PICK OF THE DAY
Brazil had the largest population of African slaves in the Americas, and in 1888 was the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery. “Samba Spirit: Modern Afro Brazilian Art” is a show of 20th-century Brazilian artists who drew on their African descent to create works covering the 1930s to the ’80s. (Pictured: Maria Auxiliadora da Silva’s “Chuva Sobre Sao Paulo.”) 10 a.m.-9:45 p.m. (through Oct. 19). $25, $23 seniors and students 18 and older, free under 18 (weekdays after 3 p.m., weekends, Boston Public Schools holidays; otherwise $10). Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. 617-267-9300. www.mfa.org
Blue by you What happens backstage before the guys of Blue Man Group go onstage? Find out at “Behind the Curtain” with one of the blue boys as your escort. After the show you can ask questions and meet the crew. 6-10 p.m. $89 (includes ticket to the show; registration required). Charles Playhouse, 74 Warrenton St., Boston. 617-267-4430. www.bcae.org
Shattering showmanship There aren’t too many walkabout political puppet shows around, so here’s a chance to partake, thanks to “Bread & Puppet Theater: The Shatterer of Worlds.” Peter Schumann’s Vermont troupe draws from a Hindu prayer: “Life, the splendor of 1,000 suns blazing all at once, resembling the exulted soul, is become Death, the shatterer of worlds.” 7 p.m. (through Feb. 2). $15, $12 students and seniors. Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., Boston. 866-811-4111. www.theatermania.com
Beauty is skin deep London doctor Frederick Treves found a deformed and abandoned John Merrick and endeared “The Elephant Man” to Victorian London society. Salem Theatre Company presents Bernard Pomerance’s Tony-winning play. Jan. 23 and 24 previews at 7:30 p.m. (through Feb. 15). Pay-what-you-will previews ($10 guaranteed seats); $25, $20 seniors, $10 students. STC Theater, 90 Lafayette St., Salem. 866-811-4111. www.salemtheatre.com
New works for the new year A new year brings Newburyport’s New Works Festival of 19 pieces by New England writers. Included are 17 shorts, a full-length play, and a one-act play. Mary Beth Smith’s award-winning one-act play “Keep Abreast” is about a woman with breast cancer who encounters a mailman and waitress waiting to examine her. Jan. 24 at 8 p.m. (through Feb. 1). $13, $38 (four-day pass). Firehouse Center for the Arts, Market Square, Newburyport. 978-462-7336. www.firehouse.org
Talent of Tarkovsky Ingmar Bergman said about the films of Andrei Tarkovsky: “My discovery of [his] first film was like a miracle. Suddenly, I found myself standing at the door of a room the keys of which had, until then, never been given to me.” “Time Within Time — The Complete Andrei Tarkovsky” includes “Mirror,” a 1975 film honoring painting, music, and poetry. Jan. 24 at 9:30 p.m. (through Feb. 2). $9, $7 students and seniors. Harvard Film Archive, 24 Quincy St., Cambridge. 617-495-4700. www.hcl.harvard.edu/hfa
Borrowing from Burns Scottish poet Robert Burns influenced folks like J. D. Salinger and John Steinbeck. The “Catcher in the Rye” title is based on Burns’s poem “Comin Thro’ the Rye”; the title “Of Mice and Men” is from Burns’s poem “To a Mouse.” Celebrate the author at Burns Night with dinner, bagpiping, haggis (pudding of sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs), and more. Jan. 25 at 9 p.m. $65. The Haven, 2 Perkins St., Jamaica Plain, 617-524-2836. www.thehavenjp.comJune Wulff can be reached at email@example.com.