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

MAYSLES VIRTUAL CINEMA: AFTER CIVILIZATION PANEL DISCUSSION

after civilzation

Who: Nicole Macdonald, Hannah Jayanti, G. Anthony Svatek, Christina Battle, Adam Khalil
What: Panel discussion with documentarians
Where: Maysles Documentary Center Zoom
When: Tuesday, August 4, free with RSVP, 7:00
Why: Maysles Virtual Cinema is currently streaming for free the series “After Civilization,” a dozen documentaries that look at the present state of our world, amid a global pandemic, police brutality, riots, neocolonialism, climate change, and a lack of leadership from those in power. On August 4 at 7:00, Maysles Documentary Center is hosting a free panel discussion, exploring such questions as “But when the modern idyll of ‘civilization’ is threatened — whether through active resistance, environmental disaster, or structural collapse — what follows?” and “How do we care for the planet while centering human life, and from where, exactly, will the seeds of collective liberation grow?” The Zoom panel features five of the filmmakers: Nicole Macdonald (A Park for Detroit), Hannah Jayanti (Truth or Consequences), G. Anthony Svatek (.TV), Christina Battle (Bad Stars: Chemical Valley, Water Once Ruled), and Adam Khalil (INAATE/SE/ [it shines a certain way. to a certain place/it flies. falls./]). The other films you can watch for free through August 15 are John Akomfrah‘s Last Angel of History, Pat O’Neill‘s Water and Power, Fern Silva‘s Wayward Fronds, Susana de Sousa Dias’s Fordlandia Malaise, Ben Rivers’s Slow Action, and Basim Magdy‘s The Many Colors of the Sky Radiate Forgetfulness.

THE HOMEBOUND PROJECT — THEATER FOR THE FRONT LINE PART FIVE: HOMEMADE

homebound project

Who: Brian Cox, Nicole Ansari-Cox, Orson Cox, Torin Cox, Joslyn DeFreece, Lena Dunham, Ryan J. Haddad, Daniel K. Isaac, Andy Lucien, Laurie Metcalf, Kelli O’Hara, Cesar J. Rosado, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Sibilly, Janelle Monáe, Billy Shore
What: New online theatrical works to benefit No Kid Hungry
Where: Link supplied by the Homebound Project after donation
When: August 5-9, $10 or more, 7:00
Why: One of the best theatrical series during the pandemic has been the Homebound Project, short one-act plays, generally between five and ten minutes each, featuring award-winning actors, writers, and directors, filmed wherever the performer is sheltering in place. Among the many highlights from the first four iterations were Alison Pill in C. A. Johnson’s diversions, Marin Ireland in Eliza Clark’s The Jessicas, Kimberly Hébert Gregory in Loy A. Webb’s These Hands, Utkarsh Ambudkar in Marco Ramirez’s Is This a Play Yet, Ashley Park in Bess Wohl’s The Morning Message to the Second Graders in Room 206, directed by Leigh Silverman, Daveed Diggs in Johnson’s Here and Now, Diane Lane in Michael R. Jackson’s Let’s Save the World, also directed by Silverman, Sue Jean Kim in Leslye Headland’s The Rat, directed by Annie Tippe, and ​Marquise Vilsón in Migdalia Cruz’s Meat & Other Broken Promises, directed by Cándido Tirado. However, if you didn’t catch them the first time around, when they ran online for four days each, then you’re out of luck. But you can catch the fifth and final presentation, which premieres August 5 at 7:00 and can be viewed, with a minimum donation of ten dollars, through August 9 at 7:00. All proceeds benefit No Kid Hungry; more than one hundred thousand dollars has been collected so far.

The theme of the first four installments were “Home,” “Sustenance,” “Champions,” and “Promise”; taking on the prompt of “Homemade” are the following exciting actor/writer/director collaborations: Brian Cox, Nicole Ansari-Cox, Orson Cox, and Torin Cox / Melis Aker / Tatiana Pandiani; Joslyn DeFreece / Lloyd Suh / Colette Robert; Lena Dunham / Lena Dunham / Maggie Burrows; Ryan J. Haddad / Christopher Oscar Peña / Jaki Bradley; Daniel K. Isaac / Sylvia Khoury; Andy Lucien / Donnetta Lavinia Grays; Laurie Metcalf / Stephen Karam; Kelli O’Hara / Lindsey Ferrentino / Scott Ellis; Austin Pendleton / Craig Lucas / Pam MacKinnon; Cesar J. Rosado / Basil Kreimendahl / Samantha Soule; Amanda Seyfried / Catya McMullen / Jenna Worsham; and Johnny Sibilly / Korde Arrington Tuttle / Worsham; along with special appearances by Janelle Monáe and Share Our Strength executive director Billy Shore. These compilations have done a superb job of putting the pandemic in perspective, particularly how it relates to theater; in addition, there’s the major bonus of seeing where these actors are hunkered down during the coronavirus crisis.

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS AND NEW ORLEANS LITERARY FESTIVAL: THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

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Who: Bryan Batt, Samantha Beaulieu, Troi Bechet, Curtis Billings, Betty Buckley, Leslie Castay, Michael Cerveris, Patricia Clarkson, Patrick Cragin, Brenda Currin, Lisa D’Amour, Arsène DeLay, Gwendolyne Foxworth, Alison Fraser, Lawrence Henry Gobble, John Goodman, Rodney Hicks, Kenneth Holditch, Corey Johnson, Idella Johnson, Peggy Scott Laborde, Donald Lewis, Ti Martin, Elizabeth McCoy, Jessica Mixon, Whitney Mixon, Wendell Pierce, Francine Segal, Janet Shea, Harry Shearer, Carol Sutton, Beverly Trask, Kathleen Turner, Cassie Worley, Jake Wynne-Wilson
What: Virtual literary celebration of Tennessee Williams and New Orleans
Where: Festival home page
When: Friday, July 31, free (donations accepted), 8:00
Why: The thirty-fourth annual Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival was scheduled to take place March 25-29, with nearly 150 guests honoring the playwright and his adopted hometown, featuring a circus, a writing marathon, craft sessions, live performances, panel discussions, readings, and more. But with the pandemic lockdown, the event has gone virtual; it has been transformed into a one-night online party, “The Kindness of Strangers,” with a prestigious lineup sharing stories about Williams and the festival and performing excerpts from his writings. Though born in Columbus, Missouri, on March 26, 1911, as Thomas Lanier Williams III, and passing away in New York City on February 25, 1983, Williams became closely associated with his adopted hometown of New Orleans during his half-century career, setting many of his plays there, including A Streetcar Named Desire, Suddenly Last Summer, and Vieux Carré. In a statement, TWFest executive director Paul J. Willis called the tribute a “love letter to the festival, to Tennessee Williams, and to all that he loved about New Orleans. It is a testament to the artistic and enduring spirit of this city and our namesake playwright.” Among the participants are Betty Buckley, Michael Cerveris, Patricia Clarkson, Brenda Currin, Alison Fraser, John Goodman, Corey Johnson, Wendell Pierce, Francine Segal, Harry Shearer, and Kathleen Turner. The show goes live July 31 at 8:00 and will be available for viewing through August 14.

MARTIN LUTHER ON TRIAL: A VIRTUAL PRESENTATION

martin luther on trial

Who: Paul DeBoy, Kersti Bryan, John FitzGibbon, Mark Boyett, Fletcher McTaggart, Jamil A. C. Mangan, Max McLean
What: Virtual dramatic reunion reading from Fellowship for Performing Arts
Where: Online link sent day before event
When: Sunday, August 2, free with RSVP, 4:00
Why: In December 2016, Fellowship for Performing Arts presented Martin Luther on Trial at the Pearl Theatre, in honor of the five hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Now, during the pandemic lockdown, FPA, which approaches theater from a Christian perspective — other works include The Screwtape Letters, Paradise Lost, and A Man for All Seasons — is bringing back the original cast for Martin Luther on Trial: A Virtual Presentation, a live reunion reading on August 2 at 4:00. In a program note from the Pearl production, cowriter and FPA artistic director Max McLean explained, “In 1517, a young Augustinian monk nailed 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This act launched the Protestant Reformation, or Revolt, depending on your point of view. Regardless of where you come down, few will disagree that Martin Luther left an indelible imprint on Western Civilization. That imprint — from Justification by Faith alone, to the scandal of a splintered Christianity, and his role in the German-Jewish question — is still with us today.” The returning ensemble features Paul DeBoy as the Devil, Kersti Bryan as Katie Von Bora, John FitzGibbon as St. Peter, Mark Boyett as Hitler, St. Paul, Josel, Freud, Hans Luther, and Pope Francis, Fletcher McTaggart as Martin Luther, and Jamil A. C. Mangan as Tetzel, Confessor, Martin Luther King Jr., Philip Melanchthon, the Holy Roman Emperor, and Michael the Archangel. Set in the afterlife as Lucifer makes his case for Luther’s soul, the play, originally directed by Michael Parva onstage, was written by Chris Cragin-Day and McLean. The free reading will be followed by a live Q&A moderated by McLean.

HAM4CHANGE: A VIRTUAL FUNDRAISER EVENT

ham4change

Who: Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Christopher Jackson, Jonathan Groff, Brian d’Arcy James, Rory O’Malley, Andrew Rannells, Neil Haskell, Andrew Chappelle, Thayne Jasperson, Morgan Marcell, Javier Muñoz, Seth Stewart, Betsy Struxness, Sasha Hutchings
What: Livestreamed fundraisers with behind-the-scenes look at Hamilton, trivia, games, prizes, original content, and more
Where: Looped Live
When: Saturday, August 1, $10.75, 1:00; Sunday, August 9, 1:00; Saturday, August 15, 7:00
Why: Even with Broadway shut down, Hamilton continues to have an impact on theater and the world at large, particularly through criticism of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s treatment of slavery in the show, particularly in conjunction with the filmed version now streaming on Disney+. In the meantime, original cast members of the musical have organized Ham4Change, three online presentations to raise money for When We All Vote, LEAP (Law Enforcement Accountability Project), BEAM (Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective), Until Freedom, Color of Change, Dance4Hope, Know Your Rights Camp, BAI (Black AIDS Institute), and the African American Policy Forum. The program, featuring trivia, games, prizes, original content, and more, begins August 1 with Hamilton originals Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Christopher Jackson, and Jonathan Groff and special guests Brian d’Arcy James, Rory O’Malley, Andrew Rannells, Neil Haskell, Andrew Chappelle, Thayne Jasperson, Morgan Marcell, Javier Muñoz, Seth Stewart, and Betsy Struxness, hosted by Sasha Hutchings. Tickets are $10.75; VIP packages include Virtual Meet & Greets with many of the stars ($75) and Digital Fan Experiences with Groff, Muñoz, and Struxness ($1,000 each). The series continues August 9 at 1:00 and August 15 at 7:00; participants have yet to be announced.

ELIZABETH GILBERT BOOK CLUB FEATURING EMILY BERNARD

elizabeth gilbert book club

Who: Elizabeth Gilbert, Emily Bernard
What: Live literary discussion
Where: Elizabeth Gilbert Instagram Live
When: Wednesday, July 29, free, 3:00
Why:Black Is the Body is one of the most beautiful, elegant memoirs I’ve ever read,” bestselling author and journalist Elizabeth Gilbert writes in a blurb for Emily Bernard’s new book, Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine (Penguin Random House, $16, December 2019). “It’s about race; it’s about womanhood; it’s about friendship; it’s about a life of the mind and also a life of the body. But more than anything, it’s about love. . . . I can’t praise Emily Bernard enough for what she has created in these pages.” You’re likely to hear plenty more praise when the Nashville-born-and-raised Bernard joins the Connecticut-born Gilbert, the bestselling author of such books as Eat Pray Love, The Signature of All Things, and City of Girls, for the next edition of “The Elizabeth Gilbert Book Club: Conversations on Instagram” on July 29 at 3:00. Bernard, who previously edited Some of My Best Friends: Writings on Interracial Friendships and Remember Me to Harlem: The Letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten and wrote Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance: A Portrait in Black and White, won the Los Angeles Times’ Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose for Black Is the Body, which contains such chapters as “Scar Tissue,” “Teaching the N-Word,” “Skin,” and “White Friend.” The live talk will be archived on Gilbert’s Instagram page in case you miss it on Wednesday; you can watch her previous talks with Dr. Michelle Harper (The Beauty in Breaking) and Mikki Kendall (Hood Feminism: Note from the Women that a Movement Forgot) there, and you can catch Bernard’s LA Times prize acceptance speech here. “I’m so looking forward to this encounter,” Gilbert exclaims in her announcement of the event. So are we.

TWO RIVER RISING: YOUR BLUES AIN’T SWEET LIKE MINE / ON BORROWED TIME

two river rising

Who: Brandon J. Dirden, Andrew Hovelson, Merritt Janson, Roslyn Ruff, Glynn Turman, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Blair Brown, Michael Cumpsty, Oakes Fegley, Bill Irwin, Bebe Neuwirth, Phillipa Soo, Steven Skybell, Sam Waterston
What: Two River Rising Series
Where: Two River Theater online
When: Sunday, July 26, $25, 7:00 (available for free July 27-30 on YouTube); August 5-6, $25, 7:00
Why: Red Bank’s Two River Theater has amassed all-star lineups for its first two live benefit readings. On July 26 at 7:00, most of the original cast will reunite for an updated version of Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine, which ran at the New Jersey theater in the spring of 2015 and hosted many postshow discussions. The racially charged tale of a polemical dinner party features returning actors Brandon J. Dirden as Zeke, Andrew Hovelson as Randall, Merritt Janson as Judith, and Roslyn Ruff as Janeece, with Glynn Turman taking on the role of Zebedee. “I think this is a conversation we all have long waited for, and now the time is here,” Tony-winning actor, writer, and director Santiago-Hudson (Paradise Blue, August Wilson’s American Century Cycle) says in a promotional video. The reading will be performed live Sunday night and followed by a Q&A, after which it will be available for viewing July 27-30; the presentation is a benefit for the theater and the Ruben Santiago-Hudson Fine Arts Learning Center in his hometown of Lackawanna.

The series continues August 5 and 6 at 7:00 with a two-night reading of Paul Osborn’s On Borrowed Time, directed by Oscar and Tony winner Joel Grey and starring Blair Brown, Michael Cumpsty, Oakes Fegley, Bill Irwin, Bebe Neuwirth, Phillipa Soo, Steven Skybell, and Sam Waterston. Act one will be read August 5, act two on August 6; proceeds benefit the Actors Fund. The 1938 play about death as an older couple raise their orphaned grandson has been revived on Broadway several times and was made into a film with Lionel Barrymore, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Beulah Bondi, and Una Merkel; it ran at Two River in the fall of 2013. Grey made his acting debut in the role of nine-year-old Pud at the Cleveland Play House in 1941. “Though I’m not nine anymore, I’ve revisited this play many times throughout my life, and I’m not sure I ever needed to hear what it has to say as much as I do right now,” he said in a statement.