Best of the Week: Our Picks for January 18-22, 2016

It’s a good week for culture hounds, with free museum open houses, David Bowie tributes, and Chinese classical dance spectacles.

Welcome to Best of the Week, our recommendations for what to check out around town this week. If you’re wondering what to do in Boston this week, check out these events.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum courtyard

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum courtyard / Photo by Olga Khvan

Monday, January 18
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Open House Events

Boston has many ways to mark the memory of MLK. One of our favorites: The Museum of Fine Arts’ annual open house, inviting culture-seeking citizens inside its 150-year-old walls for free. As part of the festivities, the MFA’s Teen Arts Council will be creating a large-scale mural devoted to the ideals of freedom and equality King so passionately fought for. (For a different meditation on social revolution, don’t miss your chance to check out “Class Distinctions”—this exhibit of 17th-century Dutch paintings closes on Monday.) In search of greener pastures? Make your way to the always-in-bloom courtyard at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which is free all Monday in honor of Dr. King, with special events and activities.

Free, Monday, January 18. Museum of Fine Arts: 10 a.m.-4:45 p.m., 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, 617-267-9300, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: timed entry from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., 25 Evans Way, Boston, 617-566-1401,

Star Knight

Star Knight / Still from film

Tuesday, January 19
Trash Night presents: Star Knight

If you’re the type to make New Year’s resolutions, it’s likely that “Read more” is topping your list—12 percent likely, in fact. And the Harvard Book Store has myriad ways to help you out with that, including January 19’s “New Voices in Fiction” event featuring Sunil Yapa reading from his highly acclaimed debut novel, Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist. That said, if you’re of the mindset that a trip to the gym should be rewarded with a big greasy cheeseburger, chase that literary event with a trip to the Brattle Theatre to atrophy your gray matter with cult cinema series Trash Night. This month’s offering: 1985’s utterly bonkers Star Knight, starring Klaus Kinski, Harvey Keitel, and Spanish actor Miguel Bosé in the role of an impossibly glamorous, androgynous spaceman who (as the event promoters point out) “was clearly styled after—you guessed it—DAVID BOWIE.”

$7, January 19, 7:30 p.m., Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-876-6837,

Twelfth Night

Oliver Dimsdale and Poppy Miller in Filter Theatre Company’s Twelfth Night / Courtesy photo by Robert Day

Wednesday, January 20
Twelfth Night at ArtsEmerson

“My masters, are you mad?” Such is the audience-directed, fourth-wall-breaking real talk from Twelfth Night’s Malvolio—but considering that by the time he utters those words, Filter Theatre has probably convinced its spectators to chuck sticky balls at each other, have a pizza party, and give their clothes to complete strangers, ol’ Mal might have a point there. Even though this ArtsEmerson production has the Royal Shakespeare Company’s official stamp of approval, it’s certainly not Queen Elizabeth’s Bard. This madcap, radically remixed version of Shakespeare’s comic cross-dressing love triangle is 90 minutes of stripped-down, live-music-infused participatory theater.

Show runs January 20-30, ArtsEmerson/Paramount Mainstage, 10 Boylston Place, Boston, 617-824-8000,

Holy Holy

Thursday, January 21
Holy Holy performing David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World

For those still in mourning for the fallen Man Who Fell to Earth, this might help salve the wound. David Bowie tribute act Holy Holy—featuring original Spider from Mars ‘Woody Woodmansey’—were scheduled to perform at the Wilbur long before we learned that Bowie had died on January 10. In the wake of the tragedy (Holy Holy bassist and longtime Bowie producer Tony Visconti called it “almost the worst day of my life”), the tour has taken on a strange new significance. But the show must go on—and it’s a welcome opportunity to take refuge in the legend’s music, from the people who helped bring it to the world in the first place.

$25-$45, January 21, 8 p.m., Wilbur Theatre, 246 Tremont St., Boston, 617-248-9700,

Shen Yun / Courtesy photo

Shen Yun

Friday, January 22
Shen Yun Performing Arts

The gravity-defying acrobatics, the torrent of swirling silks: If you had to pick one word to describe Shen Yun, “spectacle” would probably be at the top of the list…followed closely by “controversy”: The NYC-based touring arts company, whose name translates to “the beauty of divine beings dancing,” is devoted to Chinese classical and folk dance—as well as the tenets of Falun Gong, a Buddhism-inspired spiritual practice that blends meditation and physical movement. Falun Gong practitioners are persecuted in China, and the awareness-raising for their plight is as much a part of Shen Yun’s program as the feats of flying footwork. Just two weeks before Chinatown prepares to ring in the Year of the Monkey, this alternative celebration of Chinese culture comes to the Boston Opera House.

$60-$175, January 22-24, Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St., Boston, 888-974-3698,