Political theater in Atwater Village, a chocolate and art show downtown, Bushwig Does L.A. in Silver Lake, a humungous parade and festival in Chinatown for the lunar new year, and events celebrating Black History Month. Here are 15 fun and engaging things to do and see in L.A. this week.

fri 2/16


Political Pop-Up

Open Fist Theatre presents One Year Later — A Political Pop-Up of the Theatrical Kind, 14 short plays by writers from across the United States who explore our nation's current social and political climate and how the past year under President You-Know-Who has affected us. The plays range from Sunset in Chappaqua by Myra Slotnick and Here to Serve You by Barbara Lindsay to Dreaming by Diana Burbano and Boxes and Fake by Jen Huszcza. The Acting Ensemble will handle acting duties. You might just have an epiphany in a short span of time. Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Atwater Village; Feb. 16-March 3: Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 7 p.m.; $25. (323) 882-6912, openfist.org. —Richard Chang


Chocolate Indulgence

Hey, you got your charity in my chocolate! Hey, you got your chocolate in my charity! Two great tastes that taste great together meet at today's Chocolate and Art Show. Whether it's live body painting, musical performances or just a bunch of free chocolate, you're bound to find something you'll enjoy at this event, which raises the public profile of Artists for Trauma, an initiative under which survivors of military trauma recover with help from established artists from across the creative spectrum. You know, like when Lt. Hurwitz thought he was Ethel Merman in that scene in Airplane! The Vortex, 2341 E. Olympic Blvd., downtown; Fri.-Sat., Feb. 16-17, 7 p.m.-2 a.m.; $15. (213) 375-4150, chocolateandartshow.com/events. —David Cotner


Jazzy Soundtrack Live

Combine 2014's Oscar-winning best film and a live score and you have Antonio Sanchez: BiRDMAN LiVE. Born in Mexico City, Sanchez is a five-time Grammy-winning jazz drummer who's spent the last 17 years working with guitarist Pat Metheny's group, as well as leading his own quartet, Migration. Sanchez contributed most of the soundtrack to Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Oscar-winning Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), and most of it was improvised; Sanchez's percussion is as memorable as the scene with star Michael Keaton walking down Times Square in his tighty-whities. After spending the last couple of years performing a live accompaniment, Sanchez returns to L.A. to re-create the movie's music for this screening. UCLA, Royce Hall, 10745 Dickson Court, Westwood; Fri., Feb. 16, 8 p.m.; $29-$59. (310) 825-2101, cap.ucla.edu. —Siran Babayan

Two fellows get in the drag spirit during a recent "Bushwig Does L.A." event. This year, Bushwig is returning to Los Angeles with "Bushwig Does L.A." at the Faultline on Saturday, Feb. 17 and "Dragqueens on Acid" at the Ace Hotel downtown on Monday, Feb. 19.; Credit: Photo by Matt Baume

Two fellows get in the drag spirit during a recent “Bushwig Does L.A.” event. This year, Bushwig is returning to Los Angeles with “Bushwig Does L.A.” at the Faultline on Saturday, Feb. 17 and “Dragqueens on Acid” at the Ace Hotel downtown on Monday, Feb. 19.; Credit: Photo by Matt Baume

sat 2/17


Brooklyn's Drag Renaissance Heads West

Dear Brooklyn: Silver Lake is all out of affordable housing, but we welcome cultural exports. Lucky us, that now includes an entire weekend of death drops, drama, weirdness and world-class drag. An expression and catalyst of the Brooklyn drag renaissance, Bushwig celebrates the borough's affinity for alternative and contemporary performance — or as co-founder Horrorchata told Huffington Post, “The drag scene in Brooklyn is evil and it's full of crazy witches!” Headliners for Bushwig Does L.A.! include Pinché Queen, Merrie Cherry, Kim Petras and a “very exclusive” surprise headliner, with DJ Hannah “Lit” Lou and a full bar at Faultline. Keep an eye out for future Drag Race starlets. Bushwig keeps the party going Monday at the Ace downtown with a free, Speedo-friendly poolside fantasy, Drag Queens on Acid, where you're invited to “expand your mind, body and hole.” Faultline, 4216 Melrose Ave., Silver Lake; Sat.-Sun., Feb. 17-18, 10 p.m.-2 a.m.; $10. (323) 660-0889, faultlinebar.com/event/bushwig-does-los-angeles. —Beige Luciano-Adams


Wanna Drink?

Alcohol has a knack for bringing out the worst in the best of people, and when you hit rock bottom as an alcoholic, you may wonder how you got down there in the first place. Past mistakes and future potential are showcased when Chris Finan discusses Drunks: An American History (Beacon Press), his necessarily gory chronicle of recovery and sobriety unveiled in candid and illuminating tones, from Native Americans in the colonial period to Alcoholics Anonymous founders Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, who demonstrated through trial and miserable error that alcoholics can maintain their sobriety. Vroman's, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Sat., Feb. 17, 4 p.m.; free, book is $29.95. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com/event/chris-finan-discusses-and-signs-drunks-american-history. —David Cotner

Participants in the annual Golden Dragon Parade and Festival  in Chinatown get festive in dragon costumes as firecrackers explode.; Credit: Courtesy of Chinatown Business Improvement District

Participants in the annual Golden Dragon Parade and Festival in Chinatown get festive in dragon costumes as firecrackers explode.; Credit: Courtesy of Chinatown Business Improvement District


Year of the Woof

Maybe the gods are listening, after all. According to the 4,000-year-old Chinese zodiac, 2018 is the Year of Earth Dog: sincere, humble and dedicated to reform, equality and truth. Celebrate auspicious beginnings at Chinatown's 119th annual Golden Dragon Parade and Festival, where dragon dancers, martial artists, folklore and interactive culinary stages make it an all-day affair. Find a spot before the parade begins (at 1 p.m.), then check out Central Plaza's food trucks, vintage fair and artisans; Mandarin Plaza has live music and a beer garden. Head to Taoist Thien Hau Temple on Yale Street to light incense and offer and receive blessings. Lucky red — flowers, sweets, garments and little red envelopes stuffed with $8 — will abound. The faithful don't sweep their houses on New Year's Day; after the cosmic clusterfuck of 2017, why tempt providence? Parade runs along Hill from Temple to Bernard, then heads back down Broadway to Temple in Chinatown; Sat., Feb. 17, 1 p.m.; free. (213) 617-0396, lagoldendragonparade.com. —Beige Luciano-Adams

sun 2/18


Art in the Face of Oppression

The story of art in opposition is honorable and time-honored, and with an eye toward recent developments in Chinese culture, Shelley Drake Hawks presents The Art of the Resistance: Painting by Candlelight in Mao's China (University of Washington Press). Revealing the creative struggles of seven painters active during the stark decade of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) — only one of whom, Huang Yongyu, is still alive — the book shows how the creative urge resists oppression, flowering even under the flickering light of a candle, in the process tapping into symbols, images and themes that supersede all kinds of grinding authoritarianism. Diesel Books, 225 26th St., Suite 33, Brentwood; Sun., Feb. 19, 3 p.m.; free, book is $65. (310) 576-9960, dieselbookstore.com/event/shelley-drake-hawks-discusses-and-signs-art-resistance. —David Cotner


Volcanic Moves

On the nightly news, Bali's Mount Agung volcano is seen spewing rock and lava, a fitting intro as Çudamani takes the local stage. The 25-member troupe, Bali's premier music and dance ensemble, is based in a village at the foot of the volcano and rehearsed for this visit amid its rumbling and eruptions. Performances are primarily events presented as a spiritual offering at temples, generally not on view for tourists. For this visit, Çudamani offers a family-friendly matinee, but for the evening concert, the ensemble premieres Bhumi-Mother Earth, a subject close to the performers' hearts as they consider their upcoming return to that lava-gushing volcano. The Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica; Sun., Feb. 18, 3 & 7 p.m.; $20-$50. festivalofsacredmusic.org. —Ann Haskins

mon 2/19


Native Issues

Anti-Objects: Works by Sky Hopinka showcases the artist's digital cinema output from 2014 to 2017. Hopinka will be present to explain the finer nuances of his riveting views into the daily life of the indigenous Milwaukee-based Ho-Chunk Nation, of which he counts himself a member. His is a body of work examining everything from issues of endangered languages — both linguistic and father-son — to the unfolding dilemma surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. It's not all about push, push, struggle in Hopinka's reflections on his heritage, though — sometimes catching one glimmering moment is the most artistic thing he does. REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., downtown; Mon., Feb. 19, 8:30 p.m.; $6-$12. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org/event/anti-objects-works-sky-hopinka. —David Cotner

tue 2/20


Adams Performs Eastman

It's not often that a work with the title Evil Nigger is performed at staid Disney Hall, but its author, Julius Eastman, was no ordinary composer. As an African-American singer, pianist and composer whose controversial but inventive minimalist creations often were infused with homosexual themes, Eastman was a rarity in the classical scene in the 1970s. The New York iconoclast eventually became homeless before dying in relative obscurity in 1990, but his music is finally receiving belated critical appreciation. Minimalist icon John Adams conducts four adventurous pianists — Joanne Pearce Martin, Vicki Ray, Dynasty Battles and Michelle Cann — through the rolling, cascading melodic waves of Evil Nigger, and L.A. Phil New Music Group ushers in the world premieres of new pieces by similarly bold composers Katherine Young and Andrew McIntosh. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Tue., Feb. 20, 8 p.m.; $20-$59. (323) 850-2000, laphil.com. —Falling James


Breaking the Barrier

Before he became a civil rights leader and broke Major League Baseball's color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, Jackie Robinson lived in Pasadena for 24 years. Robinson's mother, Mallie, moved herself and her five sons from Georgia to 121 Pepper St. in Pasadena, where a plaque today marks their residence. Robinson played football, baseball, basketball and track at Pasadena Junior College, now Pasadena City College; last year, the Rose Bowl unveiled a statue of Robinson wearing his football jersey. The city also has a baseball field, community center and park named after him. Hosted by the Pasadena Museum of History, The Robinsons in Pasadena: A Life Between Segregation and Integration features Amy Essington, a Cal State University professor, author and executive director of the Historical Society of Southern California, who'll talk about Robinson's Pasadena roots and how his family struggled with racism in the then–mostly white neighborhood during the Depression. Pasadena Senior Center, 85 E. Holly St., Pasadena; Tue., Feb. 20, 6:30 p.m.; free. (800) 838-3006, ext. 1, pasadenahistory.org. —Siran Babayan


Living at the Intersection

Conceivably, “intersection” should represent a place at which everyone comes together — and yet the reality is somewhat different. So taking a deeper look at what meeting people is all about, Morgan Jerkins discusses her new book of essays, This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America (Harper Perennial). Topics Jerkins tackles include body issues, having “good hair,” dating men who claim they don't “see color,” the thorny conundrum of Rachel “Tensions” Dolezal, and other indignities that bespeak larger problems of becoming an individual adult human being in modern society. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Tue., Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m.; free, book is $16. (323) 660-1175, skylightbooks.com. —David Cotner

wed 2/21


African-American Writers Speak

Los Angeles' official 69th African American History Month calendar is rich with visual and performing arts, while Our Author's Study Club — local chapter of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, founders of Black History Month — connects historical and contemporary realities through the lens of African-American experience in times of war. Mayor Eric Garcetti and OASC present An Evening With African-American Authors, at which prominent locals will discuss their latest works and the writer's path, followed by “thoughtful discussion” and a reception. Authors include Todd Bridges (yes, the guy from Diff'rent Strokes), Yvette Heyliger and Gil L. Robertson IV. L.A. City Hall, Public Works Chambers, 200 N. Spring St., 3rd floor, downtown; Wed., Feb. 21, 6-8 p.m.; free. (213) 978-0254, culturela.org/programs-and-initiatives/city-of-los-angeles-heritage-month-celebrations. —Beige Luciano-Adams


Wylde Nights

Gay pornography in L.A. has come a long way from cops busting up premieres at the Vista, and it's in this spirit of retrospection that a true moment of perspective can be had when Christopher Zeischegg presents his memoir, Body to Job (Rare Bird). Zeischegg — formerly adult film star Danny Wylde — bundles up six years of painful, enlightening reflections on his time in the trenches. It's punctuated with fictional passages — as what memoir is not — and frank revelations about coming down from stardom, the rigors of sex work, demoralization and the cumshot of ultimate redemption. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Wed., Feb. 21, 7:30 p.m.; free, book is $17.95. (323) 660-1175, skylightbooks.com. —David Cotner

thu 2/22


Passing the Torch

In 1965, nearly 100 years after the post–Civil War ratification of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, which states that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” African-Americans in the South still faced obstacles when it came to voting. In March of that year, a series of protest marches from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama spurred the signing into law of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson; it eliminated racial discrimination in voting. Hosted by the Skirball Cultural Center, Passing the Torch — From Selma to Today looks at one of the most crucial moments of the civil rights movement and how this piece of legislation affects modern times. Jessie Kornberg, president of legal services nonprofit Bet Tzedek, moderates the discussion with civil rights leaders Andrew Young, Bernard Lafayette Jr. and Clarence B. Jones, as well as James Perkins Jr., Selma's first African-American mayor. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood; Thu., Feb. 22, 7:30 p.m.; $12, $10 students. (310) 440-4500, skirball.org. —Siran Babayan

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