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 assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968. Dr. King would have turned eighty-eight this month, 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:
Saturday, January 14
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration: Historic Heroines: Coretta Scott King, 11:00 am, 2:00, 3:00; Muslim Arts Series: Many Tunes, One Melody, 5:00 & 6:00, Children’s Museum of Manhattan, 212 West 83rd St., $8-$12
Action in a Time of Injustice: MLK Salon with Yavilah McCoy, JCC Harlem, JCC in Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave., $5, 6:45
Sunday, January 15
MLK, Jr., I Have a Dream Celebration: Totally Tots Studio — Meet the Artist, 10:00 am; Holding History: MLK’s Life, 11:00 am; Protest Posters, 11:00 am; DNA Bracelets, 12 noon; MLK, Jr. Cinema, Our Friend, Martin (Rob Smiley & Vincenzo Trippetti, 1999), 11:00 am, 3:30; Story Time at BCM: Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other books, 1:30 & 3:00, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 145 Brooklyn Ave., $11
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration: Historic Heroines: Coretta Scott King, 11:00 am, 12 noon, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, Children’s Museum of Manhattan, 212 West 83rd St., $8-$12
Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Concert: Soul to Soul, with Lisa Fishman, Cantor Magda Fishman, Elmore James, Tony Perry, and musical director Zalmen Mlotek, presented by National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Pl., $20-$28, 2:00
Special Presentation: Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016), screening followed by Q&A, JCC Harlem, JCC in Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave., $5, 5:30
Monday, January 16
MLK, Jr., I Have a Dream Celebration: Totally Tots Studio — Meet the Artist, learn about Kehinde Wiley, 10:00 am; Love, Hope & Peace Postcards, 11:00 am; I Have a Dream Totes, 12 noon ($5); Brooklyn United Marching Band – Celebrating the Dream Performance, 2:00; Story Time at BCM: Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, 1:30 & 3:00; Freedom Hands, 2:00, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 145 Brooklyn Ave., $11
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration: Martin’s Mosaic, 10:00 am, 1:00 pm; Historic Heroines: Coretta Scott King, 11:00 am, 12 noon, 4:00; KaNu Dance Theater, 2:00 & 3:00, Children’s Museum of Manhattan, 212 West 83rd St., $8-$12
Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Thirty-first annual celebration, with keynote speaker Opal Tometi, the Institutional Radio Choir, and Sacred Steel band the Campbell Brothers, Peter Jay Sharp Building, BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Ave., free, 10:30 am; screening of Ava DuVernay’s 13th, BAM Rose Cinemas, free, 1:00; launch of Frederick Douglass in Brooklyn with readings by Carl Hancock Rux, commentary by Theodore Hamm, and audience Q&A, BAM Fisher lower lobby, 321 Ashland Pl., free, 1:00
MLK Express Yourself Day, create signs with your own poster board, Old Stone House, 336 Third St., free, 11:00 am - 4:00 pm
The World Famous 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
What’s Your Dream? Martin Luther King Jr. Day Family Program: reading of Kobi Yamada’s What Do You Do with an Idea?, broadcast of King speech, and art workshop, Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge St., free, 1:00 – 2:30
MLK Day Screening: The Negro and the American Promise (1963), Museum of the Moving Image, Redstone Theater, 36-01 35th Ave., $7-$15 (includes admission to galleries), 3:00
Artists Celebrate Dr. King’s Legacy: Featuring Sweet Honey in the Rock, JCC in Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave., $5, 5:00
Special Presentation: Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016), screening followed by Q&A, JCC Harlem, JCC in Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave., $5, 7:30
Martin Luther King, Jr. Evening Show: A Decade of Soul, classic soul & Motown revue, preceded by Aretha Franklin Tribute feat. “Lady Jae” Jones & the Decade of Soul Band featuring Bruce “Big Daddy” Wayne and special guest Prentiss McNeil of the Drifters, $20-$25 (plus $10 minimum per person at tables), B. B. King Blues Club & Grill, 237 West 42nd St., 7:30
LIVE FROM BARNES & NOBLE: JOSH GROBAN, DENÉE BARTON, DAVE MALLOY, AND CAST MEMBERS FROM THE GREAT COMET…
Who: Josh Groban, Denée Barton, Dave Malloy, Steve Suskin, more
What: Live performance and book signing
Where: Barnes & Noble, 150 East 86th St. at Lexington Ave., 212-369-2180
When: Friday, January 13, free, 4:00 (priority seating with book purchase at B&N Upper East Side starting at 9:00 am)
Why: Steven Suskin’s new book, The Great Comet: The Journey of a New Musical to Broadway (Sterling, November 2016, $40), takes theater fans behind the scenes of the remarkable story of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, an electropop opera based on a seventy-page section of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace that began life in the eighty-seven-seat house Ars Nova in 2012, only to find itself a smash hit at the 1,200-capacity Imperial on Broadway four years later. The book includes a five-song CD (with three songs from the off-Broadway production and two from the Broadway edition) as well as a foreword by Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis. On January 13 at 4:00, Suskin will be at the Upper East Side B&N on Eighty-Sixth St. to sign copies of the book, joined by Denée Barton, who is exquisite as Natasha, Josh Groban, who has earned raves as Pierre, and Dave Malloy, the show’s creator, composer, librettist, orchestrator, music director, and original Pierre. The B&N event will include live performances along with a signing; the participants will only be signing copies of the new book that were purchased that day, starting at 9:00, at the store, which also gets you priority seating; no other memorabilia will be autographed.
287 Spring St. by Hudson St.
January 8-16, $20, 8:00 (6:00 opening night)
Curated by Peter Evans, the second annual New Ear Festival at Fridman Gallery on Spring St. consists of nine days of unique musical performances that push the edge of sound art. On January 8, opening night pays tribute to accordionist, composer, and humanitarian Pauline Oliveros, who passed away in November at the age of eighty-four, with performances by cellist and composer Leila Bordreuil, turntablist Maria Chavez, trumpeter Nate Wooley, and Evans and the premiere of the film Apple Box Orchestra. January 9 will feature jazz trumpeter, composer, and vocalist Amir ElSaffar, saxophonist and clarinetist Ole Mathison, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. Drummer and alt rapper Kassa Overall will perform on January 10, followed the next night by keyboardist, vocalist, and mixed-media artist Ohal Grietzer and multimedia artist Victoria Keddie. January 12’s lineup boasts Grammy-nominated composer, musician, and installation artist Miya Masaoka, electronic artist Byron Westbrook, and performance and video artist Ursula Scherrer, while January 13 brings cellist and composer Tomeka Reid, trumpeter Jaimie Branch, and mixed-media and animation artist Selina Trepp. Percussionist, installation artist, and composer Diego Espinosa performs January 14, followed by multimedia artist, percussionist, and instrument inventor Levy Lorenzo and composer Lea Bertucci on January 15. The festival concludes January 16 with a sound and video performance by multidisciplinary artist Yulan Grant. If you can’t make it to the gallery, you can livestream the events here.
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, January 7, free, 5:00 - 11:00
A lot of Americans were glad to bid good riddance to 2016, although there’s plenty of fear for what can happen in 2017. The Brooklyn Museum explores some of those very legitimate concerns in its free First Saturday program on January 7. There will be live performances by Tank and the Bangas, Discwoman (DJs BEARCAT and SHYBOI) and Cakes Da Killa; a Brooklyn Dance Festival workshop; a book club reading, discussion, and signing with Daniel José Older for his latest Bone Street Rumba novel, Battle Hill Bolero; a hands-on art workshop in which participants can make masks inspired by “A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt”; a screening of Jason Benjamin’s Suited, followed by a “Queer Style as Resistance in Post-Trump Activism” talkback with Benjamin, dapperQ, Anita Dolce Vita, Daniel Friedman, Debbie-Jean Lemonte, and Rae Tutera; a curator tour of “A Woman’s Afterlife” with Edward Bleiberg; pop-up gallery talks on “Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty”; a community resource fair with Active Citizen Project/Project EATS, Caribbean Leadership Empowerment Foundation, Historic Districts Council, Spaceworks, Carroll Gardens Association, and Pioneer Works; Kids Corner storytelling (“Virtuous Journeys”) with Rezz and Mando; and pop-up publishing with DIY feminist publishers Pilot Press, led by Jen Kennedy and Liz Linden. In addition, you can check out such exhibits as “Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller,” “Beverly Buchanan — Ruins and Rituals,” “The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago,” “Life, Death, and Transformation in the Americas,” “Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty,” and “Infinite Blue”; admission to “Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present,” which closes January 8, requires a discounted admission fee of $10.
Muriel Schulman Theater
106 Calyer St. (enter on Banker St.)
January 5-8, $16-$20
Most of the winter performance festivals, such as Under the Radar, COIL, Prototype, and American Realness, consist of experimental works that have either already been performed elsewhere or will afterward. However, the nonprofit Triskelion Arts, which was founded in Brooklyn in 2000 to “foster the development and presentation of the performing arts,” has something very different in mind with its “Never Before, Never Again” festival, which consists of dance, music, comedy, theater, poetry, and other disciplines in improvisational performances that have never been presented before and never will again quite like they will be during the third annual event, running January 5-8. The improv celebration begins January 5 with the Lovelies; Alyssa Gersony; Judah Levenson, Hank Mason, and Shane Gertner; kamrDANCE; NOW ACCEPTING ALL OFFERS MADE; and Katelyn Halpern & Dancers. On January 6, the lineup features Schmidt / Keenoy Movement / Sound Lab; slowdanger; Jog Films; Debbie Z & Friends; and the Lovelies. Saturday’s roster boasts Mauri Connors and Mindy Toro; TanzKlub; the Shelburne Trio (bassist Kevin Farrell, dancer Rachel Mckinstry, and poet Josh Adler); stb x at; Sarah Foster / MoveWorks; and Boom Bat Gesture Performance Group. The festival concludes January 8 with Ali Perkins; Kirsten Schnittker; Jason Mears / Quentin Tolimieri; There’s No Law (Rachel Cohen, Michael Henry, Irene Siegel); and Lokasparsa Dance Projects / clyde forth. Tickets are $16 in advance, $20 at the door to check out these now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t performances.
Since March 2011, audiences in masks have been roaming around the McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea, following characters into nearly every nook and cranny in Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More, a show, inspired by Macbeth, that redefined immersive theater. Now the same production company, Emursive, is presenting a twist on theatrical immersion with the National Theatre of Scotland’s international hit The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, which continues at the McKittrick’s Heath Bar through February 28. This time, instead of the audience chasing the characters, the characters, who don masks at one point, move throughout the pub, talking to audience members, weaving around the space, sitting and standing on tables and chairs, and requesting audience help manufacturing some paper props. Created by writer David Greig (who appropriately enough wrote Dunsinane, a sequel to Macbeth) and director Wils Wilson, The Strange Undoing is about Edinburgh academic Prudencia Hart (Melody Grove), who is attending a conference in Kelso on border ballads, folk songs that were most famously written and collected by Sir Walter Scott. Also at the conference is Prudencia’s archrival, the motorcycle-riding Dr. Colin Syme (Paul McCole), who is described as “Dr. Colin Syme blokeish — obsessed with his kit / He’d eat himself if he was a biscuit.” (Much of the tale is related in delightful rhythmic couplets.) Snowed in on Midwinter’s Night, the prudish Prudencia rejects Colin’s offer to stay with him and instead makes her way through a Costco parking lot to a bed and breakfast that appears to be run by the devil himself (Peter Hannah). Meanwhile, musical director Alasdair Macrae and Annie Grace play multiple roles as well as various instruments, singing traditional ballads in addition to shanties written for the show, imbedded with a sly sense of humor. There’s even karaoke.
There are also plenty of self-referential treats. “This is exactly the sort of snow that if it were in a border ballad would poetically presage some kind of doom for an innocent heroine or an encounter on the moor with a sprite or villain or the losing of the heroine’s selfhood in the great white emptiness of the night,” Prudencia says at a critical juncture. Movement director Janice Parker keeps the cast, dressed in terrific period costumes with a contemporary twist, from knocking into the customers on Georgia McGuinness’s set, as references are made to the Proclaimers and Kylie Minogue, such topics as “Border Ballads: Neither Border nor Ballad?” and “The Topography of Hell in Scottish Balladry” are raised, the legendary ballad character Tam Lin is discussed, and free shots of Scotch are offered before the show and complementary finger sandwiches are passed around at intermission. As with Sleep No More, the more you invest yourself into the proceedings, the more you will get out of it. Our enjoyment of the production was enhanced by our tablemates, who just happened to be the parents of one of the actors, making for some great conversation and many toasts. It’s all devilishly good fun, a time-traveling ballad that would make Sir Walter Scott proud.
The always exciting winter performance festival season gets under way right after New Year’s, with a slew of popular programs occurring all over town and in multiple boroughs. PS122’s COIL 2017 festival, the last under artistic director Vallejo Gantner, consists of fourteen events, with a dozen performances, a sewing bee, and the Red + White Party. The Public Theater’s fourteenth annual Under the Radar fest includes twenty-one programs, centering on experimental music, theater, and dance, along with postshow discussions and the Incoming festival within a festival. The NYC Winter Jazzfest will celebrate the centennial of Thelonius Monk’s birth while also concentrating on social justice. Focusing on “socially and aesthetically marginal and subversive artists tearing at the boundaries of form and wrestling with the realities of identity,” American Realness was founded in 2010 by Thomas Benjamin Snapp Pryor and Abrons Arts Center in 2010, directly modeled after the Public Theater’s Under the Radar festival; the eighth annual event comprises more than two dozen performances, readings, workshops, discussions, installations, and a party. The fifth annual Prototype festival, which presents cutting-edge opera-theater and music-theater, hosts seven productions, an anniversary party, panel discussions and talkbacks, and the Out of Bounds series of free performances in public spaces. Below are a handful of recommendations for each of the above January festivals.
January 3, 4-7, 10-15
CVRTAIN, by Yehuda Duenyas, immersive virtual reality experience, 151 Gallery, 132 West 18th St., $10
Custodians of Beauty, by Pavel Zuštiak/Palissimo, dance-theater piece exploring beauty, La MaMa, the Downstairs, 66 East Fourth St., $20
Basketball, by Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith, dance exploring past shames, Howard Gilman Performance Space, Baryshnikov Arts Center, 450 West 37th St., $20
Umyuangvigkaq: PS122 Long Table and Durational Sewing Bee, by Emily Johnson/Catalyst, featuring breakfast, “This Is Lenapehoking: Countering Perceived Invisibility,” “Indigenizing the Future: The Continuance of Aesthetic, Invention, Ceremony,” “My Dad Gives Blueberries to Caribou He Hunts: Indigenous Process and Research as Ceremony,” and “Radical Love: Indigenous Artists and Our Allies,” Ace Hotel New York, 20 West 29th St., free with advance RSVP, 11:30 am - 6:00 pm
A Study on Effort, by dancer and choreographer Bobbi Jene Smith in collaboration with violinist Keir GoGwilt, Invisible Dog Art Center, 51 Bergen St., $20
UNDER THE RADAR
Public Theater and other venues
425 Lafayette St. by Astor Pl.
January 4, 6, 10
Erin Markey: Boner Killer, words and music by Erin Markey, directed by Ellie Heyman, starring Markey and Emily Bate, Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, $25
Gardens Speak, interactive sound installation about ten deceased Syrian activists, by Tania El Khoury, NYU Tisch School of the Arts Abe Burrows Theatre, 721 Broadway, $25
Incoming! They, Themselves and Schmerm, written and performed by Becca Blackwell, directed and developed by Ellie Heyman, the Robert Moss Theater at Playwrights Downtown, 440 Lafayette St., $25, 5:00 & 8:30
January 11, 12, 14, 15
Latin Standards, written and performed by Marga Gomez, directed by David Schwizer, Martinson Hall, the Public Theater, $25
Time of Women by Belarus Free Theatre, about a trio of women (Maryia Sazonava as Iryna Khalip, Maryna Yurevich as Natalya Radina, Yana Rusakevich as Nasta Palazhanka) fighting for a free and democratic Belarus, written by Nicolai Khalezin and Natiala Kaliada and directed by Khalezin, NYU Tisch School of the Arts Shop Theatre, 721 Broadway, $25
NYC WINTER JAZZFEST
January 6, 7
NYC Winter Jazzfest Marathon, multiple venues, $45-$55 per day, $80-$90 for both
Sunday, January 8
Thelonious Monk Makes a Hundred, panel discussion, the New School, Fifth Floor Theater, 55 West Thirteenth St., 3:00
Thelonius Monk 100th Birthday Improv Show, with Kris Davis, David Virelles, Shabaka Hutchings, Sam Newsome, Marc Ribot, Charlie Burnham, Erik Friedlander, Linda Oh, Trevor Dunn, Hamid Drake, Andrew Cyrille, and Deva Mahal playing Solo Monk, Littlefield, 622 Degraw St., $20-$25, 8:00
Tuesday, January 10
Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra: A Concert for Social Justice, with special guest Geri Allen and arrangements by Carla Bley, Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker St., $30-$40, Social and Environmental Justice panel at 6:00, show at 8:00
Abrons Arts Center and other venues
466 Grand St. at Pitt St.
An Evening of Solo Works by Meg Stuart, including XXX for Arlene and Colleagues and Signs of Affection, Abrons Arts Center, Playhouse, $20
January 6, 7
Étroits sont les Vaisseaux, by Kimberly Bartosik / daela, duet for Joanna Kotze and Lance Gries, inspired by Anselm Kiefer’s large-scale sculpture, Gibney Dance, Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, 280 Broadway, $15
January 6, 7, 10
Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church (s), solo by Trajan Harrell, first work in series, Abrons Arts Center, Playhouse, $20
January 7, 8, 9, 10
Adult Documentary by Juliana F. May, piece for five dancers about trauma and form, Abrons Arts Center, Experimental Theater, $20
In the Works: Dance in Process Resident Artists & Guests, with performances by Melinda Ring, Anna Sperber, Michelle Boulé, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Larissa Velez-Jackson, Gibney Dance Company, Antonio Ramos, Katie Workum, Bjorn Safsten, Yanira Castro, iele paloumpis, Gibney Dance Choreographic Center, 890 Broadway, free, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
January 5-15, $25 unless otherwise noted
Out of Bounds: Amirtha Kidambi, inspired by Nina Simone’s performance at the Harlem Cultural Festival in 1969, 60 Wall St. Atrium, free, 1:00
Mata Hari, composed by Matt Marks, directed and with libretto by Paul Peers, conducted by David Bloom, and starring Tina Mitchell, HERE, 145 Sixth Ave., $30
Out of Bounds: Leah Coloff, inspired by Patti Smith’s Kimberly and a set at CBGB’s, 60 Wall St. Atrium, free, 1:30
January 6, 7, 9
Breaking the Waves, New York City premiere of opera based on Lars Von Trier film, composed by Missy Mazzoli, directed by James Darrah, conducted by Julian Wachner, with libretto by Royce Vavrek, and starring Bess McNeill and Jan Nyman, NYU Skirball Center, 566 LaGuardia Pl., $30-$75, 7:30
January 13, 14
Funeral Doom Spiritual, multimedia concert by composers M. Lamar and Hunter Hunt-Hendrix and librettists Lamar and Tucker Culbertson, with Lamar on piano and vocals, string arrangements by Hunt-Hendrix, and additional arrangements by James Ilgenfritz & the Anagram Strings, National Sawdust, 80 North Sixth St., $30, 7:00 & 10:00