Weekly Entertainment Guide – Celebrating MLK, service and science

     (Illustration by WHYY Artist in residence Tony Auth)

    (Illustration by WHYY Artist in residence Tony Auth)

    Looking for something to do this week? How about celebrating service and science — the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Benjamin Franklin.  WHYY’s Robin Bloom has some recommendations on what’s going on this week in the Philadelphia region. Here are her picks: 

    Happy Birthday Ben Franklin!

    Celebrate what would be the 308th birthday of Benjamin Franklin with events this weekend in the Historic District. At the Historic Philadelphia Center, 6th and Chestnut Streets, enjoy Ben Franklin in 3D at the Liberty 360 3D Show in the PECO Theater, featuring an appearance by Dr. Franklin, storytelling, old time photos, and many more activities including a special Benjamin Franklin Tippler’s Tour, January 17-19. Enjoy free birthday cake on Friday, January 17, 1pm.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    The Benjamin Franklin Museum offers free admission, January 17-19, 9am-4:45pm, with birthday activities including a parade and a birthday party, at Franklin Court, between 3rd and 4th Streets off of Market or Chestnut.

    Invention Convention at Hagley

    Hagley Museum and Library inspires innovation and creativity with the annual “Invention Convention,” Saturday, January 18, Sunday, January 19, and Monday, January 20, 10am-4pm. This year’s theme is related to aerodynamics and aeronautics. Fun, hands-on activities include tinkering tables, Create an Invention, daily Science Shows at 11am, 1pm and 3pm, a science fair, experiments, and more. Bring unneeded electronics and small appliances to donate, Buck Road East entrance off Route 100 in Wilmington, DE.


    El Año en Que Naci

    For three nights only, FringeArts presents “El Año en Que Naci (The Year I Was Born),” a work of documentary theater devised by internationally renowned Argentinean playwright Lola Arias. Eleven Chileans born during Pinochet’s regime explore their family histories through a performance that blends fact, fiction, document, and memory with the sounds of live rock n’ roll. The play is performed in Spanish with English surtitles, January 17-19, 140 N. Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia.


    InterAct Theatre Company’s “Gidion’s Knot”

    InterAct Theatre Company continues its tradition of showcasing plays that generate public conversations about pressing social issues with the Philadelphia premiere of Johnna Adams’ “Gidion’s Knot,” opening January 17. The two-woman, gripping drama spotlights the deeply personal struggle to comprehend the incomprehensible as a mother meets with her son’s teacher to help search for answers as to why he took his life after receiving a suspension from school. Directed by Producing Artistic Director Seth Rozin through February 9 at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia. To foster dialogue with a younger audience, a special performance and post-show reception will be held on February 1 as part of the InterAct with Us program.


    Martha Mayer Erlebacher Retrospective at Woodmere Art Museum

    Woodmere Art Museum honors the life and work of Martha Mayer Erlebacher with “Just In,” a retrospective that showcases the Philadelphia artist’s figure paintings. Erlebacher’s renowned nudes, like “The Path” (pictured), are realistically rendered and allegorically complex. As the artist herself put it: “If you want to make a statement about the human condition, there’s no better way than using the human form.” The exhibition features a selection of paintings and drawings that were recently donated to the museum by the artist’s sons as well as works from the permanent collection, through March 2, 9201 Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill.


    International Guitar Night

    International Guitar Night, the mobile guitar festival, is Sunday, January 19, 7:30pm, featuring internationally acclaimed guitarists from around the world including classically-trained Italian experimentalist Pino Forastiere, Quique Sinesi from Argentina (pictured), British finger-style guitarist Mike Dawes, and San Francisco “guitar poet” Brian Gore (the program’s founder), for a night of diverse solos, duets and quartets. Hosted by Crossroads Music at Calvary Church, 801 South 48th Street at Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia. A master class will be held on Monday, January 20, 7:30pm at same location.


    “The Escape Artist”

    Dancer, visual artist, performance artist, and singer John Kelly presents “The Escape Artist,” Friday, January 24, 8pm. In the performance piece, the Bessie and Obie Award-winning multi-media entertainer portrays a stressed-out performer who has a catastrophic trapeze accident while rehearsing a theater piece based on the life of Caravaggio. Comforted by the Italian Baroque painter’s images and confined to a hospital gurney, Kelly performs original songs (written in collaboration with Carol Lipnik), all while lying flat on his back, Goodhart Hall, Bryn Mawr College, 101 N. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA.


    Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend events


    Philadelphia honors the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. with the 19th annual Martin Luther King Day of Service, this Monday, January 20. The event, run by Global Citizen, is the largest and most expansive volunteer community service effort of its type in the country with more than 100,000 volunteers participating in approximately 1600 community service projects across the region. To find a project near you, visit:




    “The Way We Were…Cape May County’s Once Thriving Black Business Communities” is the 15th annual Center for Community Arts exhibit documenting the area’s African American heritage. Telling the story of the black-owned bakeries, pool halls, hotels, barber shops, and pubs that catered to both black and white customers during the first half of the twentieth century, through April 13 at the Carriage House Gallery on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington Street, Cape May, NJ. There will be a free exhibit opening with light refreshments on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 20, 4pm. Pictured: Richardson’s Hotel, circa 1940s courtesy of John and Janet Nash, African American History Archives.

    Eastern State Penitentiary hosts readings of one of the most influential letters written by Martin Luther King, Jr. in the margins of a newspaper and smuggled out of Birmingham Jail, Saturday, January 18 through Monday, January 20, 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm each day. Free and open to the public. Guided tours available with information about how the civil rights movement affected Eastern State Penitentiary and how inmates reacted to Dr. King’s assassination. New this year, children ages 7-12 can create art in response to themes found in the letter, and visitors can film themselves reading parts of the letter, 2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia.

    The Delaware Museum of Natural History presents “African American Champions of Nature,” Monday, January 20, 9:30am-4:30pm, with special activities for all ages focused on the accomplishments of African American scientists to natural history. Visitors can view live arthropods, enjoy marine activities, games and more, 4840 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE.

    The National Museum of American Jewish History celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 20, 10am-5pm, featuring art projects with Fleisher Art Memorial, screenings of the documentary, “Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement,” storytelling, and performances by the Sister Cities Girl Choir, and more. Free and open to the public. Bring a non-perishable food item to donate to Philabundance.

    The 31st Annual Interfaith Celebration of the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. is Sunday, January 19, 3pm, titled, “Teach Your Children Well: Continuing the Legacy of MLK” and features religious leaders reflecting on local interfaith cooperation inspired by King’s teachings along with music, dance and poetry, and a letter-writing campaign to support full and fair school funding at Germantown Jewish Centre, 400 W. Ellet Street, Philadelphia. Free. Bring school supplies to donate.

    The National Constitution Center hosts a celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 20 with service projects, live performances by “Two of a Kind,” a reading of the “I Have a Dream” speech, crafts, and more. Part of Macy’s Family Days, 525 Arch Street, Philadelphia.

    The Philadelphia Museum of Art honors Martin Luther King, Jr. with an Art and Service Workshop, Monday, January 20, 10am-3pm, featuring art activities, performances by Camden Sophisticated Sisters, and more, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia. Artwork created will be distributed to local service organizations.

    The African American Museum in Philadelphia presents “Sharing the Heritage!” Monday, January 20, 11am-5pm, featuring events for the whole family at the museum, 701 Arch Street, Philadelphia and off-site locations.

    The Franklin Institute celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on Monday, January 20, 11am-2pm, with the “I Have a Dream” speech broadcast on the walls of Franklin Hall at the top of every hour, activities including “African American Scientists Scavenger Hunt” and hands-on arts and crafts, 222 North 20th Street, Philadelphia.

    The Arts Council of Princeton, Kidsbridge Tolerance Museum, and the Historical Society of Princeton hosts the Martin Luther King, Jr. Art Workshop at the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts on Monday, January 20, 1pm-4pm. Take part in interactive workshops and puppet shows for the children. Participants are encouraged to bring nonperishable foods for donation. The event is free at 102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ.

    The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 24th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert is Monday, January 20, 1:30pm, Girard College Chapel, 2101 S. College Avenue, Philadelphia. Cristian Macelaru conducts a program of Copland, Barber, and Johnson.

    Guests include Gabriel Cabezas, cello, award-winning storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston, violinist Elena Urioste, and Dorina Morrow directing the Philadelphia All City Choir. Concert is free, seating is general admission on a first-come, first served basis.

    Orchestra 2001 performs “A Commemoration in Music of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” featuring a program of Higdon, Danielpour, and Fluellen, Saturday, January 18, 8pm, Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center, Philadelphia. Pre-concert discussion at 7:30pm. Also, Sunday, January 26, 3pm at Lang Concert Hall, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA. Pre-concert discussion at 2:30pm.

     Marissa Nicosia contributed reporting to this week’s guide.

    To submit an event to be considered for the Weekly Entertainment Guide email Robin Bloom at artscalendar@whyy.org.

    Like us on Facebook to add the Weekly Entertainment Guide to your News Feed.

    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