Category Archives: Events

Berkeley author Elizabeth Rosner’s “Electric City” is a lyrical coming-of-age story

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When Elizabeth Rosner was growing up near Schenectady New York, a company town dominated by the General Electric Corporation, she couldn’t wait to leave. Her parents, who were Holocaust survivors, had moved there after the end of the war and did not mind the provincial atmosphere. But Rosner found the town confining.

When Rosner was 16, she won a scholarship to study in the Philippines. “I got as far away from home as I could without leaving the planet,” she likes to say. She never really went back. She graduated from Stanford and moved to Berkeley in 1986.

See Elizabeth Rosner at Pegasus bookstore, 1855 Solano Ave., tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Rosner’s first two highly acclaimed, award-winning novels, The Speed of Light and Blue Nude, were set in Northern California. She didn’t think she had anything to say about Schenectady. … Continue reading »

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‘Diplomacy': A confident statement from one of Germany’s greatest living filmmakers

« DIPLOMATIE » Un film de Volker SCHLÖNDORFF
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I spent a good portion of my teens and 20s playing the World War I-set board game ‘Diplomacy’. Though marketed to the war games crowd, ‘Diplomacy’ was much more than an opportunity to play ‘armchair general’: players had to negotiate agreements with other participants (each representing one of the European powers) in order to strategize, gain the upper hand, and win the game. Designed for two to seven players, ‘Diplomacy’ was always more fun with a larger crew, and was frequently an all-day affair.

In Volker Schlöndorff’s new film Diplomatie (Diplomacy, opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, Oct. 24) there are only two players — but that doesn’t mean it’s by any means boring or uneventful. Set in 1944 Paris, the film details a fascinating cat and mouse mind game played out between a German general and a Swedish consul. … Continue reading »

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Uncharted Ideas: Do something different this weekend

View from the University Club where the Uncharted Party will take place on the evening of October 24, 2014. Photo: UCB
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We’re expecting a host of surprises at this week’s Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas.

The festival is on Friday and Saturday at the Berkeley Rep, the Freight & Salvage and the University Club high atop Memorial Stadium. Dangerous ideas, challenging questions, laughter and amazing creativity, from both speakers and participants, fascinating people to meet and to share a glass with at the Friday evening party.

As a Berkeleyside or East Bay Nosh reader you are eligible for a discount on attendance. Just use the code BerkeleysideFriend when you register. You can buy tickets for the full two days, or for Friday or Saturday only (everyone gets to go to the party!).

What are the highlights? You’ll have to come to find out.

We’re excited about everything, from Tanya Holland on cooking with soul, to Nobel prizewinner Randy Schekman on the frontiers of medicine, to gay rights pioneers Kris Perry and Sandy Stier on the inside story of the Supreme Court case, to composer John Adams on opera and controversy, to Ken Goldberg on robotics in the cloud, to Jeff Chang on multiculturalism, to Steve Coll on the Islamic State, to Saru Jayaraman on how we treat restaurant workers, to Carl Bass on our 3-D future, to… well, you get the idea. You can scan the whole program on the Uncharted website. … Continue reading »

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Out of Darkness walk aims to end silence around suicide

Two people at the Out o Darkness Walk stop in front  of a makeshift remembrance of those who have committed suicide. Photo: Vivian Liu
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By Katherine Griffin

Nine years ago this month, Dale Boland’s son Gulliver took his own life. He was just 14.

In the months that followed, Boland, a  music teacher in Berkeley, remembers her family’s grieving being compounded by how hard it was to talk openly about the way Gulliver died. “People don’t talk about suicide,” she said. “It just has such a stigma.”

That’s beginning to change.

On Saturday Oct. 18,  Boland, her 17-year-old daughter Marielle, and several friends, were among more than 600 people who gathered before dawn at Lake Merritt for the sixth annual Out of the Darkness walk, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The walk, one of several hundred held each year around the country, is intended to give survivors of suicide loss a way to grieve and publicly remember their loved ones — and to help end the silence and shame that still keeps suicide hidden. … Continue reading »

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‘Lilting': An exquisitely crafted character study movie

Lilting
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Pei-pei Cheng is a Chinese cinema legend. Born in Shanghai in 1946, Cheng began her film career in the mid ‘60s, appearing in so many wuxia films that she quickly acquired the sobriquet The Queen of Swords. She’s probably best known to western audiences for her performance as deadly assassin Jade Fox in Ang Lee’s surprise 2000 blockbuster, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

She’s kept busy since then – and in more than just martial arts movies. Her latest is Lilting (opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, Oct. 17), a lovely if somewhat implausible chamber piece in which our heroine throws little more than cutting glances at her enemies.

Cheng plays Junn, a Cambodian-Chinese immigrant living, grumpily, in a London old folk’s home. Originally intended by son Kai (Andrew Leung) as a temporary abode until he summons up the courage to come out to Mum as gay, the home has become a prison of sorts for Junn, who speaks virtually no English and doesn’t much enjoy the day trips. … Continue reading »

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Amendola Vs. Blades play Berkeley — more great gigs

Amendola vs Blades
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Berkeley fans of the Hammond B-3 organ don’t get many opportunities to experience the mighty instrument close to home. It’s a sad state of affairs for funk and soul jazz aficionados, especially considering that Wil Blades, the Bay Area’s most prodigious mid-career B-3 player, has long called Berkeley home. He returns to Jupiter on Friday with Oakland drum maestro Scott Amendola.

After a considerable hiatus their long-running duo Amendola Vs. Blades is swinging back into action with a series of gigs, playing two nights at Duende Oct. 23-24 on a round-robin triple bill with Hammond organist Joe Doria’s McTuff, and Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey where all three bands will be rotating seamlessly every song, and Oct. 25 at the Red Poppy Art House in San Francisco. Pushing the limits of the duo format to the very edge, Blades and Amendola have honed an ambitious repertoire, including a full-scale interpretation of The Far East Suite, a late-career masterpiece by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. … Continue reading »

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

Students register for classes at Vista College during its earliest years. Now called Berkeley City College, the institution is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Photo: www.berkeleycitycollege.edu
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BERKELEY CITY COLLEGE 40TH ANNIVERSARY Berkeley may be best known for one of its higher-ed institutions, but this week a much-deserved spotlight will be trained on the other. Although it has gone by many different names over the years, Berkeley City College has been producing scholars for four decades. BCC’s 40th anniversary celebration will kick off Friday, Oct. 17, and will continue with various events and activities throughout the coming year. Starting at noon, the day will be packed with discussion panels, live music, campus tours, and presentations by a host of officials including Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. At 5:15 p.m. there will be a dedication of “From the Ground Up/Desde las raices,” a brand new mural created by local artists including BCC students. The college is located at 2050 Center St. RSVPs are encouraged. … Continue reading »

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A Berkeley artist turns 50, creates 50 pieces about light

Clothesmaker Cari Borja was inspired by Milan Kundera's Impossible Lightness of Being when she made these pieces. Photo: Deb Durant
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When Berkeley artist Deb Durant thought about how to celebrate her 50th birthday, she decided she didn’t want an over-the-top party with champagne and colorful hats.

Instead, Durant wanted to savor the transition between her 40s and 50s and use the time to connect with others. So she launched the 5050Light project – a yearlong endeavor to create 50 art pieces – 25 by herself and 25 in collaboration with other artists.

The results of Durant’s efforts were on display Sunday Oct. 12 in the cavernous space on Shattuck Avenue that once held Black Oak Books (which, as reported on Berkeleyside, will soon become Books Inc.). As Sunday Streets took place outside, dozens of people wandered through the building to admire Durant’s pop-up art exhibit, which will be on display until Oct. 28.  … Continue reading »

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A ‘Swan Lake’ inspired by an English Royal love triangle

Joined by Berkeley Symphony and conductor Nicolette Fraillon, The Australian Ballet makes its Bay Area premiere at Cal Performances with Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake (choreography: Graeme Murphy), Thursday–Sunday, October 16–19, 2014 in Zellerbach Hall. 

PHOTOS: Jeff Busby
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If ballet is a matrix, Swan Lake is the matriarch of all matrixes.

Structured to follow rules of expression, manipulated according to form and line, the classic equation of good-versus-evil equals tragic ecstasy premiered as a four act ballet in 1877. Since then, choreographers have torqued the score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and the ballet’s synopsis in countless ways, although classical ballet audiences are generally most familiar with an 1895 version staged for the Imperial Russian Ballet by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov.

Twenty-first century film buffs may have migrated to 2010’s Black Swan, a movie starring Natalie Portman. Regardless of the medium, Swan Lake is largely a physical battle involving honor, love, betrayal and mortality.

Enter choreographer Graeme Murphy and the Australian Ballet, making their first Bay Area appearance since 1971 with five performances of Swan Lake at Cal Performances’ Zellerbach Hall on Oct. 16-19. Murphy’s rendition, created for the Australian Ballet’s 40th anniversary in 2002, will feature the Berkeley Symphony with guest conductor Nicolette Fraillon, Music Director & Chief Conductor of The Australian Ballet. … Continue reading »

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Photos: Berkeley revels in 3rd annual Sunday Streets

Sunday Streets 2014. Photo: Gina10
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Sunday Streets was back in Berkeley for a third year this weekend, taking over Shattuck Avenue from Haste to Rose, and attracting thousands of strollers on what turned out to be a hot fall day. Several of our regular contributing photographers captured the day of festivities, which included song, dance, great food, yoga, games, cooking, meditation, crafts, and lots of activities for kids. … Continue reading »

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

2012 Sunday Streets. Photo: Alan Tobey
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SUNDAY STREETS Sunday Streets is back for a third year on Oct. 12, and it’s certainly the biggest event of the weekend, taking over Shattuck Avenue from Haste to Rose from 11 am to 5 pm. It’s a chance to see the city in automobile-free mode as tens of thousands of people walk, bike, skate, discover, dance, and play along a car-free Shattuck Avenue. Businesses along the route host musicians and artists, restaurants and eateries offer outdoor seating and special  menus. Don’t miss the Vine St. Block Party, with a wine and beer garden by Vintage Berkeley, eats by The Local Butcher Shop and Juicebar, live music, ACCI artist vendors, A Priori’s open house, and Twig & Fig’s annual paper sale. For a list of all the activities and festivities along the route, visit the Sunday Streets website. … Continue reading »

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Scholarships for Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas

A coffee break at Uncharted 2013, which, like the 2014 festival, will be held at Berkeley Rep and the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse. Photo:
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In two weeks, on Friday Oct. 24 and Saturday Oct. 25, the second edition of Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas, will throw open its doors in downtown Berkeley. It’s going to be a an extraordinary two days of conversations on food, technology, arts, innovation, society, environment, politics, and much, much more.

Berkeleyside is producing Uncharted and is committed to having an engaged, active group of participants attend — people like our readers who are curious, opinionated, and hungry for knowledge and new ways of thinking. That is why we are offering a limited number of scholarships to ensure the diversity of the audience.

Scholarships are intended for people who can contribute substantively to the discussions during Uncharted, but would otherwise be unable to attend. … Continue reading »

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Great sounds from Africa at Afropop Spectacular

Krar Collective
(credit: Jacob Crawfurd)
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As a griot, Mali’s Bassekou Kouyaté traces his musical lineage back to Sundiata Keita’s expansive 13th century empire, a wealthy polity that encompassed a huge swath of West Africa. His ancestors entertained the royal court and every note he plays on the ngoni, a plucked string ancestor of the banjo, embodies a tradition handed down for generations by word of mouth. But Kouyaté is not beholden to the past. Ngoni Ba, the band he brings to Zellerbach Hall on Saturday for a Cal Performances double bill with Ethiopia’s Krar Collective, represents a radical evolution.

Determined to enhance the instrument’s visibility, Kouyaté assembled Ngoni Ba, an eight-piece combo that combines the rollicking energy a rock band with the emphatic call-and-response choruses of a gospel ensemble. Given that the ngoni is traditionally played while seated, Kouyaté’s most radical move was simply standing up.

“When I started making music with friends playing guitar and bass, I decided I wanted to be at the same level as the musicians surrounding me,” he says. “That was the first modification, not to the instrument itself, but the way to play the instrument, which changed the technique a little bit.”

Looking to expand the four-string ngoni’s harmonic palette, he added additional strings and introduced Ngoni Ba on 2007’s Segu Blue (Out Here Records), garnering tremendous success in Europe and winning a coveted BBC Radio 3 World Music Award. He refined the concept on 2009’s I Speak Fula, showcasing his ingenious orchestrations for his band, which is essentially an ngoni quartet backed by a rhythm section and the incantatory vocals of Kouyaté’s wife and creative partner Amy Sacko. … Continue reading »

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