Who: David Byrne, David Mitchell
What: Online discussion and Q&A
Where: 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center
When: Tuesday, July 14, $35, 6:00
Why: In his Broadway show American Utopia, Scotland-born former Talking Heads American lead singer David Byrne adapted songs from throughout his career into a stunningly conceived stage musical with a mobile, untethered band, choreography by Annie-B Parson, and a narrative delving into the nature of the human brain and our experience on this planet, featuring such songs as “Here,” “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody),” “Bullet,” and “Road to Nowhere.” In his brand-new novel, Utopia Avenue, English author David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, Black Swan Green) follows the life and times of a fictional British psychedelic band; the first chapter is titled “Abandon Hope.” On July 14 at 6:00, Byrne and Mitchell will discuss their latest work and the state of the world in a livestreamed discussion from wherever they are sheltering in place; the event is hosted by the 92nd St. Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center and the Community Bookstore in Park Slope. Tickets are $35 but come with a signed copy of Utopia Avenue; the first one hundred purchasers will get the opportunity to briefly chat virtually one-on-one with Mitchell.
Who: Sharon Owens, Moya Mathison, Arruna D’Souza, Alexis Green, Gimmidat, Ras Baraka, Linda C. Harrison
What: Newark Museum of Art virtual community day
Where: Newark Museum of Art Facebook Live and Zoom
When: Sunday, July 12, free (advance registration required for Zoom programs), noon - 5:00
Why: On July 12, 1967, after an incident of police brutality committed by white officers on Black taxi driver John Smith in Newark, New Jersey, a civil rebellion broke out, with four days of anger, riot, looting, and racial tension exploding during a tumultuous time across America — it was clearly not the Summer of Love for everyone. With parallels that are happening in the country today, the Newark Museum of Art looks back at that turbulent period with “Community Day: Say It Loud — A Reflection on the ’67 Newark Uprising, Then and Now.” The free, virtual afternoon consists of a series of special programs exploring social justice, including storytelling, performance, and talks, taking place between noon and 5:00 on Sunday afternoon, the fifty-third anniversary of the uprising. “Our country is fractured, and its most vulnerable communities are in mourning and looking for reprieve,” museum director and CEO Linda C. Harrison said in a statement. “The Newark Museum of Art stands by its commitment to not only aid in the healing process through art but to also be a catalyst for discussions on systemic racism, equity, and inclusion to help shape a more hopeful future.” Below is the full schedule; some events require advance registration on Zoom. (On July 18, the museum will host “Community Day: Celebrating Pride,” with drag queen Harmonica Sunbeam, Amanda Simpson of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, LGBTQIA musical artists Wafia and Calvin Arsenia, the LGBTQ+ Rights Panel: “Where Are We Going?,” fashion designer Marco Hall, DJ Kenneth Kyrell, and more.)
Sunday, July 12
“Storytime Live: Undoing Racism,” with Sharon Owens of the Newark Public Library reading Old Turtle and the Broken Truth, written by Douglas Wood and illustrated by Jon J. Muth, followed by a conversation with child therapist Moya Mathison, noon
“Inequality in Art,” with Aruna D’Souza, author of Whitewalling: Art, Race, and Protest in 3 Acts, 2:00
Poet Alexis Green and Music by Gimmidat, Zoom only, 3:00
Ras Baraka and Linda Harrison in Conversation: “Newark, the Progressive City,” with Newark mayor Ras Baraka and Newark Museum of Art director and CEO Linda C. Harrison, 4:00
Who: Chukwudi Iwuji, Nathan Winkelstein
What: Live discussion of the title character, “a homely swain,” of Henry VI
Where: Red Bull Theater’s website, Vimeo, Facebook Live
When: Monday, June 29, free, 7:30
Why: Red Bull Theater’s RemarkaBULL Podversations streaming series continues June 29 with Shakespearean star and Olivier winner Chukwudi Iwuji discussing Henry VI with Red Bull associate producer Nathan Winkelstein; Iwuji will also perform a passage that includes: “Would I were dead! if God's good will were so; / For what is in this world but grief and woe? / O God! methinks it were a happy life, / To be no better than a homely swain; / To sit upon a hill, as I do now, / To carve out dials quaintly, point by point, / Thereby to see the minutes how they run, / How many make the hour full complete; / How many hours bring about the day; / How many days will finish up the year; / How many years a mortal man may live.” The Nigerian-born British thespian portrayed Henry VI in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s three-part production in 2006-8; on these shores he has played Edgar in King Lear and the title character in Othello for Shakespeare in the Park, Hamlet for the Public Theater Mobile Unit, and the Duke of Birmingham in Richard III at BAM while also winning an Obie for Bruce Norris’s The Low Road. You should also check out Iwuji’s Brave New Shakespeare Challenge performance of the balcony scene from Romeo & Juliet, delivered from his home in Harlem. Future RemarkaBULL Podversations feature the “I am I” speech from Richard III with Matthew Rauch on July 6 and the “All the World’s a Stage” soliloquy from As You Like It with Stephen Spinella on July 13.
Who: Aedín Moloney of the Irish Repertory Theatre
What: Livestreamed performances adapted for onscreen viewing
Where: Irish Rep onine (link sent after RSVP)
When: Tuesday, June 16, 7:00; Wednesday, June 17, 3:00 & 8:00; Thursday, June 18, 7:00; Friday, June 19, 8:00; Saturday, June 20, 3:00, advance RSVP required (suggested donation $25)
Why: The Irish Rep has become one of the busiest theater companies in New York City during the pandemic, presenting a brand-new coronavirus-related work and hosting the Meet the Makers and The Show Must Go Online series. On May 27 it premiered The Gifts You Gave to the Dark, Darren Murphy’s short, heartbreaking work about a man (Marty Rea) in Belfast with Covid-19 unable to visit his dying mother (Marie Mullen) in Dublin, who is being cared for by her brother (Seán McGinley). Directed by Caitríona McLaughlin, the play gets right to the heart of the crisis as only Irish tales can; it will be available online through October 31.
The Irish Rep now turns its attention to adapting several recent stage productions for the internet, beginning with Yes! Reflections of Molly Bloom. The award-winning seventy-five-minute one-woman show, based on James Joyce’s epic Ulysses, was adapted by Aedín Moloney and Colum McCann, directed by Kira Simring, and features music by Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains (and Aedín’s father); it originally ran at the company’s home on West Twenty-Second St. in June and July of last year, with Moloney as Molly Bloom in the early morning hours of June 17, 1904, as she considers love, loneliness, and isolation. The full team has now reimagined the play for onscreen viewing, with Aedín Moloney reprising her role; it will be performed live from June 16 — Bloomsday, when Joyce’s iconic tome takes place — through June 20. Admission is free with advance RSVP, with a suggested donation of $25.
The Irish Rep continues its online foray with “Meet the Maker: Frank McCourt . . . And How He Got That Way: A Conversation with Ellen McCourt and Malachy McCourt” on June 18; “Meet the Maker: Conor McPherson” on July 2; a special gala screening with new video of Frank McCourt’s The Irish . . . and How They Got That Way on July 13; “Meet the Makers: John Douglas Thompson and Obi Abili on Breaking Barriers in Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones” on July 16; Dan Butler, Sean Gormley, John Keating, Tim Ruddy, and Amanda Quaid in an online version of Conor McPherson’s The Weir from July 21 to 25; and a virtual version of Barry Day’s Love, Noël, a musical about Noël Coward starring Steve Ross and KT Sullivan, from August 11 to 15. I’m exhausted just thinking about it, but I can’t wait to be at my computer to experience the joy of live theater, even if it’s through a screen.
Who: Rita Wolf, Zach Grenier, Fiona Shaw, Nuala Kennedy & Caoimhín Vallely, Peter Francis James, Malachy McCourt, Mia Dillon, Chris Ranney & Caitlin Warbelow, Kate Mulgrew, Cynthia Nixon, Hugh Dancy, Donna Lynne Champlin, Colum McCann, Claire Danes, Dan Stevens, Juliana Canfield, Brenda Castles, Denis O’Hare, Kirsten Vangsness
What: Annual marathon reading of James Joyce’s Ulysses
Where: Symphony Space YouTube channel
When: Tuesday, June 16, free, 8:00 am
Why: Every June 16 since 1981, Symphony Space has been presenting “Bloomsday on Broadway,” a marathon all-star reading of James Joyce’s iconic 1922 novel, Ulysses, the book each one of us has but very few have finished. “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him by the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned: — Introibo ad altare,” the seven-hundred-plus-page tome begins. The story takes place on June 16, 1904, following Leopold Bloom, Molly Bloom, and Stephen Dedalus in a modernist retelling of Homer’s Odyssey.
A coproduction with the Irish Arts Center, “Bloomsday on Broadway” ventures online this year, with the performers reading from wherever they are sheltering in place instead of onstage at 2537 Broadway at Ninety-Fifth St. That turned out to be a bit of a blessing, as the lineup, curated by Jonathan Goldman, is even more impressive than usual: sharing episodes will be Zach Grenier, Fiona Shaw, Malachy McCourt, Mia Dillon, Kate Mulgrew, Cynthia Nixon, Hugh Dancy, Donna Lynne Champlin, Colum McCann, Claire Danes, and Denis O’Hare, with musical interludes by Brenda Castles, Nuala Kennedy & Caoimhín Vallely, and Chris Ranney & Caitlin Warbelow. The event, which is part of “At Home with Irish Arts Center” and Symphony Space’s “Your Home” online programming during the pandemic lockdown, is free and will be streamed on YouTube from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm. Below is the full schedule, detailing who will be reading excerpts from each section at which time.
Episode I: Telemachus, by Stephen Colbert
Episode II: Nestor, by Rita Wolf
Episode III: Proteus, by Zach Grenier
Episode IV: Calypso, by Fiona Shaw
“Love’s Old Sweet Song,” by Nuala Kennedy & Caoimhín Vallely
Episode V: Lotus Eaters, by Peter Francis James
Episode VI: Hades, by Malachy McCourt
Episode VII: Aeolus by Mia Dillon
“The Heath Bald/Miller’s Maggot/Calliope House,” by Chris Ranney & Caitlin Warbelow
Episode VIII: Lestrygonians, by Kate Mulgrew
Episode IX: Scylla and Charybdis, by Cynthia Nixon
Episode X: Wandering Rocks, by Hugh Dancy
Episode XI: Sirens, by Donna Lynne Champlin
“Porthole of the Kelp,” by Chris Ranney & Caitlin Warbelow
Episode XII: Cyclops, by Colum McCann
Episode XIII: Nausicaa, by Claire Danes
Episode XIV: Oxen of the Sun, by Brian Cox
Episode XV: Circe, by Dan Stevens
Episode XVI: Eumaeus, by Juliana Canfield
“Raglan Road,” by Brenda Castles
Episode XVII: Ithaca, by Denis O’Hare
Episode XVIII: Penelope, by Kirsten Vangsness
Who: Bryan Doerries, Frankie Faison, Amy Ryan, Kathryn Erbe, Marjolaine Goldsmith, David Zayas, Jumaane Williams
What: Live Zoom theatrical production and discussion from Theater of War
Where: Zoom link sent with advance registration
When: Thursday, June 11, free with RSVP, 7:00
Why: One of the best Zoom presentations of the pandemic has been Theater of War’s The Oedipus Project, in which Frances McDormand, John Turturro, Oscar Isaac, Jeffrey Wright, Frankie Faison, David Strathairn, Glenn Davis, Marjolaine Goldsmith, and Jumaane Williams gave a live, powerful dramatic reading of scenes from Sophocles’s fifth-century BCE classic, Oedipus the King, from wherever they were sheltering in place. (Most of the actors chose relatively spare, blank backgrounds while Turturro opted for an anachronistic study.) The event was introduced by Theater of War cofounder and adapter/director Bryan Doerries, who also led a postshow discussion relating the play to the Covid-19 crisis.
The organization now turns its attention to the themes of caregiving and death with The King Lear Project, streaming live on Zoom on June 11 at 7:00. In the play, Lear asks, “Doth any here know me? This is not Lear: Doth Lear walk thus? Speak thus? Where are his eyes? Either his notion weakens, or his discernings are lethargied — Ha! Waking? ’tis not so. Who is it that can tell me who I am?” To which the Fool responds, “Lear’s shadow.” The reading will feature another all-star lineup performing from home, consisting of Amy Ryan, David Zayas, Kathryn Erbe, Faison, Goldsmith, and Public Advocate Williams; it will be followed by a talk facilitated by Doerries with four community panelists on the subjects of aging, dementia, elder care, and family dynamics, examining the play — which Shakespeare wrote, perhaps while self-isolating, during the 1606 plague, when theaters had shut down — in context with the current pandemic.
FERLINGHETTI: A REBIRTH OF WONDER (Christopher Felver, 2009) / HUM BOM! (Christopher Felver, 1999)
Friday, June 5, free, 7:00
Festival continues through June 6
“Poetry should be dissident, and subversive, and an agent for change,” poet, publisher, painter, activist, and military veteran Lawrence Ferlinghetti says in Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth of Wonder, a refreshing and revealing documentary about the author of A Coney Island of the Mind and owner of the famous City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. The film is streaming online for free on June 5 at 7:00 as part of Howl!’s Allen Ginsberg Film Festival, which continues through June 6. Director Christopher Felver, who has previously made documentaries on John Cage, Tony Cragg, Donald Judd, and Cecil Taylor, has compiled ten years of interviews with Ferlinghetti, including trips to Italy, where the poet’s father was born; France, where the aunt who raised him was from; and his childhood home in New York.
Among those sharing their opinions of the charming and friendly Ferlinghetti, who turned 101 in March, are fellow poets Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, Anne Waldman, and Billy Collins as well as such other artistic figures as David Amram, Dave Eggers, Dennis Hopper, and Jean-Jacques Lebel, all of whom have only the most positive things to say about the film’s subject. Despite his radicalism and calls for social and political change around the world, Ferlinghetti is nearly always wearing a smile, clearly enjoying the long life he’s leading. He discusses his friendships with Kenneth Rexroth, Shakespeare & Co. founder George Whitman, and the Beats, primarily Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, focusing at one point on the censorship trial involving his publication of Ginsberg’s Howl, which turned into a critical battle over First Amendment rights. Counterculture guru Ferlinghetti is shown performing in a studio with Amram, accepting an award from the city of San Francisco, discussing his family, working on his abstract paintings, and wearing silly hats. He is completely at ease with who he is and where he came from, as well as where he’s going, still fighting the power as valiantly as ever, not just relaxing on his many laurels. Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth of Wonder is also likely to make viewers think twice about their own lives, realizing there’s a great big world out there, and it is possible for each and every person to make a difference, especially during these challenging times.
A Rebirth of Wonder will be shown along with Felver’s 1999 short, Hum Bom!, featuring Ginsberg and Amram, as well as video of the 2018 Howl Gallery party. The celebration concludes June 6 at 7:00 with Colin Still’s 1997 doc No More to Say and Nothing to Weep For: An Elegy for Allen Ginsberg, Felver’s video for Sonic Youth’s “Making the Nature Scene,” and video of the 2019 Howl Gallery party.