Coming Attractions: September 10 through 25 — What Will Light Your Fire

Our expert critics supply a guide to film, dance, visual art, theater, author readings, and music. More offerings will be added as they come in.


A scene from The Mother and the Whore.

The Mother and the Whore
September 10 and 11. Showtimes vary
The Brattle Theater in Cambridge

Jean Eustache’s best known film is being screened as part of a terrific series at The Brattle, The Dirty Stories of Jean Eustache. (See below) The Mother and the Whore is 219 minutes of talk about “love and intimacy, humiliation and self-deception.” Eustache tape-recorded discussions with his lovers and sometimes took notes — this material inspired many of his movies. According to French film critic Serge Daney, filmmaking for Eustache revolved around “women, dandyism, Paris, the country, and the French language.” Ingrid Bergman, jury president of the Cannes Film Festival the year The Mother and the Whore won the Grand Prix, called it “sordid” and “vulgar.” Only in 2021 did his son, Jean, who holds his father’s film rights, agree to the film’s restoration and distribution. Arts Fuse review

A scene from The Battle of Chile, Part Two.

The Battle of Chile, Part Two: The Coup d’État
September 10 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge

Recently restored, Patricio Guzmán’s La Batalla de Chile: El golpe de estado is the second installment in the director’s trilogy that chronicles his country’s political turmoil. It begins with the Chilean military’s first attempted coup in June 1973, followed by the steady deterioration of Allende’s position across the months leading up to September 11. Focusing on Allende’s attempts to stave off the splintering of his party from within, The Coup d’État captures the frightening escalation of violence that began in the streets and climaxed in the fatal bombing of the presidential palace by the CIA-backed military.

The Battle of Chile, Part Three: The Power of the People
September 11 at 7 p.m.

La Batalla de Chile: El poder popular is the third part of Guzmán’s landmark documentary. It takes place prior to the 1973 coup d’état, which is depicted in parts one and two. Turning his camera to the action on the ground, Guzmán focuses on the valiant efforts of working-class Chileans who — in the face of widespread factory lockouts organized by the authoritarian opposition — galvanize to distribute food, operate factories, and reclaim the means of production. In his fervent final installment — now vividly restored — Guzmán contextualizes the explosive violence of parts one and two by charting the class struggles and collective action that preceded it. Arts Fuse review of The Battle of Chile

Jean Eustache at the Brattle
Brattle Theater in Cambridge
September 10 -13

Accompanying this weekend’s screenings of The Mother and the Whore are new restorations of the pioneering director’s prescient documentaries — boldly autobiographical, these rarely seen films have influenced generations of filmmakers.

Eustache Shorts Program #2
Sep 10 at 4:30 p.m.
Run Time: 73 min.

Eustache Shorts Program #1
Sep 10 at 6 p.m.
Run Time: 89 min.

Eustache Shorts Program #3
Sep 12 at 4 p.m. & 8:15 p.m.
Run Time: 112 min.

Numéro zéro
Sep 12 at 6 p.m.
Run Time: 111 min

The Virgin of Pessac ’68 and ’79
Sep 13 at 5:15 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Run Time: 132 min.

Streaming Soderbergh
September 15–17
Somerville Theater

Since his 1989 Indie classic Sex Lies, and Videotape, the prolific Steven Soderbergh has directed blockbusters (Oceans 11, 12, 13) , comedies (Logan Lucky), thrillers (Haywire), political dramas (Che1 & 2), and a plethora  of indies (The Limey, The Girlfriend Experience, Bubble). Three recent films — available only through streaming — are showing on the big screen, courtesy of The Independent Film Festival of Boston: Kimi with Zoë Kravitz (Sept. 15) Let Them All Talk with Meryl Streep (Sept. 16), and No Sudden Move with Benicio Del Toro. Each one has its distinct merits — and each is excellent.

Newburyport Documentary Film Fest
September 15 – 17
Various Venues in Newburyport MA

Since 2004 NDFF has specialized in screening documentary films. The fest includes weekend showings at historic venues, filmmaker receptions, after-parties, panel discussions, Q&As, and workshops. There is also a Young Emerging Filmmakers Showcase.

Marion Davies in Show People.

Show People
September 24 at 2 p.m.
Somerville Theater

Show People, directed by King Vidor, features Marion Davies at the height of her popularity as a ’20s screen icon. Widely considered to be Davies’ greatest film, it also offers rare, behind-the-scenes glimpses of movie-making at the very end of the silent period, when studios were rushing to prepare for sound. Live accompaniment by keyboardist Jeff Rapsis. Lara Gabrielle, author of a new Davies biography, Captain of Her Soul: The Life of Marion Davies, will be present to introduce the film and sign her book.Tickets

Boston Film Festival
Live Program – September 21 – 24
Virtual Program – September 22 – 30

A scene from Healing Dakota.

The 39th edition of the BFF live program will occur across numerous venues.

The opening film, Breakwater,will be followed by the Honor for Film Excellence Award to the film’s featured performer, Dermot Mulroney, at the Shalin Liu Performance Hall (Sept. 21).

A Lifetime Achievement Award for Treat Williams will be accepted by his wife Pam Van Sant and his son Gil Williams following the film premiere of American Outlaws at Paramount Theatre, Bright Family Screening Room (Sept. 23).

The Spotlight film is the documentary Healing Dakota from local, first-time director James LaMonte. It is about the rehabilitation of a service dog with PTSD, a real life story that inspired the establishment of a nonprofit K9 PTSD Center on Cape Cod. A Q&A with the director follows (Sept. 23 at 5 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre)

American Outlaws directed by Sean McEwen is this year’s centerpiece feature screening. It is based on the true story of the Dougherty siblings, three desperate youths who took matters into their own hands via a cross country crime spree.  (September 23 at 8:30 p.m., Paramount Theatre, Bright Family Screening Room).  Full Schedule

Pick of the Week

The Battle of Chile Part I:  The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie
Amazon Prime

A scene from The Battle of Chile Part I: The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie

If you are attending parts two and three of the Guzman’s trilogy on of Chile’s socialist revolution (or not), be aware that Part 1 is streaming online at a discount (only $2.49). Filmed on the streets of Chile during the tumultuous political struggle that resulted in Augusto Pinochet’s rise to dictatorial power, this groundbreaking documentary puts the audience directly in the line of fire. The film documents what a revolution looks and sounds like from its enthusiastic inception to its bitter demise. In other words, this is an essential lesson in political history. Next week marks 50 years since Chile’s September 11, 1973 coup d’etat. “Guzmán has crafted a mesmerizing verité account of Allende’s fall, energized by the many voices of Chilean citizens rendered vivid on film.” (HFA)

— Tim Jackson

Roots and World Music

Accordionist Sharon Shannon will perform at The Burren. Photo: CC BY 2.0 via Flickr

Sharon Shannon
The Burren
September 12-13

Sharon Shannon is rightfully considered one of the greatest Irish accordionists of her generation. Why the 55-year-old is billing this as her “farewell US tour” isn’t clear. But if it is true, her many Boston fans will have an opportunity to say goodbye during her four shows over two nights at the Burren.

September 13
Toad, Cambridge

The local music scene breathed a huge sigh of relief this month when it was announced that Toad, the tiny but beloved Porter Square music venue, has been sold to a new owner who plans on retaining its music policy. One of Toad’s great fixtures has been the Wednesday residency of Fandango, the rootsy outfit led by Boston legend Fred Griffeth. To what extent the new ownership will retain the current programming is unknown, so the band is calling this its “last Wednesday at Toad – for now.”

BU Global Music Festival
September 16

This free, globe-spanning festival has become one of the great back-to-school traditions. As is often the case, the lineup offers a bevy of bands that haven’t played Boston in recent memory — or, in many cases, ever. Highlights include Cape Verdean songbird Fantcha, Madalitso, a duo from Malawi, Iranian virtuoso Mehrnam Rastegari, and the dazzling New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Big Chief Juan Pardo’s Tribal Gold. Most artists will offer workshops as well as full performances.

Blind Boys of Alabama
September 16
City Winery

The gospel institution known as the Blind Boys of Alabama have undergone a significant transition with the retirement from the road of longtime member Jimmy Carter and the passing of members Paul Beasley and Ben Moore (who were both noteworthy solo artists before they joined the Blind Boys). But all three were present when the group recorded its new LP Echoes of the South, their best record in years. Blending the spirit and glory of quartet singing with tasteful production, the disc captures what has made the group such a powerful live attraction.

Accordionist Alejandro Brittes will be in Somerville this week. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Alejandro Brittes
September 16 and 17 and on October 7
Various Venues

It turns out that there’s far more to Argentine folk dance music than the tango. Accordionist Brittes is the master of chamamé, a style with its own rich history. Like its more famous musical cousin, chamamé has an evocative sound which virtuoso musicians can infuse with classical and jazz elements. Brittes is mounting an extensive tour with his quartet: Charlise Bandeira on the flute, André Ely on the seven-string guitar, and Carlos Eduardo de Césaro on the double bass. They begin September 16 with a late morning workshop at the Passim School of Music before heading down the road to the Lilypad for a 4 p.m. concert.  On September 17 they’ll be doing two sets and a community outreach demonstration at the Center for the Arts at the Armory as part of the free Somerstreets Strike Up the Bands day. And they head back to the region on October 7 as part of the free Culturefest at the Bellforge Arts Center in Medfield.

Clinton Fearon with the Naya Rockers
Sept 21, 22, and 23
Various Venues

The deep roots reggae tradition is alive and well thanks to Clinton Fearon, the former member of the Gladiators who for many years has been a beacon of socially conscious storytelling from his base in the Northwest US. His collaborative relationship with Boston’s hard-hitting Naya Rockers has yielded a great 2022 single and now a tour that comes to the Knickerbocker in Westerly, RI on September 21, to Soundcheck Studios in Pembroke on September 22, and finishes up with a double bill with DJ Logic that benefits environmental groups at Great Marsh Brewing in Essex on September 23.

Dance Anyway (for Chick and for Us All)
Sept 23
Jamaica Plain (address upon request)

The Boston arts and queer communities suffered a big loss last month when Chick Byrne passed away at the age of 36. An artist-in-residence at the Boston Center for the Arts studios, he was a talented artist in multiple mediums. A group of his friends will be celebrating his life — and offering a space for grieving and healing — via a dance party featuring queer music classics and African and diasporic grooves featuring DJ Ecogrief FM (aka Danny Mekonnen). Full details and directions are available via @ecogrief on Instagram or emailing

Clarence Thompson Sr. and the New Spirits Gospel Anniversary
September 24, 3 p.m.
New Fellowship Christian Ministries, 28 Warren Ave., Brockton, MA

Clarence Thompson Sr. has been singing traditional gospel in Boston for decades. His annual program for his New Spirits group includes a who’s who of Boston gospel greats: the Lord’s Messengers, the Spiritual Encouragers, Test-A-Mony, and Rev. Harold Branch. Making their way from Springfield and New Haven, respectively, are the groups Voice of Grace and Blessing.

— Noah Schaffer

Music Festival

Outlaw Music Festival
The Xfinity Center, Mansfield
September 16

Bob Weir and Wolf Brothers. Photo: courtesy of the artists

Helmed by the iconic Willie Nelson, the ever-evolving Outlaw Music Festival is bringing, as part of its 2023 tour, a tasty package to its stop in Massachusetts. In addition to a headlining set by the Red Headed Stranger, who at 90 continues to release a steady torrent of new (and good!) music, the show will feature Bobby Weir and Wolf Bros featuring the Wolfpack, Los Lobos, String Cheese Incident, and Particle Kid. Roots-rocking Los Lobos will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. Bluegrass-and-beyond jammers String Cheese Incident are also highlighting a new album, Lend Me a Hand. With Wolf Bros, Weir is discovering fresh inroads into his extensive song catalog, both as a solo artist and founder of the Grateful Dead. And there’s every reason to believe that these musicians will be drifting in and out of each other’s sets.

— Scott McLennan


Madama Butterfly
Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
September 14 and 22 at 7:30 p.m., 17 and 24 at 3 p.m.
Emerson Colonial Theatre, Boston

Boston Lyric Opera starts the season with a new production of Puccini’s tragedy that updates and transplants the action to 1940s San Francisco. Karen Chia-Ling Ho sings the title role, Dominick Chenes is Pinkerton, and David Angus conducts. Arts Fuse feature

A Far Cry in action. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Presented by A Far Cry
September 15, 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston

The Criers return to action with a program featuring a pair of arrangements of familiar works (Schubert’s Death and the Maiden Quartet, Bach’s D-minor solo-violin Chaconne) as well as new pieces by Shelley Washington and Andrea Casarrubios.

Star Wars: The Story in Music
Presented by Boston Pops
September 21 and 23 at 8 p.m., 24 at 2 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston

The Boston Pops get pride-of-place opening the Symphony Hall season with a celebration of laureate conductor John Williams’ scores to the nine official Star Wars movies. Jeremiah Kissel narrates and Keith Lockhart conducts.

John Williams Tribute
Presented by Boston Pops
September 22 at 8 p.m. and 23 at 2 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston

The 91-year-old Williams is again the star of the show, with a program, again led by Keith Lockhart, that celebrates his larger career in cinema. This one also features violinist Moné Hattori and pianist Hayato Sumino.

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein will perform at Distler Hall in Medford. Photo: Lisa Marie Mazzucco

Bach, Mozart, and Glass
Presented by Emmanuel Music
September 23, 7 p.m.
Distler Hall, Medford

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein does triple duty, taking the solo spotlight for Bach’s D-minor Keyboard Concerto, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, and Philip Glass’s Tirol Concerto. Ryan Turner conducts and visual artist Laurie Olinder provides “an abstract video journey” to accompany the proceedings.

Song in Flight
Presented by Juventas New Music Group
September 23, 8 p.m.
Multicultural Arts Center, East Cambridge

Juventas opens its season with an avian-themed concert featuring new and recent works by Oliver Caplan, Libby Meyer, Mari Kotskyy, Agnus Davison, Joshua Shank, Beth Ratay, and Christina Rusnak.

— Jonathan Blumhofer


COVID PROTOCOLS: Check with specific theaters.

Playwright Donald Margulies. Photo: Shakespeare and Company

Lunar Eclipse by Donald Margulies. Directed by James Warwick. Staged by Shakespeare and Company at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, Lenox, September 15 through October 22.

“On a summer night, in the middle of a field on their midwest farm, a long-married couple sits on folding chairs to observe the seven stages of a lunar eclipse. While watching the celestial phenomenon unfold, the two sip bourbon and reflect on land and legacy, on children and dogs, and the accelerating passage of time.” Karen Allen and Reed Birney play the meditative couple in the world premiere of a new work by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Margulies

Revolution’s Edge by Patrick Gabridge. Directed by Alexandra Smith. Staged in partnership with Plays in Place at the Old North Church & Historic Site, 193 Salem Street, Boston, through September 19.

“For the first time in Old North Church’s 300-year history, the historic site will host an original play.” The drama is “set in Boston’s oldest surviving church on April 18, 1775, the day before the Battle of Lexington & Concord and mere hours before the famous ‘two if by sea’ lantern signals. The story centers on the interaction between three fathers, who share a faith but are politically divided, as Boston sits on the brink of war, searching for information and answers as to the best path forward for both their families and the colonies.”

The Half-God of Rainfall by Inua Ellams. Directed by Taibi Magar. Movement direction by Orlando Pabotoy. An American Repertory co-production with with New York Theatre Workshop, at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, through September 24.

“Experience a new epic fusing Greek mythology and Yoruba spirituality from award-winning playwright and poet Inua Ellams. When Demi — half Greek god, half Nigerian mortal — takes his first shot on a basketball court, the deities of the land wake up. But as Demi’s skills propel him from his village in South West Nigeria to the NBA playoffs and the London Olympics, Zeus gets jealous of his game.” Arts Fuse review

Prayer for the French Republic by Joshua Harmon. Directed by Loretta Greco. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at 264 Huntington Ave. Boston,  through October 8.

“It’s 2016 Paris. The Salomon family has worked hard to make Paris into a warm and wonderful home after settling down in the turbulent 1940s. But when their son comes home beaten up because he was wearing a yarmulke, they are forced to question their safety and sense of belonging in the city they love. Artistic Director Loretta Greco directs Joshua Harmon’s play, having originally produced a workshop of it at the Magic Theatre prior to its New York debut in 2022.” Arts Fuse review

Nael Nacer and Eric Tucker in Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches. Photo: Nile Scott Studios

Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches/ Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika by Tony Kushner. Staged by the Central Square Theatre, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, through October 8. Both parts playing in rep begining September 14.

“The mid-1980s. America. The acclaimed play careens from New York City to Heaven and back in the midst of the AIDS crisis and a conservative Reagan administration.” Bedlam Artistic Director Eric Tucker brought his signature, pared-down approach to this production last season, which is being reprised before it joins Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika in rep on September 14. Arts Fuse review of Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches.

Assassins Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by John Weidman. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston at 140 Clarendon Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, September 15 through October 15.

“With the American dream out of reach, nine of the most notorious figures in our nation’s history ignite a chain of monumental nightmares. The white picket fence is set on fire in Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s musical, which peers inside the shattered minds of presidential assassins (both successful and failed) from John Wilkes Booth to John Hinckley, Jr. This gallery of historical misfits jolts us into their blurry points of view with unapologetic humor, fiery anthems, carefree tunes, and unbridled energy that boldly blurs the lines between ambition and madness.”

A scene from 2022’s Ulysses: Elevator Repair Service Takes on Bloomsday. Photo: Kevin Yatarola

Ulysses, an adaptation of James Joyce’s novel, created by Elevator Repair Service. Directed by John Collins. Co-Direction and Dramaturgy by Scott Shepherd. A Fisher Center LAB Commission/World Premiere at the Fisher Center at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson NY,  September 21 through October 1.

“Seven performers sit down for a sober reading but soon find themselves guzzling pints, getting in brawls, and committing debaucheries as they careen on a fast-forward tour through Joyce’s funhouse of styles.” Elevator Repair Service’s theatrical reading of all of The Great Gatsby was terrific, so I have high hopes for this ambitious undertaking.

POTUS, Or Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying To Keep Him Alive by Selina Fillinger. Directed by Paula Plum.  Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Roberts Studio Theater, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, September 15 through October 15.

A New England premiere. “It’s The Women meets House of Cards in comedy that celebrates the women who keep things running behind the scenes both in — and out — of the Oval Office. Seven brilliant and beleaguered women in the president’s inner circle take increasing desperate measures to save the country when his sexist and sex-related scandals spark a global crisis.” Entertainment Weekly said that “Fillinger’s script views politics behind-the-scenes as a twisted carnival, a zany, mad ride that you might never want to get off.”

The Good John Proctor by Talene Monahon. Directed by Kimberly Senior. Running in rep with Becky Nurse of Salem by Sarah Ruhl. Directed by Curt Columbus. Staged by Trinity Repertory Company at the Dowling Theater, 201 Washington Street, Providence Rhode Island. Schedule: The Good John Proctor, September 7 through 15/ September 28 through November 12. Becky Nurse of Salem, September 21 through November 10.

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible has inspired a pair of feminist revisionist visions. The Good John Proctor “reexamines the Salem Witch Trials through the eyes of the four young girls at its center.” Becky Nurse of Salem centers on “Becky Nurse, a modern descendant of an executed Salem ‘witch.’ She’s been fired from her job, troubled by her granddaughter’s boyfriend, is pining for a married man, and taking pain pills to cope after her daughter’s overdose. To reverse her bad fortune, she consults an eccentric local witch … leading to shocking, funny, and even disturbing results.”

Jaime Hernandez, Dyce Stephens, and Paul Melendy in Tall Tales from Blackburn Tavern. Photo: Jason Grow

Tall Tales from Blackburn Tavern by John Minigan. Original Music and Lyrics by John Minigan. Musical Arrangements by Colin Minigan. Directed by Bryn Boice. Staged by Gloucester Stage Company in celebration of Gloucester’s 400+ Celebration at Gloucester Stage, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester,  through September 24.

The world premiere production of this script promises to “bring to life legendary tales deeply rooted in Gloucester’s captivating past, featuring iconic characters and events shaping the community. Audiences can expect an epic theatrical experience” that includes “intriguing narratives surrounding the infamous Gloucester Sea Serpent, the astonishing Ghost Army thwarted by the brave Ebenezer Babson, and the enigmatic secrets of the Witches of Dogtown … through the imaginative use of projections and puppetry, these larger-than-life fish tales will come alive on stage, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in the magic and wonder of Gloucester’s remarkable oral history.” Arts Fuse review

Fat Ham by James Ijames. Directed by Stevie Walker-Webb. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company in association with Alliance Theatre and Front Porch Arts Collective at the Calderwood/BCA, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, September 22 through October 29.

In this Pulitzer Prize-winning script, a playful variation on Hamlet, “the sweet and sensitive Juicy wants to make his own way as a queer Black man growing up in a Southern family, until his father’s ghost turns up at a backyard barbecue and insists that Juicy avenge his murder. Ay, there’s the rub!”

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. Directed by Christopher V. Edwards. Staged by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project at the Modern Theatre at Suffolk University,  525 Washington Street, Boston, September 15 through October 1.

“After a long night of drinking, disruption, and harassing barmaids, Christopher Sly finds himself trapped in the worst of predicaments: a stage play. Thrown into the role of “The Shrew,” he tumbles headfirst into a world of witty wordplay, leering suitors, and the full force of the oppressive patriarchy. As the rest of the all-female/non-binary ensemble constructs the zany world of Padua around him, will Sly learn the error of his ways?” Sounds like a gender fluid re-write of John Fletcher’s The Woman’s Prize, or the Tamer Tamed, a Jacobean comedy that challenged some of the gender stereotypes in Shakespeare’s comedy.

Suffolk University’s Ford Hall Forum Presents Reimagining Shakespeare through the Black Lens, in partnership with Front Porch Arts Collective, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, and The GBH Forum Network. At the Modern Theatre on September 12 at 6 p.m. (available on Zoom).

“Join a spirited conversation with Stevie Walker-Webb, acclaimed Tony-nominated director of Ain’t No Mo’, actor, activist, and director of the play Fat Ham, Dawn M. Simmons, Associate Director of Fat Ham and Co-Producing Director of Front Porch Arts Collective, and Regine Vital, theatre artist, educator, and Associate Producer at Actors’ Shakespeare Project. The evening’s moderator is Pascale Florestal, Director of Education, Front Porch Arts Collective, and Visiting Guest Artist Professor in Practice, Suffolk University.”

“The evening’s panel will discuss the evolution of Shakespeare’s work and how race and other intersections influence these stories and reflect on the world today. The panel will explore fresh new perspectives and distinct voices offered in two upcoming Boston theater productions, Fat Ham and The Taming of the Shrew.”

— Bill Marx

Visual Arts

On September 23-24, downtown Boston — specifically, Washington Street from the Old State House to the Old South Meeting House — will be the venue for the Raising Voices Festival: A Celebration of Music, Art, and the Power of Protest. Organized to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, this event seems less about tax policy than about the American tradition of protest, both then and now, with a strong emphasis on contemporary social justice movements, Along with music, dance, theater, and food, the event will feature pop-up locations organized by artists and an “Artist Village.” Admission is free, though registration ( is encouraged.

An example of the work in the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum’s show Yvette Mayorga: Dreaming of You.

Rococo costumes and architecture, gilded frames, the Mexican-American experience in the U.S., her mother’s work as a department store baker in the 1970s, and the color pink all make up the roots of the work of Chicago-based artist Yvette Mayorga. Yvette Mayorga: Dreaming of You, opening at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum on September 15, is the artist’s first solo exhibition on the east coast. Executed largely in pink acrylics squeezed out of bakery piping bags, the paintings in the show combine the grim realities of the American Dream under immigration surveillance with ironic references to 18th-century French opulence, McDonald’s French fries, acrylic nails, smiley faces, and Orange Fanta sodas.

Opium pipe, China, Qing dynasty to Republican period, inscribed with cyclical date corresponding to 1868 or 1928. Water buffalo horn, metal, and ceramic. Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum.

The Harvard Art Museums takes on a host of tangled controversies, both real and misapprehended, in its exhibition, Objects of Addiction: Opium, Empire, and the Chinese Art Trade, opening September 15. With more than 100 objects, including paintings, prints, sculptures, decorative objects, and historical documents from a number of Harvard collections, two local historical museums, and a private collection, the exhibition “looks critically at the history of Massachusetts opium merchants and collectors of Chinese art, as well as the current opium crisis.”

The can of worms hidden under this topic goes back to the 18th-century, when Western traders began establishing lucrative business links with South Asia. They enviously eyed the potentially vast markets in East Asia but neither China nor Japan, both with mostly self-sufficient economies, had much interest in trade with the West. Japan banned almost all Western contact until the late 19th century and China exported to Europe and the United States some luxury goods, including silk, jade, and porcelain, in return for silver (essentially a “hard cash only” policy), but imported little in return, creating a large trade imbalance. To offset this deficit, private Western merchants began to smuggle opium, cultivated by the British East India Company but banned by the Chinese imperial government as a public health hazard, into China. This illegal smuggling, which helped addict thousands of Chinese, made large fortunes for the ancestors of several prominent American families, including Warren Delano, Jr., grandfather of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and botanist Francis Blackwell Forbes, great-grandfather of former Secretary of State John Kerry.

From there, the opium story only gets worse. China’s attempts to keep out the drugs ended with humiliating defeats in two so-called Opium Wars with Western powers and a century of Western colonial encroachment. Opiates and addiction spread to Europe and the United States, where, by the 21st century, addiction became a major health problem. Another American family, the Sacklers, made huge profits off the addictive opiate pain killer OxyContin. The name of one of the three Harvard Art Museums, the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, has been widely protested because of this association, although Arthur died nearly a decade before OxyContin was introduced.

Ironically, many of those associated with the opium trade, including Arthur M. Sackler, were avid collectors of Chinese art, some of which was itself acquired under shady circumstances. Besides the art on view, how the Harvard Museums sort all this out will be a sight in itself.

A sample of the work in Face Value: Portraits from the Arthur S. Goldberg Collection at the Fuller Craft Museum.

Collector Arthur Goldberg of Chestnut Hill specializes in contemporary portraits from the shoulders up and is also known for his collaborative projects. Face Value: Portraits from the Arthur S. Goldberg Collection, which opens at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton on September 23, features works in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, ceramic, and resin. The works on view include loans from Goldberg and his previous gifts to the Fuller Museum.

Nor’Easter: The 53rd Annual Juried Members Exhibition opens at the New Britain Museum of American Art on September 21. Part of a 20th-century tradition of local art museum annuals featuring regional artists, the New Britain annual is also a reminder of a time when American art had a more home-grown focus. This year’s selection of Connecticut region art was juried by curator and artist Fritz Horstman, based in Bethany, CT, who is also education director at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.

Although the original museum building is heavy on white marble, later additions to the Clark Art Institute campus in Williamstown are clad in handsome, durable granite, a stone that makes up much of the substrata of New England. As part of the celebration of the Clark’s Manton Research Center’s 50th anniversary, Williams College Professor of Geology, emeritus, Bud Wobus will personally guide visitors through the history of the gray and pink slabs that make up the Manton Research Center and the more recently opened Tadao Ando-designed Clark Center. Following Professor Wobus’ talk, Head of Public Programs Will Schmenner will continue the tour across the Clark’s campus, pointing out related features in the landscape. The event, Nature: Granite of the Grounds with Bud Wobus, begins at the Manton Center on September 13, starting at 5:30 p.m.

— Peter Walsh


John Sullivan Trio
September 14 at 6:30 p.m.
Eustis Estate, Milton, Mass.

Bassist John Sullivan’s résumé includes Roy Haynes, Robert Glasper, and Walter Smith III (see September 15). A former New England Conservatory teacher who spent a couple of decades in New York, he has since returned to the area and performs in his hometown with trio-mates Dan Pappas (piano) and drummer Chally Mikes (a.k.a. Charles Haynes) “to explore a broad range of styles and unique harmonic concepts.”

Walter Smith III
September 15 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, Mass.

Saxophonist Walter Smith III kicks off the Regattabar’s long-deferred post-pandemic opening with an excellent band: guitarist Matthew Stevens (guitar), pianist Kris Davis, bassist Harish Raghavan, and drummer Eric Harland. Stevens and Raghavan are on Smith’s very fine new “Return to Casual,” and Davis and Harland enhance any band they play in.

Julian Lage
September 16 at 8 p.m.
Groton Hill Music Center, Groton, Mass.

Julian Lage seems to be everywhere these days — playing Kris Davis’s music with her Diatom Ribbons, playing John Zorn’s music at the Gardner Museum. Here’s a chance to check him out playing his own music with his terrific trio with bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer David King.

Pat Metheny will perform at the Wilbur Theatre on September 21. Photo: Jimmy Katz

Pat Metheny
September 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Wilbur Theatre, Boston

Guitar savant Pat Metheny’s latest tour is named for his most recent solo-guitar disc, Dream Box, and he says the pieces he plays will be drawn from all four of his solo discs, including the hellacious Zero Tolerance for Silence (1994).

Kurt Elling-Charlie Hunter
September 21 at 8 p.m.
City Winery, Boston

Singer Kurt Elling and guitarist Charlie Hunter have been touring their SuperBlue project for a while. Their second album in the series, SuperBlue: The Iridescent Spree, is “a kaleidoscopic collection of new songs, dynamic reinventions, and surprising covers.” The covers include everything from Joni Mitchell and Ron Sexsmith to jazz OG hipster Bob Dorough and Elling’s lyric setting of Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman.”  Of the originals, Elling’s lyrics often have a tart, topical edge, and Hunter’s varied grooves and agile playing keep the music fresh and engaging. They’ll be joined at City Winery by Julius Rodriguez, on keyboards, and drummer Marcus Finnie.

Noah Preminger
September 22 at  7 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston

The phenomenal tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger leads a superb band: guitarist Max Light, bassist Kim Cass (a dazzling virtuoso not seen often enough in these parts), and drummer Dan Weiss. Joining them on a few tunes will be special guests from the Longy College of Music alumni band, including, we assume, Preminger’s former students at the school.

The Laszlo Gardony trio: (l to r) Yoron Israel, Laszlo Gardony, John Lockwood.

Laszlo Gardony
September 23 at 5 p.m (and beyond)
Lilypad, Cambridge, Mass. (and elsewhere)

The wonderful pianist Laszlo Gardony will be barnstorming throughout Eastern Massachusetts this fall (and into the winter), variously in solo, trio, and quartet formats. (Read Michael Ullman’s review of the Gardony trio’s “triumphant” January concert at Berklee here.) First up is a solo piano show, sure to be a treat, at the intimate Lilypad, with its excellent piano (Sept. 23); followed by his longtime trio with bassist John Lockwood and Yoron Israel at the Amazing Things Arts Center in Famingham (Sept. 24); in a quartet with Lockwood and Israel plus reed/flute man Don Braden at Scullers Jazz Club (Nov. 17); solo at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, Yarmouth (Nov. 19); solo at the John Curtis Free Library in Hanover (Dec. 2); and with the trio at the James Library and Arts Center, Norwell (Dec. 9).

Singer and composer Luciana Souza will perform in Rockport.

Luciana Souza
September 23 at 8 p.m.
Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport, Mass.

Singer and composer Luciana Souza and her wonderful trio (Brazilian guitarist Chico Pinheiro and bassist Scott Colley) revisit their 2018 album The Book of Longing, with her settings of poetry (mostly by Leonard Cohen) and as well as her new, as yet unrecorded, “Twenty-four Short Musical Episodes.” Of the latter, Souza says, “This is a work [created with a Chamber Music America New Works grant] for voice, guitar, and acoustic bass, all wordless, in twenty-four short movements, that loosely track the 24 hours of a day in someone’s life in an out-of-order way.  Each episode springs from an improvisation that was later notated and then titled, using the first lines of poems by Emily Dickinson. The title of the movement is projected onto the screen/wall (à la supertitles at the opera), adding a sense of narrative to the wordless piece.  All movements are attacca (music played with very little pause in between the movements).”

Andy Voelker Quartet
September 24 at 2 p.m.
Peabody Hall, Parish of All Saints, Dorchester, Mass.

The pretext for this show is a fund-raiser for independent nonprofit concert presenters Mandorla Music (see John Sullivan Trio, September 14), but any excuse to hear the wonderful saxophonist Andy Voelker is a good one. He’s joined by pianist Maxim Lubarsky, bassist Jef Charland, and drummer Steve Langone. Mandorla promises an open jam following the quartet’s set, as well as snacks.

Charismatic alto saxophonist and bandleader Tia Fuller. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Tia Fuller
September 24 at 8 p.m.
Multicultural Arts Center, Cambridge, Mass.

The title of this event, presented by the Cambridge Jazz Foundation, is “Celebrating John Coltrane” (b. September 23, 1926), “featuring Tia Fuller.” The program will be “bridging past and present, with Coltrane’s classics,” performed by charismatic alto saxophonist and bandleader Fuller with Consuelo Candelaria-Barry (piano), Ron Mahdi (bass), and Ron Savage (drums).”

— Jon Garelick

Author Events

An Evening of Poetry: Airea D. Matthews – brookline booksmith
Bread and Circus: Poems
September 13 at 7 p.m.

“As a former student of economics, Airea D. Matthews was fascinated and disturbed by 18th-century Scottish economist Adam Smith, and his magnum opus The Wealth of Nations. Bread and Circus is a direct challenge to Smith’s theory of the invisible hand, which claims self-interest is the key to optimal economic outcomes. By juxtaposing redacted texts by Smith and the French Marxist Guy Debord with autobiographical prose and poems, Bread and Circus demonstrates that self-interest fails when people become commodities themselves, and shows how the most vulnerable — including the author and her family — have been impacted by that failure. A layered collection to be read and reread, with poems that range from tragic to humorous, in forms as varied and nuanced as the ideas the book considers, Bread and Circus explores the area where theory and reality meet. Timely, ambitious, and relevant, Bread and Circus is a brilliant intellectual and artistic contribution to an ongoing conversation about American inequality, for fans of Elizabeth Alexander, Natalie Diaz, Eve Ewing, and Gregory Pardlo.”

George Scialabba will talk about his essay collection Only a Voice at the Harvard Book Store.

George Scialabba at Harvard Book Store
Only A Voice: Essays
September 13 at 7 p.m.

“George Scialabba examines the chasm between modernity’s promise of progress and the sobering reality of our present day through studies of the most influential public intellectuals of our time. In Scialabba’s hands, literary criticism becomes a powerful tool for expressing political passion and demonstrating the generative power of argument and an inquisitive mind. Drawing together a diverse group of thinkers, artists, activists, and philosophers-including Edward Said, D. H. Lawrence, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ellen Willis, and Noam Chomsky — Scialabba tours western intellectual history to find that no matter the stakes, critical thought remains a necessary precondition for politics. Every writer, Scialabba writes, faces the choice of whether “to tilt at the state and capital or ignore them”—and the world now is too dire not to choose the former.”

Zadie Smith at First Parish Church – Harvard Book Store
The Fraud: A Novel
September 15 at 7 p.m. (Doors at 6:30)
Tickets are $38 with book

“It is 1873. Mrs. Eliza Touchet is the Scottish housekeeper—and cousin by marriage—of a once-famous novelist, now in decline, William Ainsworth, with whom she has lived for thirty years. Mrs. Touchet is a woman of many interests: literature, justice, abolitionism, class, her cousin, his wives, this life and the next. But she is also skeptical. She suspects her cousin of having no talent; his successful friend, Mr. Charles Dickens, of being a bully and a moralist; and England of being a land of facades, in which nothing is quite what it seems. Andrew Bogle, meanwhile, grew up enslaved on the Hope Plantation, Jamaica. He knows every lump of sugar comes at a human cost. That the rich deceive the poor. And that people are more easily manipulated than they realize. When Bogle finds himself in London, star witness in a celebrated case of imposture, he knows his future depends on telling the right story.

The “Tichborne Trial” — wherein a lower-class butcher from Australia claimed he was in fact the rightful heir of a sizable estate and title—captivates Mrs. Touchet and all of England. Is Sir Roger Tichborne really who he says he is? Or is he a fraud? Mrs. Touchet is a woman of the world. Mr. Bogle is no fool. But in a world of hypocrisy and self-deception, deciding what is real proves a complicated task . . . Based on real historical events, The Fraud is a dazzling novel about truth and fiction, Jamaica and Britain, fraudulence and authenticity and the mystery of ‘other people.'”

John Coates at Harvard Book Store – Harvard Book Store
The Problem of Twelve: When a Few Financial Institutions Control Everything 
September 11 at 7 p.m.

“A “problem of twelve” arises when a small number of institutions acquire the means to exert outsized influence over the politics and economy of a nation. The Big Four index funds of Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, and BlackRock control more than twenty percent of the votes of S&P 500 companies — a concentration of power that’s unprecedented in America. Then there’s the rise of private equity funds such as the Big Four of Apollo, Blackstone, Carlyle and KKR, which has amassed $2.7 trillion of assets, and are eroding the legitimacy and accountability of American capitalism, not by controlling public companies, but by taking them over entirely, and removing them from public discourse and public scrutiny.

What can be done to check this level of power? Harvard law professor John Coates argues that only politics can fight the problem of twelve.”

Book Signing with Chuck Palahniuk – Porter Square Books
Not Forever, But For Now
September 13 starting at noon
Tickets are $26.99 with book and spot in signing line

“Meet Otto and Cecil. Two brothers growing up privileged in the Welsh countryside. They enjoy watching nature shows, playing with their pet pony, impersonating their Grandfather…and killing the help. Murder is the family business after all. Downton Abbey, this is not.

However, it’s not so easy to continue the family legacy with the constant stream of threats and distractions seemingly leaping from the hedgerow. First there is the matter of the veritable cavalcade of escaped convicts that keep showing up at their door. Not to mention the debaucherous new tutor who has a penchant for speaking in Greek and dismembering sex dolls. Then there’s Mummy’s burgeoning opioid addiction. And who knows where Daddy is. He just vanished one day after he and Mummy took a walk in the so-called “Ghost Forest.”

With Grandfather putting pressure on Otto to step up, it becomes clear that this will all end in only two ways: a nuclear apocalypse or just another day among the creeping thistle and tree peonies. And in a novel written by Chuck Palahniuk, either are equally possible.”

Naomi Klein at First Parish Church – Harvard Book Store
Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World 
September 14 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $32 with book, $15 without w 20% coupon

“In Doppelganger, Klein turns her gaze inward to our psychic landscapes, and outward to the possibilities for building hope amid intersecting economic, medical, and political crises. Combining comic memoir with cobweb-clearing analysis, this book charts a path beyond the despair of the “mirror world” we inhabit today. Doppelganger is a revelatory treatment of the way many of us have come to think and feel — and an intellectual adventure story for our times.”

Daniel Dain at the Cambridge Public Library – Harvard Book Store
A History of Boston
September 18 at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $58.44 with book, free without w RSVP required

“Boston is today one of the world’s greatest cities, first in higher education, hospitals, life science companies, and sports teams. It was the home of the Great Puritan Migration, the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the first civil rights movement, the abolition movement, and the women’s rights movement. But the city that gave us the first use of ether as anesthesia, the telephone, technicolor film, and the mutual fund—the city where Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott founded their world-changing partnership — was also the hub of the anti-immigration movement, the divisive busing era, and decades of self-inflicted decay. Boston has the most important history of any American city. Yet its history has never been given a comprehensive treatment until now.

Join Dan Dain as he acts as your tour guide from the arrival of First Peoples up to the election of Boston’s first woman and person of color as mayor. Dain’s masterful work explores the policies and practices that took Boston from its highest heights to its lowest lows and back again, and examines the central role that density, diversity, and good urban design play in the success of cities like Boston.”

Ru Freeman with Khury Petersen-Smith – brookline booksmith
Bon Courage: Essays 
September 19 at 7 p.m.

Bon Courage is an exhilarating journey through a layered intellectual landscape textured with a range of political and personal enthusiasms, and emboldened by a passionate defense of the disregarded. Wide ranging and inclusive in the essay mode, deep and revealing as a memoir, with the dynamics and layering of great fiction. As if that’s not enough, it sings.

Ru Freeman participates intimately while bringing global perspectives to subjects as diverse as Bowie and Dylan, Palestine, 9/11, hairstyles, personal and cultural identity, motherhood and #MeToo. A resplendent and compendious exploration of great empathy, insight, and bon courage indeed. This is a book that is going to make a difference.”

Cynthia Enloe – Porter Square Books
Twelve Feminist Lessons of War
September 19 at 7 p.m.

Twelve Feminist Lessons of War draws on firsthand experiences of war from women in places as diverse as Ukraine, Myanmar, Somalia, Vietnam, Rwanda, Algeria, Syria, and Northern Ireland to show how women’s wars are not men’s wars. With her engaging trademark style, Cynthia Enloe demonstrates how patriarchy and militarism have embedded themselves in our institutions and our personal lives.

Enloe reveals how the social and political influences that shape war—from military recruitment and economic collapse to sexual assault and reproductive rights (and their denial)—are deeply gendered and pervade women’s lives before, during, and in the aftermath of war. Her razor-sharp analysis, at once accessible and provocative, highlights how women’s emotional and physical labor is used to support government policies and how women’s rights activists—against all odds—remain committed in the midst of armed violence. Twelve Feminist Lessons of War is the gritty and grounded book we need to understand what is happening to our world.”

The Wilbur: Gary Gulman – brookline booksmith
September 23 at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $54

Brookline Booksmith “is proud to be the official bookseller for this Wilbur Theatre event. Over 25 years in comedy, Gary Gulman has established himself as an eminent performer and peerless writer. It’s no wonder the New York Times wrote, “Gary is finally being recognized as one of the country’s strongest comedians.” A product of Boston, Gulman has been a scholarship college football player, an accountant, and a high school teacher. He has made countless television appearances as both a comedian and an actor and is one of only a handful of comedians to perform on every single late-night comedy program.

Today, Gulman is one of the most popular touring comics, selling out theaters around the country. He is currently on his Born On 3rd Base Tour, in which he hilariously chronicles his impoverished childhood on food stamps, free lunch and welfare checks while skewering our current Tale of Two Cities-esque wealth gap. Few, if any, comedians have addressed class so deftly and entertainingly.” Brookline Booksmith will be selling copies of his memoir Misfit: Growing Up Awkward in the 80’s at the event. 

— Matt Hanson

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts