Exist 2 Resist 

California-made and more

9/25-11/13

Indian summer or, should we say, Latin summer, heralds the Hecho en Califas (Made in California) Festival, a weeks-long showcase of over a dozen Chicano/Latino arts events. This year's edition, the fifth, expands the definition of "Califas" to include artists from Mexico, Chicago, and New York City, and a summit that examines the arts and activism under this year's theme of "existencia.resistencia." The events are nicely spaced out between their SF and Berkeley venues from September through November, ensuring most of your weekends will be taken up by the latest in music, art, dance, theater, and social commentary. Highlights include three Fridays of film nights presenting Mexican video art from the Tech-Mex Collective of Mexico City; a program of independent films by Mission District filmmakers covering "emotional geographies of home and place"; and a screening of Los Angeles filmmaker Andrew Garza's shoestring-budget Progress, an account of a young busboy whose diaries reveal a keen literary and philosophical mind among friends whose aspirations are limited to careers in the Iraq War.

Poetry and spoken word? Ponder all the genre-stretching varieties. There are at least two pissed-off performers running for president, including the black/Puerto Rican Aya de León, who among other craziness relates a "campaign speech remix" as well as her experiences as a finalist for the Showtime reality-TV show American Candidate. It's a toss-up between de León and El Vez, the Chicano Elvis impersonator, who also presents his brief for president.

The poetry selection comprises three groups: Grito Serpentino from San Jose; Teatro Luna in The Maria Chronicles, a look at Latinas' experiences in the entertainment industry; and the activist Welfare Poets from New York City. Ruben C. Gonzalez, the Mad Mexican, returns in a play where he plays all sixteen characters, and the "Oaktown funkdified divas" Las Manas offer a sample of a work-in-progress. Four multigenerational Puerto Rican poets, including Piri Thomas, are interspersed with music from the African diaspora.

As for music, there's a dizzyingly eclectic spread: Accompaniment for the Mission Latino Behavioral Health Fair includes Bayonics, a Latin-tinged hip-hop/funk ensemble, and high-school percussionists Loco Bloco. La Peña Cultural Center hosts a battle of the bands with more than $4,000 in prizes. The musical, theatrical, and political cabaret of Astrid Hada y los Tarzanes; the hip-hop, soul, and Afro-Latin grooves of O-Maya; and Da Shout, an exciting ensemble of artists from the African diaspora, exploring traditional music and dance infused with hip-hop culture. Further details: www.lapena.org/nexgen/hecho_en_califas -- Frako Loden

Sat 9/25

Aha!

Hula in Hayward

Oakland's newly opened Academy of Hawaiian Arts offers a wide variety of hula classes for both adults and for keiki (children). Not sure what there is to hula beyond the grass skirts? Well, let the AHA show you at Ke Ao Hou (A New Beginning), happening at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Centennial Hall (22292 Foothill Blvd., Hayward). This original hula production, created to celebrate the opening of the academy, fuses ancient dance, music, and chant into a lively modern concoction. Tickets cost $35, or $75 for ticket and preshow reception. Info: AHAHula.com -- Stefanie Kalem

9/23-10/17

Over Uneasy

When actors Simon Vance and Cynthia Bassham step onstage to play anxious married couple Bri and Sheila in Peter Nichols' Joe Egg, audience members may already know they're real-life husband and wife. Nichols' 1967 stage play (original title: A Day in the Death of Joe Egg) finds dark humor in Bri and Sheila's grim situation: their young daughter, nicknamed Joe Egg, is severely brain damaged. TheatreFIRST's production, following the success of the show's Broadway revival last year, previews Thursday, then opens Friday and runs through October 17 at Lisser Hall, Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. Clive Chafer directs. Tickets and info: 510-436-5085 or TheatreFIRST.com -- Kelly Vance

Wed 9/22

This is funny?

What are the roots of Jewish humor? It's got something to do with guilt, we know that, and quite possibly chicken fat. For any postulating beyond that, you'll have to check out Mel Gordon's lecture at the Berkeley Richmond JCC (1414 Walnut St., Berkeley), Roots of Jewish Humor: How It All Began in 1667. What happened in 1667? Again, you'll have to attend the talk from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., but we know that Cal theater prof Gordon -- who's penned books on the Grand Guignol, dada, and The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin -- will get as contemporary as Madonna's kaballah fixation. Oy va voy. Registration starts at 11 a.m. $5, 510-848-0237. -- Stefanie Kalem

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