Diary of a Lost Girl
Atlas Presents Sounds of Silence Film Series Presents Diary of a Lost Girl; courtesy of Kino Lorber

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Thursday: My Body, No Choice at Arena Stage

“In the early 1970s, my sister Bridget and I went to a women’s consciousness-raising session weekly in a friend’s living room near Catholic U. We talked about our bodies and read eye-opening books like Our Bodies, Ourselves as most of us already subscribed to Ms. Magazine and many read Betty Friedan’s game-changing book,” Molly Smith, Arena Stage’s artistic director, tells City Paper, reflecting back on a formative pre-Roe v. Wade memory. “Mostly we talked and laughed and cried and learned and listened to our individual and collective stories about being a woman and feminists. Those sessions forever changed my life. I was in that circle of women who got to know each other over a single year, and we had this place to reveal our deepest secrets.” In her last directorial venture for Arena, Smith takes on My Body, No Choice, a series of monologues about reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy in a post-Roe America. Written by renowned women playwrights such as Lee Cataluna (Home of the Brave), Lisa Loomer (Roe), Dael Orlandersmith (Stoop Stories), Sarah Ruhl (In the Next Room, or the vibrator play), Mary Hall Surface (Perseus Bayou), and V (The Vagina Monologues), the works are personal, profound, audacious, and utterly fearless. Joining the ranks of these established feminist playwrights is Fatima Dyfan, an up-and-coming writer and Woolly Mammoth Theatre New Work Fellow, whose monologue covers taking a pregnancy test. “As a younger Black woman, there were a lot of other things that I already had to deal with with my body,” Dyfan says. “While I may not have had an abortion, at the end of the day, I am fertile. And that possibility for me exists. I reflected on how limited and scared I felt, how I didn’t know about resources available for me, how unsure I felt in my own body.” In addition, Arena Stage is inviting women, trans men, and nonbinary individuals to share stories about their bodies and freedom that will air on the monitors throughout the theater during the run of the play. My Body, No Choice runs Oct. 20 through Nov. 6 at Arena Stage, 1101 6th St. SW. arenastage.org. $18. —Colleen Kennedy

Courtesy of Arena Stage

Saturday: Oktoberfest at National Landing

Arlington may be more than 4,000 miles away from Oktoberfest’s origins in Munich, Germany, but that’s not stopping the National Landing Business Improvement District from celebrating the annual festival with food, beer, and live music. The star of the show is the Alte Kumpel Band, which specializes in polkas, marches, waltzes, and other music “familiar” to the United States and Europe. Fittingly for Oktoberfest, Alte Kumpel sings in both German and English and performs wearing traditional Bavarian clothing. While you get your fill of festive music, National Landing has also put together games and a variety of food and beverage deals. Participating restaurants include Crystal City Sports Pub, Enjeera, Freddie’s Beach Bar, Los Tios, Beauty Champagne & Sugar Bar, and Portofino. They’ll be serving up marinated meatballs, pretzels, cider, and plenty of German lager. Registrants will get a free stein with their first beer purchase and discounts on following orders. Dress up, bring your kids or your dogs, and get ready for a fun, food-filled fall day. National Landing’s Oktoberfest runs noon to 4 p.m. at 556 22nd St S., Arlington. nationallanding.org. Free.Sarah Smith

Alte Kumpel Band at the 2021 Oktoberfest; courtesy of the BID

Saturday: Madison Cunningham at Howard Theatre

“Will you take me as I am?/ In perfect obedience to all these demands/ I’m a child to the wonder but a victim of the change/ When I see you again/ will I know what to say?” Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Madison Cunningham kicks off Revealer with these heavy questions, paving the way for the rest of the album’s reflections and confessions. Just a year ago, Cunningham was performing at the Miracle Theatre, in the midst of writing her September 2022 album and earning comparisons to iconic artists like Fiona Apple and Stevie Nicks. Now, she’s on tour for Revealer and headed back to D.C. with music that takes an even deeper cut into her life. Cunningham’s latest work tackles a wide variety of emotions and themes—self-doubt, anxiety, depression, and apathy. The pandemic fueled many of these experiences, but the unexpected death of her grandmother compounded things. As Cunningham puts it, Revealer then became a way to process and heal. “Songwriting wasn’t this romantic outlet. It was not fun,” Cunningham explains on her website. “It was a constant reflection of how poorly I was doing as a human being.” Although driven by pain, the album is a work of beauty, a further honest telling of Cunningham’s life. Her guitar playing adds a captivating element to her storytelling, and the artist also brought in producer Mike Elizondo, who has worked with Apple. Whether you want to hear the evolution of Cunningham’s musical magic or need to reflect on your own life, the Revealer tour is sure to deliver an emotional reckoning. Madison Cunningham plays at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 22 at the Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. ticketweb.com. $22. —Sarah Smith

Madison Cunningham; Credit: Claire Marie Vogel

Sunday: Diary of a Lost Girl at Atlas Performing Arts Center

Louise Brooks’ heyday as an actress was nearly 100 years ago. Yet, despite being a Jazz Age flapper pageboy, her timeless look wouldn’t be out of place in the 21st century. Her second film with German director G. W. Pabst, the 1929 silent drama Diary of Lost Girl features one of her most vivid performances—those 1920s eyes seeming to cast knowing looks at the following century. The plot follows a familiar melodramatic through line: Brooks plays Thymian, who in the course of nearly two hours is seduced by an evil brute (Gustav Diessl, and it’s not a coincidence that he played Jack the Ripper alongside Brooks in Pabst’s Pandora’s Box), is forced to give up her child and is sent to a reformatory—and that’s for starters. While the distinct lines of Brooks’ iconic hairdo would suit her for the stark lines of German expressionism, Pabst sets this modern woman in a more subdued environment of naturalism, all the better to showcase the mechanistic routines of reform school and let fly the chaos of the high-class brothels into which she graduated. While her character endures all manner of tragedy (and her inevitable downfall eerily mirrors the actor’s real life fate), Brooks remains a model of strength and compassion in a world where, as one character tells her, “all are lost.” Diary of a Lost Girl, with live musical accompaniment by pianist Andrew Earle Simpson, screens at 4 p.m. on Oct. 23 at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. atlasarts.org. $25.Pat Padua

Sunday: Watkins Family Hour at the Birchmere

Watkins Family Hour; Credit Jacob Boll

If there is one common trait among professional musicians, it is this: They love talking about the artists who have inspired them. Case in point, Sean Watkins of Watkins Family Hour, a musical collaboration also led by his sister Sara Watkins. When I get him on the phone, the singer-guitarist-songwriter is in Nashville, having just performed at the Country Music Hall of Fame helping to kick off their three-year Western Edge: The Roots and Reverberations of Los Angeles Country-Rock exhibition. “It’s really, really cool,” Watkins tells City Paper. “We played with Chris Hillman last night, a Flying Burritos Brothers’ song called ‘Wheels’ that he wrote with Gram Parsons. He talked a little bit about how he wrote it and it was when he and Gram were living in a house together in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. It’s so cool ’cause that’s where we live and it makes us feel connected to that huge, crazy city through the history of country music and roots music.” That collaborative spirit will be on display when Watkins Family Hour perform at the Birchmere on Oct. 23. Starting in 2002 as a musical variety show at the Los Angeles club Largo, the Watkins siblings used each monthly performance to feature guest musicians. Now, 20 years on, the touring version has the same collaborative vibe as Watkins Family Hour aim to have local musicians join them for each show. “Locally, I don’t know who for sure might be with us in D.C.,” says Watkins. “Although my sister has a couple of people in mind.” Watkins Family Hour play at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 23 at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. birchmere.com. $45. Christina Smart

Ongoing: Freer’s Global Network: Artists, Collectors, and Dealers at the National Museum of Asian Art

While navigating the fast-changing world of the early 20th century, Charles Freer collaborated with a variety of dealers, artists, and collectors, amassing the paintings, stoneware, and bronzes that have been on display at the National Museum of Asian Art for a century. The museum’s newest exhibition highlights those individuals who shaped this global network that led to a diverse collection of more than 1,300 works. Across decades, Freer traveled the world, meeting local painters and ceramicists, he both purchased their works and informed their creations. Mary Stratton, a ceramist and collaborator of Freer’s, experimented with glaze and Raqqa ware, inspired by Freer to pair contemporary American works with antique Asian ceramics. Freer himself gained an appreciation for Islamic pottery through an American dealer Dikran Kelekian, who’s business procuring Asian art for enthusiasts such as Freer spanned continents. Freer also procured art directly from contacts in Asia, expanding his personal connections and aesthetic. Yamanaka & Company, an Asian art firm in Osaka, Japan, in particular, sold several ceramics to Freer over the course of 25 years, instilling in the collector a greater appreciation for the ownership history of an object. Freer’s travels through New York, Paris, China, Korea, Japan, and Islamic nations ultimately united a collection of diverse objects greatly influenced by his friends. Freer’s Global Network: Artists, Collectors, and Dealers opened Oct. 15 and runs indefinitely at the National Museum of Asian Art, 1050 Independence Ave. SW. asia.si.edu. Free. Anupma Sahay