Literary voices from Leimert Park, a "cholo goth" art show at These Days Gallery downtown, an evening with playwright David Mamet, a retrospective of L.A. ceramist Dora De Larios, a zine conference in Highland Park and the Los Angeles Dance Festival. Here are 18 fun and engaging things to do and see in L.A. this week.
Voices From the 'Black Greenwich Village'
"Memory was the coldest bar," Shonda Buchanan muses in her poem "Sybil Awakes," from the new collection Equipoise: Poems From Goddess Country. "She wanted to open her mouth/without giving up secrets ... maybe sing of the floating memory behind her eyes," Buchanan continues in homage to female prophets of the past. The Hampton University English professor is a kind of modern-day oracle, revealing the secret intersections of race and gender in her work. She also edited the 2006 anthology Voices From Leimert Park, and this evening she uses that title for an event with fellow poets including Derek Brown, Imani Tolliver, October Blu, Peggy Dobreer and Regina Higgins. Stories Books & Café, 1716 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; Fri., Feb. 23, 8 p.m.; free. (213) 413-3733, storiesla.com. —Falling James
More New Sounds Downtown
There's nothing more thrilling than hearing new music for the first time, and this weekend audiences at Disney Hall will be the first in the world to witness the premiere of New York composer Nico Muhly's Register, a work for organ and orchestra, featuring British organist James McVinnie. In the past, Muhly has collaborated with Philip Glass, Björk, Antony & the Johnsons, Sufjan Stevens and Bryce Dessner, and his previous organ pieces have ranged from the cycling ethereal enchantment of The Revd Mustard his Installation Prelude to the sublimely austere soundscape Fast Twitchy Organs. James Conlon walks across the street from his day job at L.A. Opera to lead the L.A. Philharmonic through Maurice Ravel's orchestral arrangement of Modest Mussorgsky's landmark Pictures at an Exhibition. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Fri.-Sat., Feb. 23-24, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 25, 2 p.m.; $20-$188. (323) 850-2000, laphil.com. —Falling James
Thirsty White Ally
In an age of increased racism and police brutality, not to mention immigrant, women’s and LGBTQ rights that are under attack, everyone claims to be culturally tuned in, or “woke,” a word that’s permeated pop culture, from social media and fashion to Saturday Night Live. But can you be too “woke”? Can being too self-aware make you self-indulgent? In her autobiographical sketch show, Thirsty White Ally, N.Y. comedian/writer Rachel Joravsky spoofs not only white privilege, especially the misappropriation of black culture, but white guilt among with-it millennials. Joravksy grew up in a middle-class, Jewish home in a predominantly black neighborhood of Chicago. With help from fellow comedian Rachel Pegram, Joravsky draws from personal experiences and takes on such characters as white, Black Lives Matter activists and hip-hop-loving girls to poke fun at our politically correct times. Joravsky also hosts stand-up by Jaboukie Young-White, who opens the show. Nerdmelt, 7522 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Feb. 23, 7-8:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 851-7223, nerdmeltla.com. —Siran Babayan
Get Down With Bodies 2
Hot on the heels of Pacific Standard Time's exploration of Los Angeles/Latin America cross-cultural elements comes Euro-centric FLAX (France Los Angeles Exchange) with The Dialectic of the Stars, curated by Fabien Danesi. The festival features 19 French and American artists with installations and performances, all free, at five venues ranging from the Ford Amphitheater to LACE and the relatively new Los Angeles Dance Project studios, which hosts Bodies 2. The live dancing body is choreographer Noé Soulier. The second body for Bodies 2 is in Naotaka Hiro's film The Pit (Dancer With Golden Lips). L.A. Dance Project Studios, 2245 E. Washington Blvd., downtown; Sat., Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m.; free. flaxfoundation.org. —Ann Haskins
Our Brains Are Like Bonsai
Bonsai is the Japanese art of growing miniature trees or shrubs in a pot. Opened in 1968, the bonsai holdings at the Huntington Library's Japanese Garden number in the hundreds and include pine, elm and juniper, some more than 1,000 years old. This weekend, you can learn about these trees and how to landscape them at the museum's annual, popular Bonsai-a-Thon. Saturday features a workshop for beginners and kids (registration required), while Sunday features a behind-the-scenes tour of the bonsai nursery. Both days offer an exhibit, demonstrations led by styling experts, raffle, live auction, additional tours and a "bonsai bazaar" with more than 20 vendors selling trees, pots, tools and other materials. The Huntington Library, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino; Sat.-Sun., Feb. 24-25, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; $25, $21 seniors & students; $13 children, free under 4. (626) 405-2100, huntington.org. —Siran Babayan
Praying for Pain
Latin and Gothic cultures have always shared a creative kinship, especially when it comes to expressing the complexities of love and pain. "The Pain Isn't Over," Leafar Seyer's solo art show at These Days Gallery, explores the dramatic depths of this connection, not only through music but also through visual art. The vocalist for the music duo Prayers is known for an aesthetic and sound that's been called "cholo goth." This exhibit delves into both subcultures, presenting painting, photography, sculpture and clothing design within an immersive installation celebrating the ironies of the SoCal lifestyle, the perils of fame and success, and niche influences on the artist, such as L.A. dark-music icons Christian Death. These Days Gallery, 118 Winston St., downtown; opening reception Sat., Feb. 24, 7 p.m.-1 a.m.; runs through April 8; free. thesedaysla.com. —Lina Lecaro
Black Is Beautiful
If you're looking for a powerful and thought-provoking Black History Month gathering, Black Resistance in the Time of Trump, presented by Angels Flight Literary West, should provide one you'll never forget. Black L.A.-based writers, including Shonda Buchanan, Rachel Harper, Dana Johnson, Lia Langworthy, Michelle Maltais, Jonathan Tipton Meyers, Chris Terry and Rebecca Walker, read from their written works, sharing their experiences and exploring thoughts about the hateful actions and racist rhetoric of the current administration. Black History Month is about celebrating the achievements of African-Africans but, as AFLW seeks to remind us, right now fighting injustice and encouraging resistance need to be part of the conversation (both printed and spoken) as well. A reception and signings will follow the reading. The Last Bookstore, 453 S. Spring St., downtown; Sat., Feb. 24, 7-8:30 p.m.; free. (213) 488-0599, lastbookstorela.com. —Lina Lecaro
Get to Know Herb
Discover the most basic elements of the world around you when you trot on down to the Edible & Medicinal Plants of Los Angeles County: Herb Walk. Instructor Tellur Fenner of the Blue Wind School of Botanical Studies guides you through some of the garden's 2,000-plus types of native plants, taking you on a deeply mindful journey through the incredible breadth of Southern California's helpful herbs. One of today's more useful moments comes when you learn how to tell the good plants from their poisonous doppelgängers — you don't want to die because you weren't paying attention, do you? Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, 1500 N. College Ave., Claremont; Sun., Feb. 25, 10 a.m.; $50. (909) 625-8767, facebook.com/events/1762394970676238/. —David Cotner
Diary of Anne Frank's Stepsister
In 1944, Eva Schloss and her family, German-Jewish refugees living in the Netherlands, were captured by the Nazis and deported to Auschwitz. Though her father and brother were killed, Schloss and her mother, Fritzi, survived. After the liberation, Schloss's mother married Otto Frank, whose family, including daughter Anne, also died in the concentration camps. While Anne's story has become globally famous, Schloss has shared her own experiences of surviving World War II. During A Historical Evening With Eva Schloss: Stepsister of Anne Frank, hosted by Jewish Community Center Chabad of Downtown of Los Angeles, Schloss will discuss her relationship with Anne and her journey from Holocaust survivor to public speaker and memoirist. At 88, Schloss has documented her story in several books, as well as in 116 Cameras, a 2017 documentary short and 3-D digital project. Produced by the New York Times Op-Docs and launched by the USC Shoah Foundation, it was a contender for an Oscar for Best Documentary Short last year. Los Angeles Theater, 615 S. Broadway, downtown; Sun., Feb. 25, 7 p.m.; $10-$400. (213) 488-1543, downtownjcc.com. —Siran Babayan
The Art of the Movie Poster
In 2016, LACMA acquired The Mike Kaplan Poster Collection, an archive of more than 800 vintage film posters, mostly from the Golden Age of cinema (1930-1950), that includes such titles as Casablanca, The Philadelphia Story, Moon Over Miami and Stagecoach. Kaplan, a designer, art director and producer, has helped craft poster campaigns for various movies, including A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey. As part of The Art of the Movie Poster: Highlights from the Mike Kaplan Collection, a two-part exhibit at the museum, the first opening in February, LACMA hosts The Art of the Movie Poster: A Conversation with Mike Kaplan and Kenneth Turan. During the discussion, Kaplan and the L.A. Times film critic will look at film posters not just as promotional tools but genuine works of art. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Sun., Feb. 25, 4 p.m.; free. (323) 857-6010, lacma.org. —Siran Babayan
Celebrate a Local Legend
You may have seen works of celebrated L.A. ceramist Dora De Larios peppered throughout the Getty's Pacific Standard Time exhibitions, or in a 50-year retrospective at the Craft and Folk Art Museum back in 2010. But downtown's Main Museum looks to bring the artist into full view with Dora De Larios: Other Worlds, a 60-year retrospective that also inaugurates its new mezzanine gallery. With a body of work spanning figurines and tableware to life-size installations and architectural commissions, De Larios drew inspiration from the art of ancient civilizations, reimagining pan-cultural forms — deities, mythological creatures — in a distinctive style honed through decades of pioneering practice. She died last month at the age of 84, just weeks before the opening. This Sunday, celebrate her legacy — and the Main's promising future of unearthing L.A. artists hiding in plain sight. Beta Main, 114 W. Fourth St., downtown; Sun., Feb. 25, 2-5 p.m.; free. (213) 986-8500, themainmuseum.org. —Beige Luciano-Adams
The Hammer Museum screens director Stephen Winter’s 1997 feature film debut, Chocolate Babies. The movie follows a band of mostly HIV-positive queer men and women of color who call themselves “gay terrorists.” They stage theatrical, guerrilla-style protests on the streets of N.Y., confronting apathetic politicians, including a closeted state councilman, to bring awareness to the AIDS epidemic and lack of government funding and healthcare, especially among minorities. The screening is part of the museum’s The Black Book, a series of events with CalArts professor and writer Tisa Bryant and writer (and former L.A. Weekly contributor) Ernest Hardy, who discuss the film. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu. —Siran Babayan
Always Be Closing!
It's been a couple of decades, but in tonight's Live Talks L.A.–presented Evening With David Mamet, he'll talk with actor and magician Ricky Jay about his upcoming novel Chicago ($27, Custom House) and a career that has taken him everywhere from his criminally underrated MMA film Redbelt to 23 plays, five children's books (!) and that Realtor movie you used to hear everyone quoting back in the Friendster days. Chicago is all about violence, love and revenge in the Prohibition-era Windy City — fertile grounds for Mamet's unmistakable writing voice — and it's less a page-turner than it is a page-burner, smoldering there in your hot little hands. Ann & Jerry Moss Theater, 3131 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica; Mon., Feb. 26, 8 p.m.; $20-$53. (310) 855-0005, livetalksla.org/events/david-mamet/. —David Cotner
Self-published and selectively distributed, zines have not only stuck around during the rise of the internet but, by all appearances, the practice of zine-making is still growing. From incendiary printing press–published political pamphlets in the 19th century, all the way to the stapled booklets with photocopied cutout collages of the '80s and '90s, the zine appears to be a mainstay of the modern world. Zine and Meet 3: Zine With a Vengeance is a casual conference that illustrates how zines can still be one of the most satisfying, versatile and accessible forms of creative expressions out there today. Book Show, 5503 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park; Tue., Feb. 27, 7-10 p.m.; free (donations accepted). bookshowla.com/event/zine-meet-3. —Tanja M. Laden
Party With the Tribe
In 2012, Mendel and Rachey Simons founded the nonprofit Young Jewish Professionals of Los Angeles in order to celebrate Hebrew heritage and foster social awareness in the community. The Greatest Purim at Exchange L.A. brings this mission to life with an all-out party honoring the Jewish people's historic victory over the ancient antagonist Haman the Agagite. These days, Jews spend Purim eating, exchanging gifts, donating to charity, and basically celebrating with a big ol' party like this one, which comes complete with big-band music, a top-shelf bar and circus acts. If P.T. Barnum traded the big top for a synagogue, it might look something like this. Exchange L.A., 618 S. Spring St., downtown; Wed., Feb. 28, 8 p.m.; $20-$50. (213) 627-8070, yjplosangeles.com/purim. —Tanja M. Laden
Eating banishes hunger, puts people to work, and brings joy and comfort to the casual consumer who knows not what he swallows. But destroying the planet? Yes, at today's screening of Wasted! The Story of Food Waste, you'll find out gory details such as how one-third of the food grown annually is just thrown in the garbage, even though 800 million people worldwide are starving. A panel discussion featuring experts in the field follows the screening, which is an initiative of the City of Santa Monica's Office of Sustainability and the Environment, along with Sustainable Works. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Wed., Feb. 28, 7 p.m.; $8-$12. (310) 260-1528, americancinemathequecalendar.com/content/wasted-the-story-of-food-waste-0. —David Cotner
Puppets Acting Out Dreams
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La La Land was almost universally hated among serious musical lovers. But La, La, La, LA: A Puppet Musical has nothing to do with the movie. In fact, the UCB comedy preceded the 2016 Oscar-winning film by six years, so screw you, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Written by Upright Citizens Brigade instructor Ben Siemon, with music and lyrics by composer Scott Passerella, the premise is similar: An aspiring writer named Joe Young and his struggling artist friends pursue their dreams in show business, while suffering through humbling auditions, working day jobs and living in the Valley. But here, the Hollywood hopefuls are played by puppets made of felt. Actors Siemon, Andie Bolt, Meghan Parks, Steve Szlaga, Zach Reino, David Kerns and Muriel Montgomery not only act using puppets but perform choreography and original songs to the tune of Broadway and Disney music. UCB Sunset, 5419 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood.; Thu., March 1, 8:30 p.m.; $7. (323) 908-8702, sunset.ucbtheatre.com. —Siran Babayan
The Next Generation
It's nearly spring and time for choreographer/impresario Deborah Brockus to gather some of the best local contemporary dance companies for the annual Los Angeles Dance Festival. Timed this year to coincide with Women's History Month, this year's fest, dubbed The Rise of the Woman, spotlights 10 top-notch, women-led troupes. The 10 are mixed and matched, with five presented in each of three shows. Opening night includes Kybele Dance Theatre, TL Collective, Szalt, Brockus RED and Lula Washington Dance Theatre. Friday welcomes Acts of Matter, L.A. Contemporary Dance Company, the TL Collective, Whyteburg and host company Brockus RED. Saturday's lineup includes Sarah Elgart/Arrogant Elbow, Kybele, W, Szalt and Lula Washington Dance Theatre. Along with the performances, the festival offers classes with the companies; in mid-March there's a second performance series showcasing high school and college performers. The festival distinguishes itself by presenting both the best of the current generation in local dance and a preview of the next. Full details at LADanceFest.org. Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz, 10361 W. Pico Blvd., Century City; Thu.-Sat., March 1-3, 8 p.m.; $25. theatreraymondkabbaz.com. —Ann Haskins