Category Archives: Arts
For working musicians the value of a good regular gig falls somewhere between gold and platinum. What distinguishes a good gig from a bad one? Money is only part of the equation. The opportunity for creative expression ranks high, as do audiences that, at a minimum, don’t treat music as a conversational obstacle best overcome by talking louder. Respectful management is value added (you might be surprised to hear how many music-presenting establishments are run by people who make no secret of their disdain for musicians). For these reasons and others, Kickin the Mule treasures its long-running Friday gig at the Cheese Board on Shattuck Avenue. … Continue reading »
We all knew it wouldn’t last. My dalliance with popular comedy was truly an aberration — and as the song goes, after laughter comes tears. This week, we return to our regularly scheduled programming with The Kill Team, a grim new documentary opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, Aug. 1.
Directed by Dan Krauss (who previously shot the Paul Krugman-focused doc Inequality for All), The Kill Team examines the moral rot affecting a platoon of American infantrymen engaged in combat in Afghanistan. Uncomfortable playing the role of school builders and well diggers, the platoon lost its collective moral compass and began indulging in a deadly sport involving the murder of innocent Afghanis. … Continue reading »
“It’s not about me, the show is the star,” says Avotcja, who goes by the single moniker pronounced Avacha. “You wind up hearing from lots of different people, and you have a whole different way of looking at the universe.” … Continue reading »
If you want to see one of the liveliest, most vibrant and engaging musical productions to hit the East Bay in a while, head to the El Cerrito Performing Arts Theater this weekend.
The Youth Musical Theater Company’s revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “South Pacific” opened Friday, July 18, and features a cast of highly talented and dedicated young artists performing some of Broadway’s most memorable tunes: “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Bali Ha’i,” “There is Nothing Like A Dame,” “Younger Than Springtime,” I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair,” “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy,” and the less well-known, but highly controversial in its day, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” (to hate). … Continue reading »
It’s summer time, so I’m sure you’ll forgive me for writing about something other than my usual assortment of depressing foreign dramas, grim documentaries, and art-house snoozers. How does a comedy sound this week – and an American one at that?
Despite being one of the country’s most respected repositories of film history, Pacific Film Archive isn’t averse to having a little fun from time to time. How else to explain their decision to host ‘Rude Awakening: American Comedy, 1990-2010’, a series incorporating such decidedly lowbrow fare as Borat and Knocked Up? … Continue reading »
Shotgun Players struggles through its version of “Twelfth Night” as it populates the production with mediocre music, uneven and occasionally painful acting, stagey technique and free wine for the audience, rather than concentrate on the heart, guts and language of the play, which is about love and its suffering.
“Twelfth Night” is one of Shakespeare’s comedies in which a female character disguises herself as a man. The aristocratic Viola (Rebecca Pingree) lands on the Illyrian coast after being shipwrecked in a terrible storm. Alone, and assuming that her twin brother Sebastian has been drowned, Viola dresses up as a man named Cesario and finds work in the household of Duke Orsino (Ben Euphrat). Although Orsino loves the Lady Olivia (Ari Rampy), she is mourning her dead brother and refuses any and all advances from the noble Orsino, as well as from the silly Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Nick Medina), a friend of Lady Olivia’s drunken uncle, the loud Sir Toby Belch (Billy Raphael). … Continue reading »
Thursday evening, community members turned out in droves to sign the final steel beam for Berkeley’s new art museum before it was lifted high into the air by a crane and set in place.
The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is undergoing a complete rebuild in a new downtown Berkeley location, west of Oxford Street between Center and Addison, with its opening set for January 2016.
The “topping out” celebration was a chance for art fans to sign the final beam before watching it be set into place by construction workers shortly after 7 p.m. Addison Street between Oxford and Shattuck Avenue was closed to vehicle traffic during the event, as attendees enjoyed music from 14-piece brass band Mission Delirium and wrote messages on every surface of the beam using colorful markers.
Photographs from the event, by Berkeleyside reporter Emilie Raguso, appear below. … Continue reading »
Civic Center Park was turned into a Burning Man west (of sorts) Saturday as hundreds of people came to enjoy food, music, crafts, sculpture, performance, dance and art at the second Berkeley Spark festival.
One of the highlights of the festival was a giant metal bear with a moving arm made from recycled metal. Named “Ursus Redivivus” by its creators, most of the bear’s parts came from an escalator at an old Ross Dress for Less store. … Continue reading »
In the midst of a thriving practice as a musician, composer and arts presenter in Rome, Laura Inserra decided that a year or so in the Bay Area could offer a welcome change of scenery. That was 2007, and instead of returning home to Italy the North Berkeley resident has become an invaluable presence on the Bay Area arts scene, bringing evocative music to unusual settings.
A multi-instrumentalist who specializes in percussion, Inserra performs Saturday at the Subterranean Arthouse with BEL Trio, an improvisation-laced ensemble with a global sensibility featuring bassist Ben Levine and multi-instrumentalist Evan Fraser, best known for his work with Hamsa Lila and Beats Antique on kalimba, berimbau, calabash, and various frame drums. … Continue reading »
The tradition continues with Siddharth, a new drama from India opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, July 18. Directed by Richie Mehta, the film brings the theme to the sub-continent, where a bereft and guilt-ridden father searches desperately for his missing 12-year-old son. … Continue reading »
Announcing Uncharted 2014: 2 days spent with the great thinkers of today to find out what’s coming tomorrow
Today, Berkeleyside announced the initial speaker line-up for Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas 2014. Among those headlining the festival are Nobel prizewinner Randy Schekman, Pulitzer Prize composer John Adams, marriage equality pioneers Kris Perry and Sandy Stier,
social psychologist Claude Steele, author Adam Mansbach — as well as dozens of other “dangerous thinkers.”
Uncharted, which takes place on Friday Oct. 24 and Saturday Oct. 25, aims to bring participants together with some of the world’s great thinkers for two thrilling days of discussion, debate, and workshops designed to engage and inspire. Much more than a series of lectures, Uncharted is a festival of ideas.
Uncharted is offered at a fraction of the cost of other “ideas festivals.” Right now, those who register to attend can save $100 over 2013 prices. … Continue reading »
SHREK THE MUSICAL Shrek the Musical continues at Berkeley Playhouse through Aug. 3, including several performances on Saturday July 12 and Sunday July 13. This “silly, modern-day fairytale,” described as “a visual adventure” and “highly entertaining” by local reviewers, tells the story of everyone’s favorite ogre who goes on a life-changing adventure. Joined by a wise-cracking donkey, this unlikely hero fights a fearsome dragon, rescues a feisty princess and learns that friendship and love aren’t only found in fairy tales. The large adult and youth cast is directed and choreographed by Matthew McCoy with music direction by Rachel Robinson. Visit Berkeley Playhouse for dates and times, including several “pay what you can” performances. … Continue reading »
Two years ago I penned an all too brief single paragraph recommendation for The Waiting Room, an outstanding documentary about the emergency room at Oakland’s Highland Hospital, the East Bay’s primary trauma center and public health care facility. The film deservedly ended up being shortlisted in 2013 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Best Documentary, but ultimately didn’t make the final cut.
If you were as impressed as I was by The Waiting Room, you’ll get similar mileage from Code Black, a new medical documentary opening at Rialto Cinema’s Elmwood next week, on Friday, July 18. Shot in and around Los Angeles County Hospital – like Highland, a publicly funded facility — the film details the work done by doctors, nurses and interns in one of the country’s busiest emergency rooms. … Continue reading »