Nature Li 

It's your Watershed

SAT 9/24

"Let the sunshine in," the notorious refrain from Hair, resounds anew this Saturday at Berkeley's tenth annual Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival. The free gathering draws attention to ongoing efforts to "daylight" one of Berkeley's most precious natural resources, the oft-paved-over Strawberry Creek. The first festival in Golden Gate Park in 1996 celebrated National Book Critics Circle Award-winning poet Robert Hass' appointment as US poet laureate. It also initiated exploration of the connection between the environment and the frequently undervalued "American literary imagination." Subsequent festivals were moved to Berkeley, hometown of cocollaborators Hass, the UC Berkeley English Department, Poetry Flash, the Ecology Center/Berkeley Farmers' Market, and EcoCity Builders. "Strawberry Creek Watershed represents a fairly large community," explains festival director Mark Baldridge. "Its constituency consists of Livermore Lab way up the hill, run by feds, to UC, run by the state, to streets that unite government, business, and the populace. We're all citizens of the watershed. To get all these parties thinking together as a community is no small task." Baldridge and Hass' vehicle for community building is art and poetry. "Art brings us together through imagination and metaphor," he says. "It gets people to stop, slow down, and pay attention to the sounds of the creek and the trees that sway around it."

Beginning with a 10 a.m. creek walk, environmentalists and community members trace the route of Strawberry Creek from the Berkeley Farmers' Market to the festival site on UC's Valley Life Sciences Lawn (near the campus entrance on Oxford). A "miked creek" will provide backdrop for readings and performances. Participating writers -- from different schools of poetry employing nature as subject matter or metaphor -- include Ruth Lilly Prize winner Kay Ryan, Beat veteran Joanne Kyger, Brenda Hillman, Tucson's Alison Hawthorne Deming, Los Angeles poet Kamau Daáood, several Berkeley National Slam Team 2004 champions, and of course Hass. A pillow, lawn chair, and picnic will help you go with the flow. Noon-5 p.m. For more info: 510-526-9105 or -- Jason Victor Serinus


Found Shame

Infamy Revisited

The "day of infamy" known as Pearl Harbor led to an arguably more infamous era in US history, that of internment camps where Japanese Americans were forcibly relocated, under Executive Order #9066 -- which happens to be the title of Lunatique Fantastique's new production. The events leading up to, and following, 9066 will be meticulously re-created by Liebe Wetzel and her troupe of found-object puppeteers, using simple household items. With such an adult theme (one obviously still relevant in post-9/11 America), this is certainly not your typical child-oriented puppet show. 9066 opens Thursday and runs until October 21 at the Gaia Arts Center in Berkeley, 2120 Allston Way. -- Eric K. Arnold


Breakin' the Law

Vanderhof, the patriarch of the Sycamore family, appears to be a genial grandfather, but he's actually an income-tax-avoiding outlaw wanted by various government agencies. This comes out in the wash, as do the radical and/or nutty activities of other family members, when the parents of Vanderhof's granddaughter's fiancé come to visit. Originally a commentary on McCarthy-era America, Kaufman and Hart's classic comedy You Can't Take It with You opens the Contra Costa Civic Theatre's 46th season Friday, and runs until October 22. Performances take place at the CCCT at 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito. For tickets, visit or call 510-524-6654. -- Eric K. Arnold


Scripted Sistahood

African-American women playwrights finally get their due this weekend, when Oakland-based DMCF Productions presents Alice Childress' Florence and Marita Bonner's The Pot Maker . On Friday's opening night, a champagne gala will be highlighted by a talk by Elizabeth Brown-Guillory, a playwright herself, who will illuminate the importance and significance of women in the arts before the curtain rises. The plays, which share the common themes of hope, belief, and following one's dreams, run through Sunday at the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St, Oakland. For tickets, call 510-633-6360 or visit -- Eric K. Arnold


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