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.
LOCAL THEATER RECOMMENDATIONS
In Toronto in 1899, aspiring young politician Mackenzie King dreams of becoming the Prime Minister of Canada. In his quest for power, King must gratify the expectations of his imperious mother, the hawkish fantasies of a war-mongering Governor-General, and the utopian idealism of a Quebecois mystic. And there is one final test of leadership. Matthew Rankin’s film is a phantasmagorical romp in the style of fellow Canadian Guy Maddin. The film is overtly theatrical, gender-bending, and an absurd reworking of history. According to the director: “I’m trying to perhaps suggest that Canada might be just kind of a bedtime story that we tell to ourselves, that might not have any meaning and might even be something kind of toxic and kind of sinister. Really it’s a story of love and longing and frustration and self-reproach, and these are all universal feelings.”
Director Alexander Nanau’s heart-wrenching and chilling exposé of the corrupt medical profession in Romania, which thought nothing of letting survivors of the the Colectiv nightclub fire in 2015 die so higher ups could stay in power, as well as ensure their kickbacks. Nanau: “When I started the film I never knew where it would lead and what it was like to be there when a journalist finds information, verifies it and meets whistleblowers. It was such an adventure.” One of the year’s best documentaries.
Fire Will Come
Brattle Virtual Theater
It isn’t really a spoiler to write that director Oliver Laxe’s film delivers what it promises. After all, it’s the title. But that’s not to say that the arrival of fire, literal and psychological, isn’t surprising. You know it is coming but there still a jolt. How could that be? Laxe’s dramatic faculties are nimble and bounteous — as he’s shown time and again in his films Mimosas (2016) and You Are All Captains (2010). “This a film in which the spirit of a man, and a place, hang in the balance. An ethical chasm opens up in the movie, ripping through the veneer of unspoken assumptions and understandings that, suddenly and damagingly, are finally uttered.” (Rolling Stone)
Night Shot (Vision Nocturna)
December 11 through 17
Brattle Virtual Theater — link TBA
The DocYard continues its programming with the Winner of the Grand Prix at the Marseille International Film. Night Shot uses images from its director’s video diaries as well as filmed experiments as a film student, to support her narrative that she had been raped eight years before. The result is both retraumatizing as well as an examination of the discriminatory practices of an uncaring legal system that does more to protect abusers than it does to seek justice. We see the raw stuff of life, celebrations of birthdays and the blossoming of new love, as the film probes our relationship to silence, the authority of words, and who is allowed to speak. Director Carolina Moscoso will be attending a virtual Q&A with curator Abby Sun on December 15 at 4 p.m. EST.
Coded Bias examines the fallout of MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini’s startling discovery that facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces and women accurately, and her journey to push for the first-ever legislation in the US to govern against bias in the algorithms that impact us all. The film marks a pivotal moment in the fight for racial equality; it also provides an encouraging look at how big tech can be made to yield power. Coded Bias is a trailblazing film that shows how public understanding and engagement can confront the threat artificial intelligence poses to civil rights.
Ham on Rye
Brattle Theater – Now Playing via Virtual Screen
Ham on Rye proffers a remarkable film experience. Don’t expect a conventional plot: you will be mesmerized by the gorgeous cinematography and outstanding cast of young teenage faces. This exercise in coming-of-age stream of consciousness blends Dazed and Confused with Luis Buñuel and a touch of David Lynch. This utterly original experience will give you middle school flashbacks.
Sinai Field Mission
Now available at the Coolidge Corner Theater Screening Room
Sinai Field Mission documents the routine activities of the diplomats and electronic technicians who operate the United States Sinai Field Mission, the early warning system established in 1976 to help carry out the disengagement agreement between Egypt and Israel following the 1973 war.
TOTALLY UNDER CONTROL
At the Coolidge Corner Theatre Virtual Screening Room
In this much discussed film, director Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Going Clear) scrutinizes the US response to the pandemic compared with South Korea’s far more successful effort. On January 20 of this year both countries discovered their first cases of Covid-19. Since then, however, the novel coronavirus has claimed the lives of over 220,000 Americans, while only claiming 447 lives in South Korea (at the time of publication). Spread the word.
Rubika Shah’s award-winning film charts a vital national protest movement. Rock Against Racism (RAR) was formed in the UK in 1976. White Riot blends fresh interviews with queasy archive footage to recreate a hostile environment of anti-immigrant hysteria and National Front marches. As neo-Nazis recruited the nation’s youth, RAR’s multicultural punk and reggae gigs provided rallying points for resistance. Co-founder Red Saunders explains: “We peeled away the Union Jack to reveal the swastika.” The campaign grew from fanzine roots to 1978’s huge antifascist carnival in Victoria Park, featuring X-Ray Spex, Steel Pulse, and of course the Clash, whose rock star charisma and gale-force conviction took RAR’s message to the masses. Arts Fuse review
Wiseman’s latest documentary (his 46th), which played at the Toronto International Film Festival, takes us to the Boston building as well as into a network of programs mandated to reach beyond the walls of City Hall.
That’s a lot. Can Wiseman, now 90, give us all of this in four and a half hours?
More or less, mostly less. Wiseman’s study is a gentle sampling of people and programs that mean well. Imagine a city whose legendary sarcasm has been replaced by a well-intentioned sincerity. This vision puts the film at odds with much of Boston’s mythology as well as with the endless canards against the oppressive bureaucracy of “big government” that are part of the current political noise. City Hall shows you the mechanics of government from the ground up, minus much of the noise. Arts Fuse review.
His House, directed by Remi Weekes. Streaming on Netflix.
Peg Aloi was very impressed: this is not your typical horror film; it thoughtfully explores how houses and people can both be haunted. Here, the haunted house is a kaleidoscopic space, shifting from moment to moment, now a sanctuary, now a prison, inhabited by the ghosts of a mind in torment, arising from a storied landscape steeped in a history of imperial brutality. Arts Fuse review
Sound of Metal, directed by Darius Marder. Screening at the Kendall Square Cinema. Streaming on Amazon Prime on December 4.
Tim Jackson, a drummer himself, highly recommends this film, which explores the experiences of the d/Deaf community through Ruben (a powerful performance from Riz Ahmed), a metal drummer who begins to lose his hearing. To Sound of Metal‘s credit, the narrative remains open-ended, refusing to descend into a predictable “Hollywood” story of triumph over adversity. Arts Fuse review
in the absence of things, beginning free livestreaming on December 1 at 8 p.m. EST, after that the one-hour film will be available on demand from 9:30 p.m. EST to December 15 at 6 p.m EST. The film was commissioned by ArtsEmerson, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and Baryshnikov Arts Center.
Part of what will no doubt be a painful, but revelatory, look at what the plague has done to our art and artists. “Vocalist-composer and writer Somi Kakoma’s experimental short film deals with the spiritual consequence of the global pandemic on creative practice. COVID-19 hit while Somi was on the road, so instead of returning to her residence in New York City, she decided to head to Illinois to shelter in place with her mother in the Midwestern town where she grew up. That town is also home to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Like most people, Somi’s professional life and plans were dramatically interrupted by the pandemic and she found herself reflecting on the deep sense of personal vacancy she was feeling in the absence of live performance.”
“Following the exclusive December 1 screening, Somi and the director of the film, Mariona Lloreta, will be joined by Obie Award-winning Artistic Director of New York City’s National Black Theatre (NBT), Jonathan McCrory, for a live conversation about the meaning of the film, the collaborators’ creative process, and the role of Black artists during and beyond COVID-19. This event is also presented in partnership with NBT and Salon Africana.”
The film features concert recording from Somi’s recently Grammy-nominated new recording Holy Room — Live at the Alte Oper with Frankfurt Radio Big Band.
— Bill Marx
— Tim Jackson
December 13 at 2 p.m.
December 24 at 7 p.m.
The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without Tony Williams’s Urban Nutcracker — the contemporary Boston-centric holiday classic presented by City Ballet of Boston. This year the company is going virtual, streaming footage from the 2019 production, which was originally staged at the Boch Center Shubert Theatre. Experience what the Boston Globe has aptly described as “a holiday arts tradition reflecting the rich multicultural diversity of Boston.”
Martha Graham: She Had a Sense of Humor
December 8 at 7 p.m.
Martha Graham Dance Company presents a holiday program showcasing Graham’s more humorous choreography. The program includes a live-streamed performance of her 1932 solo Satyric Festival Song, performed by company dancer Xin Ying; photos and film clips of Graham with Sally Rand, Robin Williams, and Danny Kaye; and a 2016 performance of Maple Leaf Rag, Graham’s final choreographic work.
December 12 at 8 p.m.
Kelley Donovan & Dancers presents its latest virtual Speakeasy performance. This round includes poetry by Karen Klein and Nan Gray; choreography by Kelley Donovan and Lucia Traveglino; Tarot readings by Madam Donova; and an open mic. Join as a viewer or participate yourself!
Through Her Eyes- A Newport Nutcracker Reimagined
Online streaming December 10-January 3
Rhode Island PBS broadcast December 18, 20, & 25
This holiday season, The Nutcracker is being reimagined by innovative dance companies across New England. One of the new versions is the result of an impressive collaboration between Island Moving Company and renowned filmmaker Marta Renzi. Through Her Eyes – A Newport Nutcracker Reimagined wa filmed at the majestic properties of the Preservation Society of Newport County. On-demand streaming of the film begins December 10th, and Rhode Island PBS viewers will be given access to a digital broadcast on December 18, 20, and Christmas day.
Small Moves, Big Picture
December 13 at 7:30 p.m.
WaterFire Arts Center’s Theatre Under the Stars
Enjoy a cozy drive-in performance experience that includes live dance, drumming, and film/video screenings. Viewers can stay safe in their cars while watching live video projections and listening to audio through their FM radios. Dance films span the past three seasons of the Motion State Dance Film Series, including works by Ali Kenner Brodsky, Rebecca McGowan and Jackie O’Riley, Ellen Oliver, and a new film collaboration by Taleen Batalian and Heidi Henderson.
— Merli V. Guerra
Lost Voices on November 30 at 7:30 p.m. Livestreamed from Jordan Hall, presented by New England Conservatory.
This Contemporary Improvisation Department concert produced by Anthony Coleman and Lautaro Mantilla is dedicated to pursuing, excavating, amplifying, and illuminating art and artists missing from the conversation, with works performed and arranged by CI students.
Lafayette Gilchrist on December 6 at 6:30 p.m. EST. Livestreamed from Keystone Korner, 1350 Lancaster St., Baltimore, Maryland.
The Baltimore-based pianist, composer, and bandleader celebrates his powerful double-disc NOW with a streamed live concert featuring his trio, Special Revealed, featuring bassist Herman Burney and drummer Eric Kennedy .
BIRD CALLS on December 10 at 8 p.m. EST, rebroadcast at 8 p.m. PST. Livestreaming from three different locations around the country.
Presented by the Jazz Foundation of America, this two-hour all-star show – recorded at the Brooklyn Bowl in New York, Vibrato Grill in Los Angeles, and the New Orleans Jazz Museum observing strict health safety protocols – will benefit the JFA’s COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund, established in March to provide direct financial assistance to musicians and families affected by the pandemic to help cover basic living expenses like rent, groceries, and utility bills.
BIRD CALLS will commemorate the August 29 centenary of bebop titan Parker, who wrote his name large in jazz history and revolutionized music during a furiously creative career before his untimely death at 34 years of age in 1955. Jazz critic Gary Giddins has noted that Parker was “the only musician after Louis Armstrong to influence all of jazz and almost every aspect of American music – its instrumentalists and singers, composers and arrangers.”
“All-star” is an apt description — see the poster to the right. This homage to Parker (and benefit for jazz musicians) will also feature special appearances by JFA Board Member Danny Glover and Grammy-winning historian Phil Schaap, reminiscences by Sheila Jordan, Sonny Rollins, and Roy Haynes, and archival material focusing on Charlie Parker’s contributions to American music.
— Bill Marx
MetLiveArts presents Seasons: A Song Cycle for Guitar Quartet, livestream at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on December 1, 7–7:30 p.m.
This livestream features the Seasons Guitar Quartet—the excellent jazz guitarists Anthony Wilson, Steve Cardenas, Chico Pinheiro, and Julian Lage—in the #MetLiveArts digital premiere of Seasons: A Song Cycle for Guitar Quartet. The piece was created by guitarist, composer, and arranger Wilson specifically for master luthier John Monteleone’s “The Four Seasons” guitars. Conceived as a complete musical ensemble and decorated with precious stones, gold, and silver, each guitar visually and sonically reflects the mood of one of the four seasons. The concert is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Making The Met, 1870–2020, on view through January 3. Learn more: met.org/MakingTheMet
Billie Holiday: A Concert Celebration, streaming by the 92nd St. Y, December 6, at 3 p.m.
As part of 92Y’s series “Reaching for the Moon: An Exploration and Celebration of Billie Holliday,” the venerable arts venue will stream a concert recorded in their concert hall on November 22 featuring two A-list jazz vocalists. Catherine Russell, whose work ranges from resuscitating lesser known early jazz tunes to putting a new spin on the Grateful Dead, has seven terrific albums under her name (including the Grammy-nominated Harlem on My Mind), and has backed up a who’s who of musicians, from David Bowie to Paul Simon and Steely Dan. Veronica Swift, a 26-year-old who made her first jazz recording at age nine(!), has wowed critics with her live performances and first official album, Confessions (a second is due in March). The two will tackle some of Lady Day’s greatest hits, backed by Swift’s touring group, the Emmet Cohen Trio (Cohen on piano, Yasushi Nakamura on bass, Kyle Poole on drums). The great Billie/Lester Young sessions will be spotlighted with the addition of guest tenor saxophonist Tivon Pennicott. Tickets are $15, and the stream will be available through December 9.
— Evelyn Rosenthal
Fred Taylor Scholarship Fund All-Star Memorial Tribute
December 7 at 8 p.m.
If you want to know how influential Fred Taylor was, just look at the lineup for this tribute to the late, legendary Boston impresario: Diana Krall, Esperanza Spalding, Kurt Elling, Danilo Pérez, Terri Lyne Carrington, Grace Kelly (who organized and is hosting the tribute), Catherine Russell, Kat Edmonson, John Patitucci, Jason Palmer, James Montgomery, and Bo Winiker. The event also touts “a special appearance” by Pat Metheny, Harry Connick Jr., and others.
The event is meant to bring attention and (one would guess) money to the Fred Taylor Endowed Scholarship Fund at Berklee College of Music, which was spearheaded by Kelly and Winiker in honor of Taylor, who died at age 90 in October 2019. The event will also celebrate the publication of Taylor’s memoir, What, and Give Up Showbiz?, written with jazz historian Richard Vacca. The show will be available on YouTube and Facebook.
— Jon Garelick
A Christmas Carol, an adaptation of the Charles Dickens story by Jefferson Mays, Susan Lyons, and Michael Arden. Conceived by Michael Arden and Dane Laffrey. Directed by Arden. Livestreamed via The Regent Theatre through January 3, 2021.
A Xmas experiment in versatility if nothing else. “Experience A Christmas Carol unlike any other—past, present or future. The timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge has been given new life thanks to the haunting vision of one of Broadway’s most imaginative directors, Michael Arden (Tony-winning Best Revival – Once on this Island), and the Tony-winning virtuoso, Jefferson Mays (I Am My Own Wife, Gentleman’s Guide...), starring in 50 roles.” Mays is quoted as saying about this production: “I haunt myself for an hour and a half.”
“A large portion of your ticket will benefit The Regent! ‘Tis the season for giving – when you stream this production, you’re also helping to sustain your local theatre community through these extraordinary times.”
The Legion Tapes, a new sci-fi theater 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 setup: “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 ’70s. 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.” Arts Fuse review of Episodes 1 through 5.
On Demand through December 9
“Nationally acclaimed, Boston-born artist Oompa returns to OBERON to premiere new songs and perform old favorites in a new show that highlights the evolution of herself, music, and artistry. The performance is captured for streaming by The Loop Lab, a BIPOC-led nonprofit whose mission is to empower Womxn and People of Color in careers in the media arts.”
Dream Boston 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. Seven additional titles have been added to this series of short audio plays, entitled Dream Boston. Four plays were posted in July; the next seven are now being released. They are available on the Huntington’s website, as well as on Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher.
“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. Arts Fuse review of Episodes 1 through 5.
“This next set of 7 plays includes works by local artists John Oluwole ADEkoje, Miranda ADEkoje, J. Sebastián Alberdi, Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro, Elle Borders, Patrick Gabridge, and John Kuntz. Each play is set at a specific local landmark with 1-3 characters, and is about 6 minutes in length. The local landmarks that serve as settings for this round of audio plays include Franklin Park, Harvard’s Memorial Church, the Harvard Art Museums, the Old State House, the Fenway nightclub Machine, Harrison Avenue, and Malcolm X Boulevard.”
“Lifestyle blogger Emma Herrera is live on Zoom to walk you through her favorite seasonal drinks and crafts, and perhaps let some relationship frustrations slip—after all, who isn’t looking for a little space from their spouse these days? But there’s a lot of rum in that coquito, and something’s weird about the homemade wrapping paper… this play is a darkly comedic look at an influencer who may be sharing more than festive fun.”
“Monica Jenae is a freelance commercial producer. In a moment of intense frustration, she does an Instagram live hoping her baby will stay asleep as she waits for her black, male film crew to return from a COVID rapid testing site in the suburbs. As she bleeds her story out and the internet’s comments pour in, the gnarled, twisted strands of racism, privilege and inequity in the noose of the global pandemic tighten, giving her followers a front row seat to the suffocating effects of white supremacy.”
Dramatic readings of Sophocles’ Philoctetes and Women of Trachis are used as “a catalyst for a discussion about the impact of Covid-19. This innovative project presents dramatic readings by acclaimed actors of scenes from ancient Greek plays to help nurses, doctors, EMS, first responders, administrators, and other heath care providers engage in healing, constructive discussions about the unique challenges and stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic. This event will use Sophocles’ texts to create a vocabulary for discussing themes such as personal risk, death/dying, grief, deviation from standards of care, abandonment, helplessness, and complex ethical decisions, the project aims to foster connection, community, moral resilience, and positive action.”
This event is hosted by Montefiore Health System. Featuring performances by Kathryn Erbe, Marjolaine Goldsmith, Frankie Faison, and David Strathairn.
This Is Who I Am by Amir Nizar Zuabi. Directed by Evren Odcikin. Presented by PlayCo and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, in Association with American Repertory Theater, Guthrie Theater, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. A virtual event, streaming from December 5 to January 3. 2021. This event is ticketed through Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.
World premiere of a script that “explores the unpredictable nature of grief and the delicacy of family connection across geographical and generational divides.” The production will be broadcast live for each performance. “Two actors perform a balancing act of care and resentment, closeness and vast separation, as they cook in real time over video chat. Separated by continents, an estranged father and son reunite over Zoom. From their respective kitchens in Ramallah and New York City, they recreate a cherished family recipe and struggle to bridge the gap between them, one ingredient at a time.” The cast includes Ramsey Faragallah (Dad) and Yousof Sultani (Son).
Jack and the Beanstalk: A Musical Adventure, by Julia Riew and Ian Chan. Directed by Rebecca Aparicio. Presented by the American Repertory Theater, from November 27 at 6 p.m. to January 4, 2021. Household tickets for $20 with a pay-what-you-can option for the streaming production.
“The annual family holiday show goes virtual this Thanksgiving with a new, 45-minute Zoom musical that takes us on an epic journey through Storyland. The vivid imaginations of Harvard undergraduates Julia Riew and Ian Chan (the creators of last season’s Thumbelina) transform this classic fairy tale into a contemporary celebration of the power of kindness, courage, determination and creativity to overcome life’s obstacles.”
A departure from Theater of War Productions focus on Greek tragedies — though the Biblical text is as magnificent and timely. “The Book of Job Project presents dramatic readings by acclaimed actors of The Book of Job as a catalyst for powerful, guided conversations about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon individuals, families, and communities. The Book of Job is an ancient Hebrew poem that timelessly explores how humans behave when faced with disaster, pestilence and injustice.
Translated by Stephen Mitchell. Directed, adapted, and facilitated by Bryan Doerries. Featuring performances by Bill Murray, Frankie Faison, David Strathairn, Marjolaine Goldsmith, Kathryn Erbe, Nyasha Hatendi and Mayor Matthew T. Starr of Mount Vernon, Ohio.
This event, focused on the Knox County, Ohio community, is part of Theater of War Productions’ year-long virtual residency at Kenyon College. We are pleased to open this program up to the public to create the conditions for dialogue and connection during this time of isolation and division.”
Williamstown Theatre Festival on Audible, season begins on December 3.
“In an innovative collaboration devised to meet the challenges posed by the global health pandemic, the 2020 season will be the first-ever complete theatre season released by Audible, the leading creator and provider of premium audio storytelling. The WTF Season on Audible is being produced in an audio-only format safe to elevate, entertain, and transform audiences from the comfort of their homes.”
The first two productions coming to your ears: A Streetcar Named Desire premiering on December 3. “Following his 2019 production of A Raisin in the Sun, Tony Award nominee Robert O’Hara returns to WTF to direct this Tennessee Williams masterpiece. With Emmy, Grammy, and six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald as Blanche DuBois alongside Carla Gugino as Stella. Haunted by her past, Blanche seeks refuge with Stella and Stanley (Ariel Shafir) in New Orleans, where she wrestles with the nature of her sister’s husband, her sister’s denial, and her own unraveling mind.
Photograph 51, premiering on December 10. “In 1951, chemist Rosalind Franklin (Anna Chlumsky) works relentlessly in her King’s College London lab, closing in on a major discovery that could unlock the mysteries of the DNA molecule. Undermined by her colleague Maurice Wilkins (Omar Metwally), she struggles to compete with rival team Watson and Crick (David Corenswet and Aasif Mandvi) as pressure intensifies to produce results. The script is by Anna Ziegler; Susan Stroman directs.
Holiday Sauce… Pandemic! Created by Taylor Mac and his long time collaborators, designer Machine Dazzle, Music Director Matt Ray, and producers Pomegranate Arts. Presented by First Works, Livestreamed on December 12 at 7 p.m. EST.
“Holiday Sauce… Pandemic! will blend music, film, burlesque, and random acts of fabulousness to reframe the songs you love and the holidays you hate. There is more to the holidays than rampant capitalism and gift-giving and in Taylor’s world, creativity and imagination are their own spirituality. This holiday season will be bittersweet for so many — Taylor Mac reminds us of the collective power of our chosen families, a message that will be of particular resonance this year when so many have lost so much.”
Constellations by Nick Payne. Directed by Aubrey Snowden. A drive-in event presented by The Wilbury Theatre and WaterFire Providence at the parking lot of The WaterFire Arts Center, 475 Valley Street, Providence, RI on December 3 through 19 at 6:30 p.m.
This drive-in friendly revival “stars Rachel Dulude as quantum cosmologist Marianne and The Wilbury Theatre Group’s Artistic Director Josh Short as beekeeper Roland. Roland and Marianne meet at a party. In that single moment, an unfathomable multitude of possibilities unfold. Their chance meeting might blossom into a meaningful relationship or a brief affair…it might lead to nothing at all. Each step along those possible paths in turn offers a new series of potential outcomes: a marriage can exist alongside a breakup and a tragic illness can exist on a parallel plane to a happily ever after.” (Simulcast Spanish Language Performances on Friday 12/11 & 12/18)
Note: All audience members must remain in their car during the duration of the performance. There will be no outdoor seating. All audience members in the same car, must also be a part of the same household. In accordance with Dept. of Health guidelines, tickets for all shows are sold in advance up to one-hour before showtime. No walk-up tickets will be available at the door. You may also be asked to complete a symptom survey before you arrive for the show.
— Bill Marx
New England art museums continue to reopen permanent galleries and mount special exhibitions while also creating an increasingly rich selection of virtual experiences on line. This is an update of recently opened of physical shows (along with one virtual exhibition); be sure to check museum websites for hours and ticketing information when you plan to arrive in person.
Up in Salem, the Peabody Essex Museum has just opened My Dear Daisy and Chester… and South Asian Art. The former title reflects the close, reciprocal relationship between Massachusetts collectors Chester and Davida “Davey” Herwitz and the modern Indian artists they collected over many years. The letters and photographs in the show are drawn from the Herwitz’ personal archive, which they have donated to PEM along with 1,275 works of art and their library of more than 6,000 books. The transcriptions of the artists’ words in the show explore how they helped develop these distant collectors’ taste in Indian art and worked with them to create the network of friendships that, in turn, built their collection.
The related exhibition South Asian Art nearby in the Chester and Davida Herwitz Gallery brings together historical objects from PEM’s collections of Indian art, among the earliest to enter the museum, along with a rich selection of 20th-century Indian work, much of it created after independence from Britain in 1947. The works on view tell a complicated story of a subcontinent frequently under the cultural influences of a diverse array of foreign rulers while persisting in its own native traditions. The installation will continue for nearly two years until October 1, 2022
Back in Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts has opened Monet in Boston, celebrating the important relationship between the city and one of the best-known and most admired of all European artists. The MFA bills the show as a “once in a generation” chance to see all 35 of the museum’s Monet canvases, many brought to Boston during Monet’s lifetime by far-sighted local collectors, in one place. Organized as part of the MFA’s 150th Anniversary celebration, the show features Monet’s breathtaking studies of light and color in such famous series as the Rouen Cathedral, Water Lillies, and Grainstacks (once known as “haystacks.”) The show also explores Monet’s early work and the influences, including Japanese prints and his fellow Impressionists, that created his distinctive style.
Organized virtually in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute of Contemporary Art’s I’m Yours: Encounters with Art in Our Times is intended to celebrate “the power of experiencing art in person.” The selection, drawn from new acquisitions and well-known works from the ICA permanent collection, also explores the role of art and art museums at a time of epidemics, political upheavals, and a heightened awareness of social inequalities and injustice.
The Worcester Art Museum’s on-line show, Kimono Culture: The Beauty of Chios offers an insider’s view of the “hidden” world of traditional kimono design in Japan. Each week for ten weeks, the on-line presentation will reveal a new kimono theme, exploring three centuries of Japanese design and the work of Chios, the 465-year-old kimono house in the ancient city of Kyoto. A highlight of the series will be a behind-the-scenes look at the Chiso creation of the “Worcester Wedding Kimono,” the first kimono ever commissioned by an art museum as a work of art.
— Peter Walsh
Roots and World Music
Live original music outside of the restaurant circuit has finally finished; even some distanced events slated for Boston and New Hampshire stages have been cancelled because the rising COVID case loads and increased travel restrictions.
The virtual concert world remains active as ever, with many venues upping the game with audio and video that are greatly enhanced compared to the first round of offerings last spring. The Charles River Museum in Waltham is wrapping up its Boiler House Jazz series of unusual duo pairings with the debut full-length performance by two adventurous souls: violinist Lucy Little and quan (Persian zither) virtuoso Afarin Nazarijou.
The Cabot in Beverly, one of the many great stages shuttered during the pandemic, has some true star power performing in their their virtual gala benefit performance on December 3. James Taylor, Richard Thompson, Raul Malo and Fantastic Negrito will all contribute segments celebrating the theater’s 100th anniversary. Arts Fuse preview
Club Passim’s near-nightly streaming program has some seasonal selections this month, including banjo master Tony Trischka’s “Glory Shone Around” show performed with Tim Eriksen.
Boston author Brian Coleman is launching the second volume of his “Buy Me Boston” book series, a treasure chest that tells the story of ’60s, ’70s, and’ 80s Boston through vintage advertisements and event flyers. On December 3 and December 5 he’ll be co-hosting a series of micro COVID-safe book events co-hosted by DigBoston editor Chris Faraone. On December 3 the pair will be joined by veteran R&B promoter Mel Davis of Coffy Promotions. On December 5 the guest will be archivist supreme David Bieber.
— Noah Schaffer
November 30 at 7 p.m.
Against Amazon is a history of bookshops, an autobiography of a reader, a travelogue, a love letter — and, most urgently, a manifesto. Exploring the increasing pressures of Amazon and other new technologies on bookshops and libraries. In essays on these vital social, cultural, and intellectual spaces, Jorge Carrión travels from London to Geneva, from Miami’s Little Havana to Argentina, from his own well-loved childhood library to the rosewood shelves of Jules Verne’s Nautilus and the innovative spaces that characterize South Korea’s bookshop renaissance.
Including interviews with writers and librarians — including Alberto Manguel, Iain Sinclair, Luigi Amara, and Han Kang, among others — Against Amazon is equal parts a celebration of books and bookshops, an autobiography of a reader, a travelogue, a love letter — and, most urgently, a manifesto against the corrosive influence of late capitalism.
Abe: Abraham Lincoln and His Times
December 3 at 6 p.m.
“‘A marvelous cultural biography that captures Lincoln in all his historical fullness.’– Gordon Wood. Join us for a virtual presentation and discussion by David S. Reynolds, the author of Abe, a revelatory and enthralling new biography of our sixteenth President. Abe is the product of David Reynolds’s full-body immersion into the riotous tumult of American life in the decades before the Civil War. From New England Puritan stock on his father’s side and Virginia Cavalier gentry on his mother’s, Lincoln was linked by blood to the central conflict of the age. His genius was for striking a balance between opposing forces. Don’t miss hearing more about this remarkable man.”
Raymond Avery Bartlett
December 4 at 8 p.m. and December 6 at 10 p.m.
A book launch party via Zoom. Bartlett has written numerous best-selling works about Japan, Mexico, and Korea for some of the world’s top travel publications, such as Lonely Planet, Insight Guides, Moon Handbooks, Budget Travel, USA Today, and more. His debut novel, Sunsets of Tulum, was set in Yucatán, Mexico, and explored how a traveler’s unintended love affair has far-reaching, life-changing consequences for all involved. His follow-up, according to Publisher’s Weekly, is a “stunning novel” … “a poignant, elegiac mid-20th-century tragedy of wanderlust, loss, obsession, art, and redemption.”
Ready Player Two
December 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Ready Player Two is the highly anticipated sequel to the beloved worldwide bestseller Ready Player One, the near-future adventure that inspired the blockbuster Stephen Spielberg film. Lovingly nostalgic and wildly original as only Ernest Cline could conceive it, Ready Player Two takes us on another imaginative, fun, action-packed adventure through his beloved virtual universe, and jolts us thrillingly into the future once again.
— Matt Hanson