October 1-11, films $10 per person, $15 per household, Gold Pass $150, live events pay-what-you-wish
The forty-third annual Asian American International Film Festival runs online October 1-11, consisting of full-length films, shorts, documentaries, anime, Q&As, panel discussions, master classes, and more. Every day features three hours of pay-what-you-wish live programming, including postscreening Q&As for which you do not have to have seen the film. Tickets for films are $10 per person and $15 per household and can be viewed at any time during the festival, which kicks off with special presentations of Ramona S. Diaz’s A Thousand Cuts, about fearless Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, and Andrew Ahn’s Driveways, followed by a Q&A with the director and stars Hong Chau and Lucas Jaye. Below are only some of the livestream highlights.
Thursday, October 1
The 2020 72 Hour Shootout: Top Ten Selection, 8:30
Friday, October 2
Game Night! Designing for Games Roundtable, Part 1, with GJ Lee, Goutham Dindukurthi, and Jenny Windom, 9:30
Saturday, October 3
Online Distribution for Shorts, with Jason Sondhi, Maegan Houang, Nirav Bhakta, Gayatri Bajpai, SJ Son & Woody Fu, 6:30
Sunday, October 4
Impact Producing, with Pulkit Datta, Cecilia Mejia, Suzan Beraza, Megan Vandervort, and Sahar Driver, 12:30
Monday, October 5
Documentary Panel: Navigating Cultural Communities and Identities, 7:30
Tuesday, October 6
Anti-Racism: Storytelling in Education and Awareness (Pt. 1), 7:30
Wednesday, October 7
Anti-Racism: Online Activism Campaigns (Pt. 2), 7:30
Friday, October 9
Comedy Night, 9:00
Saturday, October 10
Masterclass with Ramona Diaz, 12:30
Music Night Out, 7:00
Who: Angela Bassett, Merle Dandridge, Dame Judi Dench, Maureen Dowd, Harry Lennix, Norm Lewis, Kalen Robinson, Russell Thomas, Courtney B. Vance, Simon Godwin, more
What: Shakespeare Theatre Company online gala
Where: Shakespeare Theatre Company
When: Saturday, October 3, free with RSVP, 7:00
Why: William Shakespeare knew a thing or two about being quarantined during a health crisis. So it’s more than apt that the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual gala this year will be taking place virtually, with theaters closed. The DC company’s popular fundraiser goes virtual on October 3 at 7:00, featuring an all-star roster performing and discussing the Bard, including Angela Bassett, Merle Dandridge, Dame Judi Dench, Maureen Dowd, Harry Lennix, Norm Lewis, Kalen Robinson, Russell Thomas, Courtney B. Vance, the cast of The Amen Corner, and artistic director Simon Godwin, among others; the event is codirected by LeeAnet Noble and Alan Paul. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted; there is also a preshow virtual cocktail reception and a silent auction, where you can bid on art, food and wine, trips to Ireland, Greece, and other countries, costumes and props, and sponsoring an episode of Shakespeare Hour Live!
Who: New Federal Theatre (NFT)
What: Retrospective reading series
Where: New Federal Theatre online
When: Fridays in October, free (donations accepted), 7:00 (available through the following Sunday at midnight)
Why: Recently named a “Legend of Off Broadway,” Woodie King Jr. has been a New York City theater fixture since founding New Federal Theatre in 1970. As part of its fiftieth anniversary, during the pandemic NFT is looking back at its history, presenting readings of several rarely performed plays that deal with such issues as racism, slavery, and the civil rights movement. As it explains in its mission statement, NFT seeks to “integrate artists of color and women into the mainstream of American theater by training artists for the profession and by presenting plays by writers of color and women to integrated, multicultural audiences — plays which evoke the truth through beautiful and artistic re-creations of ourselves.” The “Octoberfest” series takes place every Friday night at 7:00 and is dedicated to the late Chadwick Boseman, who began his career at NFT, winning an AUDELCO Award for his performance in Ronald Milner’s Urban Transitions: Loose Blossoms in 2002 and serving on the board of directors; each play will be available for viewing through the following Sunday at midnight. The works explore the friendship between Mary White Overton and Dr. W. E. B. DuBois; tell the story of rape survivor and civil rights activist Endesha Ida Mae Holland; use WPA recordings to dramatize remembrances by former slaves; examine PTSD in a Vietnam veteran who received the Black Congressional Medal of Honor; and focus in on a blues singer and a church congregant facing loneliness and a loss of faith. Below is the full schedule, along with the year the show was originally staged by NFT; tickets are free but donations will be accepted.
Friday, October 2
Do Lord Remember Me, written by Jim De Jongh, directed by Regge Life, starring Ebony JoAnn, Barbara Montgomery, Roscoe Orman, Kim Sullivan, and Glynn Turman (NFT, 1996-97)
Friday, October 9
Dr. Du Bois and Miss Ovington, written by Clare Coss, directed by Gabrielle Kurlander, starring Kathleen Chalfant and Peter Jay Fernandez (NFT, 2014)
Friday, October 16
From the Mississippi Delta, written by Endesha Ida Mae Holland, directed by Ed Smith, starring Brenda Denmark, Elain Graham, and Verniece Turner (NFT, 1987-88)
Friday, October 23
Medal of Honor Rag, written by Tom Cole, directed by A. Dean Irby, starring Royce Johnson, Micah Stock, and Beethovan Oden (NFT at Theater De Lys, 1976)
Friday, October 30
Stories of the Old Days, written by Bill Harris, directed by La Tanya Richardson Jackson, starring Pauletta Washington and Michael Potts (NFT, 1986)
Who: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Joe Mantello, David Canfield
What: Live virtual discussion about The Boys in the Band
Where: 92Y online
When: Friday, October 2, free, 7:00
Why: In the spring of 2018, Mart Crowley’s 1968 play, The Boys in the Band, finally made its Broadway debut; at the time, I called it “a raucous fiftieth-anniversary adaptation lavishly directed by Joe Mantello. . . . All these years later, it is evident that Crowley, who wrote a sequel, The Men from the Boys, in 2002, captured more than just a moment in time; he was embracing individuality as well as the very zeitgeist of homosexuality, even as the party devolves amid the onslaught of personal demons coming to the fore. Crowley also touches on racism and anti-Semitism in addition to homophobia.” The show starred a cast of out actors playing gay men at a birthday party: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Robin De Jesús, Andrew Rannells, Tuc Watkins, Michael Benjamin Washington, Brian Hutchison, and Charlie Carver. The production has now been made into a movie produced by Ryan Murphy that will debut on Netflix on September 30 with the full, original Broadway cast. On October 2 at 7:30, the 92nd St. Y will host a free, live discussion with Parsons (Michael), Quinto (Harold), Bomer (Donald), and Mantello, moderated by EW’s David Canfield, that will explore this illuminating and controversial exploration of gay culture in New York City. Sadly, Crowley, who cowrote the screenplay with Ned Martel, passed away on March 7 at the age of eighty-four.
Who: Hillary Clinton, Audra McDonald, Danielle Brooks, Jessie Mueller, Neil Patrick Harris, Michael Paulson
What: New York Times Offstage event
Where: New York Times online
When: Thursday, October 1, free with RSVP, 7:00
Why: In February 2017, I was at the Palace Theatre, waiting for Sunset Boulevard, the musical with Glenn Close, to start. We all soon realized why the curtain was being delayed: Hillary Clinton was just coming in, being ushered to her orchestra seat. The applause was enormous, lasting several minutes in an outpouring of love and respect for our near-president; in fact, it was the best part of the evening. Hillary, with and without Bill, is a Broadway regular; on October 1 at 7:00, she is the centerpiece of the livestreamed discussion “How I Miss Broadway.” The New York Times “Offstage” event will be moderated by theater reporter Michael Paulson; after the initial talk, they will be joined by six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald (Porgy and Bess, Master Class), Tony nominee Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple, Much Ado About Nothing), and Tony winners Jessie Mueller (Waitress, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) and Neil Patrick Harris (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Cabaret). Registration is free; Broadway may be dark because of the pandemic, but this should be a cathartic experience bringing part of the theater community together for an evening.
The Times’s “Offstage” series kicked off June 11 with “Opening Night: Explore Broadway as It Was, Is, and Will Be,” featuring critic at large Wesley Morris speaking with Adrienne Warren, Daniel J. Watts, Celia Rose Gooding, and Kenny Leon, followed by discussions with Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Sonya Tayeh, and Jeremy O. Harris and performances by Mary-Louise Parker, Elizabeth Stanley, Mare Winningham, and the casts of Company and Six. You can watch that presentation here.
Who: Honorees Gus Solomons jr., Robert Battle, Jane Comfort, Claire Porter, Satoshi Haga, David Parker/the Bang Group, many dance companies
What: Annual festival moves from Joe’s Pub to online for twenty-fifth anniversary
Where: Dance Now online
When: September 10 - May 20, performances $10, performance plus celebration $20,
Why: Dance Now is celebrating its silver anniversary by looking at the past and into the future with “The Dance Now Story,” a six-part virtual series that kicked off September 10 with new five-minute digital commissions from Ayodele Casel, Mike Esperanza, and LMnO3 in addition to archival works from HUMA, Tricia Brouk, and DN honoree Gus Solomons jr.; it will be followed by a live, virtual Artist-to-Audience Celebration on October 1 at 7:00 hosted by TruDee. Chapter two takes place October 8 with new digital commissions from Jamal Jackson and Nicole Wolcott & Katy Pyle, along with archival works from Wanjiru Kamuyu & Katherine Helen Fisher and DN honoree Robert Battle; the live celebration is set for October 22 with host Christal Brown. “The DN Story” continues November 12 with new digital commissions from Mariana Valencia and Nicole Vaughan-Diaz & Orlando Hernandez and archival works from Take Dance & Amber Sloan and DN honoree Jane Comfort, with the celebration set for December 3 with host Sara Juli. Chapter four launches on February 11 with new digital commissions by Kate Ladenheim, Alice Sheppard, Subject: Matter, and Maleek Washington and archival works from Adam Barruch and Mark Gindick, with a February 25 celebration honoring Claire Porter with host TruDee.
On March 11, chapter five features new digital commissions by Tsiambwom M. Akuchu, Brendan Drake, and Jasmine Hearn and archival works by Ruben Graciani and Megan Williams, with a March 25 party honoring Satoshi Haga, hosted by Germaul Barnes. And the series concludes May 6 with new digital commissions by Sarah Chien, Kayla Farrish, and Joshua L. Peugh and archival works by John Heginbotham and Paula Josa-Jones, along with the final live Artist-to-Audience Celebration, honoring David Parker/the Bang Group on May 20, hosted by Larry Keigwin and Nicole Wolcott. The Dance Now festival usually takes place at Joe’s Pub, so maybe parts of the event will be allowed to move indoors by the time some of the later chapters come up. Virtual tickets are $10 for each chapter performance, which you can watch any time once it releases, and $20 for access to the chapter as well as the live party.
Who: Misty Copeland, Radhika Jones
What: Online discussion
Where: 92nd St. Y online
When: Wednesday, September 30, $10, 7:00
Why: “When Miss Bradley announced they’d be performing the ballet Coppélia for the recital, everyone in Misty’s class shouted excitedly and gathered around to hear their teacher tell the story of Coppélia. Misty didn’t know what Coppélia meant, and she was too shy to ask — especially since it was her first ballet class ever! So Misty took a spot on the floor, and before she knew it, she was completely entranced as Miss Bradley told the tale.” So begins Misty Copeland’s second children’s book, Bunheads (Putnam, September 29, $17.99), the follow-up to her debut, The Firebird. The start of a new series, Bunheads, illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey, shares Copeland’s initial foray into the world of ballet as a child; she would grow up to become the first African American female principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre. On September 30 at 7:00, she will launch the book in a livestreamed conversation with Vanity Fair editor in chief Radhika Jones in a talk hosted by the 92nd St. online. You can listen to a clip of Copeland reading from the book here.