It may not consistently feel like it yet, but spring is here, and that, in my experience, means that things have a way of improving on their own accord across the board. Yes, the horrific situation in Ukraine continues, the Oscars ceremony was a deeply unsettling mess, and it’s still too cold around these parts, but on the flip side, it stays light after work, the scary COVID stats presently remain at bay, and soon we are going to be reminded of exactly how lovely it can be to while away a sunny weekend afternoon in Prospect Park or sitting outside your local with a good book and a glass of wine. And hey, flowers are coming! People are getting a fresh wave of puppies! It’s almost time for sandals and bike riding and sunglasses and ice cream cones. I’m telling you, it’s gonna be great! It’s extremely heartening to see more and more cultural events populating the calendar with each passing month, because it really does seem like we’re about to burst out of this long, dark tunnel we’ve been confined to. Even if it’s optimistic to think things will ever feel exactly as they did in pre-pandemic times, at least we get to have some degree of influence over what life looks like again from this point forward, and for me that means getting back out into my city and consuming as much of the poetry, music, artistry, and creativity that pulses through this crazy place as I possibly can, starting with these 10 April events.
1. Oprahdemics, available now
A new podcast all about the inimitable Oprah Winfrey? Oh hell yes. Hosted by Kellie Carter Jackson and Leah Wright Rigueur, two historians who happen to also be friends, Oprahdemics promises a deep dive into particularly iconic episodes from the extensive archives of The Oprah Winfrey Show in order to explore The Queen of Talk’s outsized legacy. The first two installments have already been released, and are entitled “Oprah 101: Why Oprah Matters” and “Oprah Goes Vegan.”
2. Cyrano de Bergerac, April 5- May 22
Beginning on April 5, the BAM Harvey Theater will host the US premiere run of a fresh, new production of Cyrano de Bergerac that features spoken word, rap, and contemporary poetry and received the Olivier Award for Best Revival after a successful debut in London’s West End. This version of the classic story is directed by Jamie Lloyd, stars James McAvoy, and is a New York Times Critics Pick. Although there are many dates to choose from, I have a feeling that this will be a hot ticket, so be sure to grab one before they sell out.
3. Coming of Age in the U.S.S.R., April 5
One thing I’ve become painfully aware of over the past few weeks is my relative ignorance about the circumstances and history that led to the current crisis in Ukraine. I like the idea of trying to address at least some of that shortcoming by attending a literary event at The Center for Fiction featuring two novels, Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry and Katya Kazbek, who have written books about growing up amidst the turbulence of the fall of the Soviet Union. On April 5, Gorcheva-Newberry and Kazbek will discuss their respective novels, The Orchard and Little Foxes Took Up Matches, at Coming of Age in the U.S.S.R., with Alex Halberstadt moderating.
4. Whitney Biennial, April 6
The Whitney Biennial, now in its 80th year, makes a triumphant return to the Whitney Museum of American Art on April 6 with “Quiet as It’s Kept,” a survey of the work of 60-plus American artists hand-selected to represent the current mood and mores of the contemporary art scene. Much of the art on display was created in the throes of pandemic lockdown, and the themes that have dominated American life and discourse for the past few years — racism, violence, and division — are conspicuously present throughout the show. As a bonus, the museum has removed all of the room dividers on one of the floors, opening up the space from the Hudson River side to the High Line for sweeping views.
5. Sea of Tranquility, April 7
Several years back, when I read Station Eleven, Emily St. John’s novel about a ragtag traveling troupe of Shakespearean actors performing to survivors of an apocalyptic global pandemic, I thought it a wildly imaginative work of fiction that would never bear any resemblance to my actual life, and then, . . . well, you know the rest. Although I heard great things about the HBO TV adaptation of that story, I have to admit that I wasn’t particularly in the mood for a show about a catastrophic, highly contagious disease at the exact time that I and everyone else I know had omicron this winter. However, I am ready for the launch of St. John’s latest title, Sea of Tranquility, which comes out on April 7 and takes place on Vancouver Island in the early 20th century and in a moon colony five hundred years later. St. John will appear in conversation with Esquire’s Adrienne Westenfeld on the same date at St. Joseph’s College, and all attendees will receive a signed copy of the book courtesy of Greenlight Bookstore.
6. Wish You Were Here, April 13- May 22
If you’re ready to venture back to Broadway, Wish You Were Here, a new comedy about a group of close girlfriends in Iran in the 70s and 80s by up-and-coming playwright Sanaz Toosi, is one you shouldn’t miss. The play, which has already won an award from the Edgerton Foundation, is directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, and it premieres on April 13 at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater.
7. Petite Maman, April 22
French director Celine Sciamma, who you might have encountered from the highly acclaimed films Girlhood or Portrait of a Lady on Fire, is back in American theaters this month with Petite Maman, which is part fable and part coming-of-age ghost story. The story centers on an 8-year-old who accompanies her parents on a trip to clean out her recently deceased grandmother’s house. While playing in the nearby woods, she encounters another little girl who she slowly realizes has a lot in common with her own mother when she was her age. It sounds like a loving and beautiful portrayal of grief and the relationships between mothers and daughters that is worth a trip to your neighborhood theater.
8. Hanami Festival, April 20
We are officially in Cherry Blossom season, and if you don’t have a special trip to DC planned, you can still enjoy the plethora of pink from right here in Brooklyn. On April 20, Green-Wood Cemetery is hosting a Hamami, or “flower viewing,” Festival from 6-8pm that will allow guests to wander the grounds after hours to take in the extensive collection of cherry blossoms in bloom. Sake and snacks from Japan Village in Industry City will be available, as well as music and entertainment. Tickets are $40. Sadly, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden will not be putting on its beloved Sakura Matsuri festival this year, but that won’t stop millions of cherry blossoms from emerging in the coming weeks. Plan your own trip to see them — you can consult the Cherrywatch tracker on their website to find the optimal time.
9. Russian Doll, April 20
It feels like a decade has passed since I was totally engrossed in the first season of Russian Doll, a weird and inventive Netflix show starring the mesmerizing Natasha Lyonne, who is also a co-creator. On April 20, the long wait for Season Two comes to an end, and I can’t wait to see whether Nadia finally manages to survive her 36th birthday party and what comes next.
10. Barry, April 24
Also returning this month for another long-awaited season is Bill Hader’s Barry, a pitch-black comedy about a hitman with acting aspirations who can’t seem to shed his violent past once and for all and get on with his life. Season 3, which will bring back Henry Winkler as Barry’s self-absorbed, hapless acting coach and Anthony Carrigan as the ultimate frenemy who also happens to be a terrifying psychopath, premieres on HBO on April 24.