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The Schmooze

‘RBG,’ Rachel Kushner’s ‘The Mars Room’ And More To Read, Watch And Do This Weekend

We’ve had one day of spring, and now it is summertime! Congratulations to all; may you have blissful weekends at the beach, in the park, or, if you are a certain Forward writer, doing battle with the Rodent of Unusual Size that has found its way into your apartment’s walls.

If you are happily rodent-free, and fancy some respite from the sun this weekend, read on for our recommendations for cultural events in New York, Washington D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles, in addition to the week’s best new movies and books.

1) Read

Rachel Kushner’s new novel “The Mars Room” has made its share of headlines this week; read, and see what the fuss is about. Also new on bookshelves are playwright Jen Silverman’s new collection of linked short stories, “The Island Dwellers” and a Roxane Gay-edited collection of essays about rape culture, “Not That Bad,” which features writers like Claire Schwartz and Lynn Melnick. It’s worth making time, as well, to read Frank Rich’s recent New York Magazine essay on Roy Cohn’s regrettably long-lived legacy.

2) Watch

This year, early May has brought the premieres of a crop of interesting documentaries. Don’t miss the new Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary “RBG,” which hits theaters this weekend. And if you prefer to watch from your couch, try the recent documentary “Arthur Miller: Writer,” made by Miller’s daughter Rebecca, which you can stream on HBO.

3) New York City

Friday night, celebrate the many Tony nominations of “Angels in America” by attending a conversation with Tony Kushner at the 92nd Street Y. Kushner will be speaking with Isaac Butler and Dan Kois, coauthors of the recent “Angels in America” oral history “The World Only Spins Forward.” Spend Saturday night at “Mr. Gaga: An Evening with Ohad Naharin” at the Temple Emanu-el Streicker Center; Naharin is the influential former artistic director of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company. And if you’ve not yet seen “Surface/Depth: The Decorative After Miriam Schapiro,” a Museum of Arts and Design exhibit devoted to Schapiro’s underrated impact on art and design, it makes for a pleasant afternoon.

4) Washington D.C.

Ernie Gehr is an important figure in experimental film, and he comes to the National Gallery of Art this weekend to discuss his work. Catch one of two programs devoted to his films, one on Saturday, one on Sunday. The Washington Jewish Film Festival is in town with its usual vast selection; review the films in store, here. The most unlikely must-see in the D.C. area this week, though, is Jeremy Schonfeld’s rock opera “Iron and Coal,” which is about the intergenerational trauma of the Holocaust. It plays at Strathmore Thursday and Friday nights, and if the premise doesn’t have you convinced, read Sam Bromer’s interview with Schonfeld for the Forward for more information.

5) Chicago

Chicago is all about music this weekend. Friday night, head to PianoForte studios for pianist Ilya Friedberg’s take on Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Jenny Scheinman and Allison Miller’s Parlour Game set up residence at the Green Mill all weekend, so you have ample opportunities to catch their act. Ditto for a program of Tchaikovsky and Bruch at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Semyon Bychkov.

6) Los Angeles

On Saturday morning, Art Muse Los Angeles hosts “Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin,” an in-depth examination of the impact of three of the 20th century’s most significant female photographers, at the Museum of Contemporary Art. On Sunday night, attend the opening of Aline Mare’s exhibit “Art After Acker” at Beyond Baroque. And if you’re in the mood for a Yiddishist diversion, head to Santa Monica Playhouse for “Aleichem Sholom! The Wit and Wisdom of Sholom Aleichem.”

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