Dear BSR Subscriber,
Welcome to the latest exclusive monthly tips for our subscribers!
Alaina Johns with Aaron Pond at Chi Movement Arts Center
It's time for our monthly BSR in the Wild update! The first Friday of every month we bring you our hottest tips on what's on our radar, through three sections: Find Us!, Neil's Nod of the Month, and Recommended Reading.
Find Us! is exclusive subscriber tips on which events and exhibitions our staff is heading to in the coming month. There's a lot happening, this month as always, and we love to provide these tips.
Neil's Nod of the Month is a look forward to the upcoming BSR story or review I'm most excited to read.
Finally, Recommended Reading is a quick, subscribers-only tip to contextualize the work we have coming up, placing upcoming articles in dialogue with past stories, because our arts and culture scene is an ongoing citywide conversation that you're a part of, too.
If you're enjoying this series, let us know! And don't forget, as a reader you can support our writers in multiple ways. Be sure to support our staff with a donation. Send an article to a friend. Follow our dynamic content on Instagram.
Read on for February's inside scoops.
BSR executive director
February may be a short month. That doesn't mean our favorite regional artists and organizations aren't packing our calendars. Read on!
WHEN: Friday, February 3
WHERE: American Philosophical Society
WHY: The NYC-based wind quintet makes their way to Philly this weekend, and while they aren’t strangers to the little brother down the turnpike, here’s a chance to see their performances live. Something about a wind-based quintet feels a lot more whimsical and free than other classical styles (not that I'm an expert like BSR music writer Gail Obenreder is, whose classical music roundup for this month is what brought the event to my attention). If you can’t make it out to APS to see them, their performance is streaming live online.
Sō Percussion and Caroline Shaw
WHEN: Friday, February 3
WHERE: Penn Live Arts
WHY: I recognized the name Caroline Shaw months ago when a friend sent me a list of upcoming Penn Live Arts concerts. We had sufficient lead time to buy tickets and plan our lives around the show, and the night is nearly here! Sō Percussion is new to me, but I'm enamored of novel instruments and their use in contemporary music.
It’s a busy weekend for me, with openings coming up tonight and tomorrow!
WHEN: Opens tonight (Friday, February 3) and runs through February 19.
WHERE: The Wilma Theater
WHY: Syrian-born director Fadi Skeiker, a UArts professor, says this play asks “What does it mean when someone else is representing you?” It follows American actors performing a Syrian soap opera who become “shocked to realize the limits of their own cultural understanding.” The Wilma is one of very few sizable Philly theaters with a collaborative leadership model, and I appreciate that even beyond this rotating roster, other directors (especially with an international perspective) are also making their mark on the Wilma season.
Multitudes: Music and Poetry Inspired by Making American Artists
WHEN: Saturday, February 4 (with additional concerts on February 16, March 8, and March 18)
WHERE: The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
WHY: I’ve been waiting for a chance to check out the major Making American Artists exhibition at PAFA (which critic Gail Obenreder loved), and this exciting concert series, created in partnership with World Cafe Live, brings four curated evenings of diverse musicians and poets to PAFA and World Cafe Live (two events at each venue) to spotlight stories about women artists, LGBQTIA+ artist, and artists of color. Each show will feature world-premiere World Cafe Live commissions. Saturday’s event features Raina Leon, Salina Kuo, Kendrah Butler Waters, Kirwyn Sutherland, Ill Doots (streaming in), and Devi Majeske.
WHEN: Saturday, February 11
WHERE: Plays & Players
WHY: Crossroads Comedy Theater puts on shows in a range of formats. Study Hall features regional experts giving lectures, which then inspire improvised comedic scenes. The performers enjoy riffing on the source material and relating to niche topics however they can. One lecturer in February's show is an old college friend of mine who's become an archaeologist, Dr. Leigh Anne Lieberman. As is true of most of my friends, I can give merely a one-line summary of what she does professionally. Luckily, I think Study Hall will give me a deeper understanding. BSR writer Jeannine A. Cook will also be featured!
Alaina Johns and Cameron Kelsall occasionally attend shows together.
WHEN: Running February 10-March 5 (find me and BSR critic Cameron Kelsall Feb 16)
WHERE: The Suzanne Roberts Theatre
WHY: Cameron and I often meet up for shows on the job, and this one from Philadelphia Theatre Company sounds interesting. Philly native Ana Nogueria’s play imagines a substance “promising instant emotional intimacy by divining what others feel,” and a troubled couple who tries it (played by Claire Inie-Richards and Makoto Hirano, both making their PTC debut).
Meeting the next generation of art critics
WHEN: February 2023
WHERE: Temple University
WHY: This one isn’t a public event, but it’s something we enjoy doing, so we’ll mention it. Alaina will join veteran Philly theater critic Howard Shapiro in the classroom at Temple University this month, for a session at his Writing Arts Criticism course. We think it’s important to share our on-the-ground professional experience with aspiring journalists, as well as emphasize how an editorial mission for accessibility can underpin arts coverage.
Neil Bardhan poses with Daralyse Lyons at her Demystifying Diversity podcast season launch party
Neil's nod of the month:
The February editorial calendar has numerous theater reviews headed our way, a sign that our region's scene is thriving. But we also have some museum happenings we're covering too, such as the upcoming exhibition at the Museum of the American Revolution: Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia. BSR writer Crystal Sparrow will review that mid-month, and I'm eager to read her thoughts.
The night that the Philadelphia Eagles won the National Football Conference championship, I found myself on South Broad Street with hundreds of my neighbors. While I don't watch games often, I enjoy seeing the community in high spirits. Some folks set off fireworks. Others sang. One guy had a snare drum at his waist and had let another young man control the drumsticks for a few minutes, generating an arrhythmic sound I can only describe as "technically, that counts as drumming." Between moments like these and the bits of creative, sonic life with more intention behind them, I found myself thinking about Aaron Pond's 2019 essay on musicking. Give it a read and listen for the music in your Philadelphia.
Now that you've found us, fund us!
Stay in touch,
Neil & Alaina & Kyle
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