Who: Chris Kapp, Michal Gamily, James Rado, Galt MacDermot, Michael Butler, Annie Golden, Andre De Shields, Ellen Foley, Walter Michael Harris, Melba Moore, Natalie Mosco, Jill O’Hara, Peppy Castro, Dale Soules, Shaleah Adkisson, Lauren Elder, Shelley Ackerman, Debbie Andrews, Andy Berger, Richard Cohen, Dave D’Aranjo, Nina Machlin Dayton, Magie Dominic, Aaron Drescher, Merle Frimark, Ula Hedwig, Antwayn Hopper, Rev. Marjorie Lipari, Thayer Naples, Allan F. Nicholls, Robert I. Rubinsky, Charles Valentino, Balint Varga, Jared Weiss
What: Archival livestream of 2017 performance and live Q&A
Where: LaMaMa and Facebook Live
When: Saturday, August 15, free (donations accepted), 11:00 am
Why: On October 1, 1967, a little rock opera by James Rado, Gerome Ragni, and Galt MacDermot opened at New York City’s brand-new Public Theater, the first show by living artists that New York Shakespeare Festival founder Joe Papp produced. Known as the American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, Hair has propelled generations to stand together, challenge the status quo, celebrate multiculturalism, and work for peace. Fifty years after the Summer of Love, La MaMa, on January 21, 2017, gathered dozens of actors who had performed in the many iterations of the show, from the original off-Broadway version to productions around the world and the 1979 film, for a tribute concert as part of its Coffeehouse Chronicles series, which explores the history of off-off-Broadway.
The presentation featured such stars as Annie Golden, Andre De Shields, Ellen Foley, Walter Michael Harris, Melba Moore, Natalie Mosco, Jill O’Hara, Peppy Castro, and Dale Soules singing songs from the musical; the evening was hosted by Chris Kapp and Michal Gamily and included an interview with Rado and McDermot. On August 15 at 11:00 am, La MaMa will livestream that performance in its entirety — you can get a taste by watching videos of De Shields singing “I Got Life” and Moore performing “Aquarius” — followed by a live Q&A with the eighty-eight-year-old Rado. As revolutionary as Hair was, it’s a shame that so much of its narrative about such social ills as white male dominance, militarization and war, racism, homophobia, and government overreach is still so relevant today, but the music is so energizing and exhilarating, maybe it will spur you to keep fighting the good fight, now more than ever, while having a great time.
Who: Anne Serling, Marc Scott Zicree, Richard Christian Matheson, Christopher Beaumont, Mark Dawidziak, more
What: Virtual festival honoring Rod Serling
Where: Facebook Live
When: Saturday, August 15, free (donations encouraged), 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Why: Just in case you didn’t already feel like you were living in the Twilight Zone, you can take part in the annual SerlingFest, which this year moves online. The virtual all-day 2020 edition features special guests and video presentations celebrating the creator of The Twilight Zone, the greatest television anthology series ever made, a prescient, ahead-of-its-time, socially conscious program hosted by the inimitable Rod Serling, who wrote many of the episodes as well. Born on Christmas Day in 1924 in Syracuse, Serling served in the military (earning the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star) before writing for radio and television, including Patterns in 1955, Requiem for a Heavyweight in 1956, The Twilight Zone from 1959 to 1964, Seven Days in May in 1964, Planet of the Apes (with Michael Wilson) in 1968, Night Gallery from 1970 to 1973, and other projects before passing away in Rochester on June 28, 1975, at the way-too-young age of fifty.
It’s free to watch on Facebook Live, but donations are encouraged to benefit the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 1986 “to educate the public about Rod Serling’s genius and his passion, hoping that they will understand and appreciate his mastery of the creative arts, his unique understanding of human relationships, his esteem as a writer, his generosity as a speaker in and around Binghamton, and his uncompromising commitment to quality.” Among the participants are Anne Serling, author of As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling; Marc Scott Zicree, author of The Twilight Zone Companion; Richard Christian Matheson and Christopher Beaumont, children of two of the best TZ writers, Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont, respectively; and Mark Dawidziak, author of Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in the Twilight Zone. It’s a different kind of marathon, but it could be one for the ages. (Be sure to watch the end of the above video for some very fun TZ references.)
Who: Black theater creators
What: Short plays with talkbacks
Where: BOLD 2020 (link sent after registration and prior to event)
When: August 14, 21, 28, free with RSVP, 6:00
Why: With Kamala Harris being selected as Joe Biden’s running mate, the prominence of Black women in America takes another giant leap forward. Expect that to be part of the discussion when BOLD, an organization that “seeks to create a culture in which Black womxn are one another’s allies,” presents “BOLD 2020,” a virtual edition of its ten-minute play festival, consisting of six new works written and directed by Black women and streamed for free over three successive Friday nights. “Black womxn will change the world! The restoration of our culture is dependent on the amplification of the Black womxn’s voices,” BOLD cofounder Destinee Rea said in a statement. “In this year alone we have seen the ways Black womxn are using their voices to inspire, empower, and shift culture. We are in desperate need of their stories being contributed creatively, grafted into the American canon.”
August 14 will feature Brittani Samuels’s In My Arms, or Under My Foot (with Anastacia McCleskey, Tiffany Denise Hobbs, J. Alphonse Nicholson, and Trevor Hayes) and Agyeiwaa Asante’s Dainty (with Amber Iman, Zurin Villanueva, Capathia Jenkins, and Candice Marie Woods), directed by Kristolyn Lloyd; on August 21, Chanel Carroll’s Choices and Lakhiyia Hicks’s Sermon I Wish I’d Heard will be directed by Bianca LaVerne Jones; and the festival concludes August 28 with Kristen Adele Calhoun’s The Oldest Town in Texas and Jazmine Stewart’s Queen Nanny, directed by Jones and Tavia Riveé Jefferson. Each night, the two plays will be followed by a live discussion with the creators and others.
Who: Nona Hendryx, Nubian Q.U.E.E.N.X., Monique Wilson, Hope Masike, Sara Curruchich English, Lebo Mashile, iskwē | ᐃᐢᑫᐧᐤ, Rosa Chávez, Liza Jessie Peterson, Be Steadwell, Angela Davis, Divinity Roxx, Sophia Ramos, Cyndi Lauper, Phylicia Rashad, Billie Jean King, Joy Harjo
What: Global virtual music and activism event
Where: StreamYard and Zoom
When: Friday, August 14, $8 - $250, 4:00
Why: On August 14 at 4:00, musician, writer, actress, activist, and legendary powerhouse Nona Hendryx will host an epic virtual concert in support of women’s collective power for social justice. Held in conjunction with feminist organization JASS, “Radical Healing” will feature an international lineup of singer-songwriters, activists, and spoken-word artists celebrating multiracial and multicultural transformation. “By radical healing, we’re acknowledging the power of music to lift our spirits and connect us across all our differences,” Hendryx said in a statement. “We recognize that we can’t build and sustain strong movements for the long haul with broken people who bear the brunt of crises and violence. We need moments of shared joy and connections as much as information and strategy. Some of the most amazing music ever created has been birthed from struggle.” Hendryx will be joined by Monique Wilson, Hope Masike, Sara Curruchich English, Lebo Mashile, iskwē | ᐃᐢᑫᐧᐤ, Rosa Chávez, Liza Jessie Peterson, Be Steadwell, Angela Davis, Divinity Roxx, Sophia Ramos, Nubian Q.U.E.E.N.X., Cyndi Lauper, Phylicia Rashad, Billie Jean King, Joy Harjo, and others, participating from five continents. General tickets are $25 ($8 for students) and $250 to gain access to a Zoom Q&A with the artists.
Who: Jon Langford, Sally Timms
What: Livestream concert
Where: Hideout online
When: Friday, August 14, suggested tip $15, 8:00
Why: The Mekons are one of the greatest bands of the last fifty years. Formed in 1976, the British punks have continued to make fab records and tour relentlessly, but they’ve been sidelined because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, that doesn’t mean they’ve gone silent. On April 6, founding frontman Jon Langford, who’s been very busy during the Covid-19 crisis, performed a livestreamed concert on the back of a pickup truck for Chicago club FitzGerald’s, driven through the streets of Berwyn, Illinois, playing to people on sidewalks and porches. And on June 19, the group released its latest album, Exquisite, based on the concept of the exquisite corpse; the liner notes explain it “was recorded in lockdown on mobile phones, broken cassette recorders, clay tablets & other ancient technologies in Aptos, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York & Devon,” featuring the nom de plumes Baron Von Munchio, Comteboy de Langreamont, Honeyman Ray, Luanora Carrington (ex-Lubu Roi), the Marquis Tomato de Ironingboard, Ricmedios Bellvaro, Sallyvador Dolly, and St. Yves Pantalon-Mécanique adding music and lyrics one at a time. (Did I mention they have a wicked sense of humor?)
On August 6, Langford and vocalist Sally Timms, who teamed up for a show at the Hideout Inn in Chicago on January 19, played outdoors at the Virtue Cider Taproom in Fenville, Michigan; on August 14, the duo will return to the Hideout, but this time they will perform without an audience, as the concert will be livestreamed from an empty club; admission is free, but a $15 tip-jar donation is suggested. (Langford will be back at the Virtue lawn on August 20 with John Szymanski and play solo on the patio of FitzGerald’s on August 26.) Describing the show, the Hideout points out, “Jon Langford and Sally Timms are punk rock refugees from across the pond. Mostly they play music with fundamentalist Punk Rock icons the Mekons but have other hobbies which usually involve cross-dressing, pirate songs, and sitting round at the Hideout Tavern in Chicago defying the forces of time, entropy, and Corporate Capitalism.” Don’t miss it.
Who: Blythe Danner, Susie Essman, Tamara Tunie, Catherine Curtin, Joy Behar, Laura Gomez, Ellen Dolan, Florencia Lozano, Welker White, Portia, Kathryn Grody, Nehassaiu DeGannes, Dahlia Lithwick, Amy Spitalnick, Roberta Kaplan, Kerry Kennedy, more
What: An Arts and Advocacy Forum in Two Parts
Where: Zoom link sent with ticket purchase
When: Friday, August 14, 7:00, and Thursday, September 3, 5:00, $25-$120
Why: In June 2019, the nonprofit organization the Neo-Political Cowgirls presented “Andromeda’s Sisters,” what they called a “Two Day Gala of Powerful Arts and Advocacy” at Guild Hall. The event featured workshops and one-act readings by an all-star lineup of actresses performing monologues by female-identifying playwrights. The cast is now reuniting for a virtual restaging and expansion, beginning August 14 at 7:30, with Blythe Danner as accused Salem witch Goody Garlick in a work written for her by Lucy Boyle; Catherine Curtin as a wife who discovers her husband is cheating on her in a monologue written for her by Joy Behar; Florencia Lozano as the other woman in Dipti Bramhandkar’s The Funeral; Laura Gomez as a woman who visits a sex shop in Bramhandkar’s Brown Girl’s Guide to Self-Pleasure; Welker White as the title character in Lynn Grossman’s BITCH; Ellen Dolan as a mother and a grandmother in Sarah Bierstock’s MAD (Mothers and Daughters); Tanya Everett’s One Thousand Miles, about a relationship webinar; Portia reading the late poet June Jordan’s “A Poem About My Rights”; a movement piece by Mia Funk; and two extracts from choreographer Vanessa Walters’s ongoing “Ripening” project.
Founded in 2007 by Kate Mueth, the Neo-Political Cowgirls “are committed to making work for women and about women — to creating a space where women and girls from all walks of life can share their experiences, joys, concerns, and spirits through professional dance.” The gala gets its name from the legend in which Princess Andromeda, captured by Poseidon, is saved by the daughters of the God of the Sea, leading to the idea that sisters should seek to help one another in these difficult times. As the NPC website asserts, “When we ‘swim’ to help our sisters, even if it may go against our own best interests in the moment, it's astounding what can happen for all of those involved.” The second part takes place on September 3 and focuses on advocacy, with journalist Dahlia Lithwick interviewing Amy Spitalnick of Integrity First for America and litigator Roberta Kaplan about their upcoming court case against neo-Nazis; a cocktail hour; Kerry Kennedy giving the keynote address about fighting femicide; and Gomez, Curtin, and Lozano reading from Kennedy’s 2000 book, Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who Are Changing Our World. Tickets are $25 ($50 with donation) for the monologues and readings at both parts and $120 for those in addition to the cocktail hour and access to breakaway rooms with some of the invited guests.
Who: Bereishit Dance Company, Maura Keefe, Soon-ho Park
What: Virtual festival stream of dance and discussion
Where: Jacob’s Pillow YouTube
When: Thursday, August 13, free, 7:00 (available through August 15 at midnight)
Why: While you can’t head out to the Berkshires to watch dance at historic Jacob’s Pillow, you can catch highlights from the last ten years at home during the institution’s Virtual Festival, which continues through August 29. On August 13 at 7:00, you can see two works from Bereishit Dance Company’s 2016 Pillow debut, streamed in conjunction with the Korean Cultural Center New York: the male duet BOW_CONTROL from BOW, which incorporates the Korean art of archery into its movement, reimagining the bow as a musical instrument instead of a weapon; and Balance & Imbalance, featuring five dancers, two drummers, and a pansori singer exploring action and reaction in nature. The performance will be preceded by a talk with Pillow scholar-in-residence Maura Keefe and followed by a discussion with Bereishit founder and choreographer Soon-ho Park. The free stream will be available through August 15 at midnight. The festival has previously featured such companies and choreographers as Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Desmond Richardson, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Sascha Radetsky, Limón Dance Company, and Ballet Hispánico; coming up are Aszure Barton, Tero Saarinen Company & the Boston Camerata, Ami Shulman, and more.