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Eight Days a Week

Feb. 27-March 6, 2002

HOW CAN A performance convey something as immense as the decolonization of Africa in the 20th century? How's this for a start: 60 artists, four dance companies, and the traditions of three African nations creating one giant allegory in music and dance. The brainchild of UC Berkeley ethnomusicologist, choreographer, and composer C.K. Ladzekpo, Kusum Africa (Expanding the tradition of Africa) is the centerpiece of the African Choreographers Forum, which showcases the highest achievements in contemporary dance and drumming in Africa and abroad. The piece tells the story of a royal family beset by an illegitimate ruler and draws inspiration from Ghana's Bokum Square uprising, part of the agitation against British colonialism that in 1957 made Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast) the first sub-Saharan colony to gain independence. In the only West Coast presentation of this singular event, Ladzekpo and his African Music and Dance Ensemble are joined by the National Dance Company of Ghana, Ballet Merveilles de Guinea, and Fua Dia Congo, under the artistic direction of Francis Nii-Yartey, Kemoko Sano, and Malonga Casquelourd, respectively. Fri/1-Sat2, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, Bancroft at Telegraph, Berk. $18-$30. (510) 642-9988. (Robert Avila)

Feb. 27

Wednesday

Dead funny Ghosts have always been popular in the theater, but few are as witty as the titular character in Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit. A writer, his wife, and the ghost of his ex-wife form an intriguing love triangle in this "light comedy about death" by the quintessential British wit. Written during the London blitz of 1941, this was Coward's contribution to the war effort: making people laugh in the face of fear. Director Charles Randolf-Wright, known for his radical reinterpretations of the classics (including American Conservatory Theater's 1999 production of Tartuffe), offers a faithful rendering of the World War II setting for this ACT production. Thurs/28 is a "bring what you can/pay what you wish" performance: bring a donation to benefit Raphael House, a shelter and support program for homeless families in the Tenderloin, and pay any amount you wish. Through March 24. Opens tonight, 8 p.m. Runs Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m. (Tues/5, show at 7 p.m.; also Wed. and Sat. , 2 p.m., except Wed/27 and March 13); Sun., 2 p.m., Geary Theater, 415 Geary, S.F. $15-$61. (415) 749-2228. (Lara Shalson)

Richmond swing When the Balboa Theater opened in 1926, San Francisco was celebrating its 150th anniversary, Prohibition was the law (but loosely enforced), and baseball's San Francisco Seals ruled the Pacific Coast League. The city's newest movie palace – originally called the New Balboa – shared a design team with the Cliff House and the Fairmont Hotel, among other landmarks; back then, as now, it hosted second-run engagements of high-caliber films. Today, under the guiding hand of Landmark Theatres cofounder Gary Meyer, the Balboa continues to screen choice double-feature combinations (recent example: Mulholland Drive with Wisconsin Death Trip), and they even let you in for free on your birthday. Today, mark this venerable venue's 76th anniversary by re-creating a 1920s movie outing: take in a screening of Buster Keaton's masterpiece The General, accompanied by Richard "Scrumbly" Koldewyn on the piano, thrill to magician James Hamilton, and mingle with members of the Art Deco Society of California for birthday cake. Period-appropriate costumes are encouraged. 7:30 p.m., Balboa Theater, 3630 Balboa, S.F. $7.50, $4.50 seniors and under 12. (415) 221-8184. (Cheryl Eddy)

Feb. 28

Thursday

Swedish evil One of the most overhyped movements of the past couple years was the Scandinavian Invasion. When boiled down to their base elements, most of the "next big things" (exempting the mighty Nomads) were nothing but half-assed metal bands with poor personal hygiene. Demons, on the other hand, cut their teeth on the Motor City sound of the MC5 and the Lower East Side vibe of Johnny Thunders. Add a dash of Animalized vocals and the distinct Swedish superpower sound developed by the above-mentioned Nomads, and you have the foundation for some pretty substantial noise. They didn't exactly light the room up on their last trip out, but any band with such a sure understanding of what the Stooges, Radio Birdman, and the Dictators stood for deserves your attention. And they're certainly the cream of the Nordic crop. They kick off their American tour tonight with the Go-Nuts and Radio Reelers. 9:30 p.m., Justice League, 628 Divisadero, S.F. $10. (415) 289-2038. (John O'Neill)

Hot ink Ever wonder what it takes to write good smut? Or how those dirty minds who create it really work? M. Christian's new anthology, Burning Pen: Sex Writers on Sex Writing, answers those questions and more, dispelling the many myths that surround erotica writers and their craft. Bringing together the best and brightest of today's smuterati, this thought-provoking collection offers insightful reflections from the writers on their favorite subjects and illustrates their prurient points with steamy stories of their choice. Tonight contributors Patrick Califia-Rice, Carol Queen, and other local writers read their work. 7:30 p.m., Books Inc., 2275 Market, S.F. Free. (415) 864-6777. (Alissa Chadburn)

March 1

Friday

Creative capital If your walls are still papered with black-light posters and Nagel portraits, it's time to upgrade. Start with the amazing bargains at 'The Lab's Sixth Annual Fixed Price Art Sale and Live Auction,' an event that helps support visual arts programming at the multimedia alternative gallery. Selling for a mere 50 to 250 bucks, the nearly 200 donated works are by artists who offer a mix of stature and sensibility, including Ed Ruscha, Isabel Samaras, Harrell Fletcher, Rachael Neubauer, Annie Sprinkle, and Bay Guardian Goldie Award recipient Reuben Lorch-Miller. Since the art goes fast, arrive early to have first dibs. Tonight, 6:30-9 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 1-6 p.m., the Lab, 2948 16th St., S.F. Tonight $7-$15, Sat.-Sun. free. (415) 864-8855, www.thelab.org. (Eddy)

March 2

Saturday

Salma who? Frida Kahlo, the painter with the "bird wing" brows – a feature immortalized in her more than 200 self-portraits – has been the subject of numerous biographies, plays, and dance pieces, as well as an opera. It's fitting that art should continue to reflect upon her life and work, since Kahlo's own painting was driven by a desire to escape the painful reality of her life (a bus accident when she was 18 resulted in lengthy hospital stays, numerous surgeries, and ultimately her early death at the age of 47) and to re-create it through her fantastical renderings of herself. Tonight, Portland's Teatro Milagro presents a bilingual one-act performance titled Frida: un retablo, the company's surrealistic take on the "art imitating life imitating art" conundrum. 8 p.m., Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission, S.F. $10-$12. (415) 821-1155. (Shalson)

March 3

Sunday

Center of attention It's official: the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center is finally opening. Come out for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony and opening reception, where you'll have the opportunity to take a tour of the new digs and visit the 23 agencies that will be housed there. Work by local artists will be displayed throughout the building in "Jewels in a Jewel Box," an exhibit inaugurating the center's commitment to becoming a venue for the visual arts. Opening-week events include a square-dancing party on Monday, a "Queer Women of Color Film Night" on Tuesday, and a "Leather Pride Reception" on Thursday. Saturday you'll have to choose between two exciting events happening simultaneously: "Some Kind of Queer: A Party for Trans Drag, Intersex, Genderqueer and Beyond" and "Bi and for the People," both featuring a plethora of performance artists, local bands, stand-up comics, and spoken word artists. Ribbon-cutting ceremony 1 p.m.; open house 2-4 p.m., San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center, 1800 Market, S.F. Free (all other events $5-$15; no one turned away for lack of funds). For a complete listing of events go to www.sfcenter.org. (Shalson)

Word up As a matter of fact, the F-Word Project doesn't refer to that. Rather, this weeklong festival, which includes International Women's Day (Fri/8), is a celebration of feminism, addressing issues that affect contemporary women from all cultures and of all ages. A variety of venues across the Bay Area host more events than it's possible to list here, but here's a sampling: today at the Berkeley Art Museum (3 p.m., 2626 Bancroft, Berk.) artist Sowon Kwon discusses her exhibit average female (Perfect); Tues/5 a new exhibition, Fem-Art, opens at the Diego Rivera Gallery, followed by "Femme Totale," a screening of works from the International Women's Film Festival (6 and 7:30 p.m., both at San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut, S.F.). Other events throughout the week include plays, a "town hall meeting" on feminism in different countries, literary events, and a music and dance performance. All proceeds benefit la Casa de las Madres, a local shelter for abused women and their children. Through Sat/9. Various locations; call (415) 263-8760 or go to www.f-wordproject.org for more information and prices. (Eddy)

March 4

Monday

Don't mess with him Everybody knows ground zero for stellar singer-songwriters is Austin, Texas. But has anyone caught on to the fact that all the step-aboves have three names? Jimmie Dale Gilmour, Townes Van Zandt, Ray Wylie Hubbard, uh, Austin Lounge Lizards; you catch the drift. Anyhoo, add Jon Dee Graham to the list. A veteran of '80s post-punk nihilists the True Believers, Graham has been steadily winning over critics since releasing Escape from Monster Island (Freedom) in 1997, but it's his newest and best solo album, Hooray for the Moon (New West), that is set to place him among the Texas elite. With a borderland full of ghosts, ex-girlfriends, frustration, and loss, Hooray is as near-perfect an album as you're likely to hear this year. 9 p.m., Parkside, 1600 17th St., S.F. Free. (415) 503-0393. (O'Neill)

March 5

Tuesday

It's alive! Grafting diverse musical sensibilities and animating them with an electrifying passion for improvisation, bassist George Cremaschi, saxophonist Bruce Ackley, drummer Andrew Borger, vibraphonist Dave Casini, and trombonist Tom Yoder walk the earth as Frankenstein. Collectively, the quintet's credits include performances and recordings with Cecil Taylor, Marshall Allen, Eugene Chadbourne, Greg Goodman, Rova Saxophone Quartet, Tom Waits, Beth Lisick, Jim Campilongo, Eskimo, Beulah, Clubfoot Orchestra, and many others. But that only begins to hint at the range of musical ideas, energies, tones, and textures stitched and bolted together in the monstrously beautiful beyond-jazz ensemble's sound. 8 p.m., Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia, S.F. $12-$15. (415) 626-2787. (Derk Richardson)

March 6

Wednesday

Still spooky A solo artist since 1991, Daniel Ash has yet to attract the kind of attention he once drew as the spiky-haired guitarist with British goth-performance art rockers Bauhaus in the early '80s. His musical résumé includes two Bauhaus spin-off groups – Tones on Tail and Love and Rockets – as well as the inevitable Bauhaus reunion. Expect plenty of tunes from his gothic past to surface in his live show, along with material from his new, eponymous album. Appropriately, the first single from the new album is a cover of the old Classics IV tune "Spooky." Lennon opens. 8 p.m., Slim's, 333 11th St., S.F. $15. (415) 522-0333. (China Martens)

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