From film screenings to sketch comedy about O.G. American badass George Washington, there's plenty to do this week for five bucks or less.
Though the Year of the Monkey doesn't begin until Feb. 8, the Japanese American National Museum's largest annual celebration, the Oshogatsu Family Festival, is ringing it in early. Free and festive daylong activities include docent-led tours of exhibits, a scavenger hunt, storytelling, a Curious George bounce house and performances of hip-hop and lion dances. The festival also offers demonstrations and workshops on puppet making, origami, candy sculpting and rice pounding, which incorporates taiko drumming, as well as tastings of traditional Japanese food. Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave., downtown; Sun., Jan. 3, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; free. (213) 625-0414, janm.org/events/2016/oshogatsufest. —Siran Babayan
Howard Hawks, the masterful director of Hollywood's Golden Era took screwball comedy to what many consider its zenith in His Girl Friday. About a newspaper editor (Cary Grant, who's been gracing the screen at LACMA quite often of late) doing his utmost to prevent his ex-wife (Rosalind Russell) from going through with her plans to remarry, it's the most highly regarded film of its kind ever made. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Jan. 5, 1 p.m.; $5. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine
William Mulholland was a self-taught civil engineer who designed the Los Angeles Aqueduct and was head of the then-named Bureau of Water Works and Supply. He also built the St. Francis Dam near Los Angeles, which collapsed in 1928, releasing a deadly flood that killed nearly 500 people. It was one of the worst civil-engineering disasters of the 20th century and the second-worst natural disaster in California history. Author and documentary filmmaker Jon Wilkman revisits the events surrounding the collapse in his new book, Floodpath: The Deadliest Man-Made Disaster of 20th-Century America and the Making of Modern Los Angeles. Wilkman leads an illustrated discussion about his book, which includes more than two decades' worth of research, eyewitness interviews, theories as to why the dam broke and a profile of Mulholland, whose career came to an end after the catastrophe. Buena Vista Branch Library, 300 N. Buena Vista St., Burbank; Wed., Jan. 6, 7-8:30 p.m.; free. (818) 238-5620, burbanklibrary.com/events/floodpath-st-francis-dam-disaster. —Siran Babayan
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Tom Stoppard's 1993 play Arcadia is generally accepted to be among the finer works of contemporary theater, which probably means it deserves a little extra attention. Give the text a close listen when the actors of the classical repertory company A Noise Within perform a staged reading of the sci-fi–esque play, which takes place in an English country house during two different time periods: the early 19th century and present day (or 1993, as it were). Directed by Stephen Rockwell, the reading is preceded by a lecture by Caltech professor Julia R. Greer, who, according to her bio, "focuses on creating three-dimensional nano-architectures and designing experiments to assess their properties." It's an evening for smart people if ever there was one. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena; Wed., Jan. 6, 7 p.m.; free with RSVP. (626) 356-3100, anoisewithin.org. —Gwynedd Stuart
Much is lost in translation, but occasionally something is found as well. This, by all accounts, is the case in Cinema Shiró, a recording of an experimental Japanese film that Vienna-based artist Albert Allgaier saw on TV late one night and decided to preserve. Dubbed into German, the bizarre movie became a talking point among Allgaier's peers, eventually leading him to take it elsewhere: Batumi on the Black Sea; Hokkaido, Japan; the Catholic Workers Union of Porto in Portugal; and a Lithuanian nudist colony all have hosted screenings. It now makes its way to Los Angeles, courtesy of the Echo Park Film Center, with Allgaier in tow. Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N. Alvarado St., Echo Park; Wed., Jan. 6, 8 p.m.; $5 suggested donation. (213) 484-8846, echoparkfilmcenter.org. —Michael Nordine
As part of the Annenberg Space for Photography's Iris Nights Lecture Series, National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore discusses his animal photography project, "The Photo Ark." Sartore, who has contributed to Time, Life, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated, began his pictorial collection in 2005. Using studio lighting and simple black or white backgrounds, Sartore is on a mission to capture on camera every captive species on Earth — as many 12,000. His collection houses images of more than 5,000 at-risk or endangered animals, from the bald eagle and the panda to the monarch butterfly. Skylight Studios, 10050 Constellation Blvd., Century City; Thu., Jan. 7, 6:30-8 p.m.; free with RSVP. (213) 403-3122, annenbergphotospace.org. —Siran Babayan
UCB's sketch play George Washington: The Original American Badass gives props to our nation's first president, leader of the American Revolution and Chuck Norris of colonial times. Writers-actors Alex Hanpeter and Jude Tedmori (who plays Washington, complete with costume, wig and guitar) originally staged their not-so-accurate biopic in Chicago. Together they join a cast of fellow Chicago transplants to interpret the most ass-kicking moments of GW's life, from his Virginia youth and the Boston Tea Party to the Revolutionary War. Along the way he also meets Hitler, JFK and Michael Jordan, and saves rock & roll. UCB Franklin, 5919 Franklin Ave., Hollywood Hills; Thu., Jan. 7, 9:30 p.m.; $5. (323) 908-8702, franklin.ucbtheatre.com. —Siran Babayan