Coming this fall: FSM, early America, vaudeville, sounds of the human condition

From left: The Old Woman, David Sedaris, Six Characters in Search of an Author, "Mercedes Sosa" screening

From left: The Old Woman, David Sedaris, Six Characters in Search of an Author, “Mercedes Sosa” screening

From world politics to world-class artistry, what’s new and what’s next is happening at Berkeley. Those with an eye on global affairs can join weekly discussions on the Middle East or attend a panel discussion on child migrants from Central America and Mexico. Those with an artistic appetite won’t want to miss the Australian Ballet’s return to the Bay Area, and Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe in an abstract storytelling mélange of black comedy and vaudeville.

Alumni, parents, students and friends of the campus will be welcomed at the annual Homecoming weekend. The three-day celebration includes parties, tours, family events, faculty seminars and, of course, football. (Friday-Sunday, Oct. 10-12, campuswide.)

Fall highlights include:

Free Speech Movement 

Mavis Staples, Thursday, Oct. 30

Mavis Staples, Thursday, Oct. 30

This fall marks the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, a struggle between students and university administrators over students’ right to advocate for political issues on campus.The conflict spanned the course of the 1964 fall semester, focused national attention on the Berkeley campus and set the stage for anti-war demonstrations at colleges across the country.

UC Berkeley will celebrate this milestone anniversary with a wide array of events and programs exploring the legacy of the FSM.  A noon rally including speeches by Robert Reich and labor activist Dolores Huerta will look back, and ahead, at the meaning and impact of free speech and activism. (Wednesday, Oct. 1, noon., Spoul Plaza.) Saru Jayaraman, activist and director of UC Berkeley’s food labor research center will deliver the 18th annual Mario Savio Memorial Lecture, which highlights the spirit of moral courage that Savio embodied. (Thursday, Oct. 2, 8 p.m, Wheeler Auditorium.)

Saru Jayaraman, Thursday, Oct. 2

Saru Jayaraman, Thursday, Oct. 2

Cal Performances will present a concert by jazz legend Mavis Staples, who will bring to life gospel standards and civil rights anthems. (Thursday, Oct. 30, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall.) Staples will also join a panel discussion on the role of music in protest movements. (Thursday, Oct. 30, 12:30 p.m., Banatao Auditorium.) A campus “sing-in” will be open to all and will feature the University Choruses and Gospel Chorus. (Tuesday, Sep. 23, 5 p.m., Sproul Plaza.)

Mario Savio biographer Robert Cohen will examine the impact of student activism on free speech from the 1960s to the present. (Tuesday, Sept. 23, 6 p.m., 105 Stanley Hall.) A panel of legal scholars will discuss Free Speech on the Berkeley campus, from the 1960s to the Occupy Movement. (Wednesday, Sept. 17, 4 p.m., Boalt Hall.) Members of the Academic Senate will reflect on the historic vote that effectively ended the 1964 protests around the FSM, and the implications for political speech and action. (Monday, Dec. 8, 3 p.m., Wheeler Auditorium.)

A full list of campus events related to the FSM anniversary can be found here.

Around the world

Yuri Slezkine, Wednesday, Nov. 12

Yuri Slezkine, Wednesday, Nov. 12

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies encourages discussion about the ongoing upheaval in the Middle East with an informal weekly coffee hour open to all. (Fridays beginning Sept. 12, 3 p.m., 340 Stephens Hall.)

A curated film series including Girls Don’t Scream and Facing Mirrors will highlight the changing image of women, and broader questions of gender in Iranian film. These films shed new light on a quiet revolution in the nation. (Respectively, Thursday, Sept. 18, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 2, 6 p.m., 340 Stephens Hall.)

The symposium Nuclear Options will attempt to unpack the political, historical, economic and scientific issues at play in South Korea’s methods for reusing spent nuclear fuels. If fuel can be reused for power production, couldn’t it be used for weaponry? (Friday, Sept. 19, 9:30 a.m., 180 Doe Library.)

In Children of the Revolution, Berkeley professor of history Yuri Slezkine will examine the early years of the Soviet Union, the Bolsheviks’ rise to power and the impact on women. (Wednesday, Nov. 12, 4:10 p.m., Gund Theatre.)

Mary Sarotte, author and professor of history and international relations at the University of Southern California, looks back at what the West told Moscow about NATO expansion in 1990 in A Broken Promise. Her research examines the struggles of post-Cold War Europe. (Friday, Oct. 3, noon., 223 Moses Hall.)

Child migrants, Monday, Sep. 8

Child migrants, Monday, Sep. 8

The half-day conference The Scottish Independence Referendum will bring together scholars from Oxford Univeristy, the University of Edinburgh, UC Berkeley and many more to discuss the Sept. 18 Scottish referendum on independence. (Friday, Sept. 26, 1:30 p.m., 109 Moses Hall.)

Two lectures presented by the Center for Latin American Studies will illuminate fundamental issues in Brazil. The Labor Market and Income Distribution will examine Brazil’s relatively weak economic growth since 2000 and simultaneous improvement in the labor market and income distribution. (Wednesday, Sept. 10, 4 p.m., 2334 Bowditch St.) In Slum Health In Brazil, UC Berkeley professor of public health, Lee Riley, presents new findings about the spread of infectious diseases among Brazil’s most impoverished citizens.(Monday, Oct. 27, noon, location TBD.)

In Child Migrants, UC professors Karen Musalo, Beatriz Manz and Rosemary Joyce are joined by California state Assembly majority leader V. Manuel Perez to discuss the context and future prospects of child migrants from Central America and Mexico. (Monday, Sept. 8, 6 p.m.., 220 Stephens Hall.)

American politics

Tom Ginsburg, Monday, Oct. 27

Tom Ginsburg, Monday, Oct. 27

Scott Sagan, author and professor of political science at Stanford University, will discuss the two-way street between social science and nuclear strategy. Sagan served as assistant to the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as a consultant to the office of the Secretary of Defense. (Friday, Sept. 19, noon, 223 Moses Hall.) Former Commander of U.S. Strategic Command General Kevin Chilton will also discuss U.S. defense strategies and the management of nuclear weapons. (Thursday, Oct. 16, 4 p.m., 109 Moses Hall.)

David Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner and professor of American studies at Stanford University, will examine volunteer forces and their role in defense policy in Who Bleeds, Who Pays? (Wednesday, Nov. 12, 4 p.m., 109 Moses Hall).

Georgetown professor Michael Green will focus on America’s grand strategy in Asia. Green previously served on the staff of the National Security Council and was an adviser on Asia to the office of the Secretary of Defense. (Wednesday, Nov. 19, 4 p.m., 223 Moses Hall.)

In Were the Framers Right About Constitutional Design, University of Chicago law school professor Tom Ginsburg examines how the Founding Fathers’ political theories have fared in the modern era. (Monday, Oct. 27, 4:10 p.m., Chevron Auditorium.)

Dave Jones, Wednesday, Oct. 1

Dave Jones, Wednesday, Oct. 1

Berkeley Book Chats continue this semester, and Berkeley professor of rhetoric Marianne Constable examines law as language and how legal speech acts in her newest book, Our Word Is Our Bond. (Wednesday, Nov. 5, noon, 220 Stephens Hall.)

Dave Jones, California insurance commissioner, discusses healthcare reform opportunities in California and the challenges facing voters this November. (Wednesday, Oct. 1, 5:30 p.m., Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall.) Election night coverage and results will be hosted live (Tuesday, Nov. 4, 5 p.m., 109 Moses Hall.)


American Wonder, an exhibit of over 50 portraits, landscapes, mourning pictures and decorative sculptures, captures a glimpse of life in our burgeoning nation. Pieces in the exhibit span from the time of the Declaration of Independence to the Civil War. (Oct. 1 – Dec. 21, hours of the museum.) Bliss Carnochan, who collected the works in American Wonder, will share his passion and knowledge of American folk art in an informal gallery talk. (Sunday, Oct. 5, 3 p.m., BAM/PFA.)

American Wonder, Oct. 1 - Dec. 21

American Wonder, Oct. 1 – Dec. 21

A cross-media dialogue will be on display in HARD WORDS: Memory and Death in the Wild West. Peter Koch blends art, philosophy and literature in 37 prints assembled from reconfigured photographs, historical documents, journals and newspaper engravings. (Aug. 25, 2014 – Feb. 20, 2015, Geballe Room, Stephens Hall.)

California: Captured on Canvas will display paintings that reveal California as a vast landscape of mountains, ocean and forest as well as an intimate place and home for its many different inhabitants. The images span from the Gold Rush era to the late 1950s. (Oct. 8, 2014 – March 6, 2015, Bancroft Library Gallery.)

Photographs by Eugene Richards will be on display in Red Ball of a Sun Slipping Down. The exhibit includes images of the Arkansas delta, where Richards traveled as a volunteer in 1969 and remained for several years. (Exhibit runs Sept. 19, 2014 – Jan. 2015, North Gate Hall.) Richards will also speak about his work at the reception and book signing. (Friday, Sept. 19, 6:30 p.m..,105 North Gate Hall.)

Birds Do It, Bees Do It explores the (mis)education of America’s youth with regard to sex. This multimedia exhibit displays some of the myriad ways Americans historically learned about sex, from junior-high-school hygiene films to public-health campaigns and bodice-ripper novels. What’s conveyed to the public has rarely been delivered without a larger political or moral agenda. (Sept. 8, 2014 – Feb. 28, 2015, Bernice Layne Brown Gallery, Doe Library.)

Readings and artist talks

David Sedaris, Saturday, Nov. 15. Photo by Hugh Hamrick.

David Sedaris, Saturday, Nov. 15 (Photo by Hugh Hamrick)

This semester campus will host a new series of conversations. Berkeley Talks, in partnership with Cal Performances, will bring together international thought leaders, scholars, creators and innovators to examine the issues of our time. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and graphic novelist Art Spiegelman will tour the wordless novels of the early 20th century in a multimedia presentation accompanied by jazz composer and saxophonist Phillip Johnston. (Friday, Oct. 10, 8 p.m.) Bestselling author David Sedaris will discuss his latest book. (Saturday, Nov. 15, 8 p.m.) Yo-Yo Ma will address the vital role of culture and the arts in our society, and the importance of being “cultural citizens.” (Wednesday, Dec. 10, 8 p.m.)

Luis Valdez, Tuesday, Nov. 18

Luis Valdez, Tuesday, Nov. 18

Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gilead, Housekeeping and Home, Marilynne Robinson, will discuss the role of the audience in Shakespeare’s work. She will also join a panel discussion on religion and the art of the novel. (Monday, Nov. 3, 1 p.m., and 6 p.m., Sibley Auditorium.)

Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems turns 50, and City Lights books will help celebrate the anniversary of its publication. Poets Robert Hass, Owen Hill, Matthew Zapruder and others will read works from a newly published expanded edition. (Thursday, Oct. 2, 12:10 p.m., Morrison Library.)

Internationally acclaimed playwright and director Luis Valdez will discuss the origins of his most famous plays, Zoot Suit and La Bamba. Valdez’s work extends for half a century and grew out of strong ties to the Chicano civil rights movement. (Tuesday, Nov. 18, 5 p.m., Zellerbach Playhouse.)

John Perry Barlow has spent his career as both an artist and activist. The former lyricist for the Grateful Dead is also a proponent of digital freedoms. In this lecture he will discuss his life, work and activism for freedom of expression and user privacy. (Monday, Sept. 8, 7:30 p.m., David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way.)

Artist, designer and architect Maya Lin will post the question “What Is Missing?” in her discussion of art and expression. Best-known for her design of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington, D.C., Lin has built several memorial pieces and landscape art installations around the country. (Monday, Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m., David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way.)


The Old Woman, Nov. 21-23

The Old Woman, Nov. 21-23

Following the story of a struggling writer who cannot find peace with himself, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe bring Daniil Kharms’ 1930s political novella The Old Woman to life on stage with a mix of dark comedy and vaudeville. The production is presented and co-commissioned by Cal Performances. (Friday and Saturday, Nov.. 21-22, 8 p.m,, and Sunday, Nov. 23, 3 p,m,, Zellerbach Hall.)

Theater goes “meta” in Theatre de la Ville’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, presented by Cal Performances. The story follows a group of actors as they rehearse for a Pirandello play when six characters interrupt to explain that the author who created them did not finish their story. (Friday and Saturday, Nov. 7-8, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall.)


"Rebel Without a Cause," Friday, Sep. 12

“Rebel Without a Cause,” Friday, Sep. 12

The Pacific Film Archive presents retrospectives of two American film legends. Stanley Kubrick left behind 13 films, including cult classics like A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove and Full Metal Jacket. His films will be screened in chronological order for the program. (Respectively, Saturday, Oct. 11, 8:30 pm; Saturday, Oct. 4, 8:40 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 25, 8:30 p.m.) James Dean became a film icon and embodied a particular brand of American youth. This series presents restorations of East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant. (Respectively, Friday, Sept. 5, 8:50 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 12, 9:10 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 20, 7 p.m.)

"Which Way Home," Wednesday, Sep. 3

“Which Way Home,” Wednesday, Sep. 3

The Center for Latin American Studies will screen Which Way Home, the Oscar-nominated documentary that follows child migrants as they journey through Mexico to the U.S. on a freight train called “The Beast.” (Wednesday, Sep. 3, 7 p.m.. 2060 VLSB.) Narco Cultura attempts to analyze both the pop fantasy and grisly reality of narco-traffickers. (Wednesday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m., 2060 VLSB.) Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of Latin America tells the story of the Argentine folk singer who used her voice to protest the dictators of South America. The intimate documentary follows her 50-year career. (Wednesday, Oct. 1, 7 p.m., 2060 VLSB.)

Georgian cinema, from the silent period through the “Georgian New Wave,” will be explored through the largest Georgian film retrospective in the U.S. A highlight of the series will be a pair of screenings of the silent film Eliso, featuring a live score adapted from Georgian folk songs. (Oct. 25 and 26.)

Visual expression

Botanical art inspired by John and William Bartram, Dec. 15, 2014 - Feb. 15, 2015, UC Berkeley Botanical Garden

Botanical art inspired by John and William Bartram, Dec. 15, 2014 – Feb. 15, 2015, UC Berkeley Botanical Garden

Containing over 150 objects from around the world, Gourmet Ghettos: Modern Food Rituals explores the broader links between food, ritual, identity and activism that inform Jewish life. (Aug. 28 – Dec. 19, Tues.-Fri., Magnes Center.)

Botanical artwork inspired by the work of naturalists John and William Bartram will be on display at the Botanical Garden. Over 40 works depicting native U.S. plants will be included in the exhibit’s only West Coast show. (Dec. 15, 2014 – Feb. 15, 2014.)

A combination exhibition, conference and workshop explores “Image as Location.” Increasingly, our planet is wrapped in images from selfies to stratospheric satellite images. Are we better citizens when surrounded by images? A group of international artists, theorists and technologists will gather to discuss, view and take more images. (Wednesday, Oct. 22, 9 a.m., Banatao Auditorium.)

Scores For a Room features the work of two Bay Area artists, David Haxton and Jim Melchert. Both find expression through the use of projected images, and their work explores different approaches to space through activity performed for the camera. (Sept. 17-Oct. 17, Tues.-Sat., noon-5 p.m., 116 Kroeber Hall.)


Swan Lake, Oct. 16-19

Swan Lake, Oct. 16-19

The Australian Ballet returns to the Bay Area for the first time since 1951 with a re-imagining of the classic story ballet Swan Lake. With a modern nod to the love triangle among Princess Diana, Prince Charles and Camilla, this signature work retains its classic heart. The program will be accompanied by the Berkeley Symphony. (Thursday and Friday, Oct. 16-17, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 18, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 19, 3 p.m.; Zellerbach Hall.)

The legendary Mark Morris Dance Group and Music Ensemble returns with four Bay Area premieres. From quirky Scottish folk songs to Modernist Americana, these pieces showcase Morris’s musical eclecticism and choreographic dynamism. Live music by jazz trio The Bad Plus will accompany the program. (Thursday and Friday, Sept. 25-26, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 27, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 28, 3 p.m.; Zellerbach Hall.)


Steven Schick discusses Project TenFourteen

Project TenFourteen features the inventive spirit of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players as they perform a series of world premieres. All works were commissioned from 10 distinctive composers challenged to reflect on the human condition. (Sunday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m., Hertz Hall.)

British tenor Ian Bostridge stars in a multimedia staging of Curlew River. The operatic program explores community, suffering and redemption through the figure of a madwoman who has lost her child. (Friday, Nov. 14, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 15, 2 p.m., Zellerbach Hall.)

Award-winning pianist and UC Berkeley undergraduate Theodora Serbanescu Martin will perform a recital of “Variations, Embellishment and Improvisation.” The program will include works by Chopin, Beethoven, and Brahm’s Handel variation. (Wednesday, Sept. 17, 8 p.m., Hertz Hall.)

A rafter-raising performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana will lift the spirit and challenge listeners to stay in their seats. (Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24-25, 8 p.m., Hertz Hall.)

The groundbreaking, thunderous sounds of the William Winant Percussion Group will reverberate in the Berkeley Art Museum with “Drumming (Parts One and Two),” pioneering examples of percussion work. (Friday, Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m.)

Family events

Partial eclipse, Thursday, Oct. 23. Photo by Elazar Sontag.

Partial eclipse, Thursday, Oct. 23. Photo by Elazar Sontag.

The Lawrence Hall of Science invites kids of all ages to explore a partial solar eclipse through their solar telescopes. Members of the Hall staff will shed some light on eclipses. (Thursday, Oct. 23, 1:30 p.m.) Families can also meet some slimy, scaly and hairy creatures in the Animal Discovery room, and interact with a “haunted” robot built by UC Berkeley’s Pioneers in Engineering in a very creepy Halloween celebration. (Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 25-26, 10 a.m.)

Enjoy a day at the Botanical Garden’s fall plant sale, specializing in drought-tolerant and regionally appropriate plant species. From California natives to exotic species, a wide variety of plants will be sure to please both new and seasoned green thumbs. (Sunday, Sept. 28, 10:30 a.m.) Find unique holiday gifts for everyone on your list at the Holiday Fete (Saturday, Dec. 6, 10 a.m.)


For a look at more events at Berkeley this semester, visit the Critic’s Choice calendar