You won't be seeing the Shanghai and Miro quartets at the Freer; you can forget about the National Gallery of Art; and the Library of Congress concerts are suspended until further notice. But there are plenty of other venues offering worthwhile pursuits. Below are recommendations from some of The Washington Post's critics.
For a release from the insanity of Washington, take in the liberating backyard chaos of "Detroit" at Woolly Mammoth Theatre. Lisa D'Amour's scintillating tale of how a couple who live on the wild side trigger the darker urges of their more-buttoned-down neighbors was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Or for a dose of family drama that looks at the repercussions of a legacy of leftist activism, try Amy Herzog's "After the Revolution" at Theater J. For a poignant and funny immersion in the emotional vicissitudes of a young gay man seeking the conventional comforts of love and family, give a thought to the fine revival of "Torch Song Trilogy" at the Studio Theatre.
-- Peter Marks, theater critic
The Kennedy Center will be closed during the day, and there will be no building tours, but performances will go on as scheduled -- from the free Millennium Stage concerts (WNO's young artists on Thursday, 18th-century period music on Friday and Saturday) to the NSO's world premiere of Roger Reynolds's multimedia "George Washington," with the Saint-Sans organ symphony thrown in as a bonus (Oct. 3-5). The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland is going strong (you can hear the Miami String Quartet there on Friday); Strathmore is unaffected (the Aeolus Quartet will play at the Mansion with Michael Tree on Thursday night); and the Bach Sinfonia is opening its season with an all-brass program in Silver Spring on Saturday night. If you want to support local talent, you can hear pianist-composer Haskell Small performing works by Mompou: exquisite music, performed in a venue that is impervious to shutdowns -- the Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ.
-- Anne Midgette, classical music critic
Bill Callahan, one of the most mysterious voices in contemporary rock music, brings his strangely paralyzing baritone to the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue on Wednesday night in support of his enchanting new album, "Dream River." Also Wednesday, Big Boi of the visionary hip-hop duo OutKast performs at the Howard Theatre alongside the outspoken Atlanta rapper Killer Mike, who should have plenty to say about the government shutdown. Adventurous ears should investigate the 13th annual Sonic Circuits festival of experimental music, taking place at venues across the area through Sunday. Meanwhile, gambling types might want to close out the weekend at the Howard Theatre - the legendary but cancellation-prone Sly Stone is slated to perform with funk survivors Rufus on Sunday night.
-- Chris Richards, pop music critic
• Related: Escape the shutdown at the movies
For a feisty and funny escape from government gridlock, "Enough Said" recalls the best romantic comedies of Hollywood's Golden Age. James Gandolfini (in one of his final performances) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus are radiant and quietly courageous in their lead roles. Adrenaline junkies will enjoy "Rush," Ron Howard's film about the rivalry in the 1970s between Formula One race car drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. It's got fast cars, spectacular smash-ups and fierce competition, but it is also a surprisingly endearing film. If you're furious and want to stay that way, go see "Inequality for All," an enlightening (and infuriating) primer on the widening wealth gap in the United States. But if you want the ultimate escape, go see "Gravity" when it opens this weekend. Talk about getting away from it all.
-- Ann Hornaday, chief film critic