Cinema Arts – Up from the streets — Photo: MG Indian
AFI SILVER VIRTUAL SCREENING ROOM
The AFI Silver Theatre has never been closer to home as it is right now, virtually speaking. While its physical venue in Silver Spring remains closed, the AFI offers a rotating crop of titles available for streaming. Highlights among the lineup of films starting up on Friday, May 15: Up From The Streets, a celebration of the music of New Orleans directed by Michael Murphy, hosted by acclaimed jazz musician Terence Blanchard (who also serves as executive producer and music director), and featuring personal reflections or performance footage from homegrown musical giants, from the legends — Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, the Neville Brothers — to contemporary stars including Harry Connick, Jr. and Wynton Marsalis (a live virtual Q&A with Murphy and Blanchard is Sat, May 16, at 7 p.m.); The Wolf House, a gonzo fairytale from directors Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León, performed in Spanish and German with English subtitles, and described as “David Lynch’s Eraserhead reimagined by stop-motion, avant-garde filmmakers the Brothers Quay”; and Band of Outsiders, the 1964 French New Wave classic by Jean-Luc Godard about a trio of would-be gangsters who spend more time with romantic antics and leisurely endeavors than committing crimes.
Other highlights among the full slate of streaming selections presented through the AFI Silver are Rififi, an existential thriller from blacklisted Hollywood exile Jules Dassin, which was released in 1955 and would go on to set the standard for screen robberies for decades to come; Thousand Pieces of Gold, Nany Kelly’s rediscovered 1991 feminist Western, about a real-life young Chinese woman sold into slavery by her poor parents and trafficked to America, a film that resonates powerfully in the #MeToo era; Spaceship Earth, Matt Wolf’s documentary about the bizarre, true, stranger-than-fiction story about the group of “unconventional visionaries” who spent two years quarantined inside the self-engineered replica of Earth’s ecosystem called Biosphere 2; and On A Magical Night, a playful romantic fantasy by acclaimed writer-director Christophe Honoré about a woman (Chiara Mastroianni) who confronts all of her past lovers over the course of an evening to play the psychological mind games “what if” and “stay or stray.” Ticket purchases benefit the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, with additional support to independent filmmaking and distribution. Visit www.afi.com/Silver.
ALAMO ON DEMAND: CURATED LIBRARY OF INCREDIBLE ENTERTAINMENT
Launched shortly after COVID-19 forced the closure of its cinemas, including the two in Northern Virginia, this national arthouse film chain’s Alamo-At-Home series was such a success, the company has decided to expand its eccentric virtual streaming offerings — with a focus on “challenging, provocative, and occasionally batsh*t insane films.” And the Alamo’s new video-on-demand platform has launched with plenty of films that fit that outlandish bill, including: Butt Boy, Tyler Cornack’s comedy/thriller about a detective who is out to prove his wild theory about a mentor of his, one he suspects “uses his butt to make people disappear”; The American Scream, Michael Stephenson’s documentary about “home haunters,” or individuals obsessed with turning their properties into elaborate and horrifying spectacles, scaring the pants off their friends and neighbors every Halloween; Extra Ordinary, Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman’s indie horror-comedy starring Maeve Higgins and SNL alum Will Forte and billed as “an endearing yet twisted film that takes the classic trope of demonic possession and grounds it in small-town Irish charm”; and Porno, Keola Racela’s 2019 scary tale about a group of repressed teenagers in a small conservative town “visited by a sex demon that gives them a taste of the dark side.”
Also available for streaming: Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which featured on Metro Weekly film critic André Hereford’s Best Films of 2019 list. Writer-director Céline Sciamma’s women-in-love feature, focused on a painter and her subject in 1760s France, “wants to look like a painting, and it does so beautifully,” wrote Hereford, who concluded that this “spare pas de deux earns its prizes, as Marianne and Héloïse’s slow-burning romance portrays, with flush familiarity, how falling in love both pins the women down and sets them free.” The current catalog of Alamo offerings can be searched by genre as well as by specific categories, such as “Fantastic Fest Faves” — which includes this year’s Best Picture Oscar winner Parasite — and “Ozploitation,” which showcases the slew of low-budget films made in Australia in the 1970s, as well as a documentary about that Down Under phenomenon, Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! All tickets purchased benefit the Alamo chain as well as featured filmmakers. Visit ondemand.drafthouse.com.
AVALON THEATRE: VIRTUAL CINEMA
In addition to Up From The Streets, the musical snapshot of New Orleans, and Spaceship Earth, about the Biosphere 2 experiment, the “Virtual Cinema” offered by the Avalon Theatre in Upper Northwest D.C. also features Someone, Somewhere, Cédric Klapisch’s 2019 bittersweet romance and examination of the insularity of modern urban life with a look at the parallel lives of two Parisian neighbors, a seemingly star-crossed duo who remain just out of reach of connection; Driveways, the 2019 drama directed by Andrew Ahn that centers on a sensitive young boy (Lucas Jaye) who develops a surprising friendship with a gruff Korean War vet played by the late Brian Dennehy; and The Booksellers, D.W. Young’s 2019 look at an assortment of antiquarian merchants and the underappreciated role they play in preserving history. Tickets range from $10 to $12 for a 3-day streaming period, with roughly half of sales going toward the nonprofit theater and the remainder for the general cause of independent filmmaking and distribution. Call 202-966-6000 or visit www.theavalon.org.
Cinema Arts: Up From the Streets — Photo: James Andrews
CINEMA ARTS THEATRE’S VIRTUAL CINEMA
Virginia’s Cinema Arts Theatre is among several theaters showing Up From The Streets. However, a portion of the ticket sales from the venue will be donated to the music relief fund overseen by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation and supporting the city’s musicians and music industry workers. The arthouse movieplex in Fairfax also begins streams this Friday of The Cordillera of Dreams, the third in a Chilean film trilogy from Patricio Guzmán exploring his native country’s history as it relates to topography, here focused on the Andes mountain range and its omnipresent yet largely unexamined role in the lives of his compatriots. Other titles available through Cinema Arts include And Then We Danced, Levan Akin’s well-crafted tale of two male company members in the National Georgian Dance Ensemble who become competitors, then partners, then lovers, with Levan Gelbakhiani starring as the quiet yet intense Merab; Sorry We Missed You, Ken Loach’s wrenching, intimate family drama from last year focused on the British working class and exposing the dark side of the “gig economy”; The Times of Bill Cunningham, Mark Bozek’s 2018 documentary about the iconic, gay New York Times street photographer and fashion historian, told in his own words, with narration by Sarah Jessica Parker; Beyond the Visible-Hilma Af Klint, Halina Dyrschka’s course-correcting documentary about an abstract artist way ahead of her time who had been all-but-forgotten to art history due to patriarchal and capitalistic notions of artistic progress and value; and Kantemir Balagov’s Beanpole, which focuses on the intense bond that forms between two women, both anti-aircraft gunners during World War II, who struggle to readjust to a haunted world and life in Leningrad after the war. In Russian with English subtitles. Visit www.cinemaartstheatre.com.
The Grapes of Wrath — Photo: Lindsey Walters
1ST STAGE: VIRTUAL COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS SERIES
With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping stages dark for a third month, Virginia’s 1st Stage becomes another area theater company taking to Zoom to connect artists with patrons and keep everyone interested and engaged in its work. The troupe’s new weekly series continues with “Artistic Directors in Conversation” featuring the company’s current artistic director Alex Levy and founder Mark Krikstan in a conversation about their history and creative processes and moderated by associate artistic director Deidra LaWan Starnes, on May 16; “Performers in Quarantine,” focused on actors from the upcoming production of the gay-themed show The Nance sharing their experiences during the shutdown, on May 23; “How 1st Stage Develops New Work,” featuring two playwrights whose works the company has premiered, Bob Bartlett and his Swimming with Whales and E.M. Lewis and Now Comes The Night, on May 30; “The Life of a Solo Artist,” featuring artists from The Logan Festival discussing their one-person productions, on June 6; and “Cultural Tysons,” focused on how arts and cultural organizations in the area have weathered COVID-19 and what they have coming up, on June 13. All conversations are live at 2 p.m., with recordings of each posted online for later viewing. Register for each Community Conversation at www.1ststage.org.
The Grapes of Wrath — Photo: Lindsey Walters
AMERICAN SHAKESPEARE CENTER’S STREAMING OFFERINGS
Through a special agreement with Actors’ Equity Association, the professional theater troupe devoted to Shakespeare is one of the few able to stream full, filmed recordings of past productions. The current offerings are of two stagings from the past season of the center’s National Tour company, including a version of the Bard’s classic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A timelier, bolder, and more unexpected offering is Frank Galati’s stage adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath. José Zayas directs a spare interpretation of the John Steinbeck Depression-era classic that relies on the 11-member ensemble for versatile storytelling enhanced with music, capped by “We Go On,” an original anthem from company member Madeline Calais that helps close out the show. Both productions are available through at least May 31 on the company’s streaming service BlkFrsTV, praised by the Wall Street Journal for its “webcasts [that] effortlessly convey the joyous experience of watching Shakespeare in Blackfriars Playhouse” — the center’s main, in-the-round theater space modeled after the original Globe Theatre and located in the historic Shenandoah Valley town of Staunton, Va. Tickets start at $10 per show in a “pay the price that works for you” scale that goes up to $100. Visit www.americanshakespearecenter.com.
BRAVE SPIRITS THEATRE’S ONLINE STAGED READING FESTIVAL
Alexandria’s Brave Spirits Theatre, the Alexandria-based company that puts a feminist twist on early modern English classics, is in the midst of a month-long staged reading festival celebrating the history plays from Shakespeare’s era and intended as a supplement to the company’s current two-year Shakespeare’s Histories project. By virtue of it being moved online due to COVID-19, the festival’s plays are being planned and performed not only by its ensemble cast but also by collaborators from across the world. Spanning historical events from 1199 to 1499, many of the plays provide sources for Shakespeare’s works and alternate versions of events and characters. Streamed from BST’s YouTube channel on Mondays and Tuesdays starting at 7:30 p.m., the festival continues with Edward the Third, written by Shakespeare and others and directed by Marshall B Garrett, on Monday, May 18; Thomas of Woodstock, an anonymous Elizabethan-era work that may have influenced the Bard’s Richard II and Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, to be directed by Emily MacLeod, on Tuesday, May 19; The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth, another anonymous Elizabethan work thought to be a source for Shakespeare’s “Henriad” history plays, to be directed by Kelly Elliott, on Monday, May 25; Edward the Fourth, Parts 1 and 2 by Thomas Heywood, directed by Claire Kimball, on Tuesday, May 26; The True Tragedy of Richard the Third, yet another anonymous Elizabethan play that may have influenced Shakespeare, which will be performed by the MFA class of Mary Baldwin University, on Monday, June 1; and Perkin Warbeck by John Ford and directed by Alasdair Hunter, on Tuesday, June 2. Free to stream, with donations welcome.
Round House Theatre won’t reopen its recently renovated space in Bethesda until the fall season, but the company has hired back nine actors who were slated to appear in three canceled spring productions for Homebound. An original web series that explores life under Stay-at-Home orders in the Nation’s Capital, the series stars Craig Wallace and Maboud Ebrahimzadeh and is progressing in a 10-episode “chain story” style, with each episode — one available for free every Monday evening — building off what came before but written by a different area playwright. Launched with “Connect!,” a 12-minute episode written by humorist and Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri, and “Human Resources,” a 13-minute episode written by Karen Zacarías and featuring Ebrahimzadeh and Alina Collins Maldonado, the series continues this week with Farah Lawal Harris of Young Playwrights’ Theater, who picks up the story with “We Wear the Mask,” a 13-minute episode featuring Wallace and Chinna Palmer. Subsequent weeks will offer episodes from Liz Maestri, Psalmayene 24, Tim J. Lord, Audrey Cefaly, Dani Stoller, Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, and Caleen Sinnette Jennings. The company’s artistic director Ryan Rilette and associate artistic director Nicole A. Watson are offering remote direction during rehearsals to the actors, who are filming their parts from home with additional guidance on home lighting by designer Harold F. Burgess II and wardrobe by Ivania Stack. Through June 29. Visit www.RoundHouseTheatre.org/Homebound.
Julia Louis Dreyfus: Kennedy Center Digital Honors — Photo: Scott Suchman
KENNEDY CENTER DIGITAL STAGE
It’s not everyday you can see Beyoncé perform Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” or serenade Barbra Streisand with “The Way We Were,” or catch Steve Carrell saluting his comedic forebear Steve Martin. Those are just three standout performances from past Kennedy Center Honors productions now available for streaming online while the physical complex remains closed to new performances. Bruno Mars’ rendition of “Message In A Bottle” for Sting, the former Police frontman performing “The Rising” in tribute to Bruce Springsteen, and Audrey Hepburn raising a toast to Cary Grant are three other past Honors highlights that factor into the Kennedy Center’s Digital Stage, where you can also see acceptance speeches from recipients of the institution’s annual Mark Twain Prize for comedy, ranging from Ellen DeGeneres to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Bob Newhart to Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey to David Letterman. But the online offerings go well beyond those many multi-artist confabs with other excerpts from Kennedy Center presentations of artists ranging from Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani to Ben Folds with the National Symphony Orchestra to those who have been featured on the venue’s all-genre Millennium Stage. There are also a handful of Digital Stage Original featurettes focused on: Dale Chihuly and the chandelier the artist created for the renovated Terrace Theater in 2017, Matt Karas and his behind-the-scenes photographs featuring dancers from the New York City and Mariinsky ballets and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the eclectic, showstopping costumes from Cuban designer Celia Ledón. Visit www.kennedy-center.org/digitalstage.
Until it returns to regular programming at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in August, the Mosaic Theater Company has taken to Zoom and Facebook for twice-weekly discussions with its artists and other experts on relevant topics, all directly or indirectly related to productions and events in the company’s upcoming Season 6. Next up is “From Sight to Opening Night: The Director’s Process,” a peek into how KenYatta Rogers and Gregg Henry go about their work overseeing a show, on Friday, May 15, at 4 p.m.; “Peace Cafe: Peace, Resistance and Reconciliation,” focused on the life and legacy of Emmett Till as seen through the lens of Mosaic’s entire Encountering Emmett Series, on Monday, May 18 at 4 p.m.; and “At Home with Mosaic: The History of H Street,” details to be announced, and set for Friday, May 22. All discussions start at 4 p.m. Still available for streaming is the Season 6 announcement, when artistic director Ari Roth unveiled the lineup for the season that starts up in the fall, followed by a live discussion and Q&A. Visit www.mosaictheater.org/alive.
MOLLY’S SALONS AT ARENA STAGE
While the Mead Center for American Theater remains dark until September with the start of its next season, Arena Stage has come up with an eclectic package of free online programming, mostly taped discussions and performances. Among the offerings is this free, weekly series of half-hour discussions led by the company’s artistic director Molly Smith and featuring a rotating mix of Arena artists, leaders, and outside affiliates. Available for streaming from Arena’s website every Thursday night at 7 p.m., the upcoming lineup includes Jenn Sheeetz, Arena’s properties director, Aerica Shimizu Banks, public policy and social impact manager of Pinterest, and singer-songwriter Mary McBride (May 14); and playwright Lauren Yee, Kirk Johnson of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and Anita Maynard-Losh, Arena’s director of community engagement and senior artistic advisor (May 21). The previous five discussions in the series are also still available for streaming, with updates from choreographer Parker Esse, actors Nicholas Rodriguez and Edward Gero, playwrights Karen Zacarías and Craig Lucas, director Charles Randolph-Wright, and Maria Manuela Goyanes, artistic director of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, among others. Visit www.arenastage.org/tickets/intermission.
PLAY AT HOME
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Baltimore Center Stage are founding members of a small coalition of regional U.S. theaters also including the Kennedy Center and formed in the wake of COVID-19 as an attempt to inspire and engage both professional artists as well as theater amateurs and novices — connected through the act of storytelling and performance. The “Play At Home” initiative features a growing series of plays under 10 minutes in length, created “specifically for this moment of unprecedented isolation, to inspire joy and connection for all.” Available as free downloads, the plays were written with the intimate setting of a private home in mind. The commissioned playwrights were also encouraged to think outside the box and allow for the inclusion of “elements that could not be reproduced for the stage.” The lineup includes Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi (The Diaz Family Talent Show), Aleshea Harris (If, Can, Mayhap), and Mike Lew (Performance Review), all specifically commissioned by Woolly Mammoth, Noah Diaz (House), Miranda Rose Hall (What Happened in the Kitchen), and Keenan Scott II (Strike) from Baltimore Center Stage, and Timothy Allen McDonald & Rob Rokicki (The Greatest 10 Minute Musical Ever Written!), a musical and reality TV show mashup from Jose Casas (Holyyyyyyy Hottttttt Cheetosssssss!!!!!!!) and Paige Hernandez (7th Street Echo), among those commissioned by the Kennedy Center with a focus on young audiences. Visit www.playathome.org.
ROUND HOUSE’S PLAYWRIGHTS ON PLAYS
One of the earliest offerings in its new digital programming slate “Round House at Your House,” this series features Round House Theatre-affiliated artists engaging in conversation with the company’s literary manager Gabrielle Hoyt, with a focus on the artists’ own work and a play of their choice that inspired them. The discussions are livestreamed every Thursday at 7 p.m., allowing participants to submit questions for the playwrights in real-time via comments. The series continues with Tim J. Lord, whose play “We declare you a terrorist…” will debut next season, discussing Charles Mee’s Iphegenia 2.0 on May 14, Aaron Posner (The Tempest: Classic Tale Magically Reimagined) on May 21, and Mfoniso Udofia (Sojourners) on May 28. You can also still view the six previous discussions, including Martyna Majok (Cost of Living) on Conor McPherson’s The Weir, J.T. Rogers (Oslo) on Julius Caesar, and Sarah Ruhl (Stage Kiss) on Paula Vogel’s The Baltimore Waltz and Charles Mee’s Big Love. Visit www.roundhousetheatre.org/RHathome.
SIGNATURE STRONG, SIGNATURE STRONG LIVE
For its virtual programming offerings, Signature Theatre has been producing a discussion-centered series every Tuesday in addition to uploading short videos of standout numbers from past productions to its website. So far, the Shirlington-based theater company has presented six episodes in its weekly #SigStrongLive series, varying in length from 40 to 60 minutes and available for viewing on its YouTube channel. Highlights include two “Signature Favorites” discussions, Episodes 1 and 7, both led by artistic director Eric Schaeffer and featuring four of the company’s leading players — Tracy Lynn Olivera, Bobby Smith, Maria Rizzo, and Nova Y. Payton — with Episode 7 also featuring a guest appearance by the Washington Post‘s Peter Marks; Episode 3’s “Sondheim at Signature” discussion, also led by Schaeffer, focused on the greatest living playwright and his special connection to Signature as seen through regular Sondheim performers Claybourne Elder (Sunday in the Park with George), company co-founder and actor Donna Migliaccio (Gypsy), and actor Christopher Michael Richardson (Assassins); and Episode 5’s “A Chorus Line Reunion,” featuring Matthew Risch, Emily Tyra, and others from the cast of the sold-out 2019 production along with its director Matthew Gardiner and choreographer Denis Jones. Meanwhile, highlights from the #SignatureStrong series include: two songs from the 2011 production of Chess starring Euan Morton, who gives a special message from his home; exclusive clips of Chita Rivera, who starred in the 2008 production of Kander & Ebb’s musical The Visit; Nova Y. Payton introducing a clip of her singing “I Am Changing” from the company’s 2010 production of Dreamgirls; and a clip of “Cool” from the company’s 2015 West Side Story, showcasing the classic choreography from Jerome Robbins as adapted by Parker Esse and performed by Max Clayton and other cast members. Visit www.youtube.com/user/sigtheatre/videos or www.sigtheatre.org.
The Folger Shakespeare Library is offering every play, sonnet, and poem written by William Shakespeare, free on its website. But you can go well beyond the page to the stage courtesy of the institution’s Folger Theatre and its current offerings, such as a video-recorded performance of the company’s 2008 Macbeth, starring Ian Merrill Peakes in the title role. Previously only available for purchase from Simon & Schuster, the video comes with special features, such as interviews with the cast and creative teams. Additionally, Folger has made available full-cast audio recordings of seven Shakespearean classics, produced with Simon & Schuster Audio and featuring professional actors from the company. Titles include everything from A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Romeo and Juliet, from Richard III to Macbeth. All video and audio recordings will be available for free through July 1. Call 202-544-4600 or visit www.folger.edu.
THE SHOWS MUST GO ON: CATS
The new YouTube Channel The Shows Must Go On was launched by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment to provide “theater lovers with a West End and Broadway experience in their own homes, online for free.” A new show is available to stream for free each weekend — but only for that weekend — starting at 2 p.m. ET on Fridays and continuing to Sunday, 48 hours later. A new title is announced at the start of each week. The series continues on Friday, May 15, with a recording of the 1998 version of one of the most famous musicals of all time, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. Elaine Paige returns to the role of Grizabella, which she originated 17 years earlier on London’s West End, in a production featuring Sir John Mills as Gus, Ken Page as Old Deuteronomy, a role he had previously originated on Broadway, Michael Gruber as Munkustrap, John Partridge as The Rum Tum Tugger, Jo Gibb as Rumpleteazer, and Susan Jane Tanner as Jellylorum. Directed by David Mallet, this production is known for its breathtaking visuals and full digital sound — which was further enhanced for this original “Great Performances” broadcast by a recording of the score with a 70-piece orchestra. All of which should mercifully help you forget all about last year’s film adaptation. Viewers are encouraged to make donations that will go to charities supporting theater professionals impacted by COVID-19. Visit www.youtube.com/theshowsmustgoon.
Mason Arts At Home: Swing — Photo: Em Watson
A NIGHT IN WITH THE PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA: BEETHOVENNOW
In lieu of presenting spring concerts, including the return of the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra to the Kennedy Center, Washington Performing Arts has been promoting a “DIY package of content” through its Digital Engagement Focus Team for at-home cultural consumption. One highlight is the world-renowned orchestra’s “BeethovenNOW: Symphonies 5 & 6” program. On March 12, music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin led the symphony in a concert, closed to the public due to COVID-19, that was performed and recorded in an empty Verizon Hall. The program opened with the world premiere of Iman Habibi’s Jeder Baum spricht, written in dialogue with the two celebrated symphonies from the German master, who was born 250 years ago this year. Visit www.philorch.org/performances/special-performances/live-stream.
A NIGHT OF COVENANT HOUSE STARS
Jon Bon Jovi, Dolly Parton, and Meryl Streep are the headliners of a free livestream concert on Monday, May 18, that will raise money homeless and at-risk youth served by Covenant House. Broadway star Audra McDonald and 60 Minutes anchor John Dickerson will co-host the show, co-presented by the new streaming service Broadway On Demand. It will also feature appearances by Diane Keaton, Stephen Colbert, Rachel Brosnahan, Robin Thicke, Dionne Warwick, and Jeff Calhoun — not to mention various youth who will bravely share their stories. Proceeds from the concert will help Covenant House provide shelter and care for the increasing numbers of children in need due to COVID-19. The livestream starts at 8 p.m. on Broadway On Demand as well as YouTube, Facebook, and Amazon Prime Video, among others. Free, but RSVP requested. Visit www.covenanthouse.org/nightofstars-rsvp.
KENNEDY CENTER COUCH CONCERTS
The Kennedy Center presents a free Millennium Stage concert every night at 6 p.m. under normal circumstances — that is, when the large campus is open to the public. Until it can reopen post-pandemic, the organization is offering Couch Concerts livestreamed direct from artists’ homes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4 p.m. Even better, all past Millennium Stage and #KCCouchConcerts remain online for streaming anytime — a treasure trove that includes recent livestreams including the double bill of Kennedy Center Hip-Hop Advisory Council member Kokayi and up-and-coming local five-piece band Oh He Dead, and the Washington Women in Jazz Festival Showcase with Amy K Bormet, Christie Dasheill, and Nicole Saphos; plus recent Millennium Stage Encore shows from the 2013 concert by ’90s hit-making hip-hop group Arrested Development to the 2019 “Wind Me Up Chuck!” special tribute to the late godfather of go-go and featuring his namesake outfit The Chuck Brown Band, or from the 2018 concert by the four-part-harmony-focused Australian indie-folk band All Our Exes Live in Texas, to the 2019 concert featuring Mexican starlet and past Best New Artist Latin Grammy Awardee Gaby Moreno. Visit www.kennedy-center.org/whats-on/millennium-stage/couch-concerts.
Until it can once again host live events under the dome in its acoustically rich former synagogue space, Sixth and I has launched a Living Room Sessions series, co-presented by DCist, featuring select artists in free livestream performances. Next up in the series is Lauren Calve, a Northern Virginia Americana artist who is touted as “evoking Patty Griffin’s dynamic voice, Bonnie Raitt’s smoky aura, and Ben Harper’s slide style.” Friday, May 15, streaming from Sixth and I’s Facebook page starting at 4 p.m. Free, although both RSVPs and donations, which will be shared evenly among the venue and the featured artists, are appreciated. Call 202-408-3100 or visit www.sixthandi.org.
MASON ARTS AT HOME VIRTUAL EVENTS
George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts has organized a series of online events in place of live events and to finish out the school year. The #MasonArtsatHome series includes “Music in the Time of Quarantine: School of Music Finale Concert,” with performances by the Mason choirs, Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble, Faculty Brass Ensemble, and the Tuba & Euphonium Ensemble, among others, plus an introduction by the school’s director Dr. Linda Monson, on Saturday, May 16, at 8 p.m.; and “Behind the Scenes with the Creative Team of Swing 2020,” a discussion about the innovative work of swing dance co-commissioned by the GMU Center for the Arts and New York’s Joyce Theater, led by Joyce’s Ross LeClair and featuring choreographers Caleb Teicher, Evita Arce, LaTasha Barnes, and Nathan Bugh and music director Eyal Vilner, on Monday, May 18, at 7 p.m. All virtual events take place on the center’s Facebook page. Visit cfa.gmu.edu for more information.
METROPOLITAN OPERA’S NIGHTLY STREAMS
The Met continues sifting through its trove of “Live in HD” recordings of past productions for free nightly streams from its website. The upcoming lineup of encore presentations, starting at 7:30 p.m. and remaining available up to 23 hours later,
includes the 2008 staging of Britten’s Peter Grimes starring Patricia Racette, Anthony Dean Griffey, and Anthony Michaels-Moore, on Thursday, May 14; a “Viewer’s Choice” presentation of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor as seen in a 1982 production starring Joan Sutherland, who garnered the nickname “La Stupenda” as a result of what the company’s announcement calls a “breathtaking, hair-raising, utterly unforgettable performance as the hapless Scottish lassie whose heartbreak morphs into murderous rampage,” with Alfredo Kraus matching her note for note as her anguished lover Edgardo, on Friday, May 15; and two productions of Verdi to round out the weekend — the company’s 2013 Rigoletto, a neon-bedecked production helmed by Michael Mayer that transports the action to Rat Pack-era Las Vegas on Saturday, May 16, and Nabucco, the breakthrough opera that catapulted Verdi into the pantheon of revered composers, an epic seen in a 2017 production featuring Jamie Barton and Plácido Domingo, and conducted by James Levine, on Sunday, May 17. Visit www.metopera.org.
OPERA PHILADELPHIA’S DIGITAL FESTIVAL O
With its season cut short due to COVID-19, Opera Philadelphia, touted by the New York Times as “a hotbed of opera innovation,” is another preeminent arts organization that has taken up the digital mantle by making streams available of past productions — in this case, as an attempt to raise $4 million by May 31 so the company can move forward with plans for its 2020-21 season. The digital streaming festival features video streams of five hit productions, including four recent world premieres, such as the 2020 International Opera Award-nominated production Denis & Katya, a timely and immersive multimedia chamber opera by composer Philip Venables and librettist-director Ted Huffman that was commissioned in collaboration with Music Theatre Wales and France’s Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier. Inspired by the true story of 15-year-old runaways Denis Muravyov and Katya Vlasova and their armed stand-off with Russian Special Forces that culminated in their own deaths, the recording of Denis & Katya features American baritone Theo Hoffman and German-American mezzo-soprano Siena Licht Miller. Also currently streaming: the online premiere of composer Daniel Bernard Roumain and librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s We Shall Not Be Moved, a hit 2017 production directed by Bill T. Jones that returns as a way to also commemorate the 35th anniversary of the deadly bombing of West Philadelphia’s MOVE compound, where the opera takes place.
The festival continues with the online premieres of The Barber of Seville, the 2014 popular staging overseen by director Michael Shell and featuring colorful sets and costumes that recall the comic films of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, on May 15; Sky on Swings, the 2018 chamber opera with an unflinching yet uplifting exploration of Alzheimer’s disease from composer Lembit Beecher and librettist Hannah Moscovitch and starring mezzo-sopranos Marietta Simpson and Frederica von Stade, on May 22; and Breaking the Waves, a 2016 adaptation of the Lars von Trier film from composer Missy Mazzoli, librettist Royce Vavrek, and director James Darrah, on May 29. Special opening-night content for each production includes pre-show interviews with featured artists. The productions remain online and on-demand for varying lengths of time through August 31. Visit www.operaphila.org.
SONIA: DIGITAL ACTS OF KINDNESS
Sonia Rutstein was supposed to be on her annual concert trek through Germany right now. Instead, the Baltimore-based folk-pop singer-songwriter, who records and performs as SONiA disappear fear, has entered the brave new world of livestreaming. While many of the physical appearances in Germany are being rescheduled for later this year or early 2021, all the virtual concerts are being performed on their original dates, most organized to celebrate a different album from SONiA’s 30-plus year recording career. The roughly hour-long shows, captured from her home music room, are presented on Facebook for free, though donations through PayPal are accepted. The remaining lineup includes: an all-requests concert on Thursday, May 14; a show focused on the 2016 double-CD LiVE at MAXiMAL recording from Rodgau, Germany, on Friday, May 15; another focused on her most recent album By My Silence, on Saturday, May 16; and concludes with a spotlight on Small House No Secrets, SONiA’s new musical co-developed with playwright Jody Nusholtz and previewed at last year’s Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage festival, on Sunday, May 17. All concerts are livestreamed at 2 p.m. and available afterwards at www.facebook.com/disappear.fear.
STRATHMORE’S LIVE FROM THE LIVING ROOM: AYO, FREDERIC YONNET
Every Wednesday, Strathmore offers livestreams primarily featuring solo performances of its multi-genre Artists in Residence, both those from the current 2020 class as well as a select few alumni of the esteemed A.I.R. program. Each concert presents bite-sized performances — roughly 20 minutes in length — captured live from the living rooms of local musicians and streamed via Facebook Live starting at 7:30 p.m. The lineup continues with AYO, a smooth pop vocalist known for confident lyrics and empowering messages (May 20), and urban jazz harmonicist Frédéric Yonnet (May 27). Fortunately, you can also access recordings of past concerts in the series on the Facebook page @StrathmoreArts, among them: Christian Douglas, a budding pop artist and theater artist who most recently performed in the ensembles of Arena Stage’s Newsies and Signature Theatre’s Gun & Powder; Mark G. Meadows, another well-known local theater pianist and vocalist; Niccolo Seligmann, a gay artist merging the sounds of obscure folk instruments with early classical music; Christylez Bacon, the celebrated Grammy-nominated progressive hip-hop artist and multi-instrumentalist; and the Bumper Jackson Duo, Jess Eliot Myhre and Chris Ousley’s American roots project merging country and jazz. Call 301-581-5100 or visit www.strathmore.org.
TOM GOSS: DANCING IN MY ROOM VIDEO PROJECT
The former D.C. resident and gay indie-pop artist Goss is grooving into new territory with a new single. “Dancing In My Room” is an upbeat synth-pop bop featuring fellow indie artists Natalie Jane, Max Emerson, and Sam Renascent, who raps in French. The song’s main video features all four artists plus a ragtag assortment of fans of all types and stripes from around the world, all dancing around their environs to relay the simple yet compelling message: you may be “stuck at home, but you’re not alone.” Goss launched the project with a built-in #AtHomeDisco challenge, encouraging others to create their own versions of the song and video; so far, another quartet of artists has created a version sung in Spanish with a rap in Mandarin, while a trio performs it in French with a Korean rap — in total, “11 artists of all ages and backgrounds across seven different countries and five continents. A reminder that we are not alone.” All proceeds from streams of the song and videos will benefit United Way Worldwide and its work in supporting community service organizations, which have been hit hard during COVID-19. Search for @tomgossmusic across social media platforms, or visit https://youtu.be/u9iDytpVHk0.
Although best known for its flagship production the Christmas Revels, the Washington Revels puts on shows and engages its diverse community of participants in other activities throughout the year, ranging from a Madrigal group to an African-American acapella group. Of course, in this time of COVID-19, they’ve moved everything online, offering several virtual events that anyone can join, whether as an active participant or an engaged observer. One particular highlight is the monthly “Community Sing” event, a co-partnership with Carpe Diem Arts, with in-kind support from Takoma Radio. Held on the 21st of every month, the next event, on Thursday, May 21, will focus on spring songs and sentiments and also recognize that May is both Asian Pacific Heritage Month and Jewish American Heritage Month. The event kicks off at 6:30 p.m. on Facebook Live. Free, but donations of at least $5 are requested to support Revels performers during the pandemic. Visit www.RevelsDC.org.
YMUSIC: TRUE TO NATURE-INSPIRED CONCERT
The extraordinary Brooklyn-based contemporary classical chamber ensemble yMusic had been scheduled to present a concert at the National Gallery of Art on April 19. The concert was planned in conjunction with the exhibition True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe, 1780–1870. The museum has since posted exhibition resources online, and in turn, yMusic has also made the program it developed for the concert available online. See the light- and atmosphere-filled landscapes, seascapes, and skyscapes from the exhibition that inspired the ensemble, and hear the musical compositions the musicians have paired with these “en plein air” paintings — most of which are yMusic originals, with additional works by Gabriella Smith, Andrew Norman, Sufjan Stevens, and Caroline Shaw. The program is presented piece-by-piece through videos along with program notes from guest artistic director Kate Nordstrum. Visit www.liquidmusic.org/blog.
CHAMBER DANCE PROJECT’S VIRTUAL CHAT SERIES
A month after launching its first-ever online auction to make up for a canceled spring gala, the young contemporary ballet company debuted another virtual component, “Get Closer to the Art.” This series of free multimedia Zoom sessions features the company’s choreographers, dancers, and designers discussing and previewing their craft, particularly as it pertains to the company’s work and its upcoming seventh season, New Works 2020. Launched in mid-April with artistic director Diane Coburn Bruning’s “300 Years of Ballet History in 1/2 Hour” presentation and discussion, the virtual series continues every Tuesday at 5 p.m. The lineup continues with two discussions in a row featuring dancers Luz San Miguel and David Hovhannisyan, first by demonstrating classical ballet partnering, on May 19, and then comparing that to contemporary ballet partnering on May 26. All sessions are free, although donations are invited, and open to those who request the Zoom link by noon on the day-of with an email to RSVP@chamberdance.org. For more information visit www.chamberdance.org.
THE OVERACHIEVERS COMEDY SHOW ONLINE
Touted as one of the top comedy shows in the country, The Overachievers moves to Zoom until the DC Improv can welcome people back into its subterranean laugh lair. The show is hosted by Martin Amini with music by DJ Bo, with the next edition featuring guests Matt Rife, a semi-finalist on NBC’s Bring The Funny who came to fame on MTV (Wild N Out, TRL reboot), and Mia Jackson, a semi-finalist on Season 9 of NBC’s Last Comic Standing who has appeared on Viceland and Inside Amy Schumer. Ticket-holders will be sent an email 30 minutes prior to showtime with instructions on how to log in to watch the show. (While on the DC Improv website, take a listen to “Living the Fairy Tales Vols. 1 and 2,” with comedic spins on the Brothers Grimm stories, including The Fisherman and His Wife as ready by Dylan Vattelana, and Hansel and Gretel as read by Rahmein Mostafavi.) Saturday, May 16, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5. Call 202-296-7008 or visit www.dcimprov.com/home/overachievers-online.html.
TIGHT 5 LOOSE 5: A VIRTUAL SHOW
Working to bring the funny to Zoom is the D.C. Comedy Loft with a show featuring comics, all regulars at the venue’s intimate space near Dupont Circle. The premise: five comedians performing five minutes of old jokes followed by five minutes of new. The lineup for the next two scheduled shows: Felonious Munk, Mark Christopher Lawrence, Robin Montague, host Postman, and “a surprise guest,” on Sunday, May 17; and Jackie Fabulous, Hannah Dickinson, Kasaun Wilson, host Postman, and “a surprise guest,” on Sunday, May 24. Shows are at 8 p.m., with the Zoom link emailed to ticket-holders the day-of. Tickets are $5, with a portion of sales going to the Comedy Loft Employee Lay Off Fund. Call 202-293-1887 or visit www-dccomedyloft-com.seatengine.com/shows/125909.
READINGS & DISCUSSIONS
KAREN GRAY HOUSTON: DAUGHTER OF THE BOYCOTT
Houston shares the story of her family’s involvement in the historic Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott that kickstarted the civil rights movement in Daughter of the Boycott: Carrying on a Montgomery Family’s Civil Rights Legacy. She’ll discuss the book and themes in a “Virtual Author Talk” presented by the Potter’s House in Adams Morgan. Tuesday, May 19, at 6:30 p.m. Free, but RSVP required to obtain the event’s Zoom link; with donations welcome to the nonprofit bookstore and cafe and especially its pandemic-specific Workers’ Fund. Visit www.withfriends.co/the_potters_house.
SYMONE SANDERS: NO, YOU SHUT UP
A senior advisor for Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign rallies the young and young at heart to find their authentic voice and use it more effectively in No, You Shut Up: Speaking Truth to Power and Reclaiming America. Sanders, who in 2016 was the youngest National Press Secretary in U.S. history when she worked for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, will discuss her new rousing call to leadership in a virtual conversation with Anna Palmer, senior Washington correspondent for Politico. Tuesday, May 19, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 plus fees, or $30 plus fees for a signed copy of Sanders’s book (to be mailed after the event), and include virtual access to the event. Call 202-408-3100 or visit www.sixthandi.org.
FOOD & DINING
CLYDE’S, KNEAD HOSPITALITY: FOOD IT FORWARD INITIATIVE
The public is encouraged to “buy a meal for those in need” from participating restaurants in the Clyde’s Restaurant Group and Knead Hospitality chains — including Clyde’s, The Hamilton, Old Ebbitt Grill, Succotash, and Mi Vida. The two local restaurant groups are also working to keep some of their restaurant workers employed through this initiative, a partnership also including the nonprofits Martha’s Table and MedStar Health, which will work to distribute the prepared meals to those directly affected by the COVID-19 crisis. A donation of $13 feeds an individual for one night while $54 covers a family of four, with $91 covering an individual’s meals for a week and $378 feeding four for a week. Visit www.fooditforwarddc.com.
ART & EXHIBITS
DE NOVO GALLERY’S SPECIAL ONLINE EXHIBITION
A Capitol Hill bankruptcy lawyer by day, avid art collector Ryan Dattilo launched his first pop-up gallery last year. Now, in response to COVID-19 and its impact on visual artists through the loss of shows, sales, and side hustles, Dattilo has revived De Novo Gallery as an online incarnation. The display includes works of art in a range of media created by a mostly local crop of 10 artists, all of whom were featured last year at the physical gallery, including Adrienne Gaither, Tom Bunnell, Alex Ebstein, Rex Delafkaran, Dean Kessmann, and Nara Park. The gallery will forego its customary cut of sales to further help the artists. Visit www.denovo-gallery.com.
HILL CENTER GALLERIES: REGIONAL JURIED EXHIBITION
Over the years, this exhibition, featuring works in various mediums and subjects, has grown to include 85 artists from D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. This year’s juror is Myrtis Bedolla, owner of Baltimore’s Galerie Myrtis. Bedolla selected 94 pieces of original hanging work, in any medium, submitted by 85 artists, all of which was moved online, giving it a longer shelf life than usual. Linda Lowery’s Aya was awarded 1st Place, while Jim Haller’s Triptych came in 2nd and Sally Canzoneri’s DC Stores: 1942 and 2014, 3rd. Honorable Mentions: Kasse Andrews-Weller (In The Beginning Quilt…), Sean Dudley (Dukochanmon), Chris Hanson (Early Morning Walk), David Harris (Thorny Issues), Maria Illingworth (Rosie), James Klumpner (#57), Sharon Malley (School Churns), Khanh Nguyen (Porcelain III), Felicia Reed (Choices), and Glenn Strachan (Woman in Recline, Siem Reap, Cambodia). To begin the buying process or to inquire about specific artwork, contact Galleries@HillCenterDC.org or visit www.hillcenterdc.org/artist/2020-regional-juried-exhibition.
OUTBREAK: EPIDEMICS IN A CONNECTED WORLD
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History offers tours of its current and permanent exhibitions from its website, enhanced with Simulated WebVR (or Real WebVR if viewed through a WebVR-compatible browser, or if you happen to own a VR headset). And this exhibition has become timelier than ever in recent months. Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World is set up with displays about how “to prevent animal viruses from spilling over into humans” as well as how to properly respond to disease outbreaks — always in “quick, effective, and cooperative” fashion — all supplemented with case studies of historical epidemics, including smallpox, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and SARS. Visit www.naturalhistory.si.edu.
QUEER ART LIVES HERE: DIGITAL CONTENT AND COMMUNITY RESOURCES
Just last year, the New York Times referred to the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art as “the only museum in the world dedicated to artwork that speaks to the LGBTQ experience.” If you’ve never been to the gallery in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, now is as good a time as any to visit — but only online, of course. While the physical location, like every other arts organization, remains closed due to COVID-19, organizers have been working to enhance the museum’s digital offerings, with its Instagram page in particular updated regularly to include virtual tours, collection highlights, and artist profiles. Meanwhile, the museum has stocked its Vimeo page with recordings of lectures and panel discussions from past events. You can also browse the museum’s vast collection by selecting Random Images in the fully searchable Online Collections Database available through its website. Visit www.leslielohman.org.
TRUE TO NATURE: OPEN-AIR PAINTING IN EUROPE VIRTUAL TOUR
Open-air painting was a core practice for emerging artists in Europe in the late 18th- and early 19th-centuries, and those artists skilled at quickly capturing effects of light and atmosphere often went to great lengths to capture breathtaking sites in person, from the Baltic coast to the Swiss alps to the ruins of Rome. The National Gallery of Art organized this exhibition of roughly 100 oil sketches by intrepid artists from the period, including Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, John Constable, Simon Denis, Jules Coignet, and André Giroux. While the temporary exhibition’s run was cut short due to COVID-19, the gallery has worked to create a digital version by virtue of a dynamic virtual tour allowing users to zoom in on the works as well as click to read the wall texts and artist biographies. Supplemental materials available online include A Curator’s Quick Tour, or highlights as presented by curator Mary Morton; an Introduction to the Exhibition lecture from Morton, the head of French paintings at the National Gallery, in conversation with Jane Munro of Christ’s College, Cambridge, and private collector Alice Goldet; “Painting in the Open Air,” a conversation between artist Ann Lofquist and Morton; and “Weather in Art: From Symbol to Science,” a lecture from the National Gallery’s art historian David Gariff. Although available on mobile, the tour is best viewed on desktop or tablet. Visit www.nga.gov/features/true-to-nature-virtual-tour.html.
WORDS TO ART SPRING 2020: ARLINGTON COMMUNITY ART PROJECT
Arlington Arts has been asking participants to post one word a week expressing their feelings and perception of COVID-19, which will then spur five area artists to select words to turn into original sketches to be shared on social media. Originally conceived by Sushmita Mazumdar in 2018 as a collaboration with bus drivers and Arlington’s Art on the ART Bus project, the relaunched 2020 version features work by Metro Weekly contributor David Amoroso, as well as Maribeth Egan, Kate Fleming, and MasPaz. Ultimately, though, anyone is encouraged to make and post artwork based on the submitted words and tagged #WordsToArtArlington. Continues to Sunday, May 24. Visit www.arts.arlingtonva.us.
ABOVE & BEYOND
DIGITAL DRAG FEST 2020
Producer Entertainment Group and Stageit.com are presenting a series of online performances mostly featuring drag queens from the ranks of RuPaul’s Drag Race. The festival continues to feature a sizable contingent of queer celebrity creators in thirty-minute shows that “will never be recorded or re-released.” Most tickets cost $10 and sales are limited to roughly 100 transactions, “to keep audience sizes small and the experience intimate.” Upcoming highlights with ticket availability as of press time include: Tammie Brown (“A Little Bit of Quarantined Tammie”) on Friday, May 15, at 3 p.m.; Latrice Royale (“Eat It! (A Cooking Show)”) on Friday, May 15, at 5 p.m.; gay singer-songwriter Bright Light Bright Light on Saturday, May 16, at 5 p.m.; singer-songwriter Wrabel on Saturday, May 16, at 8 p.m.; Bebe Zahara Benet (“Broken English: A Live Experience”) on Saturday, May 16, at 12 midnight; Bob The Drag Queen (“Bob The Quarantine Queen”) on Sunday, May 17, at 2 p.m.; Darienne Lake (“A Reading (A Comedy Show)”) on Sunday, May 17, at 3 p.m.; BenDeLaCreme (“Still Home After All These Years”) on Sunday, May 17, at 8 p.m.; Jackie Beat (“Beep Bop Boop!”) on Sunday, May 17, at 9 p.m.; Candis Cayne (“Don’t Touch Me!”) on Thursday, May 21, at 9 p.m.; Jill Sobule (“The Original ‘Kissed a Girl’ Girl”) on Saturday, May 23, at 4 p.m.; Johnny McGovern & Lady Red Couture hosting the Digital Drag Fest Awards Red Carpet Pre-Show & Interviews on Sunday, May 24, at 3 p.m.; The Digital Drag Fest Awards 2020 on Sunday, May 24, at 5 p.m.; and ’90s hitmaker Sophie B. Hawkins on Friday, May 29, at 7 p.m. Visit www.digitaldragfest.com.
DC FRAY’S LGBTQ SPEED DATING EVENT
Next week, DC Fray will host two virtual rounds of its LGBTQ speed dating outing through Zoom, with one session for Women Seeking Women, another with Men Seeking Men. All daters will have the opportunity to chat with others in their session, with an official host serving to facilitate and organize “dates” by putting participants into 1:1 breakout rooms. Participants should expect to interact with the host, enjoy upbeat tunes, and use icebreakers to help prompt conversation while in the main room, and also to go on at least five different “dates,” plus the opportunity for more for the most extroverted. After the event, organizers will connect those participants who expressed a mutual connection or interest, but rest assured: “No personal information is shared or exchanged during the dating session and only daters with mutual interest will be connected.” Thursday, May 21, at 7 p.m. Entry is $10, with registration required. For the WSW session, visit commi.sh/seasons/5972; for MSM, visit commi.sh/seasons/5974. Visit dcfray.com/virtualcommunity for more details or other virtual events from DC Fray.