The Cultural To-Do List: May 2016

Our guide to this month’s events.

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Black Gods of the Asphalt

In this painful, beautiful nonfiction debut, scholar Onaje X. O. Woodbine uses a seamless mix of memoir, ethnography, and poetry to chronicle Boston’s street basketball players seeking physical and spiritual grace through hoops. This study of race, masculinity, sport, and religion partly arises from Woodbine’s past: A star player growing up in Roxbury, his court skills and keen mind got him into Yale. He gave up hoops, however, to focus on philosophy and religious studies. After earning a Ph.D. at BU, he now teaches at Phillips Academy in Andover. A four-year labor of love, this book has helped Woodbine make peace with his past and has given voice to the guys in the neighborhood who never made it. “I loved writing this book because I learned that my self is made up of other selves,” Woodbine says. “If you dig deep enough within, you come out the other side.”

Out May 24, Columbia University Press, $30. For more, read an interview with Woodbine.


L.A.’s landmark Latino Theater Company has been performing for 30-plus years, and now comes to Boston with cofounder -Evelina Fernández’s noir comedy about marriage. On a smoky stage and clad in costumes straight out of Double Indemnity, a woman hires a hitman to off her husband, but the killer for hire faces his own unexpected domestic peril.

May 4–14, Paramount Center, 617-824-8400,

“Rodin: Transforming Sculpture”

This huge retrospective on Auguste Rodin, the master behind The Thinker, features 175 pieces, many from the Musée Rodin, in Paris. His artistry in marble and bronze will be amply represented, but the big draw is the exhibit’s 100 or so plaster studio works, which show the clearest mark of Rodin’s own hands; many of the pieces have never seen American shores.

May 14–September 5, Peabody Essex Museum, 978-745-9500,

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Photograph courtesy of Webster PR

Kiefer Sutherland

Tonight you can get up close and personal with the real Jack Bauer—but you’ll have to hear him sing. Sutherland, the star of 24, has apparently also been running his own indie record label on the side for years, and now he’s touring small venues to support his own debut album, the folk-country Down in a Hole.

May 20, Brighton Music Hall, 617-779-0140,

Ere Gobez

J.P.’s Debo Band, a 12-member -Ethiopian-American group with a colossal sound, finally releases a follow-up to its 2012 self-titled debut album. Packed with jubilant grooves and Amharic soul, the new music can also be heard live at the May 26 release party inside the Sinclair, in Cambridge.

Out May 20, FPE Records, $16,

“Puppets Take the Pops”

The University of Connecticut has long had one of the world’s most revered puppetry programs, with alumni performing on Sesame Street or on Broadway. This month, Keith Lockhart teams up with the students to stage performances of Peter and the Wolf and works by composer Leroy Anderson (“Sleigh Ride,” “Blue Tango”) featuring dancing pigs, roller-skating flamingos, and reindeer in Red Sox jerseys.

May 21, Symphony Hall, 617-266-1492,

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Photograph courtesy of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority

The Lawn on D

Almost a quarter-million people have visited this beloved South Boston park in its first two years of existence, and now the grassy fun zone reopens for the warm months with its trademark phosphorescent swings, lawn games, and open-air live concerts.

May 21–October 10,