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EVENTS

Arts events in Greater Boston this week

Arthur Evans

The Biggers picture - SANFORD BIGGERS: THE CARTOGRAPHER’S CONUNDRUM - The Los Angeles-based artist has an impressive installation taking up much of the museum’s largest gallery, as well as a film and painting. The work, made in part from an array of secondhand musical instruments, riffs on that of his artist predecessor (and possibly cousin), the late Sanford Biggers. Through April 1, 2013. Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams. 413-662-2111, www.massmoca.org

THEATER

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM This was August Wilson’s breakthrough, the drama that established him as a playwright without peer in exploring the deepest currents of the African-American experience. “Ma Rainey’’ is in very good hands with director Liesl Tommy and her cast, including Yvette Freeman in the title role and Jason Bowen, who is riveting as Levee, a young trumpeter with dreams. Through April 8. Presented by Huntington Theatre Company. At Boston University Theatre. 617-266-0800, www.huntingtontheatre.org

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NEXT TO NORMAL A powerfully moving musical about a woman riding the seesaw of mental illness, determined to find a way to hold on, and her family, trying to stay together through it all. Through April 15. Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company. At Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.speakeasystage.com

BAKERSFIELD MIST A comedy-drama by Stephen Sachs, directed by Jeff Zinn, that pits a haughty art expert (played by Ken Cheeseman) against an unemployed bartender (portrayed by Paula Langton) who is convinced that she has an undiscovered Jackson Pollock painting on her hands. Through March 25. Co-production by New Repertory Theatre and Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater. At New Repertory Theatre, Black Box Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown. 617-923-8487, www.newrep.org

DON AUCOIN

DEPORTED / A DREAM PLAY Joyce Van Dyke’s new work doesn’t entirely avoid propaganda as it attempts to address the Armenian genocide of 1915. But the dream elements are enchanting and thought-provoking, and Bobbie Steinbach grounds the proceedings with her wry, feisty take on the central character, who was modeled on Van Dyke’s Armenian grandmother. Through April 1. Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and Suffolk University. At Modern Theatre, Boston. 866-811-4111, www.bostonplaywrights.org

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RECENT TRAGIC EVENTS Set on the evening of Sept. 12, 2001, and featuring an appearance by Joyce Carol Oates in the form of a sock puppet, Craig Wright’s 2002 play about free will is all too susceptible to vapid hipsterism. Whistler in the Dark Theatre’s warmhearted actors make it both funny and heart-rending, however, and the production is rife with thoughtful details. Through March 24. Factory Theatre, Boston. 800-838-3006, www.whistlerinthedark.com

BLOOD ROSE RISING: IMMATERIAL GIRL Ben Evett and Steve Barkhimer have come up with a great concept: live theater as a serial. The setup is strong as well: A Cambridge professor inherits a Victorian mansion and falls in love with its ghost, Rose, who materializes in the presence of blood. Plot details could be more plausible and the dialogue less callow, but “Immaterial Girl’’ will have you returning to see what happens to Robert and Rose in episode two, “Heir of Suspicion.’’ Through April 7. Davis Square Theatre, Somerville. 800-838-3006, www.bloodroserising.com JEFFREY GANTZ

LES MISERABLES The 25th-anniversary production of this blockbuster musical qualifies as a truly extraordinary theatrical experience. It’s hard to imagine a fresh take on this adaptation of Victor Hugo’s sweeping saga, but the combination of high-tech wizardry and old-fashioned, character-driven performances by an outstanding cast makes for a breathtaking evening. Through April 1. Presented by Broadway in Boston. At Boston Opera House. Tickets: $33-$180. 800-982-2787, www.broadwayinboston.com TERRY BYRNE

Ariel Freiberg

Women real, imagined - ONE IS ALWAYS FORGOTTEN: ARIEL FREIBERG AND HELENA WURZEL - These two painters investigate gender and female sexuality, creating scenes of solitude, power, intimacy, and vulnerability. In stories of domestic life and mythic fantasies, Freiberg (“Big Dreams,’’ pictured) and Wurzel implicate the viewer as intruder or audience. Through April 22. Laconia Gallery, 433 Harrison Ave. www.laconiagallery.com

DANCE

CALLING TO YOU: A TALE OF ANCIENT WISDOM IN THE MODERN WORLD Deborah Abel Dance Company’s new evening-length work traces a spiritual journey as it bounds between two worlds - one couple in the throes of strife in contemporary America and an Indian pair from an era long past. The performance includes 11 dancers and seven musicians. March 24-25. $28, $23 seniors, students, and children. Tsai Performance Center. 617-353-8725, www.deborahabeldance.com

SUMMER STAGES DANCE FEAST To celebrate its 15th anniversary, Summer Stages Dance at Concord Academy is hosting a “feast’’ of dancing, with a stunningly diverse, mouthwatering menu of classes and workshops beginning at noon. It culminates with a performance “dessert’’ at 5 p.m. featuring David Dorfman, Sean Curran Company, David Parker and the Bang Group, and others. March 25. $25-$30, $10-$15 age 12 and under. Concord Academy Student Health and Athletic Center, 166 Main St., Concord. 978-402-2339, www.summerstagesdance.org

CHUNKY MOVE Up for a road trip? Jacob’s Pillow Dance and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art are copresenting the latest work of this groundbreaking Australian contemporary dance troupe. Chunky Move’s “Connected’’ sends the dancers cavorting amid eye-popping sculptural elements, including a wave-like suspended grid that seems to pulse with a life of its own. March 24-25. $25-$39, $10 age 15 and under. Mass MoCA, 87 Marshall St., North Adams. 413-662-2111, www.massmoca.org

CULTURE FEST 2012 The members of the Sacred Dance Guild, an international organization with a social-action component, believe that dancing in concert can lead to living in harmony. As part of this year’s “Culture Fest,’’ the program “Dance a World of Hope’’ brings together performers of dance traditions from Croatia, China, Columbia, and Armenia, as well as contemporary artists, for a benefit concert for dancers in Croatia and Armenia. March 25, 2:30 p.m. $10, $5 age 12 and under. National Heritage Museum, 33 Marrett Road, Lexington. www.sacreddanceguild.org

KAREN CAMPBELL

GALLERIES

101 PHOTOS FOR PRESS FREEDOM War, revolution, and natural disasters as captured by photojournalists since 1947. The exhibit celebrates the 25th anniversary of the founding of “Reporters Sans Frontieres’’ (Reporters Without Borders), with photos donated by members of the Magnum photo agency. Through April 30. Art Institute of Boston Gallery, 700 Beacon St. 617-585-6600, www.lesley.edu

ILYA BOLOTOWSKY: PAINTINGS, COLUMNS, PRINTS 1937-1980 The American modernist made work akin to Mondrian: grid-based abstractions seeking equilibrium through planes, lines, and brilliant colors. He rankled against abstract expressionists, and instead made clean, crisp paintings, sculptures, and prints focused on harmony. Through April 14. Beth Urdang Gallery, 129 Newbury St. 781-264-1121, www.bethurdanggallery.com

BEFORE OCCUPY: PAINTINGS BY ELAINE SPATZ-RABINOWITZ 2001-2006 Rabinowitz has long made paintings with searing social commentary and dazzling technique. These paintings pair mansions with graffiti marks, examining how the 1 percent entwines with the 99 percent. Through March 30. Casella Gallery, Wentworth Institute of Technology, 550 Parker St. 617-989-4375, www.wit.edu

ONE IS ALWAYS FORGOTTEN: ARIEL FREIBERG AND HELENA WURZEL These two painters investigate gender and female sexuality, creating scenes of solitude, power, intimacy, and vulnerability. In stories of domestic life and mythic fantasies, Freiberg (‘‘Big Dreams,’’ pictured) and Wurzel implicate the viewer as intruder or audience. Through April 22. Laconia Gallery, 433 Harrison Ave. www.laconiagallery.com

CATE McQUAID

MUSEUMS

SANFORD BIGGERS: THE CARTOGRAPHER’S CONUNDRUM The Los Angeles-based artist has an impressive installation taking up much of the museum’s largest gallery, as well as a film and painting. The work, made in part from an array of secondhand musical instruments, riffs on that of his artist predecessor (and possibly cousin), the late Sanford Biggers. Through April 1, 2013. Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams. 413-662-2111, www.massmoca.org

RADCLIFFE BAILEY: MEMORY AS MEDICINE A survey of this impressive, and still young, African-American artist based in Atlantic City. The show comes to the Davis from the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Through May 6. Davis Museum of Art, Wellesley. 781-283-2051, www.davismuseum.wellesley.edu

FIGURING COLOR: KATHY BUTTERLY, FELIX GONZALEZ-TORRES, ROY MCMAKIN, SUE WILLIAMS Four artists, including the incomparable Kathy Butterly, explore aspects of color in ceramics, paintings, installations, and furniture. Through May 20. Institute of Contemporary Art. 617-478-3103, www.icaboston.org

SHAPESHIFTING: TRANSFORMATIONS IN NATIVE AMERICAN ART A survey of Native American art, from historical objects to ambitious contemporary works. Through April 29. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem. 978-745-9500, www.pem.org

SEBASTIAN SMEE
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