The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley, weekend of July 20-22

Marga Gomez plays El Comandante in Cristina García’s world-premiere play, King of Cuba, in a Central Works production at Berkeley City Club. Photo: J. Norrena

KING OF CUBA King of Cuba, a new comedy by award-winning writer Cristina García, opens in a Central Works production at Berkeley City Club on Saturday. The play featuries the lesbian-gender-bending comedian Marga Gomez, and the Grammy-winning “bongocero” Carlos Caro. King of Cuba, based on García’s 2013 novel, is Central Works’ 60th world premiere. The play intertwines the stories of two combative octogenarian Cubans: the vainglorious Cuban dictator, “El Comandante,” who struggles to maintain a tenuous grip on power, and the irascible exile, Goyo Herrera, who seethes in Miami, hell-bent on sending El Comandante to his grave. Central Works writes: “Both wrestle with loves lost, people wronged, the frailties of old age, and the legacies they’ll soon enough be leaving behind.” Runs through August 19 with performances on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. Central Works, Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave.

ITF TENNIS Perhaps you trek to Indian Wells or Flushing Meadows to see top-flight tennis every once in a while. This weekend, you can see some of the world’s top women – in a tier just below the world-renowned stars – in the final rounds of an ITF Challenger Circuit tournament at Berkeley Tennis Club, which has been at its present site for 101 years and in Berkeley for 112. It’s a rare chance to see at incredibly close range the ferocity and accuracy with which professionals paste the ball, shot after shot. Semifinals and finals are on Saturday and Sunday in both singles and doubles. Berkeley Tennis Club, 1 Tunnel Rd.

STARRY PLOUGH Three East Bay bands feature at the Starry Plough on Saturday in what the pub describes as a “multi-cultural night of music.” Piwai is a mbira (thumb piano) player, singer and composer from Zimbabwe. She’ll lead her band in a fusion of traditional African styles with jazz, funk, blues and reggae. The Adrian West Band plays acoustic rock with touches of West African and classical music. They also feature local rapper Yogi B. Swagga. Solate, which played at Berkeleyside’s Uncharted Berkeley Festival of Ideas last year (pictured left), do soul music with Latin influences. Saturday, July 21, 8 p.m., Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck Ave.

BILL KIRCHEN Grammy-nominated guitarist, singer and songwriter Bill Kirchen has been named a “titan of the Telecaster” by Guitar Player Magazine. Nick Lowe describes Kirchen as “a devastating culmination of the elegant and funky… a really sensational musician, with enormous depth.” Kirchen plays the Freight & Salvage on Saturday with the Hounds of the Bakersfield (you have to love a good Conan Doyle reference). Saturday, July 21, 8 p.m., Freight & Salvage, 2020 Addison St.


WOODBLOCK PRINTING If you want to slow your heartbeat from the high octane of our other It List entries, mosey on up to the UC Botanical Garden on Sunday morning for its woodblock printing workshop. Led by artist Erin McCluskey Wheeler, the workshop looks closely at plant forms and shape to create a graphic image inspired by the gardens’ collections. Wheeler walks participants through translating their design to a woodblock or linoleum block for carving, and then inking and printing. Each student gets a small wood block, linoleum block and a three-piece carving set to use and keep. Bring a lunch, sketchbook and a few pencils. Advance registration advised. Sunday, July 22, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Dr.

Don’t miss these other events covered on Berkeleyside:

38th SF Jewish Film Festival celebrates excellence in independent cinema
Art and race deftly explored in ‘White’ by Shotgun Players
Big Screen Berkeley: ‘Blindspotting’