Compiled by Bill Marx
As the age of Covid-19 wanes (or waxes?), Arts Fuse critics supply a guide to film, dance, visual art, theater, and music. Please check with venues about whether the event is available by streaming or is in person. More offerings will be added as they come in.
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge
Jan 23 at 9:15 p.m.
Visionary comic book writer/artist/filmmaker Dash Shaw’s vibrantly fantastical animated feature follows cryptozookeepers through a richly-drawn hallucinatory world. They are struggling to capture a baku (a legendary dream-eating hybrid creature). The hunters begin to wonder if, rather than being displayed in the confines of a zoo, these mythical creatures should be allowed to remain hidden and undisturbed.
Woods Hole Film Festival
The WWFF offers of year round virtual screenings of their best films.
Small Town Wisconsin
January 27 through 30
After losing a custody battle, perpetual teenager Wayne Stobierski steals his son away for a final father-son weekend to the city of their dreams – Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Intended to be a lighthearted adventure, the journey becomes something more — an experience of profound redemption.
BRIGHT LIGHTS FILM SERIES
Bright Family Screening Room 559 Washington St, Boston
The film series offers free screenings — live as well as virtual — with guest interviews.
Fanny: The Right To Rock
The Right to Rock revolves around the story of three Filipina American teens who self-founded the all-woman garage band Fanny in the ’60s. It was the first female group to release an LP with a major record label. Despite releasing Top 40 hits and five critically-acclaimed albums, Fanny’s groundbreaking impact on music has been lost in the mists of time. This film traces that valuable history. A live 45-minute moderated discussion with Fanny co-founder and lead guitarist June Millington will follow the screening.
A childless couple on a remote sheep farm adopt — as their own — a half-lamb/half-human infant birthed from a ewe in their herd. The film offers a distinctive blend of pantheistic folklore tinged with mystical quasi-religious overtones. There’s high drama and dry Icelandic humor. Set amid the country’s exhilarating pastures, streams, and mountain ranges, Lamb‘s quiet and deliberate pace builds to an unpredictable — and stunning –conclusion A discussion led by Emerson professor Sarah Zaidan to follow.
Let films shown on the “glorious big screen” lure you back to the theater. A robust four-month series of great classic films. Up this month:
Coming up next:
My Neighbor Totoro
The Thing (1982)
SanDance! A Journey to the Heart of San Dance Culture
February 6 at 2 p.m.
Global Arts presents a free livestream of of a documentary that explores the age-old dance culture of Africa’s San (Bushman) First Peoples. Filmed in Namibia and Botswana, the film immerses viewers in the trance healing dance at the heart of San culture. We see dancers from remote Kalahari villages give electrifying performances at the annual Kuru Dance Festival in Botswana. A live conversation with the filmmaker, Richard Wicksteed, will follow the screening.
Last and First Men
Brattle Theater, Cambridge
February 4 through 8
Two years after his death, the only movie made by the Icelandic film composer Jóhann Jóhannsson has finally become available. It is a 70-minute cine-novella (or essay film) that meditates on humanity’s future and what it means, or will mean, to be post-human. The score by Jóhannsson suitably accompanies the film’s unearthly images. It was inspired by British philosopher and science-fiction author William Olaf Stapledon’s 1930 novel.
I’m Not in Love
On virtual Platforms starting January 25
This small “anti-romantic” comedy focuses on Rob, a man in his late thirties who needs to decide if he wants to have a baby with his girlfriend Marta. But he worries that he’s fallen out of love with her. Rob asks his seemingly unhappily married friends for advice and they all tell him that he won’t be able to do better — he might as well marry her. But, when Rob eventually proposes to Marta, things don’t go exactly to plan.This is the third in a relationship trilogy by director Col Spector and feature Al Weaver (Grantchester, Marie Antoinette)
At the Sundance Film Festival
Peg Aloi’s first dispatch includes reviews of Jesse Eisenberg’s soulful indie When You Finish Saving the World; Ed Perkins’ stunning documentary The Princess, and South African filmmaker Oliver Hermanus’s Living, a moving reimagining of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 masterpiece, Ikiru.
Aloi’s second dispatch evaluates Call Jane, the directing debut of award-winning screenwriter Phyllis Nagy; Speak No Evil, a riveting Danish thriller that slowly builds into a terrifying conclusion, and Mimi Cave’s smart and shocking horror film Fresh.
David D’Arcy reviews the documentary Tantura, one of the festival’s opening night films. With this well-researched movie, director Alon Schwarz may have won an important battle in the war of conflicting narratives about Israel’s war of independence.
— Tim Jackson
COVID PROTOCOLS: Check with specific theaters; requirements often include proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 rapid test. Also, companies are requiring masks at indoor performances.
Adam by Frances Poet. Directed by Cora Bissett and Louise Lockwood. Produced by National Theatre of Scotland and Hopscotch Films. Commissioned by BBC Scotland and BBC Arts. A virtual event presented by Boston’s Arts Emerson from January 28 through 30.
This script “tells the remarkable story of a young trans man and his struggle across genders and borders to be himself. Originally a National Theatre of Scotland stage play, the text has been reinvented as a compelling, theatrical on-screen drama.”
Today is My Birthday by Susan Soon He Stanton. Directed by Mina Morita. Staged by Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, January 28 through February 19. Production will be available to stream on-demand February 20 through March 5.
The Yale Repertory Theatre begins this season’s performances with “a comedy about loneliness in the age of connectivity.”
The Alchemist by Ben Jonson. Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher. Directed by Jesse Berger. Staged by Red Bull Theater at New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street, New York, streaming from February 1 through 14.
Jonsonians rejoice! A chance to see (an adaptation of) the 1610 script, first performed by the King’s Men, that Samuel Taylor Coleridge considered to have one of the three most perfect plots in literature. Has anything changed? Bullies of all description still fleece each other during plague time. “When a wealthy gentleman flees to the country, his trusted servant opens his house to a pair of con artists who set up an animated den of criminal capitalism. Claiming alchemical powers, the quick-witted trio fleece an onslaught of greedy sheep with their miraculous ability to improvise amidst increasingly frantic comings and goings. It’s comic gold with dupes, double-dupes, duels, disguises, and a lucky flea named ‘Lewis.’”
I hope Hatcher didn’t get rid of one of Jonson’s great jokes. Lovewit, panicked member of the upper-middle class, returns home to London once he believes it is safe, but he is wary. (He has kept his distance “While there dies one, a week, / O’ the plague.” Some claimed that corrupted human breath could transmit the disease, which explains Lovewit’s nervous instructions to a servant (who insists he has not been ill) to “Breathe less, and further off.” Jonson knew that the audience members at the show, hearing that line, would look nervously at those seated around them. The plague was not entirely gone in 1610.
People, Places & Things by Duncan Macmillan. Directed by David. R. Gammons. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, February 11 through March 5.
The New England premiere of a play that “tells the story of Emma, a 30-something actress who thinks she is having the time of her life, until she finds herself in rehab. Though her first step is to admit she has a problem, Emma just wants to escape — through drugs, alcohol, performing — anything that allows her to avoid her own reality. To fight for her recovery, though, Emma will need to face the truth; yet she’s smart enough to know that there’s no such thing. And when intoxication feels like the only way to survive, how can she ever sober up?
Content Warning: contains depictions of drug and alcohol use, and discussion of self-harm.
Mr. Parent by Melinda Lopez with Maurice Emmanuel Parent. Conceived with and directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston at 140 Clarendon Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, through February 6
World premiere production of “a one-man performance based on actor Maurice Emmanuel Parent’s real-life adventures teaching in an urban public school system.”
The Floating World created and performed by Andy Russ. Staged by the Wilbury Theatre Group at the WaterFire Arts Center, 475 Valley Street, Providence, Rhode Island, January 27 through February 5.
World premiere of a one-man show that takes the form of “a series of multimedia meditations on the elusivity of the human experience and the languages with which we try to explain it.” Performer/dramatist Russ promises to deliver “a smidgeon of Twain, a splash of haiku, and a hint of lunar conspiracy, served up on a bed of mixed metaphor and frogs.”
An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Directed by Joe Wilson, Jr. Staged by The Gamm Theatre, 1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick, RI., January 27 through February 20.
A revival of a powerful, Obie award-winning drama about American racism that earned the praise of an Arts Fuse critic for the way it eschewed “delivering a standard moral message. Jacobs-Jenkins gives us a thorny ethical dilemma that explores what matters to us now. It is all about how Black Lives Matter.”
Texts For Nothing by Samuel Beckett. Directed by Connor Berkompas. Staged by Nervious Theatre in the basement studio of The Boston Conservatory Theater, 31 Hemenway Street, Boston, running through February 6. (Texts for Nothing is 30 minutes long and will be presented three times each night, at 8 p.m, 9 p.m., and 10 p.m.
“Be immersed in the words of Samuel Beckett as audiences of twelve gather around a single performer murmuring into the darkness. Texts For Nothing plumbs the depths of isolation and dread in this stark meditation on the nature of being.” Featuring Doug Lockwood.
— Bill Marx
The Portland Museum of Art will be closed until February 16 to install new accessible front doors at its entrance. Two days after it reopens, the museum says it will take a “larger leadership role in shaping and informing global culture” when it opens the inaugural edition of the North Atlantic Triennial. Cooperatively organized with the Reykjavik Art Museum in Reykjavik, Iceland, and the Bildmuseet in Umea Sweden, this ambitious exhibition is the first ever devoted entirely to contemporary art of the North Atlantic region.
Despite some common interests around, in particular, the North Atlantic fisheries, this particular geographic region has never really been thought of as a discrete cultural unit, at least since the European conquest of the Americas. With the acceleration of the climate crisis, however, people in the North Atlantic region have become among the first to see — and be affected by — the changes. Since the nineteenth century, Maine has been at least the part-time home of many major American artists who, although their careers began elsewhere, have shaped a distinct visual style to the region’s art. Can Portland and its northern partners do the same for the entire North Atlantic region? Stay tuned.
Also uniting artists across cultural identities, the Peabody Essex Museum’s Each/Other: Marie Watt and Cannupa Hanska Luger focuses on the work of two leading Indigenous contemporary artists whose processes focus on collaborative artmaking, community engagement, materials, and the land. Each/Other opens on January 29 and features 26 mixed media sculptures, wall hangings, and large-scale installation works by Watt (Seneca, Scottish, German) and Luger (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota and European), along with a new monumental artist-guided community artwork.
Sigmund Freud’s famous meme “talking cure” is a widely-used shorthand for the process of psychoanalysis. For the exhibition Melissa Stern: The Talking Cure, opening at Brockton’s Fuller Craft Museum on January 29, Stern created twelve humanoid characters out of ceramic and invited twelve writers to compose inner dialogues for them and twelve actors to perform these monologues in audio recordings. Viewers are invited to use OR codes to enter into this three-level world of imagined lives.
Paper was the natural product of insects before it was re-invented by humans, so it is perhaps the natural medium of choice for an artist who is fascinated by the textures, shapes, colors, and patterns of nature. Connecticut-based artist Amy Genser uses, as her inspiration, brilliantly-hued paper, cut, rolled, and combined into shapes that reflect the flow of water, the structure of beehives, and the irregularity of plants, among other natural compositions. Amy Genser: Shifting goes on view at the Fuller on February 5.
Nevine Mahmoud’s unconventional sculptures of glass, stone, and molded resin have been described as “sensual, ambiguous, and menacing.” With dark humor and shifting forms, they evoke fruit, blossoms, lips, breasts, and buttocks in shapes and configurations that cross back and forth between fine art and pop culture, handmade and machine-made objects, and masculine and feminine. The latest in its long-running series dedicated to presenting contemporary artists, the Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art opens Nevine Mahmoud / Matrix 188 on February 3.
— Peter Walsh
Josh Rosen: The Melt
January 23 at 7 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, Mass.
The pianist and composer Josh Rosen has a capacious sense of jazz, from Great American Songbook standards and bebop to full-on free improv, with Americana-style glances at country. The first word on the Melt is that it’s groove-oriented with the usual Rosen open sense of improvisation. The band brings together veteran and younger players in exploring Rosen’s compositions: saxophonist Sam Spear, guitarist Jeff Lockhart (credits include Meshell Ndegeocello, Mike Clark, Bill Summers, and Soulive), bassist Aretha Tillotson (Dave Liebman, Norma Winstone), and drummer Jake Rosenkalt.
January 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, Mass.
Pianist Pandelis Karayorgis presents the second installment of his “Tribute to Hasaan, Monk & Hope.” That would be composer/pianists Hasaan Ibn Ali, Thelonious Monk, and Elmo Hope. The word from Karayorgis and the Lilypad: “Apart from familiar Monk and Hope pieces, rarely heard compositions from Hasaan’s 2021 release, Metaphysics, will also be featured.” Karayorgis’s trio includes his longtime running buddies, bassist Nate McBride and drummer Luther Gray.
The Why Not
February 2 at 6:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, Mass.
For this edition of his monthly residency at the Lilypad, pianist and composer Bert Seager convenes one of his ongoing projects, the Why Not, a chamber quintet whose source material and inspiration can stretch far and wide, from American Songbook standards to a variety of traditional music and rhythms from around the world, especially Latin America and Africa (see also Josh Rosen, January. The band includes bassist Max Ridley, percussionist Brian O’Neill, drummer Dor Herskovits, and, for this edition, the multi-reed player Rick DiMuzio, featured here on soprano sax.
February 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Williams Hall, New England Conservatory, Boston
New England Conservatory recitals are supposed to go live again in February, so here’s hoping. In which case, here’s a chance to hear the phenomenally gifted and accomplished pianist and composer Jason Moran, in a free faculty recital. NEC has also been streaming concerts live, requiring a digital ticket, so check the latest updates at the NEC site.
Cécile McLorin Salvant
February 5 at 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston
One of the most exciting jazz singers of the past decade — and the only jazz vocalist we know of to receive the coveted MacArthur “genius” fellowship (2020) — comes to town in anticipation of the March release of Ghost Song (Nonesuch), playing “brand-new songs and arrangements” with longtime collaborator Sullivan Fortner on piano (worth a trip on his own), drummer Keita Ogawa, and saxophonist Alexa Tarantino. This performance, scheduled for Berklee Performance Center, will also be available for streaming February 5-11.
February 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, Boston
NEC faculty member Ethan Iverson earned his initial renown as a founding member of the Bad Plus, but his interests and projects have ranged far and wide, including a long stint as pianist in the trio of the late, great Paul Motian, and his own work as a leader. In this NEC faculty show, he’ll be celebrating the release of his Blue Note debut, Every Note Is True, with trio-mates Larry Grenadier on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums. The concert will also feature the American premiere of Iverson’s Ritornello, Sinfonias, and Cadenzas, a through-composed, 40-minute suite for eight horns and rhythm section played by members of the New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra. This is scheduled to be a live, free concert, but life is COVID is unpredictable, so check the NEC site for updates.
— Jon Garelick
Now through January 31
Remote participatory event
For those tired of standing still, January is the perfect month to turn things around! National Choreography Month (Nachmo) is upon us, and each day there will be new invitations to take choreographic explorations. Get your brains and bodies moving in the new year — visit the Nachmo Boston Facebook page daily!
Now through February 6
FilmFest by Rogue Dancer returns with a new edition: HERstory. Rogue Dancer describes this particular lineup of screendance films as “the quiet contrivance of the female role and the experience through the feminine gaze. The mothers, sisters, partners…the struggling, yet always strong, support systems that keep the world moving.” Experience dance films on this topic from across the U.S., Sweden, Lithuania, France, Netherlands, Ireland, Canada, Norway, and the U.K.
January 28 onward
Engage in a cinematic opera experience with Svadba, the story of a bride-to-be on the eve of her wedding surrounded by friends and family helping her prepare for the big event. Sung completely a cappella, Svadba’s entrancing music by Serbian composer Ana Sokolović merges with dance-led visuals from film director Shura Baryshnikov and screenwriter Hannah Shepard. Slovenia-born Daniela Candillari conducts.
Crystal Ballroom, Somerville Theatre
Join the group Subject:Matter on an exploration of tap dance past, present, and future. The company and its touring band, some of New England’s finest tap dancers and musicians, will perform Songbook, a program that reimagines tunes from the Great American Songbook.
The Time Traveler’s Lens
Ongoing, online viewing
Hailed as “groundbreaking” (MidJersey News) and a “unique interdisciplinary work” (Town Topics), The Time Traveler’s Lens combines dance, film, technology, and history to engage viewers in a 360-degree virtual reality performance that is amazingly intimate — the viewer is placed in the center of the action. Experience five virtual reality works unfolding spherically around you on your own mobile device. You are the time traveler, you control the lens — Luminarium Dance Company provides five worlds of illusion.
— Merli V. Guerra
Benjamin Appl in recital
Presented by Celebrity Series
January 26, 8 p.m. (also streaming)
Pickman Hall, Cambridge
Baritone Appl makes his Celebrity Series debut, singing Franz Schubert’s epic Winterreise.
Adès conducts Adès
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
January 27-29, 8 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston
BSO Artistic Partner Thomas Adès’ riotous 2019 Concerto for Piano and Orchestra receives that rarest of gifts: a second outing. Kirill Gerstein, its dedicatee, is back as the soloist – and also plays Ravel’s Concerto in D for the left hand. Framing the keyboard pieces are Alban Berg’s sumptuous Three Pieces and Ravel’s technicolor La Valse.
Harry Christophers conducts Haydn and Mozart
Presented by Handel & Haydn Society
January 28 at 7:30 p.m. and January 30 at 3 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston
Harry Christophers final season as H&H music director continues with a program that pairs Haydn’s Symphony no. 103 and Theresienmesse with Mozart’s exuberant Violin Concerto no. 1. H&H concertmaster Aisslinn Nosky is the soloist in the latter.
Danish String Quartet’s “An Alleged Dance”
Presented by Celebrity Series
January 30, 4 p.m.
First Church, Cambridge
The exceptional Danish String Quartet offers an intriguing program that consists of various dances (by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, John Adams, and others), as well as Franz Schubert’s String Quartet in G major.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
Virtual Event: John Darnielle – Harvard Book Store
Devil House: A Novel
January 26 at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $33.75 including copy of book
“Gage Chandler is descended from kings. That’s what his mother always told him. Years later, he is a true crime writer, with one grisly success—and a movie adaptation—to his name, along with a series of subsequent less notable efforts. But now he is being offered the chance for the big break: to move into the house where a pair of briefly notorious murders occurred, apparently the work of disaffected teens during the Satanic Panic of the 1980s.
Devil House is John Darnielle’s most ambitious work yet, a book that blurs the line between fact and fiction, that combines daring formal experimentation with a spellbinding tale of crime, writing, memory, and artistic obsession.”
Virtual Event: Susan Cohen with Gazmend Kapllani and Ronnie Millar — brookline booksmith
Journeys from There to Here: Stories of Immigrant Trials, Triumphs, and Contributions
January 29 at 7 p.m.
Free, or $15 for book pickup/ $24.95 shipped
“Sprinkled with amusing anecdotes, tense junctures, and heartwarming segments, you will sit front and center at the courtroom learning about US immigration policies and systems—which often become an immigrant’s greatest hurdle—while also discovering the ways unscrupulous American citizens take advantage of those not born in the States.
As you ride the ups and downs and follow the zig-zagging twists and turns of their travails, you will discover the many ways immigrants from all over the world give back to their local communities and enrich the fabric of the nation. Finding yourself enmeshed in their stories, you will gain insight, grow in empathy, and come to understand what it truly takes to become an American citizen.”
Virtual Event: Amanda Foody with Lauren Magaziner — Porter Square Books
The Weeping Tide
February 1 at 7 p.m.
“Something is wrong at the Sea. The weeping tide, a carnivorous algae bloom, is eating up all the fish. Beasts are terrorizing the nearby Elsewheres. And Lochmordra, the Legendary Beast, is rising at random and swallowing ships whole.
Barclay’s teacher, the famous Guardian Keeper Runa Rasgar, has been summoned to investigate, and as her apprentice, Barclay gets to join too. But Runa’s nemesis has also been called to the Sea, and he’s brought apprentices of his own. When the not-so-friendly competition between them grows fierce, it’s Barclay—the only one from the Elsewheres—who can’t seem to keep up.”
Virtual Event: Rupert Russell – Harvard Book Store
Price Wars: How the Commodities Markets Made Our Chaotic World
February 2 at 12 p.m.
Free with $5 suggested donation
“For Rupert Russell, the Brexit vote was only the latest shock in a decade full of them: the unstoppable war in Syria, huge migrant flows into Europe, beheadings in Iraq, children placed in cages on the U.S. border. In Price Wars, he sets out on a worldwide journey to investigate what caused the wave of chaos that consumed the world in the 2010s.
Russell travels to Tunisia, Iraq, Venezuela, Ukraine, East Africa, and Central America and discovers that unrest in all these places was triggered by dramatic and mysterious swings in the price of essential commodities. Deregulation of the commodities markets means that food prices can shoot up even in years of abundant harvests, causing hunger and protest. Oil prices and real-estate values can surge even when supplies are normal, enriching and emboldening dictators. It is this instability—fueled by banks and hedge funds in faraway New York and London—that has toppled regimes and unsettled the West.”
Virtual Event: Heather O’Neill with Starlee Kine: When We Lost Our Heads – brookline booksmith
When We Lost Our Heads
February 7 at 7 p.m.
Free, or $35 copy with signed bookplate
“Charismatic Marie Antoine is the daughter of the richest man in 19th century Montreal. She has everything she wants, except for a best friend—until clever, scheming Sadie Arnett moves to the neighborhood. Immediately united by their passion and intensity, Marie and Sadie attract and repel each other in ways that thrill them both. Their games soon become tinged with risk, even violence. Forced to separate by the adults around them, they spend years engaged in acts of alternating innocence and depravity. And when a singular event brings them back together, the dizzying effects will upend the city.”
— Matt Hanson