Our Loss 

To cry or not to cry

11/8-11/17

We live in troubled times. Every month seems to bring a new natural or manmade disaster to our TV screens. Yet without any collective tradition of mourning, many Americans go straight from shock to emotional suppression. This state of affairs serves as the starting point for the performance piece Cry Don't Cry, opening Tuesday at the Shotgun Players' Ashby Stage. The experimental piece includes dancing, drumming, and songs, as the performers weave a story of death and loss, and how people throughout the ages have responded to these traumatic events. "It's really about the way that people in this country have come to process death and dying, and the lack of ritual we have compared to other cultures," says Liz Lisle, managing director of the Shotgun Players. The performance not only highlights the American way, but also presents alternatives, she explains. Rather than thinking of sorrow as a negative emotion to be purged as soon as possible with antidepressants, the players explore positive ways to deal with grief through ritual and catharsis.

Expect a rowdy, noisy, emotional evening from the envelope-pushing Shotgun Theatre Lab, which has a history of playing with theatrical form. Tuesdays through Thursdays through November 17. Info: ShotgunPlayers.org or 510-841-6500. -- Eliza Strickland

11/4-12/10

All Fall Down

If youthful, vibrant theater floats your boat -- or you've seen your share of tired Broadway musical revivals -- you'll descend to La Val's Subterranean (1834 Euclid Ave., Berkeley) Friday for the opening of Impact Theatre's Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake). Sheila Callaghan's play, about a mother and daughter haunted by grief during the holidays, has been called an "achingly beautiful piece" by director Desdemona Chiang, and runs through December 10. 510-464-4468 or ImpactTheatre.com -- Eric K. Arnold

SAT 11/5

Her Regular Stomping Ground

Flamenco in the CC breeze

If there's such thing as a Designated Flamenco Artist for Contra Costa County, Carolina Lugo is it. The classically trained dancer and choreographer, who has danced with the LA Symphony and Rosa Montoya's Bailes Flamencos, founded her own dance troupe, Brisas de España, in 1995 and has been presenting her patented combo of Spanish folkloric dance and updated tablao flamenco ever since. This Saturday evening (8 p.m.) at Cue Productions in Concord (1835 Colfax St., 925-798-1300), she and her dancers and musicians bring the rhythms and cante jondo of Andalucia to Nueva España. Go to CarolinaLugo.com to learn more. -- Kelly Vance

THU 11/3

Sandinista!

Poetic justice at PSR

Revolutionary, priest, poet. Rarely are those terms linked, but in the case of Ernesto Cardenal, they are quite appropriate. In 1954, at age 29, Cardenal participated in a failed coup against the Nicaraguan government, after which he joined a monastery in Kentucky, studied theology in Mexico, was ordained a priest in Managua, and founded the famous "primitivist" art community in the Solentiname Islands, where he wrote the book El Evangelio de Solentiname. He continued to write poems, publish books, and fight for people's rights, and in 1979, when the Sandinistas finally overthrew the Somoza regime, he was named minister of culture, a position he held until 1988. A believer in the idea of divine purpose, Cardenal -- a nominee for the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature -- speaks and reads Thursday evening at Zero Hour at the Pacific School of Religion. 6:30 p.m. Free. 1798 Scenic Ave., Berkeley. PSR.edu -- Eric K. Arnold

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