Category Archives: Events

Robert Reich makes the case for $15 minimum wage

UC Berkeley professor Robert Reich at a McDonald's in Oakland on the morning of April 15, 2015. Photo: Ted Friedman
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Fight for 15, the campaign for an increase in the minimum wage, hit the streets of Berkeley and Oakland yesterday.

UC Berkeley Professor Robert Reich was at the center of the protest in Oakland’s Temescal district in the morning. He gave a rousing, impromptu speech on the importance of the campaign. (Watch the 2-minute speech in the video below, exclusively published by Berkeleyside.) … Continue reading »

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Five Play quintet gives Tony Corman a replay

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For Tony Corman, Five Play is all about second chances. The guitarist and composer co-leads the quintet with his wife, pianist/composer Laura Klein, and the band’s impressive track record speaks to his cussed refusal to let his body betray his passion for music. Featuring reed expert Dave Tidball on saxophones and clarinet, veteran bassist Paul Smith, and drum maestro Alan Hall, Five Play performs 8 p.m. Saturday at the California Jazz Conservatory with special guest Ron Horton, a brilliant New York trumpeter who rarely gets to the Bay Area.

When I first met Corman at the North Berkeley house where he and Klein have lived since the mid-1980s he was a formidable tenor saxophonist and I was writing the liner notes to an artfully entertaining album Deconstruction Ahead (SeaBreeze Records) by the horn-laden band Three Tenors No Opera featuring Corman and fellow saxophonists Tidball and Jim Norton. The album received glowing reviews and the band played several high profile gigs, but then Corman seemed to drop out of view, and it was several years before I ran into him and discovered that he had been forced to reinvent himself. … Continue reading »

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‘Cheatin” showcases Bill Plympton’s remarkable animation

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The animation of Bill Plympton is definitely an acquired taste. If you spent a lot of time watching MTV in its early days, you’re probably already familiar with his work: ballpoint pen drawn and long on grotesque characterization, it’s instantly recognizable, but tends to repulse as many viewers as it attracts. Pretty it is not.

Though he’s since done great work developing couch gags for ‘The Simpsons,” by and large I’ve never been much of a Plympton fan. The arrival of a new feature-length Plymptoon (Cheatin’, opening at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood on Friday, April 17), however, provides me an opportunity to reassess his work.

Most animation incorporates exaggeration and overstatement, but few animators exaggerate or overstate as much – or as effectively – as Bill Plympton. His world is one where bodies elongate, expand, and shrink, where tears flow and fly like gigantic watery tennis balls, and where physical characteristics – breasts, waists, muscles, wrinkles – are taken to the extremest of extremes. … Continue reading »

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

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EARTH DAY The Brower Center is hosting its first-ever Earth Day Festival, on Saturday, April 18 from noon to 6 p.m. There will be hands-on workshops, live music, family arts activities and organic food tastings, all focused on “protecting and honoring the planet we call home.” Three panels during the afternoon look at carbon farming, climate-friendly consumption and fighting climate change at the neighborhood level. The Ecology Center hosts workshops to show how to reuse common household items and there will be screenings of film shorts on carbon farming. The full schedule is here. Berkeleyside is a media sponsor of the Earth Day Festival. Admission free ($10 suggested donation), The Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way.  … Continue reading »

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‘Fight for 15′ rallies planned for East Bay on April 15

Fast food workers march in Oakland in December. Photo: Annette Bernhardt/Flickr
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This Wednesday, Bay Area workers and activists plan to take to the streets as part of a worldwide mobilization of low-wage workers demanding higher pay.

Fight for 15, a national organization launched in 2012 and funded by major labor unions, is calling for a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour. Organizers say this week’s protests will be their largest action to date — and, they claim, perhaps the most widespread workers’ protest in U.S. history. Over 200 U.S. cities will see strikes and workers’ rallies, while sympathetic actions will occur on six continents.

Across the Bay Area, fast-food workers are preparing to walk off the job to protest low wages. These workers will form the heart of rallies and marches in Oakland and Berkeley that will also include home-care and childcare providers, industrial laundry, airport and Walmart workers. … Continue reading »

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Over 300 authors sign up for first Bay Area Book Festival

Photo: Paulo Slachevsky
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The Bay Area Book Festival, a free weekend, walkable book festival to be held in Berkeley, is on schedule to launch the weekend of June 6-7. More than 300 authors have signed up to participate in around 100 sessions, and the center of the city will be alive with an estimated 125 exhibitors, from independent bookstores to literary magazines, nonprofits, and writing programs.

The festival, which hopes to attract an estimated 100,000 people to the downtown over one weekend, will be spread over a 14-block area and venues for talks include the Freight & Salvage, the Marsh Theatre, the Brower Center, the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art & Life, the Berkeley Public Library, the Berkeley Shambhala Center, and the East Bay Media Center.

Sponsors, exhibitors and authors continue to sign up, according to founder and executive director, Cherilyn Parsons, who said there is about $100,000 left to raise. … Continue reading »

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‘Talley’s Folly’ is terrific at Aurora Theatre’s Harry Upstage

Sally (Lauren English*) tends to an injured Matt (Rolf Saxon*) in Aurora Theatre Company’s Talley’s Folly. Photo: David Allen
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Those who are fortunate and fast enough to find tickets for Aurora’s Theatre’s Talley’s Folly will enjoy a first-class theatrical experience.

Celebrated author Lanford Wilson (1937–2011) deservedly won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for this tender two-person, one-act romantic comedy. It’s one of the plays in Wilson’s famed trilogy about the wealthy Talley family of Lebanon, Missouri. Aurora will be presenting the two other plays in the trilogy, Wilson’s Fifth of July from April 17 through May 17, 2015, and four private staged readings of the less produced Talley & Son in April.

Noted Bay Area veteran actor and director Joy Carlin directs inspired performances by Lauren English, as the unmarriageable 30-year old Sally Talley, and Rolf Saxon, as 40-something Matt Friedman, a Jewish émigré accountant from St. Louis, who shows up on July 4, 1944 at the Talley boathouse (or folly) to propose marriage to Sally. … Continue reading »

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Family to hold sale of art from famed sculptor Izzy Sher

Izzy Sher rocking chair. Photo: John Storey.
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On Saturday April 18 and Sunday April 19, Zalman Sher is opening his backyard at 1312 Virginia Street in Berkeley for a cash-and-carry sale of art created by his father, the late Emil “Izzy” Sher (1912-1999), a renowned sculptor who came to the United States from the Soviet Union. The Jewish refugee landed in Berkeley in the early 1950s. In 1954 he opened The Wire Shop on Bonita Street. … Continue reading »

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

Smuin Ballet dancers Sarah Nyfield and Robert Moore in Garrett Ammon's Serenade for Strings part of Smuin Ballet's UNTAMED Dance Series 
in the 2014-2015 season. 

Photo credit: Keith Sutter
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UC-Chorus-webcrx-sp-2015_5.5x7.5SMUIN BALLET/UC ALUMNI CHORUS ONE NIGHT ONLY There’s a treat in store on Saturday when Berkeleyans have the chance to see the UC Alumni Chorus performing Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana along with dancers from one of the country’s top-tier dance companies, Smuin Ballet. The program features three top Bay Area soloists: soprano Shawnette Sulker, tenor Brian Staufenbiel, and baritone Eugene Brancoveneau. Bawdy, irreverent and satirical, Orff’s Carmina Burana is a piece for all the senses. Based on 24 poems from the medieval collection of the same name, it is among the most often programmed and popular choral works of our time. The performance will be conducted by Dr. Mark Sumner, Director of the U.C. Choral Ensembles. Also on the program are choruses from Carl Orff’s Catulli Carmina, Carmina Burana’s rarely performed companion piece, and Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo’s Dark Night of the Soul. Carmina Burana is at the Berkeley Community Theater, 1930 Allston Way, Saturday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets sold by section: Silver $40, Bronze $30 at www.brownpapertickets.com. UC Berkeley Student discount tickets available online. For more information visit: www.ucac.ne. … Continue reading »

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David Bowie to Broadway: Dan Wilensky back in Berkeley

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Fresh out of Berkeley High in the summer of 1979, Dan Wilensky had to make a fateful decision. The prestigious Eastman School of Music was offering a full scholarship at the same time that the Ray Charles Orchestra came calling for the young saxophonist. Wilensky chose Charles, and the gig turned into a six-month bandstand education that launched a gloriously diverse and insistently creative career. He returns to town next week for a series of gigs, making his first Berkeley appearances as a leader since heading to New York in 1980. Appropriately, he kicks off the run at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Freight & Salvage, performing as a special guest with the Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble and Berkeley High Combo A (which just earned top honors at the Monterey Jazz Festival’s 2015 Next Generation Jazz Festival).

“I’ve played in the East Bay as sideman over the years with artists like Stevie Winwood and Joan Baez, but this is the first time I’m coming back under my own name,” says Wilensky, who relocated to Portland, Oregon in 2012 after three breathless decades on the New York scene. “I’m really excited to go back to Berkeley High to play and work with the students and tell them some stories about the life of a working musician.” … Continue reading »

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

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PIANO RHAPSODY One of the best-kept secrets in town is the music series that UC Berkeley produces at Hertz Hall. Leave the hustle and bustle of life for an hour and listen to world-class musicians perform for free. Today, as part of the 62nd annual noon concert series, two pianists will perform from 12:15-1 p.m. On an Erard piano, Roger Tsui will play Jan Ladislav Dussek’s Sonata No. 24, Op. 61 Elegie Harmonique, Movement and Liszt’s, Three Etudes de Concert, S.144, No. 3 Un Sospiro. Then Jason Wu will perform Robert Schumann’s Kinderszenen and Liszt’s, Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6.

WEDDING BLUES The Actors Ensemble of Berkeley, Berkeley’s longest-running theatrical organization, presents “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress,” by Alan Ball, the prolific playwright/screenwriter/producer whose credits include “American Beauty,” “True Blood,” and “Arrested Development.” In short, a man with a twisted sense of humor. A description: “During an ostentatious wedding reception at a Knoxville, Tennessee estate, five bridesmaids hide out in an upstairs bedroom, each with her own reason to avoid the proceedings below.” The play runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through April 18th, with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. on April 5 and 12. Tickets are $20 ($15 students and seniors) and are available at here. The play is at Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck Ave. … Continue reading »

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Avant-garde Antigonick by the Shotgun Players at the Ashby Stage

Parker Murphy as Nick in "Antigonick." Photo by Pak Han/Shotgun Players
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We are fortunate to have a company in Berkeley like Shotgun Players— always willing to take risks, to present large and small productions, classics, new material, or new takes on classics, as in Antigonick.

The beautiful art book Antigonick, on which Shotgun’s production is based, is a new translation of the Sophocles play, Antigone, by Canadian world-class poet, classicist and MacArthur “genius” fellowship winner, Anne Carson, and her collaborator Robert Currie. Published in 2012, the book contains text blocks hand-inked on the page, with translucent vellum pages and stunning drawings by Bianca Stone that overlay the text. Shotgun has some copies for sale.

Directors Mark Jackson and Hope Mohr turn the 2,500-year-old play into an ultra-modern visual, dance and intellectual experiment that combines Carson’s adaptation, Mohr’s choreography skills, and Jackson’s tested directorial talent. … Continue reading »

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Museum doubles as a library in Berkeley artist’s show

Berkeley artist Josh Greene's book-based show opens today. Photos: Contemporary Jewish Museum
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In our tech-centric world, it seems like books could end up as artifacts in museums any day now. A Berkeley artist is speeding up the process — but far from a digital evangelist, Josh Greene is doing it out of reverence for the old medium.

Greene’s two-part exhibition Bound to be Held: A Book Show opened March 26 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. There’s The Library of Particular Significance, a lending library made of 700-800 books Greene amassed during various book drives. The companion show, Read by Famous, is a collection of books donated by people in the public eye, who provide notes explaining why the books are meaningful to them. The former is a set up to be a social event, whereas the latter is a traditional museum experience: look, don’t touch. … Continue reading »

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