THURSDAY, MAY 18
THEATER Mosaic Theater’s production of Ulysses on Bottles opens on Thursday and runs through June 11 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center as part of the Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival. Written by Israeli playwright Gilad Evron, it examines the fallout when an Israeli-Arab ex-teacher, nicknamed Ulysses, tries to sail into Gaza on a raft made of plastic bottles. Thursday through Sunday are preview nights, and the play opens officially next week; Thursday in particular is a “pay-what-you-can” night. Later performances: $15 to $60, 8 PM with some 3 PM matinees.
FOOD & DRINK The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is hosting its annual ZooFari event, with over 100 DC restaurants offering food, wine, and cocktail tastings. There will also be live and silent auctions featuring tickets to Hamilton on Broadway and animal-themed items, plus after-hours access to the Small Mammal House, the Great Ape House, and the Reptile Discovery Center. Proceeds will support conservation work around the globe. $200, 6:30 PM.
FRIDAY, MAY 19
BIKE Friday is Washington’s Bike To Work Day, where cyclists are encouraged to eschew cars and public transportation in favor of peddling to their day jobs. There will be over 85 pit stops all over the DMV (note that they cater to the 9-to-5 crowd) with food and drink, plus those who register in advance are eligible to pick up a free t-shirt at their pit stop of choice. First-time riders or those who are nervous about navigating the streets in rush hour are encouraged to post on the Washington Area Bike Forum to find a buddy to ride with on Friday (or in the future!). Free.
MUSIC The National Gallery of Art’s weekly summer concert series, Jazz in the Garden, returns on Friday and runs every Friday until August 25 in the museum’s Sculpture Garden. These free concerts will spotlight local and national musicians; this week’s performance features NYC-based Brazilian bluegrass band Matuto. Free, 5 PM.
SATURDAY, MAY 20
FILM The Smithsonian American Art Museum is screening two films that document JFK, in coordination of the SAAM’s newest exhibition, American Visionary: John F. Kennedy’s Life and Times. These two films are Adventures on a New Frontier, the 1961 documentary of the daily life of the presidency, and Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment, which shows President Kennedy during the battle to integrate the University of Alabama. Free, 3 PM.
FESTIVAL The 26th annual Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival is on Saturday and Sunday at the Reston Town Center. In addition to dozens of artists’ works on display, there will be free art-making activities (for all ages) and dance performances on both days. Free—or adopt an artist for $100, 10 AM.
BEER Sterling, Virginia brewery Ocelot is celebrating its second anniversary on Saturday with a whole slew of special beers, including 17 surprise guest taps. There will also be live music from the Junior Bryce Band and Phish tribute band The Last Rewind (the brewery’s name comes from a Phish song). $35 online or $40 at the door, for a limited number of beers; additional drink tickets available on-site. 12-7 PM.
BOOKS The phrase “personal responsibility” once referred the moral duty to help and support others, but has come to mean an obligation to be self-sufficient. Author Yascha Mounk—a Slate columnist and Harvard lecturer on government—will discuss his new book The Age of Responsibility: Luck, Choice, and the Welfare State on Saturday afternoon at Politics and Prose. Mounk argues that instead of punishing individuals for their choices, public policy should empower them to take responsibility for themselves and others around them. Free, 1 PM.
SUNDAY, MAY 21
COMEDY The comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade launched careers of folks like Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz. Their Touring Company will perform an improv show at Sixth & I; expect audience participation and lots of hilarity. $20 (in advance) or $25 (day-of), 7 PM.
MUSIC British folk singer-songwriter Laura Marling has been the darling of the UK award circuit, racking up several Mercury Prize and Brit Award nominations. Her sixth studio album, Semper Femina, came out earlier this spring; her concert at the 9:30 Club will likely showcase many of these new songs. $30, 7 PM.
MUSEUMS A new exhibit, America Collects Eighteenth-Century French Painting, opens Sunday at the National Gallery of Art and runs through August 20. The exhibit brings together sixty-eight paintings that represent French Art from the 18th century, held by American Museums. In addition, the Gallery is hosting an Introduction to the Exhibition on Sunday afternoon with assistant curator Yuriko Jackall. Free, 11 AM (exhibition) and 2 PM (lecture).
BEST OF WASHINGTON Try dishes and cocktails from more than 75 of Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants at our Best of Washington event on June 1 at the National Building Museum. Participating restaurants include Rasika, Le Diplomate, the Riggsby, and much more. Admission gets you all-you-can-eat and drink. Get tickets here.