SHOTGUN’S BLAST FESTIVAL Berkeley’s Shotgun Players have launched a new festival, BLAST, with the goal of “exploding the limits of possibility in theater.” The intention is for BLAST to be an annual celebration of difference — a month-long festival of new ideas and visions. “BLAST aims to explode the boundaries of the stage with performances by local and national theater artists. We think life is dynamic, changing, ephemeral, strange, and beautiful. Theater should be too,” says the theater. On Saturday and Sunday you can see My Mind is Like an Open Meadow, by Portland’s Hand2Mouth ensemble. A mixture of lighting, pre-recorded voice, music, dance and scenery, the piece is based on one year’s worth of recordings Erin Leddy made of her fascinating grandmother, actress Sarah Braveman (watch the trailer). BLAST runs through March 6 at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Free parking in the Ashby BART parking. Tickets: $15 advance/$20 door. Blast Pack tickets available for multiple performances. See full program at Shotgun Players’ website.
ALL ATHEISTS ARE MUSLIM On Friday Feb. 12 Diaspora Arts Connection presents Zahra Noorbakhsh in All Atheists are Muslim, written and performed by Zahra Noorbakhsh, directed by Lisa Marie Rollins, developed with Berkeley-based comedian W. Kamau Bell. Without wanting to give away the plot of the one-woman show, let’s just say it’s likely to be funny. Noorbakhsh is a feminist Muslim satirist and Iranian-American comedian who co-hosts the #GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast. The New Yorker dubbed All Atheists Are Muslim a highlight of the Int’l New York City Fringe Theater Festival. Friday, Feb. 12, 8:00 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Tickets: $20 advance, $30 door.
FRANCES TOWNES’ 100TH BIRTHDAY On Sat. Feb. 13, noon to 2:30 p.m. friends and family of Frances H. Townes will celebrate Townes’ 100th birthday with a lunch, silent auction and art sale benefiting her favorite charity, Youth Spirit Artworks. Townes has dedicated much of her life to trying to find permanent homes for homeless young people. Proceeds of the lunch, prepared by award-winning chef India Joze, will benefit the Frances H. Townes Mural and Bench. Tickets are $40 and can be bought at Brown Paper Tickets. For more information visit: www.youthspiritartworks.org.
WHAT IS STOICISM? Stoicism was one of the most influential philosophies of the ancient world. But what exactly is it? How might it help us live happier better lives today? John Fiegel, a member of the Bay Area Philosophy group, will moderate a discussion addressing these questions at the Central Berkeley Public Library on Sunday Feb. 14, at 3p.m. See suggested readings. The event is free. Central Library, 2090 Kittredge St. (at Shattuck).
EIGHTH BLACKBIRD AT CAL PERFS For Hand Eye on Sunday Fev. 14 at 7 p.m, six dazzling young instrumentalists collude with six leading lights in contemporary composition to create a new evening-length work “that defies stylistic boundaries.” It takes place at Hertz Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. The Chicago-based, three-time Grammy-winning new music ensemble Eighth Blackbird, collaborates with the New York composers collective Sleeping Giant. Together, the composers create a suite for the ensemble, embracing a wide range of sounds, from rambunctiousness to lyricism, athletic virtuosity to atmospheric beauty. Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley, Bancroft Way. Details at Cal Performances.
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