Word Up 

New ideas at Mills

TUE 11/18

Since its inception in 1852, Mills College has evolved into one of the most insightful artistic nodes in the world, spurning sold-out commercial media and events in favor of a sincere, intelligent approach to expanding the possibilities of communication. Every semester, it provides opportunities for students and nonstudents alike to learn from some of the most forward-thinking minds on the contemporary scene, through a series of free (or very inexpensive) talks, performances, and readings on campus. In October alone, Mills hosted events featuring Anne Tardos, Jackson MacLow, Opal Palmer Adisa, and Dave Eggers. This Tuesday, the Contemporary Writers Series presents a free reading from SF-based poet Michael Palmer. Palmer's disjunctive word collages create a system of gravitational centers that play a game of tug-of-war with the reader's own literary canon, seducing it into a fragmented and surreal foreground. Yeah, you'll recognize some Kerouac, Waldman, and Burroughs in there; you'll spot some Robert Duncan and Ted Berrigan, some Bernstein, Silliman, and Bruce Andrews. But what makes Palmer so interesting is that he fuses these disparate influences into an abstract, labyrinthine approach all his own, which he then applies to variety of social, political, and personal ends. Expect to find yourself spelunking a multiplicity of subversive mythologies. Don't worry, though. You won't find yourself hit over the head with any particular idea. Palmer has designed his underground network with plenty of rooms for your linguistic history to play in, each one more powerful and silly than the last. He appears at 5:30 p.m. at the Mills Faculty Lounge in the Rothwell Center, 5000 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland. The event is free. 510-430-2236.-- Gabriel Raines


Large Laffs

Legendary fat activist Judy Freespirit has been relatively quiet lately, but don't let that fool you. Freespirit, one of the architects of the fat liberation movement, the cofounder of the now-extinct Fat Underground, and creator of the Fat Chance dance troupe and the Fat Lip Readers Theater, has a new treat in store for the hungry masses. Polly's Phat Phollies is a new play by Freespirit, a "Musical of Generous Proportions" that plays this weekend at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland's Hamilton Hall, 865 14th St. Show times are 7:30 p.m. and tickets are on a sliding scale between $15 and $50. Info: 510-893-6129 -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 11/15

Trance It

Listen carefully. Close your eyes. You are getting sleepy. Now, pull out your credit card and call 925-943-7469 to order tickets to Mark Yuzuik's benefit show for the Center Repertory Company. The master hypnotist, educated at the Hypnotism Training Institute in Glendale, has been manipulating the wills of audience members from Sacramento to Sydney, blending stage presence and hilarious pranks for a unique show. Though Yuzuik does adults-only shows, the one at Dean Lesher (1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek), 7:30 p.m. Saturday, is for the whole family. Tickets cost $16 for adults, $13 for seniors, and $12 for younger folks.

-- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 11/14

Wedded Barbs

G.B. Shaw's nuptial romp

<>In 1898, at the age of 42, George Bernard Shaw married Charlotte Payne-Townshend. The playwright was, however, linked to other women, most famously the widowed actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell, with whom Shaw carried on a passionate correspondence. As in most other arenas, GBS had his share of opinions on marriage, based on both personal experience and observation; he put those beliefs on paper in the form of the 1908 comedy Getting Married, which centers on the marriage of the Bishop of Chelsea's daughter. Starting this Friday night at 8 p.m. and running through Nov. 23 (Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.), Aurora Theater artistic director Barbara Oliver helms a UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies production in the college's Durham Studio Theater. Tickets cost $8-$14 from 866-468-3399 and Ticketweb.com -- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 11/14

<>Get Dreamy

CCC students shake a leg

<>Choreography students past and present come together this weekend for Dream Street -- Music, Magic, and Madness

. The fall concert by the Contra Costa College Dance Production Class aims to "transport you into a dream world of endless possibility, where all things are left to the imagination, where all things become believable." Soloists Calisha Robinson, Leorina Baybay, and Faith Wineman share the stage with former CC students Latanya Tigner and Maureen Nichols in a fusion of jazz, modern, hip-hop, and classical. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and a $20 VIP ticket (which must be bought in advance) includes a 6:30 hors d'oeuvre reception. General admission $15; students and seniors $10; kids under twelve $6. Knox Center for the Performing Arts, entrance of El Portal Dr. and Castro St., Contra Costa College, San Pablo. 510-235-7800, ex. 4586. -- Stefanie Kalem


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