Coming Attractions: October 22 through November 7 — 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.
Independent Film Festival Boston 9th Annual Fall Focus
October 19 – 23
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge
As usual, the IFFB Fall Focus offers a stellar lineup of new, noteworthy films. Consider a membership for perks and access to the first and best seats in this carefully curated Fall program.
Sunday (Oct 22)
12:30 p.m. All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt
2:30 p.m. Tótem
5 p.m. Perfect Days
7:30 p.m. The Taste of Things
Monday (Oct 23)
7:30 p.m. Miyazaki’s The Boy and The Heron
9th Annual GlobeDocs Film Festival
October 25 – 29
Coolidge Corner and Brattle Theatres
The Boston Globe sponsors a five-day documentary film festival designed to engage, promote, and celebrate film and production talent and encourage open dialogue. Schedule and Film Descriptions
AKA Doc Pomus
October 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Regent Theater in Arlington
Brooklyn-born Jerome Solon Felder was paralyzed with polio as a child and then reinvented himself as a blues singer named Doc Pomus. He became one of the most brilliant songwriters of the early rock and roll era: “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “This Magic Moment,” “A Teenager in Love,” “Viva Las Vegas,” and dozens of other hits. After the documentary screens, there will be a discussion featuring respected scholar and biographer Peter Guralnick (author of books on Elvis Presley, Sam Phillips, and Sam Cooke) and Sharyn Felder, Pomus’s daughter, who conceived and produced the film. Tickets
Paul Bielatowicz’s “Nosferatu”
October 29 at 3 p.m.
Regent Theater in Arlington
This “multimedia live concert and film” serves up an afternoon of live music, classic horror, creepy costumes, and some very special guests. The score will be performed by guitarist and composer Paul Bielatowicz (Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy and Neal Morse) and his live band, featuring Groundlift’s Michael Dutko on bass and Leah Bluestein on drums. And they’ve invited some very special guests! Costumes are encouraged. Sampling of the event
BJF showcases a global selection of contemporary films on Jewish themes, accompanied by panel discussions, musical events, and live video post-discussions. The Opening Night film is Remembering Gene Wilder, a look at the life and career of the great comedian, who was born Jerome Silberman.
Visiting filmmakers to the fest include: director and producer Paul Michael Bloodgood and choreographer Stephen Mills (Finding Light); Canadian writer and director Chandler Levack and actor Isaiah Lehtinen (I Like Movies); writer and director Louise Archambault (Irena’s Vow); director and producer Hilla Medalia (Mourning in Lod). Special Guest is Nathaniel Kahn, Emmy-winning filmmaker of My Architect (2003), Two Hands (2006) The Price of Everything (2018) and film The Hunt for Planet B (2021). Full Schedule
November 2 at 7 p.m.
Bright Lights Screening Room. Paramount Center at 559 Washington St.,Boston.
Co-presented with the Boston Underground Film Festival, the Boston Asian American Film Festival and the Independent Film Festival Boston.
For two decades, New York City cinephiles had access to a treasure trove of rare and esoteric films stocked by the store Kim’s Video. Owner Yongman Kim eventually amassed 55,000 rental titles. In 2008, he offered to give away his collection, with the condition that it remain in intact and be available to Kim’s Video members. Sicily became home to the archive. But after the initial publicity and funding faded, so too did any sign of the collection. Co-director David Redmon went on a quixotic quest to track down what happened to the material. Discussion with the filmmaker to follow. Arts Fuse review
Picks of the Week
Prime Video, Apple Plus
A perfect Halloween film classic, not to be confused with the Drew Barrymore vehicle (1995) and many others with that title. This 1935 exercise in the cinematic macabre was directed by Karl Freund, best remembered for his work as a cinematographer for Fritz Lang. He also shot, in the ’30s, Tod Browning’s Dracula and then The Mummy. Here the cinematographer is Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane).
A wonderfully bald and creepy Peter Lorre plays a mad, lovelorn doctor who takes the notion of “hands-on” far too literally. A Grand Guignol theater actress Yvonne Orlac (Frances Drake) is married to concert pianist Stephen (Colin Clive) and plans to take a break from acting to tour with him. However, Dr. Gogol (Lorre), her biggest fan, won’t let her leave the stage so easily. When Stephen’s hands are destroyed in an accident, Dr. Gogol’s sick obsession with Yvonne leads him to replace Stephen’s hands with those of a knife-wielding murderer who was sentenced to death. Soon, Stephen’s new hands develop a homicidal mind of their own.
The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar
Coming on the heels of Asteroid City, one of Wes Anderson’s most stylized films, the short The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar was designed to go straight to streaming. This is his second adaptation of a Roald Dahl story (the first being the animated Fantastic Mr Fox). Henry Sugar is a quick 47 minutes of rapid-fire narration. Anderson’s signature style is all here: worlds within worlds, pastel colors, shifting meticulous set designs, mannered deliveries, and studied camera moves. The story concerns a rich man who learns about a guru who can see without using his eyes. Greedy and narcissistic, Henry Sugar steals the guru’s magical book which allows him to develop the skill and see the future. He uses these skills to cheat at gambling. The all-star cast features Ralph Fiennes, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel, and Ben Kingsley. Arts Fuse review
— Tim Jackson
Honoring Eric Bentley: A Centennial Tribute Concert
October 25 at 7:30 p.m.
They say no statue has ever been dedicated to a critic (not true by the way). Here’s a tribute to one of the best theater critics ever, Eric Bentley, who was also a playwright, editor, anthologist, and translator (Brecht and Pirandello). Bentley died at the age of 103 in 2020, but his 100th birthday was celebrated at a concert/theater tribute in NYC’s Town Hall. It was filmed and — glory be! — we can see it now! May it be fit homage to the man who wrote the influential books The Playwright as Thinker and The Life of the Drama.
The celebrators included Tony Kushner, Austin Pendleton, Harold Bloom, James Shapiro, Edward Mendelson, and Phillip Lopate. The evening featured readings from Bentley’s right-on criticism (there had better be a chunk from his terrific book on George Bernard Shaw). Thoughts were shared on his influence on the American theater, music, and culture. Do they read from his stinging New Republic critiques of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams? They both denounced Bentley and threatened to sue. Let’s see …
Here is what is also announced in the lineup: “Bentley’s work with Brecht, his classic books on the theater, and his own artistry were all highlighted. The evening was punctuated by theater music of Hanns Eisler and Darius Milhaud, whose songs for Mother Courage were performed by Soprano Karyn Levitt in the composer’s original, unpublished version for chamber orchestra, conducted by the late multi-Emmy Award winner Glen Roven. Selections from Eric Bentley’s Brecht-Eisler Song Book were also performed by Ms. Levitt and the Hanns Eisler Trio.”
— Bill Marx
Roots and World Music
Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band
Crystal Ballroom at the Somerville Theatre
This funky Burkina Faso Mandigue guitar band is quickly becoming one of the hottest touring African acts. Trusted sources offered raves after seeing them on their spring US tour, and now Global Arts Live is bringing them in for their Boston debut. Alert: The concert is likely to be the sleeper show of the fall.
— Noah Schaffer
COVID PROTOCOLS: Check with specific theaters.
Wish You Were Here by Sanaz Toossi. Directed by Sivan Battat. Staged by Yale Rep at Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, through October 28.
“It’s 1978 and protests are breaking out across Iran, encroaching on the suburb where a tight-knit circle of girlfriends plans weddings, trades dirty jokes, and tries to hang onto a sense of normalcy. But as the forces of revolution escalate, each woman must choose whether to join a wave of emigration or to remain in their country, where the future is uncertain. With breathtaking humanity and cutting wit, 2023 Pulitzer Prize winner Sanaz Toossi chronicles a decade of life during and after war, as best friends forever become friends long lost — scattered and searching for home.”
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. Schedule: The Good John Proctor, through November 12. Becky Nurse of Salem, 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.”
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, 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!” Arts Fuse review
T: An MBTA Musical, written by Mike Manship (book) and Melissa Carubia (music and lyrics). At the Rockwell, Davis Square, 255 Elm Street, Somerville, November 3 and 17, and December 1.
The show “chronicles the journey of three struggling Bostonians whose lives have been derailed by the MBTA’s incompetency. When they discover a secret map that will enable them to overthrow the transit system’s inefficiency, they set forth on a colorful journey that is part love story, part melodrama, part scavenger hunt, all one big transportation nightmare.” The script and score are updated seasonally to reflect current events and the latest MBTA struggles. Note: Limited on-the-train tickets are also available for each performance, where audience members can join an eccentric cast of T riders and personnel on stage as part of the action.
Selling Kabul by Sylvia Khoury. Directed by Evren Odcikin. At Northern Stage’s Byrne Theater at the Barrette Center for the Arts, 74 Gates Street, White River Junction, VT, through October 29.
A finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize, “the script tells the story of a former U.S. military interpreter, who is hiding from the Taliban in his sister’s apartment in the wake of the American troop withdrawal.” The drama takes “a searing look at the human cost of America’s longest war, and the love and family that keeps people going in the face of the harshest conditions.”
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by Hugh Wheeler. Directed by Ryan Mardesich. Choreography by Joy Clark. Music directed by Dan Ryan. Staged by Moonbox Productions at 2 Arrow Street, Cambridge, through November 5.
The press material for this effort sounds … intriguing, to say the least. Not just another production of the oft-produced Sondheim musical, this will be “a new take on the modern myth, the parable of power, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” In other words, “a Brechtian take on a Sondheim classic.” Mrs. Lovett as Mother Courage? Arts Fuse review
Pride and Prejudice by Kate Hamill. Adapted from the novel by Jane Austen. Directed by Tatyana-Marie Carlo. Staged at Hartford Stage, 50 Church street, Hartford, through November 5.
Jane Austen, revamped for contemporary sensibilities. “It’s about time for the Bennet sisters to get married, only the independent and outspoken Elizabeth isn’t keen on the idea. Meanwhile, the proud and mysterious Mr. Darcy keeps appearing in the Bennet social sphere, sparking conflict and marital questions. Might a change of heart be in the cards for Elizabeth?” This “playful adaptation bends tradition and social conventions.”
Lizzie: A Rock Concert in 40 Whacks Music by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt. Lyrics by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Tim Maner. Book by Tim Maner. Directed by Lanie Sakakura. Staged by TheaterWorks at 233 Pearl Street, Hartford, through October 29.
Lizzie Borden took an axe…. This all-female punk-grunge-rock musical “explores the heated days leading up to the most famous double murder of all time.” Following in the footsteps of “the recent Broadway hit Six,” this “rock concert retells “a mind-bending American myth.” Does the production come with a mosh pit?
Saint Dad by Monica Wood. Directed by Sally Wood. Staged by Portland Stage, 25 Forest Ave, Portland, ME, October 25 through November 19.
A new comedy about how life is changing in Maine from a playwright who lives in the state: “Suzanne, Bud, and Denise made the tough decision to sell their childhood camp when their father was at death’s door, but now that he’s made a miraculous recovery, they’re doing everything in their power to make sure he doesn’t find out. The new owner, Leona, gets more than she bargained for when all three siblings, and her college-bound daughter all unexpectedly drop by.”
The Rocky Horror Show, Book, Music, & Lyrics by Richard O’Brien. Directed by Lee Mikeska Gardner & Jo Michael Rezes. Staged at the Central Square Theatre, 450 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, October 26 through November 26.
According to the Theatre Communications Group, this musical, based on the 1975 cult film, is one of the most produced shows of the 2023-2024 American season. “On a dark and stormy night, sweethearts Brad and Janet suffer a blowout. Dammit (Janet). Without a spare they enter (at their own risk) the eerie mansion of the dangerously charming Dr. Frank-N-Furter who seduces them with his B-movie horror film wonderland complete with a motley crew. Do the time warp (again). Be hypnotized by this hedonistic rock-n-roll promenade through gender, sexuality, and identity, and learn what it means to be from the planet Transsexual.”
The Spider & The Fly; or a Tangled Web (A Gothic Pantomime), written by Kiki Samko & Matthew Woods. Directed by Matthew Woods. Staged by imaginary beasts at Chelsea Theater Works, 189 Winnisimmet, Street, Chelsea, through October 29.
Here is part of the description of this lively company’s latest homage to popular entertainment of the 19th century: “This freewheeling retelling of the Victorian narrative poem of the same name promises fun for the whole family! Enter the mansion of our Great Author’s mind as he sets out to write a brand new Panto, with the help of a “Spark” of inspiration sent to him by an encouraging Good Fairy. Unfortunately, when old Cumbercrown, the Demon King, catches wind of the forthcoming creativity — in the joyful form of Panto, no less! — he resolves to doom the hapless Author’s every effort.”
Hangmen by Martin McDonagh. Directed by Tony Estrella. Staged by the Gamm Theatre at 1245 Jefferson Blvd, Warwick, RI, November 2 through 26.
The New England premiere of Martin McDonagh’s critically admired dark comedy, which premiered in New York in 2022: “Its 1965, and the death penalty has just been abolished in the U.K. In a small town in northern England everyone wants to know what Harry Wade, the second best hangman in the country, has to say about it. As the news breaks, Harry’s pub is overrun with a motley crew of sycophants and a cub reporter hungry for a quote … until the attention turns to Mooney, a smiley, inscrutable visitor with interior motives.”
The Book of Will by Lauren Gunderson. Directed by Bryn Boice. Staged by the Hub Theatre Company of Boston at the Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Theatre, 539 Tremont Street, October 27 through November 12.
“Shakespeare is only three years dead-and already the London stage is littered with badly botched Hamlets, ripped-off Romeos, and plagiarized Pericles. With the clock ticking, his comrades in art must band together to outwit an embezzling publisher, a drunk poet laureate, and their own mortality as they race to publish Shakespeare’s masterpieces and preserve his memory. Replete with history, hijinks, and Shakespeare’s greatest hits, this tale of the First Folio sheds new light on a man and a legacy you thought you knew.”
Save Shakespeare’s plays by all means. But one of my personal favorites, Ben Jonson, is a character who needs to be “outwitted” — there’s no doubt he is the “drunk poet laureate” in the description above. I may be need to check this production out to see if Gunderson has treated Jonson with proper respect, as Edward Bond did in Bingo. Or are we going to get another insulting fiasco, such as the portrait of Ben as a double-dealer in the 2011 film Anonymous.
How I Learned To Drive by Paula Vogel. Directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue. Staged by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project at the Roberts Studio Theatre at the Calderwood Pavilion, 527 Tremont St., November 3 through 25.
The oft-produced play, winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and nominated for the 2022 Tony Award for Best Revival, “puts us behind the wheel of a ‘56 Chevy with our protagonist, Li’l Bit, as she looks back on her rocky journey from adolescence to adulthood. Fasten your seat belts as she navigates dark family secrets, teenage growing pains, and her turbulent relationship with her Uncle Peck.”
— Bill Marx
Around the time that the ’60s turned into the ’70s, some artists found themselves in an introspective mood. After generations of artistic revolutions, what was it, exactly, that they were up to? Where was the art in art? Did the hand of the artist matter any more or was everything that really counted about art in the mind? Artists intrigued by these thoughts began to create works that were “de-materialized” or composed of ideas instead of physical objects, or they wrote out instructions to be used, like a musical score or computer program, to create a visible work anywhere. Others “found” art in everyday objects or structures or in patterns or repetitions. Their collective movement, which has been influential ever since, has been called “Conceptual Art.”
An institution that has collected and exhibited contemporary art since it began, in the 1840s, Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum has acquired many works of conceptual art over several decades. Rules & Repetition: Conceptual Art at the Wadsworth Atheneum, opening October 26, both presents key works from the museum’s collection and celebrates 50 years of supporting the movement and its artists. The nearly 40 works in the show will include many of the key figures in conceptual art and those they influenced, including Sol LeWitt, On Arakawa, Bernd & Hilla Becher, Ana Mendieta, Carl Andre, and Lorna Simpson.
It is the spooky season and the MFA is helping to celebrate with The Art of Horror, a special film series of horror films that the museum claims are “so exquisite you won’t want to cover your eyes.” Next to screen: Alejandro Amenabar’s The Others, starring Nicole Kidman, on October 27 at 7 p.m. The film takes place in a mansion kept in velvet darkness on the island of Jersey just after World War II. “This stately ghost story,” says the MFA, “is both elegant and thrilling.” Tickets: $12 for members, $15 for others.
The next installment in the Harvard Art Museums’ Materials Lab Workshop is “A Brush with Nature— Chinese Painting.” Taught by master painter Qingxiong Ma, the workshop will show participants how to make a traditional Chinese painting. Offered on October 28 in Chinese and November 4 in English, the program will take place from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm both days. $15 materials fee, registration is required, space is limited.
Elsewhere in Cambridge, MIT List Visual Arts Center is opening two exhibitions, Carlos Reyes: 18 and Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme: Only sounds that tremble through us on October 27. Reyes’s elegantly austere sculptures feature found materials bearing evidence of past use, like the graffiti-carved cedar planks recycled from an old bathhouse. Collaborating video and media artists Abbas and Abou-Rahme will create a multichannel sound and video installation, part of their ongoing project collecting fragments of communal song and dance in Iraq, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen from videos posted on social media over the last decade.
— Peter Walsh
October 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Master saxophonists Jerry Bergonzi and George Garzone hold down the best weekly double-bill in the Boston area (or maybe anywhere), every Monday at the Lilypad, when Garzone and the Fringe follow the early show by Bergonzi’s band. But their longtime friend and colleague, the bassist Bruce Gertz, has over the years brought them together as Gargonz, playing Gertz’s compositions in his own conception of tenor madness. They are joined by trumpeter Phil Grenadier and drummer Luther Gray (both regulars in Bergonzi’s band).
October 26 at 7:30 p.m.
This presentation at the Regattabar (part of JazzBoston’s ongoing Jazz All Ways series) brings together masters from the jazz and Irish folk traditions in a unique mashup. Fiddler Oisin McAuley is the musical director for the show, which also includes uilleann pipe and low-whistle master Cillian Vallely, saxophonist/flutist/singer Stan Strickland, pianist Witness Matlou, bassist Ron Mahdi, and drummer Ron Savage.
October 27 at 7 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
The Messenger Legacy band, created by alumni of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, dedicate this show to the music of one of their founders, drummer Ralph Peterson Jr., who died in 2021. They’ll be playing Peterson’s compositions as well as pieces by other members. The remarkably formidable band includes tenor saxophonist Bill Pierce, alto saxophonist Craig Handy, trombonist Robin Eubanks, trumpeter Brian Lynch, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, pianist David Hazeltine, and drummer Kush Abadey.
October 27 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Lizard Lounge, Cambridge
The Headhunters were born on Herbie Hancock’s 1973 album of that name. Now, a couple of charter members — percussionist Bill Summers and drummer Mike Clark — are touring a 50th-anniversary edition of the band. It promises to be a wonderful New Orleans jazz-funk blowout, with alto saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr., keyboardist Kyle Roussel, and seven-string bassist Chris Severin.
Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m.
The singer and songwriter Nellie McKay is pretty much unclassifiable. At one show some years ago at the Regattabar, accompanying herself on piano, ukulele, and harmonica, she sang Gerry and the Pacemakers’ “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying,” Richard and Mimi Farina’s anti-imperialist murder ballad “Bold Marauder,” Frank Zappa’s scabrous LBJ-era “Great Society” satire “Hungry Freaks, Daddy,” the Cyrkle’s 1966 hit “Red Rubber Ball” (written by Paul Simon and the Seekers’ Bruce Woodley), and her own Wizard of Oz paranoid fantasy “Toto Dies.” Since her 2004 debut Get Away from Me, she’s created three solo-performance musical-theater portraits (of convicted murderer Barbara Graham, transgender musician Billie Tipton, and comedian Joan Rivers), and took an award-winning turn as Polly Peachum in a Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, with Alan Cumming. Phew!
Her latest disc, Hey Guys, Watch This, her first album of all-original material in 13 years, was recorded with West Virginia roots band the Carpenter Ants. It “traces the haunted sounds of Appalachia to a renaissance of revelry.”
October 28 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
At the outset of his career, pianist Benny Green had enough goods to secure gigs with Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, and Betty Carter — stern taskmasters all. By now, at 60, he’s internalized enough of his own history to play with serene elegance, and funk. His latest, the solo-piano Solo (Sunnyside), shows him paying thanks to those he learned from along the way, including original tributes to Bobby Timmons and Jackie McLean, as well as his takes on Monk, Horace Silver, and Hubbard by way of Tommy Flanagan (“Minor Mishap”). No telling what he’ll pull out of his vast repertoire for this rare solo show at Scullers.
Luciana Souza and Dafnis Prieto
Oct. 28 at 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston
The tight rapport that Cuban-born composer, percussionist, and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Dafnis Prieto created with the distinguished São Paulo-born singer and composer Luciana Souza on his 2022 Cantar is sure to produce dividends in this live show. The tunes on the disc (all originals) are delivered in a variety of Spanish, Portuguese, and English, musically referencing specific Afro-Cuban and Brazilian forms, matching body-moving layered rhythms with engaging vocal tunefulness. The exuberance of the disc should travel well to the stage.
October 29 at 3 p.m.
Arts Wayland, Wayland, MA
The adventurous pianist and composer Jason Yeager leads an excellent quartet at Arts Wayland, with alto saxophoninst Randal Despommier, bassist Brad Barrett, and drummer Yoron Israel.
Christian McBride’s New Jawn
Nov. 2 at 8 p.m.
Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport, MA
Bassist Christian McBride’s New Jawn is one of the most explosive ensembles he’s fronted: trumpeter Josh Evans; Marcus Strickland on saxophone and bass clarinet, and Nasheet Waits on drums.
November 3 at 7 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
Saxophonist Myanna’s brand of jazz-funk is marked not just by her own commanding sound and improvisations but also by her keen songwriting. She’s joined for this show by singer Cassandre McKinley and the Ken Clark Organ Trio.
Bill Charlap Trio
November 4 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Jazz standards and the Great American Songbook have been pianist Bill Charlap’s bread and butter for most of his 30-year career — he’s made it work because of his incisive choice of material and his peerless touch and imagination. He’s joined for this set by bassist Noriko Ueda and drummer Dennis Mackrel.
The Cuban pianist and composer Harold Lopez-Nussa’s new Timba a la Americana (his Blue Note debut) shows his deep grasp of Afro-Cuban traditional forms and rhythms as well as his assured jazz harmonic fluency — and amazing fingerwork. For this show, he’ll be joined by some of the outstanding players from the album: harmonica virtuoso Grégoire Maret, bassist Luques Curtis, and Harold’s younger brother, Ruy Adrián López-Nussa, on drums, an essential partner since Harold’s first recordings.
— Jon Garelick
Vincent Schiraldi at Harvard Book Store
Mass Supervision: Probation, Parole, and the Illusion of Safety and Freedom
October 23 at 7 p.m.
“Vincent Schiraldi was New York City probation commissioner under Mayor Bloomberg, supervising a system charged with monitoring 30,000 people on a daily basis. In Mass Supervision, he combines firsthand experience with deep research on the inadequately explored practices of probation and parole, to illustrate how these forms of state supervision have strayed from their original goal of providing constructive and rehabilitative alternatives to prison. They have become instead, Schiraldi argues, a “recidivism trap” for people trying to lead productive lives in the wake of a criminal conviction.” Arts Fuse review
Omkari Williams at Harvard Book Store
Micro Activism: How You Can Make a Difference in the World without a Bullhorn
October 24 at 7 p.m.
“In this age of social justice, those who don’t necessarily want to lead a movement or join a protest march are left wondering, “How can I make an impact?” In Micro Activism, former political consultant turned activism coach Omkari Williams shares her expertise in empowering introverts and highly sensitive people to help each of us, no matter our temperament, find our most satisfying and effective activist role.
Using Williams’s Activist Archetype tool, readers discover their unique strengths and use this to develop a personal strategy. To ensure sustainable involvement, Williams encourages starting small, working collaboratively, and beginning locally. Advice on self-care practices, burn-out prevention, and profiles of activists engaged in a range of activities and causes (from voter registration to craftivism, literacy programs, community gardens, and more), provide readers with the inspiration and practical know-how needed to engage in small, doable actions that make a lasting impact.”
Jhumpa Lahiri with Neel Mukherjee – brookline booksmith
October 30 at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $27 with book, $37 with signed and shipped book
“Rome — metropolis and monument, suspended between past and future, multi-faceted and metaphysical — is the protagonist, not the setting, of these nine stories. In “The Boundary,” one family vacations in the Roman countryside, though we see their lives through the eyes of the caretaker’s daughter, who nurses a wound from her family’s immigrant past. In “P’s Parties,” a Roman couple, now empty nesters, finds comfort and community with foreigners at their friend’s yearly birthday gathering — until the husband crosses a line.
And in “The Steps,” on a public staircase that connects two neighborhoods and the residents who climb up and down it, we see Italy’s capital in all of its social and cultural variegations, filled with the tensions of a changing city: visibility and invisibility, random acts of aggression, the challenge of straddling worlds and cultures, and the meaning of home.
These are splendid, searching stories, written in Jhumpa Lahiri’s adopted language of Italian and seamlessly translated by the author and by Knopf editor Todd Portnowitz. Stories steeped in the moods of Italian master Alberto Moravia and guided, in the concluding tale, by the ineluctable ghost of Dante Alighieri, whose words lead the protagonist toward a new way of life.”
Luke Messac at Harvard Book Store
Your Money or Your Life: Debt Collection in American Medicine
November 1 at 7 p.m.
“Your Money or Your Life reveals how medical debt collection became a multibillion-dollar industry and how everyday Americans are made to pay the price. Emergency physician and historian Luke Messac weaves patient stories into a history of law, finance, and medicine to show how debt and debt collection are destroying the foundational trust between doctors and patients at the heart of American healthcare. The fight to stop aggressive collection tactics has brought together people from all corners of the political spectrum. But if we want to better protect the sick from financial ruin, we have to understand how we got here.”
November Ice Cream Story Hour with Honeycomb Creamery! – Porter Square Books
November 4 at 10 a.m
“Porter Square Books is delighted to partner with Honeycomb Creamery to present a special Ice Cream Story Hour with PSB Bookseller Connor! We’re bringing a selection of some of our favorite dessert-themed kids’ books and Honeycomb Creamery is providing the desserts, freshly scooped ice cream from their small-batch craft ice cream. It’s the perfect pairing to read with a sweet kids’ book! Story hour will be hosted at 10AM on Saturday, November 4 at Honeycomb Creamery’s storefront (1702 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge, MA 02138). Spaces are limited, so RSVP below to secure your spot at story hour!”
Tracy K. Smith at the Brattle Theatre – Harvard Book Store
To Free the Captives: A Plea for the American Soul
November 7 at 6 p.m. (doors open at 5:30)
Tickets are $32 including copy of book
“To Free the Captives touches down in Sunflower, Alabama, the red-dirt town where Smith’s father’s family comes from, and where her grandfather returned after World War I with a hero’s record but difficult prospects as a Black man. Smith considers his life and the life of her father through the lens of history. Hoping to connect with their strength and continuance, she assembles a new terminology of American life.
“Bearing courageous witness to the terms of Freedom afforded her as a Black woman, a mother, and an educator in the 21st century, Smith etches a portrait of where we find ourselves 400 years into the American experiment. Weaving in an account of her growing spiritual practice, she argues that the soul is not merely a private site of respite or transcendence, but a tool for fulfilling our duties to each other, and a sounding board for our most pressing collective questions: Where are we going as a nation? Where have we been?”
Sigrid Nunez in conversation with Valeria Luiselli – Porter Square Books
November 8 at 7 p.m.
“Elegy plus comedy is the only way to express how we live in the world today, says a character in Sigrid Nunez’s ninth novel. The Vulnerables offers a meditation on our contemporary era, as a solitary female narrator asks what it means to be alive at this complex moment in history and considers how our present reality affects the way a person looks back on her past.
Humor, to be sure, is a priceless refuge. Equally vital is connection with others, who here include an adrift member of Gen Z and a spirited parrot named Eureka. The Vulnerables reveals what happens when strangers are willing to open their hearts to each other and how far even small acts of caring can go to ease another’s distress. A search for understanding about some of the most critical matters of our time, Nunez’s new novel is also an inquiry into the nature and purpose of writing itself.”
— Matt Hanson