The Giz
The Giz plays at the Lincoln Theatre nighty from April 28 to 30

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Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: Marsha Gordon Book Tour in the DMV

Can women have it all? This comment, disguised as a question, is not only fraught with judgment and condescension, it’s ultimately pointless, as there is no answer that pleases everyone (or anyone). Even worse, those women who do try to answer it with candor or self-awareness are more likely to be redacted from the historical record than elevated as a prophet of modernity. Case in point: Ursula Parrott, the subject of Marsha Gordon’s Becoming the Ex-Wife: The Unconventional Life and Forgotten Writings of Ursula Parrott (University of California Press, 2023). The life and works of novelist and essayist Parrott (1899–1957) provide a glimpse into the eras that shaped her: the Victorian, the flapper, and the postwar. Best known as the foremost American expert on divorce, Parrott also wrote about reproductive rights, extramarital affairs, and single motherhood, all subjects she knew intimately. On paper, she might sound like a feminist “ahead of her time,” but in fact, she disavowed the feminist movement for tricking women into giving away their security for a set of false freedoms. Sex and the single girl? More like sex and the single paycheck. Right or wrong, Parrott led a scandalous, glamorous, sometimes lonely life in the public eye, and Gordon, professor and director of the film studies program at North Carolina State University, has done the world a great service by bringing her back into the spotlight. For the next few days, the author will be in the D.C. area for various events, including this afternoon’s lecture at the University of Maryland, College Park. On April 27, Gordon introduces the 1936 film Next Time We Love, based on a Parrott story and gives a post-screening discussion at 7 p.m. at the Old Greenbelt Theatre, 129 Centerway, Greenbelt. Free. On April 29, Gordon hosts a book talk and introduces the 1956 film There’s Always Tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. On April 30, Gordon hosts a book signing and introduces a double bill of There’s Always Tomorrow and The Divorcee (1930) at 1 p.m. at AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. $13. —Annie Berke

Friday through Sunday: The Giz at the Lincoln Theatre

When Lovial Long and Salahuddin Mahdi debuted The Giz in 2018, their achievement was truly remarkable. Both had been incarcerated in a Georgia prison—Long on drug trafficking charges, Mahdi on aggravated assault—when they originally conceived a go-go adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz four years earlier. The premiere at MGM National Harbor featured multiple stars in a new musical celebrating go-go culture with a distinctly DMV feel. Young Dottie, who lives in North Carolina and yearns to attend Howard University, is whisked away by a tornado and lands in Landover. There, she and her traveling companions seek a Chocolate City—not an emerald one. And Dottie’s glittering red sneakers that the Wicked Witch of Waldorf wants so badly? New Balance, of course. With an abundance of humor, The Giz relays the go-go community’s struggle for acknowledgment and support; at the same time, the displacement of Black families who have lived in D.C. for generations is a crucial theme. This weekend, Long, who has been awarded an honorary doctorate for his work in the community, presents a weekend-long revival of The Giz, performed for the first time within the District, at the Lincoln Theatre. For this production, the cast is led by Duke Ellington School of the Arts alumni Hilary Daniels and Rayshun LaMarr, familiar for his stint on television’s The Voice. Fox 5 anchor Marissa Mitchell plays herself, appearing on the station’s real-life LION Lunch Hour. As with the original production, several go-go stars join the cast: Ms. Kim makes a cameo appearance as her glamorous self, and other artists include TOB’s “Lil Chris Proctor, ABM’s RoZae, and Kimmise Lee, best known for Suttle Thoughts and Vybe Band. Pulling it all together is music director FrankScoobyMarshall, whose Sirius Company serves as the production’s house band. Expect to hear some classic go-go hits, including Rare Essence’s “King of the Go-Go Beat” and Backyard Band’s “O-Cup,” as well as new originals by Scooby, RoZae, and Scooby’s son, the talented Jru Anthony. The Giz plays April 28, 29, and 30 at 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. $60–$125.Alona Wartofsky

Saturday and Sunday: I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky at Atlas Performing Arts Center

Daniel J. Smith performs in IN Series’ I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky; courtesy of IN Series

Ripped from the headlines is not a phrase often associated with opera, but it applies to many of those written by John Adams. Adams—the contemporary American composer, not the second president—has rendered in vocal musical form U.S.-China diplomacy (Nixon in China), the Achille Lauro hijacking (The Death of Klinghoffer), the Manhattan Project (Doctor Atomic), and 9/11 (On the Transmigration of Souls), among other events. He is prolific enough that some of his works can fall through the cracks. This is the case with I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky, his third, little-performed opera about the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles. One could attribute its obscurity to faded memories of the event itself, which killed 60 people, or to Adams’ peculiar score—he deemed it a “songspiel,” not an opera, and it incorporates elements of rock, R&B, gospel, and blues, instrumentalized for an ensemble with non-opera-traditional instruments such as electric bass and saxophone. June Jordan’s libretto for Ceiling/Sky, as it’s commonly abbreviated, follows seven Angelinos who, over 22 musical numbers, perceive the earthquake as part of a self-discovery voyage. Were it a Paul Haggis movie and not a John Adams songspiel, it would be Hollywood Oscar bait. But it’s not, and that’s probably for the best. IN Series presents I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky at 7:30 p.m. on April 29 and 3 p.m. on April 30 at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. $35–$55. —Mike Paarlberg

Sunday: Fresh Talk at Planet Word 

Mural by Michelle Angela Ortiz; Credit: Juntos Florecemos

On Sunday, the National Museum of Women in the ArtsWomen, Arts, and Social Change initiative hosts another one of its signature Fresh Talk events. These talks, which happen throughout the year, are discussions between leading artists, designers, activists, and social innovators. April’s program will explore the power of art and language to express emotion and ideas. Through conversations with muralists, mixed-media artists, graffiti artists, and filmmakers, the event will explore how art can communicate complex ideas and how it can be a driver for social change. Artists featured include the local, independent art director and muralist Cita Sadeli (aka MISS CHELOVE), visual artist and filmmaker Michelle Angela Ortiz, and mixed-media artist Nekisha Durrett. According to Melani Douglass, director of NMWA’s public programs, the talks seek to be an “inspiring and empowering conversation with leading women muralists as they share their stories of breaking barriers in a field traditionally dominated by men.” The museum is specifically bringing together several women who work internationally but are based right here in the District. “These women in the area are making waves in the art world and have gained the support of large companies and foundations to do phenomenal work,” Douglass tells City Paper. Fresh Talk starts at 4:30 p.m. on April 30 at Planet Word, 925 13th St. NW. $20–$25. —Hannah Docter-Loeb

Monday: May Day Festival and March at Malcolm X Park

The DC May Day Committee hosts its annual May Day Festival and March in celebration of the accomplishments of the global working class. The May 1 holiday is recognized internationally as Labor Day, and this year’s event puts a special focus on supporting the unionization of Amazon and Starbucks workers. “We wanted to center working people in the DMV and really just put that front and center,” says committee member Chase Zaslannya. “We’re signaling support for workers rights and workers.” The event recognizes what the global working class has achieved, while looking for ways to continue the push for change and the construction of more positive communities. The DC May Day Committee is made up of local unions, student groups, mutual aid groups, and other justice organizations. Its makeup has shifted over the past 50 years, but the committee has maintained its collaborative approach to organizing. In the past decade, Zaslannya says, there has been a greater push to make May Day a community event. Prior to the march, attendees can enjoy the festival in Malcolm X Park. Participating organizations will have speakers and information booths for people interested, and musical acts will perform before the group marches to the White House. Zaslannya says the goal is to ultimately create a space for people to “come out and meet others in the community. It’s a chance for different people involved in labor, housing, and justice work to get together to talk about what we want to accomplish.” DC May Day Festival and March begins at 4 p.m. on May 1 at Malcolm X Park, 16th & W Streets NW. Free. —Camila Bailey

Tuesday and Wednesday: Io and Léandre et Héro at the Kennedy Center

Courtesy of Opera Lafayette

Ballet is one of the most complex artistic (and athletic) systems in the world. So it might be hard to believe that, centuries ago, ballet was not a stand-alone art form—at least not as we understand it today. King Louis XIV popularized ballet in the 16th-century French courts; these dances were political, building up a mythology around the monarch. Italian operas came to France in the 17th century and merged with Louis’ ballet system, with dance taking the supporting role. The result? Opera-ballets, multifaceted productions that brought together singing, dancing, and orchestral music. By the 19th century, ballet had begun developing into its own form. This spring, however, the Kennedy Center will honor the intertwined history of opera-ballets with Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Io and Marquis de Brassac’s Léandre et Héro; the latter premiered back in 1750. Opera Lafayette is bringing the singers, with baroque soprano Emmanuelle de Negri and tenor Maxime Melnik in the title roles; the dancers hail from the New York Baroque Dance Company and the Sean Curran Company. This double bill of opera-ballets starts at 7:30 p.m. on May 2 and May 3 at the Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW. $30–$105. Mary Scott Manning