Monday, April 15
TAX RELIEF: It’s awful, awful Tax Day—let’s hope unlike me you won’t be standing in line at the post office forever. The Palm is offering a free appetizer during happy hour with a drink purchase to ease your tax woes or help you celebrate your refund early. Jack Rose is giving out free English whiskey to celebrate throwing tea in the Boston Harbor (or something), and BLT Steak has half off all alcoholic beverages all day long.
The Palm and Jack Rose: 5 to 7 PM
BLT Steak: All day
Thursday, April 11
MUSIC: Looking to dance? U Street Music Hall hosts Goldroom, a Los Angeles-based deejay whose synth pop is more Passion Pit than the wubwubwub robot music you seem to hear a lot these days. Openers Stepdad make even dancier music. Tickets ($12) are available online. 10 PM.
PIRATES: Archaeologist Barry Clifford discovered the first-ever pirate shipwreck when he found the Whydah, which sank off the coast of Cape Cod in 1717. Clifford will be at the National Geographic Museum discussing his haul, which included more than 60 cannons and 10,000 coins. Talk about a buried treasure. $22. 7:30 PM.
Friday, April 12
SHOP: U Street’s Lettie Gooch is celebrating its seventh anniversary. Like any seven-year-old, the clothing boutique loves candy—but unlike most seven-year-olds, it’s willing to share. Come in anytime after happy hour for a free candy bar, Champagne cocktails, goodie bags, and a deejay. Free. 5 PM.
MUSEUM PARTY: The Francophonie cultural festival is coming to an end with a huge party at the Smithsonian African Art Museum. Things get started with Cameroonian singer/songwriter Kaissa and end with world music deejay the Pinstriped Rebel. A fashion show, dancing, drinking, and art-admiring happen sometime in between. Tickets ($35) are available online. 8 PM.
ART: Works from more than 60 artists will be on display at restaurants, shops, and galleries in Takoma this weekend as part of Art Hop. Get a preview with the kickoff party at Trohv, which features beers from 3 Stars Brewing Company, food trucks galore, and dessert from Capital City Cheesecake. Free. 6 PM. Art Hop runs 11 to 5 through Sunday.
UP THE PUNX: St. Stephen’s Church and the Pinch host Damaged City, a two-day hardcore punk festival featuring a couple dozen bands from around the country, tons of zines, vegan food, records, and unshowered people. The festival runs Friday and Saturday.
Friday at St. Stephens: $15, 6 PM. At the Pinch: Free, 11 PM.
Saturday at St. Stephens: $25, 1 PM. At the Pinch: Free, 11 PM.
Filmfest DC returns for its 27th year— April 11 through 21—and after almost three decades of reviewing more than 300 submissions annually, founder Tony Gittens has a definite idea of what makes a good film: “Ultimately, it comes down to the story. The stories seem to be pretty much about the same thing—people understanding their place in the world, trying to have connections with other people, and finding themselves with obstacles to overcome.”
This year’s roster encompasses 81 features, documentaries, and shorts from around the world. Films are grouped thematically, including an espionage-and-thriller category called Trust No One. Among the festival’s highlights are the US premiere of Underground: The Julian Assange Story, an Australian movie starring Alex Williams as the WikiLeaks founder and Rachel Griffiths as his mother. Also on the roster: Stories We Tell, an autobiographical documentary by Canadian actress turned director Sarah Polley (Away From Her, Take This Waltz); Kon-Tiki, the Oscar-nominated Norwegian drama about Thor Heyerdahl’s groundbreaking voyage across the Pacific Ocean; and The Attack, a Lebanese film about a middle-class man who learns his wife is a suicide bomber. “A number of things have changed in 27 years,” Gittens says. “We’re seeing a lot more variety and more diverse voices. But we have a loyal audience and they’re very knowledgeable. To know we’re making a contribution to the city’s cultural scene is a good feeling.”
Filmfest DC. April 11 through 21. For schedule, venues, tickets, and other details at the festival’s website.
This article appears in the April 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.
Monday, April 8
DOUGHNUTS: After months of teasing and pop-up shops, Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken is finally open. Skip out of work now if you can—the first 200 customers today will get a free doughnut (with purchase of anything else). The first 50 there for lunch get a free side. 8 AM until the doughnuts are gone.
BOOKS: Carpe Librum, a huge pop-up book sale, returns for the 11th consecutive year. With more than 50,000 used books, CDs, and DVDs, you’ll definitely be able to find something to add to your library. Sales help fund programs for DC Public Schools children. The sale starts today (1030 17th St., NW) and runs through May 15. 10 AM to 7:30 PM.
Thursday, April 4
PARTY: Fringe Festival is getting started soonish—okay, in a couple of months—but to keep your interest piqued, it’s hosting the annual Gala Gala, complete with open bar, dancing, and Fringe-y weirdness. Don whatever you think most closely approximates “creative Rat Pack attire” and head over to Fringe HQ on New York Ave. Tickets ($50) are available online. 9 PM.
BOOZE AND CRAFTS: Creative types should check out the Renwick Gallery’s Handi-Hour—DC’s only (I think) event that combines arts and crafts with booze. You’ll spend two hours learning how to repurpose old books into cool pieces of art while you sip two free craft beers selected by ChurchKey’s Greg Engert. Tickets ($20) are available online. 5:30 PM.
Friday, April 5
ART: The Corcoran’s Pump Me Up has gotten a lot of people excited about DC’s old punk scene—but it’s also gotten some people riled up about how it kind of glosses over go-go culture. That’s why Contemporary Wing is hosting Mumbo Sauce, a complement/competitor/response to Pump Me Up, featuring go-go show posters and works by BORF, Cool Disco Dan, and many more. The show opens Friday with a reception and music from deejay Stereo Faith. Free. 6 PM.
KARAOKE: DC’s best purveyor of live-band karaoke, HariKaraoke, heads to the Hamilton Friday night. It might be your only chance to sing on a stage that’s been graced by Grammy winners, so bring your A-game. $5. 7 PM.
IMPROV: Washington Improv Theatre is taking over Source Theatre for most of the month to determine which improv troupe is DC’s best. The March Madness-style tournament is down to the sweet 16, so you won’t have to suffer through any bad performers. $12 online or $14 at the door. 10 PM.
VARIETY: The Encyclopedia Show DC takes on explosives this month, meaning you’ll learn all about shrapnel, bombs, volcanoes, the Boston Molasses Disaster, and pop in the show’s typically irreverent style. The lineup includes a slam poet, spoken-word artists, a performance artist, a standup comedian, and a reggae singer. $11 online or $15 at the door. 8 PM.
How closely is Ari Roth’s new play, Andy and the Shadows—at Theater J April 3 through May 5—based on his life? “It’s fictional in that it’s about a middle child, and I’m not a middle child,” says Roth, Theater J’s artistic director, now in his 16th season at the company. Otherwise, the story of Andy Glickstein, the son of two Holocaust refugees wrestling with the burdens of his heritage and forging his own path, is deeply personal. Roth has been working on the play since the 1980s, when an early version won the Helen Eisner Award for Young Playwrights. We caught up with him to discuss crafting a play, facing your history, and his tenure with Theater J.
How long have you been working on Andy and the Shadows, and where did the idea come from?
A long time. It started as a young man’s play, and now it’s a middle-aged man looking back at the exhilarating and vulnerable times of rites of passage. Both my parents are Holocaust refugees, and they were orphaned and forced to leave home at impossibly early ages. Values and trauma get passed down in equal measure, so you try to sift through those as you figure out what your purpose is in life and how you’re informed by your history.
Do you think it’s important as a playwright to write about what you know?
Playwrights can become exhausted by only writing about what they know. But I’m obsessed with the word “authentic”—you want playwrights who have extraordinarily fine ears and can capture the truth of something. You can do that either by reporting extremely closely or by summoning experiences that are so intimate, so close to the bone, that they’re arresting in their detail. You want imagination interacting with the raw stuff of real life. That’s what makes theater so exciting.
Writing and rewriting a play is a process you’ve been through a number of times before. Does it get easier?
No, but it doesn’t get harder. This is the best collaborative team I’ve ever been able to assemble at Theater J, and so that’s where the joy is. Daniella Topol is one of the country’s best directors, and we have wonderful actors who really want to work with you and value the interchange: Alexander Strain, Kimberly Gilbert, Jennifer Mendenhall, Colleen Delany.
What do you hope people take away from this play?
I think the play reflects on simple and complex ideas—on the one hand, the love you share with your family and the ways you respond to the people you’re closest to; on the other, how to really listen, examine, and uncover their complexity. The Holocaust has stamped me indelibly. You want to be liberated from your history, but you want to be on intimate terms with it at the same time.
You’re in your 16th season now at Theater J.
It’s longer than I’ve had any job, and longer than we’ve lived anywhere. My wife and I began our life together in New York, and we’ve also been in Cambridge [Massachusetts], Ann Arbor, Tel Aviv, New York again, and now here. Washington has become more and more self-sustaining as a city. Coming here to a relatively small market back in 1997, I thought, “Okay, I’ll try this for a little while and then move on.” But that was then and this is now, and DC is a very rich pasture to play in.
Andy and the Shadows is at Theater J April 3 through May 5. Tickets ($25 to $60) and more information is at Theater J’s website.
An edited version of this interview appears in the April 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.
Monday, April 1
ANNIVERSARY: Don your finest suit or dress—our little girl Pharmacy Bar is celebrating her quinceañera today. Or just wear whatever you usually do, it’s a bit of a dive anyway. The Adams Morgan institution is serving up $1 Natty Bohs and cutting prices back to 1998 levels all night; there’ll also be a host of old deejays to make you feel all nostalgic. Free. 6 PM.
Tuesday, April 2
WINE: Who says France or Argentina has the best wine? There are plenty of vineyards growing world-class vino right in your backyard. Vinoteca will show you what to look for with USA! USA! USA!, a wine class that focuses on pours sourced from states other than California, Oregon, or Washington. The class includes five wines and food pairings. Tickets ($40) are available online. 7 PM.
Wednesday, April 3
SEX: Everyone has a good (read: funny, embarrassing, awkward) sex story or two, but not everyone has the guts to spill them to strangers. Luckily, comedians exist. Head to Black Fox Lounge for Bare, a night of sex stories about times the performers used their ingenuity to solve a sexual problem. Fingers crossed none of the anecdotes involves a sandwich bag. $8. 8 PM.
Thursday, April 4
ART: FotoWeek DC’s Spring in Focus opens up this week, and hopefully with it we’ll finally get some springlike temperatures. Subjects include the cherry blossoms, which maybe someday will actually bloom. Expect beer, wine, and light food to celebrate. Free. 6:30 PM.
Know of something cool going on around town? E-mail Jason Koebler at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find him on Twitter.
Thursday, March 28
DANCE: First Liberation Dance Party, then Fatback, and now, after seven years, Nouveau Riche—three of DC’s best regularly scheduled dance nights have all ended forever in the past few months. Head to U Street Music Hall one last time to go nuts for deejays Gavin Holland, Nacey and Steve Starks, who have decided to end the dance night to focus on their solo careers. Tickets ($10) are available online. 9 PM.
BEER: Smith Commons snatched up brewers from Allagash, Firestone Walker Brewing, New Belgium, Flying Dog, and more for its BeerAdvocate Boil. You’ll find more than 30 rare beers on draft as the Craft Brewers Conference sadly comes to a close. Free. 7 PM.
BEER: Flying Dog Brewery is hosting Festival de Cans at 9:30 Club, presumably to show that a beer doesn’t have to be on tap in order to be delicious. Escort, a 17-member disco orchestra, will provide the tunes you require to get your dance on. Tickets ($25) are available online. 8 PM.
Friday, March 29
COMEDY: Wonderland Ballroom hosts its 27th edition of Don’t Block the Box, which is better than your average DC comedy night. This week’s show features Atlanta’s Matty Litwack, Rallo Boykins, Jessica Brodkin, and Stavros Halkias. $3. 7:30 PM.
KARAOKE: Sick of hearing “Sweet Caroline” and “Don’t Stop Believin’” at karaoke? Black Cat has you covered with Punk Rock Karaoke. Just make sure you’re confident enough to jump around like Ian MacKaye—standing listlessly at the mike isn’t gonna cut it. Tickets ($8) are available online. 9 PM.
WAREHOUSE PARTY: If you haven’t yet, buy tickets for Cherry Blast now and thank me later. DC’s best party of the year (in my opinion) always sells out and is one of the rare times you get to hang out in a giant warehouse decked out with art installations, trippy lighting, and live performance art. But you’re mostly there to dance, so do that. Tickets ($10) are available online. 8 PM.
Monday, March 25
KARAOKE: Karaoke is usually more of a Thursday night event, but if your pipes are just begging to be used, head to Penn Social for District Karaoke. Get there early and you can watch people who take this stuff very seriously compete to be the best karaoke singer. The stage opens to the common folk (meaning you, probably) at 9 PM. Peronis are $4 all night. Free. 7 PM.
Tuesday, March 26
MUSIC: Punk rockers unplug their guitars for the Revival Tour, which is supposed to remind people of sittin’ around the campfire with a couple acoustic guitars. Dave Hause of the Loved Ones, Tomas Kalnoky of Streetlight Manifesto, Chuck Ragan of Hot Water Music, and two other singer/songwriters will perform some of their bands’ most well-known songs slowed down and acoustic at Black Cat. Tickets ($15) are available online. 8 PM.
Wednesday, March 27
BEER: Wednesday might seem like a weird day for a bar crawl, but with the Craft Brewers Conference in town, anything goes. Twenty bucks gets you a wristband; from then on, you’ll get $3 glasses of craft beer at Rocket Bar, Iron Horse, and Penn Social. Brewmasters will be at each bar to discuss their beers, and there’ll be prizes. Tickets are available online. 4 PM to 1:30 AM.
Thursday, March 28
BURLESQUE: Valentine’s Day, thankfully, is firmly in our rearview mirrors—but the Gibson is bringing back the naughty parts with its Lace and Feathers burlesque night. Dancers from Valentine Candy Burlesque will perform as the Gibson’s top-notch bartenders stir up classy cocktails. Free. 7 PM.
Know of something cool going on around town? E-mail Jason Koebler at email@example.com, or find him on Twitter.
When it comes to Albrecht Dürer, some things are apparently worth waiting for. Seven years after the National Gallery of Art first hoped to present “Albrecht Dürer: Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints From the Albertina,” the exhibit finally opens March 24 in the East Building. Curator Andrew Robison calls the show “the greatest exhibition of Dürer ever held in this country.”
Dürer, who lived in Germany from 1471 to 1528, spanned the medieval and Renaissance eras in his work, which included paintings, prints, autobiographical texts, mathematical treatises, and more. Robison compares the artist to Leonardo da Vinci in the scope of his accomplishments: “He was a very curious man, and like Leonardo he was very aware of the changing notion of what an artist could be—this transition from being a craftsperson to being a kind of genius with a special sort of inspiration.”
The Albertina Museum in Vienna, Austria, has the world’s most extensive Dürer collection, and more than a decade ago Robison started discussing a collaboration. But the Albertina didn’t want to expose the fragile works to light too soon after its own Dürer retrospective in 2003, so the National Gallery agreed to wait. The exhibit, which explores Dürer as a draftsman, covers the whole of his career, from 91 drawings and watercolors—including masterpieces such as “The Praying Hands”—to 27 engravings and woodcuts.
“Dürer was above all a realist,” says Robison. “He’s interested in real objects, real aspects of nature, real human beings, and that’s what makes him a great portraitist. It’s a very colorful exhibition and a knockout visually. We’ll be able to survey the whole of this very intelligent, very complex, and supremely gifted human being.”
“Albrecht Dürer: Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints From the Albertina” at the National Gallery of Art through June 9. More information is at nga.gov.
This article appears in the March 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.