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Harlem Arts Fall Preview

By Miles Marshall Lewis

Sage advice for anyone visiting anyplace foreign is to check in with somebody local to the area for a true lay of the land. But what if that newfound land is Harlem? Whether you’re crashing at an Airbnb above 110th Street or a diehard native New Yorker, consider this brief guide an in-the-know indigenous voice to Uptown for the fall season. From the legendary Apollo Theater and the Studio Museum of Harlem across 125th Street to the National Black Theatre and Columbia’s newly erected Lenfest Center, all the events name-checked below come stamped with a native Harlemite seal of approval.

Fictions . The Studio Museum of Harlem. September 14 — January 7. A collection of work from 19 artists of the African diaspora, Fictions includes photography, sculpture, video and drawings spanning the personal, the political, the everyday and the imagined. Following previous emerging-artist exhibitions (Freestyle, Frequency, Flow and Fore), Fictions focuses on the evolution of narratives in contemporary art since 2012.

We Shall Not Be Moved. The Apollo Theater. October 6, 7. Combining jazz, R&B and classical singing, spoken word, contemporary dance and multimedia video, this genre-defying opera plays the Apollo on its way to London’s Hackney Empire. In 1985, Philadelphia police bombed the headquarters of the black liberation outfit MOVE—killing 11 members (including five children) and decimating a neighborhood. We Shall Not Be Moved builds on those tragic events, following five teenagers on the run taking refuge in the former MOVE compound.

Dreamstates and Saul Williams. Harlem Stage. October 6. Shot completely on iPhones by first-time Rwandan-born director Anisia Uzeyman, Dreamstates is a part romance, part travelogue through a unique underground America. Uzeyman’s husband, hip-hop poet emeritus Saul Williams, deejays after a brief performance and post-screening Q&A.

Parable of the Sower: The Concert Version. The Apollo Theater. October 16. Based on the late sci-fi novelist Octavia Butler’s classic Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, musical director Toshi Reagon assembles 20 singers and musicians to bring Butler’s prose to the stage. The resulting Afrofuturistic opera blends 200 years of African American music to tackle race, gender and the future of humankind.

Monkmania: A Centennial Tribute to Thelonious Monk. Harlem Stage. December 1. Known for post-modernizing the jazz legacy of legendary pianist Thelonious Monk into the 21st century, the Monk’estra Ensemble performs arrangements of classic selections. Presented in collaboration with the Manhattan School of Music, Monkmania

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