This week, Jared Bowen visits the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists for “Mardi Gras Indians” and speaks with George Takei about the play “Allegiance” presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company. Plus, a review of “Trouble in Tahiti” and a preview of the 36th Annual Elliot Norton Awards.

“Mardi Gras Indians,” on view at the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists through July 15

Mardi Gras Indians
"NOLA Indians" by Robert Freeman
Courtesy of the artist and the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists

Get caught up in the Super Sunday festivities of New Orleans with “Mardi Gras Indians.” A joint exhibition with painter Robert Freeman and photographer Max Stern, this exhibition centers on the parades of the Black Indian tribes of New Orleans. Bursting with vibrant colors and rhythmic energy, the works capture moments of dance and revelry in dynamic fashion. For Robert Freeman, this is the first time he has incorporated mixed medium elements such as feathers and gold leaf into his work. “I have conversations with these figures. And it helps me understand who they are,” says Freeman. “As these conversations develop, they don't just become contrived, they become very real for me. I think writers go through the same thing.”

“Allegiance,” presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company through June 2

Gary Thomas Ng, Grace Yoo, Ron Domingo, and Sam Tanabe in SpeakEasy Stage Company's production of "Allegiance"
Nile Scott Studios, courtesy of SpeakEasy Stage Company

“Allegiance” makes its regional premiere at Speakeasy Stage Company. The play centers on the Kimuras, a Japanese-American family sent to an internment camp in Wyoming after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Their story of resilience, discrimination, and higher loyalties is largely inspired by the life of Star Trek actor George Takei, who spent about four years of his childhood in an internment camp. It wasn’t until adulthood that Takei understood the reality of life inside the internment camp from his father. “I learned from him about American democracy,” says Takei. “It can do great things. But it's also as fallible as people are.”

“Trouble in Tahiti and Arias & Barcarolles,” presented by the Boston Lyric Opera through May 20

Trouble in Tahiti
Heather Johnson and Marcus DeLoach star as “Dinah” and “Sam” in Boston Lyric Opera’s Trouble In Tahiti and Arias & Barcarolles
Liza Voll, courtesy of the Boston Lyric Opera

The Boston Lyric Opera celebrates Leonard Bernstein’s centennial with “Trouble in Tahiti and Arias & Barcarolles.” The production is set in 1950s suburbia, where married couple Sam and Dinah struggle through a rocky relationship amidst what is supposed to be the American dream. Questions of fidelity, parenting, and what it means to be happy are all brought to the fore in this intimate opera. “Told with the ease of a seemingly simpler time, this is a quietly stirring production,” says Jared. “Sam and Dinah are neighbors you’ll be visiting for quite some time as you think about their strife.”

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