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To Do: September 20–October 4, 2017

Twenty-five things to see, hear, watch, and read.

1. Go to The 55th New York Film Festival
Cinema’s fall classic.
Three American originals hold down the festival’s showcase spots: Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying, Todd Haynes’s Wonderstruck, and Woody Allen, with Wonder Wheel, starring James Belushi as a Coney Island carousel operator in the ’50s. Among the other treasures, don’t miss The Florida Project, the dazzling new effort by Sean Baker (Tangerine). —David Edelstein
Lincoln Center, September 28 through October 15.

2. See Sanford Biggers
Going for it.
The well-established artist makes his debut at this big-time Chelsea gallery with a great ten-foot figure titled Selah, a biblical word roughly meaning to be quiet in veneration and observance of the sublimity of life. This sculpture and others show this ambitious artist, known to work in quilts, painting, and multimedia installations, bringing to bear overlooked American political and cultural narratives. —Jerry Saltz
Marianne Boesky, 507 W. 24th St., through October 21.

3. Read Blurred Lines
No easy answers.
Years of reporting on teen culture, sex, and gender for magazines (including, for nearly two decades, New York) have made Vanessa Grigoriadis the ideal observer and analyst of sexual assault and consent on campus. Starting from the famous case of Columbia mattress carrier Emma Sulkowicz, she spoke to hundreds of students as well as parents and administrators, coming away with a clear picture of generational confusion. —Boris Kachka
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

4. See A Clockwork Orange
A bit more of the old ultraviolence. 
Director Alexandra Spencer-Jones originated this spin on Anthony Burgess’s paradigm-shifting 1962 novel with her U.K. theater company, Action to the Word (known for its edgy, athletic productions). She’s bringing the play to New York at a moment when a hard look at a world steeped in wanton cruelty and toxic masculinity feels frighteningly timely. —Sara Holdren
New World Stages, through January 6.

5. Watch The Good Place
Adventures in the great beyond.
Michael Schur’s comedy series — about a recently deceased young woman (Kristen Bell) who wakes up in an afterlife that initially seems heavenly but is more purgatorial — was one of last year’s great slow-burn surprises. This two-part, one-hour premiere jumps off from season one’s twist ending. —Matt Zoller Seitz
NBC, September 20.

6. Go to World Maker Faire
DIY heaven. 
This annual celebration of creativity and innovation brings together everyone from robot builders to crafters to woodworkers for a two-day expo packed with presentations, concerts, and family-friendly activities. Costumes encouraged.
New York Hall of Science, September 23 and 24.

7. See Blank Out
Screen time. 
Surely no other composer deploys music, 3-D film, theater, and video with the interdisciplinary aplomb of Michel van der Aa. In his latest chamber opera, all that high-tech coordination is put to the service of an intimate, frequently magical score with a cast of one live singer (soprano Miah Persson) and another on film (baritone Roderick Williams). —Justin Davidson
Park Avenue Armory, September 21 through 25, 27.

8. Go to Global Citizen Festival
Do good and dance.
International outreach organization Global Poverty Project’s annual fest this year boasts a lineup including Green Day, the Killers, Pharrell Williams, and headliner Stevie Wonder. General-admission spots were gifted in exchange for Good Samaritan work, but VIP tickets are still on sale. —Craig Jenkins
Central Park, September 23.

9. Read Five-Carat Soul
Glorious departures and returns. 
If there’s a mode in which James McBride can’t write brilliantly, he has yet to prove it. Add to his best-selling memoir The Color of Water this varied collection of vibrant fiction. Some of the stories are focused on fraught racial history: One stars Lincoln, another his purported mixed-race son. —B.K.
Riverhead, September 26.

10. Listen to I Tell a Fly
Voice from the future. 
Mercury Prize–winning singer-songwriter Benjamin Clementine has a sound that’s been compared to everyone from Nina Simone to Édith Piaf. His new album builds on his piano-focused 2015 debut, At Least for Now, with multi-instrumental songs of global wandering and struggle.
Capitol Records, October 2.

11. See Ex Libris
Books are magic. 
Following the first part of its salute to vérité-documentary god Frederick Wiseman, Film Forum presents the American premiere of his delightful portrait of the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Meet the folks who use it and cherish it and contribute to it — among them Toni Morrison, Patti Smith, and Elvis Costello. —D.E.
Film Forum, through September 26.

12. See Discord
Bring popcorn. 
Scott Carter’s new play throws its deceased heroes, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens, and Leo Tolstoy, together in the afterlife and finds them duking it out over whose philosophy wins. It will be fascinating to see how Carter, director Kimberly Senior, and the three actors (only one of whom is white) tackle the thorny mythos of the Great Dead White Guy. —S.H.
Cherry Lane Theatre, through October 22.

Movie Music
13. See and Hear Jackie
Sonic portrait of a lady. 
Wordless Music Orchestra opens the season at the Williamsburg new-music haven with a performance (and screening) of Mica Levi’s troubling, trembling music for the film about Jackie Kennedy’s post-assassination days, starring Natalie Portman. —J.D.
National Sawdust, September 22.

14. Read The Far Away Brothers
A family driven apart.
A journalist and a counselor of undocumented minors, Lauren Markham supplements the granular story of the Flores family — twin teenage boys who fled El Salvador under threat from an uncle’s gang — with interludes reported in Texas, California, Mexico, and Central America that fill in the larger context of illegal immigration. —B.K.

15. Listen to Now
It will impress you much.
Once the biggest country-pop phenomenon on earth, Shania Twain releases her first new album in 15 years this fall. The music touches gracefully on her divorce from husband and producer Mutt Lange and her struggle to find a way to sing again after Lyme disease damaged her vocal cords. —C.J.
Mercury Nashville, September 29.

16. See Swan Lake
New swan queens take flight.
New York City Ballet’s repertory season opens with an exciting bunch of debuts in Peter Martins’s Swan Lake. Megan Fairchild and Tiler Peck dance Odette/Odile for the first time, and a trio of men — Zachary Catazaro, Gonzalo Garcia, and Chase Finlay — join veterans to dance as Prince Siegfried. With costume designs by Danish artist Per Kirkeby.
David H. Koch Center, through October 1.

17. See Jordan Casteel: Nights in Harlem
Another perfect step. 
After her 2015 show “Brothers,” Jordan Casteel continues her strong trajectory of painting black subjects. Here, she zeros in on people from the street, a man sitting on a doorstep, two young designers selling their wears on the street, a stunner of a hair-salon window with a batch of beautiful mini-portraits, and a discarded memorial wreath in a city garbage pail and other subjects of modern life. All to reveal a normalcy rarely given black subjects, in her diligent, hardworking, Yale-trained hand. —J.S.
Casey Kaplan Gallery, 121 West 27th Street, through October 28.

18. See Solange
Not to be missed.
Solange Knowles’s live show is a warm bath of lights, dance, and alchemical band interplay centered on last year’s vital, political new soul classic A Seat at the Table. Replenish your spirit in her peaceful funk utopia. —C.J.
Radio City Music Hall, October 2 and 3.

19. See Norma
Sparkling beginning.
Sondra Radvanovsky, Joyce DiDonato, Joseph Calleja: The cast list alone makes opera lovers salivate, especially when joined in Bellini’s opera full of Druids, coloratura, and love in the woods. David McVicar’s new production opens the Met season. —J.D.
Metropolitan Opera, opens September 25.

20. Read Orders to Kill
Authoritarianism up close.
Russia scholar Amy Knight quickly plumbs the country’s historical fondness for political assassination before cataloguing the killings carried out under Putin — an ever-growing list that’s concise and clarifying on the damage Trump’s favorite leader inflicts on the citizens who expose his crimes. —B.K.
Thomas Dunne Books.

21. Watch Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders
Double trouble.  
L&O creator Dick Wolf tries to break off a piece of the increasingly popular mini-series anthology format with this ripped-from-the-throwback-headlines offering. Gus Halper and Miles Gaston Villanueva star as the Menendez brothers; Edie Falco plays their attorney. —M.Z.S.
NBC, September 26.

22. See The Merchant of Venice
Five Shylocks interrogate us, their world, and their author.
With five performers of different races, nationalities, and genders portraying Shylock, director Karin Coonrod’s Merchant asks us to question what an outsider is — and to examine Shylock’s role not as a stereotypical villain or as a tragic victim but as a kind of foil laying bare the hypocrisy of those in power. —S.H.
Montclair State University, through October 1.

23. See Twyla Tharp Dance
Two masters.
The celebrated choreographer’s troupe performs the world premiere of Dylan Love Songs set to the music of Bob Dylan, plus two of Tharp’s earlier works from the ’70s (The Fugue and The Raggedy Dances). Expect effervescent movements and lush musicality.
Joyce Theater, through October 8.

24. Go to Author Talks: Nasty Women
How do you solve a problem like The Donald?
In support of Nasty Women — an essay collection by leading feminist writers like Rebecca Solnit — contributors including Zerlina Maxwell, Jessica Valenti, and New York’s own Kera Bolonik join moderator Anna Holmes to discuss how women can fight back against Trump’s America.     
NYPL, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, October 4.

25. See Crossing
Fresh perspectives. 
With the Civil War back in the national consciousness, a two-year-old opera about Walt Whitman’s experience as a wartime nurse seems freshly relevant. The 27-year-old composer Matthew Aucoin conducts the full-length New York premiere in a production by Diane Paulus. —J.D.
BAM, October 3 through 8.