February 5, 2003

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stage

Stage listings are compiled by Cheryl Eddy. Performance times may change; call venues to confirm. Reviewers are Robert Avila, Rita Felciano, Lara Shalson, and Chloe Veltman. See 8 Days a Week for information on how to submit items to the listings.

theater
Opening

'Second Annual Bay One-Acts Festival' Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson; 776-7427, www.threewisemonkeys.org. $15-20. Opens Thurs/6, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through March 2. Fourteen new one-act plays by Bay Area writers comprise this festival, sponsored by Three Wise Monkeys Theatre Company.

'Waiting for the Podiatrist' Venue 9, 252 Ninth St; 289-2000. $12-15 (sliding scale). Previews Fri/7, 8pm. Opens Sat/8, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm (no show Feb 27); Feb 16, March 2, 2pm. Through March 2. Terry Baum performs her new play, a "nightmare fun house" that uses puppets and songs to explore the phenomena of baby boomers taking care of their aging parents.

Bay Area

Champion! La Val's Subterranean Theater, 1834 Euclid, Berk; (415) 789-8370. $12-20. Opens Fri/7, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat and Feb 20, 8pm. Through Feb 22. Thessaly Lerner performs her high-energy solo show.

The Pintucci Family Christmas: A Bleak Comedy La Vals Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; (510) 704-8210, www.shotgunplayers.org. $10. Opens Mon/10, 8pm. Runs Mon-Tues, 8pm. Through Feb 25. The Shotgun Players Theatre Lab presents a new, experimental work by H. Gayle Harlan about one family's holiday from hell.

Suddenly Last Summer Berkeley Rep's Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949. $10-54. Previews Fri/7-Sat/8, Tues/11, 8pm; Sun/9, 7pm. Opens Feb 12, 8pm. Runs Tues and Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Feb 15, 20, 22, March 1, 6, 15, 20, 2pm; no show Feb 21); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through March 23. Berkeley Rep performs Tennessee Williams's drama about a wealthy widow desperate to keep her late son's lifestyle – and violent death, as witnessed by his cousin – a secret.

Ongoing

*American Buffalo Geary Theater, 415 Geary; 749-2228, www.act-sf.org. $11-61. Wed/5-Sat/8, 8pm (also Wed/5 and Sat/8, 2pm); Sun/9, 2pm. American Conservatory Theater's potent revival shows David Mamet's play still packs an impressive punch. Set in the Chicago junk shop of Donny Dubrow (Matt DeCaro), the plot is put in motion by the sale of a buffalo-head nickel to a local collector. The coin's unanticipated value whets Donny's appetite, and he enlists his young gopher and protégé, Bobby (Damon Seawell), in a plan to steal it back; soon, Donny's friend Teach (Marco Barricelli) gets a whiff of the plan and muscles his way in. Director Richard E.T. White subtly brings out the trio's family dynamic while perfectly capturing the play's distinctive rhythm and humor. (Avila)

*Amnesia Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St; 861-5079. $15-25. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm (also Sun/9, 3pm). Through Feb 15. Theatre Rhinoceros co-artistic director John Fisher writes, directs, and stars in this comedy about an American soldier (Fisher) who loses his memory after a traumatic battle, forgetting, among other things, that he is gay. Beginning as a smart blend of history, Hollywood genre-spoofing, and absurdly histrionic army jokes (call it boot camp), Amnesia features a surprisingly subtle second act that includes some fine dramatic moments. (Avila)

Blue Jelly Plush Room, Hotel York, 940 Sutter; 885-2800. $15-20. Mon, 8pm. Through Feb 17. Vocalist Lesley Hamilton performs a standards-filled "cabaret monologue," based on the novel by Debby Bull, about a woman's comedic search for her self-worth.

The Blue Room Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor; 789-8221. $15-25. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Feb 15. David Hare's much-hyped racy romp through Arthur Schnitzler's Der Reigen receives its local premiere in a competent but lukewarm production by Actor's Collective. The temperature, or lack thereof, is partly the play's doing. Ten discreet scenes unfold in tag-team fashion between two actors (Karen Finch and Garth Petal) – playing ten lustful characters in all – evoking the relentless merry-go-round of human sexuality. The formula of "woo, screw, we're through" presents itself in this stylized way with a good deal of vim (thanks to Hare's way with dialogue), but in our libertine age it can't pack the punch of Schnitzler's frontal assault on Victorian mores. This leaves the ingenuity of the structure, with its hazy philosophical underpinnings, as the centerpiece – narrow confines for the development of character or plot. Yet, under Jon Drawbaugh's careful direction, Finch and Petal work well together and, if not equally convincing in every role, manage their flights up and down the class ladder with assurance. The staging is less than inspired, however, while scene changes on Marina Vendrell's understandably spare (and blue) set happen to the monotonously repeated strains of Strauss's "Blue Danube," requiring one to accept a good deal of action interruptus. (Avila)

Body Familiar Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna; 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org. $17-37. Wed/5-Sat/8, 8pm; Sun/9, 2:30 and 7:30pm. Magic Theatre presents the world premiere of acclaimed choreographer Joe Goode's "play with movement." Visual artist Leonard (Liam Vincent), roped off in his studio behind material made to look like intestines, introduces us to six emotionally scarred characters (five living, one dead) whose relation to one another is in a phase of disturbing transition. Writer-director Goode's trademark blurring of the lines between dance and theater has evolved some ingenious effects, and the stylized movements woven throughout act as an intriguing if inconsistent register of emotional and psychic states. Some of the more effective sequences offer a wonderful parody of the formalities that make up the social dance. Not all the characters sustain interest, however, despite some skillful performances, and the script suffers from some all too familiar plotting and dialogue. (Avila)

Chicken: A 1-Ho Show The Marsh, 1062 Valencia; 826-5750. $10-15. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through March 1. David Henry Sterry performs his solo show about a 1970s teen who becomes a gigolo in Beverly Hills.

The Chosen A Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida; 399-1809. $12.50-25 (Thurs, pay what you can). Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2, 7pm. Through Feb 16. Feb 20-March 2: Julia Morgan Theatre, 2640 College, Berk. Same phone, price, and schedule. Baseball and the Torah are unconventionally intertwined in A Traveling Jewish Theatre's sensitive staging of American-Jewish novelist Chaim Potok's breakthrough novel, The Chosen. The novel, written in 1967, was adapted three years ago by Potok and Philadelphia playwright Aaron Posner. The Chosen tells the story of a friendship between two Jewish teenagers from different backgrounds in Brooklyn at the end of World War II. Director Aaron Davidman's dark mise-en-scène imbues the turbulent relationship between a Hasidic Jew, Danny Saunders (Gabriel Carter), and the more liberal Jewish teenager Reuven Malter (Zac Jaffee) with longing and anger. Although the pace of the production drags in places, Richard Olmsted's subdued set and lights and convincing performances from the ensemble eloquently convey one of the play's central ideas: that "speech is silver but silence is golden." (Veltman)

Closer than Ever New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972. $15-35. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Feb 23. The New Conservatory Theatre Center kicks off its "In Concert" season with this musical revue of songs by David Shire and Richard Maltby, Jr.

The Dreamstealers Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy; 1-866-GOT-FURY, www.ticketweb.com. $15-25. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Feb 15. FoolsFury wraps up a very respectable season with the premiere of associate artistic director Stephen Jacob's quirky but committed "science fable." Sort of Pinocchio meets Frankenstein meets Doctor Who (in verse!), the story revolves around a slightly mad intergalactic corporate CEO named Head Greek (Jacob) who, with the assistance of two scheming Harpies with engineering degrees (Cat Thompson and Jessica Jelliffe), has manufactured a son, a "new post-human man" named Dreamboy (Ian Scott McGregor Jursco). This largely comedic two-act has a wistful strand running through it as A.I. guy naturally outgrows his original design, reaching for all things human, including a bit of fluff in the form of a hijacked somnambulator named, well, Sleepwalker (Lindsay Anderson). Director Ben Yalom cast well and gets strong performances all around. At nearly three hours, though, the play could stand some trimming. (Avila)

*A Feast of Fools Marines Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter; 1-877-771-6900. $25-45. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3 and 7pm. Through Feb 16. Accomplished Bay Area actor and clown Geoff Hoyle's latest "one-man show" not only revisits characters and routines from an illustrious 30-plus year career, it features one woman: his marvelously versatile accompanist and coperformer Gina Leishman. Built around the comical conceit of a show that doesn't quite come off, the evening in fact offers some flawlessly executed vaudevillian foolery and pantomime. Hoyle's incarnations include the highly sensitive but insensitive Mr. Sniff, a pair of battling waiters, a man attacked by his own hand, an inept magician, and the inscrutable three-legged stroll. Leishman's plucky musical interludes meanwhile slide from a ludicrous rendition of "Moonlight Sonata" into a free jazz solo on bass clarinet, or a delicate melody played on a set of crystal goblets. Handily directed by Richard Seyd, Hoyle's masterful brand of physical comedy consistently delights without uttering a word. He not only demonstrates remarkable physical prowess, he gets serious mileage out of a doll's head on a stick. If he's bidding farewell to these routines, Hoyle's energy and finesse are nonetheless at their peak. Pity the fool who'd try to fill those three big shoes. (Avila)

*Hedwig and the Angry Inch Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St; 392-4400. $25-35. Wed-Fri, 8pm; Sat-Sun, 7pm (also Sat, 10pm). Open-ended. Kevin Cahoon assumes the title role originated by John Cameron Mitchell in his 1998 Obie-winning glam musical, later a celebrated film. And while die-hard fans show up prepared to sing along, the show is so instantly contagious that no homework is necessary on the part of the uninitiated. For all its value as camp, Hedwig is a cabaret act of subtle sophistication; the story, like the best glam rock, has a quiet force that is the undercurrent of its self-conscious banality and cutting humor. (Avila)

In the Garden New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972. $18-38. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through March 30. The New Conservatory Theatre Center presents Norman Allen's erotic drama about a group of sophisticates who become entangled with a young man obsessed with the New Testament.

Mother's Milk The Marsh, 1074 Valencia; 826-5750. $10-15. Fri-Sat, 7:45pm. Through Feb 22. Wayne Harris performs his solo show, a reflection on his mother's death from breast cancer.

Mud Shelton Backstage, 533 Sutter; 835-2106. $8-12. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Feb 22. Flux Theater Company performs Maria Irene Fornes' drama about an uneducated woman striving to make a better life for herself.

Never in My Lifetime Exit Theatre Cafe, 156 Eddy; 721-9682. $15. Thurs/6-Sat/8, 8:30pm. La Luna Theatre Collective presents Shirley Gee's love story set amid the violence in Northern Ireland.

Nothing Left but the Smell Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St; 861-5079. $12-16. Thurs/6-Sat/8, 8:30pm. Through Feb 8. Erika Lopez – author of the brilliant and inspiring Tomato Rodriguez trilogy, illustrator and wordsmith extraordinaire who gave us the irreverent and penetratingly sharp Flaming Iguanas – is in a rut. She's back on welfare, and the stories she has to tell about it aren't pretty. Unfortunately, instead of targeting the forces that helped put her there – like the publishing industry – or criticizing the welfare system itself for all its problems (including making it nearly impossible to get benefits in the first place), she spends most of her time disparaging other welfare recipients and the people who work behind the counter in the welfare office. Whereas Lopez's literary rants have poured forth with insightful, wry humor, her first onstage performance proceeds awkwardly, without raucous energy and with too little wit to sweeten its bitterness. For all the pleasure she has given us in the past, let's just hope Lopez hasn't given up her literary career for the stage. (Shalson)

Princess Ida Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard; (415) 978-2787. $20-38 (Feb 12, pay what you can). Previews Fri/7, 8pm. Opens Sat/8, 8pm. Runs Sun/9, Feb 16, 2pm; Feb 12-15, 8pm (also Feb 15, 2pm.) Through Feb 16. The Lamplighters perform Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera.

Puppetry of the Penis Alcazar Theatre, 650 Geary; 478-2277. $39.50-44.90. Return run, starting Tues/11: Tues-Thurs, 8pm; Fri-Sun, 7pm (also Fri-Sat, 9:30pm). Through March 2. There's nothing surprising about the origins of Simon Morley and David Friend's antierotic testicle spectacle in an Australian pub act – two genial blokes lampooning highbrow sophisticates with a series of "genital origami installations" (a.k.a. "dick tricks") – but the one-joke premise treating it as an "art" can't hide the fact that as entertainment it's even more of a stretch. (Avila)

R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe Project Artaud Theater, 450 Florida; 626-DOME, www.foghouse.com. $25-35. Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm); Sun, 2pm. Open-ended. Fuller was one of the great brainiacs of the 20th century, a philosopher, mathematician, inventor, and idealist who devoted his life to finding the best fit between nature and humanity. In D. W. Jacobs's fitful, two-hour monologue based on the life and writings of Fuller, actor Ron Campbell dexterously pings from one of the visionary's obsessions to another, inhabiting Fuller's eccentric soul with physical and verbal intensity. (Veltman)

Seven Guitars Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, 620 Sutter; 474-8800, www.lorrainehansberrytheatre.com. $25-32. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Feb 23. The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre presents August Wilson's play about a late blues musician and the acquaintances that remember him in 1948 Pittsburgh.

The Special Connection: A Night of Love, Sex, and Serendipity The Next Stage, 1620 Gough; 673-0304, ext 3, www.cafearts.com. $12-25. Fri-Sat, 8pm (no show Feb 22). Through March 1. Combined Art Form Entertainment's Tilted Frame Improv players (Diana Brown, Jonathan Caplan, Christopher DeJong, Sean Garrett, Heather O'Brien, Kym Priess, and Trish Tillman) present a semi-free-form show built around the theme of sex and dating. Short improvisational solos generated by a live hook up to the Craigslist personals page bracket a series of sketches, including a spontaneous musical and two short films. The live Internet feed adds a twist to the usual improv stratagems, and Lydia Brawner's home-movie segments have a silly appeal, but the frequency of "special connections" remained low as far as ideas were concerned. Moreover, improv chops were unevenly distributed and mediocre overall. The AV aspect (actors interacting with their offstage counterparts via video projection) lacks precision and a meaningful dimension, and may have been productively down away with, especially as director O'Brien's admittedly frisky and sporting cast seemed to do better when the stage achieved a critical mass of bodies. (Avila)

Thief River New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972. $18-38. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Mar 9. If you're tired of gay love stories where shame wins out over romance, where gay bashing drives the plot, and where all of the characters are either gay or homophobic (or a combination of the two), you'll probably expect to hate Lee Blessing's Thief River. But you might be surprised. Quick pacing and a nonlinear plot structure help keep this play interesting, despite its clichés. One has to wonder, watching this story of a 53-years-long, mostly unrequited love affair between two men from a small farming town in the Midwest, whether any unfulfilled attachment could possibly be worth holding onto for that much time. But, somehow, there are enough wryly humorous lines and touching moments to keep one engaged, even after one has long stopped rooting for the star-crossed lovers' reunion. (Shalson)

X Spanganga, 3376 19th St; 826-1202. $12. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Feb 15. African American sketch and improv comedy group Oui Be Negroes present their 10th anniversary show.

Bay Area

The Chairs Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822. $28-38. Previews Thurs/5, 8pm. Opens Fri/6, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through March 9. Aurora Theatre Company performs Eugene Ionesco's whimsical play about an isolated elderly couple whose fantasy games become their reality.

Culture Clash in AmeriCCa San Jose Repertory Theatre, 101 Paseo de San Antonio, San Jose; (408) 367-7255, www.sjrep.com. $20-48. Tues-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm; Thurs/5, Feb 26, noon); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through March 2. Culture Clash mix their trademark blend of irreverent humor and social satire in this new show about Silicon Valley.

The Fugitive Kind Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; (415) 388-5208. $25-43. Wed/5, 7:30pm; Thurs/6-Sat/8, 8pm (also Sat/8, 2pm); Sun/9, 2 and 7pm. Marin Theatre Company presents an early, "lost" work by Tennessee Williams. The story of the outsiders and misfits in a St. Louis transient hotel, Fugitive Kind is a flawed but nonetheless remarkable play not only for the characters and themes it anticipates in Williams's mature work, but as both a typical and idiosyncratic expression of the socially conscious art of the depression era. In addition to gracefully managing an exceptionally fine cast, director Lee Sankowich has successfully added some flourishes, like having a guitar-strumming cowboy figure, Texas (Kurt Ziskie), croon blues songs during scene transitions. (Avila)

Via Dolorosa New venue: Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut, Berk; (510) 436-5085. $5-19. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3:30pm. Through Feb 16. (Feb 21-23: A Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida, S.F. Same phone, price, and schedule, except shows Sun, 3pm at ATJT.) TheatreFIRST presents David Hare's monologue (performed here by Simon Vance) about the current state of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

dance

Dance Brigade Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St; 273-4633. Fri-Sat and Feb 20, 27, 8pm; Sun, 6pm. Through March 2. $20-25. The company performs CaveWomen ... The Next Incarnation!

Potrzebie Dance Project ODC Theater, 3153 17th St; 863-9834. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. $15. Chris Black and the Potrzebie Dance Project premiere two new works, including a collaboration with Art Street Theatre director Mark Jackson.

Rapt Performance Group SomArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan; (510) 981-1005, www.acteva.com. Thurs-Sun, 8pm. Through Feb 16. $16. The group performs House, a multimedia work featuring dance, video, and live music.

Takami Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa; 621-7978. Fri-Sat, 8pm. $13-15. Despite the demise of the yearly Butoh Festival, fans of this no longer so esoteric Japanese import periodically can still get their fill. One of the artists committed to keeping the art going is the Japanese-born San Francisco dancer Takami, who performs what she calls "modern Butoh," a style incorporating other movement vocabularies into Butoh. Her new Footprints Lost in Sand boasts good lighting (Stephen Bernard Siegel) and musical design (Terry Hatfield). Coreen Abbot's film, which documents the disintegration of two clay figures at the beach, however, seriously unbalances the piece's central section. Footprints is bursting with ideas but probably needs a dramaturge. As a performer, however, Takami's physical stamina, ability to stay focused, and effective use of repetitions evoke respect. (Felciano)

Bay Area

Merce Cunningham Dance Company Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, Bancroft at Telegraph, Berk; (510) 642-9988. Fri-Sat, 8pm. $24-46. See 8 Days a Week, page 54.

performance

'Activating the Medium Festival 2003' San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St.; 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org. Fri, 8pm (performance); Sat, 2pm (performance), 3pm (panel discussion); installation runs Fri-Sun, 11am-6pm. Free with museum admission ($6-10) except Fri/7 performance ($10-12). See 8 Days a Week, page 54.

BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna; www.batsimprov.com. Thurs-Sun, 8pm. $6-12. This week's shows: "SNAFU" (Thurs); "The Winter Games:" "The Semi Finals" (Fri) and "The Finals" (Sat); "Micetro" (Sun).

'Come and Get it!' Peña PachMama, 1630 Powell; 646-0018. Thurs, 7-10pm. $5. Cabaret duo the Kitchenettes perform their monthly musical revue, a show promising "songs of food, love, and lust."

'Comedy on the Square' Shelton Theatre, 533 Sutter; 522-8900. Sun, 5, 7, 8:30pm. $15. This week's lineup includes prop comic Fred Anderson (5pm); Devil in the Deck, close-up magic by Paul Nathan (7pm); and Pushing 40, David Magidson and Ty DeMartino's humorous look at the male midlife crisis (8:30pm).

'EROShambo Surreal Robotic Cabaret' OmniCircus, 550 Natoma; 701-0686. Sat, 9:30pm. Ongoing. $10-15. A cast of musicians, performance artists, and robots appears in this original cabaret show.

'An Evening of Short Plays #2' Small Press Traffic, 1111 Eighth St; 551-9278. Fri, 7:30pm. $10. Small Press Traffic's "Poets' Theater Jamboree 2003" continues with this collection of short plays, most of which are world premieres.

'Fresh Ink: Staged Readings of New Plays' El Teatro de la Esperanza, 2940 16th St, Second fl; 255-2320. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. $5. New plays by Richard Talavera, Roy Conboy, and Cat Callejas are read in this series.

'Halo-Halo: A Queer Pin@y Revue' Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth St; 974-1167. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. $10-15. The Pilipino arts center hosts this night of queer performance.

'Harvey Sid Fisher with the Devil-Ette Dancers' Odeon Bar, 3223 Mission; 550-6994, www.harveysidfisher.com, www.odeonbar.com. Thurs-Sat, 10pm. Call for price. The "King of Astrology Songs" performs with dancers from the local troupe.

Helobung Cultural Troupe Brava Theater Center, 2789 24th St; 647-2822, www.ticketweb.com. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. $15-18. Kularts presents a performance by 10 indigenous T'boli master artists from the Philippines.

'Lily' A Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida; 399-1809. Tues, 8pm. $10-15. Karine Koret performs her solo show, based on her grandmother's experiences during the Holocaust.

'The Outside in the Homeland: Tales of Arrival and Identity' Jon Sims Center for the Arts, 1519 Mission; 554-0402. Fri, 8pm. $5-10 (sliding scale). Jon Sims artists-in-residence Dhaia Tribe perform their latest work, which uses poetry, music, and visual art to explore the idea of "the outsider" in America.

Paducah Mining Co. staged reading series Exit Café, 156 Eddy; 561-1418. Tues, 7:30pm. $5-10. The company performs three short plays from the anthology Strange Fruit: Plays on Lynching by American Women.

'Raw Plays: Faith at Stake' The Commonwealth Club, 595 Market; 441-8822. Mon, 7pm. $10. The Magic Theatre presents a series of readings of new plays in progress; this week: Key West by Dan O'Brien.

Bay Area

'First Frickin' Fridays presents the First (annual?) Presidential Intervention and Weenie Roast' 21 Grand, 449B 23rd St, Oakl; (510) 444-7263. Fri, 8pm. $5-10 (sliding scale). Host Mikl-em leads a variety of performers in "an oratorical attack on our commander in chief."

'Things Aren't Always' Black Box, 1928 Telegraph, Oakl; (510) 451-1932. Wed, 7:30pm. Through Feb 26. $10-20 (sliding scale). Tim Barksy performs a solo show that combines hip-hop, street performance, and Jewish folklore.

comedy

Blue Bear Theater Fort Mason Center, Bldg D, Marina at Laguna; 885-5678. Fri, 8:30pm: "Improvalicious" improvised theater, $5-10.

Double Play 2401 16th St; 821-3601. Fri, 8pm: "Hyena Comedy Showcase," $5.

Mock Café 1074 Valencia; noychromosome@yahoo.com. Fri, 9-11pm: "No Y Chromosome Comedy Showcase," $7.

Bay Area

Black Box 1928 Telegraph, Oakl; (510) 451-1932. Thurs and Sat, 8pm: The Oakland Playhouse improv troupe performs improv comedy, $6 (Sat, two-hour show, $12).

Café Eclectica 1309 Solano, Berk; (510) 845-6309. Sat, 8pm: SF Improv performs, free.

spoken word

Open mics take place almost every night in cafés throughout the Bay Area. If you want to perform, show up about half an hour before start time to put your name on the list. A day-by-day guide to spoken word events and featured readers:

Wednesday: BrainWash Café 1122 Folsom; 440-5530. "Spoken Word Salon" open mic, 8pm, free. Mission Cultural Center for the Latino Arts 2868 Mission; 931-4551. "Elz: Slicing It Thin," poetry by Elz and others, 7:30pm, $2.

Thursday: Coppa D'Oro Cafe 3166 24th St; 826-8003. "Poetry on the Patio," spoken word and acoustic-music open mic with host Renaldo Ricketts, 6:30pm, free. International House UC Berkeley, Bancroft at Piedmont, Berk; (510) 642-0137. "Lunch Poems Reading Series" with Adrienne Rich, 12:10pm, free.

Friday: Escape from New York Pizza 333 Bush; poetryandpizza@yahoo.com. "Poetry and Pizza" with teen poets from Youth Speaks, 7:30pm, $5 (suggested donation).

Saturday: Berkeley Art Center 1275 Walnut, Berk; (510) 569-5364. "Rhythm and Muse" with Jesye Goldhammer, plus open mic, 6:30pm, free.

Monday: Perry's Joint 1661 Fillmore; 931-5260. "Celebration of the Word" with featured reader Jim Woessner and open mic, 7pm, free.

Tuesday: Spanganga 3376 19th St; 821-1102. "The Spang Bang" open mic for all types of performers, 8pm, $2 (suggested donation). The Beanery 2925 College, Berk; (510) 549-9093. "The Whole Note Poetry Series" with Annalee Walker and Jim Goordan, 7pm, free.