Nwandu hesitated — she had some rewrites planned — but Lee won her over, saying he wanted the script as it was. Five weeks later, in front of 10 cameras and an invited audience of mostly black Chicagoans, “Pass Over” was on its feet again, in a slightly tweaked reprise of Taymor’s staging.
A riff on both the biblical Exodus and “Waiting for Godot,” it stars Jon Michael Hill as Moses and Julian Parker as Kitch, bantering young black men with dreams of leaving their beleaguered block. They yearn to be free from the violent, enervating menace of white racism, and to flourish in the elusive American promised land.
Streaming on Amazon, Lee’s stellar version of “Pass Over” is a gut-punching, kinetic translation of theater to film, faithful to Nwandu’s powerful play yet also its own work of art. Building on and refracting Taymor’s production, Lee uses every shot for a reason and makes the audience his sympathetic frame. In his hands, it becomes their story, too.
Many of us could use an unhurried journey, preferably to somewhere tantalizingly far away. But with travel possibilities still limited, the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Elena Moon Park promises a global expedition for which no one has to leave home.
A Korean-American who grew up in Tennessee and now lives in Brooklyn, Park has just completed “Unhurried Journey,” an album with influences ranging from Mexico to Indonesia to her own diverse roots. Inspired by the whimsical paintings of Kristiana Pärn, who also did the illustrations for Park’s album “Rabbit Days and Dumplings,” “Unhurried Journey” is accompanied by animated videos, suggested creative activities and an evolving online story that stars a parachuting fox.
Children can explore these elements anytime on the project’s website, but on Friday, the album’s release day, Park will give a free livestreamed tour of them from noon to 1:30 p.m. Eastern time on Facebook and YouTube. She will perform excerpts from 10 songs, introduce video segments, lead singalong choruses, demonstrate instruments and play recorded conversations with some of her collaborators, like the married folk artists Dan and Claudia Zanes.
Adolescents can also embark on a journey on Friday: the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s first Virtual Teens Take the Met! (Online registration is encouraged.) From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time, this free festival on Instagram (@MetTeens) and the social media platforms of more than 30 partner institutions will offer art making, zine design, dance tutorials, writing workshops, theater and, of course, music. Get ready to travel.
During the third season of Netflix’s Weimar-era noir series, “Babylon Berlin,” the character Charlotte sings along to a recording of “Raus mit den Männern” (in English, “Chuck Out the Men!”). If the song by Friedrich Hollaender, a composer who wrote for cabarets, films and revues, makes you hungry for more politically jaundiced tunes, consider a recent album by the singer Sarah Maria Sun. Titled “Killer Instincts,” her recording is a satisfying side dish of satire: mordant in outlook, effervescent in detail.
Sun and her band, the Gurks, use a clattering, contemporary production sound to provide some consistency among songs that move from interwar compositions to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s “I Put a Spell on You” to gems from Broadway. (Think of Tom Waits at the cabaret, with greater vocal range.) Whether Sun is performing a selection from Leonard Bernstein’s “Trouble in Tahiti” or a Stefan Wolpe tune from 1930 that laments Hitler’s rising political fortunes, she musters a stylish way of singing about bleak times.
Bernstein’s writing for the stage results in another highlight for Sun. Her performance of “Glitter and Be Gay” (from “Candide”) contains a banjo-led arrangement you never knew you needed. The twangy instrumental accompaniment and Sun’s coloratura brilliance are equally refined; together, they mock putative distinctions between “high” and “low” cultural practices with an energy that any satirist could admire.
SETH COLTER WALLS
Many an opus has been refined in isolation. The time Shakespeare spent in quarantine from the plague, and the consequent creation of “King Lear,” has been a hot topic on Twitter recently. More contemporary analogues include Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, who famously self-isolated in a hunting cabin to record “For Emma, Forever Ago,” and Katie Crutchfield, who churned out her first record as Waxahatchee while snowed in at her family home.
“Because I Was in Love,” the debut album from the singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten, has a similar origin story. She wrote the record during a “self-imposed quarantine,” as she called it, which she entered after a devastating breakup. Its delicate folk songs, rendered mostly on acoustic guitar, are striated with loneliness.
To mark the 11th anniversary of “Because I Was in Love,” and to honor the strange parallels between the solitary circumstances from which it arose and those in which we find ourselves now, Van Etten will stage a virtual concert on Friday at 5 p.m. Eastern time. Livestreamed from her home in Los Angeles, the show will feature a front-to-back performance of the album and benefit the National Independent Venue Association, an organization providing financial support to music hubs across the country. Tickets are available through Seated, a ticketing website and app.
If it’s possible to “win” at quarantine, then who deserves to wear the crown?
Forget all the names that have sprung to mind over the past few months, because the Miss Quarantine Pageant is having none of that. Rather, this fully scripted spoof features comedians, ages 22 to 81, vying for that title in character.
Among the 10 contestants are Joan of Arc, brought back to life by Kami Dimitrova (Upright Citizens Brigade’s “Characters Welcome”); Shannon Sioux-Stanley, a “mean girl” from Ohio who confidently sings badly, played by Taylor Ortega (“Kim Possible”); and Bianca, a cross between a New Jersey housewife and a Long Island medium, portrayed by Corin Wells (“Characters Welcome”). Cassie Grimaldi is playing Phoebe Still, Miss Quarantine 2019. Jay Malsky will make a guest appearance as the holy-rolling, hymn-singing Stod Rupert, and David Ebert and Maggie Politi will be portraying your hosts, Brad Lakeview and Karla Pressburger.
The livestream pageantry kicks off on YouTube at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday.
SEAN L. McCARTHY