Coming Attractions: February 11 through 26 — 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 1924’s Peter Pan.

Peter Pan (1924)
February 11 at 2 p.m.
Somerville Theatre

SILENTS, PLEASE! presents a rarely seen version of the classic story: it will be shown in 35mm with live music accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis. This film adaptation was personally supervised by author J.M. Barrie. It was a major hit when it was released in 1924, celebrated for its innovative use of special effects (mainly to show Tinker Bell). For decades, this version of the fable was thought to be lost until a well-preserved copy was found in a vault at the Eastman School of Music.

Story of a Woman Who …
February 12 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Film Archive

Yvonne Rainer’s second landmark feature is the story of a woman whose sexual dissatisfaction masks an enormous anger. The director is out to examine questions raised by contemporary feminism, focusing on the intersection between the representation of romantic clichés and sexual repression. This is a provocative, often contradictory, study that combines voiceover, intertitles, simulated “still” images, and dinner-table discussions. It screens with Michal Snow’s 1976 short Breakfast (Table Top Dolly).

Boston Open Screen
February 13 at 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre

Open Screen is Boston’s one and only open mic night for filmmakers! If your movie (or part thereof) is under 10 minutes, they will screen it.

The 49th Boston Science Fiction Film Festival & Marathon
In-Person: February 14 through 19
Somerville Theatre in Davis Square
Online: February 20 through 25 at Filmocracy (linked)

SF49 is a hybrid event, presenting roughly 30 features, 80 shorts, 10 workshops/panels, and parties. The in-person series ends with the infamous MARATHON, a 24-hour nonstop binge view of classic, not-so-classic, and downright schlocky futuristic films. Tickets and Events. Program-at-a GlanceBoston Sci-Fi Podcast

A scene from Terrestrial Verses, part of the Boston Festival of Films from Iran.

Boston Festival of Films from Iran
February 16–March 2
At the Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Iran produces some of the best of cinema in the world. This year’s gathering includes:

Terrestrial Verses on February 16 at 7 p.m.

A Revolution on Canvas on February 17 at 2:30 p.m.

The Persian Version on February 22 at 7 p.m.

Winners on March 2 at 2:30 p.m.

2024 Oscar Nominated Shorts: Live Action
Opens February 16

Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline & Kendall Square Cinema in Cambridge

2024 Oscar Nominated Shorts: Animated
Opens February 16

Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline & Kendall Square Cinema in Cambridge

2024 Oscar-Nominated Shorts: Documentary
Coolidge Corner Theatre, opens on February 23

Three locations are offering several opportunities to see all of the Oscar-nominated Short Films. The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston has also scheduled screenings of Oscar Shorts at various times. These selections are usually quite good. The Academy Awards take place on March 10.

Shared Stories: Encore! Shorts
Viewing window: February 16 at 7 p.m. through Feb 26 at 12 p.m.

Audience Choice Award Winner Shorts from Shared Stories, the spring film series that seeks to build community, shared conversation, and experiences through cinema. Presented by ArtsEmerson in collaboration with the Boston Asian American Film Festival (BAAFF), CineFest Latino Boston, and the Roxbury International Film Festival (RoxFilm).

February 18 at 1 p.m.
Bright Family Screening Room 559 Washington Street

Reparations explores the four-century struggle to seek repair and atonement for slavery in the United States. Black and Asian Americans reflect on the legacy of slavery, the inequities that persist, and argue for the critical role that solidarity between communities has in acknowledging and addressing systemic racism in America. Free Arts Emerson presentation.

Freckled Rice and Our Chinatown
February 18 at 3:30 p.m.
Bright Family Screening Room 559 Washington Street, Boston

Freckled Rice is a 1983 film shot entirely in Boston’s Chinatown. In this digitally remastered — thought lost — local classic, 13-year-old Joe Soo comes of age and to terms with his Chinese American heritage in Boston during the ’60s. Our Chinatown (11 minutes) is the story of Paul W. Lee, born in Boston’s Chinatown, who returns home to help build affordable housing. This program is part of the series Projecting Connections: Chinese American Experiences.

A still from The Disappearance of Shere Hite. Photo: Iris Brosch

The Disappearance of Shere Hite
February 15 at 7 p.m.
Bright Family Screening Room 559 Washington Street Boston

Shere Hite’s 1976 bestselling book, The Hite Report, brought the female orgasm out of the closet by making the most private experiences of thousands of anonymous survey respondents available. Her findings rocked the American cultural establishment, stimulating still-ongoing conversations about gender, sexuality, and bodily autonomy. So how and why did Hite disappear? This documentary was on several best film lists. A discussion with director Nicole Newnham will follow. Free

Pick of the Week
Society of the Snow, streaming on Netflix

This riveting film played too briefly in theaters but is now streaming on Netflix. It was nominated in Best International Feature Oscar category at the Oscars and as Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes. It is the astounding story of  Uruguayan Air Force flight 571, chartered to transport a rugby team to Santiago, Chile, in 1972  that crashed into a glacier in the heart of the Andes. Of the 45 passengers on board who were trapped in one of the most inaccessible and hostile environments on the planet, only 16 survived. This Spanish adaptation of the book by Pablo Vierci is far superior to the 1993 Hollywood version called Alive. Arts Fuse Review

— Tim Jackson

Classical Music

Pianist Yunchan Lim joins the Boston Symphony Orchestra this week. Photo: James Hole

Yunchan Lim plays Rachmaninoff
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
February 15 at 7:30 p.m., 16 at 1:30 p.m., 17 at 8 p.m., and 18 at 2 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston

Lim, the youngest gold medalist in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, joins the BSO for Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Tugan Sokhiev also leads the orchestra in Ernest Chausson’s Symphony in B-flat.

The Burning Fiery Furnace
Presented by Enigma Chamber Opera
February 16 & 17, 7 p.m.
Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston

ECO completes its survey of Benjamin Britten’s church parables. This one stars Jesse Darden, Matthew DiBattista, Aaron Engebreth, Daniel Fridley, David McFerrin, and Paul Soper. Edward Elwyn Jones directs.

The Anonymous Lover
Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
February 16-18 at 7:30 p.m. (3 p.m. on Sunday)
Huntington Avenue Theatre, Boston

BLO continues its season with a production of Joseph Bologne’s comic opera The Anonymous Lover. Nardus Williams, Omar Najmi, and Evan Hughes headline the cast. David Angus conducts.

The Takács Quartet. Photo: Amanda Tipton

Takács Quartet in recital
Presented by Celebrity Series
February 16 at 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston

The Takács Quartet’s appearance this season pairs a couple of standards – Franz Josef Haydn’s “Sunrise” Quartet and Ludwig van Beethoven’s E-minor “Rasumovsky” Quartet – with a new work: Nokuthula Ngwenyama’s flow.

Justin Austin in recital
Presented by Celebrity Series
February 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Pickman Hall, Cambridge

Baritone Austin makes his local recital debut with pianist Howard Watkins at Longy.

Harry Christophers conducts H&H
Presented by Handel & Haydn Society
February 23 at 7:30 p.m. and 25 at 3 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston

Harry Christophers returns to H&H for the first time since stepping down as the group’s artistic director in 2022. Now conductor laureate, he leads a program of Haydn and Mozart, with short works by Hildegard of Bingen and Raphaella Aleotti interspersed.

Violinist Liza Ferschtman performing with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra in 2019. Photo: Paul Marotta.

Liza Ferschtman plays Berg
Presented by Boston Philharmonic Orchestra
February 24 at 8 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston

The BPO returns to action with symphonic selections by Maurice Ravel and Gustav Mahler sandwiching a performance of Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto. The latter’s soloist, Liza Ferschtman, made waves when she first played with the orchestra in 2019; her return promises fireworks. Benjamin Zander conducts.

— Jonathan Blumhofer

World Music and Roots

DDG4 at Cotton Club Tokyo. Photo: Tsuneo Koga

DDG4 (Dani and Debora Gurgel Quarteto) meets Berklee
February 15, 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center

For the past decade the quartet led by the mother-daughter duo of pianist Debora Gurgel and vocalist Dani Gurgel has been making an appealing mix of vocal and instrumental jazz with the rhythms of their native Brazil. They’ve got a big band record in the can, and they’ll be wrapping up their Berklee residency with a night that will include those charts, providing listeners with a rare chance to hear Brazilian big band sounds, as well as some small combo collaborations with student musicians and arrangers.

Revolutionary Snake Ensemble
February 17

New Orleans has the parades and beads, but Boston has its own Mardi Gras tradition: the annual night of Crescent City music supplied by the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble. This year the mighty brass band is wrapping up the Carnival season with a night at Scullers, and they’ve got some very special guests: New Orleans-bred singer Henri Smith and saxophonist and longtime Allen Toussaint collaborator Amadee Castenell.

Puerto Rican singer iLe. Photo: Eric Rojas

February 17
Crystal Ballroom at the Somerville Theatre

Puerto Rican singer iLe first came to attention as a backup singer for her brothers’ groundbreaking hip-hop group Calle 13. Since branching out on her own she’s established herself as one of the preeminent alt-Latino singer/songwriters. The songs on her latest album draw from traditional folk styles, like plena and bomba. There is also a collaboration with reggaeton pioneer Ivy Queen. She’ll be appearing courtesy of Global Arts Live.

February 21
The Boston Synagogue

Klezmer music is usually considered an upbeat, raucous affair, but the Boston trio Levyosn has been exploring the subtler nuances of traditional Jewish music with both their instruments and their gorgeous harmonies. The group — Adah Hetko (voice, guitar), Lysander Jaffe (violin, voice), and Kaia Berman Peters (accordion and voice) — will be appearing as part the Boston Festival of New Jewish Music.

Anat Cohen-Marcello Gonçalves Duo
February 24, 7:30 p.m.
Wellesley College

Anat Cohen’s adventurous mix of jazz and traditional Brazilian music has helped make her one of the few stars of  the clarinet to emerge in recent years. She’ll be finishing up a Wellesley residency with this free duo concert with guitarist Marcello Gonçalves.

— Noah Schaffer

Popular Music

Michael Shannon & Jason Narducy and Friends with Dave Hill
February 13 (doors at 7/show at 8)
The Sinclair, Cambridge

Any band or artist who opts to perform the whole of R.E.M.’s classic 1983 debut Murmur is bound to draw a decent number of curious fans, no matter what the status of the musicians. When the musicians are multitime award nominee and star of the silver screen, small screen, and theater Michael Shannon, and Bob Mould, Superchuck, and Sunny Day Real Estate (et al.) guitarist Jason Narducy, the interest increases significantly.

In the case of the actor and the musician’s recent gig at Athens, Georgia’s 40 Watt Club, all four original members of R.E.M. appeared on stage together, to the delight and amazement of the hometown audience.

Granted, such a monumental event is unlikely to occur in Cambridge on February 13. However, this is hardly reason enough to keep anyone from being at The Sinclair to take in a rendition of one of the most influential albums of the past 40 years, along with some of Shannon and Narducy’s personal faves.

Squid with Water From Your Eyes
February 14 (doors at 7/show at 8)
Paradise Rock Club, Boston

Formed in Brighton (UK, that is) and now based in London, Squid brings an epic, borderline prog-rock sweep to their post-punk influenced offerings. On 2021’s Bright Green Field, this forceful quintet stretched its songs past the eight-minute mark in some cases and limited them to less or barely more than one minute in others. Last summer’s O Monolith kept the songs in the somewhat more conventional three to six-and-a-half-minute range.

But no matter the length of the individual songs or the whole albums (55 minutes for the debut, 42 for its follow-up), the impact is equally powerful and the dynamics are just as mesmerizing. Such is also the case with the newly recorded “Fugue (Bin Song).”

Not exactly music to set Valentine’s Day to, but that is when they will be at The Sinclair.

l-r: Jon Butcher, Allen Estes, Sal Baglio. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Butcher, Baglio & Estes
February 16 (doors at 6/show at 7:30)
Haymarket Lounge at City Winery, Boston

Jon Butcher is a Grammy-nominated guitarist who has toured with some of the biggest rock bands ever and was on MTV at the time when David Bowie criticized the network for having “so few Black artists featured on it.” He continues to record and produce music and videos into the 2020s.

Sal Baglio has fronted, toured with, and written songs for The Stompers — who opened for “everybody from Aerosmith to U2,” including The Beach Boys — in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and currently does the same with The Amplifier Heads. (Click here for my 2018 interview with him.)

Allen Estes is a Gloucester-bred singer, songwriter, and lecturer (Berklee, North Shore Community College) who has worked in performing, songwriting, and recording capacities with Tammy Wynette, Shania Twain, Bonnie Raitt, Waylon Jennings, and countless others.

The trio of Boston-area legends released Gypsy Caravan in 2022. On February 16, they will occupy the cozy confines of City Winery’s Haymarket Lounge together.

Jamila Woods with Kara Jackson
February 20 (doors at 7/show at 8)
The Sinclair, Cambridge

Jamila Woods was born in and resides in Chicago, but spent four years in Providence while studying at Brown University, from where she graduated in 2011. As a writer, Woods has published poetry, edited anthologies, and served as an associate artistic director of Young Chicago Authors. Jamila Woods the musician has released Heavn [sic] (2016), Legacy! Legacy! (2019), and last October, Water Made Us, all of which have been included among the best albums of their respective years by multiple publications.

Woods’s fellow musician, poet, and Chicagoan — and 2019-2020 US National Youth Poet Laureate —  Kara Jackson will open for her at The Sinclair on February 20.

Sunny War and Chris Pierce
February 22 (show at 8)
The Cut, Gloucester

Gloucester’s The Cut isn’t wasting any time in establishing itself as the hottest new small venue outside of Boston. Having premiered with an 81st birthday celebration for Willie Alexander (click here for The Arts Fuse’s review), the 500-capacity room is scheduled to host local and national acts such as Club d’Elf, Buffalo Tom, Shemekia Copland, Richard Thompson, GA-20, and on February 22, the highly and widely acclaimed folk-punk blues singer, songwriter, and idiosyncratic guitarist Sunny War.

Also on the bill will be fellow singer, songwriter, and guitarist Chris Pierce, whom I interviewed in 2017. I presume the two will play separate sets and that Sunny War will be the de facto headliner. However, the two are sure to perform together, as they have recorded several singles and an EP as War & Pierce. (Videos for several of their songs are here.)

Moreover, the two appear on each other’s most recent albums. Sunny War’s Anarchist Gospel features Chris Pierce on “Swear to Gawd,” and she guests on his song “Time Bomb” from Let All Who Will, which includes a cover of The Cars’ “Drive.”

So if you haven’t been to The Cut, February 22 is an ideal day to correct that.

— Blake Maddux


COVID PROTOCOLS: Check with specific theaters.

Installation view of the exhibition Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme: May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth. Digital photograph courtesy of MIT

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme: Only sounds that tremble through us in the Hayden Gallery at the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, through March 3.

Given how grievously Boston’s theaters are overlooking events in the contemporary world, particularly in the Middle East, this multichannel sound and video installation suggests possibilities, for stage artists, of how the ongoing turmoil might be dramatized. This is a new site-specific iteration of Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahm’s May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth (2020–ongoing), a multipart project that brings together (according to its publicity) “fragments of communal song and dance in Iraq, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen, which the artists collected from videos posted on social media over the past decade, with new filmic performances created by the artists with dancers and musicians who responded to specific gestures, music, or texts from the archive. In looking at ephemeral performances in politically marginalized parts of the world and asking what it means to archive sound and gesture through embodiment, the artists reveal performance to be both a critical space of resilience and an ever-evolving repository of memory.”

John Proctor Is the Villain by Kimberly Belflower. Directed by Margot Bordelon. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for The Arts, 527 Tremont St, Boston, through March 10.

According to the Huntington Theatre Company’s publicity material: “At a rural high school in Georgia, a group of lively teens explore Arthur Miller’s The Crucible while navigating young love, sex ed, and a few school scandals. With a contemporary lens on the American classic, the young women begin to discover their power and agency, finding a way to hold both the classic text and their community to account.”

A couple of the puppet performers in the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre’s production of The Good Soldier Švejk. 

The Good Soldier Švejk and His Fortunes in the First World War, Jaroslav Hašek’s novel adapted and directed for the stage by Vít Horejš. Staged by the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre at the Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. (at E. 10th Street), New York,  through February 14.

Yes, this show is in New York, but I love puppets and Czech writer Jaroslav Hašek’s classic antiwar novel, The Good Soldier Švejk, which celebrated its centennial last year (it was published, in six volumes, from 1921 to 1923). The lowdown from the company that is mounting the first puppet theater adaptation of the book: “In the story, Švejk [pronounced ‘Shvayk’], a professional dog thief and certified dimwit, stumbles through the WWI military machine of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, whose Czech soldiers are fighting in a conflict they do not understand on behalf of an empire to which they have no reason for loyalty. A series of absurdly comic episodes explore the pointlessness and futility of military discipline and of conflict in general, defining the idiocy of war and the men who wage it, not just in the Great War but in all wars; not just the idiocy of war but idiocy itself.” The book’s dark farce inspired Joseph Heller (Catch 22), the creators of M*A*S*H, Bertolt Brecht (Schweik in the Second World War), and other opponents of senseless combat. FYI — Since the late 1990s, military spending around the world has doubled in real terms. (Source: Adam Tooze’s Chartbook)

La Broa’ (Broad Street) by Orlando Hernández, inspired by Latino History of Rhode Island: Nuestras Raíces, oral histories collected by Marta V. Martínez. Directed by Tatyana-Marie Carlo. Staged by Trinity Rep at the Dowling Theater, 201 Washington St., Providence, through February 18.

An intriguing world premiere of what is a true theatrical rarity in these parts — a play that reflects the local community and has not been blessed with blurbs from the New York Times. According to the publicity: “Doña Rosa’s Market on La Broa’ (Providence’s Broad Street) is where Rhode Islanders of ‘la comunidad Latina’ have gathered for decades. It is there that they share their stories — from the experience of recent immigration to those of Americans whose threads stretch much further back. This drama draws from the true tales of Latina/Latino Rhode Islanders who have made this place their home, as documented by Marta V. Martínez in the oral history Nuestras Raíces (Our Roots).”

Jim Ortlieb as Man, a performer seeking an audience in Stand Up If You Are Here Tonight. Photo: Michael Brosilow

Stand Up If You Are Here Tonight, written and directed by John Kolvenbach. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Maso Studio in The Huntington Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston, through March 23.

According to the publicity release: “You’ve tried everything. Yoga. Acupuncture. Therapy. You floated in salt water in the pitch black dark. You juiced, you cleansed, you journaled, you cut, you volunteered. You ate only RINDS for three days and nights. You reached out, you looked within. You have tried. And yet here you are.” 

Thus begins John Kolvenbach’s script, which deals with “a man desperate for connection, bent by isolation, and deeply in love with the audience itself. ” Jim Ortlieb plays The Man. Arts Fuse review.

Becoming a Man  by P. Carl, adapted from his memoir of the same name. Directed by Diane Paulus and P. Carl. Staged by the American Repertory Theater,  at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, February 16 through March 10.

The statement on the A.R.T. website about this world premiere production: “For fifty years, P. Carl lived as a girl and then a queer woman, building a career and a loving marriage while waiting to realize himself in full. When he decides to affirm his gender, his transition puts everything—family, career, friendships—at stake…. Each performance will begin with a Radical Welcome, where a community member will welcome the audience to the A.R.T and share what has brought them to the show. Each performance of the one-act play will culminate in Act II, a 20-minute facilitated conversation with a local leader, scholar, or activist and a brief audience Q&A exploring the production’s essential question.”

A scene from 7 Fingers’ Duel Reality. Photo: courtesy of Arts Emerson

Duel Reality, performed by The 7 Fingers, originally created and produced with Virgin Voyages. Direction and staging by Shana Carroll. Presented by Arts Emerson at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont Street, Boston, through February 18.

From the publicity handout for what will be an American premiere: “Imagine a world where star-crossed lovers are circus stars, their love story unfolding through graceful and death-defying acrobatics. This is Duel Reality, an elaborate and fast-paced mashup of Shakespeare’s most famous love story and the intense world of competitive team sports. In the midst of the provocation and action, we catch a glimpse of our star-crossed lovers. They are fierce players, but do they care who wins or loses if playing the game can bring them closer together?”

The Manic Monologues by Zachery Burton and Elisa Hofmeister.  Directed by Brad Reinking. Staged by Moonbox Productions at the Studio at Arrow Street Arts, February 16 through 25.

According to the show’s publicity: “Burton and Hofmeister wrote The Manic Monologues in the wake of Burton’s 2017 bipolar diagnosis while a doctoral student at Stanford University. The play brings to life incredible stories — stories that will challenge and inform your ideas about what it means to be touched by a mental health condition.  These true, lived experiences come from diverse and resilient people living across the world.  hese brave individuals have things to say about struggle and pain, but also triumph and joy. They are moving. They are human. And they are not ashamed.”

(L-R) Jenine Florence Jacinto, Anderson Stinson III, Jay Connolly, Schanaya Barrows in Company One’s The Interrobangers. Photo: Erin Crowley)

The Interrobangers by M. Sloth Levine. Directed by Josh Glenni-Kayden. Staged by Company One in partnership with the Boston Public Library and The Theater Offensive at the Boston Public Library, Central Branch, Rabb Hall, Boston,  through February 24.

According to the publicity release: “Something’s lurking deep in the woods of Foggy Bluffs. And as usual, it’s up to four groovy teens and a dog to get to the bottom of it. But in order to solve the mystery, the old friends must delve into their chilling past and uncover their town’s darkest secrets.”

“M. Sloth Levine’s script puts a new spin on a classic tale via a queer coming-of-age story about exploring identity, creating community, and finding that men in masks are the scariest monsters of all. And they might have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for these meddling kids!” Arts Fuse review.

Jesse Hinson and De’Lon Grant in rehearsal for A Case for the Existence of God. Photo: Nile Scott

A Case for the Existence of God by Samuel D. Hunter. Directed by Melinda Lopez. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage at the Roberts Studio Theatre, 529 Tremont Street, Boston, through February 17.

A Boston premiere of a two-hander by Samuel D. Hunter, who gave us The Whale. According to the publicity release: “Inside a cubicle in a bank in Twin Falls, Idaho, Keith, a mortgage broker, and Ryan, a yogurt plant worker, unexpectedly choose to bring one another into their fragile worlds. Ryan, who is white and divorced, wants to buy a plot of land that his family used to own in the hopes of making a better life for his daughter. Keith, who is Black, gay, and also single, is looking to adopt his foster daughter Willa before her relatives can steal her away.” Cast includes De’lon Grant and Jessie Hinton. Arts Fuse review.

Thirst by Ronán Noone. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Staged by the Lyric Stage, 140 Clarendon Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, February 23 through March 17.

According to the theater’s website: “There’s a whole other story unraveling on the other side of the kitchen wall of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Two Irish immigrants, including a disappointed cook whose shuttered heart only blooms when she has a bottle in her hand and a vibrant young maid who survived a trip on the Titanic, pass the day amid their gloomy daily chores alongside a resilient American chauffeur with a troubled past. As tensions rise, high-spirited humor and harsh cynicism boil over as the trio confront abandoned dreams and heart-breaking misfortunes. Underneath it all, hope is not as far away as it seems.”

Jorge Alberto Rubio and Armando Rivera in Machine Learning at the Central Square Theatre. Photo: Nile Scott Studios

Machine Learning by Francisco Mendoza. Directed by Gabriel Vega Weissman. A Catalyst Collaborative@MIT Production produced in partnership with Teatro Chelsea at Central Square Theatre, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, through February 25.

The plot, according to the publicity release: “Artificial Intelligence is here. There’s no turning back. “Arnold” (named after the Terminator) is a nursing application created by wunderkind computer scientist Jorge to provide personalized treatment to Gabriel, his estranged and ailing father. As Arnold’s learning increases and Gabriel’s health deteriorates, Jorge must confront his responsibility as a son and accountability as a creator. Full disclosure: This play description is 100% human content.” But is the script 100% human content? I am waiting for the first AI play to be produced. It might offer some healthy competition. Arts Fuse review.

Little Peasants by Bernard Pollack. Directed by Dori A. Robinson. Staged by Food Tank at The Burren 247 Elm St, Somerville, on February 21.

A workshop production that sounds very intriguing — it is an unusually pro-union script for Boston-area theater. We are told that in the show “local Boston actors and creative team present an interactive, dramatic showcase of how workers at fictional coffee chain ‘Unicorn Coffee’ are treated during a union organizing campaign.” There is more: this will be an “immersive theatrical journey behind the closed doors of a food workers’ union organizing campaign … putting audience members in baristas’ shoes to demonstrate the tactics employers are using to thwart organizing efforts.”

Gemma Soldati targets the well-heeled in The Poor Rich.

The Poor Rich, written and performed by Gemma Soldati. Presented by the Wilbury Theatre Group at 475 Valley Street, Providence, on February 17.

We don’t have much political satire in the Boston area. According to the publicity material for what is being billed as an “adult clown show,” this one-woman performance piece has the distinction (glory be!) of taking on a class oh-so-deserving of scorn — the filthy rich. “Everything you make, she takes. Mother Greed comes in many forms, but in [this show] she’s at her most unadulterated. Behold the mischief that runs our world in this hour-long examination of power, absurdly invented with the spirit of pure imagination by Gemma Soldati. An interactive romp that will check everyone’s credit.”

Golda’s Balcony by William Goldman. Directed by Daniel Gidron. Presented by Shakespeare & Company at the Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre at the Emerson Paramount Center, Boston, February 23 through March 10.

According to publicity material: “the world premiere of Golda’s Balcony was produced at Shakespeare & Company in May 2002 and went on to become the longest-running one-woman play in Broadway history. The inspiring story of Golda Meir — Russian immigrant, American schoolteacher, and fourth Prime Minister of Israel – is back, featuring Annette Miller reprising her original performance.”

In September 2023, co-founders of The Centre for the Less Good Idea, Bronwyn Lace and William Kentridge, came to Brown University. Here Kentridge is delivered a lecture at the school’s Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. Photo: The Centre for the Less Good Idea

Pepper’s Ghost Exploration at the Fishman Studio, Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, Brown University, Providence, February 22-23 at 6 p.m. (Limited reservations will become available at a later date).

The justly celebrated South African artist William Kentridge and members of his think tank/performance group The Centre for the Less Good Idea are currently in residence at Brown University. Following two weeks on campus, in collaboration with Brown students, scholars, subject matter experts, and arts community members, Kentridge and company will share two public showings of their Pepper’s Ghost exploration on campus. “Named after John Henry Pepper, who popularized it in 1862, Pepper’s Ghost is a theatrical illusion technique that uses a half-silvered mirror to create a hologram-esque figure. The Centre expands on this image-based technique to create illusory performative and narrative presentations, as live physical and musical performances interact with video installation. Audiences will note that this technique was also interpreted by Carrie Mae Weems in her recent installation Lincoln, Lonnie, and Me, at Brown’s Bell Gallery. Aspects of this collaborative residency will inform future projects, including The Great Yes, The Great No, premiering at the LUMA Foundation in Arles, France, in July 2024 as part of the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.”

— Bill Marx

Visual Arts

Installation view, Wu Tsang, Of Whales, 2022, the 59th Venice Biennale. Photos by Matteo De Fina. Courtesy the artist; Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin; Antenna Space, Shanghai; Cabinet, London

Worcester-born Wu Tsang’s Of Whales —  her elaborate immersive installation, part of a trilogy inspired by Moby Dick — was first presented to acclaim at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022. It debuts in Boston at the ICA on February 15 in a gallery adjacent to Boston Harbor, a setting that can only intensify the work’s described underwater “dreamlike” experience — created on the Unity gaming platform with “extended reality” technologies — while deepening its evocations of the New England whaling era. An intense musical score blends horns, saxophone, clarinet, and contrabass.

Opening at the ICA on February 13 is Igshaan Adams, an exhibition of the South African artist’s recent large-scale woven tapestries that blend the natural patterns of urban living with family histories, childhood memories, and community narratives. Lynloop, an experimental new work created for the show, grows to monumental proportions as it responds to the museum’s architecture with beads, rope, chain, and mohair.

Red Dress worn by UK artisan Freya Lusher. Photo by Sophia Schorr-kon

For more than a decade — from 2009 to 2022 — pieces of British artist Kirstie Macleod’s The Red Dress traveled around the world as 336 women and seven men from 46 countries added embroidery to the garment’s 84 segments of burgundy silk dupioni. Some 136 of these were paid, commissioned artisans and the rest volunteered their efforts at exhibitions and events. The completed garment is the centerpiece of the exhibition The Red Dress, opening at the Fuller Craft Museum on February 17, where it will be displayed along with documentation of the project’s history.

Nancy Elizabeth Prophet (1890-1960) was one of the first women of color known to graduate from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. Only fitfully recognized and often financially unable to work as an artist during her lifetime, the modernist sculptor is best remembered for her contributions to Paris’s thriving expatriate culture between the world wars, though her diary records she was at times on the brink of starvation. Nancy Elizabeth Prophet: I Will Not Bend an Inch, her first museum survey, opens at the RISD Museum on February 17. It features sculpture in marble and wood, painted wooden friezes, watercolors, and documents and photographs of work lost or destroyed.

The center of the Williams College Art Museum’s exhibition Emancipation: The Unfinished Project, opening February 16, is John Quincy Adams Ward’s seminude The Freedman (1863), said to be one of the first American bronze sculptures of a Black man. Organized to commemoration the 160th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Williams show contains the work of seven contemporary African-American artists responding to Ward’s representation. Along with other Civil War material on loan or from the museum’s collection, the result is intended to “further enhance our understanding of past representations of Blackness.”

Edvard Munch, Toward the Forest I (Mot skogen I), 1897, printed 1913–15. Woodcut printed in pink and green. Collection of Nelson Blitz, Jr., and Catherine Woodard. Photo: Yale Art Gallery

Both the Norwegian Edvard Munch and the German Ernst Ludwig Kirchner were experimental printmakers working in an Expressionist style. Both artists were troubled by depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and their lives in the turbulent early 20th century and its two devastating World Wars. The Yale Art Gallery’s Munch and Kirchner: Anxiety and Expression, which opens on February 16, brings together some 60 works on paper by both artists. The selection is intended to bring into focus “the parallels between these two towering figures of Expressionism, highlighting their engagement with themes of anxiety, modernity, psychology and psychiatry, depression, and trauma.”

Sheila Levant de Brettville holds BFA and MFA degrees from Yale and was the first woman to be awarded tenure at the Yale School of Art. Sheila Levant de Brettville: Community, Activism, and Design, also opening at the Yale Art Gallery on February 16, brings together the many parts of de Brettville’s career, including her early work as a graphic designer, her contributions as a feminist designer and educator, collaborations in Los Angeles with the feminist artist Judy Chicago, and her public projects, including one with the prominent African-American artist Betye Saar. It is her first monographic exhibition.

A look at the immersive installation Our Time on Earth. Photo: courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum

Artists and designers, along with scientists and technologists, from 12 countries, have created immersive installations for Our Time on Earth, including in their scope everything earth-like — from a virtual ocean to the layers of a tree to the microscopic foundations of life. The exhibition, organized by London’s Barbican, opens at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem on February 17. Created as a response to the urgent nature of the climate emergency, the show nevertheless is a celebration of a “magnificent planet” and promises a positive message: to “open portals to a shared future, in which planet and people flourish together.”

— Peter Walsh

Aluminum Door Knocker by Mark Favermann.

Cities Here and There: at the Brickbottom Gallery, Somerville, February 22 through March 24. (Opening Reception: March 2, 3 to 5 p.m.) Curated by Alexandra Rozenman, this exhibition features work by Fred Kasha Simon, Dan Coughlin, Liliana Marquez, Adam Leveille, and the Fuse‘s Mark Favermann. The idea behind the gathering: to visualize the phenomenon of urban transformation: “Today’s cities exist in a constant state of change, an endless cycle of demolition and redevelopment. This show documents these changes by exploring our cityscapes, and their objects, materials, and patterns.”

— Bill Marx


February 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge

Point01 Percent series organizers Pandelis Karayorgis and Eric Rosenthal once again bring together two unique ensembles to explore all manner of improvisation, from a strong jazz perspective. Up first are saxophonist Noah Campbell, electronics musician Andrew Neumann, bassist Nathan McBride, and Rosenthal on drums. At 8:30 or thereabouts, it’s Karayorgis on piano, the too rarely heard guitarist Jeff Platz, and drummer Luther Gray.

Witness Malou
February 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Peabody Hall, All Saints Church, Dorchester

The young South African-born pianist and composer Witness Malou — now a professor of harmony and piano at Berklee — is joined by his fellow South African (if senior by a couple of generations), master bassist John Lockwood, and drummer Lee Fish. Malou’s attractive, tuneful music is described as being “in conversation with traditional music of his native South Africa, folk, gospel, soul, and classical music.”

Chief Adjuah (aka Christen Scott) will perform in Boston this week. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah
February 15 at 8 p.m.
City Winery, Boston

In 2023, Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah, formerly known as Christian Scott, took a sharp left turn from his celebrated past: eschewing trumpet (of which he was a master) and jazz and releasing an album of percussion-centered vocal music, which featured both his singing and spoken-word lyrics, sometimes accompanied on African-related plucked string instruments of his own invention. The result, Bark Out Thunder Roar Out Lightning, conjured both ancient Africa and the tribal sounds of his native New Orleans and its Mardi Gras Indian tradition, without being exactly like either. No word on what the program at City Winery will include. Expect a strong turnout from Adjuah’s alma mater, Berklee.

Dave Bryant “Third Thursdays”
February 15 at 8 p.m.
Harvard-Epworth Church, Cambridge

Keyboardist Dave Bryant is once again joined by an ace group to explore the byways of harmolodic jazz and beyond: cellist Jeffrey Song, bassist Jacob William, and drummer Curt Newton.

Pianist Kris Davis, guitarist Eric Hofbauer, and saxophonist Noah Preminger.  Photo:

Eric Hofbauer Quintet
February 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge

The conceptually adventurous guitarist Eric Hofbauer is joined by saxophonist Noah Preminger, pianist Kris Davis, bassist Sean Farias, and drummer Franciso Mela. Hofbauer says the show will include the kind of music he features in his solo guitar recordings and performance — “blues,’80s tunes, deep cut jazz pieces, etc.” — expanded for quintet arrangements. You will recall Hofbauer from his three solo-guitar discs exploring various themes in American culture and his quintet “Prehistoric Jazz” series (which included Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” and Ellington’s “Reminiscing in Tempo”). His quintet album Waking Up! was one of the best jazz releases of 2023. Tonight’s crew is sure to dig enthusiastically into whatever Hofbauer throws at them. The opening set will be drawn from students from the Longy School of Music, where Hofbauer is chair of the Jazz and Contemporary Music Department.

Gregory Porter
February 17 at 8 p.m.
Groton Music Center, Groton, MA

Charismatic singer and songwriter Gregory Porter brings his gospel-imbued jazz and pop (he cites Donny Hathaway, Nat “King” Cole, and Bill Withers) to Groton Hill.

Charlie Kohlhase Explorers Club
February 18 at 6 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge

A lynchpin of the Boston-area jazz scene — on stage and on the radio — composer and multireed player Charlie Kohlhase gathers a promising edition of his Explorers Club to play one of his unique programs: music by himself as well as Don Cherry, Elmo Hope, Roswell Rudd, and John Tchicai (the latter two being regular collaborators with Kohlhase). The band will be Kohlhase on alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones; Seth Meicht, tenor sax; Ryan Kapoor, trumpet; Bill Lowe, bass trombone; Josiah Reibstein, tuba; Jef Charland, bass; and Curt Newton, drums.

“Beat scientist” Makaya McCraven. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Makaya McCraven
February 20 at 8 p.m.
Crystal Ballroom, Somerville

Self-described “beat scientist” Makaya McCraven makes what appears to be his Boston-area debut with this Crystal Ballroom shows. The drummer, producer, bandleader, and composer — something of a sensation with NPR, the New York Times, and in live NYC shows — likes blending hip-hop, jazz, and funk, with spoken-word drop-ins, and other DJ magic in real-time live improvs. The trip-hoppy In These Times (2022) has a nice snoot on it, as Frank Zappa used to say, and some appealing jazz improvisation from various soloists.

Blue Note Quintet
February 21 at 8 p.m.
Groton Hill Music Center, Groton, MA

A group sponsored by Blue Note Records is touring to celebrate the storied label’s 85th anniversary. And it’s a good one (the band, that is). Pianist Gerald Clayton is the musical director, with a cohort that includes vibraphonist Joel Ross, saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, drummer Kendrick Scott, and bassist Matt Brewer.

Berklee Global Jazz Institute 15th Anniversary Concert
February 22 at 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston

Celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, Danilo Pérez, the institute’s founder and artistic director, will front a trio with drummer Brian Blade and bassist John Patitucci celebrating the music of Wayne Shorter. The trio were the foundation of Shorter’s long-lived, highly esteemed last quartet.

Tony Scherr, Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan at Groton Hill Music Center. Photo: Paul Robicheau

Bill Frisell Three
February 23 and 24 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge

Guitarist and composer Bill Frisell’s live performances never fail to enthrall. For these four shows at the Regattabar he’s joined by Greg Tardy on tenor sax and clarinet and Rudy Royston on drums.

Javon Jackson Quartet
February 24 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston

Saxophonist Javon Jackson’s The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni, a collaboration with the poet, was a 2022 standout. An alumnus of Art Blakey’s last band of Jazz Messengers, Jackson, now very much his own man, returns to Scullers with pianist Jeremy Manasia, bassist Gerald Cannon, and drummer Akin Hobson.

— Jon Garelick

Author Events

Craft on Draft: The Craft of Writing Sex Scenes – Porter Square Books
With Steve Almond, Aube Rey Lescure, Andrea Meyer, and Sara Shukla
February 13 at 7 p.m

“Nothing’s trickier than writing good sex. Join us as stellar teacher and author Steve Almond walks us through the pitfalls and delights of writing a truly memorable love scene, as he reads from his new craft book, Truth is the Arrow, Mercy is the Bow. Steve will be joined by Andrea Meyer (Room for Love), Sara Shukla (Pink Whales), and Aube Rey Lescure (River East, River West), reading steamy scenes from their own work, followed by no-holds barred discussion moderated by Michelle Hoover (Bottomland), Novel Incubator instructor, about how they wrote them without blushing.

“Consider this your Master Class in writing sex and love scenes that will keep your readers hot and bothered.”

Jonathan M. Metzl at Harvard Book Store
February 12 at 7 p.m.

“In What We’ve Become, Metzl reckons both with the long history of distrust of public health and the larger forces — social, ideological, historical, racial, and political –that allow mass shootings to occur on a near daily basis in America. Looking closely at the cycle in which mass shootings lead to shock, horror, calls for action, and, ultimately, political gridlock, he explores what happens to the soul of a nation — and the meanings of safety and community — when we normalize violence as an acceptable trade-off for freedom. Mass shootings and our inability to stop them have become more than horrific crimes: they are an American national autobiography.

“This brilliant, piercing analysis points to mass shootings as a symptom of our most unresolved national conflicts. What We’ve Become ultimately sets us on the path of alliance forging, racial reckoning, and political power brokering we must take to put things right.”

Meghan Elizabeth Kallman & Josephine Ferorelli with Erin Douglas – brookline booksmith
The Conceivable Future
February 13 at 7 p.m.

“In The Conceivable Future, authors Meghan Elizabeth Kallman and Josephine Ferorelli explore the ways in which the climate crisis is affecting our personal decisions about family planning, parenting, and political action. This book offers fresh, timely answers to questions such as: How do I decide to have a baby when there’s the threat of environmental collapse? How do I parent a child in the middle of the climate crisis? What can I actually do to help stop global warming?

“Drawing from their decade of work with the organization Conceivable Future, Kallman, a sociologist and Rhode Island State Senator, and Ferorelli, an activist and former Climate Bureau editor, offer both informed perspective and practical steps for taking meaningful action in combating the climate crisis, while also making smart, balanced decisions when it comes to starting and maintaining a family.”

Third Thursdays Poetry: Myles Taylor, Katya Zinn, & Yena Sharma Purmasir – brookline booksmith
February 15 at 7 p.m.

“Myles Taylor is a transmasculine writer, organizer, award-winning poetry slam competitor, food service worker, Capricorn-Aquarius cusp, and glitter enthusiast. They are the current Producer of the historic Boston Poetry Slam at the Cantab Lounge. Their first full-length collection, Masculinity Parable, is out with Game Over Books.

Katya Zinn is a Boston-based writer-performer, interdisciplinary teaching artist, and unofficial poet laureate of Chuck E. Cheese. Rekindling childhood belief in magic to spark kinder, weirder worldviews, her work focuses on humanity’s need for art to ignite change, forge connection, and fuel healing.

Yena Sharma Purmasir is a poet and essayist from New York City. She was the Queens Teen Poet Laureate from 2010-2011. She is the author of Until I Learned What It Meant  and When I’m Not There as well as co-author of [Dis]Connected Volume 1: Poems & Stories of Connection and Otherwise. In 2022, she released her third and fourth books of poetry: Our Synonyms: An Epic from Party Trick Press and VIRAHA.”

Dr. Elizabeth Comen – brookline booksmith
All In Her Head
February 19 at 7 p.m.

“While the modern age has seen significant advancements in the medical field, the notion that female bodies are flawed inversions of the male ideal lingers on — as do the pervasive societal stigmas and lingering ignorance that shape women’s health and relationships with their own bodies.

“Memorial Sloan Kettering oncologist and medical historian Dr. Elizabeth Comen draws back the curtain on the collective medical history of women to reintroduce us to our whole bodies — how they work, the actual doctors and patients whose perspectives and experiences laid the foundation for today’s medical thought, and the many oversights that still remain unaddressed. With a physician’s knowledge and empathy, Dr. Comen follows the road map of the 11 organ systems to share unique and untold stories, drawing upon medical texts and journals, interviews with expert physicians, as well as her own experience treating thousands of women.”

Virtual Event: Camilla Nord – Harvard Book Store
The Balanced Brain: The Science of Mental Health
February 19 at 1 p.m.

“In The Balanced Brain, Nord explains how our brain constructs our sense of mental health — actively striving to maintain balance in response to our changing circumstances. While a mentally healthy brain deals well with life’s turbulence, poor mental health results when the brain struggles with disruption. But just what is the brain trying to balance? Nord describes the foundations of mental health in the brain — from the neurobiology of pleasure, pain, and desire to the role of mood-mediating chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and opioids.

“She then pivots to interventions, revealing how antidepressants, placebos, and even recreational drugs work; how psychotherapy changes brain chemistry; and how the brain and body interact to make us feel physically (as well as mentally) healthy. Along the way, Nord explains how the seemingly small things we use to lift our moods — a piece of chocolate, a walk, a chat with a friend — work on the same pathways in our brains as the latest treatments for mental health disorders.”

Leslie Jamison at The Brattle Theatre – Harvard Book Store
Splinters: Another Kind of Love Story
February 21 at 6 p.m.
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge
Tickets are $35 with book $12 without

“In her first memoir, Jamison turns her unrivaled powers of perception on some of the most intimate relationships of her life: her consuming love for her young daughter, a ruptured marriage once swollen with hope, and the shaping legacy of her own parents’ complicated bond.

“In examining what it means for a woman to be many things at once — a mother, an artist, a teacher, a lover — Jamison places the magical and the mundane side by side in surprising ways: pumping breastmilk in a shared university office, driving the open highway in the throes of new love, growing a tender second skin of consciousness as she watches her daughter come alive to the world. The result is a work of nonfiction like no other, an almost impossibly deep reckoning with the muchness of life and art, and a book that grieves the departure of one love even as it celebrates the arrival of another.”

Grubbie Debut: Shalene Gupta in conversation with Michelle Bowdler – Porter Square Books
The Cycle: Confronting the Pain of Periods and PMDD
February 27 at 7 p.m.

The Cycle uncovers a hidden epidemic, delivering the definitive portrait of a widespread chronic illness most people haven’t even heard of. From a historical overview of feminist debates, to on-the-ground interviews and a searing critique of menstrual stigma, Shalene Gupta lays out how disregard for this disorder has left too many people scrambling for appropriate healthcare. Deeply researched, movingly intimate, and refreshingly hopeful, this book is essential reading for any curious reader, especially those navigating a world ill-equipped to support their health.”

— Matt Hanson

Amitav Ghosh — Brown University
The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables of a Planet in Crisis — “Non-human Voices and More-than-human Stories”
At the Cogut Institute, Pembroke Hall, Brown University, Providence
February 22 at 4 to 5:30 p.m.

A chance to hear from the author of the superb The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis, which uses the conquest of the Banda Islands by the Dutch East India Company for nutmeg as the means to explore the political, historical, and philosophical roots of the climate crisis. On the event’s website: “Are humans the only beings that are endowed with the ability to communicate and make meaning? For a long time it was assumed that this was axiomatically true. But one effect of our increasingly climate-disrupted world is that it has made us aware that our minds and bodies are deeply intertwined with many other organisms, entities, and forces.”

— Bill Marx

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