Coming Attractions: June 16 through July 2 — 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.


Nancy Olson and William Holden in Union Station (1950)

Noir City Boston
through June 17
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge

A screening of a rare assemblage of noir films with Foster Hirsch, author of 16 books on subjects related to theater and film, on hand to introduce them. All titles below are linked to descriptions on the Brattle Theatre site.

June 16: Union Station at 12 p.m.; Cairo Station at 2 p.m.; Smog at 4 p.m; City of Fear at 7 p.m. in a 35 mm restoration

June 17: Elevator to the Gallows at 5 and 7 p.m.

70mm & Widescreen Fest
Somerville Theatre

An opportunity to experience epic widescreen films and musicals in their original formats. See these movies as they were meant to be seen!

Funny Girl (1968) June 16 at 2 p.m.; The Band Wagon (1953) June 17 at p.m.; Gilda (1946) June 17 at 9 p.m.

Forever is Now
June 19 at 7 p.m.
Regent Theater in Arlington

At a time of increasing tension between recreation and environmental impact, this documentary explores an alternative path to the future through stories that are personal, complex, and compelling. Shot in all four seasons across fourteen successive months, the film captures Zion National Park like it’s never been seen before — the result will instill a sense of awe inspire responsible ownership of public lands today, tomorrow, and forever. The 50-minute doc will be preceded by a short film followed by a Q & A with the filmmakers.

The Roxbury International Film Festival
June 20–28
Online: June 27 – July 2

Over nine days, the festival presents narrative and documentary features, shorts, animation, experimental, and youth films in addition to hosting workshops, panel discussions, conversations with filmmakers, and networking opportunities.  Film Listings

Vu Ngoc Manh, left, with Le Phong Vu in Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell. Photo: Kino Lorber

Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell
June 22 and 23 at 12 p.m.
Brattle Theatre in Cambridge

When a motorcycle accident takes the life of his sister-in-law, Thiện discovers that his little nephew Đào is without a guardian. The boy’s father had vanished years before, so Thiện sets off on a journey hoping to reunite the estranged father and son. The search becomes both a spiritual and geographic odyssey. This Caméra d’Or winner at Cannes is Phạm Thiên An’s first feature. It is a demanding tale is 179 minutes long and lacks conventional doses of drama or action. The film’s deliberate pace and long takes serve as meditations on faith, loss, nature, and the satisfactions of life in contemporary rural Vietnam. Arts Fuse review. Part of the Brattle’s Theatrical Premiere Screenings! series

8 Days in August
June 23 at 11 a.m.
Coolidge Corner Theater

An eight-day family holiday turns into an ordeal, a psychological war fueled by a battle with dark and long-repressed emotions. The film highlights the painful absurdities of the patriarchal family structure. Despite their apparent open-mindedness, a couple, Adam and Helena, are forced to confront the destructive side of their happiness, the brutality that is underneath their safe but suffocating embrace of “normality.” Director Samuel Perriard puts the idea of heteronormative family to the ultimate test. (description adapted from Cineuropa)

The Religion Move
June 24 at 7:30 pm.
Somerville Theatre

The East Coast premiere of a new documentary from Alan Kryszak, a lecturer at the University of Maine at Machias, and his students. Individuals & religious leaders from Maine to Boston discuss their positive & negative experiences with faith, including Islamic, Catholic, Baptist, United Church of Christ, Vedic (Hindi), Judaic, Buddhist & Pagan. “The film is driven by LGBTQ perspectives on religion & belief. ”

Naíma Sentíes in a scene from Tótem.

June 26 at 4:45 and 7 p.m.
Brattle Theatre in Cambridge

Through the eyes and sensibilities of a 7-year-old girl, Sol (a remarkable Naíma Sentíes), Mexican director Lila Aviles (The Chambermaid) observes a family readying a surprise birthday party for the girl’s terminally ill father. The family dynamics in Tótem are powerful. The film’s documentary sensibility and brilliant acting made, in this writer’s opinion, this one of the best film’s on 2023: a heartbreaking, life-affirming film that delivers one of the best final shots of the year. Part of the Brattle’s Theatrical Premiere Screenings! series

Dracula vs Frankenstein & The Brain That Wouldn’t Die
June 30 at 12 p.m.
Somerville Theatre in Davis Square

Relive, or experience for the first time, the joy of a Sunday matinee B-movie double feature. Dracula vs. Frankenstein intermingles hippies, bikers, mad doctors, ax murders, acid trips, J. Carrol Naish, Russ Tamblyn, Freaks star Angelo Rossitto, ‘Freak-Out Girl’ Regina Carrol, Famous Monsters editor Forrest J Ackerman, Lon Chaney Jr., and Zandor Vorkov.

In The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, a doctor experimenting with transplant techniques keeps his girlfriend’s head alive when she is decapitated in a car crash, then goes hunting for a new body.

Pick of the Week

I Love Dick Season 1, Episode 5: “A Short History of Weird Girls.” Streaming on Amazon Prime

Toby and Devon on I Love Dick. Photo: Courtesy of Amazon

Here’s something different: an episode from I Love Dick, the series based on Chris Kraus’ 1997 semi-autobiographical novel that centers on “Chris” and her obsession — shared through letters — with a well-known theorist named Dick. The show’s non-binary producer, Joey Soloway, also created Transparent, Six Feet Under, United States of Tara, and directed the film Afternoon Delight. The writers of this stand-alone episode were Heidi Schreck (What the Constitution Means to Me) and Annie Baker (The Flick), whose own film, Janet Planet, opens on June 28. Though fictional, the episode feels like a documentary as it surveys the experience of three women and the intricacies and strengths of being a cisgender female. Each woman tells her story directly to the camera. The goal, according to Soloway, was to name moments “of witnessing our younger selves and how we came in contact with the idea of sexual shame” and to do “all of the things with TV that you aren’t supposed to do. Propagandize. Teach. Be didactic. Sedition.”

— Tim Jackson

Classical Music

Pianist Inon Barnatan will perform at Rockport Music this week. Photo: Opus 3 Artists

Inon Barnatan in recital
Presented by Rockport Music
June 20, 7:30 p.m.
Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport

Pianist Inon Barnatan’s appearance includes a pair of arrangements: Guido Agosti’s setting of three movements from Stravinsky’s The Firebird and the keyboardist’s own adaptation of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances. Rameau’s Suite in G major and Ravel’s Valses Nobles et Sentimentales are also on the docket.

Stephen Isserlis & Connie Shih
Presented by Rockport Music
June 28, 7:30 p.m.
Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport

The great British cellist and the accomplished Canadian pianist team up for one of the Rockport Chamber Music Festival’s most enticing lineups: two Beethoven cello sonatas (Nos. 1 & 5) and Thomas Adès Lieux retrouvés sandwiching Nadia Boulanger’s Trois pieces and Gabriel Fauré’s Sonata No. 2.

The Viano String Quartet. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Mahan Esfahani & Viano Quartet
Presented by Rockport Music
June 29, 5 p.m.
Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport

Harpsichord virtuoso Esfahani, the Vianos, and three guests — flautist Demarre McGill, violinist Barry Schiffman, and double bassist Jeremy McCoy — offer a late afternoon of old and new: J. S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 and the East Coast premiere of Gavin Bryars’ Quintet for harpsichord and string quartet. Further selections by C. P. E. Bach and Telemann’s “Gulliver’s Travels” Suite round out the concert.

Mozart & Faure
Presented by Rockport Music
June 30, 5 p.m.
Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport

Violinist Stella Chen, violist Matthew Lipman, and cellist Brannon Cho play Mozart’s serene Divertimento in E-flat, K. 563. Afterwards, they’re joined by pianist Evren Ozel for Gabriel Fauré’s G-minor Piano Quartet No. 2.

— Jonathan Blumhofer

World Music and Roots

Fred Wesley, bandleader, trombonist, and author, comes to City Winery tomorrow. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Fred Wesley and the New JBs
June 17
City Winery, Boston

Pee Wee Ellis has passed away and Maceo Parker is retired, but Fred Wesley, who turns 81 next month, is keeping the great instrumental funk tradition of James Brown’s JBs alive with his touring combo. Considering that Wesley also spent time with Parliament Funkadelic, his musical influence is impossible to overstate. And when he was in town last fall his playing was still tops.

Everett Juneteenth Celebration
June 19, 2 p.m.
Glendale Park, Everett

Everett’s government is hardly known for its racial sensitivity, but it is sponsoring a free daytime Juneteenth celebration that features a surprisingly heavy lineup of hip-hop greats topped by lyrical master Talib Kweli and his fellow veteran and sometimes collaborator Skyzoo, along with Landon Wordswell, Rayell, and The Woo Factor.

The Mavericks
June 22, Indian Ranch, Webster
June 23, The Cabot, Beverly

They’ll be playing the July 4 festivities with the Boston Pops, but if you’d like to experience one of the best live bands around in a more intimate setting, the Mavericks are swinging through New England on their own. They are expected to largely draw from their new (and typically genre-busting) album Moon & Stars.

Deke Dickerson and the Whippersnappers will bring rockabilly to Malden. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Deke Dickerson and the Whippersnappers, with Jittery Jack with Amy Griffin and the Centuries
June 22
Faces Brewing, Malden

Although he’s most known as one of the top stars of today’s rockabilly scene, guitar thriller Deke Dickerson’s sound goes straight to the core of roots music with its mix of honky-tonk, blues, garage and surf. Always a charming live performer, Dickerson recently linked up with a band of energetic young bucks he calls the Whippersnappers.

Klezmer fiddler ace Alicia Svigals will be at the Burren celebrating the release of her new album. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Alicia Svigals’ “Fidl Afire” Release Show
June 24
The Burren, Somerville

In 1997 Alicia Svigals released the landmark klezmer fiddle record Fidl. She’s finally made the follow-up Fidl Afire, which yet again showcases her own unparalleled virtuosity as well as the compelling depths of the traditions she explores. Proving that the fiddle can lead a rollicking klezmer band just as well as a clarinet, Svigals is joined on the record — and at this release show — by some of Boston’s finest klezmorim: Hankus Netsky on keys, Grant Smith, drums, Jim Guttman, bass, Mark Hamilton, trombone, and Mark Berney, trumpet.

Ivorian singer/songwriter Dobet Gnahoré comes to Arts at the Armory. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Dobet Gnahoré
June 27
Arts at the Armory, Somerville

Like many of her fellow Afropop stars, Ivorian singer/songwriter Dobet Gnahoré has spent much of her career in France. She recently returned to her birthplace, Abidjan, where she immersed herself in that bustling city’s music and film scene, resulting in both a new album, Zouzou, and a series of vibrant videos. Always a thrilling live performer, Gnahoré is making what appears to be her first Boston appearance in 17 years at Somerville’s Armory. She’ll also be presenting a dance workshop June 24 at 6 p.m.

— Noah Schaffer

Popular Music

Fantastic Cat with Fox and Bones
June 20 (doors at 7/show at 8)
The Sinclair, Cambridge

Based on the titles of their two albums — 2022’s The Very Best of Fantastic Cat and this year’s Now That’s What I Call Fantastic Cat! — and their website’s bio, New York City’s Fantastic Cat clearly possess a self-awareness that recognizes their potential legacy as also-rans. (Some press for the latter reads, “Missing Piece Group reluctantly presents…”) However, this knowing preemptive-ness has not prevented Rolling Stone, Rock and Roll Globe, Glide (here and here), and Americana Highways (here and here) from enthusiastically praising the quartet’s blend of Americana, folk, and county. Portland (Oregon, not Maine) duo Fox and Bones with open Fantastic Cat’s show at The Sinclair on June 20. (PS: Adams native and one-time Beantown resident Don DiLego sings on Fantastic Cat’s “Go All Night”, “I had a band up in Boston/We went our separate ways/I got a job at Guitar Center/I fucking hate this place”.)

Airiel with Blushing, Bodywash, and Bella Steele
June 21 (doors at 7/show at 8)
Deep Cuts, Medford

Shoegaze — a style epitomized in the ‘90s by My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive, Lush, etc. — is having a bit of a moment right now, with numerous indie artists incorporating it into their sound and putting a contemporary twist on it. Chicago’s Airiel helped carry the genre into the following decade, recording seven EPs and two LPs between 2002 and 2017. Their latest release is a 40-track box set version of the Winks & Kisses series of EPs that appeared in 2003 and 2004. Blushing (whose latest is this year’s superb Sugarcoat) and Bodywash are currently each carrying on the shoegaze/dream pop tradition and will, along with Boston’s Bella Steele, open Airiel’s June 21 performance at Medford’s Deep Cuts.

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists with Ekko Astral
June 22 (doors at 8/show at 9)
Paradise Rock Club, Boston

Ted Leo already had the quite the reputation in the early aughts before my then-roommate told me about him upon learning that I was a fan of The Jam, whose song “Ghosts” Leo had covered in 2003. At the time, his forthcoming LP, Shake the Sheets, was slated for release on October 19, 2004. While I was impressed by the previous work that I had heard, I am not sure that anything prepared me for the new record’s opening track, “Me and Mia”. To this day, it still gets me pogoing in whatever room in my house that I happen to be when I hear it. Moreover, the lyric “I’ll put it to you plain and bluntly/I’m worried for my tired country” from “The One Who Got Us Out” hit very close to home with what turned out to be George W. Bush’s successful bid for re-election being only two weeks away. (It is also all too pertinent at a time when Donald Trump might be five months from returning to the Oval Office himself.) But the highlights are not limited to these two tracks: “Counting Down the Hours”, “Heart Problems”, and “Better Dead Than Lead” – to name just a few of my favorites – have all held up beautifully after two full decades and will all be accounted for when Leo performs the whole of Shake the Sheets at the Paradise Rock Club on June 22. (A demos version of the album is available at a name your price cost on bandcamp.)

Jon Anderson and The Band Geeks
June 25 (show at 8)
Shubert Theatre (Boch Center), Boston

British prog-rock superstars Yes reached its biggest audience in 1983 with the chart-topping “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. The single’s parent record, 90125, saw the return (after a three-year absence) of lead singer Jon Anderson. To many people, this might be the only Yes song that they know. But to most fans, whether they came aboard before, in, or after 1983, Yes will always be the band responsible for the epics and classics that they produced in bulk between 1971 and 1978. Two of their songs from this era (“Your Move” and “Roundabout”) hit the US top 40, while others – such as the four 20-plus-minute tracks that comprised 1973’s Tales from Topographic Oceans – were inscrutable enough to confuse even loyal listeners. Still, the band created enough, to use the name of Anderson’s current tour with The Band Geeks, “Epics, Classics, and More” to make a career out of. When Anderson and The Band Geeks hit Shubert Theatre on June 25, the “more” will include songs from their forthcoming new album, True.

Buffalo Tom
June 29 (show at 7:30)
Lowell Boarding House, Lowell

The beloved Massachusetts trio is back with an inspired collection of new songs, Jump Rope, and will play their first post-release show in Lowell as part of that city’s 2024 Summer Music Series. (They celebrated on its drop date at The Drake in Amherst.) At the moment, this is their only Boston-area show, but they will hit up Portland and Providence in September. Once you’ve given Jump Rope a good several listens, I recommend that you check out lead singer Bill Janovitz’s biography of Leon Russell, the paperback edition of which hit stores on June 18.

— Blake Maddux

Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival
June 28-30
MASS MoCA, North Adams

New England’s best-curated music festival involves the best infrastructure experience, a contemporary art museum with massive mill-building galleries to stroll and catch pop-up sets, a plus in a thundershower. It helps to enjoy host band Wilco, which evolved from alt-country to expansive rock stylings over the past three decades and headlines Friday (a special set of “deep cuts” this year) and Saturday before leader Jeff Tweedy closes Sunday with friends. But the broad range of Wilco’s hand-picked supporting acts looks as stunning as ever, led by Jason Isbell and his 400 Unit, Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets, Dry Cleaning and Iris DeMent. There’s also jazz (Mary Halvorson), noise-punk (Soul Glo), African desert rock (Etran de l’Air), a trio of woman-fronted indie-rock bands (Wednesday, Ratboysnd Horsegirl) and DJ sets by Sylvan Esso to help keep courtyard stages buzzing. Add Wilco side projects (Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche in one quartet), comedy lineups with John Hodgman, a return of ’80s rockers Miracle Legion, and a late-night live film score by Marc Ribot, and Solid Sound bustles as a playground of music and art in the Berkshires.

–Paul Robicheau


COVID PROTOCOLS: Check with specific theaters.

Next to Normal Book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, music by Tom Kitt. Directed and choreographed by Pascale Florestal. Staged by Central Square Theater and the Front Porch Arts Collective at the Central Square Theatre, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, through June 30.

This Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award–winning musical “tells the story of an American family affected by mental illness. The musical was groundbreaking in its portrayal of the day-to-day realities of bipolar disorder, its sometimes harsh treatments and medications, and its gnawing impact on family relationships. An energetic pop-rock score punctuates the rollercoaster of emotions that the characters experience. In telling the story from the perspective of a Black upper-middle-class family, the production brings audiences to an intersection of mental health, race, gender and class…. The First New England production to feature a Black family.”

The Plastic Bag Store Created, written, designed, and directed by Robin Frohardt. Music by Freddi Price. Produced by Pomegranate Arts. Presented by Mass MoCA and Williamstown Theatre Festival at Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA, through September 2.

Billed by Mass MoCA as “an immersive, multimedia experience by Brooklyn-based artist Robin Frohardt that uses humor, craft, and a critical lens to question our culture of consumption and convenience — specifically, the enduring effects of single-use plastics. The shelves are stocked with thousands of original, hand-sculpted items — produce and meat, dry goods and toiletries, cakes and sushi rolls — all made from discarded, single-use plastics in an endless cacophony of packaging.”

A Body of Water by Lee Blessing. Directed by James Warwick. Staged by Shakespeare & Company at its outdoor Roman Garden Theatre, Lenox, June 21 through July 21

“A revised script staged only once before,” this drama “tells the story of Moss and Avis: a sophisticated and successful couple who wake up one morning in an isolated summer house. The setting is idyllic, but there’s a problem — neither of them can remember who they are. A young woman named Wren arrives, and information starts to flood in. But will it help? Her explanations seem to only add confusion and the ensuing twists are at some turns comedic, and at others, terrifying.”

The Thin Place by Lucas Hnath. Directed by Gabrielle Farrah. Staged by the Chester Theatre Company at the Town Hall Theatre, 15 Middlefield Road, Chester, June 20 through 30.

A story that involves ghosts: “Everyone who ever died is still here, just in a different part of here. Linda can communicate with them. And if you believe, she can make you hear them, too — in the thin place, the fragile boundary between our world and the other one … Hnath’s play transforms the theater into an intimate séance, crafting an unnerving testament to the power of the mind, which has a mind of its own.” Tara Franklin take center stage as the protagonist, who describes herself, interchangeably, as “a medium, a psychic, and a spiritualist.”

(l to r) Michael Hisamoto and Alexander Holden in the Lyric Stage Company production of Yellow Face. Photo: Mark S. Howard

Yellow Face by David Henry Hwang. Directed by Ted Hewlett. Staged by the Lyric Stage at 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, through June 23.

According to the Lyric Stage publicity, in this drama an “engrossing and surprisingly humorous look at race and assimilation questions how well-intentioned motives can lead to hypocrisy and misdeeds. In a scramble to make things right, an uncomfortable situation gets even more tangled and fractured leaving many newfound realizations along the way. ” Arts Fuse review

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang. Directed by Rebecca Bradshaw. Staged by Gloucester Stage, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, through June 23.

Here is what I said about Durang’s Tony award–winning comedy in my review of the 2013 Trinity Rep production: “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is an example of a new genre, sentimental plays that purport to focus on the plight of baby boomers who are beginning to feel their age. The dramatic approach flirts with revelations of futility and regret, but then pulls back on the intimations of mortality. By turning Chekhov on his head, the playwright manages to head off real world anxieties through a convenient ‘literary’ framing device, making extra sure there are no upsets by supplying a relatively upbeat ending for characters who are — after decades of inaction or blindness — suddenly raging against the dying of the light.” Arts Fuse review

Andrey Burkovskiy as Khonen /The Dybbuk in the Arlekin Players Theatre production of The Dybbuk. Photo: courtesy of the artist

The Dybbuk by Roy Chen, based on the original play by S. Ansky. Adapted by Igor Golyak with Dr. Rachel Merrill Moss. With additional material from the translation by Joachim Neugroschel. Directed by Igor Golyak. Staged by Arlekin Players Theatre at the Vilna Shul, Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture, 18 Phillips St., Beacon Hill, Boston, through June 30.

Well, something different … this expressionistic drama in four acts by S. Ansky was inspired by Hasidic Jewish folklore. It premiered, via a Yiddish theater production, in 1920. This production stars “Andrey Burkovskiy as Khonen/The Dybbuk and Yana Gladkikh as Leah, as the tragic young lovers hovering between the worlds of the living and the beyond.” The Times of Israel sums the play up with showbiz pizazz: “A supernatural thriller, a courtroom drama, a tale of love and obsession, and an elegy for a dying culture, this Fiddler-on-the-Roof-meets-The-Exorcist has something for everyone.”

Gatsby Based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Directed by Rachel Chavkin. Music by Florence Welch and Thomas Bartlett. Lyrics by Florence Welch. Book by Martyna Majok. Choreography by Sonya Tayeh. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, through August 3.

Yet another musical adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby that hopes to be the toast of Broadway. One opened in April and the show has been nominated for a Tony Award for Best Costume Design. The A.R.T.’s song-and-dance version is subtitled, for some reason, “An American Myth.” Arts Fuse review

A scene from Plays in Place’s Revolution’s Edge at Old North Church. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Revolution’s Edge by Patrick Gabridge. Directed by Alexandra Smith. Staged by Plays in Place in the Old North Church & Historic Site, 193 Salem St, Boston, through August 10.

The 45-minute historical drama is back at the Old North Church for its second season. The action “is set in Boston’s oldest surviving church on April 18, 1775, the day before the Battles of Lexington & Concord and mere hours before the famous ‘two if by sea’ lantern signals … three men share a faith but have very different beliefs concerning the right path ahead for themselves, their families, and the colonies. Their conversation explores the intersection of faith and freedom on the edge of the American Revolution.”

Abe Lincoln in Illinois by Robert Sherwood. Directed by David Auburn. Movement by Isadora Wolfe. Staged by Berkshire Theatre Group at the Unicorn Theatre, 6 East Street, Stockbridge, through July 14.

Sherwood’s 1938 Pulitzer prize-winning script, based on Carl Sandburg’s 1926 biography of Lincoln before he went to Washington, DC, “weaves together fictional dialogue and Lincoln’s own words to create a poignant portrayal of a man driven by ideas, haunted by premonitions, and destined for greatness. As the play unfolds, audiences witness the pivotal moments that shaped Lincoln’s early manhood, providing a compelling glimpse into the life of a man who would go on to become an American legend.”

Wipeout by Aurora Real de Asua. Directed by Shana Gozansky. Staged by Gloucester Stage at 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, July 5 through 28.

The plot of this “break-out new play”: “On her seventy-seventh birthday, Gary knows exactly what she wants: to go surfing. There’s only one problem: She’s never touched the water. But with the help of a hot-rod teenage surf instructor and her two best friends, Gary’s ready to conquer the unknown. Taking place on surfboards in the Pacific Ocean, this script is a septuagenarian surf comedy about what it takes to hang ten.” The cast includes Karen MacDonald, Cheryl D. Singleton, Noelle Player, and Thomas Bilotta.

Rachel Bloom performing her show Death, Let Me Do My Show. Photo: Emilio Madrid

Dragon Mama and Death, Let Me Do My Show presented by the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, July 2 through 5 (Dragon Mama, directed by Andrew Russell) and July 5 through 14 (Death, Let Me Do My Show, directed by Seth Barrish).

Two one-person musical entertainments take the WTF’s mainstage. In Dragon Mama, singer Sara Porkalob “vividly brings to life the complex tapestry of her mother Maria’s early years and queer identity, affirming the power of family, the importance of self-discovery, and the indomitable spirit of those who dare to dream beyond their circumstances.” The Rotten Science production of actress, writer, and comedian Rachel Bloom’s Death, Let Me Do My Show “is filled with raunchy and escapist material that will in NO way explore the pandemic and all the tumultuous events that ensued in her personal life. NOTHING will stop Rachel from partying like it’s 2019”!

3rd Annual Boston New Works Festival presented by Moonbox Productions at the Calderwood Pavilion and the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, June 20 through 23.

A weekend long festival celebrating new original plays by local playwrights. The eight original scripts selected for this year’s celebration of Bostonian theatricality will be performed on six different stages: June 20 (7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.), June 21 (7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.), June 22 (3 p.m.– 10 p.m.), and June 23 (2 p.m. – 9 p.m.). Click on the link to look over the schedule of plays. The chosen dramatists include John Minigan, Kira Rockwell, Rick Park, and Angele Maraj & Brianna Pierre.

Elevator Repair Service amid a performance of Ulysses. Photo: Marika Kent

Ulysses, an adaptation of James Joyce’s novel, created by the Elevator Repair Service. Directed by John Collins. Co-director and dramaturgy by Scott Shepard. Presented by the Fisher Center, Bard College, Manor Ave, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY, June 20 through July 14.

Here is the set-up, according to the Fisher Center site. “Seven performers sit down for a sober reading but soon find themselves guzzling pints, getting in brawls, and committing debaucheries as they careen on a fast-forward tour through Joyce’s funhouse of styles. With madcap antics and a densely layered sound design, ERS presents an eclectic sampling from Joyce’s life-affirming masterpiece.” This is the same enterprising group that in 2010 staged Gatz, a 6-hour, whizbang staged reading of the novel The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald’s words, no music) so it may be able to pull this off.

— Bill Marx

Visual Arts 

Saks Afridi’s SpaceTime. Collaborators: Narcy (Yassin Alsalman) with Tamara Abdul Hadi, Roï Saade

It’s the time of year when summer exhibitions open all across New England, especially in towns where foot traffic quickens in the warmer months. Installed in a former train station in the southern Vermont town of Brattleboro, the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center opens six summer shows on June 22, among them Saks Afridi: SpaceMosque. “Imagine,” says Brattleboro curator Sadaf Padder, “that a spectacular Vessel — a SpaceMosque — arrives from the future, granting all humans on Earth one prayer manifested every 24 hours. The structure is a portal that appears in many iterations, using a divine algorithm to adjust its appearance to each seeker.”

The show, the artist’s first solo exhibition in the US, presents “a futuristic world in which he fuses Islamic mysticism, South Asian folklore, architecture, and technology in a genre he dubs ‘Sci-Fi Sufism.’” Begun in 2017, the work suggests, through a series of mysterious artifacts mostly from Pakistan and Egypt, a series of answered prayers and their far-reaching consequences that have all been erased from human memory, perhaps as “a divine experiment.”

At the end of the 19th century, a worn-down fishing village at the remote tip of Cape Cod became a kind of summer extension of bohemian Greenwich Village, drawing legions of progressive artists to its quaint streets and vast, sun-saturated sand dunes and sea beaches. The Provincetown Art Association and Museum preserves the cultural history and traditions of what became one of the great artist colonies of the United States, writing chapters in the history of American art and its own Cape-based art narratives. PAAM opens two shows this month: The Radiance of Color: The Paintings of Sam Feinstein, opening June 21, features the work of the largely forgotten abstract colorist Feinstein (1915-2003), who was inspired by six decades of Cape Cod summers, including ten when he lived in Provincetown. A student of the famed modernist and summer Cape Cod teacher Hans Hofmann, Feinstein developed a theory he called “units of color,” based on his research in modern scientific theories of light. The exhibition will begin with early sketches from the 1940s through Feinstein’s monumental late works of the 1990s.

Also at PAAM, Ron Amato: Artists of Provincetown, opens June 28. Amato, a professor in the Photography and Related Media Department at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, is a photographer and designer known as a leading Queer artist. For this exhibition, he has created portraits of eighty-four contemporary artists with significant ties to Provincetown, twenty-seven of whom were also portrayed by photographer Norma Holt up to half a century ago in a similar project. Amato’s work, the museum claims, “capture[s] the vitality that is the artist community now.”

Renee Cox. Test image for the Rajé series, 1997. Renee V. Cox papers, 1966-2016. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Further south in Rhode Island, the Newport Art Museum also opens two exhibitions this month. Renee Cox: Revolution/Revelation, opening June 15, features the work of Jamaican-born photographer Renee Cox, who began her career as a fashion photographer in New York and Paris and later turned to fine art photography focused on Black identity and racial and gender stereotypes. Her confrontational and influential work is particularly known for the posed tableaux she calls “flipping the script.” The Newport show reviews Cox’s entire forty-year fine art career, from her early “Yo Mama” series to her recent Afrofuturistic work.

Newport’s Nick Mele: Pages & Play opens June 29. Here the focus is on Newport’s legendary glamor and extravagant self-adornment (as well as, by implication, its status as a white, elite enclave of the wealthy), as recorded in a gallery of Mele’s photographs suggesting the “essence” of Newport and a second room with an “immersive environment,” created in collaboration with the designer and author Danielle Rollins. Mele’s work features “American luxury” and has included editorial work for publications like the New York Times and Town and Country and image-shaping commercial clients like Ralph Lauren and Lilly Pulitzer.

Abigail DeVille, Whole, 2010, found boards, dirt, polyurethane, 60 x 96 x 4 ½ inches, Collection of The Bronx Museum (Gift of Johannes Vogt). Courtesy the artist and The Bronx Museum. Photo: Argenis Apolinario

In the State of Maine, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art opens another two shows on June 29. Empires of Liberty: Athena, America, and the Feminine Allegory of the State uses classical sculpture, ancient coins, drawings, and other works of art depicting female allegorical figures like Athena, Roma, Columbia, and Britannia to trace female personifications of the nation state from antiquity to the present. Abigail DeVille: In the Fullness of Time features DeVille’s large-scale assemblage-installations that are part of her “Libertas” series and a new piece created for Bowdoin College that relates to its history.

— Peter Walsh


Gregory Groover Jr. will perform this week at the Groton Hill Music Center. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Gregory Groover Jr.
June 19 at 7 p.m.
Groton Hill Music Center, Groton, Mass.

Saxophonist Gregory Groover Jr. continues his exploration of the “Negro Spiritual Songbook” (recorded in two CD volumes thus far) with pianist Jesse Taitt, bassist Max Ridley, drummer Tyson Jackson, and special guest vocalist Alexandria DeWalt. Arts Fuse feature

“Listen to This”
June 20 at 8 p.m.
Harvard-Epworth Church, Cambridge, Mass.

The “Listen to This” project focuses on Miles Davis’s most interesting (to me) electric period, prior to his 1975-80 hiatus, when his band could produce everything from somber drones (“He Loved Him Madly”) to electro-rhythmic shitstorms (“Rated X”). Drummer Jerome Deupree is the founder and ringleader of this endeavor. He’s joined by Russ Gershon, woodwinds and organ; Rick Barry, percussion; Todd Brunel, bass clarinet; J Johnson, guitar; Rick McLaughlin, bass; Bryan Murphy, trumpet; and Dave Bryant, keyboards. Joining the core group for this show are special guests, saxophonist Tsuyoshi Honjo and drummer Ra Kalam Bob Moses.

Guitarist John Pizzarelli will perform at Scullers Jazz Club. Photo: courtesy of the artist

John Pizzarelli
June 21 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston

Pizzarelli is an undeniably gifted guitarist and an appealing singer, with a solid lock on the Great American Songbook, more recently bolstered by selections from Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Antônio Carlos Jobim, and the Beatles. (Personal favorite: Pizzarelli’s take on a Blossom Dearie hit, the Dietz-Schwartz number “Rhode Island Is Famous for You.”) He usually goes with the stripped-down trio favored by one of his models, Nat “King” Cole: guitar, piano, bass. And, of course, voice.

Ben Allison, Steve Cardenas & Ted Nash
June 22 at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, Mass.

The trio of bassist Allison, guitarist Cardenas, and reed player Nash is modeled on Jimmy Giuffre’s early “drummerless” trios. Their explorations have included an album of music from West Side Story and one on the music of Carla Bley. Their latest focuses on bebop-era pianist and composer Herbie Nichols.

Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane. Photo: Erin O’Brian

Ravi Coltrane
June 22 at 8 p.m.
Arts at the Armory, Somerville, Mass.

Kicking off the latest in the Arts at the Armory Spotlight Series is this exciting show with Ravi Coltrane. Son of John, Ravi has long done his own thing, beautifully. His band will include pianist Gadi Lehavi and drummer Ele Howell, with special guest trombonist Robin Eubanks. The fine bassist and composer Bruce Gertz will open the show with a solo set.

Bruce Gertz Quintet
June 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, Mass.

The excellent bassist and composer Bruce Gertz (see June 22) leads his quintet with guitarist Sheryl Bailey, trumpeter Phil Grenadier, saxophonist Dino Govoni, and drummer Gary Fieldman.

Ra Kalam Bob Moses
June 27 at 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, Mass.

The distinguished drummer, composer, and educator Ra Kalam Bob Moses takes charge of his first Boston-area gig as a leader in recent memory (perhaps the origin of the name of the show: “Back in the Bean”). And the band is killer: saxophonist George Garzone, bassists John Jockwood and Bruno Råberg, and drummer Francisco Mela.

The Fringe
June 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, Mass.

While holding down their Monday-night residency at the Lilypad, the Fringe have been also stepping out to other venues as of late. Tonight the band — saxophonist George Garzone, bassist John Lockwood, and drummer Francisco Mela — hit the R-bar. It should be fun to hear them in a different context.

The Laszlo Gardony Trio: (l to r) Yoron Israel, Laszlo Gardony, and John Lockwood. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Laszlo Gardony Trio & Christian Artmann Quartet Ft. Elena Mcentire
June 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, Mass.

In an unusual and promising pairing, the popular Boston pianist and composer Laszlo Gardony teams up with flutist-composer Christian Artmann. The first set will feature Gardony’s trio (with bassist John Lockwood and drummer Yoron Israel). In the second set, the Gardony trio will be part of Artmann’s quartet, featuring vocalist Elena McEntire.

Vardan Ovsepian/Macuco Quintet
June 30 at 2 p.m. (Ovsepian) and 4:30 p.m. (Macuco)
Lilypad, Cambridge, Mass.

You could make an afternoon/early evening of it at the Lilypad today. The exciting pianist and composer Vardan Ovsepian plays a 2 p.m. show and then, at 4:30, you can come back for the Macuco Quintet, with its appealing (and expert) blend of Brazilian song and modern jazz, including “arrangements of music by Hermeto Pascoal, Moacir Santos, Julius Hemphill, and Paulinho da Viola.” Reedman Joel Springer is the lead composer/arranger here, joined by what’s billed as a quintet, despite listing five players plus Springer: Yulia Musayelyan on flutes and piccolo; Rick Stone, alto sax; Allan Chase, baritone and soprano saxes; bassist Fernando Huergo; and drummer Austin McMahon.

— Jon Garelick

Author Events

Natalie Dykstra in conversation with Megan Marshall at Harvard Book Store
Chasing Beauty: The Life of Isabella Stewart Gardner 
June 18 at 7 p.m.

“An extraordinary achievement of storytelling and scholarship, Chasing Beauty illuminates the fascinating ways the museum and its holdings can be seen as a kind of memoir, dazzling and haunting, created with objects instead of words and displayed per Isabella’s wishes in the exact placements she initially curated.”

James Parker with Carlo Rotella – brookline booksmith
Get Me Through the Next Five Minutes
June 18 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are free or $24 with in-store pickup

“From the vertiginously talented James Parker, a collection of uproarious odes that show how to find gratitude in unexpected places.Our politics are broken; our world is melting; the next catastrophe looms.

“Enter James Parker, who for years now has been writing odes of appreciation on subjects from the seemingly minor (‘Ode to Naps’) to the unexpected (‘Ode to Giving People Money’) to the seemingly minor, unexpected, and hyperspecific (‘Ode to Running in Movies’). Finally collecting Parker’s beloved and much-lauded odes in one place, Get Me Through the Next Five Minutes demonstrates the profound power of the form. Each ode is an exercise in gratitude. Each celebrates the permanent susceptibility of everyday humdrum life to dazzling saturations of divine light: the squirrel in the street, the crying baby, the misplaced cup of tea.

“Parker’s odes are songs of praise, but with a decent amount of complaining in there, too: a human ratio of moans. Varied in length but unified in tone, mostly in prose, sometimes toppling into verse, the odes range across music, movies, literature, psychology, and beyond, all through the lens of Parker’s personal history. Gathered together, they form an accidental how-to guide to honoring your own experience — and to finding your own odes.”

Kalpana Raina with Shubha Sunder – brookline booksmith
For Now, It Is Night
June 14 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are free or $22 with book pickup

“A collection of lively short stories that provide an irreverent examination of exile, drawn from the ever-observant pen of one of Kashmir’s most celebrated writers. Hari Krishna Kaul published most of his work between 1972 and 2000. His short stories, shaped by the social crisis and political instability in Kashmir, explore — with a keen eye for detail, biting wit, and deep empathy — themes of isolation, individual and collective alienation, corruption, and the social mores of a community that experienced a loss of homeland, culture, and language.

In these pages, we will find friends stuck forever in the same class at school while the world changes around them; travelers forced to seek shelter in a battered, windy hostel after a landslide; parents struggling to deal with displacement as they move away from Kashmir with their children, or loneliness as their children leave in search of better prospects; the cabin fever of living through a curfew. Brilliantly translated in a unique collaborative project by Kalpana Raina, Tanveer Ajsi, Gowhar Fazili, and Gowhar Yaquoob, For Now, It Is Night brings a comprehensive selection of Kaul’s stories to English readers for the first time.”

Cate Mingoya-LaFortune in conversation with David Sittenfeld – Porter Square Books
Climate Action for Busy People
June 18 at 7 p.m.

“As unprecedented heat waves, storms of the century, and devastating fires impact cities across the country, the time to create climate resilient communities is now. While large-scale innovations in policy and technology are necessary to preserve the planet, the wisest and most lasting adaptation solutions originate at the local level. However, with something as large as the climate crisis, it can be hard to know where to begin.

Climate Action for Busy People is a hopeful and realistic roadmap for individuals and groups who want to boost climate preparedness and move the needle towards environmental justice. Drawing from her professional and personal success in climate adaptation and community organizing, Cate Mingoya-LaFortune begins with a brief history of why our communities look the way they do (spoiler, it’s not an accident!) and how that affects how vulnerable we are to climate risks. Each chapter will help readers scale up their actions, from identifying climate solutions that an individual or small group can pull off in a handful of weekends, like tree plantings or depaving parties, to advocating for change at the municipal level through coalition-building and data collection. It’s not too late for people of all ages and skill levels to create climate safe neighborhoods.”

Tell-All Boston Presents: Life on the Margins – Porter Square Books
June 19 at 7 p.m.

“Porter Square Books is excited to present Tell-All Boston for an evening celebrating essays on life on the margins. The evening’s program will feature work from five writers, including José Angel Araguz, the author of the lyric memoir Ruin & Want. Other writers, selected from an open call for submissions, will be included.”

Carlos Lozada at Harvard Book Store
The Washington Book: How to Read Politics and Politicians 
June 24 at 7 p.m.

“As a long-time book critic and columnist in Washington, Carlos Lozada dissects all manner of texts: commission reports, political reporting, Supreme Court decisions, and congressional inquiries to understand the controversies animating life in the capital. He also reads copious books by politicians and top officials: tell-all accounts by administration insiders, campaign biographies by candidates longing for high office, revisionist memoirs by those leaving those offices behind.

With this provocative essay collection, Lozada argues that no matter how carefully political figures sanitize their experiences, positions, and records, no matter how diligently they present themselves in the best and safest and most electable light, they almost always let slip the truth. They show us their faults and blind spots, their ambitions and compromises, their underlying motives and insecurities. Whether they mean to or not, they tell us who they really are.”

Francine Prose at Harvard Book Store
1974: A Personal History
June 26 at 7 p.m.

“In this remarkable memoir, the qualities that have long distinguished Francine Prose’s fiction and criticism—uncompromising intelligence, a gratifying aversion to sentiment, the citrus bite of irony—give rigor and, finally, an unexpected poignancy to an emotional, artistic, and political coming-of-age tale set in the ’70s — the decade, as she memorably puts it, when American youth realized that the changes that seemed possible in the ’60s weren’t going to happen. A fascinating and ultimately wrenching book.” — Daniel Mendelsohn, author of The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million

WBUR CitySpace: Edward Wong – brookline booksmith
At the Edge of Empire
June 26 at 7 p.m.
Tickets range from $5 to $25

“An epic story of modern China that weaves a riveting family memoir with vital reporting by the New York Times diplomatic correspondent. The son of Chinese immigrants in Washington, DC, Edward Wong grew up among family secrets. His father toiled in Chinese restaurants and rarely spoke of his native land or his years in the People’s Liberation Army under Mao. Yook Kearn Wong came of age during the Japanese occupation in World War II and the Communist revolution, when he fell under the spell of Mao’s promise of a powerful China. His astonishing journey as a soldier took him from Manchuria during the Korean War to Xinjiang on the Central Asian frontier. In 1962, disillusioned with the Communist Party, he made plans for a desperate escape to Hong Kong.

When Edward Wong became the Beijing bureau chief for the New York Times, he investigated his father’s mysterious past while assessing for himself the dream of a resurgent China. He met the citizens driving the nation’s astounding economic boom and global expansion—and grappling with the vortex of nationalistic rule under Xi Jinping, the most powerful leader since Mao. Following in his father’s footsteps, he witnessed ethnic struggles in Xinjiang and Tibet and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. And he had an insider’s view of the world’s two superpowers meeting at a perilous crossroads.

Wong tells a moving chronicle of a family and a nation that spans decades of momentous change and gives profound insight into a new authoritarian age transforming the world. A groundbreaking book, At the Edge of Empire is the essential work for understanding China today.”

Eric Weiner at the Harvard Book Store
Ben & Me: In Search of a Founder’s Formula for a Long and Useful Life
July 1 at 7 p.m.

“Not a conventional biography, Ben & Me is a guide to living and thinking well, as Ben Franklin did. It is also about curiosity, diligence, and, most of all, the elusive goal of self-improvement. As Weiner follows Franklin from Philadelphia to Paris, Boston to London, he attempts to uncover Ben’s life lessons, large and small. We learn how to improve a relationship with someone by inducing them to do a favor for you — a psychological phenomenon now known as The Ben Franklin Effect. We learn about the printing press (the Internet of its day), early medicine, diplomatic intrigue and, of course, electricity. And we learn about ethics, persuasion, humor, regret, appetite, and so much more.

At a time when history is either neglected or contested, Weiner argues we have much to learn from the past and that we’d all be better off if we acted and thought a bit more like Ben did, even if he didn’t always live up to his own high ideals. Engaging, smart, moving, quirky, Ben & Me distills the essence of Franklin’s ideas into grounded, practical wisdom for all of us.”

— Matt Hanson

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