KNIGHT OF THE BURNING PESTLE Francis Beaumont is best known for his collaborations with John Fletcher, but before the pair went on a roll in early 17th century London, Beaumont had a famous flop with his 1607 production of Knight of the Burning Pestle. The problem seems to have been that English Renaissance audiences didn’t understand the playwright was parodying old-fashioned drama. They just thought it was old fashioned. In 2017, we don’t have any such hang ups, so you’re sure to enjoy Actors Ensemble of Berkeley’s free production of what may be English literature’s first parody. The play has the audience interrupting a dull production of The London Merchant, preferring The Knight of the Burning Pestle. The players stumble through a mix of the two plays, and hilarity ensues. As the posters declare, it’s “very nearly Shakespeare in the park.” The final three productions which close Actors Ensemble’s 60th anniversary season run Saturday through Monday, 4 p.m., John Hinkel Park, 41 Somerset Pl.
VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR Of course you read Eric Carle to your children (and if you didn’t, what’s wrong with you?). So you’ll be thrilled that Bay Area Children’s Theatre is bringing The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show to Berkeley. They promise Eric Carle’s stories about sea horses, fireflies, and, of course, that caterpillar, with 75 larger-than-life puppets. What’s more, with the heat wave in mind, BACT promises a cool theatre and Fenton’s ice cream for sale during intermission. The show opens on Friday night and runs through to the end of October. This weekend’s shows: Friday, Sept. 1, 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 2, 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 3, 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., The Osher Studio, 2055 Center St.
ZYDECO Geno Delafose (left), son of the late zydeco pioneer John Delafose, plays Ashkenaz with his French Rockin’ Boogie band on Friday night. The Grammy Award-nominated bandleader and accordionist continues his father’s legacy as well as popularizing his own music drawn from Louisiana and East Texas. He is one of the genre’s younger generation who has created the sound known as the nouveau zydeco, deeply rooted in traditional Creole music with strong influences from Cajun music and also country and western. A Cajun-zydeco dance lesson precedes the concert. Friday, Sept. 1, 8 p.m., Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo St.
BRANDO Over the Labor Day weekend, BAMPFA is showing a triple bill of Marlon Brando films: A Streetcar Named Desire on Friday, The Wild Ones on Saturday, and, appropriately just before Labor Day, On the Waterfront on Sunday. The films mark the kickoff to BAMPFA’s two-month long celebration, Marlon Brando: The Fugitive Kind. And the sultry sweatiness of Streetcar matches, for once, a sweltering day in Berkeley. Friday, Sept. 1, 8:15 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 2, 8 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 3, 7 p.m., BAMPFA, 2155 Center St.
AMY HELM One critic described Amy Helm’s Freight debut as “reminiscent of a juke joint, gospel revival, rock show, and Mardi Gras celebration all at once.” Helm returns to the Freight on Saturday for more rollicking ,soulful blues. Saturday, Sept. 2, 8 p.m., Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, 2020 Addison St.
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