Who: Bryan Cranston, Hunter Doohan, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Liz Glotzer, Alon Aranya
What: Live discussion about Showtime series Your Honor
Where: The Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center
When: Monday, January 25, free with RSVP, 6:30
Why: For those of you watching the eight-part Showtime series Your Honor, you might be feeling a little lonely on January 24 as the Sunday-night show takes a week off before presenting two new episodes on January 31. But you can get your fix on Monday night when stars Bryan Cranston (Michael Desiato), Hunter Doohan (Adam Desiato), and Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Charlie Figaro) and executive producers Liz Glotzer and Alon Aranya appear in a live, virtual discussion for the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center. In the series, which is based on the Israeli show Kvodo, Cranston portrays a widowed judge in New Orleans whose teenage son accidentally kills the son of a mob boss in a hit-and-run, and the judge goes to extreme lengths to protect his child. The panel will talk about the show as well as adapting Israeli television programs; such popular Israeli shows as Homeland, In Treatment, The Spy, and Euphoria have also been remade for American audiences.
Who: Red Bull Theater company
What: Benefit reading of The Woman Hater and live Q&A
Where: Red Bull Theater website and Facebook Live
When: Monday, January 25, free (suggested donation $25), 7:30 (available on demand through January 29); Bull Session on Thursday, January 28, free, 7:30
Why: For its previous livestream benefit reading, Red Bull Theater, known for its exquisite stagings of Jacobean plays — the company was named after an English playhouse that produced works between 1604 and 1642, not after an energy drink — dipped its toes into the contemporary era with Carlyle Brown’s The African Company Presents Richard III, which was written in 1994 and set in 1821. Red Bull heads to the turn of the eighteenth century with a benefit reading of Frances Burney’s rarely performed The Woman Hater, a protofeminist satire of romance, misogyny, and high society. “The discovery of Frances Burney’s stage plays is a wonderful revelation, and it is a joy for us to be able to share what just might be her funniest play with audiences online,” artistic director Jesse Berger said in a statement. Directed by Everett Quinton and featuring Bill Army, Arnie Burton, Veanne Cox, Rebecca S’Manga Frank, Cherie Corinne Rice, Matthew Saldivar, Jenne Vath, and Nick Westrate, with visual design by David M. Barber and costumes by Sara Jean Tosetti, the work will be performed live January 25 at 7:30 and will be available on demand through January 29.
In addition, Red Bull is hosting a Bull Session on January 28 at 7:30 with Quinton, members of the cast, and scholar Tara K. Menon, who in a statement explained, “Frances Burney wrote The Woman Hater between 1796 and 1801. Although the play was never performed in public, Burney drew a cast list of prominent actors from Drury Lane, including Sarah Siddons, the best known tragedienne of the day, as Eleonora. The play shares its title with the 1607 play by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, which also lampoons misogyny. Burney’s play first came to light in 1945 when the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library acquired a collection of her writing. Her plays were published for the first time in 1995. The Woman Hater is best characterized as a sentimental comedy, but it contains elements of several other genres including gothic drama, farce, and comedy of manners.” It also has echoes of Burney’s 1779 comedy, The Witlings. Tickets to both events are free, but there is a $25 suggested donation for the reading if you are able to contribute.
ACASĂ, MY HOME (Radu Ciorniciuc, 2020)
Opened virtually and in theaters January 15
“Anywhere you are is home,” Elvis Presley sang in the 1962 movie Kid Galahad. Where one puts down roots is at the heart of Acasă, My Home, debut filmmaker Radu Ciorniciuc’s gripping documentary about the Enaches, a Roma family living in squalor away from society in the wilderness of Văcărești Nature Park in the Bucharest Delta. For nearly twenty years, the patriarch, Gică Enache, and his wife, Niculina Nedelcu, existed off the grid, raising nine children whom they hid from social services and did not send to school; the family subsisted on fish from a lake, hunted birds and small animals, and used books for kindling. Ciorniciuc, an investigative journalist who cofounded the independent media organization Casa Jurnalistului, was doing a story on the park when he came upon the Enache clan, led by Gică, who in 2012 had temporarily emerged when he became a local hero for saving some children from a burning house. When the government decides to turn the swampland into a public park, Gică, Niculina, Vali, Rică, Corina, Duca, Georgiana, Gigel, Luci, Marcel, Nicușor, and Zâna might have to rejoin civilization, a prospect the parents are ready to fight against. “I’ll set myself on fire. I’m not afraid to die,” Gică says.
Acasă, My Home is an intimate film told in cinéma verité style; written by journalist Lina Vdovîi and shot by director of photography Mircea Topoleanu, the film follows the Enaches as they go about their daily life. They are well aware they are being filmed, but they never speak directly to the camera, and Ciorniciuc does not interview anyone about their situation. The narrative develops in such a way that if you didn’t know better, you might think it is a fiction film. Ciorniciuc, who served as cowriter, co-cinematographer, and producer (with Monica Lãzurean-Gorgan), also gave cameras to the children for them to photograph themselves as they go fishing, play with pigeons, chickens, dogs, cats, and pigs, and head into the big town, which is just across a road, an ever-present threat to their not-quite-Walden-like existence. He merely keeps the camera rolling as Gică rages on, the media arrive to cover an inspection by Prince Charles and Prime Minister Dacian Cioloș, one of the sons gets himself into a personal dilemma, and Niculina tries to avoid the spotlight. There’s an implicit discrimination inherent in the treatment of the family; no one cared about them when they lived in filthy, abject poverty, but now that the government wants the parkland, they are on everyone’s mind.
About ten minutes into the film, a spectacular drone shot begins with a few of the boys kicking around a ball by one of their two shacks and rises dramatically hundreds of feet into the air, wind blowing ominously, until the Enaches’ tiny patch of dirt amid the vast green landscape is barely visible, then turns to reveal the large white and gray city next door, where a very different life awaits. But Ciorniciuc, who in addition to the film has created a book and a continuing social project about the Enaches, refuses to celebrate this marginalized group of people as heroic figures; he depicts them as they are, warts and all, perhaps victims of circumstance but also complicit in the decisions that set them apart from the rest of the world.
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.