With just a few more weeks of 2020 remaining, now is the time to indulge in the season’s best cultural events from the comfort of home. This week, there are plenty of celebratory performances, concerts, exhibitions, and more to get you in the holiday spirit.
Experience an activist adaptation of a Dickens classic
Actor, playwright, and San Francisco Mime Troupe member Michael Gene Sullivan brings his unique take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to the masses with the public radio broadcast, A Red Carol. The 21st-century activist adaptation is free to hear and features Ebenezer Scrooge as a corporate banker and Bob Cratchit and his family as residents living in a homeless encampment. The new spin on the holiday classic will debut online starting Friday, Dec. 11, and will be available through Sunday, Jan. 17.
Friday, Dec. 11 through Sunday, Jan. 17.
Don’t miss the magic of Smuin’s Christmas Ballet
You don’t have to leave home to enjoy the dance stylings of San Francisco’s Smuin Ballet. This year, the contemporary company is bringing The Christmas Ballet directly to viewers with virtual showings that include brand-new works and select favorites filmed in their studio, followed by hour-long recordings of memorable past performances.
The streams rotate between three different programs, followed by an archival compilation of past editions of The Christmas Ballet. Program A features world premieres by Amy Seiwert and Cassidy Isaacson, including Silver Bells and Jingle Bells; Program B includes world premieres by Rex Wheeler and by the Company Artists of Pod B with pieces like Snow Day and White Christmas; and Program C highlights world premieres by Ben Needham-Wood, Tessa Barbour, and Brennan Wall, including the classics Bells of Dublin and Drummer Boy.
Friday, Dec. 11 through Thursday, Dec. 24.
Join the Jewish Film Institute in celebrating 40 years of Jewish films
Take in eight days of outstanding cinema and a special 40th-anniversary celebration during the Jewish Film Institute’s 40th Anniversary Hanukkah Celebration. The opening night trailer cavalcade features a collection of some of the organizers’ favorite San Francisco Jewish Film Festival trailers from the past, remarks from founders Deborah Kaufman and Janis Plotkin, along with surprise guests and a VIP sneak preview of upcoming films. To make the cinematic experience truly cozy, JFI has partnered with Oakland’s Grand Bakery to provide viewers the opportunity to nosh on sweet treats during the event. Tickets are free and the opening night celebration is open to all.
Saturday, Dec. 12, 6 –7 p.m.
Transport yourself to Italy without leaving the Bay
California artist Ira Yeager brings his new series of imaginative paintings to the North Bay with the exhibition, I Giardini Segreti di Sicilia. Based on memories of his many visits to Italy, Yeager uses vibrant colors and a variety of compositional styles to transport viewers to another time and place filled with florals and Sicilian landscapes. The paintings’ sweeping cinematic views are said to be reminiscent of Vittorio De Sica’s film, The Gardens of the Finzi-Continis. The exhibition is featured at Napa Valley’s Yӓger Galerie in Calistoga.
Through Tuesday, Dec. 15.
Admire the work of artists adapting to our modern world
The most challenging eras often produce the most imaginative artwork and 2020 is sure to be no exception. The New Museum Los Gatos (NUMU) presents Art in the Time of Corona, its inaugural benefit auction exhibition of artwork created during, and inspired by, the social and political upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic. Juried by curator and gallerist, Craig Krull, the collection explores artists’ explorations into new media during this time of isolation and uncertainty. The exhibition is on view at the NUMU galleries, as well as virtually through the NUMU website, and also features contributions from community members who participated in the “Create in Place” challenge to share how they remained creative while sheltering at home.
Friday, Dec. 11 through Saturday, March 6.
Hear the hopeful harmonies of the Ragazzi Boys Chorus
Artistic and Executive Director Kent Jue leads the Silicon Valley’s Ragazzi Boys Chorus in Beyond the Stars, a virtual concert infused with optimism for the holiday season. The show’s Ragazzi Virtual Studio technology will stream the concert to audiences, with choristers — all boys ages 6-18 — performing in real-time from their homes. The concert includes classic seasonal hits, as well as timely songs focused on hope and resilience and the premiere of pre-recorded chorus videos. A suggested donation of $25 per viewer helps support the award-winning Bay Area’ music and performance organization for boys.
Sunday, Dec. 13, 4 p.m.
Live out your artistic fantasies from the comfort of home
It doesn’t look like studio classes will resume any time soon, but the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) still wants to encourage would-be Picassos to explore their potential with its Open Drawing Studio, which offers free all-ages drawing lessons using live (clothed!) models. The six-class series features different weekly lessons in life drawing taught by artists, and only requires an internet connection, a pencil and paper (although fancier materials are welcome as well). The lessons give both beginners and advanced drawers opportunities to explore drawing techniques and all six sessions will remain on the website indefinitely so art enthusiasts can access them at any time. The first three classes — Spooky Horror Drawing Show, Exploring Figure Drawing with a Range of Media, and Drawing Activism — are already available, and three new episodes will be added Friday evenings through Dec. 18.
Check out a compelling conversation with Senator Cory Booker
In her interactive series, Conversations Across the Diaspora, author Sarah Ladipo Manyika speaks with a variety of changemakers; this week, she’ll chat with U.S. Senator Cory Booker. The free hour-long talk is part of Manyika’s series for San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora and will surely touch on many of Booker’s impressive accomplishments, including his national leadership in the effort to fix the criminal justice system and end mass incarceration.
Friday, Dec. 11, noon–1 p.m.
Observe the many traditions the holiday season has to offer
Ring in this special time of year with Simple Gifts, a multicultural celebration of holiday songs and traditions from a variety of diverse backgrounds. This virtual world premiere features a long list of the Bay Area’s renowned theater veterans who share music and memories in celebration of Kwanzaa, Christmas, Hanukkah, Noche Buena, Diwali, Las Posadas, and more. The show will be streamed on Vimeo Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays throughout the month and features performers like Maya Greenberg, Bryan Munar and Michelle Jordan.
Streaming Dec. 10 through Sunday, Dec. 27, Thursday–Saturday at 7 p.m.,
Sunday at 2 p.m.
Enjoy the sweet string sounds of the Dover Quartet
Hear Grammy nominees, the Dover Quartet, deliver what’s certain to be an astounding performance of Haydn, Ligeti, and Dvořák during this week’s Cal Performances at Home. The famous foursome was once heralded as “the young American string quartet of the moment” by the New Yorker, and took home every award at the 2013 Banff Competition. Recently appointed as the first Penelope P. Watkins Ensemble in Residence at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, the Dover Quartet offers audiences clarity and nuance in historically complex works. Tune in at 6:30 p.m., before the streaming premiere at 7 p.m., for a pre-concert conversation with members of the Dover Quartet and Cal Performances executive and artistic director Jeremy Geffen.
Thursday, Dec. 10, 7 p .m.; available on-demand through March 10.