In the home stretch of researching my latest book, I found myself consulting a 1969 issue of an anthropology publication archived in the Main Branch of the Berkeley Public Library, discovering what the people I had been writing about — the Juwasi (or San) of the Kalahari Desert — really looked like. Before leaving the library, I browsed the reference room. I came upon an atlas of women travelers of the 19th century. Whoopee, I thought. Research done, proofs corrected, I’ll come back to have a serious look. A mere five months later, I found the reference room was stripped. The shelves were nearly as bereft as a medieval monk’s tonsure. What was going on?
MARK MORRIS MAKES MAGIC Berkeley is blessed to have the Mark Morris Dance Group perform annually at Zellerbach Hall as part of Cal Performances. The group is in residence this weekend and will be performing what the New York Times says “is his luminous masterpiece L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, set to the Handel oratorio of the same name.” Morris’s epic returns to Cal Performances for the fifth time since it premiered in 1988. The production includes a cast of 24 dancers and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorus. “I find no end to the intricacies of Mr. Morris’s construction and the meanings that continually pour from them. It fills the soul with wonder; it fascinates the mind with suggestion” (The New York Times). The performances are Friday and Saturday, March 11 and 12 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 13 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets start at $40. (more…)
UBUNTU THEATER PROJECT Oakland’s Ubuntu Theater Project is coming to Berkeley with the third show in its inaugural season, the Pulitzer Prize-winning I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright. The play opens on Saturday March 5 in a cozy, historic Berkeley home whose original ballroom has been converted into a theater space. The contemporary classic is based on Wright’s fascination with Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a transgender person who survived Nazi Germany and Stasi surveillance in East Berlin. Von Mahlsdorf’s story is a celebration of courage, resilience and of self-preserving compromises. The play speaks to the complexity of survival when one’s most intimate home — the body — is the source of persecution. Ubuntu’s co-artistic director William Hodgson plays all 40 characters in the play. The play runs through March 20 at Haba Na Haba House, 1936 Thousand Oaks Blvd, Berkeley 94707. For tickets ($15-35 online; pay-what-you-can at the door) and information, call 510-646 1126 or visit www.ubuntutheaterproject.com. (more…)
BERKELEY BLACK HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATION Berkeley’s third annual Black History Month Celebration takes place Sunday, Feb. 28, 2-5 p.m. at the Ed Roberts Campus. The theme this year is “History Makers” and throughout the day people and events important to Berkeley’s history will be acknowledged and celebrated. The program includes a workshop at 2 p.m., “Violence in the Black Community: Cause and Strategy,” facilitated by Cal State East Bay sociology professor Benjamin Browser; and a panel presentation with Black Lives Matter members Barbara Ann White, Spencer Pritchard and Marcel Jones, discussing the rationale for the organization, operating principals, and the group’s work and activities. There is also a premiere showing of Fair Legislation: The Byron Rumford Story, a documentary about the second African-American assemblyman elected to the California State Legislature. A reception and Q&A with producers and cast members will follow the 3:30pm screening. There’s live music by Soul Progression; gospel mime group Double Portion of Praise; and six-year old singing sensation De’Or — as well as RJ Reed’s “Black Inventions Display”, created to teach children about the contributions of black American inventors. Berkeley Black History Month Celebration, Sunday Feb. 28, 2-5 p.m. Doors open at 1:30pm. Admission is free and open to the public. Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline St. (opposite Ashby BART).
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. (more…)
On Saturday night, the Berkeley Public Library Foundation hosted its 14th annual Authors’ Dinner, a fundraiser which this year will help remodel parts of the Central Library, especially for the use of teenagers.
BERKELEY HALF MARATHON The third annual Berkeley Half Marathon is closed in terms of signing up to participate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take part by cheering on the runners. It takes place Sunday, Nov. 22, and features new race options, challenges and post-race festivities that are open to the public. In addition to the 13.1-mile half marathon, runners there is a half marathon relay (two participants), 10K race or 5K race. A Finish Line Festival that is open to the public will be held following the race at Civic Center Plaza, featuring a Lagunitas beer garden and various local food vendors. And there’s a free bike valet service. The half marathon course starts and ends at Civic Center Park, taking racers through the UC Berkeley campus, the Gourmet Ghetto, Telegraph Avenue and along the scenic Bay Trail. Funds raised through the Berkeley Half Marathon helped the Berkeley Public Schools Fund reach its record $1million fundraising goal last year. For more details, visit bit.ly/berkeleyhalf. (more…)
The Berkeley Board of Library Trustees plans to hire Beth Pollard, an administrator with deep roots in the East Bay, as the new interim library director. The decision will be confirmed at a meeting today.
NOT YOUR USUAL LIBRARY EVENT The Berkeley Public Library Foundation is holding a “spirited after-hours event” on Saturday, Oct. 10. Tall Tales & Local Ales will feature David “DJ Dave” Wittman, of “Whole Foods Parking Lot” fame (if you haven’t seen it, drop everything and watch now). Wittman will be joined by an all-star cast of storytellers, including Kay DeMartini, Scott Sanders, Saida Acevedo, Rachman Blake, Robin Claire and Berkeley High senior Lena Sibony. Musicians from the BHS music programs will perform. Local cider and beer is provided by Crooked City Cider, Hoi Polloi, Sierra Nevada, Triple Rock and Calicraft, plus home-made ginger ale, lemonade and hearty finger foods. 14-years-old and older welcome. The evening benefits “It’s Time for Central,” high-impact renovations at the Central Library, including a new space for teens, renovation of the reference room, expanded space for art installations, improved interior lighting and more. Berkeleyside Nosh is a sponsor of Tall Tales & Local Ales. Tickets are $50 for the first two, and $35 for additional tickets available online. Saturday, Oct. 10, 7-10 p.m., Berkeley Central Library, 2090 Kittredge St. (more…)
The North Branch of the Berkeley Public Library was shuttered Friday morning after officials discovered bedbugs in three different areas of the branch.
The new acting interim director of the Berkeley Public Library pledged Wednesday night to reinstate some of the input and authority that librarians and staff lost under former Director Jeff Scott — but one of her staff members also suggested that the total number of items weeded out under Scott’s authority may have been closer to 19,000 rather than the 39,000 widely reported.
NOVELLA CARPENTER AT THE LIBRARY Today, Friday, local writer, urban farmer, educator and activist Novella Carpenter will take part in a free author chat at the Claremont branch of the Berkeley Public Library. The talk coincides with the paperback release of Carpenter’s memoir, Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild. Claremont Branch Library, 2940 Benvenue Ave., 4-5 p.m. Call 510-981-6280 for more information or visit the library’s website. (more…)
Berkeley Library Director Jeff Scott was not forced out of his job but decided to resign after a conversation with Abigail Franklin, the chair of the Board of Library Directors, in which they both agreed he was not a “good fit” for the position, according to Franklin.