finish listening to the opera the next day.
— Susan Miron
Roots and World Music
There’s been a burst of live, distanced, in-person micro-concert series lately, as organizers realize that once the weather gets cold, live performance opportunities will again disappear.
If you’d like to hear some music, be prepared to be quick on the draw. Now that Gov. Baker has limited in-person gatherings to 50, shows commonly sell out immediately. The best bet is to follow the below venues on social media or, even better, join their e-mail lists for updates of newly added events.
The Mandorla Music Series has two outdoor improvised music events in the Milton area during September: The duo of harpist Charles Overton and percussionist Julian Loida on September 13 at 5 p.m., and guitarist Steve Fell’s Trio on September 27 at 5 p.m. Join their email list for details.
The Cabot has been presenting The Porch Sessions in downtown Beverly with the likes of singer/songwriters Chris Smither, Mark Erelli and Stephen Kellogg.
Bigger names are playing to the comparatively larger audiences enabled by the drive-in concert format. The Yarmouth Drive-In on Cape Cod has the Lemonheads and Martin Sexton. New Hampshire’s two drive-ins, The Tupelo Drive-In in Derry and Drive-In Live in Swanzey are both going strong.
A few local reggae bands have managed to secure outdoor gigs. The Reggae Takeova has a hybrid streaming/in-person series with limited tickets available. Dis-N-Dat Band, which perfectly melds the roots reggae grooves of Black Uhuru drummer Rangotan and the steel pan poetry of Sista Dee, has been celebrating its new LP, Stride, with a slew of shows in Danvers, Newburyport and Salisbury as well as gigs across the state line.
Central Square’s Starlite Theater is presenting theater and dance nearly every night. Later this week Global Arts Live is expected to announce a few outdoor shows there as well — along with its fall virtual series.
The blues, soul, and bluegrass series at the Porch in Medford has been moved inside the restaurant, where musicians play behind plexiglass for safety. Organ groovers the B-3 Kings and acoustic bluesman Big Jon Short are among the regulars.
— Noah Schaffer
Lara Ehrlich & Amy Shearn
Animal Wife & Unseen City
September 10 at 7 p.m.
Free or up to $26 including a copy of the book
“Lara Ehrlich’s collection contains stories of women reaching across the threshold of the permitted and the mundane into something new and strange. Shearn’s novel is an exploration of what home is, how we live with loss, who belongs in the city and to whom the city belongs, and the possibilities and power of love.”
Martha S. Jones
Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All
September 8 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are Free, $3 suggested donation
“In Vanguard, acclaimed historian Martha S. Jones offers a new history of African American women’s political lives in America. She recounts how they defied both racism and sexism to fight for the ballot, and how they wielded political power to secure the equality and dignity of all persons. From the earliest days of the republic to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and beyond, Jones excavates the lives and work of black women — Maria Stewart, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Fannie Lou Hamer, and more — who were the vanguard of women’s rights, calling on America to realize its best ideals.”
New England Authors Collective
Nuts and Bolts Publishing Advice
September 10 at 7 p.m.
Join four authors from the New England Indie Authors Collective — Jenny Pivor, Jason Rubin (Arts Fuse contributor), Randy Ross, and Judah Leblang — for an online Zoom discussion of their publishing experiences. This panel discussion covers a range of topics, including agents, small presses, and self-publishing. The presenters have published in a range of genres, including historical fiction, tech thrillers, romantic comedy, and memoir.
Think Like A Feminist: The Philosophy Behind The Revolution
September 15 at 7 p.m.
Free with suggested donation of up to $5
“Think Like a Feminist is an irreverent yet rigorous primer that unpacks over two hundred years of feminist thought. In a time when the word feminism triggers all sorts of responses, many of them conflicting and misinformed, Professor Carol Hay provides this balanced, clarifying, and inspiring examination of what it truly means to be a feminist today. She takes the reader from conceptual questions of sex, gender, intersectionality, and oppression to the practicalities of talking to children, navigating consent, and fighting for adequate space on public transit, without deviating from her clear, accessible, conversational tone. Think Like a Feminist is equally a feminist starter kit and an advanced refresher course, connecting longstanding controversies to today’s headlines.”
Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music
September 16 at 7 p.m.
“In Wagnerism, Alex Ross restores the magnificent confusion of what it means to be a Wagnerian. A pandemonium of geniuses, madmen, charlatans, and prophets do battle over Wagner’s many-sided legacy. As readers of his brilliant articles for The New Yorker have come to expect, Ross ranges thrillingly across artistic disciplines, from the architecture of Louis Sullivan to the novels of Philip K. Dick, from the Zionist writings of Theodor Herzl to the civil-rights essays of W.E.B. Du Bois, from O Pioneers! to Apocalypse Now.”
September 18 at 7 p.m.
“It’s easy to forget that the New England Patriots were once the laughingstock of the NFL, a nearly bankrupt team that had never won a championship and was on the brink of moving to St. Louis. Everything changed in 1994, when Robert Kraft acquired the franchise and soon brought on board head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. Since then, the Patriots have become a juggernaut, making ten trips to the Super Bowl, winning six of them, and emerging as one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. Today, the team’s twenty-year reign atop the NFL stands as the longest in league history.”
September 25 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $27, including copy of book
“In Vesper Flights Helen Macdonald brings together a collection of her best loved essays, along with new pieces on topics ranging from nostalgia for a vanishing countryside to the tribulations of farming ostriches to her own private vespers while trying to fall asleep.
Meditating on notions of captivity and freedom, immigration and flight, Helen invites us into her most intimate experiences: observing the massive migration of songbirds from the top of the Empire State Building, watching tens of thousands of cranes in Hungary, seeking the last golden orioles in Suffolk’s poplar forests. She writes with heart-tugging clarity about wild boar, swifts, mushroom hunting, migraines, the strangeness of birds’ nests, and the unexpected guidance and comfort we find when watching wildlife.”
— Matt Hanson