Feeling Artsy

The Berkeley Arts Festival has begun! Yesterday evening, July 12, kicked off the month-long celebration with some musical magic in the form of a Sarah Cahill piano concert. For the rest of July (and through Aug. 15), expect a bevy of concerts from various artists, book readings and more in the coming weeks. This year, many of the events will be taking place at 2133 University Avenue, the “home” for the festival. If you don’t know what you want to attend or when everything’s going down, consult the convenient calendar that the good people behind the Berkeley Arts Festival (BAF) have put up online.

Be sure to check out other venues that are joining in on the fun as well: the Berkeley Art Museum has their “Create” exhibit going throughout the summer and the Berkeley Art Center’s “Abstract Visions” will be up until Aug. 7. Performances at the Berkeley Rep or the Aurora Theatre also offer excellent opportunities to enjoy artists in their element, on the stage.

Of course, as the BAF website points out, “every day is an arts festival” in Berkeley, but don’t let that be your reason to miss out on all the good stuff.

Image Source: Ujwala Prabhu under Creative Commons
Announcements [Berkeley Arts Festival]

The star of the show, Anna Deavere Smith

The star of the show, Anna Deavere Smith.

Theater nerds, rejoice!

If you’ve heard anything about Anna Deavere Smith’s “Let Me Down Easy,” it’s probably been rave reviews. The show, currently playing at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, was originally scheduled to close this coming Sunday, June 26. But due to it’s tremendous popularity, “Let Me Down Easy” was extended through July 10, in the hopes that a few extra performances would satiate the appetites of Berkeley’s theater-loving locals.

Apparently even this isn’t enough, though, because the Berkeley Rep has just announced — and quite happily, we might add — that the show will return after a three-week stint in Santa Monica, for an additional 27 performances over the course of four weeks.

read more »


If you have time and money to spare for excessive indulgences like the theatre, we have two words for you, and they are not nice. But really, we’re jealous and will just have to live vicariously should you choose to hit up any of the following:

We heard about “The Great Game: Afghanistan” sometime last week, and it’s since received consistently positive reviews for its expansive, three-part portrayal read more »


We had our doubts about a musical based on the CD that got us through our angsty early teen years, but the Berkeley Rep has gone and proved us wrong. First came the stellar reviews, next came Broadway, and now, the Tony noms have rolled in … and boy, have they ever. American Idiot has been nominated for no fewer than three Tony awards. Yup, the Berkeley Rep might just become the dark horse for this year’s award season. With nominations for best lighting design of a musical, best scenic design of a musical, and the ever-impressive best musical. So for all of you who said that you don’t wanna be an American Idiot, maybe it’s time to think again.

Image Source: Anirudh Koul under Creative Commons
Who’s Nominated? [Tony Awards]

2167920199_7ac4509e15That probably depends on your definition of “kinky,” although Berkeley Repertory Theatre‘s newest attraction certainly does seem to have some critics pretty hot and bothered.

“Concerning Strange Devices from the West,” just a couple weeks into its world premiere, is apparently all kinds of sexy … which we initially found kind of weird, considering it’s a play about cameras. Kind of. Naomi Iizuka’s script traverses a chronological spectrum from 1800s Japan to contemporary Tokyo, examining just how the introduction of photography affected Japanese culture throughout the last couple centuries.

There’s obviously a lot more going on (we’ve pieced together a mental montage that includes beautiful women undressing, hot tattoos and flashes of seizure-inducing, strobe-esque light), meaning if you want a more coherent idea of the real force behind “Strange Devices” you’ll have to hit the Berkeley Rep! Show runs till April 11, most days of the week at a range of times and for a range of prices we’re too overwhelmed to attempt to convey.

Image Source: kelvin255 under Creative Commons
On Location: ‘Strange Devices’ Berkeley Rep [StarkSilverCreek]
Strange Devices [Berkeley Rep Theatre]

If you’re anything like us—which we’ll assume you are—you’ll be almost-literally-but-not-really-because-that-would-be-abuse-of-wording dying to go see a panel discussion on dark energy. AS IT SO HAPPENS, dear readers, you’re in luck!

Coincidentally, the Lawrence Berkeley Lab will be hosting just such a panel next Monday. Speakers include Saul Perlmutter, who heads the Supernova Cosmology Project, David Schlegel, the “principal investigator of Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS),” and Alexie Leauthaud, a Chamberlain Fellow at the lab.

Where: Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2015 Addison St.
When: Monday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.
Cost: FREE!

Image Source: Balakov under Creative Commons
Dark Secrets: What  Science  Tells Us About the Hidden Universe [LBL]

112323844_ecc2176a89Remember when we told you about Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s amazing upcoming season? Well, get out your studded belts and rub some glue into that faux-hawk: The company is also premiering a play adaptation of Green Day’s “American Idiot.”

Complete with a cast of nineteen and an onstage band, and based on a book written by Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong and director Michael Mayer, the rock opera turned musical is centered around a number of characters seeking “redemption in a conflicted world.”

Which is clearly about as punk-rock as it gets.

Image Source: Dunechaser under Creative Commons
Punk Goes Theater: Berkeley Rep Takes Green Day’s American Idiot to the Stage [East Bay Express]
Green Day Musical to Debut at Berkeley Rep [AIWFB

The Thin Man Goes Home full movie ]

In the darkest and most chronically disillusioned depths of our souls, we need theatre. What better way to distract oneself from the meaningless drone toward one’s own inevitable and slowly impending demise?

Okay, that was a little heavy. Perhaps Berkeley Repertory Theatre director Tony Taccone says it best: read more »