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.
The 19th International Film Series goes virtual this year: eight of the world’s top films are available for streaming for one week, each screening followed by virtual discussions led by either the filmmaker or an expert on the film’s subject. Mondays at 7:30 p.m.
March 16-22: Lunana (Bhutan) New England premiere. An aspiring singer, living with his grandmother in the capital of Bhutan, dreams of getting a visa to relocate to Australia, but first must serve at the most remote school in the world, located in a glacial village in the Himalayas.
March 24-30: Charlatan directed by Agnieszka Holland (Czech Republic, Ireland, Slovakia, Poland) New England premiere. Oscar nominee Holland (Europa, Europa) directs this true story of a natural healer who is caught in the crosshairs of the former Czechoslovakia’s totalitarian regime in the 1950s.
April 2-5: A Son (Tunisia, France, Lebanon, Qatar) Only available for streaming for 72 hours. In the summer of 2011, in the immediate aftermath of Tunisia’s Revolution, an upper middle-class family takes a vacation in southern Tunisia. A surprising conflict erupts, leading to the family examining its liberal and modern lifestyle along with a look at how religious traditions impact established medical practices.
DOCYARD SERIES, Available Online: Friday, March 26 through April 1
The US debut of an audacious feature from director Gu Xue. The film opens and ends with the same hour-long take, which focuses on a family discussing their fifth aunt’s condition — she is in intensive care. More than a dozen members, across three generations, crowd around a living room coffee table in the depths of winter in northern China. The observational gaze probes far deeper than examining what the immediate medical decision means. Instead, the conversation explores the future, family ties, and the distribution of wealth among family members. The Choice powerfully reduces cinema down to its simplest form in order to reveal the complexity of life. A live filmmaker Q&A with Curator Abby Sun on Wednesday, March 31st at 8 p.m. EST through Zoom or Facebook Live. Pre-Order Tickets | Q&A Registration
Under the Brattlite/Brattle is showing World Cinema, Cult Cinema, one-offs, documentaries and classics: Viewing is getting more complicated than ever but all purchases will go to the theater. Check the above links. Below are current recommendations.
Justino is an Indigenous widower in Brazil where he works long shifts as a security guard. From time to time he returns to his family in the Amazon. His daughter decides to study medicine and her decision disrupts what had been a very predictable life. In response, he comes down with a mysterious fever. Documentary filmmaker and visual artist Maya Da-Rin has come up with a film that challenges conventional expectations. She workshopped this production with non-professional actors and makes use of innovative storytelling techniques. She patiently and effortlessly weaves themes of family and so-called ‘civilization’ into a blend of documentary style realism and mysticism. Indigenous actor Regis Myrupu is astounding and heartbreaking. Evoking the archetypal and the quotidian, the director’s feeling for her subject is in every compelling shot. This is a masterful tale of the significance of unheralded lives. Not to be missed.
Truth or Consequences (2020)
Set in a near-future when commercial space travel has begun, this “speculative documentary” combines observational footage and virtual reality to create a complex, lyrical meditation on progress, history, and how we navigate a sense of loss within ourselves and in a changing world. A lovely companion to Nomadland. Music by Bill Frisell. Arts Fuse review
Keep An Eye Out (2020)
Prolific French absurdist Quentin Dupieux combines the police procedural, bureaucratic protocol, and domestic sitcom into a comic form of meta-cinema. The original French title (Au Poste!) deliberately mocks the TV series The Office. In the film, a mundane television show alters perception of the viewers’ political and psychological reality and becomes an institution. Check out the film’s amusing trailer.
This is a beautiful restoration of the radical 1972 anti-war film featuring, among others, Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland. (The title is short for Free (or Fuck) The Army.) Francine Parker’s documentary captures the two actors on a live tour of the Pacific Rim in 1971 along with other stars in a vaudeville style show. These counterculture skits, songs — which made serious political points — subverted the traditional army entertainment provided by the likes of Bob Hope and the USO. In order to undermine the tour, the Army went as far as to promote the shows via erroneous start times. In 2009, the LA Times wrote: “Denied permission to perform on U.S. bases, they set up shop in nearby coffeehouses and other venues.” Arts Fuse review
The Inheritance has been called “Godardian” because of its “speculative reenactments,” direct address to the camera, and didacticism regarding the struggle for Black identity. A charismatic cast drives an interlocking story that draws on the history of the West Philadelphia liberation group MOVE, the Black Arts Movement, and scripted scenes based on filmmaker Ephraim Asili’s experience living in a Black Marxist collective. Arts Fuse review
Fuse critic Peter Walsh thinks the documentary covers a lot of dark and tragic territory, but it remains entertaining throughout, no doubt more than anything else from its skill in capturing the fierce, tender, acidic, brilliant, and ultimately inextinguishable energy of its subject, artist David Wojnarowicz, a determinedly “outsider” artist who was among the most furiously outspoken victims of the AIDS epidemic. Chris McKim’s documentary is largely composed of materials from the late subject’s archives, woven into a collage whole that is equal parts biography, vintage agitprop, and objet d’art. Arts Fuse review
France’s official submission to the Academy Awards is a septuagenarian lesbian romance set in a small French town. Actors Barbara Sukowa and Martine Chevallier subvert traditional ideas of what late-in-life passion can look like on film in a relationship that’s threatened by lies, separation, and time.
Following the daily lives of three stray female dogs (the bold Zeytin, the nurturing Nazar, and the shy Kartal), the film introduces us to the streets of Istanbul through the eyes of dogs who are living on the loose in the city.
BRIGHT LIGHTS SERIES
Streaming March 24 & 25
Two decades of exclusive access, plus a lifetime of archival footage, chronicle the life and art of Bill Shannon. We follow him from his early years to his rise as an award-winning dancer and cutting-edge performance artist whose work finds outlet at prestigious venues worldwide. Crutch is an emotional story of an artist’s struggle to be understood. Join for a live 45-minute moderated discussion with directors and subjects of the film.
THE NEW CORPORATION: THE UNFORTUNATELY NECESSARY SEQUEL
March 31 – April 1
This film examines how corporations are airbrushing their take over of society (and our minds) by rebranding themselves as socially conscious organizations. We look at the devastating power of corporations and how they are plotting to keep in control — of people and governments. Includes a visit to the super elites in Davos along with discussions of how climate change and spiraling inequality are good for the bottom line. Of course, there is a down side: the rise of ultra-right leaders, the inadequate response to COVID-19 and racial injustice. Followed by a conversation with the directors Joel Bakan and Jennifer Abbot. Tickets and Information
THE GOETHE INSTITUTE
FASSBINDER’S BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ through March 26.
Now that we are conditioned (or would that be hardened?) by Covid for mini-series viewing, here is an incredible opportunity to indulge in director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 15- part epic whirlwind, a fifteen-hour-plus series,based on Alfred Döblin’s classic modernist novel. This was the crowning achievement of a prolific director who, at age thirty-four, had already made forty films. Fassbinder’s immersive epic was restored in 2006, and it follows the hulking, violent, yet strangely childlike ex-convict Franz Biberkopf as he attempts to become an honest soul amidst the corrosive urban landscape of Weimar-era Germany. Drawing on equal parts of cynicism and humanity, Fassbinder details a mammoth portrait of a common man struggling to survive in a viciously uncommon time. Free but registration required. Discussion with Johannes Binotto and Peter Jelavich on March 21 at 2 p.m. ET
FUSE REVIEWS — 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. (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
— Tim Jackson
Molly Flannery & Haley Peltz, livestream presented by Global Music Foundation, March 27, 6 p.m.
In this half-hour concert, followed by a Q&A, Boston area pianist Molly Flannery will play some original compositions, and then will be joined by vocalist Haley Peltz. Flannery is a mainstay on the local jazz scene, from her days hosting jams at the late, lamented Acton Jazz Café to her current residency at Concord’s Colonial Inn (on hiatus since the pandemic, of course), and is known for her sensitive work with many area vocalists (including me) and her affinity for Brazilian music. Peltz, who spent five years in Brazil, will be featured on songs from that country, a Laura Nyro number, and Flannery originals. Note: Advance tickets are necessary, and booking closes 30 minutes before the performance for payment and sending links.
Yulia Musayelyan Tango Project CD Release Concert: Oblivion, streaming from Virtuosity Boston on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitch, March 30, 7:30-8:30 p.m.
The Moscow-born, Boston-based flutist Yulia Musayelyan celebrates the release of her latest album, Oblivion (ZOHO Music, March 2021), in this concert sponsored by Boston’s Virtuosity Musical Instruments. The new album is a deep dive into tango, featuring classics (including the title tune) by the late Argentinian master composer Astor Piazzolla, whose 100th birthday was this month, as well as works by other tango composers. Joining Musayelyan will be her band of fellow stellar Boston-area musicians and Berklee professors: Fernando Huergo on bass; Maxim Lubarsky on piano; and Mark Walker on drums.
Sheila Jordan & Cameron Brown, livestream, Soapbox Gallery, March 31, 8-9 p.m.
The indefatigable NEA Jazz Master vocal legend Sheila Jordan is known, among other things, for her playful and inventive duos with bass players. For this livestream from Brooklyn’s Soapbox Gallery, Jordan pairs with longtime partner Cameron Brown, with whom she also recorded a couple of albums, I’ve Grown Accustomed to the Bass and Celebration. Any chance to hear Jordan is a cause for celebration, indeed!
— Evelyn Rosenthal
March 22-24 at 7:30 p.m.
The sui generis visionary pianist, composer, film noir aficionado, and teacher Ran Blake is fêted for his 85th birthday (which happened in April 2020) by students and colleagues of his longtime academic home, the New England Conservatory, where he is chair emeritus of the Department of Contemporary Improvisation (formerly Third Stream) with three days of events.
First up, “Looking Back at 85” (March 22, 7:30 p.m.), with Blake being interviewed by historian and Thelonious Monk biographer Robin D. G. Kelley. Expect to hear Blake talk about his personal relationship with Monk and his music.
“Adding Spice” (March 23, 7:30 p.m.). An interview/conversation with Blake and his former student and current CI co-chair Hankus Netsky, billed as reflections on “Ran’s innovative approach to listening, teaching, and performing.”
“Portrait of Ran Blake: Celebrating 85 Years” (March 24, 7:30 p.m.). Organized by CI co-chair Eden MacAdam-Somer, this concert, prerecorded at NEC’s Jordan Hall, features reinterpretations of Blake’s music along with original student compositions and improvisations created as the soundtrack to scenes from Blake film noir favorites “The Pawnbroker (1964) and (noir fantasy) “Portrait of Jennie” (1948). Performers include current students along with the CI Chamber Ensemble, faculty members MacAdam-Somer and Anthony Coleman, and a special solo set by Blake.
Charles Overton and Julian Loida: Harp and Vibraphone duo
March 25 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Free live streaming concert
It’s an unlikely pairing of instruments — a harp and a vibraphone — but the extraordinary duo of Charles Overton and Julian Loida make it work so well. The two are frequent collaborators, and they weave their ethereal sounds together in music that crosses and combines styles: ambient, jazz, world, classical, and much more.
Christian McBride’s New Jawn
March 26, 7:30 p.m.
This performance by the always-compelling bassist, composer, and bandleader Christian McBride and his quartet (saxophonist Marcus Strickland, trumpeter Josh Evans, and drummer Nasheet Waits) was pre-recorded at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York. There will be a live artist Q&A immediately following the Celebrity Series performance premiere and the performance will also be available for on-demand viewing for all ticket holders until April 1 at 7 p.m.
March 28 at 4 p.m.
The nonprofit educational organization Living Jazz, out of Oakland, Calif., presents a pay-what-you-can live stream with the all-female supergroup Artemis. Organized by pianist Renée Rosnes, the band (which released its Blue Note debut in 2020) includes clarinetist Anat Cohen, tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, bassist Noriko Ueda, drummer Allison Miller, and singer Cécile McLorin Salvant. The event is part of Living Arts’ “Call and Response” series, which features “intimate talks with jazz icons.” A discussion with a moderator host will be followed with questions from the audience.
— Jon Garelick
Eric Zinman and Boston musicians in a live, free, outdoor concert presented by The Creative Music Series at Watertown Square (Veterans Memorial) on April 3 at 4 p.m.. Covid-19 protocols observed: distancing, face covers, max attendance.
Composer/keyboardist Zinman will perform on synthesizer with a group that includes Matt Crane on percussion, Ellwood Epps on trumpet, and Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic (variation of the Tibetan water bowls) and vocals. “You can expect sets of (energetic) and (intricate) interactive, solo and collective ideas into improvisations between these terrific and major Boston creative Jazz and free-form artists after a long spell away from live, in-person performances!”
— Bill Marx
Sans Souci Festival: Women’s History Month
Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema presents its second annual Women’s History Month Screening with support from the Boulder Arts Commission. Engage in a lineup of screendance films celebrating and featuring the work of Womxn directors and performers from Australia, Brazil, Japan, and the United States. Topics include marriage, pregnancy, and the relationship between mind and body.
The Barre Project (Blake Works II)
March 27 at 8 p.m. EST
William Forsythe fans will especially appreciate the premiere of his new work The Barre Project (Blake Works II), an exhilarating performance featuring world-class dance artists Tiler Peck, Lex Ishimoto, Brooklyn Mack, and Roman Mejia, set to the music of James Blake. Tune in for this free live-streamed event!
The Art of Classical Ballet
Now through April 4th
Boston Ballet’s first virtual season continues with The Art of Classical Ballet. This hour-long production features newly-filmed excerpts from the company’s Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, among other ballet classics. This performance is the most recent entry in Boston Ballet’s BB@yourhome series.
April 1 at 4 p.m. EST
Harvard Dance Center presents its second intimate artist talk, this time with teachers Jean Robens Georges, Jeffrey L. Page, Amirah Sackett, Lonnie Stanton, and Yury Yanowksy. This event continues Harvard’s new series of conversations led by local dance artists as they discuss themes of artistry, identity, and advocacy. This is a live-streamed Zoom event; registration is required. Closed captioning is available to those who need it.
— Merli V. Guerra
William Steinberg conducts Holst and Elgar
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
Through April 3
BSO Now’s archival series continues with the orchestra’s former music director, William Steinberg, leading two, early-20th-century English scores: “Mercury,” from Gustav Holst’s The Planets, and Edward Elgar’s magisterial Symphony no. 2.
CPE Bach and Friends
Presented by Handel & Haydn Society
Ian Watson directs the H&H Orchestra in a survey of instrumental music spanning the 1750s to ‘70s. Music by C.P.E. Bach (J.S.’s second surviving son) is framed by some Mozart rarities, as well as pieces by Charles Avison and William Boyce.
Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7
Presented by Handel & Haydn Society
March 28 and 30
H&H’s season continues with guest conductor Václav Luks making his Society debut leading Beethoven’s brilliant Symphony no. 7
— Jonathan Blumhofer
The Catastrophist by Lauren M. Gunderson. A Trinity Repertory presentation, co-produced by Marin Theatre Company and Round House Theatre. Streaming through Trinity Rep through May 31.
“Virologist Nathan Wolfe, named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for his work tracking viral pandemics, has hunted viruses from the jungles of Cameroon to the basement of the CDC. Hear his story – presented as cinematic digital theatre – as he tracks the threats that come from without and within.”
The Race by Mark Binder. Directed by Brien Lang; staged by Rhode Island’s Wilbury Theatre Group. Performances via Zoom, through March 28.
Back by popular demand! 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
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.”
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.”
The Aran Islands: A Performance on Screen, drawn from the work of J.M. Synge. Adapted and directed by Joe O’Byrne. Starring Brendan Conroy. Streamed by the Irish Repertory Theatre through March 28. Reservations are free but required. A donation of $25 is suggested for viewers who are able to give.
Joe O’Bryne’s theatrical adaptation of Synge’s beautiful early prose work, The Aran Islands has been reimagined for digital presentation. This all-new production was filmed in Ireland in early 2021 during the COVID-19 lockdown and made specifically for digital viewing. The Aran Islands: A Performance on Screen was filmed primarily at The New Theatre in Dublin, with additional footage from the Aran Islands and Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre. Irish Repertory Theatre presented the stage production of The Aran Islands in association with Co-Motion Media in 2017.
A Brimful of Asha, written and performed by Ravi Jain and Asha Jain. Directed by Ravi Jain. The Why Not Theatre staging streamed by Arts Emerson, on-demand through March 22 at 10 p.m. EST.
“Real-life mother and son, Asha and Ravi Jain, share the stage and tell this true (and very Canadian) story of generational and cultural clash. When Ravi takes a trip to India, his parents decide it’s the perfect time to introduce him to potential brides. Ravi isn’t sold on the idea of getting married—at least not yet—but Asha panics that time is running out.” Arts Fuse review
The Conjurors’ Club, a live interactive multi-magician virtual experience created by Vinny DePonto and Geoff Kanick. Streamed by the American Repertory Theater, Cambridge, MA, through April 11.
“For the first time in 100 years, the secretive magic society The Conjurors’ Club pulls back the curtain for an interactive experience that redefines the face of modern magic. Take a front-row seat and immerse yourself in the arcane and mysterious with three different magicians. Physical distance can’t keep the amazing mind-reading, reality-bending illusions, and extraordinary transformations from reaching through the screen and directly into your home.”
Leonora, la maga y la maestra, staged by Double Edge Theatre. A PEAK HD/ALL ARTS broadcast and online premiere event. Recorded at Montclair State University in October 2020. Free — the performance will remain on the All Arts website for the next 3 years.
Along with the Double Edge performance, there is a livestreamed conversation available for viewing between DE Artistic Director Stacy Klein and renowned Surrealist scholar Dr. Susan L. Aberth. The chat includes visual references to Carrington’s artwork as well as the troupe’s staging of Leonora, la maga y la maestra. Aberth’s books Leonora Carrington: Surrealism, Alchemy and Art (Lund Humphries)” and the recently published The Tarot of Leonora Carrington (Fulgur Press) have been profound influences on Double Edge’s work inspired by the world of Leonora Carrington.
A contemporary take on Oscar Wilde’s classic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray set in our screen-dominated world. This cautionary tale centers on a young influencer who makes a deal ensuring that his social media celebrity will never fade. But his picture-perfect life comes at a terrible cost. The cast includes Fionn Whitehead as the title hedonist, along with Tony nominees Joanna Lumley and Stephen Fry.
Mr. Parent by Melinda Lopez. Starring Maurice Emmanuel Parent. Streaming via Hartford’s TheaterWorks through March 26 and ASL interpretation is available. Tickets are $25 but if you’re a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase them at a discount.
A one-man play about the experiences of Maurice Emmanuel Parent, an actor whose day job as a Boston public school teacher changed his perspective and his life. Parent stars as himself.
Unveiled, written, performed, and recorded by Rohina Malik. Originally co-presented with Greater Boston Stage Company. Presented and streamed by New Rep from April 2 through 18.
“Racism. Hate crimes. Love. Islam. Culture. Language. Life. Five Muslim women in a post-9/11 world serve tea and uncover what lies beneath the veil in this one-woman show.” Arts Fuse review of the 2018 stage production: “Malik’s concern over America’s persistent anti-Muslim streak is well-founded, but the continued popularity of Unveiled might also have something to do with her skill and compassion as a storyteller.”
Science on Stage Mixer, a Zoom webinar on April 7 at 7:30 p.m. Presented by Catalyst Collaborative@MIT at Central Square Theater, this is the kick-off event of the Brit d’Arbeloff Women & Science Theater Festival, which was created to amplify voices underrepresented in science (women, BIPOC/Black, Indigenous, people of color) and to encourage engagement in science for audiences and artists.
The Festival hits the ground running (and talking) with this virtual gathering of scientists, artists, and audiences. The Mixer will include a panel conversation with nationally known artists and scientists and will be followed by break out rooms you can join for smaller conversations, all from the comfort of your own home. Who knows? Maybe a play or three will be born from these virtual conversations. Featuring Debra Wise, Sangeeta Bhatia, Deborah Blum, Alan Brody, Lee Mikeska Gardner, Lauren Gunderson, Alan Lightman, and more.
Boston Theater Marathon XXIII: Special Zoom Edition, streaming will begin on April 1 and will continue each day (with the exception of Sundays) through May 28. Readings will start at 12 noon ET, and each play will be followed by a question and answer session with the audience.
For a second year, the BTM will be presented on Zoom for 8 weeks. A year into the coronavirus pandemic, the arts are struggling for survival and the assistance provided by the BTM’s beneficiary — the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund — is needed more than ever. The event will feature 50 ten-minute plays written by New England playwrights and presented by New England theatre companies.
Audiences will be encouraged to donate to participating theater companies and/or to the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund (TCBF), which provides financial relief to Boston-area theater artists in need. Last year’s Boston Theater Marathon XXII: Special Zoom Edition helped raise more than $56,000 for the charity.
Pedro Páramo, a Teatro Buendía Production by Raquel Carrió, inspired by the novel by Juan Rulfo. Directed by Flora Lauten. Presented in Association with MCA Chicago. Music Direction by Victor Pichardo & Jomary Hechavarrí. Streamed by Chicago’s Goodman Theatre as an entry in its Encore streaming series, March 29 through April 11. Pedro Páramo is presented in Spanish with closed captioning in English & Spanish available.
A son returns home to meet his father and reveals how one man’s unchecked appetite destroys both everything he loves and the town that made him great. Pedro Páramo, based on Juan Rulfo’s 1955 novel of the same name, was created by Cuba’s formidably innovative Teatro Buendía and presented at the Goodman featuring a cast of Chicago and Cuban actors. It premiered as part of the Goodman’s 2013 Latino Theatre Festival.
— 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
Spring Sing, part of Revels 2021 #RevelsConnects performance series, the company’s Facebook Live page on March 21 at 5 p.m. This will be a free virtual event
“Revels launched Spring Sing more than 25 years ago to celebrate the spring equinox in song and poetry. This year’s theme is “Renewal” and includes song and poetry with uplifting and hopeful energy and excellent singalong potential. In addition, two young poets will be reciting their own poems, written expressly for this year’s production.
Featured song leaders include Revels Artist in Residence David Coffin, musicians Linda Brown San Martin, Derek Burrows, Natty Smith and Erika Roderick, and Revels acting Music Director George Emlen. (He will also host the event.)The rather surprising edict from Gov. Baker allowing the reopening of performing arts center seems to have few takers so far. (It doesn’t help that singing is not yet allowed at indoor venues.) The Lowell and New Bedford Folk Festivals have announced that they won’t be happening in 2021. Still, there are a few indications that small-scale live music by local artists will start to return this spring.
The Beehive in the South End is resuming live music during dinner and the Porch in Medford has slated an April 3 show with the Silks. And if you have some programming ideas for Starlite Square’s spring and summer season, they’re accepting proposals now.
— Noah Schaffer
Karim Nagi, Arab Future Folklore: Traditional Arab Instruments and Song, streams live @TheRevels on Facebook on March 28 at 5 p.m. ET.
“Musician, dancer & speaker Karim Nagi preserves traditions while taking adventures into contemporary hybrid expressions. A native Egyptian, Muslim, and US naturalized citizen, Nagi has taught over 400 Arabiqa school assemblies, produced 17 Arab Dance Seminars, recorded 15 CDs, and performed on 5 continents. Revels audiences enjoyed Nagi and his ensemble, the Sharq Trio, in 2011’s Christmas Revels at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre. He has created a hybrid style of music and dance done simultaneously. His works retain the traditional Arab melodies and rhythms, while employing English oratory deliver.”
— Bill Marx
The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, CT, opens Tim Prentice: After the Mobile on March 28. The show, the sculptor’s first solo museum exhibition since 1999, includes twenty indoor works, five outdoor works, and a video portrait of the artist. It runs through October 11 in the museum’s galleries and on its lush outdoor lawns.
Born in 1930, Prentice studied with Josef Albers and practiced architecture until the early 1970s. Influenced by systems theory, he creates intricate, moving constructions of wire and metal, or plastic planes which, though rotating freely in the wind, always to return to their original state. The title of the show refers to the innovative “mobile” works of fellow Connecticut resident, Alexander Calder.
On March 22, Alice Neel: People Come First, the artist’s first retrospective show in New York City in twenty years, opens at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Fifth Avenue). Neel (1900-1984), had a long and sometimes difficult career but is especially known for a prolific series of portraits — of friends, family, strangers, lovers, artists, and poets — from the 1960s and ‘70s, painted in bright, clear colors in a loose, expressionist style. She is now widely recognized as one of the most important American portrait painters of the 20th century.
The Met show emphasizes the social activist roots of Neel’s work, as shown in her portraits of victims of the Great Depression, leaders of leftist political organizations, including queer artists and performers, and her long-time neighbors in Manhattan’s Spanish Harlem district. The scope stretches as far back as the ’30s, with her erotic nudes in watercolor and pastels, depicted with a frankness and directness that still seems radical.
Among the major projects disrupted by its pandemic closure to the public is the Harvard Art Museum’s Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection, an exhibition concentrating on some of the Japanese art best known and most beloved in the West. All has not been lost during the museum’s COVID closure, though, On March 26, from 3-5 p.m. HAM will offer the latest of their Edo-related on-line programs in Haiku and You: ‘Painting Edo’ and the Arnold Arboretum, a zoom event inspired by the show and spring at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum. Harvard professor David Atherton and exhibition curator Rachel Saunders explore Edo painting and the quintessentially Japanese short poetry from of haiku, which reached the peak of its popularity during this period. Expect a lively and culturally enlightening program.
On March 29, also at the virtualized HAM, Curator Kathleen A. Foster of the Philadelphia Museum of Art will lecture on The American Watercolor Movement Comes to Boston. The post-Civil War watercolor movement spread rapidly through the United States as the 19th century concluded and industrialization advanced. Turner will show how watercolor enthusiasts in the Boston area, many of them women, were inspired by the important Aesthetic Movement in art and design, the Impressionists, and the leading Victorian British art critic and author, John Ruskin, himself an accomplished watercolor painter.
The Griffin Museum of Photograph opens Balancing Cultures: Jerry Takigawa on April 1. “Initially an identity project,” the artist says, “[the show] gives voice to a story suffered in silence by my immigrant grandparents and American-born parents. The work pieces together inherited boxes of photographs, memories, and family artifacts to explore an “historical puzzle” that includes the World War II Japanese internment camps and the stoic suffering and indignation his family kept secret for decades.– Peter Walsh
Virtual Event: Grubbie Debut: Jennifer De Leon with Grace Talusan | Porter Square Books
White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, and Writing
March 25 at 7 p.m.
“Sometimes in her twenties, De Leon asked herself, ‘what would you do if you just gave yourself permission?’ While her parents had fled Guatemala over three decades earlier when the country was in the grips of genocide and civil war, she hadn’t been back since she was a child. She gave herself position to return– to relearn the Spanish that she had forgotten, unpack her family’s history, and began to make her own way. Alternately honest, funny, and visceral, this powerful collection of essays follows De Leon as she comes of age as a Guatemalan-American woman and learns to navigate the space between two worlds.” De Leon will discuss her book with Grace Talusan, the current writer-in-residence at Brandeis University.
Virtual Event: Patricia Engel and Jennifer De Leon | brookline booksmith
Infinite Country & White Space
March 26 at 7 p.m.
“Engel’s novel tells the story of a dual citizen and the daughter of Colombian immigrants, giving voice to five members of one family split between Colombia and the US. De Leon’s collection describes coming of age as a Guatemalan- American woman and learns to navigate the space between two worlds. Never rich or white enough for her posh college, she finds herself equally adrift in her first weeks in her parents’ home country.”
Virtual Event: Michael Blanding: North by Shakespeare | brookline booksmith
North by Shakespeare
March 30 at 7 p.m.
Free with suggested donation
“What if Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare…but someone else wrote him first? Renegade scholar Dennis McCarthy believes that Sir Thomas North, an Elizabethan courtier, is the undiscovered source for Shakespeare’s plays. McCarthy’s conclusion is that Shakespeare wrote the plays, but he adapted them from source plays written by North decades before. Using plagiarism software, McCarthy has found direct links between Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and other plays and North’s published and unpublished writings — as well as Shakespearan plotlines seemingly lifted straight from North’s colorful life.”
Virtual Event: Nathaniel Rich – Events – Harvard Book Store
Second Nature: Scenes from a World Remade
March 31 at 7 p.m.
Free with $5 contribution
“In Second Nature, ordinary people make desperate efforts to preserve their humanity in a world that seems increasingly alien. Their stories– obsessive, intimate, and deeply reported– point the way to a new kind of environmental literature, in which dramatic narrative helps us to understand our place in a reality that resembles nothing human beings have known.”
Virtual Event: Adrienne Raphel – Events – Harvard Book Store
Thinking Inside the Box: Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can’t Live Without Them
April 1 at 7 p.m.
Free with $5 contribution
“Almost as soon as it appeared, the crossword puzzle became indispensable to our lives. Invented practically by accident in 1913, when a newspaper editor at the New York World was casting around for something to fill empty column space, it became a roaring commercial success almost overnight. Ever since then, the humble puzzle has been an essential ingredient of any newspaper worth its salt. Blending first-person reporting from the world of crosswords with a delightful telling of its rich literary history, Raphel dives into the secrets of this classic pastime.”
Virtual Event: Kazim Ali and Brandon Hobson with Aurora Lydia Dominguez | brookline booksmith
Northern Light & The Removed
April 2 at 7 p.m.
Free with suggested contribution
“The child of South Asian migrants, Ali was born in London, lived as a child in Manitoba, and made a life in the US. As a man passing through disparate homes, he has never felt he belonged to a place. And yet, one day, the celebrated poet and essayist finds himself thinking of the boreal forests and waterways of Jenpeng, where he once lived as a child. Does the town still exist, he wonders? Drawing deeply on Cherokee folklore, The Removed seamlessly blends the real and the spiritual to excavate the deep reverberations of trauma- a mediation on family, grief, home, and the power of stories on a both a personal and ancestral level.”
Virtual Event: Ilan Stavans with Regina Galasso | brookline booksmith
Selected Translations: Poems 2000-2020
April 7 at 7 p.m.
“For twenty years, Illan Stavans has been translating poetry from Spanish, Yiddish, Hebreew, French, Portugese, Russian, German, Georgian, and other languages. His versions of Borges, Neruda, Ines de la Cruz, Gullar, Zurita, and others have become classics. This volume contains poems from more than forty poets around the world and celebrates the beauty of poetry in different languages.”
Virtual Event: Sandi Tan – Events – Harvard Book Store
Lurkers: A Novel
April 9 at 7 p.m.
Free with $5 contribution
“Precocious Korean-American sisters find their world rocked by a suicide, and they must fight to keep their home. A charismatic and creepy drama teacher grooms his students. A sardonic gay horror novelist finds that aging is more terrifying than any monster. Tan’s novel is an homage to the rangy beauty of LA and the surprising power that we have to change the lives of those around us.”
— Matt Hanson
Axis Mundi – In Conversation with Tim Robbins and Peter Brook. Streamed by The Actors Gang on Zoom and Facebook Live, March 25th @ 7 p.m. PST RSVP for free Axis Mundi series through www.TheActorsGang.com
Actor Tim Robbins talks to the 96 year old Peter Brook, the author of several influential books, including 1968’s The Empty Space and 2017’s Playing by Ear: Reflections on Sound and Music. The legendary director is “the first person to win the International Ibsen Award and he has won multiple Tony and Emmy Awards, a Laurence Olivier Award, the Praemium Imperiale, and the Prix Italia. Brook has dedicated his life to demonstrating the importance of a living theater, a theater that has a unique and powerful potential to transform audiences and shift a cultural landscape. Throughout his career, Brook has distinguished himself in different genres including theater, opera, and cinema. Between the International Centre for Theatrical Creation and his rich contribution to theatrical history, few directors have done as much as Brook to broaden the boundaries of theater to create a culturally rich, diverse, inclusive and spiritually creative cauldron.”
— Bill Marx