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.
Belmont World Film’s 19th Annual Family Festival
January 14 through 23
Regent Theatre in Arlington, the Majestic 7 in Watertown, West Newton Cinema, the Junior Film Critics Workshop at the Belmont Media Center.
The festival this year is a hybrid affair, live and online, and it is geared specifically to children age 3 through 12 and their families. The lineup features remarkable animated, live action, and documentary children’s films from all over the world. There will also be a selection of short films. Covid Protocols and tickets.
There are 15 film programs containing over 30 films. There will also be several clay animation workshops with a senior model maker from Aardman Animations as well as a two-day seminar on film criticism conducted by members of the Boston Society of Film Critics.
Among the subjects on view: young girls defying female stereotypes; elementary school students learning science, nature, and nutrition via a 100-year-old in-school gardening program in The Netherlands; stories of magical characters inspired by legends passed down by Indigenous peoples, an Indian boy living in Germany who dreams of becoming a Bollywood star. Complete schedule of Films and Events
Let films shown on the “glorious big screen” lure you back to the theater. A robust 4-month series of great classic films. Up this month:
2001: A Space Odyssey in 70MM
January 10 through 12
Stanley Kubrick’s visionary masterpiece must be experienced on the big screen.
My Neighbor Totoro
January 15, 16, and 24
The acclaimed animated tale from director Hayao Miyazaki.
Kathleen Collins’s film tells the story of a marriage between two remarkable people, both at a crossroads in their lives.
A sublimely stirring fable of desire and creativity that earned director Jane Campion the distinction of being thee first woman to win a Palme d’Or at Cannes.
Labyrinth of Cinema
Brattle Theater in Cambridge
Nobuhiko Obayashi’s final film (2019) takes place at an evening long war film festival that is being hosted by a small Hiroshima movie theater. It is the venue’s last show before it permanently closes. Don’t let the plot summary fool you: this is a crazy patchwork of a film that uses green screen technology and cheap (but effective) computer graphics to create folksy anecdotes that feature such celebrated filmmakers as John Ford and Yasujiro Ozu. Along with these yarns, Obayashi sandwiches in brutal and/or sentimental episodes about local war crimes and counter-cultural resistance. It screens with his equally strange ‘horror’ film, House (Hausu 1977).
— 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.
John Harbison’s Winter’s Tale
January 9 — 1 p.m. (EST)
Radio broadcast WWUH
Theater is sparse over these next two weeks for understandable COVID-related reasons. So this re-broadcast of an operatic adaptation of the Bard — performed by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project — comes at a good time.
“Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes: John Harbison adroitly edited Shakespeare’s text into the more concise form of an opera libretto, cutting the five acts of the play down to two, and retitling it simply, Winter’s Tale. This, the first of Harbison’s three operas, premiered in 1974 in a chamber version tailored for San Francisco Opera’s American Opera Project. The composer revised and expanded upon his score in 1991. Interpolated into the operatic action are six ‘Dumbshows’ or pantomimes inspired by Elizabethan theatrical practice.”
“Boston Modern Orchestra Project revived Winter’s Tale in 2005 on stage, and again in 2009 as an unstaged recording made at Mechanics’ Hall in Worcester, Mass. Gil Rose conducts the BMOP orchestra with a cast of thirteen vocal soloists. The proprietary BMOP Sound label released Winter’s Tale on disc in 2012. Harbison’s opera was the featured work presented on WWHU on January 13, 2013. It makes for great Wintertime listening again today.”
Witness by Nana Grinstein with Blair Cadden & Igor Golyak. Conceived and directed by Igor Golyak . Scenography & costume design by Anna Fedorova. Produced by Sara Stackhouse Featuring the Arlekin Acting Company. Staged by Arlekin Players Theatre and Zero Gravity (zero-G) Virtual Theater Lab, a live virtual offering that will include a postshow talkback with members of the cast and creative team, through January 23, 2022.
The world premiere of “a new documentary theater piece about Jewish immigration in the face of antisemitism.” The play “brings actors and audience together from around the world for a shared immersive experience set on a boat in digital space. The piece is inspired by the journey of the MS St. Louis, which left Hamburg in 1939 with over 900 Jewish people on board and headed to Cuba only to be turned away, leaving the passengers stranded with nowhere to go and no escape.” The play “shares stories of Jewish immigrants from around the globe through an interactive virtual theater experience at the nexus of film, theater and video games.” Arts Fuse review
Teenage Dick by Mike Lew. Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, Boston, digital access to the filmed performance through January 16. The production is produced in association with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (Washington, DC) and Pasadena Playhouse (Pasadena, CA). The play originated at Ma-Yi Theatre Company in association with The Public Theater (both in New York).
This adaption of Shakespeare Richard III “centers on a high school outsider named Richard. Bullied because of his cerebral palsy, Richard decides to exact revenge on his class enemies by becoming the senior class president. But all the scheming, manipulation, and revenge plots force him to ask the age-old question: is it better to be loved or feared?”
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, January 13 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.”
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 January 20 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.
At Wit’s End by Allison Engel and Margaret Engel. Directed by Terry Berliner. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre at 50 E. Merrimack Street, Lowell, January 19 through February 6.
Karen MacDonald stars as “America’s Funniest Mom. Ever.” The play is “a celebration of humorist Erma Bombeck,” rejoicing “in the life of a woman who championed the everyday lives of housewives with a daring truth few of her generation were willing to tell … she fiercely believed that the women’s movement needed to expand to include the voices of stay-at-home mothers, and she worked tirelessly for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment – one of the few well-known women of her generation to actively promote the legislation.”
— Bill Marx
Plagued by staff shortages and other omicron-related worries, many art museums abruptly cancelled planned holiday events and closed their doors around the start of the new year. Most have since reopened, but hours, exhibition schedules, reservation requirements and other COVID protocols remain somewhat in flux and vary from institution to institution. Best to check first before heading out for a visit.
The Harvard Art Museums, closed to the general public during much of the pandemic, is opening a trio of shows later this month. Social Fabrics: Inscribed Textiles from Medieval Egyptian Tombs kicks off on January 22. Although the burial practices of Egypt’s imperial past — mummies, pyramids, golden treasure, and the rest — are the stuff of Hollywood epics and the delight of young Egyptian gallery visitors, later periods of Egyptian history are much more obscure. This exhibition looks at a time of cultural flux, when Egypt came under the control of a succession of foreign dynasties — Byzantine, Umayyad, Abbasid, and Fatimid — and its cultural and religious majority shifted from native and Roman pagan traditions to Christianity then to Islam. The elaborately woven and embroidered fabrics in the show date mostly from the ninth through the twelfth centuries, and belong to the highly valued and government-regulated tiraz (from the Persian word meaning “embroidery”). These are textiles that reveal, in their inscriptions and patterns, the complex and shifting networks of Egyptian medieval society.
Also opening on January 22 is Himalayan Art: Art of the Divine Abode. Presented in the Harvard Museums’ University Teaching Gallery, the show looks at the vivid, hallucinatory art from the famously mountainous region known as “the roof of the world.” In fact,”Himalaya” means the abode of snow. Traditionally, the region was considered the home of gods, demons, and magic by those who lived in India and China. The harsh climate, clear, thin, air, and remoteness of the Himalayas made them the perfect setting for, in particular, the later Buddhist school of Tantric Buddhism, with its hosts of deities, emphasis on inner vision over objective reality, and use of elaborate art and ritual as an aid to enlightenment. Organized in conjunction with a course taught by George F. Bickford Professor of Indian and South Asian Art Jinah Kim from Harvard’s own Asian collections, Himalayan Art includes scroll paintings, tantric ritual objects, and a set of 19th-century Chinese paintings representing the installation ceremony of the ninth Dalai Lama.
The organizers of the third exhibition opening at the Harvard art museums this January compare the art museum to a kind of pre-electronic data processor, engendering “experiences of wonder and discovery” at the same time as they embody “engines of bias, power, and invisibility.” During the spring semester, “an international consortium of artists, data scientists, and scholars, will use gallery space and Harvard resources to delve into the collections housed at the Harvard Art Museums and elsewhere on the Harvard campus. The resulting public exhibition Curatorial A(i)gents | Living by Protocol metalLAB in the Lightbox opens on January 25. A weekly cycle of interactive installations, organized not by collection source or historical categories, it will trace “some of the underlying topics that organize museums, databases, and worlds beyond institutional walls.”
Back in the virtual world that has become so familiar during the pandemic, the Worcester Art Museum will offer a Zoom Room Discussion: “Jacob van Ruisdael’s ‘View on the Ij on a Stormy Day’” on January 12 starting at 12:30 p.m. This online discussion of a seascape by an artist considered to be the greatest landscape painter of the Golden Age of Dutch Art will include details of Ruisdael’s life and career in 17th-century Holland. On-line, free of charge. Register for the zoom link on the Worcester Art Museum website.
The Currier Art Museum in Manchester, NH offers a five-week on-line course, Making Her Mark: Drawing Strengths from Women Artists on Wednesdays, starting January 19, at 6:30 p.m.. Taught by Rachel O’Shaughnessy, the beginner to intermediate drawing class will explore the drawing process while pulling inspiration from important works by women artists from the Currier collections and beyond. The fee is $250 for non-members, $225 for members, and discounts are available when signing-up. Register online on the museum’s website.
— Peter Walsh
Malaby/Morris/McBride/Rosenthal + Cutout
January 11 at 7:30 p.m.
In case you didn’t note it last time around in the Fuse’s “Coming Attractions,” mark it now: In another of drummer Eric Rosenthal’s delectable .01 Percent series double-bills, sax master Tony Malaby, guitar genius Joe Morris, bassist Nathan McBride, and Rosenthal hit the stage at 7:30, followed at (roughly) 8:30 by the longstanding beautiful Boston-based quintet Cutout, with pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, saxophonist Jorrit Dijkstra, trombonist Jeb Bishop, bassist McBride, and drummer Luther Gray. The show is booked to run until 10, so consider those start times approximate.
January 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Emerson Colonial Theatre, Boston
In a show rescheduled from October, the magnificent singer Gregory Porter — whose jazz is built on a strong foundation of gospel, with dashes of his avowed affinity for Donny Hathway, Nat “King” Cole, and Bill Withers — comes to the Emerson Colonial for this postponed tour.
January 22 7 p.m.
The Fallout Shelter, Norwood
The multi-reed player and composer Jared Sims was well known to Boston audiences for his many projects here before moving on to become director of jazz studies at West Virginia University. Duochrome, a new project created with his longtime horn-section partner, trombonist Brian Thomas, makes its first Boston-area appearance at this Norwood venue. Sims and Thomas describe the original music they’ve written for the band as a body-moving blend of funk, soul, and jazz, and the Fallout Shelter is billing the evening as a “funk soul rocxtravaganza.” The band includes guitarist Steve Fell, keyboardist Amy Bellamy, bassist Nate Edgar, and drummer Peter MacLean.
Josh Rosen: The Melt
January 23 at 7 p.m.
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.
— Jon Garelick
Presented as part of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals 2022 Conference (APAP), Artichoke Dance Company is hosting 6 virtual “viewing parties” via Zoom, featuring 3 works created during 2021. The event will also include a Q&A with Artistic Director Lynn Neuman and the dancers.
A.I.M by Kyle Abraham
A.I.M by Kyle Abraham returns to Boston with its latest evening-length work: An Untitled Love. Featuring an R&B soundtrack, this riveting new work pays homage to the “complexities of love in all its forms” as it celebrates Black culture and community. Note to viewers: Per the City of Boston, as of January 15, people age 12+ must show proof of a Covid-19 vaccine to enter the ICA
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!
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
Virtual Event: Nina Kraus – Harvard Book Store
Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World
January 10 at 6 p.m.
Free with $5 suggested donation
“Making sense of sound is one of the hardest jobs we ask our brains to do. In Of Sound Mind, Nina Kraus examines the partnership of sound and brain, showing for the first time that the processing of sound drives many of the brain’s core functions. Our hearing is always on—we can’t close our ears the way we close our eyes—and yet we can ignore sounds that are unimportant. We don’t just hear; we engage with sounds. Kraus explores what goes on in our brains when we hear a word—or a chord, or a meow, or a screech.”
Virtual Event: Martin Puchner – Harvard Book Store
Literature for a Changing Planet
January 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Free with $5 suggested donation
“From the Epic of Gilgamesh and the West African Epic of Sunjata to the Communist Manifesto, Puchner reveals world literature in a new light — as an archive of environmental exploitation and a product of a way of life responsible for climate change.
Literature depends on millennia of intensive agriculture, urbanization, and resource extraction, from the clay of ancient tablets to the silicon of e-readers. Yet literature also offers powerful ways to change attitudes toward the environment. Puchner uncovers the ecological thinking behind the idea of world literature since the early nineteenth century, proposes a new way of reading in a warming world, shows how literature can help us recognize our shared humanity, and discusses the possible futures of storytelling.”
Virtual Event: Seanan McGuire with Cassandra Khaw – Porter Square Books
Where the Drowned Girls Go
January 13 at 7 p.m.
“When Eleanor West decided to open her school, her sanctuary, her “Home for Wayward Children,” she knew from the beginning that there would be children she couldn’t save; when Cora decides she needs a different direction, a different fate, a different prophecy, Miss West reluctantly agrees to transfer her to the other school, where things are run very differently by Whitethorn, the Headmaster. She will soon discover that not all doors are welcoming…”
In-Person Event: Kevin Birmingham – Boston Athenæum
The Sinner and the Saint: Dostoevsky and the Gentleman Murderer Who Inspired a Masterpiece
January 13 from 7 to 8 p.m.
Tickets are free for members, $10 for visitors
“The Sinner and the Saint is the deeply researched and immersive tale of how Dostoevsky came to write this great murder story—and why it changed the world. As a young man, Dostoevsky was a celebrated writer, but his involvement with the radical politics of his day condemned him to a long Siberian exile. There, he spent years studying the criminals that were his companions. Upon his return to St. Petersburg in the 1860s, he fought his way through gambling addiction, debilitating debt, epilepsy, the deaths of those closest to him, and literary banishment to craft an enduring classic. ”
Virtual Event: An Evening of Poetry: Jenny Qi and Antonio Lopez – brookline booksmith
Focal Point & Gentefication
January 19 at 8p.m.
“Jenny Qi is a writer and scientist and the author of Focal Point, winner of the 2020 Steel Toe Books Poetry Award. She has a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from UCSF. Antonio López is a poetician working at the intersection of poetry, politics, and social change. He has received literary scholarships to attend the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, Tin House, the Vermont Studio Center, and Bread Loaf.”
Virtual Event: Afternoon of Poetry with Four Kurdish-American Poets – brookline booksmith
Hajjar Baban, Holly Mason Badra, Tracy Fuad, and Pınar Banu Yaşar
January 22 at 12 p.m.
“Kurdish-American poets Hajjar Baban, Holly Mason Badra, Tracy Fuad, and Pınar Banu Yaşar come together for a reading and conversation. Their work has appeared in such journals as The Rumpus, Calyx, Northern Virginia Review, and has won or been nominated for a variety of poetry prizes.”
— Matt Hanson