Begin the Beijing The touring company of the Beijing Dance Academy makes its Bay Area appearance at the fourth annual Chinese Performing Arts Festival, which also presents performances by local dancers, musicians, and martial artists. The high-flying, acrobatic Beijing dancers mix it up with folk story pieces, classical repertory, and contemporary work like their award-winning Yellow River Suite. The show begins at 8 p.m. at the Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon, S.F. Admission is $15-25; call (408) 973-8276.
Browsing and Grazing I Free espresso and gourmet food samples whipped up by author/chefs are part of the draw at Chronicle Books Day, a two-hour literary celebration at which more than two dozen of the house's authors will make an appearance; 10 percent of book sale proceeds benefit Project Open Hand. Chronicle Books Day begins at 1 p.m. at Rizzoli Bookstore, 117 Post, S.F. Admission is free; call 984-0225.
Browsing and Grazing II The pop strains of Here Are the Facts You Requested and the Indian devotional songs of Sequoiah provide some of the mood music for the Festival of First Fruits, a benefit concert for the Institute for Food and Development, the S.F. Food Bank, ILLIMITE Artists' Collective, and local rain forest conservation organizations. Speakers from the institute will discuss the international issues of food production, and local vegan and organic restaurants will provide concessions at the festival, which begins at 11 a.m. at the Music Concourse Band Shell in Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is a suggested donation of $10-20; call 621-5668.
Do the Doo Doo Rag aren't as slick as Jon Spencer, but they're closer to actual blues roots, and just as rockin'. The two-man band unleashes lowdown, teeth-rattling Delta slide guitar with a yowl and a heartbeat thump of percussion on a collection of homemade instruments. Doo Rag, preceded by Zen Guerrilla, headlines the Kilowatt's anniversary party as it celebrates two years of packed houses and parking roulette; Bassholes open at 8 p.m. at 3160 16th St., S.F. Admission is $8; call 861-2595.
Fairy Entertaining Luminarias, a mostly Latino theater company, uses elements of Yerba Buena Gardens to shape its site-specific interpretation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. In this version, directed by Joseph Pacheco-Ponce, the action moves to a tropical Latin American rain forest; Titania and Oberon are indigenous rain forest people who must confront the children of new land developers and their hired laborers. The theater company, a collective of professional and semiprofessional artists aiming for a multicultural perspective, will later take the production to Mexico City on an exchange project with Mexico City's La Compania de Shakespeare. The show begins at 6 p.m. (continuing Saturday and Sundays through Aug. 18) at Yerba Buena Gardens, Third Street & Mission, S.F. Admission is free; call 978-ARTS.
Designing Woman In a kind of reverse maneuver, Angelina DeAntonis has plotted an evening of movement around costumes, rather than using costumes to enhance the dance, as is usually the case. But DeAntonis isn't a choreographer; she's a costumer, whose designs incorporate natural plant and insect dyes and sculptural elements like rubber, metal, and wood, combinations that earned her a City of Oakland Cultural Arts costume design fellowship. DeAntonis has collaborated with members of Fat Chance BellyDance and Fellow Travelers on this home-grown "movement theater," which features Nathaniel Taylor's light sculpture and a sound collage of recorded and live music, played on violin, didgeridoo, and handmade instruments. "Moving in Costume" begins at 7:30 p.m. at Open Arts Circle, 530 E. Eighth St., Oakland. Admission is $10; call (510) 533-2968.
Nobody Knows I'm a Thespian Sports shouldn't be the only form of popular entertainment that fosters healthy competition and drives fans wild, or so reasoned University of Calgary professor Keith Johnstone when he founded Theatresports almost 20 years ago. Like many events in this summer's other games, improv-style theater competition pits team against team; leagues now exist in 23 countries, and performances are tracked by scorekeepers and rated by judges. Local league Bay Area Theatresports introduces would-be dramatic heavyweights to the game with the second annual BATS Summer Improv Festival (which features performances by Johnstone and Fratelli Bologna), and with the help of visiting theater professionals at the weeklong BATS Improv Summer School '96, beginning at 8 a.m. at the Bayfront Theater, Building B, Fort Mason, S.F. Cost varies; call 824-8220.
Domination Cableheads are already acquainted with comedian Dom Irrera, whose career owes much to pay TV. Irrera, host of the stand-up series Full Frontal Comedy, also hosts Comedy Central's football highlights show Offsides and has played himself in the animated psychiatric sitcom Dr. Katz; he ventured into prime time in 1994 as a prop comedian on Seinfeld. The product of an extended Italian family from South Philly, Irrera specializes in character sketches, with an accompanying range of accents, which he uses to conjure up the neighborhood kids and nutty relatives of his past. Irrera headlines at 9 p.m. (continuing through Sunday) at Cobb's Comedy Club, 2801 Leavenworth, S.F. Admission is $10-12; call 928-4320.
The Fat Lady Sings The Instituto Italiano di Cultura brings an Italian passion stateside with its series of opera films, screening Tuesdays in August. The series begins tonight with 1984's Carmen, featuring Placido Domingo and Julia Migenes-Johnson, in French with English subtitles; it also includes director Franco Zeffirelli's La Traviata (1982; Aug. 13), and Il Barbiere di Siviglia (1976; Aug. 27), starring Beverly Sills. North Bay Opera conductor Philip Kuttner dispenses a bit of wisdom before each screening. The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Italian Cultural Institute, 425 Bush, Suite 305, S.F. Admission is free; call 788-7142.