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What to do this Weekend: Oct 15-18

by Cristina Schreil

The Bay Area has all the trappings of a delightfully crisp fall weekend. There’s plenty to experience from the realms of theater, dance, music, film and more.

It’s a riveting week in particular for those missing fall fundraisers, parties and other bustling gatherings (they live on virtually, and, in some cases, with as much enthusiasm), with a lineup of several fêtes, plus two film festivals.

Check out our curated roundup of cultural activities and offerings below.

Grab your popcorn: MVFF is underway

Mill Valley Film Festival has kicked off, with screenings and events (from panel talks to workshops) through Oct. 18. This year’s festival — the 43rd — includes six world premieres and six U.S. premiers and special tributes to film legends Viola Davis, Kate Winslet, Sophia Loren and Anthony Hopkins. Naturally, drive-in is big this year, and you can catch international and US features and documentaries at Lagoon Park at Marin Center.

For those staying closer to home, there’s plenty to stream online.

Through Sunday, Oct. 18. Online tickets are $10 ($8.50 for members); drive-in tickets are $40 per vehicle ($35 for members).

Enjoy a topical radio play from Berkeley Rep

Did you know that author Sinclair Lewis penned a novel about a demagogue who becomes the U.S. president through a campaign to make the nation “great”? No, Lewis didn’t write this mere years ago — he created it amid fascism-gripped Europe in the 1930s. Drawing prescient parallels decades later, Berkeley Repertory staged an adaptation of the work in 2016’s  It Can’t Happen Here, by Tony Taccone and Bennett S. Cohen.

Another evolution unfolds this weekend amid similar circumstances: Lisa Peterson, who directed the 2016 production, again steers Berkeley Rep in reviving the story as a radio play in four episodes — fitting for an election year where social distancing is still paramount. If you enjoyed the 2016 production, rejoice: Much of the original cast returns. 

Enjoy the audio drama for free and on demand, starting this week. On its opening night, catch a live Q&A with the creators after the first broadcast. Listen through Nov. 8.

Debuts Tuesday, Oct. 13, 5 p.m. on YouTube. Free.


Ride a virtual trolley around the city: San Francisco Trolley Dances are back!

In a year where the theme is “shelter in place,” it’s fitting that the annual trolley dances reflect another collective realization of 2020: We can create anywhere. This weekend marks Epiphany Dance’s 17th annual San Francisco Trolley Dances — this year, the beloved spectacle can be accessed entirely via the interwebs, spread out across six 10-minute performances livestreamed from around the city.

Performers from several Bay Area companies create at specific sites along a historic MUNI route, with dancers responding to their physical environment, architecture and the history of the city. Locations include the Museum of Craft and Design in Dogpatch and Bayview’s Laughing Monk Brewery. Follow along with an interactive map of San Francisco. 

Epiphany Dance Theater’s artistic director Kim Epifano curates a lineup of participating companies, which includes Ephiphany Dance Theater, Arenas Dance Company, Post:Ballet, Fog Beast, Jenny McAllister’s 13th Floor and Zaccho Dance Theatre. 

Saturday, Oct. 17 and Sunday, Oct. 18, 11 a.m. online. Free. 


Witness a complex family drama in the opening of CAAMFest FORWARD film festival

This week brings CAAMFest FORWARD, a film festival of Asian and Asian American stories. There’s live virtual film screenings, on-demand screenings and opportunities to watch at San Francisco’s drive-in theater at Fort Mason Center.

Among the many scheduled events is a chance to watch a special festival-opening screening with the Asian Art Museum, which presents the feature film Coming Home Again, an intimate drama about a mother, son and family expectations by director Wayne Wang. 

This screening — the film’s U.S. premiere —also features a Q&A with Wang, actors and CAAM staff.

Friday, Oct. 16, 7 p.m. on Zoom.


For info on CAAMFest FORWARD, visit

Groove with a jazz great

Taking the digital main stage at SFJAZZ this week is Mary Stallings, who the New York Times hailed as the “best jazz singer alive today.” Stallings is joined by the Bill Charlap Trio, in a performance originally recorded in March 2018. “Stallings has had a long history with SFJAZZ,” organizers write, noting the SF native’s past performances at the venue, include SFJAZZ Center’s opening night. In 2011, Stallings received a Lifetime Achievement Award at SFJAZZ’s annual gala.

She and pianist Charlap perform with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington.

Friday, Oct. 16, 5 p.m. online. Memberships are $5 a month.


Pull up to a virtual table at the GLBT Gala

The GLBT Historical Society’s gala is this Friday! Hosted by Peaches Christ and Marga Gomez, the fete is titled: “Reunion: Making History.” Expect “powerful performances, inspiring presentations and a heartfelt celebration of those who have paved the way.”

Among several awards honoring key LBGTQ Bay Area figures, there will be performances by Freddie Seipoldt and Breanna Sinclairé. A virtual auction includes rare (and awesome) items, including vintage photography and posters.

Friday, Oct. 16, at 6 p.m. online. $25 suggested donation.


Speak for the trees

Among the nightmarish stressors of our recent Northern California fires is the fear of losing our great redwoods. Cue: an evening devoted to the cause of saving the trees, vitalized by fun festivities and celebrity appearances. 

Take Me to the Trees: A Redwoods Celebration transports you from your home to a virtual tour through the redwoods. There’s also musical entertainment by Grammy-nominated country artist CAM and a virtual dance party with Bay Area musician and filmmaker Michael Franti. There’s also redwoods trivia and a live auction of unique experiences in the redwoods.

The evening benefits and is presented by Save the Redwoods League, aimed to protect California coast redwood and giant sequoia forests. 

Saturday, Oct. 17, 5 p.m. Free.


Behold fashion and wisdom from Chinatowns far and wide

In 2014, authors Andria Lo and Valerie Luu had a sterling idea for the Instagram age: to photograph and interview Chinatown’s most fashionable elders. Now, their efforts make up an entire book, Chinatown Pretty, chronicling seniors with swagger across multiple US cities. 

Lo, Luu and their book are at the center of a talk hosted by the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, presented in partnership with Eastwind Books of Berkeley. Following is a Q&A session with the audience.

Saturday, Oct.r 17, 1 p.m. on Zoom and YouTube Live. $0–$5. 


Delve into ballet’s roots in Russia

Starting this week is a trio of illuminating talks from San Francisco Ballet, with the first focusing on how ballet first took root in Europe, and then spread around the world.

The first of “Ballet Insights” specifically highlights the Russian style, “from Petipa to today.” Hear from SF Ballet School faculty members Larissa Ponomarenko and Viktor Plotnikov. Following a brief lecture is a demonstration and panel talk. 

Sunday, Oct. 18, 1 p.m. on Zoom. $25; $20 for subscribers and donors.


Welcome Bond (Tim Bond) to TheatreWorks (with love)

Calling all theater lovers (and wordplay enthusiasts): Bay Area nonprofit TheatreWorks Silicon Valley celebrates its new artistic director Tim Bond with a stylishly retro theme. “From TheatreWorks with Love” promises to be a unique fundraiser fête, with wines, food and decorations delivered to your home before an evening of theatrical entertainment, guided mixology and an auction. Ticket tier pricing follows a James Bond theme, of course, with the livestream access and tickets to the theater’s upcoming 51st season.

Proceeds benefit TheatreWorks, which, like many theaters, has been impacted by COVID-19.

Saturday, Oct. 17, 5 p.m.; a pre-show countdown begins at 4:30 p.m..  


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