Coming Attractions: March 10 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.


The UNIQLO Festival of Films from Japan
Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Through April 4

This showcase presents new titles as well as restored classics.

A scene from Seven Samurai — Akira Kurosawa’s epic turns 70 this year. Screening at the MFA.

Seven Samurai, directed by Akira Kurosawa (Japan, 1954, 207 min.). Japanese with English subtitles. on March 16.

One of cinema’s most renowned epics celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. From the museum’s website: “The film tells the story of a 16th-century village whose desperate inhabitants hire the eponymous warriors to protect them from invading bandits. This three-plus-hour ride from Akira Kurosawa — featuring legendary actors Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura — seamlessly weaves philosophy with entertainment and delicate human emotions with relentless action into a rich, evocative, and unforgettable tale of courage and hope.”

Baltic Film Festival
Virtual: through March 18
Emerson Paramount Center, 559 Washington Street, Boston

The Baltic film fest begins with a “Meet the Baltic Filmmakers” panel discussion on Friday evening. That confab is followed — through Sunday — by nine feature films and documentaries, plus a Shorts Program. Film Schedule and descriptions Arts Fuse review

Barbara Loden in a scene from 1970’s Wanda, which she also wrote and directed.

March 13 at 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline

Big Screen Classics and Focus on Women presents the sole directorial effort by Barbara Loden, which was ranked 48th in the 2022 Sight and Sound the Greatest Films of All Time Critics’ Poll. Richard Brody of the New Yorker has described Loden as the “female counterpart to John Cassavetes.” Director Elia Kazan said that the protagonist is “a character we have in America, and who I suppose exists in France and everywhere that we call floating, a wanderer. Barbara Loden understood this character very, very well because when she was young she was a bit like that. She once told me a very sad thing; she told me: ‘I have always needed a man to protect me.’ I will say that most women in our society are familiar with this, understand this, need this, but are not honest enough to say it.” It is preceded by a separate Seminar: Wanda at 6:15 p.m.

Debra Granik Retrospective
Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline

Debra Granik studied politics at Brandeis University. Her first forays into making films were with such Boston-based media groups as the Women’s Video Collective. This retrospective of her features, presented as part of the Spotlight on Women series, includes:

Down to the Bone (2004) March 15 at 7:15. Irene (Vera Farmiga) is an upstate New York mother of two, married, holds a job as a supermarket checker, and is a cocaine addict.

Winter’s Bone (2010) March 14 at 7:15. Faced with an unresponsive mother and a criminal father, Ozark teenager Ree Dolly (a stunning Jennifer Lawrence) does what she can to manage the household and take care of her two younger siblings.

Leave No Trace (2018) March 28 at 7:15. Will (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter, Tom (Thomasin McKenzie), have lived off the grid for years in the forests of Portland, Oregon. Granik will lead a post-screening discussion.

Stray Dog (2014) April 4 at 7:15. Ron (Stray Dog) Hall lives in Southern Missouri where he owns and operates an RV park. After years of living alone with his dogs, he is adjusting to life with his wife, Alicia, who is newly arrived from Mexico.

Stowaway in the Sky 
March 22 at 8 p.m.
The Somerville Theatre (Micro Cinema) in Davis Square

Channel Zero presents this 1960 film about a French Balloonist who takes his grandson on a “Madcap Aerial Tour of France in a Balloon He Thinks He Can Control!” This family film is beautifully shot — in glorious color — and narrated by Newton’s own Jack Lemmon!! This is the last of Channel Zero’s series in the Micro Cinema.

Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake in This Gun for Hire.

This Gun for Hire and The Glass Key
March 18 at 7:15 p.m.
Somerville Theatre

This Noir Double Feature is part of the theater’s “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” series.

This Gun for Hire, based on Graham Greene’s 1936 novel A Gun for Sale, is directed by Frank Tuttle and stars Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd. The Glass Key (1942) is based on the book by Dashiell Hammett; it stars Lake and Ladd, along with Brian Donlevy.

2024 BJF Musical Roadtrip
Online from March 14 to 21

Boston Jewish Film Festival’s Cross-Cultural Musical Journey features four documentary films, each linked to its description: Dudu Tassa & The Kuwaitis: Don’t Be So Modest, You Aren’t That Great! , Homeboys, In Your Eyes, I See My Country, and Rock in the Red Zone (10th Anniversary)

24th Boston Underground Film Festival
Brattle Theatre in Cambridge
March 20 -24

Boston’s premiere on-the-margins film festival highlights strange, unusual, and overlooked shorts and features. The lineup often includes movies that feature malevolent religious figures, killer spiders, a backwoods killer, and dystopian brutality. Festival Badges are on sale for $150.

The features this year include: Femme (New England Premiere), Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person , and Boy Kills World (Closing Night Film).

Salem Film Fest
March 21 – 24
Multiple Venues

The best local festival when it comes to presenting independent documentaries is now in its 17th year. The event annually presents features, shorts, and special events. This year it is returning to an all in-person screening format, with filmmaker Q&As as well as parties and other special events. Complete Film List

A scene from the animated feature, The Peasants. Photo: Malgorzata Kuznik

The Peasants
March 25 – 27
Brattle Theatre in Cambridge

From the animators of Loving Vincent, The Peasants tells the story of Jagna, a young woman determined to forge her own path within the confines of her home, a late 19th century Polish village. “Bringing this 1,000-page novel to animated life in this way isn’t just an adaptation, it’s an illumination.” (IndieWire)

Pick of the Week

The Greatest Night in Pop (Netflix)

Michael Jackson and Bob Dylan in a scene from The Greatest Night in Pop.

On January 28, 1985, from 10 p.m. through the following morning, a group of the most popular musicians in the country recorded the song “We Are the World” to raise money to fight famine in Ethiopia. The session followed “The American Music Awards” program, so many were in the same place that evening. The record sold 22 million copies and won four Grammys, including Song of the Year.

All of the session was captured on film. Recording a song was the brainstorm of the late Harry Belafonte, who contacted Lionel Richie’s manager Ken Kragen, who went to his ample rolodex to assemble the talent that included Richie, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Loggins, and Dionne Warwick. Richie and Michael Jackson pulled the song  together. Quincy Jones conducted and produced. Bob Dylan’s vocal line was coached by Stevie Wonder, who could imitate anyone. Prince bailed out and a nervous Huey Lewis took his spot. Waylon Jennings walked out when Wonder suggested they sing a verse in Swahili. This is a fascinating look at the creative process, particularly what it took to schedule and arrange for a wide range of vocal styles. This film was viewed nearly 12 million times in its first week on Netflix.

— Tim Jackson

We’re All Plastic People Now
First Parish Watertown
March 19 at 7 p.m.
RSVP not mandatory but recommended.

First Parish Watertown, in collaboration with Beyond Plastics Greater Boston and Oceana, will host a free film screening of Rory Fielding’s 2023 documentary, which “addresses the global plastic pollution crisis and features Oceana’s Plastics Campaign Director Christy Leavitt and Oceana board member Ted Danson. It also shows the chilling reality of how pervasive plastic pollution is in our lives. Plastic is everywhere from the air we breathe to the water we drink.”

— Bill Marx

Classical Music

Sir Mark Elder. Photo: Sheila Rock

The Dong with the Luminous Nose
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
March 14 at 7:30 p.m., 15 at 1:30 p.m., and 16 at 8 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston

Sir Mark Elder returns to Boston to conduct the American premiere of Elena Langer’s setting of Edward Lear’s “nonsense poem,” a BSO co-commission. Also on tap is Ravel’s complete Mother Goose, Dvořák’s harrowing tone poem The Noonday Witch, and Leoš Janáček’s Sinfonietta.

Pichon conducts Beethoven
Presented by Handel & Haydn Society
March 15 at 7:30 p.m. and 16 at 2 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston

Raphaël Pichon follows up his spectacular H&H debut last season by leading the group in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Soloists Andriana González, Emily D’Angelo, and Matthew Newlin join the H&H Chorus.

Yefim Bronfman in recital
Presented by Concord Chamber Music Society
March 17, 3 p.m.
Groton Hill Music Center, Groton

CCMS wraps their season with a special appearance by Bronfman, who plays works by Schubert, Schumann, and Chopin.

Tugan Sokhiev conducting Yunchan Lim and the BSO at Symphony Hall. Photo Hilary Scott

Orchestre de Paris
Presented by Celebrity Series
March 17, 7 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston

Superstar pianist Yunchan Lim returns to Symphony Hall, this time to play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Orchestre de Paris and conductor Klaus Mäkelä. Also on tap are selections by Debussy and Stravinsky.

Celebrating the Symphonic Legacy of Wayne Shorter
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
March 21 at 7:30 p.m., 22 & 23 at 8 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston

The BSO honors the life and legacy of composer/bandleader/saxophonist Shorter with a program focusing on various of his works for and with orchestra. They’re joined by vocalist/bassist esperanza spalding, pianist Leo Genovese, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, and saxophonist Dayna Stephens.

Bruce Liu in recital
Presented by Celebrity Series
March 23, 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston

The Chopin Competition winner makes his Boston recital debut performing music by Jean-Philippe Rameau, Chopin, Ravel, and Franz Liszt.

— Jonathan Blumhofer

Popular Music

Marc Valentine with The Chelsea Curve and Little Billy Lost
March 22 (doors at 6, show at 6:15)
The Burren, Somerville

Overstuffed with peppy, 3-and-change-minute (and sometimes shorter) tracks that reveal an unapologetic love of classic power pop, Marc Valentine’s latest LP, Basement Sparks, is a joy from start to its all-too-soon finish. Foot-stomping beats, spongy bass notes, non-stop crunchy guitars, and endearing vocals are essential elements of this practitioner’s chosen genre, and Valentine employs them in droves across the space 11 tracks. But while the singles “Skeleton Key,” “Tyrannical Wrecks,” and “Strange Weather” more than amply demonstrate mastery of his signature sound, “3 AM Anderson Drive” and “Ballad of Watt” reveal the artist’s pensive side and equal ability to handle slower tempos. The Brit’s first American tour includes a Thursday night stop at Yarmouth’s The Music Room a visit to Somerville’s The Burren on Friday.

Tinsely Ellis with Arthur Terembula
March 22 (show at 9)
The Porch Southern Fare and Juke Joint, Medford

Although Tinsley Ellis can boast of having more than a total of more than 20 studio and live albums to his credit, Naked Truth – released last month on A lligator Records – is his first one of all-acoustic material. It comprises nine original compositions and covers of songs byblues legends Son House (“Death Letter Blues,” which serves as the lead single) and Willie Dixon (“Don’t Go No Further”) as well as 6- and 12-string acoustic virtuoso Leo Kottke (“The Sailor’s Grave on the Prairie”). “This is a record I’ve always wanted to make, and one that my longtime fans have been asking for,” Ellis says in a press release. His Boston-area supporters are sure to agree when they gather around him at The Porch on Friday.

Elephant Stone
March 24 (doors at 6, show at 7)
The Rockwell, Somerville

Be it with the 7-1/2-minute epic “The Imajinary [sic], Nameless Everybody In The World,” the fleshed out but more digestible extractions “The Spark” and “Pilgrimage,” (not an R.E.M. cover) or the bite-size closer “Another Year Gone,” Elephant Stone more than deliver on the promise of a band that shares its name with a Stone Roses song and have a song with the same title as one by The Jam (“Going Underground“). The extent to which these groups figure into their sound is debatable, though, as this Montréal quartet’s sound is very much its own thanks in large part to the presence of founder Rishi Dhir’s sitar. Dhir and his bandmates will draw from its latest release, Back Into The Dream (which includes the aforementioned songs), and the five previous ones at The Rockwell on March 24.

— Blake Maddux

World Music and Roots

Small Island, Big Sound makes its final New England appearance in Providence.

Small Island, Big Song
March 15, 7:30 p.m.
The Strand, Providence

This unique touring revue of live music combined with film (footage from 16 islands around the world) recently snuck into Boston University, and we heard glowing reviews, especially for the singers Emlyn from Mauritius and Putad from Taiwan. World music fans might recall some 30 years ago the wonderful Tarika Sammy were regulars at venues like Johnny D’s. Well, Sammy is back in the US as part of this tour. The multimedia experience is making its final New England appearance in Providence courtesy of First Works. On March 12, some of the cast members will join a panel discussion about artists and climate change.

Back Porch Festival
March 15-17

Ten years ago the Back Porch Festival began as a single day event. It’s now grown into a weekend-long celebration of all things Americana. Headline concerts at the Academy of Music Theater feature Richard Thompson, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and an all-star Willie Nelson tribute. During the day a single wristband admits fest goers to scores of shows all around downtown Northampton by top-flight roots, acoustic blues, bluegrass, folk, world music, and Irish acts like Los Cafeteras, Town Mountain, Charlie Parr, and Laura Cantrell (with a very special guest rumored for her set).

Balkan Music Night
March 16, 6 p.m. to midnight
Arts at the Armory

A tradition that dates back 35 years has a new home: the Folk Arts Center of New England is hosting its annual Balkan Music Night at the Armory. That means there should be plenty of room for dancing during the event, which is an integral part of this extravaganza, as well as more intimate moments enjoying the “Kafana” (presumably the Armory’s cafe). Among the 16 music and dance groups slated to perform are Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band, Kavala Brass Band, REVMA, and Conical Cacophony.

Cover art for Dissolution Grip.

Boston City Hall
March 19, 7:30 p.m.

If you’ve ever wanted to hear an ambient music genius — and be able to pay a parking ticket at the same time — here’s your chance: The experimental series Non-Event is presenting its next concert inside Boston’s City Hall with Nairobi (via Berlin) electronic sound artist Joseph Kamaru (KMRU). His latest recorded project is Dissolution Grip, a meditation on the field recordings he’s collected over the course of his career.

Emmylou Harris
March 24, Chevalier Theater, Medford (Sold out)
March 25, The Wilbur, Boston

The godmother of Americana hasn’t released much in the way of new music in the past decade, but she has no trouble filling a setlist drawn from songs recorded during her storied career. After her Medford show sold out, Harris added a Monday night show downtown.

— Noah Schaffer


COVID PROTOCOLS: Check with specific theaters.

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.

King Hedley II by August Wilson. Directed by Summer L. Williams. Staged by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project at Hibernian Hall, Roxbury, through April 7.

Another installment in August Wilson’s American Century Cycle. The plot: “fresh off of a seven-year stint in prison, King Hedley II (named after his father, who was played by Johnnie Mack in ASP’s critically acclaimed production of Seven Guitars) dreams of going straight. He’s going to open his own video store — even if he has to steal every refrigerator in Pittsburgh to make it happen. Returning home to the Hill District in 1985, King finds that his community is beset by violence, con men, and redlining. As King fights to keep his family afloat, the harsh realities of Reagan’s America threaten to drag him under.”

The Antelope Party by Eric John Meyer. Directed by Brooks Reeves. Staged by the Apollinaire Theatre Company at Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet Street Chelsea, through March 17.

The plot: “Equestria is a land of of magic and friendship. Every Tuesday night, Ben hosts ‘The Rust Belt Ponies Meet-Up Group for Adult Fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’ in his apartment in rural Pennsylvania. Sharing fun with these friends is a wonderful place to be. After all, nothing bad can happen in Equestria.… But when an ominous neighborhood watch brigade starts patrolling the streets, fear and paranoia creep into the circle of friendship. The outside world is turning more violent and authoritarian, and it is sucking our heroes into an entirely different story.”

British playwright Caryl Churchill. Photo: Stephen Cummiskey.

Escaped Alone by Caryl Churchill. Directed by Liz Diamond. Staged by Yale Rep at 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, through March 30.

According to a Guardian review of the 2016 London production of this script by one of the English-speaking world’s finest living playwrights: “A light-on-its-feet, elliptical view of apocalypse. It runs for less than an hour. It foresees that when we are poisoned by chemical leaks, private patients will be able to buy gas masks in assorted colours. That when a wind developed by property developers starts turning heads inside out, the army will fire nets to catch flying cars. That the obese will sell slices of themselves. This is fantasy intricately wired into current politics. It is intimate and vast. Domestic and wild.” All that and the cast includes the legendary Sandra Shipley.

Beyond Words by Laura Maria Censabella. Inspired by the life story of Irene Pepperberg and Alex. Directed by Cassie Chapados. Originally commissioned and developed by The Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project. A Catalyst Collaborative@MIT Production staged at Central Square Theatre, Cambridge, March 14 through April 14.

A world premiere of a drama about the relationship between us and animals. From the Central Square Theatre website: “Meet Alex and his friend, Dr. Irene Pepperberg. Alex is an African Grey parrot. Irene is a researcher at Harvard University. Over the protests of her male colleagues, Irene teaches Alex to meaningfully communicate and solve problems at the level of a five-year-old child. This highly theatrical new work tracks their 30-year research experiment turned love story and asks: in a world where we are rapidly destroying animal habitats, just who exactly are we sharing our planet with?”

Editor’s Note: “Global warming is projected to commit over one-third of the Earth’s animal and plant species to extinction by 2050 if current greenhouse gas emissions trajectories continue — a catastrophic loss that would irreversibly reduce biodiversity and alter both ecosystems and human societies across the globe.” Source: Center for Biological Diversity.

A scene from Indian Ink Theatre’s production of Mrs. Krishnan’s Party. Photo: Nimmy Santhosh

Mrs. Krishnan’s Party by Jacob Rajan. Directed by Justin Lewis. The Indian Ink Theatre Company production presented by ArtsEmerson at the Paramount Center’s Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre, 559 Washington Street, Boston, March 27 through April 7.

On the ArtsEmerson website: “Mrs. Krishnan is renting an apartment to larger-than-life DJ, James. James has invited a few friends into the back room of Mrs. Krishnan’s corner shop as a special surprise to celebrate Onam — an ancient Hindu festival of Kerala that celebrates rice harvest — and the return home of her son. But when dozens and dozens of strangers turn up (you, the audience), Mrs. K has no choice but to throw the party of her life! This is an immersive experience like no other; join the party with music, dancing, and more. Watch as the cast juggles cooking, music, and welcoming guests in an unfolding drama where no two performances are ever the same. Performers Kalyani Nagarajan and Justin Rogers have reviewers and audiences singing their praises and leaping to their feet in appreciation at the end of the party where the entire audience is invited to sample some delicious dahl!”

The Impracticality of Modern-Day Mastodons by Rachel Teagle. Directed by Jess Viator. Produced by Theatre@First at Unity, 6 William St, Somerville, March 15 through 23.

From Theatre@First’s press release: “What did you want to be when you grew up? In a world of astronauts, ballerinas, cowboys, and secret agents, Jess always wanted to be a mastodon. But even when fantastical possibilities become reality, it can be hard to find room for impractical dreams.”

The Minutes by Tracy Letts. Directed by Scott Edmiston. Staged by Umbrella Stage Company at 40 Stow Street, Concord, through March 24.

The Greater Boston premiere of Letts’s script, described by Umbrella Stage Company’s website as  “an evening in Big Cherry — a small town in anywhere USA — and the city council meeting unfolds in real time, unmasking undercurrents that threaten to undo life as they know it … and driving the question, “How far would you go?” The killer local cast includes Scot Colford, Jeremiah Kissel, June Kfoury, Julie Perkins, and Steven Barkhimer. Arts Fuse review of the Broadway production of The Minutes.

Cost of Living by Martyna Majok. Directed by Alex Lonati. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, through March 30.

The Boston premiere of the 2018 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. According to the SpeakEasy Stage Company’s website: the script “interweaves the stories of four lonely souls to examine the forces that bring people together and the ways we all need each other. Eddie, an unemployed truck driver, and his estranged ex-wife, Ani, find themselves unexpectedly reunited after she suffers a devastating accident. And John, a brilliant PhD student with cerebral palsy, hires Jess, a first-generation Princeton graduate who has fallen on desperate times, as his new aide.”

Michael Kaye (Jack), Kate Fitzgerald (Cathleen) and Aimee Doherty (Bridget) in Thirst at the Lyric Stage Company. Photo: Mark S. Howard

Thirst by Ronán Noone. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Staged by the Lyric Stage, 140 Clarendon Street, 2nd Floor, Boston,  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 heartbreaking misfortunes. Underneath it all, hope is not as far away as it seems.” Arts Fuse review

Dishwasher Dreams, written and performed by Alaudin Ullah. Directed by Chay Yew. Presented by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre in Lowell, through March 17.

According to the MRT publicity: “From Bangladesh to New York City, from graffiti crews to baseball games, courageous honesty to emotive humor, Dishwasher Dreams explores the complicated realities of dreams we make for ourselves. When Alaudin sets out to become a film actor in Los Angeles, his Bangladeshi family can’t understand. Driven by laugh out loud writing and accompanied by tablas percussion, Ullah’s edifying and dynamic tour-de-force explores the humor and complexity of the American Dream through a deeply personal story.”

Exception to the Rule by Dave Harris. Directed by Donovan Holt. Staged by Front Porch Arts Collective at the Modern Theatre, Suffolk University, Boston, through March 17.

​According to Front Porch Arts Collective’s webpage: “Stuck in detention in the worst high school in the city, six Black students try to make it through, fighting, flirting, and teasing. How does our society treat the kids that are considered ‘low achieving’? What does it mean to be a token black kid in a sea of other black kids?”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. Directed By Victoria Townsend. A production by Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s Company 2 at the Strand Theatre, Dorchester, on March 15 at 7:30 p.m. and March 16 at 2 p.m.

On the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s website: “We have all been told those famous bedtime stories of young heroes who adventure into the forest, encountering magic and mystery on the way to their happily ever after. But in real life, our own stories are much more complicated. Magic comes with a cost, and not every mystery has a perfect solution. What power do we have when what makes us happy is not quite what we thought it would be? This year’s Midsummer will take audiences to a darker wood where powerful fairies turn our familiar narratives of love, competition, camaraderie, and fantasy upside down. Lullabies are more ‘lit’, some trees have thorns, and sweet dreams will never be quite the same.”

— Bill Marx

Visual Arts

Beau McCall’s Hood Classic: The Spike Ice Durag. Photo: Fuller Craft Museum

On March 30 the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton opens the first retrospective of the nearly 40-year career of Beau McCall, whom American Craft magazine has called “The Button Man.” Organized into four themes: “Buttons on the Body,” “Buttons on the Mind,” “Buttons on the Soul,” and “Buttons Off,” Buttons On! features McCall’s wearable works that typically combine recycled fabrics, clothing, and other materials with large numbers of hand-sewn on clothing buttons. Also on view are a transformed 450-pound cast iron bathtub, a life-sized Kool-Aid Man, an installation of over 100 jars of buttons, and previously unseen archival materials —  surely a show for those down for buttons.

The Museum of Fine Arts’ major show Hallyu! The Korean Wave opens on March 24, appropriately at a museum with world-ranking collections of traditional Korean ceramics, metalwork, and Buddhist paintings. Long in the shadow of nearby Japan and China and divided from the “hermit kingdom” North, South Korea has lately astonished the world by becoming what the MFA calls “a cultural superpower,” with attention-grabbing creative work in nearly every contemporary medium: television, film, pop music, fashion, design, and art.

The MFA show explores the “Korean Wave” with some 250 objects, ranging from high art to pop culture ephemera, and including outfits made for K-pop idols, large-scale needlework, works by Korean Americans, and selections from the MFA’s own Korean art collection, including a famous moon jar and other ceramics.

Attributed to Kaihō Yūshō, Pair of Screens with Dragons and Waves, Japan, Momoyama period (1573–1615), ca. 1600–1615. Ink on paper. Photo: Yale University Art Gallery

On February 10, the Chinese Lunar New Year opened with the Year of the Dragon. The dragon plays a critical role in East Asian art and mythology, a figure in the Eastern zodiac associated with wind, water, rainfall, and good luck and in China a symbol of prosperity and imperial power. The Yale University Art Gallery celebrates Asian dragons with an exhibition, Year of the Dragon, opening March 15. Some 30 art works, mostly from Yale collections, feature dragons on screens, scroll paintings, textiles, ceramics, carved ivory, and prints. Light sensitive works will be switched out in July, offering a refreshed selection for the balance of the year.

The Bates College Museum of Art is closed until April 11, but the museum’s program of events continues, including a March 13 Museum Lecture by Bates Asian Studies Professor Trian Nguyen. Professor Nguyen will speak about his research on a group of Yao Shaman objects in the museum’s collection. The Yao are a minority group whose religion and culture is heavily influenced by the Chinese religious practice of Daoism. They live in southern China and adjacent parts of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and on the West Coast of the United States. Professor Nguyen will discuss a set of 18 Yao paintings, a large ritual robe, ceremonial masks, and musical instruments used in Yao-Daoist rituals. His research is part of a book project and the inspiration for courses he has planned for Bates students.

The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center in Vermont opens a series of solo exhibitions on March 16 including monographic displays of the work of John Newsom, Edward Holland, Samira Abbassy, and Ilana Mandolson. Nature and environmental  themes predominate. John Newsom: Painting the Forest of Happy Ever After presents, for the first time, the oil paintings for an album by American rapper and shaman Killah Priest. Full of rich symbolism, the paintings depict plants and animals and Killah Priest himself as allegories of the cycle of rebirth in spring.

Edmund Burke and his 1757 (revised in 1759) study A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful.

Brattleboro’s In Nature’s Grasp, a group show of 11 artists, takes its organizing theme from  the Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke’s notion of the Sublime, mixing fear and delight, which he considered the strongest human emotion.

— Peter Walsh


Virtuoso flutist and composer Nicole Mitchell will perform at Jordan Hall this week. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Nicole Mitchell
March 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston

The adventuresome virtuoso flutist and composer Nicole Mitchell joins Frank Carlberg and the New England Conservatory Jazz Composers’ Workshop Orchestra as part of her residency at the school. Expect to get a good hearing of Mitchell’s compositions and arrangements, as well as her remarkable playing. The concert is free, but tickets are required. Reserve here.

Vibraphonist and composer Joel Ross will perform at Café 939 this week.

Berklee Joel Ross Ensemble
March 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Café 939, Boston

The star vibraphonist and composer joins a Berklee ensemble directed by associate professor Matthew Stevens. The program “will explore Ross’s critically beloved releases KingMaker (2019), Who Are You? (2020), and The Parable of the Poet (2022). For nublues (2024), his remarkable fourth release as a leader for Blue Note, Ross challenged himself to create an album with a greater degree of accessibility: still intricate and adventurous, but with a strong emphasis on melody, ballads, and the blues.”

The Fringe
March 14 at 6 p.m.
Long Live Roxbury Brewery & Taproom

Iconic avant-jazz trio the Fringe (saxophonist George Garzone, bassist John Lockwood, and drummer Francisco Mela) make a rare venture from their Monday night residency at the Lilypad to play this early show in the new free Thursday night series at the Long Live Roxbury Brewery & Taproom.

Nicholas Payton
March 15 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston

Nicholas Payton hasn’t played a Boston show in recent memory. He returns playing both trumpet and keyboards (as is his wont for the past few years) joined by bassist Braylon Lacy on bass and drummer Corey Fonville. This looks like a straight-ahead jazz date — where Payton is at his inventive best.

Tigran Hamasyan will perform at the Berklee Performance Center this week. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Tigran Hamasyan
March 15 at 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston

Tigran Hamasyan won first place in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition in 2006, when he was 20. Since then, with multiple albums as a leader on Verve, ECM, and Nonesuch, he has extended his solid jazz-piano cred with further explorations of the folk music of his native Armenia (present since the beginning) with some vocal turns, and occasional rock beats as a driver in his always evolving rhythms.

Greg Abate
March 16 at 7 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston

The superb alto saxophonist Greg Abate’s bona fides include a couple of years with the Ray Charles band. His last release, Magic Dance: The Music of Kenny Barron, featured that master pianist. Abate returns to Scullers with pianist Steve Hint, bassist John Lockwood, and drummer Gary Johnson. By all reports, his last show here was a corker.

Tatiana Castro Mejías Trio
March 16 at 7:45 p.m.
New School of Music, Cambridge, Mass.

The charismatic pianist and poet Tatiana Castro Mejías has been a driving force in her husband Tony Malaby’s free-form Firebath ensemble. The trio format presented in this Creative Music Series concert should afford the opportunity for listeners to focus more closely on her dynamic playing. She’s joined by bassist Evan Palmer and drummer John Dalton.

Miho Hazama and her 13-piece orchestra comes to Boston’s Berklee Performance Center. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Miho Hazama and m-unit
March 16 at 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston

The celebrated (Grammy nominee, ASCAP Foundation young composer award, Downbeat “25 for the Future,” etc., etc.) Miho Hazama makes her Celebrity Series debut with m-unit, her 13-piece orchestra with strings, horns, and the trad rhythm section of piano, bass, and drums. Their latest, Beyond Orbits, takes off from the modern big band template of hard swing, sectional interplay, and sparking solos into Hazama’s singular feel for color and mood.

Wayfaring, bassist/vocalist Katie Ernst and clarinetist James Falzone, will perform in Dorchester on March 16. Photo: courtesy of the artist

March 16 at 8 p.m.
Peabody Hall, Parish of All Saints Church, Dorchester, MA

The duo of bassist/vocalist Katie Ernst and clarinetist James Falzone take their name from the American folk song. Their new Intermezzo is spare, lyrical, playful, haunting (murder ballad, etc.), drawing, so we’re told, from “the jazz tradition, hymns, folk songs, and original compositions.”

G. Calvin Weston
March 21 at 8 p.m.
Harvard-Epworth Church, Cambridge

Dave Bryant brings back the great drummer G. Calvin Weston — a fellow harmolodic explorer with Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time as well as with James Blood Ulmer — with guitarist J Johnson, bassist Rick McLaughlin, and, as always for these “Third Thursday” shows, Bryant on keyboards.

Seba Molnar
March 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge

Saxophonist-composer-arranger Seba Molnar’s collaborations with the dynamic vocalist Debo Ray have been outstanding. For this show, we expect he’ll be focusing on a broad range of his own takes on jazz and jazz-funk. The band will include singers Ray and Farayi Malek. The ticket price covers two 50-minute sets.

Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin is coming to town. Photo: Jonas Holthaus

Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin
March 25 at 7:30 p.m.
City Winery, Boston

Swiss pianist-composer Nik Bärtsch, with his Ronin ensemble, is perhaps best known for his more than half-dozen pristinely produced ECM discs. Live clips show the band breaking from minimalist trance into driving funk grooves capped by roiling crescendos. Presenters GlobalArts Live quote Bärtsch: “Our music is somewhere between jazz and modern composition, progressive pop, ritual music, groove music in general.” The ensemble includes drummer Kaspar Rast, bassist Jeremias Keller, and the monomial Sha on bass and contrabass clarinets.

— Jon Garelick

Author Events

Xochitl Gonzalez at Harvard Book Store
Anita de Monte Laughs Last: A Novel
March 12 at 7 p.m.

“1985. Anita de Monte, a rising star in the art world, is found dead in New York City; her tragic death is the talk of the town. Until it isn’t. By 1998 Anita’s name has been all but forgotten — certainly by the time Raquel, a third-year art history student is preparing her final thesis. On College Hill, surrounded by privileged students whose futures are already paved out for them, Raquel feels like an outsider. Students of color, like her, are the minority there, and the pressure to work twice as hard for the same opportunities is no secret.

“But when Raquel becomes romantically involved with a well-connected older art student, she finds herself unexpectedly rising up the social ranks. As she attempts to straddle both worlds, she stumbles upon Anita’s story, raising questions about the dynamics of her own relationship, which eerily mirrors that of the forgotten artist.”

Leah Hunt-Hendrix and Astra Taylor at Harvard Book Store
Solidarity: The Past, Present, and Future of a World-Changing Idea
March 13 at 7 p.m.

“Solidarity is often invoked, but it is rarely analyzed and poorly understood. Here, two leading activists and thinkers survey the past, present, and future of the concept across borders of nation, identity, and class to ask: how can we build solidarity in an era of staggering inequality, polarization, violence, and ecological catastrophe? Offering a lively and lucid history of the idea — from Ancient Rome through the first European and American socialists and labor organizers, to twenty-first century social movements like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter — Hunt-Hendrix and Taylor trace the philosophical debates and political struggles that have shaped the modern world.”

An Evening of Poetry: Nadia Colburn, Sasha Steensen, & Melissa Dickey – brookline booksmith
March 14 at 7 p.m.

“Nadia Colburn is the author of the poetry books I Say the Sky and The High Shelf, and her poetry and prose have appeared in more than eighty publications, including The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Spirituality & Health, Lion’s Roar, and The Yale Review. Sasha Steensen is the author of six books of poetry: A Magic Book; The Method; House of Deer (all from Fence Books); Gatherest (Ahsahta Press); Everything Awake (Shearsman Press); and Well (forthcoming, Parlor Press). She also writes long-form essays, two of which can be read online at Essay Press and Tupelo Quarterly. Melissa Dickey is the author of two previous books of poetry: Dragons and The Lilly Will, and her poetry and essays have appeared in Bennington Review, New Orleans Review, Columbia Poetry Review, and the anthology The Anatomy of Silence, among other places. Born and raised in New Orleans, she currently lives in Western Massachusetts with her partner and their four children.”

Casey Sherman with Emily Sweeney – brookline booksmith
A Murder in Hollywood
March 15 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $37 with reserved book, free without

“From the outside, Hollywood starlet Lana Turner seemed to have it all — a thriving film career, a beautiful daughter, and the kind of fame and fortune that most people could only dream of. But when the famous femme fatale began dating mobster Johnny Stompanato, thug for the infamous west coast mob boss Mickey Cohen, her personal life became violent and unpredictable. Lana’s teenage daughter, Cheryl, watched her beloved mother’s life deteriorate as Stompanato’s intense jealousy took over. Eventually, the physical and emotional abuse became too much to bear, and Lana attempted to break it off with Johnny — with disastrous consequences. The details of what happened that fateful night remain foggy, but it ended in a series of frantic phone calls and Stompanato dead on Lana’s bedroom floor, with Cheryl claiming to have plunged a knife into his abdomen in an attempt to protect her mother. The subsequent murder trial made for the biggest headlines of the year, its drama eclipsing every Hollywood movie.

“New York Times bestselling author Casey Sherman pulls back Tinseltown’s velvet curtain to reveal the dark underbelly of celebrity, rife with toxic masculinity and casual violence against women, and tells the story of Lana Turner and her daughter, who finally stood up to the abuse that plagued their family for years. A Murder in Hollywood transports us back to the golden age of film and illuminates one of the 20th century’s most notorious true crime tales.”

Grown Up Book Fair at Trillium Brewing! – Porter Square Books
March 16 from 12- 4 p.m.
Trillium Brewing Fort Point, 50 Thompson Place, Boston

“Remember getting the book fair flyers at school? Seeing if the next book in your favorite series was coming out, comparing lists with your friends, checking off the books you want, and planning how you’ll totally convince your parents that yes, in fact, you definitely need all those books because don’t they want you to get into a good college or whatever? And then the thrill when the books arrive and you see a pencil set you absolutely need and stickers for your trapper keeper and one of those friendship necklaces? Think you would never get to experience that rush again? Think again!

“Our Grown Up Book Fair returns to Trillium Brewing’s Fort Point location on Saturday, March 16 from 12–4 p.m. With a great selection of staff favorites, hot titles, & fun books specifically selected for the day, including some books for St. Patrick’s Day. The Grown Up Book Fair will have everything you love about school book fairs, including all of those fun gift-y items, like stickers, socks, mood rings, and more! Oh, and you can drink beer while you shop!”

In Cambridge on March 18, Tricia Rose will discuss her book Metaracism, an account of what systemic racism actually is, how it works, and how we can fight back.

Tricia Rose at The Brattle Theatre – Harvard Book Store
Metaracism: How Systemic Racism Devastates Black Lives —And How We Break Free
March 18 at 6 p.m.
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge
Tickets are $35 with book, $12 without

“In Metaracism, pioneering scholar Tricia Rose cuts through the noise with a bracing and invaluable new account of what systemic racism actually is, how it works, and how we can fight back. She reveals how — from housing to education to criminal justice — an array of policies and practices connect and interact to produce an even more devastating “metaracism” far worse than the sum of its parts. While these systemic connections can be difficult to see — and are often portrayed as “color-blind” — again and again they function to disproportionately contain, exploit, and punish Black people.

“By helping us to comprehend systemic racism’s inner workings and destructive impacts, Metaracism shows us also how to break free—and how to create a more just America for us all.”

Ramie Targoff at Harvard Book Store
Shakespeare’s Sisters: How Women Wrote the Renaissance
March 20 at 7 p.m.

“In an innovative and engaging narrative of everyday life in Shakespeare’s England, Ramie Targoff carries us from the sumptuous coronation of Queen Elizabeth in the mid-sixteenth century into the private lives of four women writers working at a time when women were legally the property of men. Some readers may have heard of Mary Sidney, accomplished poet and sister of the famous Sir Philip Sidney, but few will have heard of Aemilia Lanyer, the first woman in the seventeenth century to publish a book of original poetry, which offered a feminist take on the crucifixion, or Elizabeth Cary, who published the first original play by a woman, about the plight of the Jewish princess Mariam. Then there was Anne Clifford, a lifelong diarist who fought for decades against a patriarchy that tried to rob her of her land in one of England’s most infamous inheritance battles.

“These women had husbands and children to care for and little support for their art, yet against all odds they defined themselves as writers, finding rooms of their own where doors had been shut for centuries. Targoff flings those doors open, revealing the treasures left by these extraordinary women; in the process, she helps us see the Renaissance in a fresh light, creating a richer understanding of history and offering a much-needed female perspective on life in Shakespeare’s day.”

James Marcus at Harvard Book Store
Glad to the Brink of Fear: A Portrait of Ralph Waldo Emerson
March 22 at 7 p.m.

“Of all of Emerson’s biographers, James Marcus is the first to make the man and his thought come alive in the present. His Emerson is a marvel — a skeptic and an apostle, a creature of flawed feelings and noble ideals, a lover, a mourner, a wit, and a visionary. How lucky we are to encounter him through Marcus’s wonderfully exact and affable prose.” — Merve Emre, Wesleyan University, contributing writer at the New YorkerArts Fuse review

Cozy Yoga & Tea with Coolidge Yoga – brookline booksmith
March 24 from 9 a.m.- 10 a.m.
Tickets are $15

“Enjoy 60 minutes of nourishing yoga, followed by a cup of tea and book browsing. On a cold winter’s day, what’s better than snuggling up with a cozy blanket and a book? Adding in some rejuvenating movement for your body and soul! Roll out of bed and head to Brookline Booksmith for a dose of gentle and nourishing yoga, followed by a cup of warm tea while you browse the bookstore for your new winter read.

“In fact, to encourage a wellness mindset for 2024, Coolidge Yoga staff selected a collection of their favorite books on yoga, meditation, and mindfulness (available in-store and online here) just for you. Our cozy experience will lift your spirits, warm you up from the inside out, and help soothe your nervous system for a relaxing Sunday ahead. All levels welcome. Pre-register to save a spot! Last time we sold out! Come in your PJs, comfy clothes, or yoga wear. Bring a yoga mat (a few will be on hand to borrow) and a blanket for your practice. No prior yoga experience necessary.”

Nancy A. Nichols in conversation with Alexis Rizzuto – Porter Square Books
Women Behind the Wheel
March 25 at 7 p.m.

“From the adolescent thrill of getting a driver’s license to the dreaded commutes of adulthood, from vintage muscle cars to electric vehicles, this groundbreaking book reveals the outsized impact the car has had — and will continue to have — on the lives of women. Since their inception cars have defined American culture, but until quite recently car histories were largely written by and about men — with little attention given to the fascinating story of women and cars.

“In this engaging non-fiction narrative, Nancy A. Nichols, the daughter of a used car salesman, uses the cars her father sold and the ones her family drove to tell a larger story about how the car helped to define modern womanhood. From her sister’s classic Mustang to her mother’s Chevy Convertible to her own Honda minivan, Nichols tells a personal story in order to shed light on a universal one.”

— Matt Hanson

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