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.
Boston longest running festival is virtual this year so your opportunities are better than ever to see everything you want. There will be 25 films, 50 shorts & 10 panels. Once a film opens it is available for viewing anytime until February 15 at 11:59 p.m.
Welcome to Chechnya
February 17 at 7 p.m. EST and 18 at 8 p.m. EST
Streamed by Bright Lights/Arts Emerson
“With searing urgency, Welcome to Chechnya shadows a group of activists who risk unimaginable peril to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ pogrom raging in the repressive and closed Russian republic. Since 2017, Chechnya’s tyrannical leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has waged a depraved operation to “cleanse the blood” of LGBTQ Chechens, overseeing a government-directed campaign to detain, torture and execute them. With no help from the Kremlin and only faint global condemnation, activists take matters into their own hands. In his new documentary, director David France uses a remarkable approach to anonymity to expose this atrocity and to tell the story of an extraordinary group of people confronting evil.”
IFFBoston (Virtual) Screening Series:
February 10 at 7 p.m.
Fill out the form at the above RSVP link. An email with a viewing link will be sent out by Showtime on Wednesday.
A defense attorney (Jodie Foster), her associate (Shailene Woodley), and a military prosecutor (Benedict Cumberbatch) uncover a far-reaching conspiracy while investigating the case of a suspected 9/11 terrorist imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. The latest effort from from Kevin Macdonald, director of The Last King Of Scotland.
AT LOCAL THEATERS
Arts Fuse critic Nicole Veneto writes “What elevates Psycho Goreman beyond being merely another kitschy send-up to VHS-era nostalgia is the sheer level of craft on display: stop-motion claymation, full-body prosthetics and creature suits, giant animatronic puppets, buckets and buckets of stage blood … practically done head explosions or the presence of a giant animatronic brain with fully articulated tentacles.” (Fuse review)
From the director of Room 237, this is a lively (yet superficial) exploration of the theory that our reality is actually a computer simulation. The documentary’s jumping off point is a lecture delivered by the writer Philip K. Dick in France in the ’70s. Dick was a genuine artist, and also lived with mental illness; his pained “revelations” about his perceptions of the world around him are moving to hear.
BLACK HISTORY GLOBE DOCUMENTARIES
For Black History Month in February, Globe Docs presents documentaries available for viewing this week with discussions to follow. Note: You need to RSVP.
Memoirs Of A Black Girl
Discussion: February 8
12:00 – 12:45 p.m.
A coming-of-age film that explores the lives of diverse urban students in an underserved High School in Roxbury, MA. Aisha Johnson, a young Black girl, is one of four city-wide finalists for a prestigious college scholarship. Her world is suddenly turned upside down when she reports the school’s resident “it girls” for smoking weed in the bathroom. She becomes targeted as a “snitch.” After watching the film, join filmmaker Thato Mwosa, lead actress Khai Tyler, cinematographer John ADEkoje, and consulting producer Jessica Estelle Huggins,in conversation with the Globe‘s Dasia Moore. RSVP
Discussion: February 11
12:00 – 12:45 p.m.
Anchored by Greg Scruggs, a two-time Super Bowl champion and young father who recently returned to his hometown to impress upon young Black athletes the importance of education first, Black Boys is nothing if not relevant. It shows a nation still struggling to rectify its racial legacy while it illuminates the full humanity of Black boys and men in America. Chad Williamson and Jon-Thomas (J.T.) Royston will be in conversation with the Globe‘s Greg Lee. RSVP
Discussion: Tuesday, February 16
12:00 – 12:45 p.m.
Code Switching presents the highly personal stories of two generations of students participating in the Boston METCO busing program, which buses minority students from the inner city to the suburbs for the purpose of desegregation and equal education. The students strive to make the best of enhanced academic opportunities while simultaneously struggling to navigate the tensions between urban and suburban cultures. How does the new generation of METCO students stay afloat in the boiler room of social media and increased competition for college enrollment? Mike Mascoll and Jonathan Schwartz will be part of the discussion, moderated by the Globe‘s Meghan Irons. RSVP
Fuse Critics Recommendations
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 before, so their time together has become the most important thing they share. Arts Fuse review
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. Our critic had never heard of this Disney-style elder oasis — this documentary was a real eye opener. Arts Fuse review
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. Arts Fuse review
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. It is 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
Enjoying its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this month, Prano Bailey-Bond’s Censor is just the sort of film that both filmmakers and critics love to discuss: it’s a movie about making and watching movies, giving us all an opportunity to reflect on this magical — and problematic — art form. (Or is it art at all — maybe it’s just a business…?). It’s also cast in a popular, but misunderstood, genre — horror, and of the particularly questionable, gory, and outright misogynistic “slasher” variety. But in this case the “psychological” qualifier should be included as well. To top it off, it’s the debut film from an emerging director who brings with her a deep knowledge of and appreciation for the history of film and some strong directorial chops put to excellent use. These elements are stirred together in a tight 84-minute package to explore thought-provoking questions about the strange relationships between films, society, fantasy, and reality — and individual identity — in an increasingly mediated and violent world. Arts Fuse review
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…
The Dissident, directed Bryan Fogel. On-demand.
A lacerating expose of the whys and hows behind the 2018 gruesome murder of Washington Post journalist and activist Jamal Khashoggi by the forces of authoritarian repression in Saudi Arabia. Director Fogel says he picked the subject because he “was looking for a story regarding human rights, regarding freedom of speech, freedom of press, journalism. I also wanted a story that had real world implications that could create real world change through social action or political action.” He has succeeded splendidly, though he overestimated his ability to initiate discussion and action. The major streaming companies, fearful the documentary would impact on their bottom lines in the Middle East, turned their backs on distributing The Dissident. Do you need any more evidence of the film’s genuine sting — and its importance?
According to Variety, why did Netflix and other major companies ignore the film? “Fogel thinks the subject matter was too explosive for bigger companies, which have financial ties to Saudi Arabia or are looking to access the country’s massive population of well-to-do consumers. Using interviews with Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz, as well as friends and fellow activists, Fogel creates a damning portrait of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s apparent involvement in brutally silencing the writer and thinker and the country’s crackdown on free speech. Thanks to previously unreleased audio recordings, The Dissident draws a direct line between Khashoggi’s assassination at the Saudi embassy in Turkey and the Saudi government’s anger over his outspoken criticism of the country’s human rights abuses and mismanagement.”
— Bill Marx
— Tim Jackson
Lafayette Gilchrist, a livestream solo piano concert celebrating Black History Month presented by An Die Musik, 409 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD, on February 11 at 7 p.m. Tickets: $10.
Gilchrist “formed his first ensemble, New Volcanoes, in 1993 and released his debut album, The Art is Life, that same year. He’s since released 13 other albums as a leader. In addition to The Wire, his music has been featured on HBO’s Treme and The Deuce. “Gilchrist’s writing weaves together old-school funk rhythms with hip-hop cadences and raw street beats,” says Troy Collins in All About Jazz. “His melodic sensibility embraces the esoteric angularity of Andrew Hill and Sun Ra as much as the emotional directness of the blues.”
Shalom Hanoch With Moshe Levi “Yetzia” (Exit), A Special Valentine’s Day Streaming show, presented by Blue Note Jazz Club on February 13 at 2:30 p.m. EST.
“For the first time – Shalom Hanoch (vocals and guitar) and Moshe Levy (keyboards, piano, vocals and accordion) — in a special live-streaming show from Israel to the rest of the world. The marvelous artistic chemistry between the two has been creating for almost 2 decades each time a unique show. Hanoch plays classic songs from his diverse repertoire in a career spanning more than 50 years.”
Pianist and vocalist Zahili Gonzales Zamora’s musical language is rooted in the traditions of her native Cuba, as well as the worlds of bebop, funk, and soul. She will be joined for this instrumental set by her husband, Chilean bassist Gerson Lazo Quiroga. Zahili and Gerson have performed on festival stages in Monterey, Montreal and Ottobrun, Germany, and their ensemble MIXCLA was recognized in Downbeat Magazine‘s Latin Group Outstanding Performance category (2017) and was nominated in the International Artist of the Year category in at the 2018 Boston Music Awards.
— Bill Marx
Online participatory dance festival for all ages
For those who are feeling restless and looking to move, look no further than the online version of this year’s celebrated Flurry Festival, featuring a rich tapestry of cultural folk dances including contra, Balkan, clogging, and African, to name a mere few among many! While you’re “there,” don’t miss Irish Step classes taught by Boston’s own Kieran Jordan, who will be joining a panel discussion as well.
Virtual Premiere: Saturday, February 13 at 11 a.m.
Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning presents the virtual premiere of Aaiye (Welcome) this weekend, created by Rovaco Dance Company during the Making Moves Dance Festival 2020. The performance fuses South Asian hospitality with Indian street theater and features: choreography by Rohan Bhargava in collaboration with dancers Siddharth Dutta and Devika Chandnani; videography by Melissa Wu; and music by Saúl Guanipa. Narrated in Hinglish, Aaiye (Welcome) combines contemporary dance, spoken text, and immersive theater to invite cultural exchange and dialogue. A Q&A with the artists follows the virtual premiere.
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
Presented by A Far Cry
February 7, 2 p.m.
The Criers’ season continues with a concert that culminates in one of their hallmarks of late: a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings played from memory. Before that comes Arvo Pärt’s Silouan’s Song and Joseph Bologne’s Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat major.
The Spirit of Beethoven
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
February 11, 12 p.m.
BSO music director Andris Nelsons returns to the podium for the first time in over a year, leading the ensemble in Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony and Hannah Kendall’s Disillusioned Dreamer. A string quartet of BSO members also performs Caroline Shaw’s Blueprint.
Concord and Conversation with Yehudi Wyner
Presented by Concord Chamber Music Society
February 12, 12 p.m.
CCMS offers a two-part concert featuring pianist and composer Yehudi Wyner. In the first, Wyner discusses and plays a pair of solo piano works of his. For the second, he’s joined by CCMS founder and director Wendy Putnam in Florence Price’s “Andante Cantabile.”
Glories of the Baroque: Vivaldi
Presented by Handel and Haydn Society
February 14 and 16
Aisslinn Nosky directs the H&H orchestra in an all-Vivaldi program centered around the cantata “Cessate, omai cessate.” Countertenor Reginald Mobley is featured in the latter, while organist Ian Watson shares the solo spotlight with Nosky in the D-minor Concerto for Violin and Organ.
Sir Andras Schiff in recital
Presented by Celebrity Series
February 19, 7:30 p.m.
The acclaimed pianist makes his first digital Celebrity Series appearance playing pieces by Bach, Beethoven, and Schumann.
The Spirit of Beethoven
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
February 18, 12 p.m.
Nelsons’ Beethoven-themed series with the BSO continues with the Symphony no. 6, here paired with Imam Habibi’s Jeder Baum spricht. The program’s filled out with a trio of BSO players presenting Debussy’s beguiling Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp.
The Spirit of Beethoven
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
February 24, 12 p.m.
Andris Nelsons leads Beethoven’s Fifth and Seventh Symphonies, as well as Carlos Simon’s Fate Now Conquers, while violinist Haldan Martinson and pianist Max Levinson present Arnold Schoenberg’s Phantasy for violin and piano.
— 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.”
“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.”
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 February 7.
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. Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. The Huntington is featuring this audio production as a podcast in four weekly installments 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.
TAPE by Stephen Belber. Adapted by Neil Davidson. Directed by John Dapolito. Streamed by TheSharedStage on February 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.”
The Madness of Hercules, streamed by Theater at War productions, February 18 at 7 to 9 p.m. EST.
The evening “presents dramatic readings by acclaimed actors of scenes from Euripides’ Madness of Hercules — an ancient Greek tragedy about an unthinkable act of violence committed by an angry man with an invincible weapon—for audiences composed of concerned citizens, activists, students, and survivors of gun violence, in order to generate powerful dialogue between these communities, fostering compassion, understanding, awareness, and positive action. Featuring performances by David Denman, Frankie Faison, Taylor Schilling, Jumaane Williams, and Nyasha Hatendi. Translated, and directed, and facilitated by Bryan Doerries.”
Inside the Wild Heart, adapted for the stage by Andressa Furletti and Debora Balardini. Directed by Linda Wise. A streamed film version of a a production staged by GROUP DOT BR, New York’s only Brazilian theatre company. Starting from February 12, the show will be available on Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. EST and on Sundays at 5 p.m. through March 28. Tickets: $15-$50.
“An immersive theatrical experience based on the works of Clarice Lispector, Brazil’s most acclaimed female writer, presented in New York in 2016 and 2018. The show transported the audience directly inside Lispector’s heart creating an experience that encouraged them to engage with literature on a sensory level. Now the 2018’s filmed performance is available for viewers around the world through the gather.town platform, allowing the audience to navigate through the three virtual floors of Aich Studio, a preserved 19th-century space in the heart of Gramercy Park. Similar to the live show, the audience will be able to access 11 different journeys and choose whom to follow, where to go, and how much time to spend in each room. In doubt of what to do just ask “If you were you, how would you be and what would you do?”
“The show integrates visual arts, film, music & performance art, which embodies the writer’s deepest feelings, serving as an entry point to Clarice’s incredible work, still mostly unknown in the US. The performers embody the writer’s biggest themes such as identity, solitude, madness, faith, time, violence, maternity, childhood and freedom accompanied by the awarded violinist Mario Forte.”
— 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
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.
Julian Loida and Charles Overton
One highlight of last summer’s bleak concert season was a Covid-safe presentation by the beguiling duo of percussionist Loida and harpist Overton. They’re bringing their one-of-a-kind sound back for a pair of virtual concerts: February 10 for Club Passim, and March 25 for the Celebrity Series.
Fat Boy: The Billy Stewart Story
WGBH World Channel
February 20, 7 p.m.
WGBH’s digital documentary-focused channel (available both on most cable systems as well as with an over-the-air antenna) is offering a bevy of Black History Month programming. Of particular note to soul music fans will be the premiere of this new film by Beverly Linday-Johnson about Billy Stewart, the beloved entertainer whose memorable vocal gymnastics took his version of “Summertime” to the top of the charts before his tragic death in 1970.
The Faux Paws
Swamp pop fans may know saxophonist Chris Miller from the Revelers. He’s also part of this fun trio — which also features Noah and Andrew VanNorstrand — that puts a modern spin on the New England fiddle and dance tradition.
Even ardent roots music fans may be unfamiliar with the Folk Alliance International unless they actively work in the music business. The industry convention usually connects artists with the likes of radio hosts, venue programmers, and record labels. The upshot to this year’s virtual conference (Folk Unlocked) is that anyone can check out the 800+ hours of showcases (one of which will be offered in conjunction with Club Passim). A modest suggested donation is requested for the Village Fund, which will benefit the many musicians and music workers who have lost income over the past year.
— Noah Schaffer
It’s getting a bit difficult to keep track of the pandemic museum variations, with their closings, reopenings, reclosings, re-reopenings, and on-line projects. So be sure to check websites for ticketing and attendance policies for exhibitions and events you want to see. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is definitely re-open, with the now-standard advanced tickets, anti-infection measures, and special hours (see MFA.org for details). That means the MFA’s year-long exhibition, Collecting Stories: The Invention of Folk Art (open through January 9, 2022) is now available for non-virtual viewing.
“Collecting Stories” focuses on sculpture and works on paper drawn from the major collection assembled by the Russian immigrant and champion of “art of the people” Maxim Karolik in the 1940s and later donated to the MFA. It explores the invention of the term “folk art” in the early 20th century and traces the rich legacy of visual work created by Americans, including African-Americans and Hispanics, who created without academic art training or the restrictions of a formal art historical canon. It is, the museum says, ‘the beginning of the MFA’s multi year initiative exploring how to better understand and display artwork historically labeled as folk art.”
On February 6, the Worcester Art Museum opened The Kimono in Print: 300 Years of Japanese Design. The show is the first to concentrate on the traditional Japanese costume of the kimono as a major source of inspiration for Japanese woodblock prints of the Edo and Meiji periods, which, in turn, had a major influence on European modern art. Billed as a “dialogue” between print and kimono design, the exhibition includes some 70 prints as well as illustrated books and paintings, mostly selected from the 3,000 works given to the museum. In 1901 by the collector John Chandler Bancroft.
On February 11, the New Britain Museum of American Art continues its year-long series on American women artists with Helen Frankenthaler: Late Works, 1990-2003. Frankenthaler, whose arresting, large-scale abstract paintings made her an artist-celebrity when she was still in her twenties, played a key role in the first generation of American artists to emerge after American art broke out of the shadow of European tradition. She was also one of the first American women artists to be fully recognized on a level with her male colleagues.
The New Britain exhibition is the first to concentrate on Frankenthaler’s late-career work and focuses on about two dozen works on paper, made between 1990 and 2003, some of them measuring over six feet.
One of the many technical innovations of 19th-century European art was the “cliche-verse,” a method of making multiples that combined ideas of traditional printmaking with photography. Invented in France in the 1850s, cliche-verse used coated glass plates, etched or painted with lines, placed over a sheet of photosensitive paper. Once exposed to sunlight, the process produced an image that could be endlessly repeated. Replaced by more efficient methods, especially photo-lithography, before the end of the century, the technique attracted major artists with its atmospheric effects and its ability to combine traditional and innovative approaches to image-making.
A Change in the Light: The Cliche-Verre in Nineteenth-Centry France opens at the Clark Art Institute on February 13. It features the work of such major French artists as Jean-Baptiste Corot, Eugene Delacroix, Jean Francois Millet, and Theodore Rousseau selected from a special portfolio of cliche-verse made in 1921 from historic plates and recently acquired by the Clark. It’s a rare chance to experience one of the rarer and more ethereal methods of 19th-century art making.
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 include the second Art Study Seminar of 2021, a discussion of the film Edo Avant-Garde with curator Rachel Saunders and director Linda Hoaglund, presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection. The program is free but registration is required through the museums’ website, harvardmuseums.org.
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
Virtual Event: Kevin Davies – Events – Harvard Book Store
Editing Humanity: The CRISPR Revolution and the New Era of Genome Editing
February 9 at 5 p.m.
Free with $3 suggested contribution
“Engrossing and page-turning, Editing Humanity takes readers inside the fascinating world of a new gene editing technology called CRISPR, a high-powered genetic toolkit that enables scientists to not only engineer but to edit the DNA of any organism down to the individual building blocks of the genetic code. Davies introduces readers to arguably the most profound scientific breakthrough of our time. He tracks the scientists on the front lines of its research to the patients whose powerful stories bring the narrative movingly to human scale.”
Virtual Event: Claudio Lomnitz – Events – Harvard Book Store
Nuestra America: My Family in the Vertigo of Translation
February 10 at 7 p.m.
Free with $3 suggested donation
“In Nuestra American, eminent anthropologist and historian Claudio Lomnitz traces his grandparents’ exile from Eastern Europe to South America. At the same time, the book is a pretext to explain and analyze the worldview, culture, and spirit of countries such as Peru, Columbia, and Chile, from the perspective of educated Jewish emigrants imbued with the hope and determination typical of those who escaped Europe in the 1920’s.”
Virtual: Marcos Gonsalez with Jennifer Baker, Pedro’s Theory | Porter Square Books
February 12 at 7 p.m.
“One Pedro goes to a school where they take away his language. Another disappears in the desert, leaving behind only a backpack. A cousin Pedro comes to visit, awakening feelings that others are afraid to make plain. A rumored Pedro does missing so completely it’s as if he were never there. In Pedro’s Theory Marcos Gonzalez explores the lives of these many Pedros, real and imagined. Several are the author himself, while others are strangers, lovers, archetypes, and the men he might have been in other circumstances.”
Virtual Event: Ethan Hawke – Events – Harvard Book Store
A Bright Ray of Darkness: A Novel
February 20 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $33, including copy of the book
“Hawke’s first novel in nearly twenty years is a bracing meditation on fame and celebrity, and the redemptive, healing power of art. It is concerned with rage and sex, longing and despair.” It is also “a passionate love letter to the world of theater.”
Emily St. John Mandel with Isaac Fitzgerald: The Glass Hotel | brookline booksmith
Emily St. John Mandel
The Glass House: A Novel
February 23 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $25 with book or $3 suggested donation
“From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, an exhilarating novel set at the glittering intersection of two seemingly disparate events– a Ponzi scheme and the mysterious disappearance of a woman from a ship at sea.”
Patricia Lockwood with Jenny Offill | brookline booksmith
Patricia Lockwood & Jenny Offill
No One Is Talking About This & Weather
February 24 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $44 with both books, $34 for one, or free
“Fragmentary and omniscient, incisive and sincere, Lockwood’s novel is a love letter to the endless scroll and a profound, modern meditation on love, language, and human communication. Offill’s long-awaited new novel promises a tour through a librarian who becomes a doomsday prepper.”
— Matt Hanson