Free in NYC
by Alyssa Grossman, 04/18/2012
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Wednesday, April 18
Meet the Actor: John Cusack, The Raven
When celebrities are spotted traversing New York City, they don't typically get a second glance from locals. But it's a different story when there's a free invitation to sit down with an acclaimed actor and hear about his latest project. On April 18 at 5pm, join John Cusack at the Apple Store in SoHo (currently at 72 Greene St., as the original location undergoes construction) as he provides an insider look at his role as Edgar Allan Poe in the upcoming thriller The Raven. The film—named after what is arguably Poe's most famous poem, first published in 1845—hits theaters on April 27. In it, Cusack's character teams up with a detective to try to stop a murderer whose killing spree is inspired by the great poet's works.
Thursday, April 19
Unsound Festival New York: Interzone
Now in its third year in New York City, the Unsound Festival challenges the meaning of music once again with Interzone at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. The free performance, on April 19 at 7:30pm, which features Polish synth-drum duo LXMP and rhythmic dub- and Afrobeat-based group Peaking Lights, pulls from multiple genres and plays with them in unexpected ways. Looking for a preview? Check out this mixtape sampling from Peaking Lights. The sound celebration, which draws its influences from Poland's Kraków Festival, runs from April 18 to 22 at venues across New York City.
Friday, April 20
First Fridays! at The Bronx Museum of the Arts
While it isn't actually on the first Friday of the month this April, The Bronx Museum of the Arts' free evening of festivities does coincide with Havana Film Festival New York (the museum is a screening venue)—a fitting reason to make an exception. Starting at 6pm, catch a screening of the musical documentary Caminando Aragón, which follows the much-loved Orquesta Aragón during two 2011 concerts. Finish the night with Cuban group Gerardo Contino & Sus Habaneros and a set from DJ Asho.
Saturday, April 21
Hands-On History: Music, Mozart & The Manor
It seems fitting that the King Manor Museum—dedicated to Rufus King, one of the authors of the US Constitution—would pay tribute to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The musical genius rose to fame during the same time the New York senator and antislavery advocate was making waves in politics. On April 21, families can drop by anytime between noon and 3pm for an interactive musical experience. You'll learn to play the composer's Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and hear stories of the Manor's melodic past. Then, kids can kick-start their own careers as performers by crafting a musical instrument to take home.
Sunday, April 22
The Village Gate's "Old Fashioned Piano Party"
Whether you're a die-hard show tunes fan or you occasionally catch yourself humming the chorus to the latest Broadway hit, head over to (Le) Poisson Rouge at 9pm on April 22 and embrace your love of the theater world. This weekly 21-and-over celebration pays tribute to the 1950s nightclub Village Gate, home of several Off-Broadway performances in its heyday. Hosts Kevin Michael Murphy and Caleb Hoyer impart their theater know-how to the crowd, delivering industry gossip, Broadway guests and the chance to stage an audition that will likely get a far less discriminating response than the real thing.
Monday, April 23
Photography Exhibition of the Lower East Side During the 1960s
Now a culture-packed hub for dining, nightlife and galleries, the Lower East Side's 1960s allure was far different from what draws in locals and visitors today. John Milisenda captured the neighborhood's lifestyle at the time—simultaneously filled with romanticism and grit—as a teenager. He later went on to attend Pratt Institute and land his images in The Museum of Modern Art, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Brooklyn Museum. Through June 20, you can see his historical and candid photographs at the New York Public Library's Grand Central branch.
Tuesday, April 24
Theater, Life, and the Afterlife: Tomb Decor of the Jin Dynasty from Shanxi
In the Shanxi region of China, brick carving was far more than an art form during the Jin Dynasty—the decorative etchings found on tombs give insight into the value of theater and opera at the time. A variety of techniques provide evidence that favored forms of entertainment included formal showcases of written plays and less structured acts centered around village festivals. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, admission to the China Institute is free from 6 to 8pm, so you can fill up on culture without spending a dime.