Virtual play festival, Jewish culture on film and decking historic holiday halls in this week’s ‘Things to Do’

This week’s “Things to Do” features Jewish culture celebrated virtually, an online dance party, and the return of ice skating.

Listen 5:48
Adrienne Kennedy

Adrienne Kennedy (Provided by McCarter Theater Center)

The pandemic has necessitated major changes across the board as it relates to attending events, but this week there are a wealth of virtual options as well as some in-person choices that allow for more social distancing.

Play time!

Black female playwright Adrienne Kennedy was born in Pittsburgh just like renowned playwright August Wilson, yet she’s far less known. Princeton’s McCarter Center hopes to change that by providing greater access to her works. The Work of Adrienne Kennedy: Inspiration and Influence is a virtual play festival that will mount four of Kennedy’s works, including “He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box” which kicks off on Saturday, Nov. 14. The triple Obie Award-winner, who is in the Theater Hall of Fame, turned 89 this year and is viewed as an inspiration to diverse writers like Suzan-Lori Parks, Robert O’Hara and Shonda Rhimes. A companion class on Kennedy’s life and work starts on Dec. 1.

The Work of Adrienne Kennedy: Inspiration and Influence
virtual Saturday, Nov. 14 – Sunday, Feb. 21
$15 – $60

Celluloid culture

The Gershman Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival was gearing up for its 40th annual event when the coronavirus hit and they were forced to rethink the celebration of Jewish film and culture. What they came up with is their first annual Fall Fest, which uses a virtual platform to expand on their offering. The Fall Fest includes panels, writing workshops, master classes, happy hours, and of course, a wealth of feature films, short films and documentaries created by Jewish filmmakers and that cover the Jewish experience. Among the screenings this year are two documentaries that highlight Black-Jewish alliances.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Fall Fest
virtual, through Nov. 21
free – $180

Rock with an icon

Legendary bluesman Taj Mahal may not get out much anymore but it’s not because he’s 78 – it’s because like the rest of us, he’s dealing with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. But fortunately for his fans, the show must go on. He’ll do his first ever livestream performance from the stage of UC Theater stage in Berkeley. The three-time Grammy winner and multi-instrumentalist has enjoyed a five-decade career that encompasses blues, rock, Americana and more. In 2014 he was honored with an Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement award.

Taj Mahal
virtual, Tuesday Nov. 17, 9 p.m. ET
$20 – $150

Chalk it up

Even if your last encounter with chalk was in the third grade, you can still appreciate the artistry of those who create their works using it. Philadelphia is dedicating an entire festival to chalk artists with 14 artists presenting 12 of their pieces in the Kensington and Frankford neighborhoods. The Philadelphia Chalk Festival happens on Saturday when the artwork will be displayed at different locations around the area. A map of each is online for a self-guided tour. Participating artists include muralist Liv Novotny, multimedia artist Pauline Houston McCall, portrait artist De’von Downes, and multimedia artist Cory Kram.

Philadelphia Chalk Festival
various locations, free.

Stories on the Square

If keeping kids occupied is a challenge normally, it has to be even more difficult in a pandemic. Sometimes just getting outside the house can help. Franklin Square, in conjunction with the Philadelphia African American Museum and Keepers of the Culture is hosting Griot Tale Saturdays: Stories For the Little Ones on Saturdays throughout the month of November. The stories will highlight African and African American stories and storytellers. After Nov. 19, Franklin Square’s attractions, including mini-golf and the carousel, are open until 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Griot Tale Saturdays
Franklin Square, Sixth and Race St.
4 p.m., free, through Nov. 28

Holiday Alley

Yes it’s already time to deck the halls. The nation’s oldest continuously inhabited street, Elfreth’s Alley is a popular stop on Philly history tours. This year, the annual Deck the Alley event where you can tour the historic homes and their holiday decorations goes virtual. There will be online tours, as well as other holiday and history-related content populating their official website through Dec. 29. Some of the planned events include lectures, the aforementioned online tours, and special additions of the street’s informative podcast The Alley Cast. Of course, the alley is still available to view and take pics of, and its gift shop is open on Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.

Elfreth’s Alley Deck the Alley 2020
virtual, free.

Skate night

Skating has resumed for the season at Dilworth Park’s Rothman Orthopaedic rink in the shadow of City Hall. The season goes through February of 2021 and like all event venues in the region, has established social distancing and mask-wearing protocols as well as a new online reservation system. You can still rent skates and lockers are available, but it all has to be reserved prior to your visit. Timed sessions are 90 minutes long. The Rothman Cabin and the Wintergarden are seasonal attractions that include pay-as-you-go food and beverage in a heated tent and a garden maze with an Instagram-friendly gazebo.

Rothman Orthopaedic Ice Rink
at Dilworth Park, 1 S. 15th St.
$5 – $7 skate rental, lockers are each $10. Monday – Thursday, noon – 9 p.m.; Friday, noon – 11 p.m.; Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. through Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021.

Dance On Philly

Dancing feels good but it’s been just one of the many things impacted by the coronavirus pandemic – that’s if you like to dance outside of TikTok videos. Organizers of Dance On Philly have put together a virtual dance party this Saturday night to celebrate all things dance and to raise money for Musicopia and Dancing Classrooms Philly. For six hours, live from The Fillmore Philadelphia, hosts including NBC10 anchors Erin Coleman and “Alex and the Kaleidoscope” creator Alex Mitnick, along with deejays Cosmo Baker, Rich Medina, and dancers of all ages from around the city will party to close out Philly’s Dance Week and to have a good time. You can even pay to participate via a virtual nightclub version of the event or to hang out in your own Zoom room.

Dance On Philly 
virtual, Saturday, Nov. 14, 6 p.m.
Free – $300 for premium access, donations are encouraged.

Keep checking in with “Things To Do” as we continue to provide our picks for entertainment during the industry’s COVID-19 hiatus. Please consult our coronavirus updates to keep up with the latest information regionally.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal