That right there, pictured above, is James Franco doing his best to channel Cindy Sherman’s famous “Untitled Film Stills” series for his latest art contribution, fittingly titled “Film Stills.” His opening reception is on Thursday, among many (many) other events going on. So go ahead and double-book every day this week. You’re a New Yorker: Complain about your busy social life, but keep up.
Tuesday, April 8
[Dance] Third Rail Projects, the creators of the immersive theater hit Then She Fell and Roadside Attraction, a touring work, perform the world premiere of Yolk, a new 50-minute movement-based installation commissioned by Arts Brookfield, on midtown’s bustling Grace Plaza. A bit about the show: As workers and tourists enjoy an early springtime lunch, two performers emerge and transform themselves within the confines of a fragile shell. At 12:30 p.m., through Thursday, Grace Building Plaza, free.
[Film/Recreation] Did you realize it’s 60 degrees today? Take your bike out for a spin and head to tonight’s Time’s Up Movie Night: “Funny Bike Shorts.” Enjoy short films about bicycles, of course, and snack on popcorn and beer. At 7:30 p.m., XUP Brooklyn Space, Brooklyn, free.
[Poetry] In just two years, Plume has become one of the most respected and influential online poetry journals. Tonight’s reading features contributors including Sophie Cabot Black, Nicole Cooley, Grace Schulman, D. Nurkse, and Tom Sleigh. At 7 p.m., Housing Works Bookstore, free.
Wednesday is on the next page.
Wednesday, April 9
[Comedy] Eever taken an improv class? Free Intro to Improv gives you a chance to try it out for free. Instructors include Megan Gray, Rick Andrews, Nick Kanellis, Kelly Buttermore, and Chet Siegel. No experience required. Open to all. At 7 p.m., Magnet Theater, free.
[Comedy] Here’s a great new idea for that OKCupid date tonight: “Let’s go see Cheap Date Comedy Show!” Dude, don’t say that. Just say it’s a comedy show, and drop it. Tonight, hosts Sharron Paul (College Humor) and Calvin Cole (TBS’s Just for Laughs) welcome sets by the Lucas Brothers, Erik Bergstrom, Christian Polanco, Jessica Watkins, Joe List, and Jeffrey Joseph. At 7:30 p.m., Union Hall, Brooklyn, $5.
Thursday is on the next page.
Thursday, April 10
[Art] With the help of Sudanese supermodel Nykhor Paul, New York-based photographer Mike Mellia hopes his latest exhibition, “Our Side of the Story: South Sudan,” brings attention to the current conflict in that region. This one-day show displays 14 stunning portraits of Sudanese immigrants who now live in the U.S., many of whom work in the arts, including Paul, who has worked for Louis Vuitton and Calvin Klein, actor Ger Duany (The Good Lie, I Heart Huckabees), and artist and writer Amou Ajang. Each portrait comes with a narrative of the circumstances of their emigration. At 6 p.m., Tapir Editions Gallery, free.
[Art] James Franco, thespian, scholar, artist, Instagram enthusiast, isn’t new to exhibiting his work; we’ve pretty much seen him do it all. Though in his latest art show, “Film Stills,” we see the ultimate charmer wearing a dress, and we cannot recall ever seeing him this way. Then again, perhaps we have. It’s all a big blur when it comes to Franco. Either way, we won’t let his most recent underage scandal (or publicity stunt?) detour us from seeing his latest contribution to the art world, in which he channels Cindy Sherman to recreate her famous “Untitled Film Stills.” Fangirls and boys, be aware that we can’t say if Franco will attend his own opening reception: He is double-booked! The curtain rises at 8 p.m. on Broadway. where he can also be seen in Of Mice and Men. But this man has tricks, so you never know if he will magically appear in a plume of smoke. At 7 p.m., Pace Gallery, free.
[Art] When the Brooklyn Museum opens a major retrospective of the work of Ai Weiwei on April 17, the only thing missing will be the artist himself, who has not been allowed to leave China since 2011. To protest Beijing’s efforts to silence Ai and other Chinese writers and artists, PEN American Center stages a protest tonight. After hearing the works of Chinese writers read by literary luminaries including Sergio De La Pava, Jennifer Egan, Ha Jin, Chang-Rae Lee, and Victoria Redel in front of the Brooklyn Public Library, attendees will be handcuffed before walking to the Brooklyn Museum to view a brand-new video message from Ai. Everyone will then break out of their handcuffs and leave them at the museum “in the name of freedom and expression for all Chinese artists and writers.” -Angela Ashman. At 7 p.m., Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch, Brooklyn, free.
[Art] “Gang of Cosmos,” an exhibition by Robert Longo at Metro Pictures, includes 12 charcoal drawings of well-known Abstract Expressionist paintings. In entering into this dialogue with major figures of 50 years ago, Longo acknowledges Abstract Expressionism’s undiminished importance in American art and its influence on his own thinking. At 7 p.m., Metro Pictures, free.
[Poetry] Celebrate National Poetry Month at WORD bookstore in Jersey City. Tonight’s poetry series welcomes Peter O’Leary (Phosphorescence of Thought) and Brian Teare (Companion Grasses), who will present new work and sign. As Ronald Johnson’s literary executor, Chicago-based poet Peter O’Leary has edited several volumes of Johnson’s poetry, including a new edition of ARK. Brian Teare is the printer and publisher of Albion Books and a former Stegner Fellow, and he teaches at Temple University in Philadelphia. At 7:30 p.m., Word Bookstore, Jersey City, free.