This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

THE ’60s: THE YEARS THAT CHANGED AMERICA

You Say You Want a Revolution exhibition at NYPL is part of Carnegie Halls festival

“You Say You Want a Revolution: Remembering the Sixties” exhibition at NYPL is part of wide-ranging Carnegie Hall festival

Multiple locations
January 14 - March 24
www.carnegiehall.org

America came of age in the 1960s, from the assassinations of JFK, RFK, MLK, and Malcolm X to Vietnam and the Summer of Love. Carnegie Hall is paying tribute to the turbulent decade with the two-month series “The ’60s: The Years that Changed America,” inspired by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Robert A. Caro. The native New Yorker, who turned eighty-two this past October, is the author of such books as The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York and the four-part The Years of Lyndon Johnson, with a fifth tome on the way. “Luther King gave people ‘the feeling that they could be bigger and stronger and more courageous than they thought they could be,’ Bayard Rustin said — in part because of the powerful new weapon, non-violent resistance, that had been forged on the Montgomery battlefield,’” Caro wrote in Master of the Senate, a quote obviously apt for MLK Day. Running January 14 through March 24 all across the city, the festival features concerts, panel discussions, film screenings, dance, art exhibitions, and more. Below are only some of the many highlights; keep watching this space for more additions.

Sunday, January 14
through
Saturday, March 24

“Max’s Kansas City,” photos and writings, Mark Borghi Gallery, free

Friday, January 19
“You Say You Want a Revolution: Remembering the Sixties,” Library After Hours opening night program with experimental films, album-cover workshop, games and puzzles, curator tour led by Isaac Gewirtz, dance party with Felix Hernandez, and more, exhibit continues through September 1, the New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, free, 7:00

Kronos Quartet, works by Stacy Garrop (world premiere inspired by “I Have a Dream” speech), Zachary J. Watkins (world premiere inspired by Studs Terkel), Terry Riley, John Cage, and Janis Joplin, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, $62-$72, 9:00

Tuesday, January 23
through
Friday, May 18

“The Global Interconnections of 1968,” Kempner Exhibition Gallery, Butler Library (sixth floor), Columbia University, free

Thursday, January 25
Snarky Puppy with David Crosby and Friends, including Chris Thile and Laura Mvula, Stern/Perelman at Carnegie Hall, $26-$100, 8:00

Friday, January 26
Bernard and Irene Schwartz Classic Film Series: Coming Home (Hal Ashby, 1978), Justice in Film presentation introduced by Susan Lacy, New-York Historical Society, free with pay-what-you-wish museum admission, 7:00

Tuesday, February 6
through
Sunday, February 11

March, duet from Lessons inspired by civil rights movement, part of winter season program by Ronald K. Brown / Evidence, a Dance Company, the Joyce Theater, $26-$46

Friday, February 16
“Philip Glass Ensemble: Music with Changing Parts,” Stern/Perelman at Carnegie Hall, $14.50 - $95, 8:00

Wednesday, February 21
“The Summer of Law and Disorder: Harlem Riot of 1964,” panel discussion, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, free with advance registration beginning February 7, 6:30

Tuesday, March 13
Bernard and Irene Schwartz Distinguished Speakers Series: “The ’60s from Both Sides Now: An Evening with Judy Collins,” in conversation with historian Harold Holzer, New-York Historical Society, $38, 6:30

Saturday, March 24
“The Vietnam War: At Home and Abroad,” multimedia presentation with Friction Quartet performing George Crumb’s “Black Angels” and more groups to be announced, narrated by John Monsky, Zankel at Carnegie Hall, $35-$45, 2:00

MLK DAY: MAKE IT A DAY ON, NOT A DAY OFF

The legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will be celebrated all over the city and the country this weekend

The legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will be celebrated all over the city and the country this weekend

Multiple venues
Monday, January 15
www.mlkday.gov

It’s hard to believe that this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and that half a century later racism is still such a central issue in America and around the world. In 1983, the third Monday in January was officially recognized as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, honoring the birthday of the civil rights leader who was shot and killed in Memphis on April 4, 1968. Dr. King would have turned eighty-nine on Monday, and you can celebrate his legacy on Monday by participating in a Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service project or attending one of numerous special events taking place around the city. Below are some of the highlights.

JCC Harlem: Community Carnival at All Souls Church, MLK Day-themed art projects for community children, 88 St. Nicholas Ave., free, 10:00, 12:30, 3:00

Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March: “A New Revolution: Youth and Social Change,” Eleanor Roosevelt Monument in Riverside Park at 72nd St. at 10:00 am to Manhattan Country School at 150 West 85th St. at 2:00, free

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration: Martin’s Mosaic, 10:00 am and 1:00 pm; Museum of Impact visits CMOM, Upstanders Fest, 12 noon - 4:00, Children’s Museum of Manhattan, 212 West 83rd St., $11-$14

Thirty-second Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with keynote speaker Jelani Cobb, Martha Redbone, and the Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir, BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, free, 10:30 am; Unbound: Patrisse Cullors and asha bandele, launch of When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, moderated by Rashad Robinson and followed by a book signing, BAM Fisher, Fishman Space, free, 1:00; screening of 4 Little Girls (Spike Lee, 1997), BAM Rose Cinemas, free, 1:00

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., including visits to “King in New York” and “Activist New York” exhibits and poster workshop, Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Ave at 103rd St., free with museum admission of $12-$18, 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Family Matinees: Selma, Lord, Selma (Charles Burnett, 1999), $7-$15, 11:00 am; The Wiz (Sidney Lumet, 1978), $7-$15, 1:00, Museum of the Moving Image, 35th Ave. at 36th St., price includes admission to galleries

I Have a Dream Celebration: Make Art Not War: Interactive Handprint Mural, 11:30; I Have a Dream Cloud, 1:00; Kids Take Action! Letter Writing for Change, 1:30; Sylvia’s Story Corner on the Bus, 3:30, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 145 Brooklyn Ave., $11

Harlem Gospel Choir Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Matinee, B. B. King Blues Club & Grill, 237 West 42nd St., $25-$30 (plus $10 minimum per person at tables), 12:30

Soul to Soul, with Lisa Fishman, Cantor Magda Fishman, Elmore James, Tony Perry, and musical director Zalmen Mlotek, followed by a discussion with the artists and creators, presented by National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Pl., $25 (use discount code “Mishpokhe” for 20% off online tickets), 2:00

Hands On | Harlem Dreams, Legends, and Legacy, teen photo studio, time capsules, mixed-media art, scavenger hunt, and in-gallery collage, Studio Museum in Harlem, 144 West 125th St., $3-$7, 2:00 - 6:00

Cinematters: Muhammad Ali: Me Whee (Arny Stone, 1975), followed by a Q&A with executive producer Drew Stone, Lou DiBella, and Craig Setari, JCC in Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave., $5, 5:00

SOUNDS OF LIBERATION

sounds of liberation

Who: Krishna Das, Lama Tenzin, Ani Choying Drolma, Manose
What: Benefit concert for Shedrub Development Fund
When: Saturday, January 13, $45 - $500, 8:00 (tickets are available here)
Where: Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, 263 West 86th St. at West End Ave.
Why: The third annual New York City benefit concert for the Shedrub Development Fund will take place at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew on the Upper West Side on January 13, raising money for Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche’s Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery in Boudha, Kathmandu, known as the White Monastery, which was damaged in the devastating 2015 earthquake, along with the Nagi Gompa nunnery and other centers. The show, which follows one being held the night before at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston, will once again be headlined by Grammy-nominated singer Krishna Das, who specializes in the Hindu devotional chant music known as kirtan. Also returning is Lama Tenzin Sangpo, who escaped his native Tibet as a child and received his education and ordination from Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche at the shedra, becoming an accomplished chant master. They will be joined this year by Ani Choying, known as “Nepal’s rock star nun,” and Nepalese bansuri flute master Manose, who has released such meditative albums as The Call Within, Epiphany, and Notes from Home: Himalayan Folk Tunes. “This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to raise funds for an institution that’s helping many people,” Krishna Das said. “It’s also an opportunity to make a statement about how all the different spiritual paths are related and blend into each other.” It’s a reunion of sorts for the performers as well. “Growing up in Kathmandu, I went to school next to the monastery and it was a big part of my upbringing,” Manose explained. “I’ve known Ani Choying, who also grew up in the neighborhood, for more than three decades, and we’ve collaborated on projects together. I first met Krishna Das through the kirtan circuit and have loved sharing the kirtan spirit with him over the years.” And Ani Choying described Lama Tenzin as “a Dharma brother I’ve known since my first day of monastic life.” Award-winning film composer John McDowell (Born into Brothels, Sold) serves as music director for the two evenings. Tickets for the New York City concert begin at $45 for general admission and $150 for preferred seating and are available here; some tiers are already sold out. Patrons who donate $500 or more also are invited to a catered preconcert reception with the artists. (You can watch a video of the rebuilding effort here.)

NO PANTS SUBWAY RIDE

The seventeenth annual No Pants Subway Ride takes place on January 7 (photo courtesy ImprovEverywhere.com)

The seventeenth annual No Pants Subway Ride takes place on January 7 (photo courtesy ImprovEverywhere.com)

Multiple subway locations
Sunday, January 7, $2.75 (subway fare), 3:00-5:00
improveverywhere.com

On New Year’s Day, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club marched into the Atlantic Ocean, braving outside temperatures in the teens. On Sunday, January 7, for the seventeenth annual No Pants Subway Ride, participants will be removing their slacks in a similar climate as they enjoy the freedom of revealing their gams to the delight, consternation, and confusion of fellow passengers. Between 3:00 and 5:00, thousands of men and women will head underground and strip down to their boxers, panties, and tighty-whities (leaving shirts, shoes, and jackets on). Started as a prank by seven guys in 2002, the ride — staged by Improv Everywhere, the prank collective behind such other unusual stunts as Reverse Times Square, Car Alarm Symphony in Staten Island, and Carousel Horse Race in Bryant Park — hit a small bump in 2006, when 150 people participated and 8 were arrested and handcuffed, but the charges were shortly dismissed. As it turns out, it’s technically not illegal as long as the exposure doesn’t get too indecent. (Of course, it is also not against the law for men and women to be topless in Times Square.) Participants should gather, with their clothes on, at one of seven meeting points around the city (Hoyt Playground in Astoria, the Old Stone House in Brooklyn, Foley Square in Downtown Manhattan, Hudson Yards Park on West 34th St. in Midtown Manhattan, the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Park, the Great Hill in Central Park, and Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick) and will be assigned a train to ride on; the main rule is that you must be willing to take your pants off on the subway while keeping a straight face — and hopefully having someone around to document it for social media.

You should not document it yourself, and you need to act like you merely forgot to put your pants on or that you were feeling uncomfortable, pretending that it is a coincidence so many others did as well. Be natural about it, as if it’s no big deal; it’s important not to flaunt it or to wear undergarments that are too flashy or call attention to yourself. When it’s over at about five o’clock, there is a pants-less after-party at Bar 13 at 35 East 13th St., with a $15 cover (pants check is available); the festivities include music spun by DJs Dirtyfinger, Shakey, and Hamstaskin, live performances by the Flying Pants Brigade, art installations by Samantha Statin and others, performance art by Krauss Dañielle and Operative Slamdance, and more. And it should be comforting to know that the No Pants Subway Ride has spread to dozens of cities across the globe, including Adelaide, Berlin, Copenhagen, Dallas, Jerusalem, Lisbon, Los Angeles, London, Madrid, Prague, Stockholm, Vancouver, Warsaw, and Zurich.

NEW YEAR, NEW FUTURES

I Am Not Your Negro

Brooklyn Museum screening of I Am Not Your Negro will be followed by discussion of activism with James Baldwin’s niece

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, January 6, free, 5:00 - 11:00
212-864-5400
www.brooklynmuseum.org

The Brooklyn Museum looks to 2018 with its January First Saturday program, “New Year, New Futures.” There will be live music by Sinkane, BEARCAT, Zaven of Resonator Collective (an in-gallery soundscape for the terrific exhibition “Proof: Francisco Goya, Sergei Eisenstein, Robert Longo”), and New Kingston; a curator tour of “Rodin at the Brooklyn Museum: The Body in Bronze” with Lisa Small; a hands-on art workshop in which participants can make zines inspired by “Proof”; a community talk with Murad Awawdeh, the vice president of advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition; a screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary about James Baldwin, I Am Not your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2017), followed by a discussion with activists Jessica Green and Aisha Karefa-Smart (Baldwin’s niece); a Feminist Book Club event focusing on the 1970 book Sisterhood Is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women’s Liberation Movement, edited by Robin Morgan, hosted by Glory Edim of Well-Read Black Girl based on selections by Judy Chicago; pop-up gallery talks on “Roots of ‘The Dinner Party’: History in the Making”; a Brooklyn Dance Festival movement workshop and live performances; pop-up poetry with DéLana R. A. Dameron (Weary Kingdom) and Rickey Laurentiis (Boy with Thorn), followed by a signing; and a NYLaughs comedy showcase with Negin Farsad, Nimesh Patel, and Jordan Carlos, hosted by Ophira Eisenberg and followed by a discussion on humor, activism, and crisis. In addition, the galleries will be open late so you can check out “Roots of ‘The Dinner Party’: History in the Making,” “Soulful Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt,” “Proof: Francisco Goya, Sergei Eisenstein, Robert Longo,” “Arts of Asia and the Middle East,” “Infinite Blue,” “Ahmed Mater: Mecca Journeys,” “Rodin at the Brooklyn Museum: The Body in Bronze,” “A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt,” and more.

WINTER 2018 PERFORMANCE FESTIVALS

The Hendrix Project

The Hendrix Project kicks out the jams at the BRIC House as part of the Public Theater’s Under the Radar festival (photo by Nicolas Savignano)

Once upon a time, January was considered a relative artistic wasteland, as people suffered from a post-holidays letdown with a dearth of high-quality movies and Broadway shows opening up. But this century continues to fill that void with more and more cutting-edge, experimental, and offbeat music, dance, and theater with a growing list of performance festivals around the city. You can catch cabaret at Pangea, opera at Prototype, dance at American Realness, the 92nd St. Y, and New York Live Arts, jazz at JazzFest, Irish theater at Origin’s 1st, and a little of everything at Under the Radar and COIL, the latter back where it belongs at the renovated PS122. Below are only some of the highlights of this exciting time to try something that might be outside your comfort zone and take a chance on something new and different to kick off your 2018, especially with the majority of tickets going for about twenty-five bucks.

UNDER THE RADAR
Public Theater and other venues
425 Lafayette St. by Astor Pl.
January 4-15
www.publictheater.org

After by Andrew Schneider, performed by Alicia ayo Ohs and Andrew Schneider, with Kedian Keohan and Peter Musante, January 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 13, 14, Public Theater, Martinson Hall, $25

Parallel Lives: Billie Holiday & Edith Piaf, created and directed by Nona Hendryx, performed by Joey Arias, Tamar Kali, Liza Jesse Peterson, and Etienne Stadwjck, January 5-6, Joe’s Pub, $45

The Gates: An Evening of Stories with Adam Gopnik, January 5, 10, 12, 13, 14, Public Theater, Newman Theater, $25

The Hendrix Project, by Roger Guenveur Smith & CalArts Center for New Performance, performed by Samantha Barrow, Morgan Camper, Hannah Cruz, Jasmine Gatewood, Heaven Gonzalez, Ariyan Kassam, Liam O’Donnell, Dante Rossi, Henita Telo, Max Udell, Ieva Vizgirdaite, and Christopher Wentworth, January 11-14, BRIC House, $25

Pursuit of Happiness, Nature Theater of Oklahoma & EnKnapGroup, NYU Skirball, January 12-14, $25

(photo by Philip Groshong)

Gregory Spears and Greg Pierce’s Fellow Travelers goes back to the Lavender Scare of the 1950s (photo by Philip Groshong)

PROTOTYPE
Multiple venues
January 7-20
www.prototypefestival.org

Acquanetta, by composer Michael Gordon, librettist Deborah Artman, director Daniel Fish, and conductor Daniela Candillari, with Mikaela Bennett, Amelia Watkins, Eliza Bagg, Timur, and Matt Boehler, Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center, January 9-13, $30-$75

Out of Bounds — Breaking Ice: The Battle of the Carmens, by Alicia Hall Moran, new vocal work for an ice-skating audience, January 11, Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, free, 1:40; January 14, location TBD, free, 2:30

Fellow Travelers, by composer Gregory Spears, librettist Greg Pierce, director Kevin Newbury, and conductor George Manahan, with Aaron Blake, Joseph Lattanzi, Devon Guthrie, Vernon Hartman, Marcus DeLoach, Christian Pursell, Paul Scholten, Alexandra Schoeny, and Violetta Lopez, January 12-14, Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, $30-$55

Out of Bounds: The Future Is Open, by Tori Wrånes, newly commissioned site-specific work, Washington Square Park, Northwest Corner, January 18-19, free, 5:30

MIchelle Ellsworth’s The Rehearsal Artist is an intimate experience at American Realness

Michelle Ellsworth’s The Rehearsal Artist promises an intimate experience at American Realness

AMERICAN REALNESS
Abrons Arts Center and other venues
466 Grand St. at Pitt St.
January 9-16
americanrealness.com

The Rehearsal Artist, by Michelle Ellsworth, January 9-11, the Invisible Dog Art Center, $25, 1:15 - 8:45

Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and Other Works by John Bernd, by Ishmael Houston-Jones and Miguel Gutierrez, with Nick Hallett and Jennifer Monson, Danspace Project, January 9, 11, 12, 13, $22-$25

#PUNK, by nora chipaumire, Abrons Arts Center Playhouse, January 11-13, $25

I <3 PINA, by Neal Medlyn, Abrons Arts Center Experimental Theater, January 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, $25

This, by Adrienne Truscott, Abrons Arts Center Playhouse, January 14-16, $25

origin irish 1st

ORIGIN’S 1st IRISH FESTIVAL
Multiple venues
January 9-29
www.1stirish.org

Dyin’ for It, by Derek Murphy, with Maria Deasy, Adam Petherbridge, Sarah Street, and Aoife Williamson, the Cell, January 17-28, $30

Guy Walks into a Bar, by Don Creedon, New York Irish Center, January 18, 25, $20-$25, 7:15

ShakesBEER with an Irish Twist, pub crawl, Stone St., January 27, February 3, $49 (includes four drinks), 3:00

Dear Mr. Beckett: Letters from the Publisher, with Billy Carter and Olwen Fouéré, the Irish Consulate, January 29, free with advance RSVP, 1:00

WINTER ALT-FEST
Pangea NYC
178 Second Ave.
January 10-16
www.pangeanyc.com

Salty Brine: How Strange It Is, January 10, 17, 24, 31, February 7, $20, 7:30

Penny Arcade: Longing Lasts Longer, January 11, 14, $20, 7:00

Sven Ratzke: From Amsterdam to Mars, January 14, $20, 9:00

Tammy Faye Starlite: An Evening of Light, Tammy Faye channels Nico, accompanied by Keith Hartel, January 16, $20, 7:00

WINTER JAZZFEST NYC
Multiple venues
January 10-17
www.winterjazzfest.com

Gilles Peterson hosts British Jazz Showcase, with the Comet Is Coming, Nubya Garcia, Yazz Ahmed, and Oscar Jerome, Le Poisson Rouge, January 10, $20-$25, 7:00

Winter JazzFest Marathon, more than fifty artists at eleven venues, January 12-13, $50-$60 one day, $85-$95 both days

Ravi Coltrane Presents Universal Consciousness: Melodic Meditations of Alice Coltrane, Le Poisson Rouge, January 14, $35-$45, 7:00

A Tribute to Geri Allen, with Angela Davis, Esperanza Spalding, Craig Taborn, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Ingrid Jensen, Jack DeJohnette, Jaimeo Brown, Jeff Tain Watts, Kassa Overall, Kris Davis, Linda May Han Oh, Maurice Chestnut, Mino Cinelu, Ravi Coltrane, S. Epatha Merkerson, Tia Fuller, Vijay Iyer, and others, benefit for the Geri Allen Estate, the New School Tishman Auditorium, January 15, $35-$100

Deerhoof Meet Wadada Leo Smith and Nicole Mitchell: Maroon Cloud, Le Poisson Rouge, January 17, $25-$35, 8:00

COIL
Performance Space 122
150 First Ave.
January 10 - February 4
www.ps122.org/coil-2018

Body of Work, by Atlanta Eke, PS122, January 10-11, $25

visions of beauty, by Heather Kravas, PS122, January 10-13, $25

Jupiter’s Lifeless Moons, by Dane Terry, PS122, January 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, $25

he his own mythical beast, by David Thomson, PS122, January 31, February 1, 2, 4, $25

Our of Israel returns to the 92nd St. Y for its eighth season

Our of Israel returns to the 92nd St. Y for its eighth season

OUT OF ISRAEL: 70 YEARS OF ISRAEL, 70 YEARS OF DANCE / OPEN DOORS: 92Y HARKNESS DANCE CENTER ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE SHOWCASE
92nd St. Y
www.92y.org

Out of Israel: works by choreographers Itzik Galili and Roi Assaf performed by Troy Ogilvie, a solo by Roni Chadash, a new composition by DANAKA collective, and films by Joseph Bach and Shamel Pitts, guest curated by Dana Katz, January 12 at 12 noon and January 13 at 8:00, $10 in advance, $20 at the door

Open Doors: works by choreographers Joanna Kotze, Kensaku Shinohara, Pam Tanowitz, and Larissa Velez-Jackson with Jillian Peña, January 12 at 8:00 and January 13 at 4:00, $25-$29

Jack Ferver will present

Jack Ferver will present his work-in-progress Everything Is Imaginable as part of Live Artery at New York Live Arts

LIVE ARTERY
New York Live Arts
219 West 19th St.
January 13-15
newyorklivearts.org

Saturday, January 13, $10 each
Abby Zbikowski, abandoned playground (excerpt), 12 noon; Kimberly Bartosik, I hunger for you (work-in-progress), 2:00; RoseAnne Spradlin, “X,” 3:00; Netta Yerushalmy, Paramodernities (work-in-progress), 5:00; Susan Marshall, Construction (collaboration with So Percussion) and Closed System (work-in-progress), 6:00; Walter Dundervill, Skybox (excerpt), 7:00

Sunday, January 14, $10 each
Joanna Kotze, What will we be like when we get there (work-in-progress), 1:00; Kota Yamazaki, Darkness Odyssey Part 2: I or Hallucination (excerpt), 4:00; Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, The Deep Blue Sea, 5:00; Deborah Hay/Eric Geiger, Jess Humphrey & Leslie Seiters, Pause, 6:00; RoseAnne Spradlin, “X,” 8:00; Jack Ferver, Everything Is Imaginable (work-in-progress), 8:30

Monday, January 15, $10 each
Netta Yerushalmy, Paramodernities (work-in-progress), 11:00 am; Jennifer Nugent & Paul Matteson with Ted Coffey, Visual Proof, 1:00; Jack Ferver, Everything Is Imaginable (work-in-progress); 3:30; Joanna Kotze, What will we be like when we get there (work-in-progress), 5:00; Kimberly Bartosik, I hunger for you (work-in-progress), 6:30

MODERN MATINEES — CONSIDERING JOSEPH COTTEN: TOO MUCH JOHNSON

Joseph Cotten is on the run from a jealous husband in Orson Welles Too Much Johnson

Joseph Cotten is on the run from a jealous husband in Orson Welles’s recently rediscovered and restored Too Much Johnson

TOO MUCH JOHNSON (Orson Welles, 1938)
MoMA Film, Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Wednesday, January 3, 1:30
Thursday, February 15, 1:30
212-708-9400
www.moma.org

In August 2013, a 35mm nitrate workprint containing the raw footage of what was to be Orson Welles’s professional debut as a film director was discovered in a warehouse in Pordenone, Italy, home of an annual silent film festival. Consisting of sixty-six unedited, purposefully silent minutes, the film had been shot to accompany the Mercury Theatre’s streamlined staging of William Gillette’s 1894 farce, Too Much Johnson. Unfortunately, when the theatrical production opened in 1938 in a Connecticut theater, the filmed segments couldn’t be shown, spoiling the show’s chances to eventually make it to Broadway — various reports claim that the footage was not finished in time; the Stony Creek Theater lacked the proper projector; Paramount, which owned the rights to the play, demanded a fee; or it just wasn’t safe to screen the film in the theater. But you can see the raw footage at MoMA on January 3 and February 15 at 1:30, the first screening accompanied by a live score by Ben Model, the second by Makia Matsumara. Restored and preserved by George Eastman House, Too Much Johnson is a wacky, breathless tale of lust, passion, and betrayal, as Leon Dathis (Edgar Barrier) catches his wife (Arlene Francis) cheating on him with the dapper Augustus Billings (Joseph Cotten). Dathis sets out after Billings, chasing him through the streets, around a basket shop, and across the rooftops of Lower Manhattan, predominantly in the Meatpacking District — if you look closely, you can see the elevated railroad tracks that became the High Line. Dathis is joined by residents and storekeepers from the neighborhood and a pair of Keystone Kops (John Houseman and Herbert Drake) as they desperately try to catch the cad. The cast also includes Ruth Ford as Billings’s wife, Mary Wickes as Mrs. Battison, and Howard I. Smith as Cuba plantation owner Joseph Johnson.

The hats come off

The hats come off in rediscovered Welles footage meant to accompany Mercury Theatre stage production

In his cinematic debut, Cotten, who would team up with Welles on The Magnificent Ambersons, Citizen Kane, Journey into Fear, and The Third Man, shows quite an aptitude for slapstick comedy, à la Harold Lloyd, fearlessly portraying Billings, doing all the stunts himself, including several very dangerous ones. Meanwhile, Lenore Faddish (Virginia Nicolson, Welles’s wife at the time) and Harry MacIntosh (Guy Kingsley) are preparing to go to Cuba together (Tomkins Cove along the Hudson doubles for Cuba), which does not make her father (Eustace Wyatt) very happy. Welles and cinematographer Harry Dunham use silent-film tropes, from fast-paced action to overemoting to lush close-ups — and yes, the dastardly villain actually twirls his mustache — as well as what would become Welles’s trademark deep focus; the uncut footage features multiple takes, scenes shot from different angles, funny mistakes made by the cast and crew, clearly fake palm trees, a duel without swords, and long takes that would have likely been edited down later. One of the funniest bits involves Dathis and hats, which leads into a suffragette march. The whole thing is a hoot, but just be prepared and know that it’s not a fully realized, fully chronological story with a beginning, middle, and end. Fans of Welles, silent comedies, and Cotten will go crazy for it. And yes, the title means what you think it does. (You can see a home-movie clip of Welles directing the film here.) Too Much Johnson is screening as part of the MoMA series “Modern Matinees: Considering Joseph Cotten,” which runs January 3 to February 28 and also includes the Welles collaborations in addition to Shadow of a Doubt, Gaslight, Duel in the Sun, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Soylent Green, Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte, and other films by the underrated radio, TV, stage, and screen star, who was never nominated for an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, or Tony.