By Bill Marx
In the age of COVID-19, Arts Fuse critics have come up with a guide to film, dance, visual art, theater, and music — mostly available by streaming — for the coming weeks. More offerings will be added as they come in.
Attractions in Film — August 23
Oscar-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple examines each step of Operation Claw: in Nov. 4, 1979, there was an attempt to rescue 52 American hostages in what is known as the Iranian hostage crisis. The mission approved by then-President Jimmy Carter was a covert mission involving elements from the Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marines. Desert One includes satellite phone recordings of Carter speaking with military leaders during the mission which have never been released — until now.
Son of the White Mare
Brattle Virtual Theater
Digital restoration of an animated classic that takes its cues from Hungarian myths that tells tales of kings, dragons, and heroic derring-do. The story is secondary to the design, an explosion of vivid colors and shifting shapes that have had viewers suspecting the influence of drugs. While the visuals take a cue from graphic styles its era, 1968, they still look strikingly contemporary.
If Rolling Stone aspired to be the Rolls Royce of rock magazines, CREEM was by contrast the Volkwagen band-van: pungent with reefer, speed sweat, and last night’s groupie action. They called themselves “America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine,” a working-class, sex-drugs-and-you-know-what magazine that ridiculed upscale pretensions, musical or otherwise. Scott Crawford’s Creem: America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine is a brief, careening survey through the publication’s two-decade life and times, filled with colorful personalities and commentary. Vintage rock fans will be in (cough) high heaven. (Variety) Arts Fuse review
You Never Had It – An Evening With Bukowski
Brattle Virtual Theater
An evening of drinking, smoking, and talking with the irreverent poet Charles Bukowski in his San Pedro, CA, home in 1981. A rediscovery of long-thought-lost videotapes documenting the conversation made the documentary possible. What had been planned as a brief piece for Italian TV eventually devolved into an epic night of boozy conversation with Bukowski and his soon-to-be-wife, Linda Lee Beighle. The gab ranges from all about, from writing and writers to sex, love, and humanity. The bohemian poet and writer rattles off gems of outsider wisdom. To wit: “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are all filled with doubts, while the stupid ones are filled with confidence.” Arts Fuse review
Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1959)
Coolidge Corner Virtual Theater
In his sole effort in filmmaking, celebrated fashion photographer Bert Stern surveyed the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival to create a now-classic document of ’50s America. It captures some of the most stunning images of live jazz ever brought to the screen, featuring performances by Louis Armstrong, Anita O’Day, Thelonious Monk, and Dinah Washington, as well as rock and roller Chuck Berry and gospel icon Mahalia Jackson. Arts Fuse review.
Coolidge Corner’s Virtual Cinema
Begins August 28
The film is an immersive and metaphorical portrait of post-colonial, “utopian” Cuba, where the 1898 explosion of the USS Maine still resonates. This Big Bang ended Spanish colonial dominance in the Americas and ushered in the era of the American Empire. At the same time and place, a powerful tool of conquest was born: cinema as propaganda. In his latest film, Hubert Sauper explores a century of interventionism and myth-making together with the extraordinary people of Havana — who he calls “young prophets” — to interrogate time, imperialism, and cinema itself. Winner of the Sundance World Cinema Grand jury prize in documentary
From Controversy to Cure
Coolidge Corner Virtual Theater
Opens Friday, August 21
From Controversy to Cure is a documentary film chronicling the biotech boom in Cambridge. Get the inside story behind the contentious debate about genetic engineering that erupted in the city of Cambridge in the summer of 1976, pitting scientist against scientist and citizen against citizen. And discover how the unlikely mix of science and engineering, politics, the space race, and urban renewal transformed Kendall Square into one of the world’s most extraordinary innovation clusters-a community now on the front lines of the battle against Covid-19. On Tuesday, August 25 Science on Screen presents a free virtual Q&A with director Joe McMaster and the Biotech pioneers featured in the film.
Burning Bright: 3 New French Festival Favorites
Now Playing through New York’s Symphony Space Virtual Cinema
Curated by French Institute Alliance Française New York
The Bare Necessity
A breezy comic love story co-starring Fanny Ardant
Acclaimed winner of the prestigious Prix Jean Vigo
Wonders in the Suburbs
Directorial debut of renowned actress Jeanne Balibar
LA Outfest 2020
160+ world-class films, 35 world premieres, 10 North American premieres and 4 U.S. premieres, live concerts, and conversations. 70% of the films have been directed by women, trans, and people-of-color. The festival is digital, nation-wide, and streaming on Outfest Now – available on desktop, mobile, Roku, Amazon FireTV and AppleTV
Special 25th Anniversary screening on Aug 26 of Bloodsisters: Leather, Dykes And Sadomasochism (1995) with a live digital panel. The screening on Aug 28 at 9 p.m,. will feature director Michelle Handelman and Leather/Kink/S&M community leaders Queen Cougar, Patrick Califia & Pony Lee.
If you’re a fan, here is an interesting diversion run by Lynch’s longtime producer Sabrina S. Sutherland. The video page hosts Lynch’s daily weather reports along with an original quarantine web series whose episodes include entries like “What Is David Working on Today?” This also serves as a platform for Lynch to upload old short films (“Rabbits,” “Pozar”) and debut new work (The Adventures of Alan R). The director has kept busy thanks to the David Lynch Theater project, but it could be coming to an end in the future. Get it while you can! Link
AFI offers a Film Club with a new free film delivered daily. It is introduced by a film personality usually associated with the film. If you miss the daily AFI freebee, simply scroll down to the archive of past offerings and that will guide you to where they can be found online. The introductions remain free. Recommendation: I recently rediscovered Babel, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s astounding film, the final leg of a trilogy that included Amores Perros and 21 Grams. The introduction by the director is well worth a look.
— Tim Jackson
To honor nurses on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, Kino Lorber is offering a free streaming rerelease of the acclaimed documentary The American Nurse , directed by Carolyn Jones.
This excellent 2014 documentary “explores some of the biggest issues facing America — aging, war, poverty, prisons — through the work and lives of five nurses. It is an examination of real people that will change how we think about nurses and how we wrestle with the challenges of healing America.”
— Bill Marx
Lest We Forget: Kofi Burbridge, streaming at LestWeForgetMusicians.com.
A new 30-minute documentary on keyboard and flute player Kofi Burbridge, a brilliant genre-busting musician who died in 2019 at age 57. The documentary features interviews with Burbridge’s bandmates in the Tedeschi Trucks Band, which he helped found with guitarists Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi and performed with until the time of his death from complications from heart surgery. A variety of players that Burbridge collaborated with during his extensive career, including his brother, Oteil, also weigh in. A portion of the $1.98 streaming fee is being donated to the Music Matters program supported by Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation.
— Scott McLennan
Charlie Parker: Now’s the Time — celebrating Bird at 100. Music, Film, Dance, Art and Conversation in Honor of Charlie Parker. Presented via stream by the 92nd Street Y on August 28 & Saturday, August 29.
Charlie Parker’s 100th birthday is huzzahed in style. Among the events is what will be a fascinating confab: critic Gary Giddins, who wrote the terrific homage Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker, talks about the sax genius with musicians Joe Lovano, Charles McPherson, Grace Kelly, and Antonio Hart. Special guest Barry Harris.
Syd Smart & Friends on August 22 at 5:30 p.m., “doors” open at 5 p.m. Outdoors on the “green,” One Community Road, Marblehead, MA. Free event and free parking. Masks are required for all attendees, social distancing, etc,
Presented by the Creative Music Series, “which is pleased to support these musicians and live music! Made possible in part by a generous contribution by William Murrell, community supporter, entrepreneur, and creator and developer of BlackBoston.com.”
“An outdoor tribute and farewell to Smart (he’s moving), one of the Masters of Creative Music.” The lineup: Syd Smart on drums, Shira Moss on latin percussion, Stone Montgomery on african percussion, and Steve Tapper on flute.
Streaming Live at the Village Vanguard continues o August 21 and, August 22 at 9 p.m. EDT with Andrew Cyrille Quartet with Bill Frisell on guitar, David Virelles on piano and keyboard and Ben Street on bass. Tickets are $10.
According to Modern Drummer: “Jazz historians would point out that his free and abstract playing with the world-renowned pianist Cecil Taylor shattered conventions of timekeeping and helped redefine the rhythms of modern jazz. But the diverse body of work that he’s amassed over his long career—which he continues to build upon with each new and intriguing project— proves that he’s always been most concerned with dealing with the now.”
— Bill Marx
The Legion Tapes, a new sci-fi theatre podcast written by Erin Lerch and directed by Josh Glenn-Kayden.
Makes sense to me, given that our own meltdown has become routine. We need to spice it up with “radio broadcasts from an alien apocalypse.” The podcast features “a cast of 14 actors with Boston ties.” The project launched last week and just dropped episodes 4-6. The dystopian set-up: “selections from an archive chronicling the world after the end. The alien Legion takes over worlds and absorbs the sentients of those worlds. They’ve assimilated eleven species so far, and humanity is next on their list. But even after the nations of the world fall, and even after being reduced to communicating solely by radio, humanity’s fighting back. ”
“The Boston Project is SpeakEasy Stage Company’s new works initiative, which supports the creation of new plays set in the Greater Boston area. In an effort to reach a wider audience and engage with new work even while in quarantine, the company has launched a new wing of this program – the Boston Project Podcast!” We are up to episode 3 of MJ Halberstadt’s The Usual Unusual, directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian.
The action centers on a “scrappy and quaint bookstore where Boston’s LGBTQ+ community has gathered to shop, organize, and flirt since the 70’s. When the store’s charismatic founder Penn announces his retirement, neurotic staff-member Charlie persuades him to pass leadership on, rather than close the store. The staff’s efforts to unite a fractured community under one banner – or simply coordinate a weekly reading night — stoke generational disputes about identity, community, and trauma, and lead to fraught and hilarious results.”
The Story of King Lear, a 50-minute telling of the Shakespeare classic adapted and directed by Chester Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Daniel Elihu Kramer. The show will air at 7:00pm (eastern) on Thursday, August 27, and will be available for viewing through Sunday, August 30.
The cast includes Michael Potts, Shelley Fort, Tara Franklin, James Barry. This shortened version of the tragedy “features the actors playing multiple roles, achieved through a playful take on the virtual platform.”
Apollinaire at Home, a free online play & film script reading gathering (by video meeting), for the coming weeks.
Your chance to become part of the show — from the safety of your couch! An enterprising idea that revolves around an inclusive staged reading: viewers are invited to read the script, choose their favorite parts and, if their names are drawn, to become part of the production. You can just sit watch if you wish. Note from the company: “No worries if you are not among the technologically gifted. We’re as new to this as you are, and there’s sure to be some glitchiness at first, but with a bit of humor and perseverance we’ll make this work!” Check the website for this week’s readings.
Dream Plays, a new series of short audio plays produced by the Huntington Theatre Company: By the Rude Bridge by Melinda Lopez; Overture by Kate Snodgrass; McKim by Brenda Withers: and The 54th in ’22 by Kirsten Greenidge.
“Conceived and commissioned by the Huntington artistic department, the company asked Huntington Playwriting Fellow alumni Kirsten Greenidge, Kate Snodgrass, and Brenda Withers, and Huntington Artist-in-Residence Melinda Lopez, to imagine their favorite locations, landmarks, and friends in a future Boston, when people can once again meet and thrive in the city – a vision of a future Boston that is somewhere between dream and reality.”
State vs. Natasha Banina, based on Natasha’s Dream by Yaroslava Pulinovich. Directed by Igor Golyak. Presented by ArtsEmerson and staged by Arlekin Players Theatre, though August 23. This will be a pair of LIVE online performances, and require a purchased ticket.
Performed live by Darya Denisova (2020 Elliot Norton Award-winner for Outstanding Actress), State vs. Natasha Banina unfolds as a Russian teenager tells the story of her life in a small-town orphanage, and how her desire to be free led to a crime of passion. From the inside of a “Zoom court room,” she makes unique appeals to the audience/jury, letting them into her world where she dreams of love, family, and her future. Is Natasha guilty of manslaughter? You, the audience, will decide.
This New York Times Critic’s Pick has been admired by many local critics, who see it as a “brilliant example of how live theatre can break boundaries and shock viewers even when experienced at home on a laptop.”
Sacred Emily by Gertrude Stein. An online staging of the poem the Fort Point Theatre Channel.
Somehow the times seem right for Stein’s playfully sardonic absurdity. “A live streaming production of Gertrude Stein’s poem Sacred Emily, from her 1922 book Geography and Plays, adapted for Zoom meeting by Greg Kowalski and Mitchel K Ahern, artistic directors at FPTC. Featuring 16 performers, the poem will be performed sequentially, with self-actuated lighting effects.”
Sixteen performers isolated from each other, performing live.
Sixteen performers creating their own stage.
Sixteen performers managing their own broadcast technology.
Sixteen performers setting up and operating their own lighting effects.
Sixteen performers performing one of Gertrude Stein’s surrealist poems,
— Bill Marx
Quarry Dance Nine
Check the Windhover website foe performance times
Each year, Windhover Performing Arts invites NYC-based Dušan Týnek Dance Theatre to create a new site-specific performance in a Cape Ann quarry. Despite Covid, this year’s work is moving forward in collaboration with Boston videographer Anders Johnson and jazz musician Russ Gershon. The final performance will be streamed on the Windhover website in mid- to late-August.
— Merli V. Guerra
As art museums around the region reopen, at various levels, after months of COVID-19 closures, they are coming up with creative solutions for an exhibition schedule thrown into chaos midstream. Some are continuing shows, dark for months, as if nothing had happened, extending them in some cases to make up for lost weeks. Others are reconstituting, postponing, or replacing planned exhibitions while still others are making new use of outdoor and virtual spaces. Here are a few examples of what’s available for the late summer weeks in this post-normal world:
The DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum is reopening its sculpture park In Concord, MA, while keeping its museum galleries closed for the time being. The institution has long been a favorite, especially in Boston’s western suburbs, for summer afternoon strolls and autumn leaf-peeping, with views of rolling lawns, Sandy Pond, and large-scale outdoor sculpture and installations, mostly by New England artists. The park’s pandemic edition will require timed passes to encourage social distancing, available through the Trustees of Reservations website, which also has information on events at 119 of its own reopened locations, or via a link on the DeCordova website.
The Newport Art Museum in Rhode Island has reopened with two special exhibitions, both on view through September 27. Complex Terrain(s) unites and contrasts dramatic landscape works by such 19th-century artists as George Inness and William Trost Richards with a range of modern and contemporary work in oil, watercolor, photography, print media, and video. Private Moments: Photographs from Another Era by Bob Colacello, features black-and-while behind-the-scenes images taken (with a tiny Minox 35 mm EL camera) by the photographer, writer, and friend of Andy Warhol at Warhol’s celebrity-studded outings to wild parties, clubs, private events, recording a lost world with intelligence and dry wit.
Up in Rockport, ME, the Farnsworth Museum has reopened with At Home in New England (through December 31), Andrew Wyeth, Maine Legacy (through January 3), and Transforming the Ordinary: Women in American Book Cover Design (through March 21).
In Hartford, CT, the Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art is still closed indoors but it is offering an outdoor museum of sorts. Sculpture in the City features the seven outdoor sculptures on the museum’s grounds, including Alexander Calder’s Jurassic-scaled “Stegosaurus” (1972) and Tony Smith’s abstract “Amaryllis” (1965) along with the museum’s five interconnected and architecturally important buildings, which range from Romantic Gothic Revival to Gilded Age Renaissance Revival to a major early International Style wing, and additions and alterations from the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Self-guided walking tours, with photographs and videos, are available and outdoor art talks are scheduled, including September 9th’s “The Facades of the Wadsworth Athenaeum.” See the museum’s website for details.
— Peter Walsh
While the coronavirus pandemic has caused, essentially, the early wrap-up of classical music’s 2019-20 concert season, numerous ensembles are either live-streaming live, no-audience performances, or opening their performance archives to the public. Below are links to some of them (local and international).
BSO at Home (new music released daily at 10 a.m. starting March 23)
Pianist Igor Levit presents daily (or nearly so) Hauskonzerte via Twitter
London Symphony Orchestra performance archive (new concerts streamed every Sunday and Thursday)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Digital Concert Hall, free access if you register before March 31 (voucher code: BERLINPHIL
A number of new broadcast series and streamed performances have emerged over the past few days and weeks. Below are some of the highlights.
Boston Baroque Radio: a collection of recorded performances from the ensemble’s extensive discography
BMOP Radio: showcases the exceptional and wide-ranging discography of Boston’s flagship new-music orchestra
Terezin Music Foundation: the TMF releases Yom HaShoah Concert & Memorial Film, featuring performances from Yo-Yo Ma, Andris Nelsons, Simone Dinnerstein and others. Available free on YouTube from April 19 at 12 p.m.
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center: presents an archive of past performances as well as a livestream series
Lake George Music Festival Quarantine Concerts: live concerts on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, 7 p.m.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
Three British musicians have posted daily Tweets that invariably make my day cheerier.
Two friends, the fabulous cellist @StevenIsserlis and opera singer Matthew Rose (@roseandfriends), began a daily tweet exchange, talking (briefly) about the pieces they had chosen for us to enjoy, and then supplying us with YouTube info. This has been a delight every morning.
Jamie W. Hall, a British baritone, #JWHallBaritone, has endeared himself to me and many others with his daily #bathroberecitals, in which he accompanies himself (beautifully) on the piano. Yes, in his bathrobe. Lots of charm here and great, unexpectedly lovely songs.
The Metropolitan Opera has been presenting daily operas, a huge joy. Who knows how long this will continue, but the first three weeks have been a huge pleasure. You can log on in the early evening, before the 7:30 starting time, and finish listening to the opera the next day.
— Susan Miron
Roots and World Music
There’s been a burst of live, distanced, in-person micro-concert series lately, as organizers realize that once the weather gets cold, live performance opportunities will again disappear.
If you’d like to hear some music, be prepared to be quick on the draw. Now that Gov. Baker has limited in-person gatherings to 50, shows commonly sell out immediately. The best bet is to follow the below venues on social media or, even better, join their e-mail lists for updates of newly added events.
Closest to town is The Porch in Medford, which is offering multiple roots and blues acts a week. You can reserve a patio table and eat dinner by the bandstand, or get takeout and enjoy the tunes from the green area across the street. Highlights include bluegrass combo the Ruta Beggars on August 29 and the criminally underrated Undaunted Professor Harp, one of Boston’s only Black bluesmen, on September 5.
The Bradley Estate in Canton is featuring live blues led by guitarist Peter Ward. The next installment on August 29 also has harp master Sugar Ray Norcia and his bandmates.
The Mandorla Music Series is working on two outdoor improvised music events in the Milton area in September. Join their email list for details.
The Cabot has been presenting The Porch Sessions in downtown Beverly with the likes of singer/songwriters Chris Smither, Mark Erelli and Stephen Kellogg.
Bigger names are playing to the comparatively larger audiences enabled by the drive-in concert format. The Yarmouth Drive-In on Cape Cod has the Lemonheads and Martin Sexton. New Hampshire’s two drive-ins, The Tupelo Drive-In in Derry and Drive-In Live in Swanzey are both going strong. And on the North Shore, there’s the GimmeLive Drive-In in Manchester by the Sea, whose roster includes New Orleans R&B entertainer Henri Smith on September 6.
In a typical summer Provincetown would be offering non-stop drag and cabaret shows. The Crown and Anchor is keeping that tradition alive by putting acts by its pool for a small gathering of distanced audiences. The highlight is surely 92-year old cabaret queen Marilyn Mae August 29 to September 2.
A few local reggae bands have managed to secure outdoor gigs. Jah Spirit has several New Hampshire dates. The trio version of the Naya Rockers have been in rotation on the patio of the Beehive in the South End. Dis-N-Dat Band, which perfectly melds the roots reggae grooves of Black Uhuru drummer Rangotan and the steel pan poetry of Sista Dee, will be celebrating its new LP Stride with a slew of shows in Danvers, Newburyport and Salisbury as well as gigs across the state line.
— Noah Schaffer
White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination
August 24 at 7 p.m.
“White Flights is a meditation on whiteness in American fiction and culture from the end of the civil rights movement to the present. At the heart of the book, Jess Row ties “white flight”— the movement of white Americans into segregated communities, whether in suburbs or newly gentrified downtowns—to white writers setting their stories in isolated or emotionally insulated landscapes, from the mountains of Idaho in Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping to the claustrophobic households in Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections. White Flights aims to move fiction to a more inclusive place, and Row looks beyond criticism to consider writing as a reparative act. What would it mean, he asks, if writers used fiction “to approach each other again”? Drawing from White Flights, Row will present “Critical Readings on Whiteness,” to give you the tools you need to read towards a more just world.”
Kind of A Big Deal
August 25 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are free with a suggested donation of up to $5
“There’s nothing worse than peaking in high school. Nobody knows that better than Josie Pie. She was kind of a big deal—she dropped out of high school to be a star! But the bigger you are, the harder you fall. And Josie fell. Hard. Ouch. Broadway dream: dead. Meanwhile, her life keeps imploding. Best friend: distant. Boyfriend: busy. Mom: not playing with a full deck? Desperate to escape, Josie gets into reading. Literally. She reads a book and suddenly she’s inside it. And with each book, she’s a different character: a post-apocalyptic heroine, the lead in a YA rom-com, a 17th century wench in a corset.”
Kelly Jensen, Alicia Lutes, Yao Xiao, Eric Smith, and Amma Marfo
Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy
August 27 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are free with a suggested donation of up to $5
“In Body Talk, thirty-seven writers, models, actors, musicians, and artists share essays, lists, comics, and illustrations — about everything from size and shape to scoliosis, from eating disorders to cancer, from sexuality and gender identity to the use of makeup as armor. Together, they contribute a broad variety of perspectives on what it’s like to live in their particular bodies—and how their bodies have helped to inform who they are and how they move through the world.”
September 1 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are free with $3 suggested donation
“Daring, tender, truthful, the poems in Blizzard, Henri Cole’s tenth book, build on a reputation for quiet mastery. Whether he is wrestling with the mundane, history and its disasters, or sexual love, he can sound both classical and contemporary, with the modern austerity of Cavafy and Bishop. Often exploring the darker places of the heart, his sonnets do not lie down obediently, but spark with an honest self-awareness. Cole’s lucid, empathetic poems — with lyrical beauty and ethical depth―seem to transmute the anxious perplexities of our time.”
Kim Adrian and Alden Jones
Dear Knausgaard & The Wanting Was A Wilderness
September 3 at 7 p.m.
“Join us for an evening of conversation with authors Alden Jones and Kim Adrian as they discuss their latest books, both of which explore their relationships to an iconic work of literature. In The Wanting Was a Wilderness: Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and the Art of Memoir, Alden Jones sets out to explore how Cheryl Strayed turned a solo hike into an inspirational memoir, beloved by millions. In Dear Knausgaard: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, Kim Adrian delivers a compelling feminist critique of Knausgaard’s 6-volume autobiographical novel through a series of warm and often funny letters.”
The Testaments: A Novel
September 3 at 5 p.m.
Tickets are $21 with signed copy of the book
“More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.”
Lara Ehrlich & Amy Shearn
Animal Wife & Unseen City
September 10 at 7 p.m.
Free or up to $26 including a copy of the book
“Lara Ehrlich’s collection contains stories of women reaching across the threshold of the permitted and the mundane into something new and strange. Shearn’s novel is an exploration of what home is, how we live with loss, who belongs in the city and to whom the city belongs, and the possibilities and power of love.”
— Matt Hanson