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.
Caregiver: A Love Story
Discussion: January 25 at 12:00 – 12:30 p.m.
Globe Docs presents a 24-minute film that chronicles the struggles of a man caring for his dying wife. The filmmakers successfully highlight an essential, yet largely unseen workforce — America’s family caregivers — and they challenge viewers to acknowledge the growing strain placed on them. After the screening, join the Boston Globe‘s Meredith Goldstein in conversation with producer/director, Jessica Zitter on Jan 25 at 12 p.m. RSVP for the free screening
New Releases at Local Theaters
Note: Your purchase helps support these independent theaters!
Coolidge Corner Theater
Director Oeke Hoogendijk assembles an assortment of Rembrandt owners and experts whose interests in the Dutch master have, for different reasons, taken on faintly obsessive dimensions.
Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time
Coolidge Corner Theater
A film that is difficult to classify, on purpose: an amnesiac Hungarian love story that becomes an exercise in existential science fiction. Yes, the conceit winds up a little undercooked and a loopy ending doesn’t quite stick the landing. Still, the filmmaking is exacting and assured enough to pull a suitably compliant viewer into the heart of a surrealistic romantic mystery.
Film About a Father Who
Lynne Sachs’s Film About a Father Who is inspired by Yvonne Rainer’s 1974 avant-garde feature Film About a Woman Who. A deconstruction of the “ideal” domestic unit, this long-gestating documentary departs from its inspiration: it takes a more personal and less abstract look at a less-than-stable family life. Composed largely of conversations with her family that Sachs recorded over the last few decades, “the film often feels like the coherent story everyone wishes they could assemble out of the neglected boxes of old home video tapes in the garage.” (Slant Magazine)
First time director Fernanda Valadez takes on the story of a mother who loses contact with her son after he leaves Guanajuato, crossing over the border into the US in search of work. Desperate to find out what happened to him — to know whether or not he’s even alive — she goes on a harrowing journey to discover his whereabouts.
ONLINE AND COMING SOON
No Man’s Land (VOD)
The film’s plot is inspired by the real-life “no-man’s-land” areas along the Texas-Mexico border. After vigilante Bill Greer’s son Jackson accidentally kills a Mexican immigrant boy, his father attempts to take the blame. Jackson flees south on horseback, becoming a gringo “illegal alien” in Mexico. Pursued from either side by Texas Rangers and Mexican federales, he undertakes a quest for redemption, seeking forgiveness from the dead boy’s father. He finds himself falling in love with the land he was taught to hate.
The White Tiger (Netflix)
Based on Aravind Adiga’s 2008 novel and directed by Ramin Bahrani, this film is a wicked and entertaining satire on the class conflicts roiling Indian society, a neo-Marxist story of masters and servants, money and corruption — a Horatio Alger tale with a devilish twist. Adiga and Bahrani were friends at Columbia University, and their relationship is no doubt key to how successfully the movie captures the novel’s dark comic tone. Arts Fuse Review
The Little Things (Theaters + HBO Max)
The Little Things centers around Deke, a burnt-out Kern County, CA, deputy sheriff who teams with a crack L.A. Sheriffs Department detective, to nab a serial killer who is terrorizing the city. Deke’s nose for the “little things” often proves eerily accurate, but his willingness to circumvent the rules embroils Baxter in a soul-shattering dilemma. Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto star.
The Dig (Netflix)
Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes star as a wealthy widow and the amateur archaeologist she hires to excavate the burial mounds on her estate, which leads to an amazing discovery: an undisturbed ship burial at Sutton Hoo. The film is set in the late ’30s, just before World War II in England. The site is important to historians because it is the burial site of an Anglo-Saxon king. The remains contain an enormous amount of information about Anglo-Saxon craftsmanship, technological developments, and beliefs.
The Night (Theaters + VOD)
Iranian filmmaker Kourosh Ahari directs this unsettling horror story about an Iranian couple living in the US who find themselves trapped inside a hotel in which insidious events force them to face the secrets that have come between them. It becomes a night that never ends. Inspired by The Shining, the plot plays on the conflicts generated by cultural differences.
Palmer (Apple TV+)
Former high school football star Eddie Palmer (Justin Timberlake) goes from hometown hero to convicted felon, serving 12 years in a state penitentiary. When he is released he returns home to Louisiana and moves back in with Vivian, the grandmother who raised him. While trying to keep his head down and rebuild a quiet life for himself, Palmer is haunted by memories of his glory days as well as the eyes of a suspicious small community. He befriends an outcast boy from a troubled home, but Eddie’s past threatens to ruin his new life and family.
Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci star in a critically praised modern love story. Sam and Tusker, partners for 20 years, are traveling across England in their old RV, visiting friends, family members, and places from their past. Tusker was diagnosed with early-onset dementia two years ago, so their time together is the most important thing they have.
Some Kind of Heaven
January 15 on Video-On-Demand and TBA at Theaters.
A documentary that looks at four residents of the palm tree-lined fantasyland of America’s largest retirement community, The Villages, Florida. As they say “You come here to live, you don’t come here to pass away.” You may be appalled at the idea or you may find the place inspiring and endearing, but you won’t be bored. I had never heard of this Disney-style elder oasis — this documentary was a real eye opener. Arts Fuse review
RECOMMENDATIONS IN BLACK CINEMA
— Tim Jackson
How do democracies die? While we have been watching Trump’s efforts, our eyes have been drawn away from a far more virulent and successful effort by China to eliminate freedom in Hong Kong. Ai Weiwei’s powerful documentary presents a visceral (and agonizing) picture of the ugliness in progress: mismatched confrontations between police and rioters are growing increasingly lethal as the city’s independence is slowly snuffed out. The authorities accept beatings and murders as legitimate exercises in law and order. Young people are forced to choose between quietly accepting authoritarianism (living a life that is not worth living) or risk speaking up, acting out, and being tossed into prison. It should not be surprising that their responses range from the courageous and the pragmatic to the despairing and self-destructive.
Not much analysis or historical background is provided. Instead, we are given gut-wrenching, up-close footage of what is going on: a “pop-up” mass demonstration that demolishes a shopping mall, students tossing molotov cocktails at tanks, bludgeonings in the streets, suicides, systematic police intimidation (to keep the populace in line), and calculated brutality on both sides. Weiwei’s point is clear: a free society is being murdered as the world (including many of Hong Kong’s workers) stands by in resolute indifference. (One flummoxed advocate for democracy observes that it is enough for the masses to have a place to live and food to eat. Dostoevsky would not be surprised.) Given China’s militaristic might — and the possibility that Hong King may soon be officially designated a haven for “terrorists” — the situation is hopeless. Subjugation is an inevitability, and mass murder cannot be ruled out.
Of course, as many in Cockroach warn, Hong Kong is a trial run for how Communist China will be treating its neighbors in the future. Taiwan is the next slated for conquest. And these modern methods of repression, including the use of facial recognition technology and social media “tracking” to squelch and destroy dissidents, will serve as effective models for despots to come. A glimpse of the future…
— Bill Marx
Save Birdland: A Celebration of Music, History and Community, a free streaming concert that will air on January 24 at 7 p.m. ET.
Too many contributors to list – President Bill Clinton, Whoopi Goldberg, Clive Davis, Wynton Marsalis, Audra McDonald, Monty Alexander, Leslie Odom Jr, Wendell Pierce, and more — will unite for a common and important cause: to save the legendary Birdland Jazz Club. Will we let legendary places be erased? The event will feature a selection of classic jazz, reimagined standards, stories, greetings, and Birdland memories. Donations to Save Birdland can be made now or during the event on the show’s website.
— Bill Marx
On the Radio: Antônio Carlos Jobim Festival. WKCR.org (Columbia University radio), January 25, 12 a.m. to January 26, 1 a.m.
January 25 marks what would have been the 94th birthday of the great Brazilian composer who brought bossa nova to the world. You can celebrate by listening to 24 hours of Jobim’s music — which went far beyond just bossa — courtesy of Som do Brasil, WKCR’s Brazilian program.
David Thorne Scott, Living Room CD release concert, January 29, 8 p.m.
On his terrific recently released album Thornewood, Boston’s own David Thorne Scott lets loose his gorgeous tenor voice on an eclectic lineup of Americana and jazz tunes by the likes of Townes Van Zandt, John Denver, Cole Porter, and Harold Arlen, along with a group of beautifully crafted originals. For this livestream, Scott will celebrate the CD’s release with a solo concert from his living room, distilling the album’s rich arrangements to voice and piano.
Tim Ray, solo piano, Scullers Living Room Live series, January 30, 7:30 p.m.
The excellent Boston-based pianist Tim Ray has played with an array of pop and jazz icons, from Aretha Franklin and Lyle Lovett to Kurt Elling and Tony Bennett (he is currently Bennett’s musical director). Ray is also a prolific composer and arranger, with a number of recordings as leader, most recently the trio album Excursions and Adventures with fellow Berklee professors Terri Lyne Carrington and John Patitucci. This Scullers livestream will showcase material he’s returning to after a flurry of other projects: “Several years ago,” he said in a Facebook post, “I was working on material for a solo piano recording – mostly standards and pop tunes, with some new original songs. I was happily distracted from this project when Neal Weiss asked me to put together music for (and record) some jazz trio CDs for his Whaling City Sounds label. Now, thanks in part to our friend the pandemic, I’ve found myself returning to this solo material, which has been a joy for me to reconnect with.” I expect the joy will also be ours.
— Evelyn Rosenthal
Look Back, Focus Forward
through January 31
Featuring “a visual representation of Boston Ballet’s journey and essence,” Look Back, Focus Forward proffers viewers a one-hour-long virtual production featuring key moments from Boston Ballet’s impressive history. Enjoy an intimate look at ballets by Leonid Yakobson, a preview of Ken Ossola’s new work, and excerpts from the company’s international tours.
Take Root: Nia and Ness / Misaki Hayama
Viewable now through February 4
Viewers are invited to a production featuring two works: home. (an excerpt) by Nia and Ness, and Waraba Uta by Misaki Hayama. The first is a portion of Nia and Ness’s dance-poetry piece home., which explores daily realities as a Black, lesbian couple in New York. Hayama’s Waraba Uta explores the history of traditional Japanese songs, similar to nursery rhymes. This production is now viewable online to those who donate the price of a $10 ticket. (An open-ended sliding scale donation is also accepted.)
FilmFest by Rogue Dancer: L’enfant Edition
Viewable now through February 7
Rogue Dancer has just launched its latest online screendance film festival, L’enfant. Looking towards a brighter future in 2021, L’enfant (“The child”) celebrates the world’s younger generations. This month’s lineup specifically focuses on works that are “by, about, and for our children.”
January 30 at 11:30 a.m. EST
Abilities Dance Boston presents a unique collaboration with the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka. Together with the university’s dance and music students, Abilities Dance Boston aims to highlight intersectional disability and racial equity across the globe. In addition, the production includes clips from the company’s past community engagement programs. All pieces are audio described in English for blind and low vision viewers, and closed captioned in English, Sinhala, and Tamil.
Voyeur: The Windows of Toulouse-Lautrec
February 13 at various time slots between 6 and 9 p.m.
Live Open-Air Performance
Those who are able to travel to New York City and are missing live performance should mark this event on their calendars! This intimate outdoor production glides along the sidewalks, doorways, and windows of Greenwich Village while choreographically exploring the absinthe-riddled dreams of iconic artist Toulouse-Lautrec, as he recalls his final years living and working in Montmartre, Paris. Advanced ticket purchase highly recommended, as each audience is limited to eight masked individuals over the age of 13.
— Merli V. Guerra
New Beginnings, Part 3
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
January 28, 12 p.m.
Music by Prokofiev, Arvo Pärt, and Stravinsky is on the docket for Anna Rakitina’s BSO debut. Members of the orchestra also present Missy Mazzoli’s Set That on Fire.
The Fall of the House of Usher
Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Opening January 29
BLO presents Philip Glass’s adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s harrowing short story. The cast features Chelsea Basler as Madeline Usher, Jesse Darden as Roderick Usher, and Daniel Belcher as William. David Angus conducts. See Arts Fuse feature and interview with librettist Arthur Yorinks.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
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.”
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.”
Living Newspaper Online produced by the Royal Court Theatre, Edition One
I suggested this as a project for Boston theaters in a column two months ago. Alas, none of our companies dared take their cue from America’s Federal Theater Project. But the Royal Court Theatre in London is taking up the challenge. Its online “living newspaper” — presented via weekly installments — will be “urgent, responsive and fast – with writers filing their pieces by Tuesday and actors performing from Thursday, script-in-hand, hot off the press.”
Williamstown Theatre Festival on Audible
“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.” Here is what is currently up and ready for earplay.
A Streetcar Named Desire: “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: “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.”
Animals by Stacy Osei-Kuffour. Directed by Obie Award winner Whitney White, premiering on December 17 at 3 a.m. ET: “Lydia (Aja Naomi King) and Henry (Jason Butler Harner)’s dinner guests (Madeline Brewer and William Jackson Harper) are about to arrive when Henry’s spontaneous marriage proposal threatens to burn the evening to a crisp. Wine bottles and years of unspoken tensions are uncorked, and, before the evening is through, Lydia must confront her long-held fears and feelings if she’s going to commit to a future with Henry. World premiere of a comedy that marches into the muddy intersection of romantic entanglement, identity, pride, and survival.”
Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club by Shakina Nayfack. Directed by Laura Savia. The world premiere of a play that centers on a vibrant, international group of transgender women who band together at a hotel in Thailand to confront the challenges and joys of gender confirmation surgery. Despite the group’s warm welcome, Kina (Nayfack) prepares for her life-altering operation all alone. But a caring nurse (Ivory Aquino), a wise couple (Kate Bornstein and Annie Golden), and a karaoke-loving bellhop (Telly Leung) may be exactly who she needs to ignite her truest sense of self.”
Days to Come by Lillian Hellman. Directed by J.R. Sullivan Streamed by NYC’s Mint Theatre Company through February 21.
I have never seen this Hellman drama about a union on strike in Ohio, perhaps because it did badly when it premiered on Broadway in 1936. Critic George Jean Nathan called the production “a deserved prompt failure.” The New York Times review of the Mint Theatre Company’s 2018 revival is pretty negative — but why not take a look and make up your own mind? Arts Fuse review
Etta and Ella on the Upper West Side by Adrienne Kennedy. Directed by Timothy Douglas, Staged by Round House Theatre. The video will stream on demand and you may watch it (and all other festival plays) at your convenience at any time through February 28.
A world premiere of a play by the venerable dramatist, the final production of Round House Theatre’s virtual play festival The Work of Adrienne Kennedy: Inspiration & Influence.
“Etta and Ella Harrison are astoundingly gifted scholars, deeply connected sisters, and dangerously bitter rivals. They frequently write and teach together, and even their separate works are unnervingly similar, often sourced from their own family history. Now, after a lifetime of competition, they are on the verge of destroying each other. Adrienne Kennedy intricately blends monologue, dialogue, voiceover, and prose to create an experience that is part experimental play, part narrative thriller, and wholly unforgettable. Set against the gothic backdrop of their academic New York world, Etta and Ella on the Upper West Side is a taut, kaleidoscopic tale of ambition and madness—brought to theatrical life for the very first time.”
The Race by Mark Binder. Directed by Brien Lang; staged by Rhode Island’s Wilbury Theatre Group. Performances via Zoom, through
The world premiere of a “challenging new play that examines the common, and sometimes uncommon, obstacles of a high-pressure corporate interview dance in the Zoom era.” “Two job-seekers from vastly different backgrounds vie for the same position in a large, faceless corporation. Each reveals uncomfortable truths from their past while dodging landmines from their competition, and dealing with an increasingly demanding disembodied interviewer. The audience also plays an integral part as they can communicate in a live chat, as the interview happens onscreen, and ultimately decide who is the best man for the job.” Arts Fuse review
Tiger Style! by Mike Lew. Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company in partnership with GBH presents Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. GBH will broadcast the audio play on the radio on February 6 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on 89.7 FM and stream it on wgbh.org and the GBH News app. The Huntington will also launch the audio production as a podcast in four weekly installments, starting on February 4, along with a companion podcast series “Exploring Tiger Style!” — a bonus content series of insightful conversations with actors, artists, and community members, curated by the Huntington education and artistic departments.
“Tiger Style! features squabbling siblings Albert and Jennifer Chen, who reached the pinnacle of academic achievement and graduated from Harvard. But as adults, they’re epic failures: he’s just been passed up for a promotion and she’s been dumped by her loser boyfriend. So, naturally, they confront their parents and launch an Asian Freedom Tour!”
“The play explores what happens when educational achievements and hard work don’t lead to personal or professional success. Traveling from California to China, this hilarious contemporary play examines the immigrant experience, racial stereotypes, parenting, and notions of success with wit and sharp humor.” Arts Fuse review of stage production.
African Caribbean MixFest: A Collection of Short Plays. Directed by Danielle A. Drakes. Streamed by the Atlantic Theater Company, January 26 at 6 p.m.
An evening in MixFest, an annual free reading series exploring and celebrating the abundance of diverse stories in the theater. The African Caribbean MixFest features two weeks of readings of new work co-produced by playwright Guadalís Del Carmen and playwright, director, and artistic director of the Young Vic Kwame Kwei-Armah. This evening is made up of readings of three commissioned short plays by Julissa Contreras, Dane Figueroa Edidi, and Patrice Johnson Chevannes, plus a short play by Jeff Augustin.
The Woman Hater by Frances Burney. Directed by Everett Quinton. A special event benefit reading for Red Bull Theater on January 25 at 7:30 EST.
A real treat for those interested in the nooks and crannies of the theater’s past. “Sir Roderick has turned frantic misogynist for two reasons: he was jilted 17 years previously and his sister had the gall to marry his ex-fiancee’s brother. Burney’s outrageously witty comedy of manners bursts into life with the introduction of the former fiancee, Lady Smatter, who has turned into a voracious and addle-brained bookworm.”
“Frances Burney wrote the The Woman Hater between 1796 and 1801. Although the play was never performed in public, Burney drew a cast list of prominent actors from Drury Lane, including Sarah Siddons, the best known tragedienne of the day, as Eleonora. The play shares its title with the 1607 play by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, which also lampoons misogyny. Burney’s play first came to light in 1945 when the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library acquired a collection of her writing. Her plays were published for the first time in 1995.
“The Woman Hater is best characterized as a sentimental comedy, but it contains elements of several other genres including gothic drama, farce and comedy of manners.”
TAPE by Stephen Belber. Adapted by Neil Davidson. Directed by John Dapolito. Streamed by TheSharedStage on February 5,6,7 and 22,13,14.
Sounds like an intriguing attempt to experiment with Zoom staging. “This is not a play produced on a virtual stage, a Zoom reading, or a streamed from a theater. The play is a live call. We’ve developed new conventions of acting and directing that transform the call into a visually dynamic, engaging, and impactful experience. The approach raises profound issues about consent, manipulation, power, loyalty, and truth. This new medium brings the audience into the moral and ethical debate in powerful new ways. Our audiences have been eager to discuss the play, the medium, and their reactions to the issues raised. After the show, the actors and creative team come back on screen to talk with you explore your experiences with you. You can talk live or chat through Q&A.”
— Bill Marx
Walking Plays, an audio play series, Lyric Stage Company of Boston
According to Lyric Stage’s artistic director Courtney O’Connor, this new audio series was created as a way to bring “a form of live theatre” to a public that hasn’t been able to experience it since theaters closed because of the Covid pandemic.
“The Walking Plays provide a way for audiences to explore both the hidden gems and iconic landmarks of Boston and the joy of theatre beyond the Lyric Stage doors. This series will commission six 10- to 15-minute plays exploring private moments we experience in public. Listeners will be able to use maps provided by the Lyric Stage to walk along with the plays or to listen to them from their own homes. Together, the plays will form a loop beginning in Copley Square, winding through the city, and ending at a special location in the Back Bay. The plays will be available for free on the Lyric Stage’s website.
“The Walking Plays will include ‘Easter eggs’ throughout the walk, which will add another level of enjoyment for listeners. Executive director Matt Chapuran said, ‘It’s a great chance for people who are unfamiliar with the city of Boston to learn more about what makes it so special. Or a chance to fall in love with the city all over again.’
“The series premiered with the release of On Paying Attention by David Valdes, a Cuban-American playwright interested in stories of personal identity, especially global majority and LGBTQ experiences. He teaches playwriting at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, as well as English at Tufts University.
Next to premiere is Monster in the Sky by Ginger Lazarus. “Lazarus is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter whose works have been featured in her native Boston area, around the country, and across the pond in London. She holds a master’s degree in playwriting from Boston University and currently teaches at the University of Massachusetts Boston.”
“The remaining four plays will be released in two batches later in the winter and spring.”
— Evelyn Rosenthal
Roots and World Music
40 Years in Yiddishland: The Yiddish Book Center celebrates the Klezmer Conservatory Band. Streaming on January 24 at 2 p.m. EST. The event is free and open to the public. It will be presented via Zoom and will stream live on the Yiddish Book Center’s Facebook page. To reserve a virtual seat in the Zoom audience — which will allow you to submit questions — registration at this link is required.
This will no doubt be a lively (and well-deserved) celebration.
“In 1979, 24-year old Hankus Netsky began organizing student jam sessions at Boston’s New England Conservatory to play the little known Eastern European folk music known as klezmer. The Klezmer Conservatory Band’s first gig followed in 1980 at NEC’s Brown Hall. Meanwhile, in Western Massachusetts, 24-year-old Yiddish literature graduate student Aaron Lansky launched a campaign to save the world’s Yiddish books, hoping to rescue the estimated 70,000 Yiddish books believed to be salvageable, a goal Lansky’s Yiddish Book Center surpassed in six months.”
“Two enduring pillars of the Yiddish cultural resurgence mark 40th anniversaries with an event featuring interviews with Klezmer Conservatory Band founder Netsky and Yiddish Book Center founder Lansky by noted film critic Kenneth Turan.” There will also be excerpts from acclaimed KCB performances and cameos by KCB collaborators, including Itzhak Perlman and Joel Grey.
— Bill Marx
Hatch Memorial Shell, Boston, MA
through February 21. Every 20 minutes from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.
In normal times the Hatch Memorial Shell might have celebrated the 20th anniversary of the partnership between the Esplanade Association and the Mass DCR with one of the large-scale free concerts the Hatch stage is famous for. Instead, the groups are offering Bostonians a chance to bundle up and enjoy this nightly installation designed by Maria Finkelmeier. The soundtrack, which can be heard via a cell phone, is performed by Finkelmeier and a half-dozen other Boston musicians. The projections are a mix of animation, lighting, and shapes, all arranged for the unique formation of the Hatch Shell. The 300 showings over the next month should guarantee more than enough spacing to keep things safe.
Club Passim’s robust streaming schedule continues this month with many folk greats. There’s also the Global Roots series, which on Monday features master drummer Marcos Santos, whose Afro-Brazilian rhythms have been a staple at Boston events for years.
Global Arts Live has a winter season full of online concerts and conversations with the international artists who are unable to tour during the pandemic. They’ve also added a few documentary screenings to the mix. Tunde is the story of Tunde Jegede, a musician who bridges the worlds of African and classical music. A conversation with the filmmaker follows the 8 p.m. stream.
— Noah Schaffer
One unexpected side effect of the pandemic is that, with more and more art museums offering virtual experiences, you are no longer limited by your location to enjoy museum programs. The Metlivearts program of The Metropolitan Museum of Art will offer a digital premiere on January 26 of the film They Will Take My Island, a collaboration between composer Mary Kouyoumdijian and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Atom Egoyan.
The film explores the life and widespread influence of the Armenian-American painter Arshile Gorky, a one-time resident of Watertown, MA, whose career as both a figurative and abstract painter helped inspire the mid-20th-century ascent of American art. Interviews and scenes by Egoyan are combined with original scores by Kouyoumdijian as performed by the JACK and Silvana Quartets. The virtual screening will take place from 7:00 – 7:30 p.m. and is accessible, without password, via Facebook and YouTube as well as via the Met’s website, metmuseum.org.
Although the Harvard Art Museums have been closed to the general public for months, their Harvard Art Museums from Home programs continue to appear at a fast pace. Events coming up in the next two weeks include the first Art Study Seminar of 2021. The seminar, limited to 15 participants in normal times, has been able to expand its reach for the virtual duration. The program for January 29 will look at objects from the the ancient Mesopotamian town of Nuzi and the years of technical studies that have revealed the secrets of their creation. The seminar will also discuss plans for displaying selections to the public in the future. The program is free but registration is required through the museums’ website, harvardmuseums.org.
Also coming up in Harvard’s at-home calendar are a January 28 talk on the legendary collaboration between Pablo Picasso and the Ballets Russes, just as World War I ended and revolution raged in Russia, and a February 2 discussion of the 20th-century Swiss book artist, printmaker, and sculptor Dieter Roth’s unorthodox art materials (which included rotting food) with curatorial fellow Lauren Hanson.
The Worcester Art Museum is one of a dwindling group of New England institutions still open to the public (buy tickets in advance online) but it is also offering a full schedule of remote access, hands-on artist classes via Zoom. Adult (teens welcome) classes starting soon include “Abstract Expressionism in the 21st Century,” exploring abstract painting using acrylic paints and a variety of drawing materials, “Calligraphy,” and “Putting Drawing in Perspective,” which explores how to use the great Renaissance invention of linear perspective, all starting February 9, and “Experimental Watercolors” and “Pastel Drawing” starting on February 10. Children’s classes are also available. For details, including materials lists and a registration link, see the museum’s website at worcesterart.org.
— Peter Walsh
Elizabeth Powell & Mark Wunderlich
Atomizer & God of Nothingness
January 25 at 7 p.m.
Atomizer explores fragrance and perfumery as a means of biological and religious seduction. In his collection of poetry, Wunderlich asks: “how is it we go on as those around us die?”
Walking With Ghosts: A Memoir
January 26 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $31, including copy of book and signed bookplate
“Moving between sensual recollection of childhood in a now almost vanished Ireland and reflections on stardom in Hollywood and Broadway, Byrne also courageously recounts his battle with addiction and the ambivalence of fame. Walking with Ghosts is by turns hilarious and heartbreaking as well as a lyrical homage to the people and landscapes that ultimately shape our destinies.”
Simon Winchester — Harvard Book Store
Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World
January 27 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $35.25, including signed copy
“Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World examines in depth how we acquire land, how we steward it, how and why we fight over it, and finally, how we can, and on occasion do, come to share it. Ultimately, Winchester confronts the essential question: who actually owns the world’s land—and why does it matter?”
Paul Farmer with Ophelia Dahl — Porter Square Books
Fevers, Feuds, and Diamonds: Ebola and the Ravages of History
January 28 at 7 p.m.
$5 suggested donation
“Paul Farmer, the internationally renowned doctor and anthropologist, experienced the Ebola outbreak firsthand — Partners in Health, the organization he founded, was among the international responders. In his new book, he offers the first substantive account of this frightening, fast-moving episode and its implications. He traces West Africa’s chronic health failures back to centuries of exploitation and injustice. ”
Chang-Rae Lee — Harvard Book Store
My Year Abroad: A Novel
February 2 at 7 p.m.
$3 suggested contribution
“Rich with commentary on Western attitudes, Eastern stereotypes, capitalism, global trade, mental health, parenthood, mentorship, and more, My Year Abroad is also an exploration of the surprising effects of cultural immersion– on a young American in Asia, on a Chinese man in America, and on an unlikely couple hiding out in the suburbs. Tinged at once with humor and darkness, electric with its accumulating surprises and suspense, this is a novel that only Chang-rae Lee could have written.”
Charles M. Blow with Bakari Sellers, [Ticketed] — Porter Square Books
The Devil You Know
February 3 at 7 p.m.
“Acclaimed columnist and author Charles Blow never wanted to write a ‘race book.’ But as violence against Black people– both physical and psychological–seemed only to increase in recent years, culminating in the historic pandemic and protests of the summer of 2020, he felt compelled to write a new story for Black Americans. He envisioned a succinct, counterintuitive, and impassioned corrective to the myths that have for too long governed our thinking about race and geography in America. Drawing on both political observations and personal experience as a Black son of the South, Charles set out to offer a call to action by which Black people can finally achieve equality, on their own terms.”
David Duchovny with Robin Young — Brookline Booksmith
Truly Like Lightning
February 4 at 7 p.m.
$35 tickets, include signed copy of the book
“For the past twenty years, Bronson Powers, former Hollywood stuntman and converted Mormon, has been homesteading deep in the uninhabited desert outside Joshua Tree with his three wives and ten children. Bronson and his wives have been raising their family away from the corruption and evil of the modern world. Their insular existence– controversial, difficult, but Edenic– is over.”
— Matt Hanson
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