Our Weekly Picks: August 18-24, 2010





Cal Shakes follows its recent production of MacHomer with the original Macbeth — and proof that pop culture is but a palimpsest. This company always manages to inject new life into any well-known or overdone Shakespeare play and here, the troupe remains loyal to the dark side of everyone's favorite regicidal maniac. The website boasts that this version doesn't "shy away from the brutal, violent nature of the work," so it would be imprudent of you to bring your children. Macbeth, with all its insoluble blood stains, C-sections, and beheadings will remind you of how fucked up the theater really could be back in the 1600s. (Ryan Lattanzio)

Through Sept. 12

Tues-Sun, performance times vary, $20–$65

California Shakespeare Theater

100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda

(510) 548-9666




"Tick-Tock: Linear and Visceral Expressions of Time"

In conjunction with its Now and When exhibition (on view through Sept. 4), the San Francisco Arts Commission is hosting a discussion on time between Jeannene Przyblysk, executive director of the San Francisco Bureau of Urban Secrets, and Alexander Rose, executive director of the Long Now Foundation. Time, they will argue, doesn't just operate on a linear schedule: the past and future can be bent, juxtaposed, and collaged into other events and moments that allow the malleability of memory and untethering of tomorrow. The effects of this loosening carry a visceral register. Baby, this is moving too fast, can we slow it down a bit to figure things out? (Spencer Young)

6:30-8 p.m., free (reservations required)

SFAC Main Gallery

401 Van Ness, SF

(415) 554-6080





Twentysomething Nathan Williams has had a pretty unbelievable couple of years, teeter-tottering between indie blog success and proud poster child for a recent glut of lazy-sounding DIY bands. Williams does little to sway critics from seeing him only as the latter — most of his lyrics glorify either weed or "being bored" — but there has always been a charming immediacy to his lackadaisical approach. Having stumbled on a winning blueprint like that, it comes as a surprise to listen to Williams' latest album, King of the Beach, and find that the musician appears to have grown weary of making that same record over and over again. In dropping a lot of the scuzz and picking up the late Jay Reatard's solid backing band, Beach primes Williams as the poster child for something completely different: the party record of the summer. (Peter Galvin)

With Young Prisms

7:30 p.m., $14

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011





"Solo Performance Workshop Festival"

From under the radar comes this showcase of new and recently acclaimed solo performance, as the Solo Performance Workshop celebrates five years developing original work in StageWerx's sub–Sutter Street lair. The venue may be underground, but shows spawned under direction of founders Bruce Pachtman (Don't Make Me Look Too Psychotic) and performer-director W. Kamau Bell (The W. Kamau Bell Curve) have gone on to far-flung success. Some of these — including Jennifer Jajeh's I Heart Hamas and Enzo Lombard's Love, Humiliation, and Karaoke — return for the two-week fest, which also launches Bell's latest venture: AAAAAAAAAARGH!: A Solo Comedy About How Frustrating Frustration Can Be. All of which stands to be pretty satisfying, actually. (Robert Avila)

Through Aug. 29

Thurs.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m., $20–$30

StageWerx Theatre

533 Sutter, SF




"Photographer: unknown"

Photography has served a casual or practical purpose in countless lives ever since cameras were widely available to the public. Still, most amateur photographers in years past probably never expected their work to be up on a gallery wall. Taking the opposite approach, Robert Tat Gallery seeks out vernacular photographs (photos not intended as art) worthy of appreciation in a new context. Their "accidental art" photos are "generally acquired at flea markets, antique stores, estate sales, or literally just 'found.'" The gallery's press release traces the appreciation of such found photos back to the Dada movement. But since we still haven't fully realized the wealth of art around us, it's exciting to see a gallery celebrating the supposedly mundane. (Sam Stander)

Through Nov. 27

Tues.–Sat., 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m. and by appointment, free

Robert Tat Gallery

49 Geary, Suite 211, SF

(415) 781-1122





Stepology's 2010 Bay Area Rhythm Exchange

It's time to tap into the spirit of Gregory Hines and Fred Astaire. Stepology (the nonprofit tap organization founded by renowned tap dancer John Kloss) makes it easy to channel the tap masters with the annual Bay Area Tap Festival. Inspiring dancers and nondancers alike, Stepology's week-long tap extravaganza brings some of the nation's most talented tappers together to lead classes, workshops, and demonstrations. The festival culminates with the Bay Area Rhythm Exchange, an annual concert performance. Acclaimed musicians and tap artists Channing Cook Holmes, John Kloss, Mark Mendonca, Jason Rogers, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Sam Weber, and Lukas Weiss (to name a few) grace the stage at this year's Rhythm Exchange. (Katie Gaydos)

Through Aug. 21

8 p.m., $25

Herbst Theatre

401 Van Ness, SF

(415) 392-4400





Bassem Yousri

Catch two experimental documentaries by Bassem Yousri, a recipient of a 2009-10 Kala Fellowship, as part of the ongoing series "Residency Projects," featuring works by all the fellowship artists. Yousri's films, Keep Recording (2009) and Still Recording, are set in Cairo and Philadelphia, respectively. His premise is the same for each: use a low-budget video camera and record footage of the city and its people. In Godfrey Reggio fashion, Yousri navigates unfamiliar urban contexts, and the films' meanings arise through this kind of episodic assembling where artist is at the mercy of environment. (Lattanzio)

2 p.m., free

Kala Gallery

2990 San Pablo, Berk

(510) 841-7000




"Joe Strummer Tribute"

A tribute show can be a dicey prospect, especially if the artist being honored isn't alive to comment. Sometimes it's better to leave a dead legend's legacy well enough alone instead of trying to embroider it posthumously. Still, when it comes to someone like Joe Strummer, different rules apply. Annual tributes to the punk pioneer have been held in SF for the past seven years, and something tells me that their focus on local bands would have gibed well with Strummer's music-to-the-people ethos. This year's show features the Armagideons, the Hooks, Monkey, Sistas in the Pit, Stigma 13, and Interecords, and its proceeds benefit Strummerville, a charity that provides funds and support to struggling musical talents the world over. (Zach Ritter)

9 p.m., $10

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

(415) 621-4455




"House Special 2010"

ODC Theater's "House Special" gives selected choreographers two weeks to create new dance works before premiering them in the intimate ODC Dance Commons. Now the two weeks are up and the show is ready. Although vastly different in terms of choreographic styles and interests, the three artists in residence all share a common passion for social activism. Brazilian native Tania Santiago and her dance company Aguas Da Bahia explore the deep roots of Afro-Brazilian traditions; Jesselito Bie's Steamroller Dance Company's newest work Big Homo Love Explosion explores sexuality, gender, and race; while Pearl Ubungen's SF Bardo Project investigates the cultural landscape of the city while contemplating death and dying from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective. (Gaydos)

8 p.m., $15

ODC Dance Commons

351 Shotwell, SF

(415) 863-9834




Art and Soul Festival

No "adjectives on the typewriter" can quite sum up why Cake was a perfect soundtrack for the 1990s, and an even better one for the shift into the aughts and beyond. This year, for the 10th anniversary of Oakland's Art and Soul Festival, John McCrea and his fellow fellas bring rockable irony to the Main Stage. Don't remember "Shadow Stabbing" or "Never There"? Fear not. Cake hasn't released a studio album since 2004, so this show will definitely jog your memory with the hits — and very few of the songs in their canon aren't hits. Hailing from Sacramento, this band seems to understand West Coast sensibilities of spliffs, catchy riffs, and kicking it with friends to some music under a Saturday sunset. (Lattanzio)

Sat/21, 12:30 p.m. (Cake plays at 4:30 p.m.);

Sun/22, 12:45 p.m., $8–$15

12th and Broadway, Oakl





Endless Love

Critically mauled at the time, this 1981 adaptation of Scott Spencer's acclaimed novel is being offered up for "rediscovery and reevaluation" by the ever-idiosyncratic local Film on Film Foundation. Martin Hewitt plays David, a high school senior who finds the warm family vibe he lacks at home at the Butterfields, where 15-year-old daughter Jade (Brooke Shields, still wet from 1980's The Blue Lagoon) is his girlfriend. But his passion for her runs a little too hot, even for this very free-thinking clan, and when he's banned from future contact, he concocts a scheme to restore his status that turns disastrous. An amour fou melodrama further inflamed by director Franco Zeffirelli's customary gauzy romanticism — and providing him with opportunity for more exposed boy butt than 1968's Romeo and JulietEndless Love likewise swoons over roiling teenage libidos with a near-gaga intensity. There is a certain amount of adult actor hysteria and overripe sweetness, as well as only semi-convincing eroticism. But Shields is perfectly adequate in her last adolescent part, and Hewitt, whose career didn't last, is excellent as the obsessed BF whose love is maybe a little too endless. Other attractions include a very young James Spader as Jade's snarky older brother and Tom Cruise (his first role) as one of their friends. Yes, the book was better (if also a little overripe). But belying its camp reputation, this movie is actually pretty good. (Dennis Harvey)

4 p.m., $8

Pacific Film Archive

2757 Bancroft, Berk.





Bad Brains

Ever since their seminal 7-inch debut, 1980's Pay to Cum, the Bad Brains have hewed a truly bizarre path through the musical landscape, perfecting punk rock and reggae on the strength of jazz fusion-honed technical ability and a commitment to speed. Their career (and that of unpredictable singer H.R.) has been peripatetic for many years now, but despite the profusion of Jah-loving jam-outs at recent shows, there's only one Bad Brains, and they're not getting any younger. Go to see — without hyperbole — one of the most unique bands to ever play rock 'n' roll. (Ben Richardson)

With Broun Fellinis

9 p.m., $26


333 11th St, SF

(415) 255-0333



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