Coming attractions for fall: movements, masterpieces, Mother Earth and more

This fall’s calendar includes a daylong extravaganza of free arts performances, an epic musical journey exploring the complete symphonies of Tchaikovsky and John Malkovich in a tour de force role as a literary celebrity-cum-serial killer. Rounding out the calendar are programs certain to shed new light on the “Arab Spring” and the origins and evolution of democracy, as well as an authoritative assessment of the state of the U.S. economy by Berkeley’s own Robert Reich.

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 up-to-the-minute listing.

Encore performance

Mark Morris's performance of Dido and Aeneas

Mark Morris Dance Group perform "Dido and Aeneas," Sept.16-18, (photo Mark Morris Dance Group/Costas)

Cal Performances launches its season by opening its doors to the community with the second Fall Free for All, a full day of free performances showcasing dozens of musical, theatrical and dance groups. American Bach Soloists, AXIS Dance, the Wayne Wallace Quintet, Los Cenzontles Mexican Dance and Music, CK Ladzekpo and the African Music and Dance Ensemble, the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows and the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra are just a few of the artists slated to appear (Sunday, Sept. 25, 11 a.m-6 p.m., Zellerbach Hall, Hertz Hall, Wheeler Auditorium, Lower Sproul Plaza and Sather Gate).

Mark Morris’s Dido and Aeneas returns to Cal Performances for the first time in 11 years. Composed by Henry Purcell and considered the first great English opera, the work will be performed by several notable vocalists, including the celebrated mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe singing the double role of Queen Dido and The Sorceress (Friday–Saturday, Sept. 16-17, 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 18, 3 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

The Russians are coming

Maestro Valery Gergiev, a major interpreter of Russian masterpieces, leads the Mariinsky Orchestra in a three-concert exploration of all six Tchaikovsky symphonies (Friday–Saturday, Oct. 14-15, 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 16, 3 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

Killer theater

John Malkovich

John Malkovich in "The Infernal Comedy: Confessions of a Serial Killer," Oct. 21, (photo courtesy of Cal Performances)

Award-winning stage and screen actor John Malkovich stars in The Infernal Comedy: Confessions of a Serial Killer, a multidisciplinary performance that combines theater, opera and the music of Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart.  The Infernal Comedy recounts the story of Austria’s Jack Unterweger, a convicted murderer who becomes a literary celebrity only to murder many times again after being paroled. The performance features the Baroque ensemble Musica Angelica conducted by Martin Haselböck (Friday, Oct. 21, 8 p.m.,  Zellerbach Hall).

Desdemona, a new work co-commissioned by Cal Performances, inspired by Shakespeare’s Othello and written by Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison, stars Malian singer/songwriter Rokia Traoré as Barbary, Desdemona’s African maid.  The work draws back the veil on Desdemona and Barbary’s relationship, as Desdemona reflects on the tales Barbary shares from her homeland (Wednesday-Saturday, Oct. 26-29, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Playhouse).  Two related events, co-sponsored by the Townsend Center, are a lecture by director Peter Sellars, Desdemona Takes the Microphone: Toni Morrison and Shakespeare’s Hidden Women, (Thursday, Oct. 27, 5 p.m., Zellerbach Playhouse) and a Desdemona panel discussion, including Rokia Traoré in conversation with UC Berkeley scholars and Toni Morrison via Skype (Friday, Oct. 28, noon., Zellerbach Playhouse).

Her name is Annie. Or Anya. Or is it Annushka? She’s an artist, a physicist, a mother, a terrorist, dead, or alive. Martin Crimp’s groundbreaking experimental play Attempts on Her Life asks who has the right to name us, and what power does that naming have? (Friday-Saturday, 8 p.m., Oct. 7, 8, 14, and 15; Sunday, 2 p.m., Oct. 9 and 16, Zellerbach Playhouse).

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Gate Theatre of Dublin presents a double bill from the postmodernist genius of playwright Samuel Beckett, starring the distinguished Irish actor Barry McGovern. The company will perform Endgame, directed by Alan Stanford, and an hourlong distillation of Beckett’s novel, Watt, adapted by McGovern and directed by Tom Creed. Endgame and Watt will be performed together on opening night (Thursday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m., Zellerbach Playhouse), then rotate in separate performances through the engagement (Endgame: Friday-Saturday, Nov 18-19. 8 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 20, 3 p.m., Zellerbach Playhouse; Watt: Saturday, Nov. 19, 2 p.m., and Sunday, November 20, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Playhouse).

Shadow play

I Wayan Wija, one of Bali’s most innovative and dynamic dalangs (shadow masters) will perform a Balinese Wayang Kulit  (shadow play performance).  Wija will weave a story, combining amazing vocal techniques, storytelling, humor and puppet manipulation, accompanied by a gender wayang quartet: Carla Fabrizio, Lisa Gold, Paul Miller and Sarah Willner (Friday, Sept. 2, 8 p.m., Hertz Concert Hall).

Try McIntyre Project

Trey McIntyre Project, Nov. 18, (photo Basil Childers)


Dance debut and redux

The Trey McIntyre Project makes its Cal Performances debut with its trademark freewheeling energy and musicality. The company will perform three of McIntyre’s most recent works, including In Dreams (2007) set to the music of Roy Orbison, and Oh, Inverted World (2010), which will receive its first Bay Area performance (Friday, Nov. 18, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

Tanztheater Wuppertal returns to Cal Performances for the first time since the 2009 death of its founder, Pina Bausch. With them comes Bausch’s Cuban music-inspired Danzón (1995), never before seen on the West Coast. Accompanied by a musical montage comprising Mahler, Cilea, Giordano, Purcell, Saint-Saëns, Ben Webster, Billie Holiday and pop and traditional music from around the world (Friday-Saturday, Dec. 2 and 3, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

Family treats

Cal Performances’ First Stage for Families invites children and their grownups to experience the performing arts in one-hour, intimate productions.  The season begins with the Cashore Marionettes, a company that has redefined the art of puppetry, in a program titled Simple Gifts — a sequence of affecting scenes from everyday life set to music by Vivaldi, Strauss, Beethoven and Copland (Sunday, Oct. 23, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., Wheeler Auditorium).

Tomas Kubinet

Comedian Tomáš Kubínek, Nov. 25-27, (photo courtesy of Cal Performances)

Dinosaurs vs. Robots features robotics and paleontology activities for the whole family (Sunday, Oct. 30, 11 am, Lawrence Hall of Science). In the spirit of Halloween, kids dressed as a dinosaur or robot will receive a free ticket to the Dinosaurs Alive! 3-D film.

Czechoslovakian-born Tomáš Kubínek, “Certified Lunatic and Master of the Impossible,” whose unique brand of physical comedy is simultaneously virtuosic vaudevillian derring-do and irrepressible charm, presents a Thanksgiving fête for the whole family (Friday-Saturday, Nov. 25-26, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m; Sunday, Nov. 27, 3 p.m., Zellerbach Playhouse).

Mystery by the bay

Since the publication of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon in 1930, San Francisco has been recognized as the birthplace of modern crime fiction. In Bullets Across the Bay, a panel brings together local authors Lucha Corpi, Eddie Muller and Kelli Stanley for a discussion of the Bay Area as a backdrop for mystery and detective novels. Janet Rudolph, editor of the Mystery Readers Journal and teacher of mystery fiction, will moderate (Friday, Oct. 14, 4 p.m., 190 Doe Library).

Looking back

Doe Library celebrates its centennial with the Doe Library Wall, an interactive installation. Appearing in various locations during the centennial year, the “Wall” poses a changing series of questions and invites viewer response (Tuesday-Thursday, Sept 6-8, Doe Library, Heyns (East) Reading Room, 2nd floor). A Bancroft Library exhibit, California Women and the Vote, celebrates another centennial: the anniversary of woman suffrage in California. Brought to light are the faces of the state’s suffragists, many from the Bay Area, along with those of the movement’s supporters and opponents (Aug. 22-Dec. 16, corridor between the Doe and Bancroft Libraries).

To help commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1991 Oakland-Berkeley Hills firestorm, Richard Misrach recently donated to the Berkeley Art Museum several seldom-seen photographs he took in the wake of the disaster. This free community evening (Tuesday, Oct. 11, 5:30 p.m., Berkeley Art Museum) will give patrons the first opportunity to view these remarkable images in the exhibition 1991: The Oakland-Berkeley Fire Aftermath, Photographs by Richard Misrach (Wednesday-Sunday, Oct. 12-Feb. 5, 11 a.m.- 5 p.m., Berkeley Art Museum).

Combat boots artwork

Combat Paper Project exhibit, Oct. 27-Nov. 5

The Combat Paper Project works with survivors of conflict to create works of art directly from their clothing and uniforms using traditional paper-making techniques (opening reception: Wed. Oct. 26, 4 p.m., and exhibit: Tuesday-Saturday, Oct. 27-Nov. 5, noon-5 p.m., Worth Ryder Gallery, 116 Kroeber). Related events include a lecture by one of the project’s founders, Drew Cameron (Monday, Sept. 12, 7:30 p.m., Kroeber Hall) and a paper-making workshop for veterans (Wednesday-Friday, Sept. 21-23, 10 a.m., 178 Wurster Hall).

Civil Rights Under Three Hats, at the Graduate School of Journalism, showcases the photographs of Matt Herron, taken while wearing the “hats” of photojournalist, social documentarian and movement propagandist. Having moved to Mississippi in 1963, Herron, deeply influenced by Dorothea Lange, hoped to document the process of social change taking place in the Deep South. He organized a team of photographers who followed this process during the tumultuous summer of 1964, and subsequently committed his cameras to the organizing work of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (opening reception: Friday, Sept. 16, 7 p.m., 105 North Gate Hall; exhibit: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., through Dec. 1, North Gate Hall).

Journey of the mind

Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, associate professor of neurosurgery and oncology at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, presents the Rhoda Goldman Lecture in Health Policy, Beyond the Borders of the Mind (Tuesday, Oct. 11, 5:30 p.m., Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall). Named as one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in 2008, Quinones-Hinojosa will publish his third book this fall, Becoming Dr. Q – My Journey From Migrant Farm Worker to Brain Surgeon.

I click, therefore I am

How does the culture of always-on/always-on-you connection give shape to new relationships and sensibilities, and to a new state of the self? Sherry Turkle, professor of the social studies of science and technology at MIT,  investigates how the Internet — combined with other 21st-century technologies such as psychopharmacology, robotics, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, biotechnology and artificial intelligence — raises fundamental questions about selfhood, identity, community and what it means to be human in Technology as the Architect of Our Intimacies (Tuesday, Sept. 6, 5 p.m., Sutardja Dai Hall, Banatao Auditorium).

Protecting the planet

Sylvia Earle

Sylvia Earle explores the ocean in two lectures, Oct. 12-13, (photo Becky Hale)

Bill McKibben, author, journalist and founder, explains how the climate movement is  grappling with the reality that the fossil fuel-industry’s financial power is at the heart of the climate-change problem in Global and Local: Dispatches from the Climate Fight, the Horace Albright Lecture in Conservation (Thursday, Sept. 8, 6 p.m., Bechtel Auditorium).

Sylvia Earle, president of The SEA Alliance and “Explorer in Residence” at the National Geographic Society, shares the adventures and challenges in protecting regions rich in marine biodiversity in Mission Blue: Protecting the Blue Heart of the Planet, the first of two Hitchcock Lectures (Wednesday, Oct. 12, 4:10 p.m., Chevron Auditorium, International House). In her second lecture, Earle examines how the technology to take humans directly into the sea for research and exploration evolved over the years and what the future holds for human exploration of “inner space” in Exploring the Deep Frontier (Thursday, Oct. 13, 4:10 p.m., Chevron Auditorium, International House).

Nukes in Asia

How has North Korea (despite its economic dysfunction and isolation) stymied or circumvented the efforts of the United States and others to prevent its nuclear weapons development for decades? In No Exit: North Korea, Nuclear Weapons and International Security, Jonathan Pollack, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, chronicles the political-military evolution of the Korean Peninsula since 1945 (Wednesday, Sept. 21, 4 p.m., Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton, 6th floor).

With 14 nuclear reactors in operation and another 27 under construction, China is rushing to increase its nuclear-generation capacity to secure rising energy demands and to mitigate climate-change threats. Yi-Chong Xu, research professor at the Centre for Governance and Public Policy and the Griffith Asia Institute at Griffith University, discusses The Politics of Nuclear Energy in China (Wednesday, Oct. 12, 4 p.m., Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton, 6th floor).

Arab Spring

crowds in Cairo

"Egypt: the Story Behind the Revolution" film screening, Sept. 29 (photo Khaled Sayed)

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies presents two lectures and a film exploring the recent events in the Middle East: Yemen: Revolution in a Fragile State with Khaled Fattah, lecturer at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Lund, Sweden (Thursday, Sept. 29, 5 p.m.); Egypt: the Story Behind the Revolution, screening followed by a discussion with the director, Khaled Sayed (Thursday, Oct. 13., 5 p.m.); The Libyan Uprising of 2011 in Historical Context with Mia Fuller, associate professor of Italian Studies (Thursday, Nov. 17, 5 p.m.). All events take place in the Sultan room, 340 Stephens.

Experiments in democracy big and small

Rogers Smith, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, explores whether America’s constitutional democracy can form a more perfect union out of its ever-growing economic, religious, racial and ethnic diversity in the Jefferson Memorial Lecture: The American Experiment: A 21st Century Assessment (Thursday, Sept. 22, 4:10 p.m., Chevron Auditorium, International House).

Three panels, made up of redistricting commissioners, experts and practitioners, will look at the results of the state’s citizens redistricting commission and what it means for California’s future in A Brave New World: California’s Redistricting Experiment (Friday, Sept. 30, noon, Bancroft Hotel, Great Hall).

Inside Peru’s most notorious prison, an unlikely democracy has emerged. Bloc 7, which houses those accused of drug trafficking, is the site of yearly elections, with everything a political campaign on the outside would have: door-to-door politicking, horse-trading, intrigue, campaign parties and rallies, speeches and even a secret ballot. Daniel Alarcón, visiting scholar and award-winning author, spent two weeks inside Lurigancho. He brings to light An Unlikely Democracy: Inside Peru’s Lurigancho Prison (Monday, Nov. 14, noon, 370 Dwinelle Hall).

Mind the wealth gap

Robert Reich

Robert Reich on the economy, Sept. 1 and Nov. 15

Robert Reich, professor of public policy, former secretary of labor under President Clinton and author of 13 books, including the recent Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future, will present two lectures: Globaloney: The Dangerous Myths of Globalization (Thursday, Sept. 1, 8 p.m., International House) and Class Warfare in America, the 15th annual Mario Savio Memorial Lecture (Tuesday, Nov. 15, 8 p.m., Pauley Ballroom, Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center.)

Around campus

Last year, Stanford’s Cardinal and the Cal Bears shared the Pac-10 title in volleyball. In the first Big Spike of the 2011 season, the teams face off in a heated duel (Tuesday, Sept. 13, 7 p.m., Haas Pavilion).

Choose from California natives, rare trees and shrubs, ferns, cacti, bulbs, vines and perennials at the UC Botanical Garden’s Fall Plant Sale (Sunday, Sept. 25, 9 a.m., UC Botanical Garden).