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Octavia E. Butler’s sci-fi dystopian opera: Your quarantine must-watch of the day

Singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon performs in the 2015 concert version of "Parable of the Sower."
(Christopher Pike / National)

The world has gone to hell in a handbasket in “Parable of the Sower.”

Set in Southern California in the 2020s, the late Octavia E. Butler’s acclaimed 1993 sci-fi fable tells of have-nots scraping by in a dystopian world of racial, gender and income inequality, not to mention food scarcity and environmental devastation. The apocalyptic vision came to the stage as a folk opera co-created by singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon and her mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon of the a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock.

The Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA hosted a production in March, the last event before the wave of coronavirus-related cancellations. But if you missed it then, a concert version of the work’s 2015 world premiere, featuring Toshi Reagon and presented by the Arts Center at New York University Abu Dhabi, will be livestreamed at 9 a.m. Wednesday followed by a live Q&A session. The watch party is free to view at facebook.com, Youtube.com and nyuad-artscenter.org

There are other ways to engage with a little culture during your coronavirus quarantine. We’ll keep sharing picks for streaming concerts, online musicals, virtual art exhibitions and more. Here’s Wednesday’s list, all times Pacific.

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“Broken Wings”
The English National Ballet launches the series Wednesday Watch Parties with this 2016 production of choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s dance drama inspired by the life and times of beloved Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Available for 48 hours starting Wednesday. Free. facebook.com/EnglishNationalBallet and youtube.com

Ancient Mariner Big Read
Famous faces including Jeremy Irons, Iggy Pop and Tilda Swinton read sections from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic 18th century poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in this new series of visually enhanced daily posts presented by the Arts Institute at Plymouth University. Available anytime. Free. ancientmarinerbigread.com

“Legally Blonde — The Musical” reunion
Laura Bell Bundy and the cast and creative team from the original Broadway production of this musical based on the 2011 Reese Witherspoon film reunite for this live benefit. It’s presented as part of Broadway Podcast Network’s “Broadway Together” COVID-19 Response Initiative. 6 p.m. Wednesday. Free. broadwaypodcastnetwork.com/town-hall/

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“The Giverny Document”
The UCLA Hammer Museum in Westwood offers a livestream of this cinematic exploration of black women’s bodily autonomy and safety, shot in Harlem and in Giverny, France, by Dallas–based artist and filmmaker Ja’Tovia Gary. A Q&A with Gary follows. 4 p.m. Wednesday. Free. hammer.ucla.edu

“Song From the Uproar”
Los Angeles Opera’s From the Vault series streams composer Missy Mazzoli’s one-act musical drama about the life and times of Swiss writer and explorer Isabelle Eberhardt. Available anytime. Free. laopera.org

Alexander String Quartet
Baruch College’s quartet-in-residence performs Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of Christ” interspersed with readings by the members of the ensemble. 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Free. baruch.cuny.edu

“Catorce Dieciséis”
Ballet Hispánico hosts a watch party for an encore of this 2017 piece by Tania Pérez-Salas inspired by the number pi and set to music by Baroque-era composers including Vivaldi. 4 p.m. Wednesday. Free. facebook.com

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Geffen Stayhouse
New offerings from the Geffen Playhouse’s online portal include “Randall Park: A Sitcom Medley” featuring the “Fresh Off the Boat” actor in a musical celebration of his favorite TV comedies. Available beginning noon Wednesday. Free. youtube.com

Each day’s recommendations are indexed in the same place where our regular event listings (sigh) used to post.


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