Arts & culture, Campus & community, Events at Berkeley, Performing arts, Literature, Film, Visual arts

Coming this fall: Berkeley RADICAL, Ira Glass, Twyla Tharp and issues of global significance

By Avi Martin


If it’s in the headlines, or will be soon, it’s being talked about, performed or interpreted at Berkeley. Those with an eye on mounting global tensions will have an array of lectures by academics, authors and government officials to choose from this fall. Those interested in performing and visual arts can look forward to a visit by Twyla Tharp, mixed-media art exhibits and musical productions under Cal Performances’ new Berkeley RADICAL initiative.

Alumni, parents, students and friends of the campus will be welcomed at the annual celebration that is Homecoming weekend. The three-day event includes parties, tours, family activities, faculty seminars and a football face-off with Washington State. (Friday-Sunday, Oct. 2-4, campuswide.)

While the much-anticipated new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive will not open its doors until January, art and film lovers can enjoy a photographic portrait of America in the tumultuous late 1960s, a collaborative exhibit of eight contemporary Bay Area artists and films that reflect political and personal tensions across the globe.

Global affairs

This semester, the campus is taking a decidedly global view. Turmoil in the Middle East, financial and political instability in the Eurozone and a restored relationship with Cuba are just a few of the issues Berkeley’s guests and academics will address.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers, On The Same Page program

Behind the Beautiful Forevers , On The Same Page program

Incoming students and the campus community are getting “ On The Same Page ” by reading Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers , the National Book Award-winning account of life in Mumbai’s slums. The author will deliver the keynote lecture in the program ( Thursday, Sept. 24, 12 p.m., 142 North Gate Hall), and will also join a panel discussion with Berkeley professors Jason Corburn, Tapan Parikh and Isha Ray focused on strategies that work for addressing global poverty (Friday, Sept. 25, 3 p.m., Sutardja Dai Hall).

Middle East

Dr. Matthew Spence , deputy assistant secretary of defense for U.S. policy in the Middle East, will discuss the tensions, opportunities and economic transitions in the region (W ednesday, Oct. 14, 4 p.m., 223 Moses Hall).

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies will kick off its second year of weekly salons about current events in the Middle East and North Africa, inviting all to participate in guided, informal discussions (Fridays, beginning Aug. 28, 3 p.m., 340 Stephens Hall).

Matthew Kroenig, Thursday, Sept. 3

Matthew Kroenig, Thursday, Sept. 3

Author, Georgetown University professor and Berkeley alumnus Matthew Kroenig will decipher the Iranian nuclear deal and what he foresees for relations with Iran. Kroenig formerly served as an adviser on Iran policy to the U.S. secretary of defense (Thursday, Sept. 3, 2 p.m., 223 Moses Hall).

Issues concerning public health and health innovation in the Middle East will take center stage at a summit focused on addressing policy initiatives and healthcare interventions. (Friday-Saturday, Oct. 2-3, 7 p.m., Chevron Auditorium).


Julia Sweig, author, University of Texas professor and director of Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, will reflect on the current state of U.S.-Cuban relations . Sweig’s research has focused on the Cuban revolution and Fidel Castro’s urban underground (Thursday, Sept. 17, 3:30 p.m., 2060 VLSB).

Author and ethnomusicologist Rebecca Bodenheimer examines the intersection of race and place in Cuba , and how the regional tensions between eastern and western Cuba affect the image of a unified nation (Tuesday, Oct. 20, 4 p.m., 2334 Bowditch).


Konrad Jarausch, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, looks back at the sweeping history of 20th-century Europe . In this discussion he will explore the outcomes of Europe’s encounters with modernity, setting the stage for current affairs (Thursday, Sept. 3, 4 p.m., 201 Moses Hall).

Eleni Louri-Dendrinou, Tuesday, Sept. 29

Eleni Louri-Dendrinou, Tuesday, Sept. 29

A former deputy governor of the Bank of Greece and a professor at Athens University, Eleni Louri-Dendrinou will discuss the economic and financial changes since the global economic crisis and the current euro crisis . Dendrinou-Louri has conducted research with the European Commission, the World Bank and IES, and is a member of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (Tuesday, Sept. 29, noon, 201 Moses Hall).

A former member of the German parliament, Matthias Zimmer, will examine Angela Merkel’s dire warning that “if the euro fails, Europe will fail, too.” In this lecture, Zimmer will consider the possibility of Greece leaving the euro , and Germany’s options within the European framework (Wednesday, Oct. 21, noon., 201 Moses Hall).

Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House, will discuss the issue of individual identity in a rapidly changing, multicultural Europe (Monday, Oct. 12, noon, 201 Moses Hall).

A full-day conference will examine the 2015 British general election and its outcomes, inviting discussion about the implications of the upsurge in minor-party voting, Scottish nationalism, the challenges facing the Conservative government and the country’s place in Europe (Wednesday, Sept. 2, 10 a.m., 109 Moses Hall).

American affairs

Is the Constitution Libertarian? Georgetown University professor Randy Barnett will consider this question, followed by a rebuttal argument by Berkeley Law professor Fred Smith (Tuesday, Oct. 6, 4 p.m., Banatao Auditorium).

John Witt, Thursday, Sept. 17

John Witt, Thursday, Sept. 17

Author and Yale Law School professor John Witt will examine how American constitutional law was “reinvented” in the early 20th century by a small group that self-consciously aimed to disrupt the ideological structure of American law. Witt’s story aims to clarify our constitutional past and implications for the future (Thursday, Sept. 17, 4 p.m., Chevron Auditorium) .

Social psychologist and UC Berkeley professor Jack Glaser will discuss the phenomenon of biased policing in America , highlighting the psychological science research that explains the problem, and offering prospective policy solutions (Wednesday, Oct. 7, 4 p.m., Social Research Library, Haviland Hall).

Jack Glaser, Wednesday, Oct. 4

Jack Glaser, Wednesday, Oct. 4

Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, will address crime and punishment in America at the annual Mario Savio Memorial Lecture (Thursday, Nov. 5, 8 p.m., Pauley Ballroom).

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation. A new exhibit will detail the history of disabled people and document the activism that led to the law’s passage (Sept. 17, 2015 – Feb. 12, 2016, Bernice Layne Brown Gallery, Doe Library).

Photojournalist and UC Berkeley professor Ken Light captures life in a deeply divided America in the late 1960s and early ’70s in an exhibition of his photographs. The images reveal both the gritty struggles and the daily life of Americans during a time rife with idealism and disruption (Aug. 24, 2015 – Jan. 10, 2016, Reva and David Logal Gallery, Northgate Hall).


The drought takes center stage in a panel discussion focused on balancing competing interests to stay afloat. Panelists from the State Water Resources Board, the L.A. Department of Water and Power and UC Berkeley professor David Sedlak will consider paths to consensus and a sustainable water future for the state (Saturday, Oct. 3, 10:30 a.m., 145 Dwinelle Hall).

Lucy Jones, a U.S. Geological Society seismologist and research associate at Caltech, asks us to imagine America without Los Angeles . Her lecture will contrast elements of our society that reduce risk from a major earthquake with those that increase our risk. Jones’ lecture will be part of other campus offerings related to the Great Shakeout earthquake preparedness event (Wednesday, Oct. 14, 4 p.m., Chevron Auditorium).

Climate change

Lucy Jones, Thursday, Oct. 15

Lucy Jones, Thursday, Oct. 15

Lucy Jones will also address the challenge of science communications and what storytelling has to do with addressing climate change. While scientific analysis necessarily rejects anecdotes, human communication relies on stories to make an emotional connection to data. Jones will explore the successes and challenges of this gap as it relates to the urgency of climate change (Thursday, Oct. 15, 4 p.m., Chevron Auditorium).

Academy Award-winning director Charles Ferguson will discuss and screen his new film, Time to Choose . This comprehensive examination of how we can successfully address climate change also acknowledges the larger challenge of global sustainability amid ongoing struggles of economic development, inequality and human health (Thursday, Sept. 10, 6:30 p.m., 105 Boalt Hall).

Readings and author talks

Berkeley Book Chats kicks off its second year, honoring the intellectual and artistic endeavors of UC Berkeley faculty members. These lunchtime discussions occur three times each semester. This fall’s lineup begins with Irina Paperno’s discussion of her book Who, What am I , which examines Tolstoy’s struggles to narrate the self (Wednesday, Sept. 16, 12 p.m., 220 Stephens Hall).

Poet Gregory Pardlo, Thursday, Dec. 3. Photo by Thomas Sayers Ellis

Poet Gregory Pardlo, Thursday, Dec. 3. Photo by Thomas Sayers Ellis

Lunch Poems , a monthly reading series in the Morrison library, celebrates its 20th anniversary this fall. Poet Gregory Pardlo , winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in poetry, will read from his most recent collection, Digest (Thursday, Dec. 3, noon.). Poet Toi Derricotte will also read from her most recent book, Undertaker’s Daughter. Derricotte is the winner of the 2012 Paterson Poetry Prize and the 2012 PEN/Voelcker Award (Thursday, Nov. 5, noon.

The monthly prose reading series in Morrison Library, Story Hour , hosts distinguished writers from the Bay Area and beyond. This semester’s readings include Julia Scheeres , author of the New York Times bestseller Jesus Land , a memoir about growing up in a rigid Christian environment with an adopted black brother (Thursday, Nov. 12, 5 p.m.). Novelist Porter Shreve will read from his latest book, The End of the Book, which was named a San Francisco Chronicle book of the year (Thursday, Dec. 3, 5 p.m.).

Benjamin Bratton, a professor of visual arts at UC San Diego, will discuss his forthcoming book, The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty. Bratton’s research blends philosophy and aesthetics, organizational planning and strategy. In his book he discusses a design theory of planetary-scale computation (Monday, Nov. 16, 5 p.m., 340 Moffitt Library).


Global culture and issues will be explored in a series of film offerings around campus this fall. A series of short narrative, documentary and animated films from the Arab Film Festival explores life in the Arab world (Wednesday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m., 340 Stephens Hall).

Rosewater, Wednesday, Sept. 30

Rosewater , Wednesday, Sept. 30

Rosewater , written and directed by The Daily Show ’s Jon Stewart, recounts the story of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari’s imprisonment in Iran (Wednesday, Sept. 30, 6 p.m., 340 Stephens Hall).

Two films explore the complex identities of Sephardic Jews on screen, including El Gusto , which tells the story of an orchestra of Jewish and Muslim musicians torn apart by war 50 years ago, and recently reunited for an exceptional concert (Tuesday, Oct. 6, 7 p.m., Magnes Auditorium). Toledo: El Secreto Oculto reflects the history and culture of former Jewish community life in Toledo, Spain. Three descendants of the “Marranos” recall in interviews the stories of their families (Tuesday, Dec. 1, 7 p.m., Magnes Auditorium).

Wild Tales, Wednesday, Oct. 7

Wild Tales , Wednesday, Oct. 7

The Center for Latin American Studies continues to host its popular Cine Latino screenings this semester. Wild Tales tells six stories of revenge that play out in a series of one-act vignettes and is a 2015 Academy Award nominee for best foreign-language film (Wednesday, Oct. 7, 7 p.m., Hearst Field Annex). Cartel Land takes an on-the-ground look at two modern-day vigilante groups and their enemy, the murderous Mexican drug cartels (Wednesday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m., 2040 VLSB). A Jewish retiree living in Uruguay becomes convinced that a German café owner is a former Nazi in the comedy Mr. Kaplan , Uruguay’s submission for the foreign-language Oscar (Wednesday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m., 2040 VLSB).

Exhibits and artist talks

The work of eight Bay Area contemporary artists attempts to make sense of “the archive,” society’s endless library of objects and information. The exhibit, (processing) , includes appropriated family photos, weavings based on California’s climate data, a fictional 19th-century natural history collection and piles of found objects (Oct. 7 – Oct. 23, Tuesday-Saturday, noon – 5 p.m., 116 Kroeber Hall).

(processing), exhibit runs Oct. 7-23. Photo: "On the California Coast," Danielle Schlunegger

(processing), exhibit runs Oct. 7-23. Photo: “On the California Coast,” Danielle Schlunegger

Multitudes exhibits paintings by Argentine artist Andres Waissman, en emblematic figure in the world of contemporary art. Waissman has worked across the globe and his work conveys not only a visual but also a deep philosophical and political statement (Aug. 27 – Dec. 18, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., 220 Stephens Hall).

Photographer Toni Greaves discusses and presents her photographs from a seven-year project, Radical Love . The images document life within a community of cloistered nuns (Tuesday, Oct. 6, 5 p.m., 3335 Dwinelle Hall).

The ways in which texts can serve as an archive and a platform for shaping everyday life will be explored in Living by the Book , an exhibit of Jewish biblical texts. Scrolls, ritual objects, clothing and other memorabilia will display how texts stand at the center of the Jewish experience (Beginning Aug. 27, Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Magnes Gallery).

Living by the Book, exhibit begins Aug. 27.

Living by the Book , exhibit begins Aug. 27.

Artists, designers and engineers discuss aesthetic expression and their work in the ongoing Art, Technology and Culture colloquium . This semester’s series kicks off with renowned artist, designer and architect Vito Acconci discussing surveillance in plein air (Monday, Sept. 28, 7:30 p.m., Sutardja Dai Hall).

Artists and academics will gather for a multi-day conference exploring precarious aesthetics. While technological advances strive for greater clarity and resolution, images that rely on blur, noise and non-transparent filters grow ever more popular. This conference will consider the historical, theoretical and philosophical implications of this dichotomy (Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 15-17, Sutardja Dai Hall).

Performing arts


In February 2015, Cal Performances announced Berkeley RADICAL , ( R esearch A nd D evelopment I nitiative in C reativity, A rts, and L earning), its new project to cultivate the artistic literacy of future audiences and to connect the world’s most innovative artists with the intellectual capital of the UC Berkeley campus. Berkeley RADICAL inaugurates with a weeklong residency by Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela , featuring the music of Beethoven, which culminates in two performances that feature three classic symphonies by the renowned composer — Nos. 7 and 8 (Thursday, Sept. 24, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall) and No. 9 (Friday, Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m., Greek Theatre). In association with the performance, UC Berkeley professor of music Nicholas Mathew hosts a full-day symposium bringing together leading music scholars to explore the various meanings of Beethoven’s Ninth (Friday, Sept. 25, 11 a.m., Hertz Hall).

Orquesta Bueno Vista Social Club, Friday, Oct. 9

Orquesta Bueno Vista Social Club, Friday, Oct. 9

The Grammy-winning global ambassadors for Cuban music, Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club , bid farewell in their final world tour after 16 years on the road (Friday, Oct. 9, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

The University and Chamber Choruses set ancient poetry to newer music in a unique musical experience. Poetry from Egyptian pharaohs, Lao Tsu, Chaucer and Martin Luther King Jr. are reimagined by composers of later millennia including Trevor Weston, Jeffrey Davis and Mendelssohn (Saturday, Nov. 14, 8 p.m., Hertz Hall).

The Ensemble Intercontemporain will perform new music by Berkeley composers Franck Bedrossian and Edmund Campion along with Beat Furrer, Marco Stroppa, Matthias Pintscher, Pierre Boulez and Varèse (Friday-Saturday, Nov. 6-7, 8 p.m., Hertz Hall).

A panel discussion will be followed by an acoustic jam at the annual Berkeley Old Time Music Convention . The public is invited to join in the jam on the verdant Faculty Glade (Friday, Sept. 18, 12 p.m., Hertz Hall).


Twyla Tharp, Oct. 16-18. Photo by Greg Gorman

Twyla Tharp, Oct. 16-18. Photo by Greg Gorman

A double bill of premieres celebrates dance icon Twyla Tharp ’s distinguished career. Tharp calls on her decades of experience in Hollywood films, TV, Broadway and dance companies for this 50th-anniversary program. Fanfare begins the program, set to music by John Zorn (Friday, Oct. 16, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall). Preludes and Fugues is a new work set to the music of J.S. Bach (Saturday, Oct. 17, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall). The program concludes with the second premiere, Yowzie , set to jazz by Henry Butler and Steven Bernstein (Sunday, Oct. 18, 3 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

The world-renowned classical ballet company, the Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra , returns to Berkeley with a performance of the fairy tale ballet Cinderella . The production features the sophistication and modern storytelling of choreographer Alexei Ratmansky set to a score by Prokofiev (Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 1-4, Zellerbach Hall).


Radio sensation Ira Glass, of This American Life , returns to Berkeley with a show combining live talk, radio snippets, dance and music. Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host reunites Glass with choreographer Monica Bill Barnes and dancer Anna Bass (Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 12-13, Zellerbach Hall).

Rude Mechs, Nov. 19-21. Photo by Bret Brookshire

Rude Mechs, Nov. 19-21. Photo by Bret Brookshire

Austin-based theater group Rude Mechs makes its Cal Performances debut with Stop Hitting Yourself , a playful meditation on modern decadence and human nature (Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 19-21, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Playhouse).


The Golden Bears open the 2015 football season by hosting Grambling State at California Memorial Stadium (Saturday, Sept. 5, 2 p.m.). Homecoming weekend will include a face-off with Washington State (Saturday, Oct. 3). And though it needs no reminder, the Golden Bears set off to beat Stanford at the Big Game (Saturday, Nov. 21, Stanford University).

Pac Rugby 7s Championship, Nov. 7-8

Pac Rugby 7s Championship, Nov. 7-8

This semester Cal will host the annual PAC Rugby 7 championships . The seven-a-side tournament will feature the Olympic version of the sport, which returns to the Rio summer games in 2016 (Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 7-8, Witter Rugby Field).

For a look at more events at Berkeley this fall, visit the Critic’s Choice Calendar .

Learn about Cal Performances’ new discount passes for students .