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 theater is now open with a celebration of Big Screen Classics. From classic Hollywood hits to foreign films, from action-adventure movies to cult classics, these are some if the theater’s favorite movies larger-than-life on the glorious big screen.
KENDALL SQUARE THEATER
The Kendall is now open with a limited selection of films.
David (Clayne Crawford) desperately tries to keep his family together during a separation from his wife. They both agree to see other people, but David struggles to accept his wife’s new relationship. The Hollywood Reporter calls the film “a transfixing drama without a wasted word or a single inessential scene. (Arts Fuse Review)
HUMAN RIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL
May 19-May 27
As the world continues to grapple with the realities of isolation, relationships with neighbors have become increasingly important. This year’s films take a closer look at just how strong these bonds can be. The HRFF will be streaming its New York edition, which shines a spotlight on people who are fighting for human rights for all. See 10 powerful films + free live talks w/ filmmakers and human rights leaders. From the organization: If the price of buying a ticket to any of the films in the festival would prevent you from participating, please email the following address (firstname.lastname@example.org) Streaming Ticket Access
TAMING THE GARDEN
Georgia’s richest man, a former prime minister and founder of the ruling political party, bought hundreds of the country’s oldest and largest trees, had them uprooted, and moved them to his own privately owned but publicly accessible park. Salomé Jashi’s documentary is as much a record of the ingenious labor and vast infrastructure necessary to repeatedly complete a feat such as this as it is a visual account of the destruction created by removal, the leftover debris, and the sociological implications of buying and selling nature. This is the final film of the DocYard season programming. A Q&A with Jashi will soon be announced.
SHARED STORIES: The Boston Latino International, Roxbury International, and Boston Asian American Film Festivals
On Demand: May 19-23
The documentary Nailed It chronicles the genesis and legacy of a 40-year-old institution: the Vietnamese nail salon and its influence on an $8 billion American industry. For mixed-race Vietnamese filmmaker Adele Pham, the film became personal because it made her confront her cultural conflicts. She finds her place in the Vietnamese community as she examines the inner workings of a niche trade used by many but fully known to only a few. The film will premiere on May 19 at 7 p.m. and the screening will be followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Pham.
Roy Andersson’s (A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence) latest film is a reflection on human life in all its beauty and cruelty, its splendor and banality. We wander through a dreamlike vision, gently guided by our Scheherazade-esque narrator. Inconsequential moments take on the significance of huge historical events: a couple floats over a war-torn Cologne; on the way to a birthday party, a father stops to tie his daughter’s shoelaces in the pouring rain; teenage girls dance outside a cafe; a defeated army marches to a prisoner-of-war camp. 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 film 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
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. Below are current recommendations.
The documentary Punk the Capital captures a transformative period, situating DC punk and DC HardCore within the larger narratives of rock ‘n’ roll. Featuring recently unearthed Super-8 film of bands like Bad Brains and interviews with legends like Henry Rollins and Ian MacKaye, the film explores why the sounds and ideas from this influential music scene continue to inspire around the world.
Icelandic director Grimur Hakonarson’s film revolves around the middle-aged Inga, who operates a dairy farm along with her spouse Reynir. They work without rest to keep up a farm that has been in his family for generations. When Reynir dies, she discovers they’re deep in debt to the local agricultural co-op, which was supposed to be pledged to support them. Infuriated, Inga fights against mounting pushback, which becomes increasingly hostile. This is another of Hakonarson’s serio-comedies, an adroit look at an underdog’s triumph.
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 nonprofessional 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.
This is a beautiful restoration of the radical 1972 antiwar 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
FUSE REVIEWS — LOCAL THEATERS AND STREAMING
BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ in virtual cinemas through Kino Marquee.
Ezra Haber Glenn writes that this new adaptation of the pivotal modernist novel is sure to spark criticism from Döblin and Fassbinder loyalists, as well as those who might feel the film, while beautiful, is not politically progressive enough. Nonetheless, director Burhan Qurbani strikes the right chords: balancing between textual fidelity and contemporary relevance. Arts Fuse review.
IN THE EARTH screening at AMC Boston and other New England cinemas.
For Peg Aloi, director Ben Wheatley’s latest exercise in folk horror becomes quite harrowing and trippy, which is to say, he is back on form. Arts Fuse review.
SHIVA BABY now available on VoD and playing at Kendall Square Cinema.
Though it’s classified as a comedy, the film utilizes many of the stylistic trademarks found throughout the horror genre to merge painfully humorous discomfort with suffocatingly atmospheric terror. For our critic Nicole Veneto, “you don’t have to be Jewish to find Shiva Baby riotously funny, anxiety-inducing, or relatable.” Arts Fuse review
WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR, coming soon to HBO Max via Utopia Distribution. World’s Fair is like nothing our critic Nicole Veneto has ever quite seen before, and yet it felt intimately familiar to her as a teenager weaned on the internet. Arts Fuse review
— Tim Jackson
The phenomenal singer and songwriter Cécile McLorin Salvant (multi-Grammy winner as well as a MacArthur “genius” fellow) is offering “At Home,” recorded in her Brooklyn loft, with her brilliant longtime piano accompanist, Sullivan Fortner (who alone is worth seeing), through May 31. All proceeds will benefit GHESKIO, a public health organization serving patients in Haiti. Arts Fuse review.
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis is collaborating with social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson for a program called “Freedom, Justice & Hope.” The band will present new pieces by bassist and composer Endea Owens (from John Batiste’s Stay Human) on the life and work of journalist and civil rights hero Ida B. Wells and by composer and trumpeter Josh Evans on the events of the 1919 “Red Summer,” a period of nationwide acts of white supremacist terrorism and riots. The show premieres online May 21 at 7:30 p.m. and remains on demand through May 26. This is part of JLCO’s “spring virtual season,” which concludes June 10 with a special orchestra performance of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” Discounted tickets to both shows are available for season subscribers.
Three accomplished artists known for their work in other projects have come together as the Macayú Trio: flutist Yulia Musayelyan, cellist Catherine Bent, and pianist Maxim Lubarsky. All three are “improvisers with a refined chamber music sensibility.” They’ll be playing music that weaves “a sonic tapestry of the Americas, Middle East, and Eastern Europe.” This is an outdoor concert at the bucolic Eustis Estates. Advance tickets are required and will be limited due to social distancing requirements.
— Jon Garelick
FilmFest by Rogue Dancer: Dance 101
Viewable now through June
Rogue Dancer has just launched its latest online screendance film festival, Dance 101. This month’s festival celebrates films created by student screendance filmmakers in honor of graduation month and the challenges faced by many young artists during this pandemic. Enjoy a variety of new films hailing from the US, Japan, Serbia, UK, and Russian Federation.
May 23 at 4 p.m. ET
Cambridge Symphony Orchestra (CSO) presents a livestreamed performance of Tchaikovsky’s classical ballet, Sleeping Beauty. This original production was filmed inside the Fairmont Copley Plaza Grand Ballroom, with CSO musicians performing the music remotely. Sleeping Beauty features professional dancers from City Ballet of Boston, resident choreographer Gianni Gino Di Marco, and appearances from the students of the Young Artist Program of Tony Williams Dance Center.
Lean into the Light
May 26 at 6 p.m. ET
The Dance Complex invites guests to Lean into the Light, an interactive, virtual celebration of the Complex community’s resilience throughout 2020. Enjoy an interactive evening of vibrant dance, catered food (for the first 75 attendees who purchase tickets before noon on May 24), conversations, and an opportunity to dance together remotely!
Tamarack Hollow Spring Drum & Dance Fest
May 29 (Rain Date: Sunday, May 30) *Visit website for times of festival classes.
Windsor Town Park
Looking for live drumming and dance? Look no further than the Tamarack Hollow Spring Drum & Dance Fest on Memorial Day Weekend. This festival is part of an annual spring and fall community opportunity to reunite and celebrate “in the spirit of the drum.” Classes will be led by master drummer, dancer, and “Djembe Fola” M’Bemba Bangoura from Conakry, Guinea. There will also be a West African dance class featuring M’Bemba Bangoura and the Berkshire Rhythm Keepers led by Aimee Gelinas and members of Gaia Roots. Visit the event website for times of festival classes.
The Time Traveler’s Lens
Viewable remotely or in person (see website)
Luminarium Dance Company launches a groundbreaking new production using 360-degree videography and interdisciplinary choreography to present an extended reality (XR) immersive performance that illuminates the history of the colonnade at Princeton Battlefield State Park (Princeton, NJ). This site-specific performance comprises five 360-degree dance films; they are viewable as augmented reality (AR) across the battlefield grounds on visitors’ personal mobile devices or as a virtual reality (VR) experience outside of the grounds. As the time traveler, you control the lens as you explore the layers of past identities presented by this historic site, which include ties to the American Revolution (1777), Thomas Ustick Walter, famed architect of the US Capitol (1835), the Delaware & Raritan Canal (1901), as well as other glimpses into the colonnade’s rich and storied past.
— Merli V Guerra
Dream Boston Plays, a new series of short audio plays (15 in number at the moment) produced by the Huntington Theatre Company. Each drama is set at a specific local landmark with one to three characters, and is about six minutes in length. All the productions are available on the Huntington’s website, as well as on Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher.
The first four entries were By the Rude Bridge by Melinda Lopez; Overture by Kate Snodgrass; McKim by Brenda Withers; and The 54th in ’22 by Kirsten Greenidge. “Conceived and commissioned by the Huntington artistic department, the company asked Huntington Playwriting Fellow alumni Greenidge, Snodgrass, Withers, and 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.
Seven additional titles were added to the lineup in July, which included works by local artists John Oluwole ADEkoje, Miranda ADEkoje, J. Sebastián Alberdi, Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro, Elle Borders, Patrick Gabridge, and John Kuntz. 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.
The new quartet includes works by Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire, Huntington Playwriting Fellows Masha Obolensky and Jacqui Parker, and writer and actor Kadahj Bennett. The settings for this round include Dorchester Heights in South Boston, Wally’s Cafe Jazz Club on Massachusetts Avenue in the South End, Nantasket Beach, and the Minuteman Trail in Concord.
“These four plays think about the future from different vantage points than the previous Dream Boston plays,” says Charles Haugland, the Huntington’s Director of New Work, “amid the vaccine rollout, the return to in-person school, a rapid housing market, and the return to places in our city we haven’t been in a long time.”
“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: “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.”
Paradise Blue by Dominique Morisseau. Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. “It’s 1949 in Detroit’s Black Bottom neighborhood, and there’s no better place to hear or play jazz than Paradise Club. Blue (Blair Underwood), club owner and trumpeter, can wail like no other, but as forces outside the club conspire to irreparably change life inside and outside Paradise’s walls, he must decide whether to stay or sell. Beholden to his girlfriend (Kristolyn Lloyd) and fellow bandmates (André Holland and Keith Randolph Smith), Blue faces an uncertain future as he reckons with his troubled past. When Silver (Simone Missick), a smooth and mysterious newcomer from Louisiana, steps onto the scene, everyone in Paradise must choose how to survive.”
Wish You Were Here by Sanaz Toossi. Directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch. “Nazanin (Marjan Neshat) and her friends are on the brink of adulthood. As they prepare for a wedding, outside their living room the Iranian Revolution simmers and threatens to alter the course of their lives. Set over the course of 14 years, this timely play (receiving its world premiere) shines a light on the daring potential of friendship amid the relentless aftershocks of political upheaval.”
Row, Book by Daniel Goldstein. Music and lyrics by Dawn Landes. Directed by Tyne Rafaeli. Inspired by the nonfiction work A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure. “Tori (Grace McLean) aims to be the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic. As a child, she raised her younger brother Lamar (John McGinty), defending him against discrimination and neighborhood bullies. Now, with nothing but her body and a hand-built boat, she squares off with her own tormentor: the ocean. The world premiere of a musical that interrogates and reveals the resilience, fear, and ambition inside one individual undeterred by the odds.
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.
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 eight 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 10-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.
chekhovOS /an experimental game/ Inspired by The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov. Conceived & Directed by Igor Golyak
Produced by Golyak & Sara Stackhouse. Co-presented by Boston Fig & Snowrunner Productions. This production of the workshop will be followed by a live talkback with members of the cast & creative team. Moderated by Tom Abernathy, Studio Narrative Director at ArenaNet, on May 16 at 8 p.m. ET.
This is an ambitious “work-in-progress created during the pandemic, a way for artists to work through the themes of the play, the encroaching virus, and a moment of change in the world around us. The project was developed in the new and emerging genre of virtual theater at Arlekin’s (zero-G) from a small but mighty group of collaborators, helmed by Golyak. This international team of designers and technical engineers collaborated with Golyak both virtually and onsite in Arlekin’s new Zero Gravity (zero-G) Virtual Performance Lab in Needham, MA for several months to create the functionality and online environment for this project.”
A Woman of the World by Rebecca Gilman. Directed by Courtney Sale. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre via video on demand only, through May 30.
Denise Cormier stars in the New England premiere of this one-person play about the life of Mabel Loomis Todd — best known for introducing poet Emily Dickinson to America in 1890. Todd regales us with tales of her sensational life, especially her 13 years with the Dickinson family. We are given “the whole, unadulterated truth about the desires, dreams, and sometimes heartbreaking disappointments of a free spirit, who was way ahead of her time.”
Black Beans Project written and performed by Melinda Lopez and Joel Perez. Directed by Jaime Castañeda. A virtual staging by the Huntington Theatre Company available for on-demand streaming through June 6.
The healing setup: “a sister and brother (played by creators Lopez and Perez) meet virtually to share a secret family recipe that forces them to reveal secrets of their own. They share memories and make plans, transforming their pandemic panic to renewal.” This is a “comedy about family, food, and finding the strength to move on” and “invites audiences to open a bottle of wine, chop some garlic, and savor the possibility of connecting with family after a long time apart.”
Sejanus, His Fall by Ben Jonson. Adapted and directed by Nathan Winkelstein. An online benefit reading by Red Bull Theater on May 17 at 7:30 EDT, available for streaming until May 21, 7 p.m. EDT.
Be still my heart! A staged reading of one of Ben Jonson’s two magnificent Roman tragedies. Red Bull Theater’s summary is not bad: “First performed in 1603, the start of the Jacobean era, Ben Jonson’s tragedy of epic proportions is an incisive portrayal of political cronyism, sycophancy, and power. Tiberius is the Emperor of Rome. Sejanus is his right-hand man. But — in a society where books are burnt, “knowledge is made a capital offense,” and free men have become “the prey of greedy vultures and spies” — factions are forming behind each of these charismatic leaders. Jonson’s linguistically rich play has startling significance today in its exploration of treason and totalitarian tyranny. Sejanus sets his sight on Emperorship. No one can stop him. His fall is inevitable.”
Here is mine: “Sejanus buffs to murderous perfection Jonson’s steely vision of roiling authoritarian corruption: the tyrannical Roman emperor Tiberius lures his ambitious second-in-command, Sejanus, into a homicidal trap in order to replace him with a less threatening sycophant. The few citizens longing for freedom comment with ineffectual despair on the show trial of absolute command and the decadent fashions of the court.”
For some reason Sejanus failed, terribly, when it was first produced. I saw the Royal Shakespeare Company’s fine 2005 production — it was terrific, a lacerating, darkly comic vision of big and small bullies going at one another, as they do today in the halls of power. Daringly, Jonson doesn’t have Tiberius bother to appear in Act Five to watch the kill: he dispatches Sejanus via a letter to his servile electoral henchmen. Today, it would be a tweet.
By the way, Red Bull Theater — or any others who relish staging revelatory but neglected Elizabethan/Jacobean dramas — Jonson’s other Roman play, Catiline, has yet to receive a professional staging in hundreds of years (at least from what I can tell). I wrote about the script on its 400th birthday in 2011. Believe me, with judicious cutting — particularly Cicero’s interminable speech, which was greeted at its premiere with catcalls — this would be “a powerful script filled with insights into realpolitik conveyed through rich poetry.” Jonson “proffers a brilliant, seriocomic meditation on political gangsterism.” No one, not even Shakespeare, wrote about the sadistic brutality of politics with such mordant flair.
Love’s Labour’s Lost by William Shakespeare. Directed and Adapted by Bryn Boice. Staged by the Hub Theatre Company of Boston, the production will be performed live online, from May 22 to 29 at 7:30 p.m. and also on May 23 at 5 p.m. All performances are Pay-What-You-Can.
“Sparks, sonnets, and shenanigans fly in Shakespeare’s rollicking romantic comedy. The King of Navarre and his three idealistic lords vow to forswear food, fun, and females for three years of virtuous study. However, no sooner do they take their vow, than the Princess of France and her three lovely ladies arrive — and all bets are off! Replete with misadventures and mistaken identities, this contemporary take on the Bard’s coming-of-age classic explores how we learn, how we love, and how we learn to love.”
Songs for a New World by Jason Robert Brown. Directed by Paul Daigneault. A benefit production for the SpeakEasy Stage Company, streaming from May 26 through June 8.
“A moving collection of powerful songs about life, love, and the choices that define us. Directed by SpeakEasy Producing Artistic Director Paul Daigneault, music directed by José Delgado, and featuring nine of Boston’s most exciting musical theatre performers, this exquisitely crafted song cycle weaves characters and history together for a timeless look at the importance of self-discovery.” Note: SpeakEasy’s production was filmed live without an audience on the Wimberly Stage in the Calderwood Pavilion, in full observance of all Covid protocols.
— 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
The onset of summer concert season, aided by the rapid reopenings in many communities, means that within the coming weeks there will be abundant opportunities to hear music, live and in-person. A few venues are already up and running. Tenor titan “Sax” Gordon Beadle will be bringing his trio to the outdoor patio at Nick-a-Nee’s in Providence on May 18. The Porch in Medford has soul screamer Barrence Whitfield on May 20 and Muddy Waters axeman Luther “Guitar Jr.” Johnson on May 29. Starlight Square, the Central Square parking lot-turned-outdoor venue, has reopened with an eclectic lineup that includes a May 22 preview of the Cambridge Caribbean Carnival.
Of course, online offerings also remain robust. The Charles River Museum finishes its excellent Boiler House Jazz Series, which has been dedicated to unusual pairings, with a performance from two artists who can meld folk traditions and nimble improvisation, pianist Ara Sarkissian and percussionist Fabio Pirozzolo. And it’s hard to imagine Club Passim would even be standing today were it not for the legacy of Bob Dylan. A large cast of Passim favorites celebrates the Nobel laureate’s forthcoming 80th birthday with a livestream on May 20.
— Noah Schaffer
The unofficial start of summer is on the Memorial Day weekend and many museums are awakening from the long winter and pandemic-induced slumber to open shows and programs.
Once the epicenter of the avant garde, socially and aesthetically, the American Arts and Crafts movement is now a full century in the past, making it officially antique. The legacy of this important impulse in American culture is still very much alive, though, and growing, especially its history of giving women a key role in social and cultural affairs.
An international reaction against the rampant industrialization of the late 19th century, in which cheaply produced mass market goods replaced the crafts of previous periods, the Arts and Crafts movement, in various manifestations, spanned the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Particularly in New England, its participants and creators looked back to the traditions of colonial days and even earlier, while also looking ahead to the promised changes of the new century, including women’s rights. Although its ideals extended throughout the decorative arts, much of the movement’s core ideas and efforts played out in ceramics.
Small Wonders: Re-thinking American Arts and Crafts, 1880-1920, opening at the Portland Museum of Art on May 28, takes as inspiration the recent gift of the Hilton family, founders of Edgecomb Potters of Edgecomb, ME. Assembled with an emphasis on innovative glazes, the Hilton collection excludes examples from such celebrated potteries as Grueby, Rookwood, Newcomb, and Fulper, designed with rich green-, blue-, brown-, and red-toned glazes and with molded and painted decoration that often reflected local flora and fauna. Women played essential roles at every level in most of these potteries and the exhibition also explores the complex moral, aesthetic, and social reform goals of the Americans who created the movement.
Further north up the Maine coast, the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland is opening Robert Indiana: The Hartley Elegies on May 29. Indiana (born Robert Clark in the state of Indiana) is best known as a member of the ’60s Pop Art movement and for his famous “LOVE” print, originally created as a holiday card for the Museum of Modern Art. In 1969, after years in New York City, Indiana rented a summer studio in a hulking former Odd Fellows Hall on the island of Vinalhaven, offshore from Rockland. Eventually he bought the building and lived there full-time until his death in 2018, at the age of 89.
The Farnsworth show features 10 silkscreen prints which, along with a related series of paintings, are known as “the Hartley Elegies” in honor of another artist from Maine, the early modernist painter Marsden Hartley, born in Lewiston. Created between 1989 and 1994, the Hartley works were inspired when Indiana learned that Hartley spent part of the summer of 1938 near his Vinalhaven home and studio. They pay homage to a series of important semi-abstract paintings Hartley made in 1914-1915, when he was living in Berlin.
In American Waters, also opening on May 29, is located in another New England seaside setting: the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem. The exhibition explores more than 200 years of American fascination with the sea and sea-going vessels, a key part of the country’s lore and self-image.
Besides classic ship portraits, the exhibition features a range of artists not always known as marine painters: Georgia O’Keeffe, Kay WalkingStick, Norman Rockwell, Paul Cadmus, Thomas Hart Benton, Jacob Lawrence, Valerie Hegarty, Stuart Davis, and others — all displayed as a way of questioning what in means to be “in American waters.”
Yet further down the coast, in another classic seaport, the Newport Art Museum opens Call & Response 2021 on May 29. The show is a repeat of a popular 2020 exhibition that brought together the work of contemporary artists, especially regional ones, with selections from the museum’s collections. As before, this year’s show invited New England artists to find a work in the collection that appealed to them and to create a work from that inspiration. Both the museum’s piece and the piece that it inspired will be displayed side by side.
Even as many museums across the region reopen or return to a more normal schedule, their efforts at creating engaging online experiences for the public continue and even expand. Among many online events taking place at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York this May is People: A Global Dialogue on Museums and Their Publics. The series of three Zoom-based discussions unfold on May 16, 18, and 20. They bring together an international group of scholars, artists, performers, and activists who will share their ideas about how museums do — or should — attract audiences and potential audiences, both locally and globally. Admission is free, but advanced registration is required through the museum’s website, metmuseum.org. Registration does not guarantee admission once the Zoom slots are filled, so don’t delay.
— Peter Walsh
John Green with Clint Smith: The Anthropocene Reviewed – brookline booksmith
The Anthropocene Reviewed
May 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $39 with signed copy of book
“The Anthropocene is the current geologic age, in which humans have profoundly reshaped the planet and its biodiversity. In this remarkable symphony of essays adapted and expanded from his groundbreaking podcast, bestselling author John Green reviews different facets of the human-centered planet on a five-star scale — from the QWERTY keyboard and sunsets to Canada geese and Penguins of Madagascar.”
“This book offers a lively exploration of the mathematics, physics, and neuroscience that underlie music in a way that readers without scientific background can follow. David Sulzer, also known in the musical world as Dave Soldier, explains why the perception of music encompasses the physics of sound, the functions of the ear and deep-brain auditory pathways, and the physiology of emotion.
“He delves into topics such as the math by which musical scales, rhythms, tuning, and harmonies are derived, from the days of Pythagoras to technological manipulation of sound waves. Sulzer ranges from styles from around the world to canonical composers to hip-hop, the history of experimental music, and animal sound by songbirds, cetaceans, bats, and insects. He makes accessible a vast range of material, helping readers discover the universal principles behind the music they find meaningful.”
Virtual Event: An Afternoon with Jane Goodall and Peter Wohlleben – Harvard Book Store
May 16 at 1 p.m.
Tickets are $32 with book, pay-what-you-can without
“In The Heartbeat of Trees, renowned forester Peter Wohlleben draws on new scientific discoveries to show how humans are deeply connected to the natural world. In an era of climate change, many of us fear we’ve lost our connection to nature — but Peter Wohlleben is convinced that age-old ties linking humans to the forest remain alive and intact. We just have to know where to look.”
“I Will Not Name It Except to Say, which the late Lee Sharkey compiled in the weeks following a cancer diagnosis in August 2020, is a luminous exploration of grief in its many dimensions.” Local poets Fred Marchant, Denise Bergman, and Martha Collins will read.
111 Places in Boston That You Must Not Miss is a guidebook with a twist: one that takes you far off the beaten path — and the Freedom Trail — to explore a side of the city that’s offbeat, unexpected, and completely fascinating for visitors and locals alike. Whether you want to pay your respects at the memorial for a fictional character, sneak behind a vending machine to go shopping for sneakers, marvel at the breathtaking views from a brewery bathroom, or go on a long, strange trip through an LSD library, you can do it all here … and before dinnertime, to boot. Throw on your Red Sox cap, hop on the T, and uncover some secrets along the way.”
Virtual Event: Michael Koresky with Matthew Gilbert, Films of Endearment – Porter Square Books
Films of Endearment: A Mother, A Son, and the ’80s Films That Defined Us
May 24 at 7 p.m.
“A poignant memoir of family, grief and resilience about a young man, his dynamic mother, and the ’80s movies they shared together. Michael Koresky’s most formative memories were simple ones. A movie rental. A mug of tea. And a few shared hours with his mother. Years later and now a successful film critic, Koresky set out on a journey with his mother to discover more about their shared cinematic past.
They rewatched ten films that she first introduced to him as child, one from every year of the ’80s, each featuring women leads. Together, films as divergent as 9 to 5, Terms of Endearment, The Color Purple and Aliens form the story of an era that Koresky argues should rightly be called “The Decade of the Actress.”
Virtual Event: Carlo Rovelli – Helgoland: Making Sense of the Quantum Revolution – Harvard Book Store
May 25 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $24.50 with book, pay-what-you-can without
“Helgoland is a treeless island in the North Sea where the twenty-three-year-old Werner Heisenberg made the crucial breakthrough for the creation of quantum mechanics, setting off a century of scientific revolution. Full of alarming ideas (ghost waves, distant objects that seem to be magically connected, cats that appear both dead and alive), quantum physics has led to countless discoveries and technological advancements. Today our understanding of the world is based on this theory, yet it is still profoundly mysterious.
“As scientists and philosophers continue to fiercely debate the meaning of the theory, Rovelli argues that its most unsettling contradictions can be explained by seeing the world as fundamentally made of relationships rather than substances. We and everything around us exist only in our interactions with one another. This bold idea suggests new directions for thinking about the structure of reality and even the nature of consciousness.”
Tribute to Leonard Cohen with David Broza and Friends
May 25 at 8 p.m.
Free, with suggested contribution
The late, great Leonard Cohen will be given a proper tribute in an event sponsored by JARTS. The focus will be on paying homage to “the Israeli Leonard Cohen,” the poet and songwriter. Better reserve seats while you can!
— Matt Hanson