Here's What to See, Do, and Listen to This Fall in New York City, According to Columbia Arts Faculty and Students – Columbia University

The first Tony Awards in more than two years just took place, right on the heels of the 2021 Emmy Awards. Broadway and Off Broadway are back, the lights are on at Lincoln Center, and museums and galleries are brimming with new exhibitions.
To help you decide where to go and what to see amid New York City’s abundant cultural offerings this fall, Columbia News turned to the School of the Arts to ask Dean Carol Becker, along with professors and students, what they recommend.
 
Carol Becker, Dean
Q. What new theater, film, dance, music, and art exhibitions are you most excited about? Will you attend live events?
A. I will attend live events. I’ll for sure be at the Park Avenue Armory to see Bill T. Jones’ Deep Blue Sea. I was just at the Brooklyn Academy of Music to see the opera-theatrical installation, Sun & Sea, which won the top prize at the Venice Biennale in 2019. I’m looking forward to School of the Arts Theatre Professor Lynn Nottage’s much-awaited new comedy, Clyde’s, which is opening on Broadway in November.
I will also go to museums and galleries, and not miss such exhibitions as Dawoud Bey: An American Project at the Whitney Museum, Greater New York 2021 at MoMA PS1, and Alice Neel: The Early Years at the David Zwirner Gallery.
Q. How do you think Zoom programming has affected artistic practices and productions?
A. Zoom programming gave all art forms a new way to pivot when needed. Some things worked wonderfully, others not so much. We moved our School of the Arts International Play Reading Festival—which starts on October 6—to podcasts using professional actors and musicians, and found that it worked brilliantly. The playwrights, who were at first disappointed not to have live productions in New York City, realized that instead of a show with a small audience, they actually got a well-produced podcast of their play, which could be distributed worldwide.
That’s just one example of what we did and what we learned. There is so much good to be taken from these past months. But there is no doubt that the art world, in all forms, is ready to be back in person. Nothing is as exhilarating as a collective art experience.
Q. What films/programs are you streaming? What music are you listening to, and what songs are on your playlist? Any podcasts you would recommend?
A. Of course, as a dean, I just watched The Chair. Who would not watch a show with the amazing Sandra Oh and such a familiar setting. 
I love the Ezra Klein Show and listen to those podcasts. While traveling recently from Michigan to New York, my husband and I listened to the entire nine-part Dolly Parton’s America. I cannot recommend that highly enough. On our next epic trip, we will be listening to the 1619 Project podcast. 
I don’t really have a playlist. I have always been a big jazz fan, but when I have a moment to myself, I love silence.
 
Hallel Mujingila Diakalenga, MFA Film Student
Q. What new theater, film, dance, music, and art exhibitions are you most excited about? Will you attend live events?
A. I am excited to go to the movies again! Film has always been an escape for me, especially when I just need to turn my brain off for a bit. I may also finally go watch a Broadway show. I have lived in New York for six years now, and have yet to see a show on Broadway.
Q. How do you think Zoom programming has affected artistic practices and productions?
A. I believe it has expanded the ways that we think about how we make art.
Q. What films/programs are you streaming? What music are you listening to, and what songs are on your playlist? Any podcasts you would recommend?
A. TV shows: Only Murders in the Building; Roswell, New Mexico; Girlfriends; and Bones.
Podcasts: Reply All, How Did This Get Made?, Pop Culture Happy Hour, Scriptnotes, You’re Wrong About, Welcome to Night Vale, and Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard.
Music: anything by Jon Bellion, Hayley Williams (she dropped two albums during the pandemic), Aly & AJ (also dropped a new album), and a lot of oldies (Abba, Queen, etc.).
Q. What courses are you taking this semester?
A. Script Revision, Thesis Advisement, and Editing for Research Arts.
 
Emily Eng, MFA Film Student
Q. What new theater, film, dance, music, and art exhibitions are you most excited about? Will you attend live events?
A. As things are opening up in the entertainment field, I’m looking forward to seeing a variety of new films in theaters and attending more music events near me. I plan on going to a film screening of Celine Sciamma’s recent film, Petite Maman, at the New York Film Festival. It would be great to attend a Broadway show soon!
Q. How do you think Zoom programming has affected artistic practices and productions?
A. The adjustment in working through Zoom was a difficult one, but it did force film productions and rehearsals to become more creative with Zoom backgrounds and other effects. You definitely don’t achieve the same in-person connection using Zoom, but it brings in a lot more attendance now that people are able to attend production meetings in the comfort of their own homes. 
Q. What films/programs are you streaming? What music are you listening to, and what songs are on your playlist? Any podcasts you would recommend?
A. I’m currently watching an abundance of Netflix documentaries, such as Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom, Wild Wild Country, and The Devil Next Door. I’m listening to a lot of acoustic folk music and, occasionally, the Bear Brook crime podcast.
Q. What courses are you taking this semester?
A. I’m taking my required producing courses, Feature Film Development, Pre-production for the Motion Picture, Business of Film, Brazilian Cinema, and Cinema History: 1960-1990. 
 
Adama Delphine Fawundu, Professor, Visual Arts Program
Q. What new theater, film, dance, music, and art exhibitions are you most excited about? Will you attend live events?
A. Every fall, I attend Photoville in Dumbo. Since the pandemic, it has expanded to long-term public exhibitions. I am looking forward to seeing Deana Lawson’s Centropy at the Guggenheim Museum, and Dawoud Bey: An American Project and Dave McKenzie: The Story I Tell Myself, both at the Whitney Museum. Also, Ei Arawaka: Social Muscle Rehab at Artist Space. 
Q. How do you think Zoom programming has affected artistic practices and productions?
A. Even though I’ve dealt with Zoom fatigue, I am grateful that I’ve been able to reach international audiences through this platform.   
Q. What songs are on your playlists?
A. My playlists include Cold Little Heart by Michael Kiwanuka, Nobody by Nas and Lauryn Hill, many Nina Simone tracks, Black Wall Street, and Alicia Hall Moran. 
 
David Henry Hwang, Head, Playwriting Concentration, Theatre Program
Q. What new theater, film, dance, music, and art exhibitions are you most excited about? Will you attend live events?
A. Live theater and Broadway in particular (whose economic model makes social distancing unfeasible) may open unsteadily. So really, I’m just excited about any show that succeeds in enjoying a safe and successful run! That said, I am particularly excited about an increase in shows written by BIPOC artists (Clyde’s, Skeleton Crew, Trouble in Mind), as well as experimental forms (Dana H., Is This a Room). The absence of tourists compels Broadway to focus on audiences from the tri-state area, which will hopefully lead to more challenging, diverse work and away from the pre-pandemic Vegas aesthetic.
Because I am a Tony Awards voter, I will attend all new Broadway shows. I also just appeared at the 50th Anniversary Reopening Concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Q. How do you think Zoom programming has affected artistic practices and productions?
A. Zoom may continue to be used for play developmental readings, and innovative theater artists have already begun to incorporate virtual techniques into their live performance concepts.
Q. What films/programs are you streaming?
A. We’ve all watched so many TV shows over the pandemic! Fortunately, the quality of writing in the form nowadays is very good. One might even argue that TV has surpassed theater in terms of embracing diversity. A few of my many favorite shows include Succession, I May Destroy You, Ted Lasso, Master of None, Watchmen, Lupin, Call My Agent, Borgen, and P-Valley.
 
Jack Lechner, Chair, Film Program
Q. What new theater, film, dance, music, and art exhibitions are you most excited about? Will you attend live events?
A. I’m looking forward to long-awaited new films by Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog) and Wes Anderson (The French Dispatch). And, of course, I want to see the new James Bond movie, No Time to Die, largely because it’s directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, who made the extraordinary Beasts of No Nation.
I have tickets for Hadestown, which I didn’t get to see the first time around. I’m also excited to see Clyde’s.
Q. Any podcasts you would recommend?
A. I listen to far too many podcasts! Some recent favorites are Cocaine and Rhinestones, about the history of country music; Gene and Roger, a mini-series on The Big Picture about film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert; and The Marx Brothers Council Podcast, a witty and exhaustive examination of the work and lives of the Marx Brothers—who are the reason I became interested in film, and will always be my emotional home base.
Q. What are you teaching this semester?
A. Now that I’m film chair, I’m teaching only one course, Writing and Script Analysis for Producers, in which producers learn how to work with writers. Every week, we analyze the narrative structure of a different film, ranging from Casablanca to Kajillionaire to Ant-Man and the Wasp.
 
Naeem Mohaiemen, Head, Photography Concentration, Visual Arts Program

Q. What are you most excited about culturally right now?
A. I am participating in the virtual speaker series, “The Normalizing Gaze: Surveillance from Drones to Phones,” in conjunction with Sam Durant’s High Line Plinth commission, Untitled (drone). Given the recent catastrophic denouement of the two-decade-long American military presence in Afghanistan, it is very timely to discuss the twinned histories of surveillance and drone warfare in, and emanating from, the United States.
Of the many meme riffs in Kehinde Wiley’s official portrait of Barack Obama, my favorite is the one where the canvas is covered with small painted drones. Although Durant’s sculpture is physically on view on the High Line, he made the crucial decision to have the speaker series be online, so as to open up to an international audience, outside American borders.
Q. How do you think Zoom programming has affected artistic practices and productions?

A. Everyone speaks of Zoom fatigue and the longing for the real, but I think one positive thing that is not spoken of enough is the leveling of the terrain in terms of sharing artistic practices between center and periphery. A lot of my research-based practice is in Bangladesh, and the capital city, Dhaka, dominates (just as New York does in this country).
In the last 18 months, I have been able to participate in artist sharing sessions with art schools and self-organized communities in Chittagong, Khulna, and Sylhet—cities all over Bangladesh—at no additional cost to those spaces. This I see as an unexpected positive, the normalization and habituation of Zoom programming as a way to share that opens up to a much more democratic, especially Global South, audience. 
 
Eve Glasberg
Director, Arts and Culture Communications

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