The Chronicle’s guide to notable arts and entertainment happenings in the Bay Area.
New French shorts, streaming now, highlight film innovations and up-and-comers
In the United States, movie shorts are rarely seen. They show up at film festivals, but those screenings are mainly attended by other short film makers. But in France, audiences get to see shorts on television — usually they fill out a two-hour time slot when a feature runs less than that. Perhaps as a result, France has a thriving shorts industry.
They come in two categories. There are animated shorts — the French are considered on the cutting edge of animation as an art form, innovative technologically and in their subject matter. And then there are the live-action shorts, where sometimes major stars appear and you can also discover the major stars of the near future.
The Smith Rafael Film Center is offering a program of French short films. It can be downloaded from their website as a streaming option for $7 (for members) $12 (for the general public).
New French Shorts 2021: Presented by Smith Rafael Film Center. Available to view for 48 hours after purchase. $7 for CFI members; $12 for general public. bit.ly/newfrenchshorts2021
— Mick LaSalle
Pear Theatre celebrates 20 years with canny in-rep pairings of beloved and new
Pear Theatre in Mountain View hatched an ambitious plan to celebrate its 20th anniversary. A season of “Pear Pairings” would match new productions with past favorites, the two pieces often running in repertory.
The first repertory set is co-produced with Perspective Theatre Company (formerly known as the Arabian Shakespeare Festival). Marisela Treviño Orta’s “Somewhere” follows an entomologist and her brother tracking the last monarch butterflies in a postapocalyptic world devastated by climate change. From its opening scene, the West Coast premiere demonstrates uncommon craft and lyricism, finding meaning in a last meal laid out in a grounded ghost ship, in the small acre of dirt on which insects that don’t fully metamorphose spend their entire lives. John R. Lewis directs.
New Artistic Director Sinjin Jones cannily partnered the play with Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” which, while not explicitly an end-of-the-world play, certainly takes place at the end of the earth, on a desert island where shipwrecked humans must forge, alongside fairies and monsters, a new way to live. Melinda Marks directs.
Somewhere”: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14; 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15; 2p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16; “The Tempest”: 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16; 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17. ” In repertory through Oct. 24. $20-$42. Pear Theatre, 1110 La Avenida St., Mountain View. 650-254-1148. www.thepear.org
— Lily Janiak
Asylum interview devolves into vaudeville double act in Shotgun’s ‘The Claim’
Misunderstandings come early and fast in the asylum interview room of “The Claim.” Congolese refugee Serge (Kenny Scott) and his interviewer each think “comfortable” means something different. From there, they talk past each other as two nervous would-be soliloquists whose parallel streams-of-consciousness only occasionally intersect.
If the possibility of justice, truth and compassion seem remote from the show’s first lines, that sense of menace only grows. Later still, the interview room starts to sound like the comic double act of a vaudeville show. You half-expect the two interviewers, played by Radhika Rao and Soren Santos, to ask each other, “Who’s on first?”
Shotgun Players originally scheduled Tim Cowbury’s play, which is set in the United Kingdom, for its 2020 season. Now the three-hander marks the first in-person show of its Bridge Series, which is meant to bridge the gap between fully digital shows and fully in-person ones. Two performances of “The Claim” are set to be live-streamed.
Rebecca Novick directs.
“The Claim”: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 14-16; 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17. Through Oct. 30. $8-$40. Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley. 510-841-6500. https://shotgunplayers.org
— Lily Janiak
Philharmonia detours out of the Baroque to play Robert Schumann
The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale still has room in its calendar for the 18th century repertoire from which it takes its name. But the group has increasingly expanded its view, from contemporary music (the wondrous August premiere of Matthew Aucoin’s “The No One’s Rose”) to music of the early Romantic era.
In the latter vein, Richard Egarr belatedly begins his tenure as music director with a program largely devoted to works by Robert Schumann. The composer’s rarely heard “Requiem” was supposed to form the program’s centerpiece, but the disappointment of that cancellation should be appeased by the inclusion of the delightful Second Symphony, and Shunske Sato is the scheduled soloist for the Violin Concerto.
A bit of Bach rounds out the program for old time’s sake.
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale: 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14. $32-$130. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., S.F. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15. Bing Concert Hall, Stanford. 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16. 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17. First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley. 415-295-1900. www.philharmonia.org
— Joshua Kosman
S.F. Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin signals new vision of programming at Magic Theatre
Magic Theatre’s first in-person, indoor event since the pandemic began is no hush-and-hold-still naturalistic play. “Black Fire: A Live Recording Event” — featuring native San Franciscan and San Francisco Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin — is instead a celebratory, multi-hyphenate performance fusing poetry, music (with percussion by Ahkeel Mestayer) and video.
Magic is billing the piece as the kickoff of two new series, its Poetry Program and its New Performances Program, which promise to put theater in dialogue with other storytelling modes.
The event offers a tantalizing glimpse of what’s to come at the company under the leadership of new Artistic Director Sean San José. He assumed his new role in June after acting on the Magic’s stage for decades, demonstrating artistry of the highest caliber, a passion for the unique poetry that is possible in live performance and a boundless generosity as a collaborator.
“We wanted to start with an event that was emblematic of our mission to center People of Color in all ways and to make Magic home to more peoples,” San José said in a statement.
“Black Fire: A Live Recording Event”: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15. Suggested donation $25. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, 2 Marina Blvd., Building D, 3rd Floor, S.F. 415-441-8822. www.magictheatre.org
— Lily Janiak
Judy Chicago to perform colorful ‘Forever de Young’ installation in front of S.F. museum
In conjunction with the popular exhibition “Judy Chicago: A Retrospective,” the de Young Museum is set to host a live showing of the artist’s multicolored smoke installation, titled “Forever de Young.”
The performance is one of Chicago’s “Atmospheres” works, site-specific displays she revived in 2012 after a nearly 30-year hiatus. The performance will take place on a 27-foot-high scaffold directly in front of the de Young Museum: Brightly colored media will then mix with the air and be carefully choreographed into different forms and designs, intervening in a soft, ephemeral way with the Golden Gate Park landscape.
“Atmospheres” was a series of performances, in the late 1960s and early ’70s in California, that sought to temporarily interact with existing space to create delicate, intangible forms. In 1974, Chicago used fireworks and road flares to create a butterfly shape at the edge of Oakland’s Lake Merritt. Although the artist documented the events in photographs and footage (she and the women who helped create these works were often nude during the performances), they remained a lesser-known part of her canon until recently.
This free public performance is a must-not-miss event for fans of Chicago and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the museum facade and park swathed in Technicolor vapor.
“Judy Chicago: Forever de Young”: 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16. Free. de Young Museum. Attendees must wear face coverings during the performance. 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, S.F. 415-750-3600. deyoung.famsf.org
— Tony Bravo
Takács Quartet livens the repertoire with music of Coleridge-Taylor
The Takács Quartet has built its reputation through powerful renditions of standard works of the string quartet literature — the quartets of Bartók above all, but also those of Haydn, Beethoven and Brahms. But the ensemble has other strings to its bow as well.
For its return to live appearances at Cal Performances, the quartet’s program centers around the “Five Fantasy Pieces” of the Black English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor — coincidentally, the same 1896 work performed earlier in the month by the Catalyst Quartet. More familiar fare by Haydn and Beethoven completes the program.
Takács Quartet: 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17. $74-$98. Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley. 510-642-9988. www.calperformances.org
For more Datebook Picks and to browse our events calendar, click here.