From visits by three prominent Chinese or Taiwanese artists, to a new opera based on the children’s novel The Secret Garden, to understanding the family dog, UC Berkeley’s spring calendar boasts events that will engage, entertain and explain. A proposal on how to feed the world’s soon-to-be 9 billion mouths and a series on re-imagining our relationship to technology offer predictions and prescriptions for the future.
This short list only scratches the surface; events may change, and new events will be added daily. Visit the Critic’s Choice website for a full listing and to keep up with the latest.
New cultural revolution
Influential playwright Stan Lai has stretched the boundaries of the theatrical experience in his native Taiwan, in China and around the world. During his residency at the Arts Research Center, Lai will participate in two public conversations with faculty, Theatrical Engagement: Stan Lai in Conversation with Wen-hsin Yeh (Tuesday, Jan. 29, 5 p.m., Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton, 6th Floor) and Stan Lai in Conversation with Philip Kan Gotanda (Wednesday, Feb. 6, 5:30 p.m., Durham Studio Theater, Dwinelle Hall), appear at a screening of his Peach Blossom Land (Thursday, Jan. 31, 7 p.m., Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft Way) and deliver the keynote address at the symposium Temporal Shifts: Time Across Contemporary Chinese and Taiwanese Art Practices (Friday, Feb. 1, 9:30 a.m., Berkeley Art Museum Theater, 2621 Durant).
One of China’s most successful writers, Yan Lianke will talk about writing fiction in China today. He will discuss how to compromise in life while remaining faithful in one’s writing in Living Without Dignity and Writing with Integrity (Thursday, March 21, 4 p.m., Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton, 6th Floor).
Possibly the greatest popular Chinese musician of his generation, Zuoxiao Zuzhou, draws on rock and roll, Chinese folk and operatic sounds and electronic textures. Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies joins him for conversation in The Missing Master: “China” in Zuoxiao Zuzhou’s Music and Art (Thursday, April 4, 6 p.m., 145 Dwinelle Hall).
World of film
A screening of three award-winning films from the San Francisco Arab Film Festival includes Farewell Exile, which won Outstanding Short Narrative, Karama Has No Walls, which won Outstanding Documentary, and Yamo, which received Honorable Mention for Outstanding Documentary (Friday, March 14, 5 p.m., 340 Stephens Hall).
La Yuma, Nicaragua’s first full-length feature film in more than 20 years, tells the story of Yuma, a tough girl who dreams of escaping poverty by becoming a boxer (Wednesday, March 6, 7 p.m., 2060 Valley Life Sciences Building).
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago brings three premiere works to Berkeley: a world premiere created by Alonzo King and performed by a supergroup of 28 dancers from both Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and King’s company, Alonzo King LINES Ballet; the West Coast debut of Alejandro Cerrudo’s Little mortal jump and the Bay Area bow of Sharon Eyal and Gaï Behar’s Too Beaucoup (Friday-Saturday, Feb. 1-2, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).
Recognized as the leader in the flamenco dance form, Noche Flamenca co-founder and artistic director Martín Santangelo and his celebrated star, Soledad Barrio, take the audience on a bittersweet journey of love, loss, separation and unity in their program La Noche Quebrada—literally meaning “The Broken Night” (Friday, Feb. 8, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).
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Trisha Brown Dance Company presents three works by its namesake artistic director. I’m going to toss my arms—if you catch them they’re yours was choreographed by Trisha Brown using music for piano and electronic tape by former Mills College composition professor Alvin Curran. Les Yeux et l’âme, set to Jean-Phillipe Rameau’s Pygmalion, and Newark, with music by Peter Zummo, follow (Friday, March 15, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).
Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg and its artistic director, Boris Eifman, bring their new production of Rodin, featuring music by Maurice Ravel, Camille Saint-Saëns and Jules Massenet (Friday-Saturday, May 10-11, 8 p.m., Sunday, May 12, 3 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).
Cal Performances’ third annual Ojai North! opens with the world premiere of new choreography to Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring by 2013 Ojai Music director and choreographer Mark Morris. Set to The Bad Plus’s re-scoring of the explosive masterpiece for piano, bass and drums, Rite of Spring will be performed by the jazz trio and the Mark Morris Dance Group (Wednesday, June 12, 10 p.m., Hertz Hall).
Cal Performances and the San Francisco Opera present the world premiere of composer Nolan Gasser and librettist Carey Harrison’s The Secret Garden, a new opera commissioned by the San Francisco Opera and based on the beloved children’s novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This opera will be conducted by Sara Jobin, directed by Jose Maria Condemi and will feature scenic visual designs by Naomie Kremer (Friday, March 1, 7:30 p.m., Saturdays, March 2 & 9, 7:30 p.m., Sundays, March 3 & 10, 3 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).
BareStage Productions presents the Tony-award-winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Fridays and Saturdays, April 12-27, 8 p.m., and Sundays, April 14, 21 & 28, 5 p.m., Choral Rehearsal Hall, Cesar Chavez Student Center).
The UC Berkeley Gospel Chorus commemorates gospel radio choirs, gospel musicians and special guest gospel deejays who popularized gospel music through the use of media and religious public broadcast networks (Sunday, April 28, 3 p.m., Hertz Hall).
Violinist Richard Tognetti and his Australian Chamber Orchestra return to Cal Performances with two programs: Prokofiev’s Visions fugitives and Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Prelude and Scherzo, Op. 11, at the first concert, followed by Haydn’s Symphonies Nos. 4 and 49, Brett Dean’s Concerto for Electric Violin (with Tognetti) and Dvořák’s Serenade for Strings (Friday-Saturday, March 22-23, 8 p.m., Hertz Concert Hall).
Silence considers the absence of sound as both subject and medium in modern and contemporary art and film. The exhibition includes work by Joseph Beuys, Stan Brakhage, Giorgio de Chirico, Maya Deren, Nathaniel Dorsky, Marcel Duchamp, René Magritte, Christian Marclay, Nam June Paik, Robert Rauschenberg, Doris Salcedo, Tino Sehgal, Stephen Vitiello and Andy Warhol (Wednesday-Sunday, Jan. 30 through April 28, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Berkeley Art Museum).
Objects of beauty
Among the treasures on display in Hidden Treasures of UC Berkeley’s South Asian and Southeast Asian Special Collections are the court fee and revenue stamps of the Princely States of India; a 10th century Vietnamese imperial proclamation; palm leaf and Sanskrit paper manuscripts; and photos, maps, diaries and letters (Daily, April 1 through August 31, The Bernice Layne Brown Gallery, Doe Library).
Fiat lux riffs
Fiat Lux, Fiat Lunch, Fiat Futures presents a student-driven vision for the future of the university. The exhibit was developed over the fall of 2012 and curated by Art Practice/New Genres 142: Fiat Lunch. This undergraduate course was supported by On The Same Page, a university-wide initiative that took the 1967 publication of Ansel Adams and Nancy Newhall’s book of photos of the University of California,”Fiat Lux,” as a starting point for classes, seminars, events and research investigating the university’s past, present and future (reception: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 4 p.m.; exhibit: Tuesday-Saturday, Feb. 14-23, noon-5 p.m.,Worth Ryder Art Gallery, Kroeber Hall).
Berkeley Dance Project: Aperture responds to Ansel Adams’ vision as well and brings new perspectives of modern life into focus through four works by Lisa Wymore, Katie Faulkner, Scott Wells and Chia-Yi Seetoo (Friday-Saturday, April 19-28, 8 p.m. and Sundays, April 21 & 28, 2 p.m., Zellerbach Playhouse).
Women of many words
Award-winning poet and writer Cathy Park Hong kicks off the spring Lunch Poems series (Thursday, Feb. 7, 12:10, Morrison Library).
Story Hour in the Library presents author Joyce Carol Oates. Oates is recognized for some of the most enduring fiction of our time — including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde — and has also published poetry, plays, essays, memoir and criticism (Thursday, Feb. 14, 5 p.m., Morrison Library in Doe Library).
Best-known for her fantasy works, the Earthsea books, novelist, poet and essayist, Ursula Le Guin discusses What Can Novels Do? (Tuesday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m., Sibley Auditorium, Bechtel Engineering Center).
Lawrence Lessig, professor of law and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, examines The Corrupting Influence of Money on Politics (Tuesday, Jan. 29, 4:30 p.m., Booth Auditorium, Boalt Hall).
Kent Lieginger, senior vice president for managed care and customer operations at Genentech, will present the third in a series of lectures on implementing health-care reform in California. His talk will address the Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Innovation, Access, and Affordability for Drugs and Biologics (Thursday, Feb. 28. 4 p.m., 101 Morgan Hall).
Afghanistan, next steps
Special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction John Sopko will speak on the prospects for Afghanistan to transition to full responsibility for its own security and reconstruction in America Looks at Afghanistan 2014 (Tuesday, March, 12, 4 p.m., 223 Moses Hall).
Through technology, we are rapidly reinventing the ways we relate to each other and to the world around us. In Social Prosthetics: Technology and the Human Form, artist Kate Hartman will present a collection of prototypes, tools and methods and discuss the challenges and opportunities for work that sits close to the skin (Monday, Feb. 4, 7:30 p.m., Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall).
In Art of the Exoskeleton: 3D Printing for the Human Condition, Scott Summit, designer at Bespoke Products, will showcase some of the ways that a mass-customized process stands to improve the quality of life for people with needs unmet by mass-produced solutions (Monday, April 1, 7:30 p.m., Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall).
“There’s an app for that” … or maybe not
The “Big Ideas” flowing from Silicon Valley often focus upon applying a technological solution to the many intractable problems of life. Evgeny Morozov discusses his new book, To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism, which challenges us to interrogate these technological solutions (Monday, April 1, 3:30 p.m. (reception), 4 p.m. (talk), Boalt Hall room 105).
Nine billion served
During his 26 years in Congress and subsequent service as president of the Asia Foundation, Douglas Bereuter confronted issues of global poverty, food production and sustainability. In Can the World Feed 9 Billion People? A Global Agricultural Development Initiative, he addresses these critical issues facing the world (Wednesday, March 13, 4 p.m., Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall).
Australia’s Circus Oz’s latest production, From the Ground Up, is built upon a construction theme and is performed to original music from the company’s five-piece band led by Carl Polke, who plays the guitar — both electric and air (Friday, Feb. 15, 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, 2 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 17, 3 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).
Cal Day, the campus’ annual open house and preview day, offers visitors of all ages an inside look at the world’s leading public university. Admission is free to all — including youngsters eager to see a giant T. rex, families who want to explore campus museums and prospective students looking for information on academic programs (Saturday, April, 20, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., UC Berkeley campus).
Get ready for the ultimate showdown of robots built by Bay Area high school teams and UC Berkeley engineering students at UC Berkeley Pioneers in Engineering Robotics Competition (Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28, 10 a.m., Lawrence Hall of Science).
Domestic dogs, Canis familiaris, have insinuated themselves into our society and imagination: Long present in our art and narratives, they are now ubiquitous in American homes. Alexandra Horowitz, author and cognitive scientist, will discuss the dog’s historical and contemporary role, attributions typically made to dogs and an alternative empirical approach to thinking about dogs in Considering Dogs (Thursday, April 4, 4:10 p.m., Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave., Berkeley).
As part of the College of Environmental Design’s Berkeley Circus Soirée, Robert Hammond, co-founder and executive director of Friends of the High Line, will discuss the public park built atop an abandoned, elevated rail line on the west side of Manhattan (Friday, March 1, 6 p.m., University Club, California Memorial Stadium).
From regionally appropriate plants native to Mediterranean climates to rare carnivorous plants and woodland gems, the Spring Plant Sale is a destination for weekend gardeners and collectors alike (members: Friday, April 26, 5-7:30 p.m.; public: Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., UC Botanical Garden).