Show Me Yours: Post-Apocalyptic Circus, LINES Ballet and More

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Elliott Gittelsohn and TT Robson in 'Salvage' at the Kinetic Arts Center  (Photo: Luiza Silva/Kinetic Arts Center)

What could be more intimate than a night out at the theater? The velvet curtains. The low lights. The bodies wedged up against each other in seats that squeak like the beds in an hourly motel.

The Bay Area performing arts scene has all of the the above in abundance, and much much more to offer besides. Visit KQED Arts every Monday for your guide to some of the most intriguing local happenings in theater, dance, comedy, opera, spoken word, circus, musicals, performance art and cabaret. I'll show you mine, if you...

Friday, Nov. 13 - Sunday, Nov. 15: This Year is Different: An Absurdist Musical About Self-Help at Counterpulse, San Francisco. “I have never met anyone before who wants to become a shittier person,” writes choreographer and Counterpulse resident artist Liz Tenuto in her blog detailing the rehearsal process for her new musical/performance art piece. In an effort inspired by Tenuto’s desire, as she puts it, to dedicate a year of her life “to making choices that make me a better person,” she brings her surrealist sensibility to exploring why people are so obsessed with self-improvement.

'This Year Is Different: An Absurdist Musical About Self-Help' by Liz Tenuto at Counterpulse
'This Year Is Different: An Absurdist Musical About Self-Help' by Liz Tenuto at Counterpulse (Photo: Robbie Sweeney/Counterpulse)

Saturday, Nov. 14: Bhakthi: A Dance Drama in English at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. On the list of "Most Fascinating Conversations Ever to have Taken Place in the History of the World," the one that occurred on July 14, 1930 between Albert Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore must rank right near the top. The legendary meeting in Berlin between the German scientist and the Indian philosopher covered everything from poetry to particle physics, and is now the subject of a vibrant movement-based theatrical extravaganza featuring a cast of classical Indian dancers and whirligig visuals.

Now through Nov. 15: Bootstrap Theater Foundation's Arctic Requiem: The Story of Luke Cole and Kivalina at Z Space Below. This prescient new drama by Sharmon J. Hilfinger and Joan McMillen tinged with original live piano and cello music, tells the engrossing "David vs. Goliath" story of the members of the Inupiat Eskimo community in Alaska and their fight against big industry to save their ancient way of life. The late San Francisco environmental lawyer, Luke Cole, stepped in to defend the Inupiat, and, after a long struggle, the community eventually became among the first climate change refugees in the United States.


Now through Nov. 15: Alonzo King LINES Ballet’s Fall Home Season at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. The muscular, take-no-prisoners style of Alonzo King’s choreography meets its match in the singing of Lisa Fischer. The Bay Area dance company is partnering with the versatile vocalist for its latest hometown appearance at YBCA. One of the most successful backup singers in the industry with star power in her own right, Fischer has performed with the likes of Mick Jagger, Beyonce and Sting, and was one of the artists featured in the documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom.

Kathryn Zdan plays Ada Lovelace in Lauren Gunderson’s 'Ada and the Memory Engine.'
Kathryn Zdan plays Ada Lovelace in Lauren Gunderson’s 'Ada and the Memory Engine.' (Photo: Jim Norrena/Central Works)

Now through Nov. 22: Ada and the Memory Machine at the Berkeley City Club. 
Lord Byron’s only legitimate child and arguably the world’s first ever computer programmer, Ada Lovelace has inspired writers as diverse as William Gibson and Tom Stoppard with her story. In this world premiere production in Berkeley by the ever-thoughtful Central Works theater company, local playwright-on-the-make Lauren Gunderson dramatizes the relationship between Lovelace and fellow tech nerd Charles Babbage. Prepare for your circuits to be blown.

Nov. 14 - Dec. 20: Salvage (A Circus) at the Kinetic Arts Center, Oakland. From Mad Max to Terminator, Hollywood has long had the final word when it comes to portrayals of post-apocalyptic destruction. But circus? Not so much. Yet in their dramatic, new production, Circus Beyond the Ring and the Kinetic Arts Center in Oakland seek to defy the art form’s usual focus on the flighty and fancy-free, opting instead to present visions of survivors on the precipice of calamity, fighting to prevent themselves from tumbling into the abyss.

And here are three more events worth checking out...

Wednesday, Nov. 11: The Prepared Table presented by Black Swan Arts at the Bellevue Club, Oakland.

Wednesday, Nov. 11 - Saturday, Nov. 14: The Method Gun presented by The Rude Mechanicals at Z Space, San Francisco.

Thursday, Nov. 12 - Saturday, Nov. 14: Amazing Grace, a children’s opera presented by Opera Parallele at the African American Art and Culture Complex, San Francisco.