One Word 

The poetic next step at La Peña

WED 7/16

"Taking open mic to another level" is the mission statement of Tongues United, a monthly event now in its third incarnation, which combines the free-flowin' syntax of spoken-word with live hip-hop and funk, courtesy of the Prophets band. In addition to poets, MCs and singers are also featured. Tonight's special guest is singer-songwriter Kimiko Joy, in one of her first public performances since becoming a mother. The evening is presented and hosted by Oakland's Brownfist Collective, a neighborhood activist group committed to "transforming ourselves ... and ultimately transforming society," according to collective member Anita de Asis. She adds that Tongues United has only two rules: "No disrespect," and "Everyone has to improvise with a live band." This, she says, "encourages poets to work with rhythm and harmony" -- and also makes the open mic more exciting to watch from an audience perspective. The free event (donation suggested) goes down at 8 p.m. at La Peña. Call 510-849-2568 or e-mail -- Eric K. Arnold

MON 7/21

Operation Hope

Extra Help

Hatikva means "hope" in Hebrew; it is also the name of the Israeli national anthem, and the title of a new play by Jamie Greenblatt. "Hatikva," the song, shows up along with the Promised Land and the prophet Elijah during the play. These larger-than-life characters and abstract concepts arrive to help an American family in Israel make sense of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. This staged reading, directed by Kay Kleinerman, is a production of Play Cafe, the producing arm of Playwrights Cafe. Tonight only, at 7 p.m. at LaVal's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave., Berkeley. Free. 510-486-1742. -- Stefanie Kalem


Juan More Time

For a change of pace, East Bay outdoor theater aficionados are advised to cross the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and venture into Forest Meadows Amphitheatre for a Marin Shakespeare Company show. Opening Friday and running through August 17, the company wrestles with Molière's Don Juan, the philosophical tale of a randy man who seduces to the beat of a different drum in 17th-century France -- where the play was banned by the church for 176 years. Marin's version is directed by Robert Goldsby and stars Rudy Guerrero as the amoral eponymous swinger. Shows on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays ($15 to $25) at the amphitheater at Dominican University, Grand Ave., San Rafael. Next up after the Molière: A Midsummer Night's Dream. Box office: 415-499-4488 or -- Kelly Vance


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