Weekender: The Top Things to Do Over the Next Three Days in the East Bay


Good morning! Today, as you surely know, is both Veteran's Day and 11/11/11. This weekend is going to be magical.

The Soldier's Tale
Pairing Igor Stravinsky's visionary score and a French libretto by C. F. Ramuz, The Soldier's Tale is traditionally performed with a seven-piece chamber orchestra, three actors, and a dancer, or in recital. But since the work's 1918 premiere, artists from Frank Zappa to Wynton Marsalis have created adaptations. The latest comes from Aurora Theatre artistic director Tom Ross and former San Francisco Ballet prima ballerina Muriel Maffre; their reimagining premieres at the Aurora Theatre (2081 Addison St., Berkeley) during the venue's twentieth-anniversary season. Though classically trained at the Paris Opéra Ballet School, Maffre is avant-garde at heart, a quality Ross complements with his own free-spirited creativity. "We like to shake things up every once in a while," Ross said, and their Soldier's Tale certainly does, calling on actors L. Peter Callender (the Narrator) and Joan Mankin (the Devil) to dance as well as recite Donald Pippin's translated text with poetic cadence, and casting Maffre as both ballerina (the King's Daughter) and master of the life-size puppet that portrays Joseph, the Soldier. Not your typical holiday fare, to be sure. Yet there is joy and beauty in this Soldier's Tale: the Chagall-inspired design, the sublime performers, and the score. The Soldier's Tale runs November 17 through December 18, with previews Friday through Wednesday, November 11-16. See website for full schedule and show times; $10-$55. 510-843-4822 or AuroraTheatre.org. — Claudia Bauer

Too $hort, Kev Choice, and Martin Luther
What do Too $hort and Kev Choice have in common, beyond the fact that they're both Oakland rappers who resettled in Atlanta in search of opportunity and prosperity? Turns out they also both claim the 99 percent — not as an income bracket so much as an identity category. Both artists voiced rousing support for last week's general strike in Oakland and announced plans to write songs about it. On Friday, Nov. 11, they'll court the muse together, in the company of fabulous local soul singer Martin Luther, who is indisputably one of the Bay Area's most underappreciated balladeers. It'll be a rare chance to catch three key members of Oakland's hip-hop and soul dynasty performing in one place. And it's safe to say their music will be topical. At The New Parish (579 18th St., Oakland). 10 p.m., $20, $25. TheNewParish.com. — Rachel Swan

Kinetic Steam Works Roll Out!
There's nothing quite like a party to blow off a little steam — and at Kinetic Steam Works' annual Roll Out! celebration, steam-blowing is actually the order of the evening. The party put on by the West Oakland-based group of artists, fabricators, and engineers will showcase scores of steam-powered mechanical entertainment, including a nine-ton wood-fired steam engine and steam-powered abominable snow cones. That's in addition to copious amounts of food, libations, and live music by bands like the old-timey acoustic-folk Sour Mash Hug Band and the Southern-soul inspired Lord Loves a Working Man. At Kinetic Steam Works (2525 Mandela Parkway, Oakland) on Saturday, Nov. 12. Noon-10 p.m., $10-$100. 510-692-1498 or KineticSteamWorks.org. — Cassie Harwood

Perception and Economy of Form
Conventional art-historical wisdom dictates that the invention of photography made realistic painting obsolete. It's more accurate to say that it helped opened up new avenues for painting. Alex Nowik's nineteen acrylic paintings explore the still life tradition variously, with orderly compositions of brightly lit objects asserting themselves as flat abstract shapes ("Work Table," "Books with Bowl," "Oranges with Newspaper," "Baby Bok Choi," "Sliced Lemon"), and, more conceptually or satirically, with the randomly chosen objects grouped like strangers warily shepherded together for party snapshots ("Still Life with a Persimmon #2," "Stepladder with a Cat," "Toy Truck," and the insistently anthropomorphic "Yellow Radio"). Everyday objects become character actors in Nowik's deadpan group portraits. As galleristIndira Martina Morre writes, "There is no dramatic significance or hidden ideology, but thoughtful elimination and the exercise of perception." Perception and Economy of Form runs through Nov. 20 at Martina Johnston Gallery (1201 6th St., Berkeley). 510-558-0993 or MartinaJohnston.org. — DeWitt Cheng

The Real Nasty
The apparently indefatigable country trio The Real Nasty has issued its second album in the space of a single year, and this one ventures into harder, blues-rock territory. Whereas the group's 2010 debut relied largely on stark harmonies, rangy ballads, and the woodenness of Matthew "Smitty" Smith's cajon drum against the light thrum of Ryan Lukas' upright bass, this one places more emphasis on electric guitar. Indeed, guitarist Jacob Groopman has largely become the star of the show. That said, the group still relies on old-timey signifiers, like the honky-tonk shuffle rhythm of "Can't Stand It" or the growly, drawly lilt of Groopman's vocals on "Drunk Love" and "Baby & a Bottle." Last year The Real Nasty cut a "360" development deal with Berkeley label Ninth Street Opus, which enables the band members to work on music full time. Thus far, they've amassed a copious and ever-evolving repertoire. The band celebrates its album release at The Starry Plough Pub (3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) on Saturday, Nov. 12. 9:30 p.m., $5, $10. StarryPloughPub.com. — Rachel Swan


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