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Explore Boston's weekend offerings

By Wei-Huan Chen
On March 5, 2012

  • The Donkey Show’ cast shows viewers a good time at the A.R.T. Marcus Stern/American Repertory Theater

Midterms got you down? Heading off-campus to escape the stress-filled air is always a good idea, but eating at the same restaurant in Harvard Square over and over again gets tedious. (There are many better restaurants than Bartley's Burgers or Le's, but that's a different article.) I'm surprised how many fun and cheap things there are to do in Boston and how few Brandeisians know about them. Here are my top five arts-related, college-oriented activities to do next Friday or Saturday night. As an added bonus, they all cost less than $12.

1. Go to a midnight movie screening

"You're tearing me apart, Lisa!" Ring any bells? How about the infamous Rocky Horror Picture Show? If you've never enjoyed this long-standing tradition, check out the weekly midnight offerings at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, accessible by the Green Line. I remember nodding off at my first midnight showing, but a baby-faced Michael J. Fox fighting school gangs in Class of 1984 soon turned my uninitiated malaise into bona fide late-movie party-rocking. The Theatre's website describes the insanely awesome tradition better than I could: "Late-night, weekend programming for the cool insomniac crowd, including horrifying, weird, camp, avant-garde, tripped-out movies, interactive and cult niche live performances." (Didn't catch the quoted reference? It comes from The Room, the best worst movie of all time, which shows at the Theatre at the end of March.)

2. Drinks, Shakespeare and 1970s disco

Yes, all at once. It's called the Donkey Show, an ongoing vaudeville-party-theater event produced by the American Repertory Theatre. The show combines retro-showbiz erotica in the form of nude dancers, psychedelic lights, a live bar and yes, a show involving a donkey to create a fantastical version of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. It may not be for everyone, but it's an unforgettably intoxicating and groovy combination. You can stay for drinks after the muscular Puck and nearly topless Titania have had their fun. This 18-plus party opens every Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. at OBERON in Harvard Square.

3. Oscar-winning films and modern art at the ICA

Everyone and their lab partner knows about the Rose Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, both of which house excellent contemporary art collections and are free for Brandeis students. So I wonder why more people don't know about the Institute of Contemporary Art, nestled in the south Boston waterfront. For a $10 admission ticket, the ICA offers a fascinating rotation of modern sculpture, photography and painting exhibits and a plethora of events and film screenings. Catch the "2012 Academy Award-Nominated Short Films" before its last showing on March 11.

4. See Bill Murray for free

Who can pass up a chance to hear Bill Murray speak about his one-of-a-kind career? Murray defined classic American comedy as a cast member on Saturday Night Live and in films like Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day. He's also on his way to a possible Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the upcoming Hyde Park on Hudson. He'll be discussing the role of political satire in American culture with SNL veteran writer James Downey at Suffolk University on March 27. The talk is a couple of weeks away, but you should start brushing up on your '80s comedies now.

5. The obvious choices: Museum of Fine Arts and Boston Symphony

Being a college student has its perks. Since we tend to spend a lot of time in libraries, bars and coffee shops and little time in museums, live theaters and concert halls, various institutions like to offer us discounts. Bring your Brandeis ID to the MFA and see its dazzling contemporary art wing for free.

The museum's newest exhibition, "Paper Zoo," featuring the animal prints and drawings by artists such as Rembrandt and Picasso, is also worth the trip. And of course, don't forget the amazing deal the Boston Symphony Orchestra College Card offers. Pay a $25 one-time fee and your college ID gets you into an unlimited amount of BSO concerts every weekend until you graduate. Considering that a single admission for professional classical music usually costs more than $40, I don't see who could pass up this opportunity.

As a first-year at Brandeis, I thought that Boston had a small arts scene compared to cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. I couldn't be more wrong. Just check out websites like Artsy folks should never feel bored or underwhelmed in such a vibrant and endlessly surprising arts town. Start going out more and you'll eventually realize that there are so many venues to love and to keep going back. Besides the events I've listed here, my top venues for the arts include the Regattabar (jazz), the House of Blues (electronic and pop music), Company One (experimental theater), World Music/CRASHarts (world music) and the Brookline Booksmith (live author readings). My favorite events include the Boston Book Festival, PAX East (video game convention) and the Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival. I hope some of my suggestions help you make it through the tough academic week.  

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