Fall at UC Berkeley always arrives with an air of anticipation and this year follows suit, with an exhilarating lineup of events ranging from readings by award-winning poets, a student art exhibition on authority, chats with cartoonists, an adaptation of a classical play complete with a cloud structure and the holiday favorite, The Hard Nut.
What follows is a sampling of the rich arts programming lined up for the rest of 2017.
Food for thought
Three women poets will kick off the 2017-2018 Lunch Poems, a free program held on the first Thursday of each month in the Doe Library’s Morrison Library, known for its book-lined shelves, overstuffed chairs, soft lights and relaxed, reading room atmosphere.
The award-winning Layli Long Soldier, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation and an instructor at Diné College in New Mexico, will take to the podium on Oct. 5.
Next up on Nov. 2 will be UC Berkeley alumna Solmaz Sharif, who was born in Istanbul to Iranian parents. Sharif taught with the late June Jordan’s Poetry for the People arts/activist program while studying at UC Berkeley. Sharif’s debut collection, Look, which uses words from a U.S. Department of Defense manual in an homage to her uncle who was killed in the Iran-Iraq War, was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award and for a 2017 PEN Open Book Award.
Closing out Lunch Poems for the calendar year will be Rita Dove, a former U.S. Poet Laureate (1993-1995) and recipient of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Dove, a professor of English at the University of Virginia, also received the 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Obama and the 1996 National Humanities Medal from President Clinton. She will be reading on Dec. 7.
The Townsend Center for the Humanities is hosting a series of Book Chats, beginning on Sept. 27 with a conversation with Jeffrey Knapp, a UC Berkeley professor of English, about his new book, Pleasing Everyone, his first book on film as well as literature. Knapp will explore links between Renaissance drama and Hollywood film while discrediting the notion that mass entertainment necessarily simplifies and cheapens.
On Oct. 11, Julia Bryan-Wilson, a UC Berkeley professor of the history of modern and contemporary art, will discuss her book, Fray: Art and Textile Politics, about the role of textiles in times of economic upheaval.
Art + Design Mondays at the Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive will feature an assortment of free public programs relating to art, design, race, music, technology, film and more.
At a Sept. 18 event at BAMPFA, UC Berkeley student actors will read monologues adapted by graduate student Lyndsey Ogle from UC Berkeley sociology professor emerita Arlie Hochschild’s latest book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. Hochschild will read from the book and take questions.
Also as part of Mondays@BAMPFA, Metropolitan Museum of Art social media manager Kimberly Rose Drew, who tweets under the handle @museumammy, will discuss race, art, curation and digital engagement on Oct. 16.
Blending comedy, politics and art will be Matt Groening, of The Simpsons fame, and his longtime friend and fellow cartoonist Lynda Barry as they meet on the Zellerbach stage for a conversation followed by a Q&A on Oct. 7.
Garrison Keillor, the folksy former host of Prairie Home Companion, and more recently active as a political essayist, will be a guest of Cal Performances on Oct. 23.
Making as Research, an artist’s talk, will be blended with a DIY couture fashion lab led by artist Angie Wilson and offered by the Arts Research Center on Nov. 2-3 in the Dwinelle Annex.
Wilson will discuss her textile-based sculpture and installation as well as collaborative projects resisting racism, inequality and xenophobia.
The second day will feature a sewing workshop. While no sewing skills are required, participants are asked to bring garments such as shirts that need capes or pants that need patches.
Her project, Protest Curtains, recycles fabrics into protest banners that double as window curtains for homes and businesses to face out onto the streets between actions, communicating empowering messages of love and resistance. More information is available online.
Changing the world with dance
Acclaimed Indian classical dancer, choreographer and social activist Mallika Sarabhai will talk about changing the world with dance when she delivers the sixth annual Sarah Kailath Memorial Lecture on Friday at the Bechtel Engineering Center.
The Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group will present the California premiere of Mose(es), a retelling of the Biblical story of Moses that taps research on the African diaspora and issues about migration, with performances set for Sept. 23-24 at Zellerbach Hall.
Several community events are planned in conjunction with Wilson’s residency with Cal Performances for the 2017-2018 academic year, including a “community shout” on Sept. 22 in the Hearst Gymnasium on Bancroft Way. Attendees will join in signing songs from the African diaspora.
On hand at the Zellerbach Playhouse Dec. 8-10, Camille A. Brown will present BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play, which taps African American vernacular forms such as hand clapping games, social dancing and Double Dutch to present a playful story of black female empowerment.
The Joffrey Ballet returns to campus in November, dancing to a live Philip Glass score and performing the West Coast premiere of a Cal Performances co-commissioned piece. Check out events related to the Joffrey’s residency, which will include dance classes and a public forum.
The season’s dance programming concludes in December with long-time holiday favorite, Mark Morris’s The Hard Nut about a zany family Christmas party.
On stage, screen and on display
The Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies will present Metamorphoses, an adaptation of Ovid’s classic myths by playwright-director auteur Mary Zimmerman, whose ensemble cast will be directed by TDPS lecturer and UC Berkeley alumnus Christopher Herold Oct. 13-22 at the Zellerbach Playhouse.
The set, by award-winning scenic designer Nina Ball, features a custom-built pool with more with 4,000 gallons of water, as well as innovative rain features and an elaborate cloud structure. This requires complex adjustments, from treating the water to prevent algae buildup to warming the water for actors’ safety and comfort, and factoring water into the fabric selection for 100-plus costumes in the show.
State of Siege, Albert Camus’ political allegory about the importance of resistance in the face of authoritarianism, will take to the Zellerbach Auditorium stage Oct. 21-22 with performances in French by Paris’ Théâtre de la Ville, with English subtitles.
“Authority” is an exhibition of the works of 51 student artists at the Worth Ryder Gallery in Kroeber Hall through Sept. 21 around the broadly defined subject of expertise, leadership and power. It follows the cues of previous showcases of student work such as 2015’s I Know What You Did Last Summer and last year’s Seize the Means.
“Shadow History” is an international conference in honor of the Paul Kendel Fonoroff Collection of materials documenting nearly a century of Chinese cinema and media culture, which were brought to UC Berkeley through a collaboration between the C. V. Starr East Asian Library and UC Berkeley’s College of Letters and Science. The Oct. 13-15 program will feature scholarly talks and workshops as well as a BAMPFA exhibition of rare Chinese film posters and public screenings of early Chinese films.
For a wide range of musical offerings, one doesn’t need to look much further than Cal Performances’ fall schedule.
Lila Downs, a classically trained vocalist and songwriter raised in Minnesota and Oaxaca, will perform on Sept. 30 with a repertoire of folk and ranchera music from Mexico and South America as well as American jazz, blues, hip hop and folk, with underlying themes of fun along with social and political concerns.
She will be followed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Riccardo Muti, from Oct. 13-15, with three distinct programs.
Next up will be the Korean National Gugak Center Creative Traditional Orchestra on Oct. 28, with world premieres of newly commissioned works by an international cohort of contemporary composers. The programming will include a traditional Korean percussion street parade with Korean food for sale in Lower Sproul Plaza between afternoon and evening performances.
Music writer Ben Ratliff will expound on the concept of virtuosity in this year’s Una’s Lecture in Room 315 of Wheeler Hall on Oct. 17. A former jazz and pop critic at the New York Times, Ratliff is the author of Coltrane: The Story of a Sound, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism.
In a related program on Oct. 16 at Morrison Hall, Ratliff will join renowned violinist Kim Kashkashian, Afro-Latin jazz percussionist John Santos and UC Berkeley associate professor of music Ken Ueno in a conversation about just who is a virtuoso — and how the concept changes in different cultures and genres.
The UC Berkeley Music Department offers regular free concerts at noon on Wednesdays, featuring gamelan, the University Gospel Choir, chamber music and more. It also has scheduled a number of evening and weekend concerts, and an experts’ panel discussion for an Old Time Music Convention on Sept. 22 that will conclude with a jam session with the panelists under a leafy Faculty Glade oak tree.
For more campus events, check our online calendar.