If Beale Street Could Talk — Photo: Tatum Magnus/Annapuruna Pictures
DON’T GET TROUBLE IN YOUR MIND
The little-known, long-standing tradition of the bluegrass tradition in African-American communities, as well as the untold story of how blacks and whites collaborated to create the earliest forms of American popular music, is the subject of John Whitehead’s latest documentary, Don’t Get Trouble in Your Mind: The Carolina Chocolate Drops Story. The focus is on three young string musicians who achieved fame and acclaim, including a Grammy, as the Carolina Chocolate Drops, including Rhiannon Giddens of Nashville fame and Dom Flemons, as well as their late mentor, fiddler Joe Thompson. A discussion with Whitehead and journalist Jordannah Elizabeth will follow next week’s screening in Baltimore. Thursday, Jan. 10, at 7:30 p.m. Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave. Tickets are $10 in advance, or $13 at the door. Call 410-276-1651 or visit creativealliance.org.
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK
Tish is an African-American woman determined to clear the name of her husband Fonny, wrongfully accused of rape, before she gives birth to their child. The latest film from Moonlight screenwriter and director Barry Jenkins adapts James Baldwin’s 1974 novel, its themes of racism and injustice still concerningly relevant today. If Beale Street Could Talk stars Kiki Layne as Tish and Stephan James as Fonny. Critics are already heaping praise on the film, so don’t be surprised to see it reappear come awards season. Now playing. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (Rhuaridh Marr)
In the 23rd century, life is utopic — until you reach the age of 30. At that point you’re put down in this 1976 thriller starring Michael York, Peter Ustinov, Jenny Agutter, and Peter Farrah Fawcett. Logan Run is the next in the weekly Capital Classics series at Landmark’s West End Cinema. Screenings are Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 1:30, 4:30, and 7:30 p.m., 2301 M St. NW. Happy hour from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $12.50. Call 202-534-1907 or visit landmarktheatres.com.
ON THE BASIS OF SEX
Notorious RBG makes her big screen debut. Felicity Jones is a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a brilliant lawyer fighting for equal rights for women, including in arguments before the Supreme Court that she would eventually come to have a seat on. Armie Hammer co-stars as Ginsburg’s husband, Martin, and Emmy-winning director Mimi Leder is at the helm. This is about as close as it gets to perfect Oscar-fodder, but should also hopefully make for compelling viewing — Ginsburg’s incredible life achievements deserve it. Now playing. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (RM)
Morocco’s official entry for the 2018 Academy Awards, Nabil Ayouch’s mesmerizing drama was also the Opening Night Film at the New York Jewish Film Festival, and now becomes the first film presented by the Washington Jewish Film Festival for screening in 2019. Razzia follows five Moroccans from different social and religious strata, including Salima, who refuses the traditional stereotypes of wife, mother, and woman, the troubled bourgeois teen Inès, and the Freddie Mercury-idolizing singer Hakim. In French and Arabic with English subtitles. Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 7:30 p.m. Landmark’s E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW. Tickets are $12 in advance, or $14 at the door. Call 202-777-3250 or visit wjff.org.
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW
Landmark’s E Street Cinema presents its monthly run of Richard O’Brien’s camp classic, billed as the longest-running midnight movie in history. Landmark’s showings come with a live shadow cast from the Sonic Transducers, meaning it’s even more interactive than usual. Friday, Jan 10, and Saturday, Jan. 11, at midnight. Landmark’s E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW. Call 202-452-7672 or visit landmarktheatres.com.
The Panties The Partner and the Profit — Photo: Carol Rosegg
Matthew Gardiner helms Signature Theatre’s take on the moving musical from writer/lyricist Lee Hall and composer Elton John about an 11-year-old boy who just wants to dance. The production features two Billys and two young ensembles performing in rotation, along with an adult crew featuring Nancy Anderson as Mrs. Wilkinson, Chris Genebach as Billy’s father, Crystal Mosser as his mother, Sean Watkinson as brother Tony, and Catherine Flye as Grandma. To Jan. 6. The Ark, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Call 703-820-9771 or visit sigtheatre.org.
ELF THE MUSICAL
An orphan leaves the North Pole to find his true identity in this musical based on the 2003 Will Ferrell movie and featuring songs by the team of composer Matthew Sklar and lyricist Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer) and a book by Thomas Meehan (Annie) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone). Olney Theatre presents a holiday treat of a production with a powerhouse cast including Patricia Hurley, Kevin McAllister, Nova Y. Payton, and Bobby Smith, plus David Schumpf in the Ferrell role of Buddy. Directed by Michael J. Bobbitt and choreographed by Tara Jeanne Vallee. To Jan. 6. Mainstage, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Md. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.
FANCY NANCY’S SPLENDIFEROUS CHRISTMAS
Nancy has enough money to buy a brand-new sparkly tree topper, but when things don’t turn out as she planned, will Christmas still be splendiferous? Adventure Theatre MTC presents a musical geared toward younger audiences. Stevie Zimmerman directs. To Jan. 6. 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo Park. Call 301-634-2270 or visit adventuretheatre-mtc.org.
A comedy about money, power, and American democracy focused on a newly elected congresswoman who refuses to play by the rules of lobbyists or her own party. If ever there were a built-in audience for a show in D.C., Alexandria-native playwright Sarah Burgess’ Kings is it. Marti Lyons directs a Studio Theatre production featuring Nehassaiu deGannes as Rep. Sydney Millsap and Kelly McCrann as Kate, a seasoned lobbyist who, it turns out, isn’t as hardened and jaded as even she thought. To Jan. 6. 14th & P Streets NW. Call 202-332-3300 or visit studiotheatre.org.
MY FATHER’S DRAGON
As part of its Family Theater series, Synetic Theater produces a wordless adaptation of Ruth Stiles Gannett’s book starring Synetic’s Ryan Sellers and directed and choreographed by the company’s Tori Bertocci. My Father’s Dragon focuses on the attempts of Elmer Elevator to rescue a captive baby dragon on Wild Island. To Jan. 6. Theater at Crystal City, 1800 South Bell St., Arlington. Tickets are $20. Call 800-811-4111 or visit synetictheater.org.
A psychotherapist gets a visit from a new and desperate patient — God — in a witty and touching work by Anat Gov, billed as the “Wendy Wasserstein of Israel.” Kimberly Schraf is the therapist who must talk the divine one (Mitchell Hébert) off the ledge of despair over the state of humanity in Mosaic Theater’s winter holiday production directed by Michael Bloom that launches the 18th season of the annual Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival. As part of the festival, select performances will be followed by free post-show discussions exploring resonant themes in the work with experts in religion, psychotherapy, and comedy. To Jan. 13. Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $20 to $65. Call 202-399-7993 or visit mosaictheater.org.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
This tour-de-farce is arguably Oscar Wilde’s greatest play, as courtships, class, and convention square off with handbags, puns, and perambulators. For the Everyman Theatre production, director Joseph Ritsch of Rep Stage has restored the original script to include the politics and double entendres that were stripped out and censored after Wilde was imprisoned due to his homosexuality. “Baltimore’s master of comedy” Bruce Randolph Nelson dons drag to play Lady Bracknell, with Danny Gavigan as Algernon and Jaysen Wright as Jack. Daniel Ettinger’s set and David Burdick’s costumes are a modern mash-up, inspired by Roy Lichtenstein and the Pop Art movement. To Jan. 6. 315 West Fayette St. Baltimore. Tickets are $10 to $65. Call 410-752-2208 or visit everymantheatre.org.
THE PANTIES, THE PARTNER AND THE PROFIT
David Ives adapts and American-izes the epic comic trilogy Scenes from the Heroic Life of the Middle Classes by Carl Sternheim, a German Expressionist master of satire from a century ago. The play follows the Mask family over the span of a half-century, starting in Boston circa 1950, moving to Wall Street in 1987, and ending in Malibu “tomorrow morning.” Michael Kahn directs Carson Elrod and Kimberly Gilbert as husband Joseph and wife Louise in the Shakespeare Theatre Company production of a social commentary about our “near-apocalypse” society also featuring Julia Coffey, Kevin Isola, Turna Mete, and Tony Roach, each portraying various roles. To Jan. 6. Lansburgh Theatre, 450 7th St. NW. Call 202-547-1122 or visit shakespearetheatre.org.
THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
Touted as a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Monty Python and made for the stage, this classic murder mystery is full of mishaps and madcap mania. From an unconscious leading lady, to actors tripping over everything (including their lines), The Murder at Haversham Manor, the play-within-this-play, has a murderous opening night. Fortunately, the actors killed it, as it were, when The Play That Goes Wrong debuted in London and New York, earning the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy and garnering critical praise. To Jan. 6. Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Tickets are $49 to $149. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
An internationally acclaimed concert soloist, the American pianist, born and raised in Moldova, performs Chopin preludes and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. Presented by the Washington Conservatory of Music, the concert will be followed by a Wine & Words session with the musician along with complimentary beverages. Saturday, Jan. 5, at 8 p.m. Westmoreland Congregational Church, 1 Westmoreland Circle, Bethesda. Tickets are free, donations welcome. Call 301-320-2770 or visit washingtonconservatory.org.
ARNAUD SUSSMANN, PAUL NEUBAUER, AND DAVID FINCKEL TRIO
A violinist, a violist, and a cellist step into the Barns at Wolf Trap to perform three chamber masterworks written for their combination of stringed instruments: Beethoven’s Opus 9, No. 1 Trio in G Major, Dohnányi’s romantic Serenade in C Major, and Mozart’s quintessential classical Viennese Divertimento in E-flat Major. Friday, Jan. 11, at 7:30 p.m. The Barns at Wolf Trap, 1635 Trap Road, Vienna. Tickets are $40. Call 877-WOLFTRAP or visit wolftrap.org.
BALTIMORE SYMPHONY: LEON FLEISHER’S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION
The renowned American pianist, a 2007 Kennedy Center Honoree, will toast his birthday by performing a specialty of his, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major. Led by conductor Peter Oundjian, the BSO will also perform Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, full of beautiful melodies and an exuberantly joyful finale. Friday, Jan. 4, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 6, at 3 p.m. Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., Baltimore. Also Saturday, Jan. 5, at 8 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $25 to $90. Call 877-276-1444 or visit bsomusic.org.
Chances are good you’ll fall for Little Bird minutes into listening to the band’s 2018 EP Familiar, which shows the ambient soul/R&B band to be a wild and warm kindred spirit to everyone from D’Angelo and Erykah Badu to Australian jam band-inspired soul act Hiatus Kaiyote. The band will play an intimate show at the 180-seat Soundry, which the Clyde’s Restaurant Group opened this past summer in Columbia to be a sibling to the local chain’s crown jewel, Hamilton Live. Opening for Little Bird is D.C.’s electro-soul quintet Novo. Saturday, Jan. 5. Doors at 7 p.m. The Soundry, 10221 Wincopin Circle, Columbia. Tickets are $10 to $15. Call 443-283-1200 or visit thesoundry.com.
PASSPORT TO THE WORLD 2019: PATSY CLINE TRIBUTE, CECILY, CRYS MATTHEWS & HEATHER MAE
Curated by Lynn Veronneau and Ken Avis of Wammie-winning jazz samba group Veronneau, this annual festival presented by Virginia’s Creative Cauldron celebrates the music and dance of cultures around the world, with performances by artists representing a broad spectrum of genres: folk to Latin, opera to bluegrass. The 2019 series kicks off the first weekend in January with “Patsy Cline Tribute: Six Voices,” a tribute, in song and story, to the Virginia native female country legend and featuring vocalists Jess Eliot Myhre of the Bumper Jacksons, Lauren Calve, Maureen Andary of the Sweater Set, Karen Jonas, Brian Farrow, Ahren Buchheister, and Pat Puglisi, on Saturday, Jan. 5, at 7:30 p.m. That’s followed by “Cecily Salutes D.C.,” a concert featuring a homegrown talent and her band exploring the contributions that her forebears from the nation’s capital have made to American soul music, from Duke Ellington to Gil Scott-Heron to Roberta Flack, on Sunday, Jan. 6, at 6:30 p.m. Among the offerings the following weekend is a concert featuring D.C.-area powerhouse female vocalists and social change-minded songwriters, including lesbians Crys Matthews and Heather Mae, on Saturday, Jan. 12, at 7:30 p.m. The series continues to Feb. 2. ArtSpace Falls Church, 410 South Maple Ave. in Falls Church. Tickets are $18 to $22, or $60 for tables of two with wine, $120 for tables of four with wine. Call 703-436-9948 or visit creativecauldron.org.
THE INSERIES: FROM U STREET TO THE COTTON CLUB
KenYatta Rogers returns to direct this toe-tapping hit first presented in 2009. The cabaret production features music by Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, and more from 1920s and ’30s jazz-age America, performed amidst tales of African Americans from the era woven together by playwright Sybil Williams. And two hours before every show, the In Series has partnered with local historian Timothy Wright for a guided walking tour into the music, mural art, and life along U Street, once known as D.C.’s Black Broadway, that ends with a discounted dinner at Ben’s Chili Bowl. Opens Saturday, Jan. 5. Runs to Jan. 20. Source, 1835 14th St. NW. Tickets $20 to $45, or $15 for the pre-show walking tour. Call 202-204-7763 or visit inseries.org.
WASHINGTON NATIONAL OPERA: AMERICAN OPERA INITIATIVE FESTIVAL
“Catch a glimpse into the future of opera” goes the tagline for this festival, WNO’s commissioning program for contemporary American opera now in its seventh season. This year’s festival includes two different programs featuring four world premiere operas, performed in concert with Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists accompanied by a small chamber orchestra and followed by a Q&A with the artists and creative teams. Program One focuses on Taking Up Serpents, a new hour-long opera from composer Kamala Sankaram and librettist Jerre Dye that spins an engrossing tale about the controversial world of religious snake-handling, and focused on the estranged daughter (performed by Alexandria Shiner) of a fire-and-brimstone preacher who is dangerously bitten by one of his snakes. Performances are Friday, Jan. 11, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 13, at 2 p.m. Program Two centers around “Three New 20-Minute Operas,” including 75 Miles, with music by Matt Boehler and a libretto by Laura Barati focused on a family in rural Pennsylvania who grapple with faith, beliefs, and economic limitations in the face of an unexpected teen pregnancy; Relapse, with music by Molly Joyce and a libretto by James Kennedy about a woman struggling with her addiction after a serious drug overdose; and Pepito, with music by Nicolas Lell Benavides and libretto by Marella Martin Koch, a tale about a lonely shelter dog and the troubled young married couple eager, maybe a bit too eager, to adopt. Performances are Saturday, Jan. 12, at 7 and 9 p.m. Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. Tickets are $19 to $45 per program. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
IMPROBABLE COMEDY: COMEDY AS A SECOND LANGUAGE
A show that President Trump doesn’t want you to see, the Maryland presenter Improbable Comedy has recruited more immigrants and first-generation comics for its second Comedy As A Second Language program. Performers on tap are Pedro Gonzalez, Davine Ker, Simone, and Anna Tirat-Gefen. Saturday, Jan. 12, at 7:30 p.m. Silver Spring Black Box Theatre, 8641 Colesville Road. Tickets are $16 to $22. Call 301-351-2096 or visit improbablecomedy.com.
ILIZA: THE ELDER MILLENNIAL TOUR
Iliza, the only female and youngest contestant to win the title of NBC’s Last Comic Standing, has become one of the more popular stand-up acts on the touring circuit as well as on TV, via her Netflix specials Freezing Hot and Confirmed Kills, and Truth & Iliza, her late-night talk show that just wrapped up its first season on Freeform. Apparently, Iliza’s fans show their loyalty by creating Iliza-inspired swag that they wear to shows. Thursday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW. Tickets are $37.50 plus fees, or $145 for a VIP Package including Meet & Greet. Call 202-783-4000 or visit warnertheatredc.com.
The six-season alum from Saturday Night Live, well known especially for his impressions of President Obama, Jay Z, and Kanye West, has more recently shown his dramatic abilities via Showtime’s White Famous and Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane. He’s currently working on his second stand-up special by trying out and perfecting his material performing at nightclubs and college auditoriums around the country. Friday, Jan. 11. Doors at 8 p.m. 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. Tickets are $30 for this seated show. Call 202-265-0930 or visit 930.com.
You may remember the comedic performer as the “hooker with the heart of gold” in Borat. Luenell has also had notable appearances on TV, including Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and as a featured performer in the 2012 special Snoop Dogg Presents: The Bad Girls of Comedy. Now she’s set for her DC Improv debut, for a weekend run of shows with opening sets from Cerrome Russell. Friday, Jan. 4, at 7:30 and 9:45 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 5, at 7 and 9:30 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 6, at 7 p.m. 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW. Tickets are $20 to $25, plus a two-item minimum. Call 202-296-7008 or visit dcimprov.com.
SUPER SPECTACULAR COMEDY SHOW FOR THE CLIMATE
Grassroots Comedy DC offers another night of comedy with a cause at Kramerbooks. This round, Grassroots is fulfilling its mission “to make humans laugh while improving humanity” by partnering with the DC chapter of the Sierra Club, giving the organization proceeds from the evening’s ticket sales as well as a chance to discuss its work as comedians trying their hand at topical jokes about the disastrous ways we treat our environment — because sometimes you gotta laugh to keep from crying. Friday, Jan. 11, at 8 and 10 p.m. Kramerbooks, 1517 Connecticut Ave. NW. Tickets are $12 in advance, or $15 at the door (if available). Call 202-387-1400 or visit kramers.com.
THE SECOND CITY: SHE THE PEOPLE
An all-female team roasts the patriarchy, modern politics and pop culture in the latest revue from Chicago’s sketch comedy troupe. Carly Heffernan directs a Second City ensemble featuring Atra Asdou, Carisa Barreca, Alex Bellisle, Katie Caussin, Kazi Jones, and Maggie Wilder. To Jan. 6. Woolly Mammoth, 641 D St. NW. Tickets range from $20 to $85. Call 202-393-3939 or visit woollymammoth.net.
DANIEL H. PINK
Why are parole-eligible prisoners more likely to get a favorable ruling earlier in the day? Why are adolescents who start school before 8 a.m. at an academic disadvantage? Those are just two among many intriguing questions answered in Daniel H Pink’s When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, a fascinating study of timing, drawing on research from psychology, biology, and economics. Since his days in the mid-1900s as the chief speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore, Pink has written several best-selling books applying key findings from behavioral science to everyday work and business situations (including Free Agent Nation and To Sell Is Human). In When, Pink shows the strong and predictable effects timing has on people’s thoughts and emotions, and offers pointers — many from his own “Time Hacker’s Handbook” — on how to maximize potential by planning the timing of important events and decisions. He drops by Politics and Prose for a discussion of his latest opus. Tuesday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m. Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free, but first-come, first-seated. Call 202-364-1919 or visit politics-prose.com.
Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville was a warrior with snake tattoos. And as head of the French Mississippi Company in 1718, he became the founder of New Orleans — just the first of many colorful, feisty, and creative characters that have made the Big Easy such a memorable place and destination. A History of New Orleans at Year 300 is the latest from Berry, an investigative journalist, documentary film producer, and author of previous books chronicling his hometown through the lenses of music, politics, and people. Sunday, Jan. 6, at 1 p.m. Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free, first-come, first-seated. Call 202-364-1919 or visit politics-prose.com.
A decade ago, Sincero was in her early 40s, broke and in debt. She turned that around by becoming a self-help figure who is saltier, punchier, and more relatable than most of those who came before her — styling herself as a Badass. Sincero comes to D.C. to speak and sign copies of You Are a Badass Every Day, part of her series of pocket-sized books offering inspiration and guidance to keep you fresh, grateful, and driven to pursue the life you want. Thursday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. 600 I St. NW. Tickets are $18, or $35 including one book, $45 for two tickets and one book. Call 202-408-3100 or visit sixthandi.org.
Even before her gripping performance during last year’s Kavanaugh hearings, the Democratic U.S. Senator from California was a buzzed-about potential candidate for president. Harris is only working to further the buzz with the release of The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, a new book drawing on her life and career as well as highlighting those who have inspired her. Along the way she touts our common bonds as Americans and the challenges we face together. Harris will discuss the book’s core themes as well as lay out her vision for the future at an event co-presented by Politics and Prose. Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 7 p.m. GW Lisner, The George Washington University, 730 21st St. NW. Tickets are $46.80 including fees and 1 book. Call 202-994-6851 or visit lisner.gwu.edu.
Every second Tuesday, Story District presents a program featuring everyday people sharing personal stories they’ve been coached to tell in seven minutes, and all focused on a particular topic. The latest round features storytellers who stepped outside their comfort zone to do something bold, new, and risky. Tuesday, Jan. 8. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. Tickets are $20 plus fees. Call 202-667-4490 or visit blackcatdc.com.
UNSPEAKABLE CRIMES: LGBTQ MYSTERY WRITING
OutWrite, a program of the DC Center for the LGBTQ Community, presents a panel discussion with readings and a Q&A with notable authors Brenda Buchanan, John Copenhaver, and Cheryl Head. Sherry Harris of Sisters in Crime will moderate the free event on Saturday, Jan. 5, at 6 p.m. East City Bookshop, 645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Call 202-290-1636 or visit eastcitybookshop.com.
Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen
ART & EXHIBITS
BESTUÉ-VIVES: RALF & JEANNETTE
The Washington Project for the Arts has set up this video projection, in an empty storefront a block south from where Town once stood, with the intention of making viewers reflect on chance encounters with strangers on the street as well as on changing social dynamics in the area. The story of a romantic relationship, artists David Bestué and Marc Vives originally presented Ralf & Jeannette as a one-time-only performance in 2010 on a crowded sidewalk in Times Square — from where the seemingly everyday interaction, lasting just over nine minutes, was projected onto a massive overhead digital billboard, with a multi-camera video feed of the event presented nationwide on MTV with subtitles in English. D.C.-based artist and arts manager Marta Pita curated the local reprise. On display Wednesdays to Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. through Jan. 13. WPA Annex, 1921 8th St. NW, Ground Floor. Call 202-234-7103 or visit wpadc.org.
The U.K.’s legendary 20th-century prime minister was a lifelong admirer of the 16th-Century Brit regarded as the greatest writer in the English language, and the Bard’s influence can be found in Churchill’s speeches and ideas. The Folger Shakespeare Library presents materials from its collection as well as those from Cambridge’s Churchill Archives Centre and Churchill’s home Chartwell, both of which collaborated on this special exhibition. To Jan. 6. 201 East Capitol St. SE. Call 202-544-4600 or visit folger.edu.
DANNI O’BRIEN: PLAY DATE
An immersive set of candy-colored, fuzztastic objects echo forms of both playground equipment and the artist’s memory of her own awkward, pubescent body in this exploration of childhood landscapes through camp, craft, and humor. The nostalgic, kitschy, and laborious process of latch hook-rug making is used as a means to grapple with notions of femininity, domesticity, and craft, as well as for its titillating and tactile physical qualities. Identified as a queer womyn maker and art educator based in Baltimore, O’Brien’s work marries construction and woodworking skills with traditional feminized and domesticated systems, such as rug making, creating dually hard and soft objects. In Play Date, O’Brien sourced vintage wool on eBay and cheap plastic rope from the Dollar Store to create the fibrous segments of a peculiar framework with off-kilter color schemes and animated textural shifts. Opening Reception is Friday, Jan. 4, from 6 to 9 p.m. On display to Jan. 27. IA&A at Hillyer, 9 Hillyer Court NW. Call 202-338-0325 or visit athillyer.org.
ELIZABETH CASQUEIRO: RE:VISION
An ode to the immigrant experience, this exhibition investigates the power of visionary myth to propel and restrain, and the struggle to reconcile who we are, how we are perceived, and who we want to become. Through the use of retro comic books and lifestyle ads, Casqueriro reflects the emotional push-and-pull of immigration — the pushing forward of a new life with the pulling back by the old and tradition. Ends with an Artist’s Talk on Sunday, Jan. 6, at 2 p.m. The Athenaeum, 201 Prince St., Alexandria. Call 703-548-0035 or visit nvfaa.org.
EXHIBITION OF FINE ARTS IN MINIATURE
Strathmore hosts the 85th annual show featuring more than 700 “mini-masterpieces”: intricately detailed works of art from around the world, painstakingly produced in miniature. The prodigious exhibition, presented by the Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers Society of Washington, D.C., draws viewers into a concentrated universe — tracing its roots to the 7th century — featuring portraits, still lifes, and landscapes all no bigger than a postage stamp. Through Jan. 6. The Mansion, 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.
Virginia’s Del Ray Artisans Gallery offers a group show of portraits, depicting faces and bodies as the artists portray them, whether realistic, impressionistic, surreal, or abstract. Curated by Rita Schooley and Kathy Turner, the exhibit features works celebrating faces spanning the ages, from a toddler, to a new mother, to an octogenarian. Opening Reception is Friday, Jan. 4, from 7 to 9 p.m. On display to Jan. 27. 2704 Mount Vernon Ave. Alexandria. Call 703-731-8802 or visit thedelrayartisans.org.
JOHN WATERS: INDECENT EXPOSURE
Talk about a shock: A preeminent high-art institution offering a retrospective on a famously, purposely lowbrow artist would be unusual and unexpected anywhere, regarding anyone. But that it’s the Baltimore Museum of Art honoring native son and “King of Trash” John Waters is somewhat unprecedented. Indecent Exposure showcases the famous queer filmmaker’s visual arts career through a display of 160 provocative photographs, sculptures, and video and sound works. The works range from send-ups of famous films and faces, to objects from Waters’ home and studio, to three peep-shows with footage from his rarely seen underground movies of the 1960s. All told, the exhibition offers a glimpse into the filmmaker’s childhood, identity, and personality, as well as touching on his influence and views on popular culture and the contemporary art world, with a nod to the transgressive power of images. To Jan. 6. 10 Art Museum Dr. Baltimore. Tickets are $10 to $15. Call 443-573-1700 or visit artbma.org.
NEW NATURE BY MARPI
Polish-born, San Francisco-based digital artist Mateusz “Marpi” Marcinowski has developed an immersive audiovisual experience featuring a colorful digital menagerie of nature-inspired creatures and plant life that react in real time to users’ gestures and actions. Inspired by early multiplayer online gaming systems such as Super Mario Brothers, Marpi’s New Nature is the latest installation at D.C.’s unique art-meets-technology gallery ArTecHouse. To Jan. 13. 1238 Maryland Ave. SW. Tickets for timed-entry sessions are $8 to $15, with evening admission for those over 21 years of age and including exhibit-related Augmented Reality Cocktails available for purchase. Visit artechouse.com.
REMEMBERING VIETNAM: 12 CRITICAL EPISODES IN THE VIETNAM WAR
The National Archives offers a framework for understanding the decisions that led to the Vietnam War, its consequences and legacy. More than 40 years since its end, the complexity of the conflict is still being unraveled — in part by historians pouring over newly declassified documents, some of which factor into this exhibition of more than 80 original records. To Jan. 6. Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery, Constitution Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets NW. NW. Call 202-357-5000 or visit archivesfoundation.org.
ROOPKOTHA PHOTO EXHIBIT
Vibrant images captured by various photographers, along with historical artifacts and personal memorabilia, tell the story of Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy, two Bangladeshi LGBTQ activists and artists who were savagely murdered in their home two years ago. The Center Arts Gallery in the DC Center for the LGBT Community has set up this powerful installation as part of an ongoing campaign to protest the inaction of the Bangladeshi government to investigate the murders. 2000 14th St. NW. Call 202-682-2245 or visit thedccenter.org.
TREVOR PAGLEN: SITES UNSEEN W/PANEL DISCUSSION
Inspired by the American landscape tradition and updated with a 21st-century surveillance sensibility, this visual artist blurs the lines between art, science, and investigative journalism to construct unfamiliar and at times unsettling works showing the world around us. The Smithsonian American Art Museum offers the first exhibition presenting Paglen’s early photographic series alongside his recent sculptural objects and new work with artificial intelligence — more than 100 artworks in all. This mid-career survey occupies the entire north wing of the museum’s galleries, an unprecedented scale at this location. On display through Jan. 6. SAAM, 8th and F Streets NW. Call 202-633-1000 or visit americanart.si.edu.
TORY COWLES: HARD WIRED
Spread out in two galleries at downtown’s Touchstone Gallery are sculptures and installations celebrating the fierce joys of life. Cowles’ body sculptures can be worn and viewers are encouraged to dance — the installation is meant to be interacted with. Opening Reception is Saturday, Jan. 5, from 4 to 6 p.m. Meet the Artist Reception is Saturday, Jan. 19, from 4 to 6 p.m. On display to Jan. 31. Galleries B and C, 901 New York Ave. NW Call 202-347-2787 or visit touchstonegallery.com.
UNSEEN: OUR PAST IN A NEW LIGHT
Works by Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar are featured in the first contemporary exhibition of the National Portrait Gallery’s 50th anniversary season — and a provocative one at that. Nearly 60 works highlight how people of color — from Native Americans to African Americans, Asian Americans to Latino Americans — are missing in historical portraiture. Still worse, their contributions to the nation’s past were rendered equally invisible. Kaphar sets out to right those slights by recreating well-known paintings and including those traditionally left out, through his series of 17 paintings plus one sculpture. Gonzales-Day, meanwhile, explores how ideas of racial difference, otherness, and national identity have taken shape historically and visually through nearly 40 photographs, including works from his “Erased Lynchings” series focused on the American West as well as his “Profiled” series. The bilingual English/Spanish exhibition is on display through Jan. 6. 8th and F Streets. NW. Call 202-633-8300 or visit npg.si.edu.
Elvis Birthday Fight CLub: Franken vs. Weinstein — Photo: StereoVision
ABOVE & BEYOND
The Kennedy Center co-commissioned this world premiere production for young audiences that explores how the world is alive with movement and migration. Inspired by young refugees around the world, Cartography fuses map-making, dance, film, and sound sensor technology to explore the tragedy and wonder of lives in motion. From the effects of climate change to war and poverty, the story examines the forces that send youth into unsure waters of their future, and invites audiences to consider their own maps and journeys. Intended for ages 12 and up. Friday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 12, and Sunday, Jan. 13, at 1:30 and 4 p.m. Kennedy Center Family Theater. Tickets are $20. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
ELVIS’ BIRTHDAY FIGHT CLUB
Elvis Presley hosts an underground fight club in what is billed as a comically lowbrow theater event from Astro Pop Events (Countdown to Yuri’s Night, America The Game Show). Now in its ninth year, the production features the King (Jared Davis), accompanied by his sardonic sidekick Kittie Glitter (Jei Spatola), plus “a little more conversation” in the form of hilarious color commentary during seven comical, choreographed matchups full of cartoon-like violence and below-the-belt comedy, as burlesque dancers keep the audience “all shook up” between fights. The cast includes Andrew Wodzianski, Lucrezia Blozia, Carlos Bustamente, DD Cupcakes, Patrick M. Doneghy, Matt Grant, Nona Narcisse, Callie Pigeon, Candy Del RIo, Christian Sullivan, Cherie Sweetbottom, and Stephon Walker. Friday, Jan. 4, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 5, at 7 and 9:30 p.m. GALA Theatre at Tivoli Square, 3333 14th St. NW. Also Saturday, Jan. 11, at 7:30 and 10 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 12, at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave. Baltimore. Tickets are $25 to $35. Visit astropopevents.com.
GEORGETOWN GLOW 2018
Now in its fifth year, this light art exhibition presented by the Georgetown Business Improvement District features 10 displays by multidisciplinary artists. Billed as a way to “reimagine the season of light,” the commissioned works, curated by Deirdre Ehlen MacWilliams, offer a high-tech modern contrast with the surroundings of D.C.’s oldest neighborhood — which has been further illuminated by the stringing of white lights on street-facing buildings. The five-week event includes regular GLOW-inspired walking and food tours led by several local tour companies. GLOW runs every night from 5 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 6. Visit GeorgetownGlowDC.com for more information.
Two traveling light installations add a little seasonal, illuminating whimsy as part of this year’s fourth annual holiday celebration in the Navy Yard area of Southeast D.C. — also increasingly known as the Capitol Riverfront. The Pool by New York’s Jen Lewin Studio, developed six years ago but making its D.C. debut here, features 106 interactive circular pads of light that react as visitors move on and around them, creating a giant canvas of shifting and fading colors. Meanwhile, Angels of Freedom by Israel’s OGE Group is a social sculptural installation where visitors pose with five giant, neon-colored wings and white halos, intended as a way to signify that we’re all angels and that “everybody counts and deserves love.” On display from 6 to 10 p.m. until Friday, Jan. 4. The Yards Park Boardwalk, 355 Water St. SE. Call 202-465-7093 or visit theyardsdc.com.