A couple of years ago, Impact Theatre artistic director Melissa Hillman threatened to stop putting up the wildly popular Impact Briefs shows, which were like your dream of finally being an adult and getting to make a whole meal of snacks if you wanted to. No more funny, sharp playlets exhorting us to choose beer over coffee, avoid terrorist-tainted weed, and enjoy classical Greek tragedy as performed by sock puppets. No more bite-size tastes of a range of playwrights, many of them new to Impact (and, sometimes, to playwriting). Happily, that threat lasted all of one season, and now the Briefs are back. This year there is even a theme -- yes, yes, some of the last ones claimed to have a theme, but this one really does: it's the How-To Show, and audiences will learn everything from "How to Order a Fun Dinner in a Fun Restaurant" to "How to Survive a Goldfish Attack," which sounds like something Monty Python fans might want to know. Or how about "How to Write a Play: The Rooftop Lesson" or "How Not to Drown in Two Inches of Water"? This year's morsels come from Wayne S. Rawley (last season's Money and Run), Debra Schifrin, and Un-Scripted Theater's Dave Dyson and Rich Orloff, among others. Company veteran Alyssa Bostwick directs audience favorite Pete Caslavka, David Fierro (fresh off Impact's record-breaking run of Othello), Cheshire Dave Beckerman, and Impact tender young things Gabriel Raffaelli, Erin Carter, and Sarah Eismann. A fine way to clear your palate after the intensity of Othello. And you never know what small gems may emerge -- years later, Bostwick and Hird's sock puppet Bacchae is still the gold standard for Bay Area puppet tragedy.
Impact Briefs 7: The How-To Show runs Thursday through Saturday nights (8 p.m.) through May 28 at La Val's Subterranean Theatre, 1834 Euclid Ave., Berkeley. Call 510-464-4468 or see ImpactTheatre.com for details. Tickets are $15 general, $10 students, seniors, and TBA members. Thursdays are pay-what-you-wish. Lisa Drostova
South Asian Flava
Since 2002, the nonprofit Trikone -- the oldest LGBT organization in the world for people of South Asian descent -- has been hosting its annual Kulture Kulcha event. What goes on? First, fill your belly from a buffet of South Asian cuisine, starting at 7 p.m. Then, an hour-long showcase of the Bay Area's queer talent, ranging from drag to classical singing, poetry readings to short plays, and beyond. And lastly, a DJ spins Bollywood, bhangra, Persian, Sri Lankan, and American hits for your dancefloor and socializing pleasure. It all happens at the California Ballroom, 1736 Franklin St. (at 19th St.), downtown Oakland, so dress to impress. Tickets are available on a sliding scale, $20-$25; get yours at the door or at Trikone.org -- Stefanie Kalem
After three years of blood, sweat, and tears, A Traveling Jewish Theatre presents the final product of its "Middle East Project," the theatrical result of the explorations of an international cadre of artists. In Blood Relative , the bodily fluids are largely that of Palestinian-Israeli guest artist Ibrahim Miari, portraying a character with a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. After a brutal attack, the man goes AWOL from the world, hiding within the confines of his apartment and his mind, under the watchful eye of the audience at Julia Morgan. Tickets cost $12-$35; showtimes Thursdays-Saturdays 8 p.m., Sundays 2 and 7 p.m. (no performance April 23). ATJT.com, 415-285-8080. -- Stefanie Kalem
"Where are the simple joys of maidenhood?" wonders Camelot 's Guinevere in song. What she pines for, specifically, are knights spilling blood for her hand, wars fought in her honor -- that sort of thing. Lerner and Loewe's adulterous Guinevere was no shrinking violet; she's also to be heard singing It's May! It's May!/That gorgeous holiday/When ev'ry maiden prays that her lad/Will be a cad! in "The Lusty Month of May." See Guinevere, Lancelot, and King Arthur get all medieval jiggy with it when the Pleasanton Playhouse presents Camelot Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Amador Theater. Info: PleasantonPlayhouse.com, 925-462-2121. -- Stefanie Kalem
Culture Spy - April 20, 9:52 AM
Culture Spy - April 13, 12:18 PM