Category Archives: Arts

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Tartuffe caption. Photo: Courtesy kevinberne.com
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TARTUFFE AT THE REP Molière’s Tartuffe, a satirical attack on religious hypocrisy, still has its sting after 350 years. Berkeley Rep’s production, adapted by David Ball and directed by Dominique Serrand, was acclaimed as “revelatory” by the Chronicle. Actor Steven Epp stars in the title role. If you go on Friday, March 27 (as in tonight!), you can also enjoy the “last call” reception after the play, sponsored by Berkeleyside. Tartuffe is in repertory at the Berkeley Rep through Apr. 12. Tickets from $41 at Berkeley Rep, 2025 Addison St.    … Continue reading »

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Getting Frisky with Macy Blackman & The Mighty Fines

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Maybe a Manhattan methadone clinic wasn’t an auspicious setting for encountering a musical hero, but Macy Blackman wasn’t going let an opportunity to hang out with New Orleans drummer Charles “Hungry” Williams go to waste. Looking to get clean in the bitter winter of 1978, Blackman was sitting on a couch in the lounge of the Bernstein Institute strumming a guitar when someone informed him that Fats Domino’s drummer was in the next room.

“After a while he came in and started singing Chuck Willis’ ‘You’re Still My Baby’ with me,” says Blackman, a Kensington resident for the past 13 years. He celebrates the release of his new album Friskin’ the Whiskers with his band The Mighty Fines at Ashkenaz 9 p.m. Thursday, April 2.

A pianist, cornetist, and vocalist with a gruff, rhythmically assured delivery, Blackman is one of Northern California’s leading exponents of classic New Orleans R&B, and he absorbed a good deal of the music directly from the source. He and Williams struck up a fast friendship after that first encounter, and ended up playing music together up until the drummer’s death in 1986. Blackman, who still supplements his income as a piano technician, even taught Williams his trade. … Continue reading »

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Photos: Humans of Berkeley and the Bay Area/4

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Nancy Rubin is chronicling the people of Berkeley and beyond with her project, Humans of Berkeley and the Bay Area, or HUBBA. Today we publish a small selection of her extensive portfolio, the fourth time we have done so. Read our interview with Rubin in which she talks about what inspired her to start the project and its philanthropic element.

Follow HUBBA on FacebookTumblr, Twitter and Instagram to see new photos when they appear, and to read extended captions for the beautiful images shown here. … Continue reading »

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Events

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

The solar calendar installation at César Chávez Park has been the target of recurring vandalism over the past few months. Photo: Chris Benton
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SPRING EQUINOX AT CESAR CHAVEZ PARK  Gather this evening at the Chavez Memorial Solar Calendar to celebrate the official arrival of spring. The event, led by Lori Lambertson of the Exploratorium Teacher Institute, will include a discussion about the “reasons for the seasons,” the Chavez virtue of HOPE, and other global spring equinox celebrations. Dress warmly: the weather is part of the experience. Friday, March 20, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., sunset is at 7:15 p.m. Cesar Chavez Park, 11 Spinnaker Way, Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: ‘Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine’

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It would be churlish indeed to say something negative about the deeply personal Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, a new documentary opening at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood on Friday, March 20. Directed by Michele Josue, a close school friend of Shepard’s, it’s a criticism-proof film that makes up in emotional punch what it lacks in cinematic chops.

Matthew Shepard was, of course, a young Wyomingite murdered one 1998 night by a pair of pub crawlers. Josue takes a traditional chronological, biographical approach to telling Shepard’s story – not surprising, as she’s a neophyte filmmaker with no professional training.

The diminutive Shepard spent much of his short life on the move. After a stable childhood in Laramie, Matthew moved first to Saudi Arabia (where his father worked for an oil company), then to a swanky boarding school in Lugano, Switzerland. He spent time in Italy, Japan and Morocco, went to North Carolina for college, and lived briefly in Denver before returning to the ironically named Equality State. … Continue reading »

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Work begins to transform UC Theatre into music venue

City officials, downtown business owners and others gathered with David Mayeri Wednesday for the groundbreaking for the UC Theater. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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By Frances Dinkelspiel and Tracey Taylor

The long-shuttered UC Theatre on University Avenue was buzzing again Wednesday as city officials and supporters gathered for an official groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of the renovation of the former movie palace.

While David Mayeri, president of the Berkeley Music Group and the driver of the project, and others posed with gold shovels in front of the theater, the transformation of the 1917 building at 2036 University Ave. began in earnest inside with workers beginning to tear into the building’s floor with jackhammers.

Rehabilitating the theater is expected to cost $5.5 million — with a capital campaign still seeking $2 million worth of support. Mayeri and the five-strong board hope to put on their first show in the building this fall. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Rep trains the next generation of theater pros

The 2014-2015 class of Berkeley Rep fellows. Photo: Berkeley Rep
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By Michael Berry

For 15 exemplary recipients, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Fellowship program is world-class learning opportunity, a chance to immerse themselves for eleven and a half months in the business and artistry of an award-winning theater company.

Sponsored by American Express and administered through the Rep’s School of Theatre, the program provides hands-on experience in a wide array of artistic, administrative and production disciplines, including development, marketing, dramaturgy, costuming, stage management and scenic design. It has served as a launching pad for exceptionally talented individuals who have forged acclaimed careers in the Bay Area and elsewhere.

One fellowship in particular serves as a reminder of a promising theater career cut off too soon. The Bret C. Harte Directing (Artistic Administration) fellowship, the first of three named fellowships, recognizes the legacy of a young director from Moraga, killed in a car accident in March 2005. Past recipients include Marissa Wolf, Director of New Works at Kansas City Repertory Theatre, and Mina Morita, recently hired as Artistic Director at Crowded Fire Theater in San Francisco. … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Niyar stars as Lakshmi in the movie "Sold"
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WATCH THE MOVIE ‘SOLD’ The movie Sold, directed by Jeffrey D. Brown, has been lauded at film festivals around the globe as a searing look into the widespread practice of sexual slavery of young girls. Based on Patricia McCormick’s 2006 novel, “Sold,” the film traces the story of Lakshmi, a 13-year-old girl from Nepal. After a monsoon devastates her house, she decides she will help her family by going to work as a maid for a wealthy woman in the city. Lakshmi instead finds herself sold to a brothel, named the“Happiness House. The Berkeley Anti-Trafficking Coalition and the Institute for South Asian Studies at UC Berkeley will be showing the film Friday at 6 p.m. in Room 2040 of the Valley Life Sciences building. It stars Niyar, Gillian Anderson, and David Arquette. Brown, who plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign to distribute the film in theaters, will do a Q&A session after the screening. Suggested donation is $5. … Continue reading »

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‘Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles’

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You don’t need me to tell you that Orson Welles was one of the cinematic and theatrical geniuses of the 20th century. You probably don’t even need Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles (opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, March 13) to tell you that: even 30 years after his death, his legacy remains intact.

A giant in all respects, Welles seems as alive today as he ever was, and it’s his avuncular presence that renders this documentary worthwhile. There’s not a great deal of value in seeing that snow globe roll out of Charles Foster Kane’s hand for the umpteenth time, but to hear the great man describe it as “a rather tawdry device” is illuminating, amusing, and rather telling. … Continue reading »

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‘Blade Runner’ screenwriter made lost film of Moe’s Books

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The film of a 1965 party at Moe’s Books that was recently discovered in the Berkeley dump was made by an Academy Award nominated screenwriter who was just starting out in the business when he shot the footage.

David Peoples, who arrived in Berkeley with his wife Janet in 1959 to attend Cal, shot the film of Moe Moskowitz arriving at his store on Telegraph Avenue in a Rolls Royce, dressed in a top hat, tails, and white gloves. Peoples had not watched the film in decades, and was surprised when a friend, who had seen the footage on Berkeleyside, contacted him to say it was on the Internet.

For Doris Moskowitz, the daughter of Moe and the current owner of Moe’s Books, finding out who made the film of the legendary party was a satisfying ending to a story that began when a scavenger brought the found footage into the store in November. … Continue reading »

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The Asian-American Film Festival comes to town

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If it’s March (and unless someone is playing cruel games with my calendar, it is), it’s time once again for the Asian American Film Festival. As in previous years, 2015’s festival includes a number of screenings at Pacific Film Archive.

This year’s festivities get underway Friday, March 13 at 7:00 p.m. with a film I was unable to watch in advance, Iran’s Tales. It’s double-billed with Vietnam’s Doat Hon (Hollow), a rather late contribution to the turn of the 21st-century Asian horror boom that relies overly on the now passé ‘long-haired ghost’ trope. If you’re a fan of the genre, you could do worse; otherwise this is a very, very average example of the style.

Far more interesting is director Dean Yamada’s Senrigan (Cicada), an endearing character study from Japan screening at the Archive on Saturday, March 14 at 8:15 p.m. What initially threatens to be one of those awful ‘multiple perspective’ storylines develops into a tight little tale about an infertile schoolteacher (Yugo Saso, good but perhaps a wee bit too old for the role), his unsuspecting fiancé (Hitomi Takimoto), and an unfortunate 4th-grade pupil (Houten Saito). It’s a lovely little film anchored by fine performances all around and writer Yu Shibuya’s slightly cheeky screenplay, which manages to blend elements sweet and sour to near perfection. … Continue reading »

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Book Review: ‘The Jewish World: 100 Treasures of Art & Culture – The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life’

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Last year, when Alla Efimova stepped down as the Jacques and Esther Reutlinger Director of UC Berkeley’s Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life after ten years at its helm, she left the institution a magnificent parting gift.

“The Jewish World: 100 Treasures of Art & Culture, The Magnes Collection” traces the origins of The Magnes, which existed for 50 years as the independent Judah L. Magnes Museum before merging with UC Berkeley in 2010, and introduces readers to one of the largest, most international and diverse Jewish collections existing today. “This book,” Efimova wrote, “is my way of paying back for a decade of honor and delight in working with the Magnes collection.” … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Mollie Katzen in her garden in Berkeley. Photo: Mollie Katzen
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Want to know what a world-famous chef peruses in the comfort of her own home? If so, rush down to the Friends of the Berkeley Public Library’s store on Channing for its annual cookbook sale. Mollie Katzen, who shot to fame with her “Moosewood Cookbook,” and who has since written almost a dozen others, including 2013’s “The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation,” donated about 400 books for the sale. They are cookbooks for which Katzen has written a foreward, has reviewed, and maybe, just maybe cooked from. There are even some of her own cookbooks. And, as usual, the prices are “ridiculously low.” The Friends of the Library store is at 2433 Channing Way and is open Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (There is also a Friends store in the Central Branch but it does not have Katzen’s books) … Continue reading »

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