Who: Garrett Bradley, Thelma Golden
What: Live Q&A about Projects: Garrett Bradley
Where: MoMA YouTube
When: Thursday, January 21, free, 8:00
Why: In November, MoMA posted “Re-Imaging America,” a conversation between artist Garrett Bradley, Studio Museum in Harlem associate curator Legacy Russell, and Studio Museum in Harlem director and chief curator Thelma Golden, discussing Bradley’s multichannel video installation America, continuing at MoMA through March 21 as part of the Elaine Dannheisser Projects Series. The work combines twelve new black-and-white short films (about Harry T. Burleigh, James Reese Europe, the Negro National League, and other historical subjects) and a score by Trevor Mathison and Udit Duseja with archival footage of the unreleased 1914 film Lime Kiln Club Field Day, which is thought to be the oldest-surviving feature-length work with an all-Black cast, a love story starring Bert Williams and Odessa Warren Grey. “I knew that Bert was required to wear blackface, and I did not, even in my initial introduction to the material, feel that it took away from his brilliance. But it became critical to prove that, and to prove it using what already existed within the original footage,” Bradley says in the talk.
“That is one of the exciting challenges in working with archives — the prospect of revealing a new dimension of something that appears fixed. How could I make it clear that Bert’s power and creative genius were not confined to his performance alone? His vision extended far beyond our immediate gaze as audience members, and could be seen in-between the scenes themselves. It could be seen in a simple portrait, unmasked and still. I wanted to open America with these moments that made clear who he was, separate from the character in the film and outside of the narrative. It was important we saw him giving direction and in negotiation with the surrounding power structures. It became all the more critical that we had a moment to sit with certain frames — certain truths — that are less discernible at seventeen frames per second.” On January 21 at 8:00, Golden, who curated the exhibition with Russell, will host a live “Virtual Views” Q&A with Bradley on MoMA’s YouTube channel; museum members can send in questions beforehand here. The discussion will also be archived for later on-demand viewing, and you can check out three audio clips of Bradley delving into her work here.
Who: Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman
What: Virtual launch of Fight of the Century: Writers Reflect on 100 Years of Landmark ACLU Cases
Where: The Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center
When: Thursday, January 21, $26 with book, $10 event only, 6:30
Why: In celebration with the publication of Fight of the Century: Writers Reflect on 100 Years of Landmark ACLU Cases (Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster, January 21, $27), the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center is hosting the virtual discussion “Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman: The 100-Year Struggle for Civil Liberties.” The husband-and-wife duo coedited the book, which features contributions from Scott Turow, Neil Gaiman, Meg Wolitzer, Salman Rushdie, Ann Patchett, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Louise Erdrich, George Saunders, and more, writing about specific legal cases, both famous and lesser-known, in honor of the centennial of the establishment of the ACLU by Helen Keller, Jane Addams, Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, and others. “Things, we feel, have been getting worse,” Chabon and Waldman write in the introduction. “Liberty and equality are everywhere under attack. And that’s why the work of the American Civil Liberties Union feels more precious than ever before.” Tickets are $26 with the book and $10 without.
Who: Kyle Beltran, Catherine Combs, Michael Crane, Jennifer Kim, Jeanine Serralles, Ryan Spahn
What: Livestreamed benefit reunion reading
Where: Vineyard Theatre
When: January 19-24, $25
Why: In May 2015, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s Gloria premiered at the Vineyard Theatre, a dark, satirical drama set in a Manhattan magazine office where a sudden, tragic event upends the normalcy of the everyday work environment forever. The original cast is reuniting January 19 at 7:00 for a benefit reading, with Kyle Beltran as Miles, Shawn, and Rashaad, Catherine Combs as Ani, Sasha, and Callie, Michael Crane as Lorin, Jennifer Kim as Kendra and Jenna, Jeanine Serralles as Gloria and Nan, and Ryan Spahn as Dean and Devin; many of the characters dream of becoming famous before they reach thirty, but. . . . The Pulitzer Prize finalist received multiple nominations for outstanding play and supporting actress (Serralles); the reading, which can be viewed through January 24, will also bring back original director Evan Cabnet. Jacobs-Jenkins is one of America’s sharpest playwrights; his other shows include Girls, Everybody, War, Appropriate, An Octoroon, and Neighbors, each of which made a significant impact on the theater community. Up next in the Vineyard’s Original Cast Benefit Reading Series is Cornelius Eady’s Brutal Imagination, directed by Joe Morton and starring Morton and Sally Murphy, reprising their roles from the 2001-2 Vineyard production helmed by Diane Paulus.
Who: Cathy Belton, Derbhle Crotty, Aisling O’Sullivan
What: Livestreamed production of Mark O’Rowe’s The Approach from Dublin
Where: St. Ann’s Warehouse
When: January 21 (2:30 am), 23 (2:30 am), 24 (4:00 pm), €25-€50 (live), January 25-31 on demand, €20
Why: As theater companies continue to adapt to presenting works during the pandemic lockdown, audiences have had to adapt as well. Most of the online productions have been either previously recorded versions of pre-coronavirus stage productions or Zoom readings, which lack the urgency of live theater. But some shows, primarily from across the pond, have been performed live from indoor theaters, resulting in a joyous excitement as people from all over the world experience the work in real time, together, with no pausing or rewinding, a story unfolding as it happens. On January 21, 23, and 24, St. Ann’s Warehouse and Landmark Productions have teamed up to stream three live performances of Mark O’Rowe’s 2018 sold-out Edinburgh Fringe Festival hit, The Approach, broadcast from the Project Arts Centre stage in Dublin; the play will then be available for on-demand viewing January 25-31.
The hourlong show is also directed by O’Rowe (DruidShakespeare, Howie the Rookie), who wrote the emotion-packed play specifically for Irish stars Cathy Belton (The House, Women in Arms), Derbhle Crotty (DruidShakespeare, The Home Place), and Aisling O’Sullivan (The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Big Maggie), who have reunited for this virtual revival. They portray two sisters and a best friend who have drifted apart but reexamine their relationships through three conversations over five years, which can feel particularly relevant while we are all sheltering in place, having Zoom calls with friends and family, including those we might not have seen in a long time. “It takes a crisis of some sort sometimes, or an upheaval, for people to really evaluate how they feel about one another, doesn’t it?” one character says. The production features set and lighting by Sinead McKenna, costumes by Joan O’Clery, and sound by Philip Stewart, attempting to bring as much of the real theater experience as possible to our small screens. (The January 23 show will be followed by a talkback with members of the cast and crew.)
CAFÉ La MaMa LIVE: La MaMa MOVES! ONLINE
January 19-20, 26-27, $5-$25 (pay what you can)
The annual La MaMa Moves! dance festival has moved online this year, presenting works by four choreographers over four livestreamed programs January 19-20 and 26-27, each showing two of the quarantine-created pieces, followed by a Q&A. Curated by Nicky Paraiso for Café La MaMa Live, the festival features puppeteer Kevin Augustine and Lone Wolf Tribe’s Body Concert, a minimalist exploration of life, death, and nature across a series of vignettes set to a score by Mark Bruckner and inspired by Butoh, with life-size puppets and no text; Kari Hoaas’s Heat — the distant episodes, four dance haikus (“Pond,” “Fall,” “Branch,” “Leaves”) about time, space, and isolation based on her 2015 Be Like Water, which was scheduled to run at La MaMa in May 2020; Tamar Rogoff’s The Yamanakas at Home, a collaboration with Mei Yamanaka about an older couple living in Japan who confront an intruder; and Anabella Lenzu’s The night that you stopped acting (La noche que dejaste de actuar), which Lenzu describes as a “one-woman show which confronts the absurdity and irony of life while being an artist and a spectator in today’s world. My work reflects my experience as a Latina/European artist living in New York and comes from a deep examination of my motivations as a woman, mother, and immigrant.” La MaMa’s digital platform also currently includes Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver’s Last Gasp WFH through January 21 and “In Process with Bobbi Jene Smith” through January 24, with “Downtown Variety: Brazil Edition” scheduled for January 22 and “Reflections of Native Voices” January 25 - February 7.
Who: Alexandra Pelosi, Sheila Nevins
What: Live discussion (preregister to watch film in advance)
Where: The Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center online
When: Tuesday, January 19, free with RSVP, 6:00
Why: Documentary filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi turns her camera lens on the country in her latest work, American Selfie: One Nation Shoots Itself. Over the course of one year, Pelosi journeyed across the United States, filming citizens, immigrants, and tourists as they gathered for various causes (abortion, gun rights, BLM, masks) and took pictures with their phones of themselves and others, bitterly fighting over hot-button issues or waiting online for the latest iPhone, cheering people like heroes as they emerged from the store with the treasured item under their arm. “I think phones are much more dangerous than guns,” Pelosi, the daughter of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, told the Guardian last October.
Pelosi, who has previously made such nonfiction films as Journeys with George, Right America: Feeling Wronged – Some Voices from the Campaign Trail, Fall to Grace, and Goodbye, Congress, clearly chooses her targets, but even so she reveals an America that we are all aware of but don’t always get to see so directly. Unsurprisingly, the film has gotten mostly good reviews from critics, but its online rating is low, perhaps because Americans on all sides of the political spectrum are not so fond of what they really look like these days. On January 19 at 6:00, Pelosi will speak with MTV Studios documentary films head Sheila Nevins in the program “American Selfie: One Nation Divisible through the Lens of Alexandra Pelosi.” The film ends prior to the 2020 election, so it should be fascinating to see what Pelosi has to say about what has happened since. Free registration is required and comes with access to the film.