JUNETEENTH. It’s a date whose history, because of the sweep of recent historic events, has been thrust into sharper focus. JUNETEENTH commemorates June 19, 1865 the date on which slaves in Texas were finally informed not only of the end of the Civil War, but also of their freedom more than two years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth is now celebrated as a state or ceremonial state holiday in every state but Hawaii, and a bill has just been introduced in Massachusetts to make Juneteenth an official paid, state holiday.

This weekend there are many events to honor the occasion and I’m beginning with group of events courtesy of The Front Porch Arts Collective team by way of Arts Boston:

Black Composer Minature World Premiere June 19 | 12 pm | Free

Composer Shannon Shea will present the world premiere of “Hannah Elias II” performed by Castle of our Skins Executive & Artistic Director and violist Ashleigh Gordon on Facebook and Instagram Live.

Concert with Dzidzor: Freedom as an act of Practice June 19 | 12:30 pm | Free 

In the spirit of the Concerts in the Courtyard series, the Boston Public Library presents Dzidzor (pronounced Jee-Jaw). African folklore, performing artist, author, and entrepreneur, Dzidzor’ style of call and response has re-imagined poetry and story-telling. Tune in on BPL’s YouTube.

Juneteenth: A Community Celebration June 19 | 4 pm | Free

Join BAMS Fest for the MFA’s annual (virtual) Juneteenth celebration to honor the contributions of Black creatives, scholars, and artists to the City of Boston. This event will feature two amazing artists, Debo Ray and DJ Where’s Nasty, to celebrate all things Black and joyful.

Summer Spectacular June 19 | 7: 30 pm | Free

Join podcasters and siblings Azeb and Simon as they celebrate the first anniversary of the launch of their podcast, The Freitas Effect. There will be performances, appearances of guests from season 1, giveaways, and more!

JP Bros Live: Virtual Sketch Show June 20 | 6:45 pm | Free

The JEANPAULBROS is putting on a live stream sketch show to help bring some laughs during these hard times. Enjoy 25 minutes of scripted comedy, with an opener comedian Mark-Anthony. Stream JP Bros on Twitch.



VIRTUAL GARDEN TOUR: The 31st annual Concord Museum Garden Tour– organized by the Guild of Volunteers, shot by Frank Breen of Carlisle Video Productions, and guided by Ellen Whitney of the Garden Club of Concord is happening. They promise the gardens will be spectacular!  The tour will be delivered to registrants via email during the weekend of June 19-21. Sign up HERE!

An inaugural Juneteenth AWARD CEREMONY: The Antonyo Awards, a celebration of the black Broadway and Off-Broadway community presented by Broadway Black, the multimedia organization highlighting the achievements of Black theatre artists. The streamed ceremony will include a pre-show virtual red carpet, original musical numbers, star presenters and performers, with featured appearances by: Audra McDonald, Tituss Burgess, Alex Newell, LaChanze,Jordan E. Cooper, Teyonah Parris, James Monroe Iglehart, 
Jelani Alladin and more.
This inaugural online event will take place at 7:00 pm EST on June 19, 2020.

VIRTUAL THEATER: The NEW YORK TIMES just raved about them, but Boston critics have been raving about this cutting edge company for years. They are on the forefront of invention, ready to create their way through artistically challenging, surreal times– to make theater, whatever it takes: Arlekin Players Theatre is currently mounting a live, virtual, interactive drama called “State vs Natasha Banina.”  Darya Denisova (a 2020 Elliot Norton Best Actress award winner) does it again with an out-of-body performance in this one-woman show.

Denisova’s hyper-expressivity holds us in the virtual moment as we sit in judgement of a mixed-up, abused, melodramatic teenager and orphan who bares her soul while sitting on trial for a crime gradually exposed. The short, virtual play is based on one of a duo of plays called “Natasha’s Dream” by Yaraslava Pulinovich. The visuals are deceptively simple, but manage to evoke both the brutality of her external world and the fragility of her inner life which may explain her emotionalism and surface nonchalance in the face of a vindictive act. The production comes to vivid life in the small corner of a white room. Director Igor Golyak orchestrates three cameras and various software programs which project graphics, animation by Anton Iakhontov, and sound with music by Vadim Krapatchev; the effect is mighty sophisticated and evokes a kaleidoscope of conflicting sensory and emotional states. In the end, it’s up to us, the live audience, to determine the fate of this complex creature, Natasha. No easy task. Stay for the talk-back– it’s fun and revelatory. See “State vs Natasha Banina”  EVERY SUNDAY NIGHT THROUGH JUNE 28 at 8PM!

ON TV: “UNITED WE SING: A GRAMMY® TRIBUTE TO THE UNSUNG HEROES,” hosted by Grammy® and Emmy Award-winning singer and actor HARRY CONNICK, JR.! SUNDAY, JUNE 21 (8:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on CBS!  Harry and his filmmaker daughter Georgia hit the road in an RV to thank essential workers all across America. Special Appearances by: Sandra Bullock, Drew Brees, Queen Latifah, Brad Pitt, Oprah Winfrey and Renée Zellweger. Musical Performances by: Jon Batiste, Harry Connick, Jr., Andra Day, John Fogerty, Jamie Foxx, Herbie Hancock, Cyndi Lauper, Little Big Town, Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Dave Matthews, Tim McGraw, Rockin Dopsie, Irma Thomas, and Trombone Shorty!