The Best Events of the Fall Arts Season 

From activist art to international dance to stirring theater.

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Dario Argento broke new ground with 1977's Suspiria. The film, which follows a young ballet student who arrives at a German dance conservatory only to find herself enveloped in a chilling string of murders, cemented Argento as the ambassador of the Italian horror genre giallo. Still, Argento's lush cinematography, masterful use of color, and generous deployment of gore would be bereft without Goblin, the Italian progressive rock band that scored the film. Goblin set a new stage for the sound of horror — arranging ominous synths and bells, lurching drums, and cacophonous guitar riffs that signal all hell breaking loose. Claudio Simonetti, Goblin's keyboardist, arrives in Oakland on his tour of the Suspiria soundtrack, where horror fans will get to hear Simonetti play the soundtrack in full alongside a screening of the sinister cult film. — M.R.

Friday, Nov. 9, 8 p.m., $25-35, Oakland Metro Operahouse, 522 2nd St., Oakland,

Requiem for Ghost Ship

Oakland Symphony's new season starts in October, and there are several intriguing events on the schedule with political undertones. But the single show that feels most vital is November's "Requiem for Ghost Ship," an evening dedicated to the people who died in the 2016 fire. The main attraction is the world premiere of Richard Marriott's cello concerto, Ghost Ship Concerto, which was commissioned in the memory of those who lost their lives on that December night and will feature cellist Matthew Linaman. Also on the bill is Johannes Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem), which mediates on the idea of death as part of life. — J.B.

Friday, Nov. 16, 8 p.m., $25-90, Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland,



Rapid response and dramatic messaging are artist, educator, and social justice activist Cat Brooks' forte. Her one-woman show, Tasha, dives headlong into issues related to race, mental health, gender, and state policing. Directed by Ayodele Nzinga, Tasha explores the oppression and marginalization of Black women like Natasha McKenna, a woman with schizophrenia. In 2015, McKenna died while in police custody in Virginia's Fairfax County Jail at age 37. Upfront confrontation is no novelty to Brooks, whose involvement in local movements includes the BlackOUT Collective, ONYX Organizing Committee, and the Anti-Police Terror Project. Expect full-throttle energy, a mother's empathy fused with theatrical flair, and a call for communities of color to act in coalition to promote, preserve, and protect justice for all. — L.F.

Saturday, Sep 29, 6 p.m., free with admission, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2155 Center St., Berkeley,


Even the mere title of Jackie Sibblies Drury's breakout play — We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915 — tells you something about her work. The rising Brooklyn-based playwright is ready to challenge audiences. Her newest play, Fairview, was originally commissioned by the Berkeley Repertory Theatre with Soho Rep, and its New York premiere earned raves in The New York Times and The New Yorker. The story begins simply: A middle-class Black family gathers for grandma's birthday. But Drury eventually breaks the fourth wall, leading to an unpredictable and wart-filled dive into race, society, representation, and judgment. Based on the uproar Fairview caused during its first run at Soho Rep, some audiences might find it painfully uncomfortable. — J.B.

Runs Oct. 4 through Nov. 4, $30-$97, Peet's Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley,

Women Laughing Alone with Salad

In 2011, the Hairpin published a series of stock photos of women laughing all alone with their green salads. It spawned a flurry of memes and, more recently, a play: Women Laughing Alone with Salad, which comes to Shotgun Players this fall. Playwright Sheila Callaghan (a writer and producer on the Showtime series Shameless) began by imagining the lives and voices of the women in these photos, and turned those musings into a blistering feminist comedy that explores sexism, gender stereotypes, body image, and white femininity. It follows three women — all outwardly successful but internally full of conflict — and one guy, aptly named Guy, a privileged, lazy bro also secretly racked with self-doubt. Salads do, indeed, make an appearance. — J.B.

Runs Oct. 12 through Nov. 11, $8-$40, 1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley,

click to enlarge Barber Shop Chronicles. - PHOTO BY MARC BRENNER.
  • Photo by Marc Brenner.
  • Barber Shop Chronicles.

Barber Shop Chronicles

Men and their hair. Nothing reveals the inner machinations of Black male identity like an urban barbershop. Playwright Inua Ellams takes a cue from women's salons and spins the play around the world as the action moves between six shop locations in a single day. Surprising, profound, and humorous conversations and characters investigate fatherhood, romantic relationships, the meaning of "strong Black man," and the politics behind men's hair rituals. Invigorated by a terrific sound score and universal topics of love, family, work, and play, Barber Shop has had audiences and critics roaring with laughter, cheers, and tears at sold-out performances in London. This event is part of Citizenship, the 2018/19 Berkeley RADICAL programming initiative that explores issues related to immigration, nationalism, home, and humanity. — L.F.

Runs Oct. 26 through 28, $15-78, Zellerbach Hall, 101 Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley,


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