Remembering the Land 

The California Indian Storytelling Association does -- do you?

10/18-10/19

According to Miwok myth, Condor, one of the First People, had a son Falcon by his wife, Mt. Diablo. This was just before humans were created. In his travels Falcon discovered the magic of the elderberry tree and, instructed by his grandfather Coyote, bought a cutting from the Star sisters. Thus it was that humans could have the fruit and music of the elderberry. At about the same time, Bear, Eagle, and Lizard were talking about which of their attributes they wanted to share with humans. After much wrangling, it was agreed that humans would have hands like Lizard's instead of paws, claws, or beaks. Like the gifts of the First People, stories like this aren't just charming, they're the underpinnings of Native culture. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer people are around to tell them, and modern life is taking its toll on how they're received. As author Jay Miller notes, "Unfortunately, only the oldest of the audience will be able to remember the landscape as it was in nature. Younger members will have to be reminded that where the shopping center is now was where Grandmother Toad had her house. ... It is a tribute to the Native sense of place that people can still look at a locale and see it as their ancestors did. They can filter out the filth and wish for things as they were. They can still believe in a world although its physical form has been changed forever."

The California Indian Storytelling Association addresses this lack by presenting storytelling festivals that bring together the generations. Now they're also bridging communities with their ninth festival, Bridging the Pacific with Native Voices, which brings together Native storytellers from California and Hawaii, Saturday and Sunday at the San Leandro Public Library Theater, 300 Estudillo Avenue.

During the day storytellers will give presentations, performances, and panel discussions. Saturday night will feature California Indian and Hawaiian music in "Story as Song." The workshops are appropriate for adults and teenagers fifteen and up, the storytelling and music performances for anyone over the age of eight. Suggested donation is $10 per day, $6 for elders, students, and children 8-17. All seats for "Story as Song" are $10. The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, with "Story as Song" from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday the program runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.. For more information, check out CIStory.org/festival or call 510-651-6414 or 510-794-7253. -- Lisa Drostova

FRI 10/17

Spookless

Shakespeare unchained

What do you get when you take the ghost out of Hamlet? In the hands of Transparent Theater (1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley), you get a ferocious update of what is, essentially, a dysfunctional family drama. The No Ghost Hamlet transforms the Danish prince into a cynical, college-age woman and adds a rock score, but leaves the rest of the story intact, word for word. So Hamlet's stepfather is still not to be trusted and, yes, Ophelia is still a woman. The play runs through November 23. 510-883-0305 or TransparentTheater.org -- Stefanie Kalem

MON 10/20

Everyone Into the Pool!

The Monday Night Playlabs (right) at SF's A Traveling Jewish Theater -- a monthly series that established itself as a hotbed of new playwriting talent -- takes a much-anticipated drive across the Bay Bridge this season. Beginning this next Monday, October 20 (8 p.m.), the newly-renamed PlayGround sets up shop at the Berkeley Rep (2025 Addison St., Berkeley). The move came at the invitation of the Rep's Tony Taccone and Susan Medak, and the setup in the new venue is pretty much the same as ever: a selected pool of writers is given four days each to create a ten-minute play. The winning scripts are then rehearsed with professional actors and directors and presented as staged readings. PlayGround-SF.org or 415-704-3177. -- Kelly Vance

10/18-10/19

Floral Footwork

The 38 different Bach Flower Essences are used to balance specific emotions, therefore fortifying the body to fight stress and illness. In the '80s, Latvian folklorist Anastasia Geng found that the energy of certain dances corresponded to each of Bach's remedies. This weekend, Martine Winnington conducts a workshop in Dancing to the Bach Flower Remedies at Hillside Swedenborgian Church, 1422 Navellier St., El Cerrito. $100-$120 for the weekend, $50-$60 Saturday only. 510-528-4253 -- Stefanie Kalem

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