The Tarnished Touch Inspired by European "Buffoon Theater" and the work of French dramatist Jacques Lecoq, the UMO Ensemble pokes fun at European conquests of the Americas in El Dorado. Just as buffoons mocked medieval society from an outsider's perspective, UMO players -- clad in gargoyle-ish get-ups involving oversize webbed feet, potbellies, hunchbacks, and horns -- tumble, scuffle, and sing their way through a musical satire of the greed that led the Spanish conquistadors on a quest for the mythic Kingdom of Gold. Performances begin at 8 p.m. (and continue through Sunday) at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. Admission is $12.50-16.50; call 621-7797.
Overachieving Tourists While most travelers are content to snap pictures and keep journals when they visit other countries, German choreographer Pina Bausch has created an evening-length work on the American West, Nur Du (Only You), A Piece by Pina Bausch. She and her theatrical modern-dance company, Tanztheater Wuppertal, created the piece in California, Arizona, and Texas, where presenters co-commissioned the company's residencies and performances in an attempt to pool shrinking arts budgets. Set against a grove of sequoia trees and a collection of American jazz and pop tunes from the '40s, '50s, and '60s, Bausch's first work outside Europe reflects an foreigner's amused and affectionate view of Hollywood icons, the Statue of Liberty, drag queens, and office workers. Performances begin at 8 p.m. (through Saturday) at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is $34-52; call (510) 642-9988.
Holy Road Trip A need to believe launched Nancy Wright Cooper's personal pilgrimage to major world religions like Mormonism, Buddhism, and Paganism, with side trips to Third World nations and 12-step programs. The writer/performer describes her experiences and her perception of a waning Judeo-Christian tradition in an adult-oriented solo show, Religious Experience, that treats the religious impulse, which she characterizes as universal, with humor and respect. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through Oct. 28) at Bindlestiff Playhouse, 165 Sixth St., S.F. Admission is $6-12; call 974-1167.
Of Mouse and Man Instead of building a better mousetrap, computer scientist Douglas Engelbart built a better mouse: a computer mouse, which debuted in 1968 at a San Francisco computer conference. Engelbart, whose credits also include development of the first interactive networked computer station, discusses change in the computer age as the first speaker in the SFSU Multimedia Pioneers Lecture Series "HyperShifts to Paradigm Links," beginning at 7 p.m. at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St., S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 978-ARTS.
Meet the Makers Find out what artists really do all day, or at least where they do it, at the citywide Open Studios event. Over 600 artists working in all media will be flinging open the doors to their lofts, studios, living rooms, and storefronts this month, talking to the public about process and selling paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, wearable art, and photography directly. Maps and a directory of participating artists will be made available at an opening reception at 6 p.m. at SOMAR Gallery, 934 Brannan, S.F. Admission is free, the directory costs $19.95; call 861-9838.
Bring the Beat Back San Francisco was home to a thriving beatnik scene in the '50s and '60s, and this month may again find java hounds in turtlenecks snapping their fingers and saying things like "Crazy, man." The Re/BEAT Festival puts a '90s sort of in-crowd spin on what was originally an outsiders' movement, as the SOMAR Gallery theater is transformed into a "virtual" cafe with big screens for Internet broadcasts and videos of readings by famous poets like William Burroughs and Gregory Corso, a poetry festival and open mike series, an exhibit of artwork from the era, evening jazz and poetry programs, round-table discussions, and ShadowLight Productions' shadow-puppet performances of the dark syncopated poem The Wild Party. The festival opens at 7 p.m. and continues through October at SOMAR Gallery, 934 Brannan, S.F. Admission is $3; call 552-2131. Meanwhile, "Howl" author Allen Ginsberg joins Diane di Prima and others for the benefit reading "Mind Breaths" at 7 p.m. at the DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., S.F. Admission is $10 (benefits the Vajrayana Foundation); call 626-1409. On Saturday, "Beat Culture and the New America: 1950-1965," a chronicle of the era through work by artists like Jay DeFeo and Robert Rauschenberg (augmented by video footage of beat "happenings" and jazz and poetry listening stations), opens at the M.H. de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. And S.F. Cinematheque offers the "Beat America on Film" series throughout the month; call 558-8129 for schedule information.
Let's Do Lunch DIY filmmaking meets desktop computing, and cinema's next wave is born. The Low Res Digital Film Festival points tomorrow's auteurs toward less expensive, less complicated means of filming, editing, and producing using PC and Mac digital tools like Premiere and Adobe AfterEffects. Digital films by industry players such as Sofia Coppola, Koji Morimoto, and Spike Jonze are included in this program of 22 shorts. The festival features two shows, at 7 and 10 p.m. (Dan DiPaola discusses "Tips and Tricks for Digital Filmmaking" after the 7 p.m. show) at Center for the Arts Theater, 701 Howard, S.F. Admission is $10; call 978-ARTS. An opening night block party is held at 10 p.m. at the Minna Street Gallery, 111 Minna, S.F. Admission is $3 with program ticket stub, $5 without; call 974-1719. "Feel Surreal," a program of nine music films created with desktop computers, screens Saturday at 7 p.m. at Minna Street Gallery. Admission is $5; call 974-1719. The program moves to Berkeley's Pacific Film Archive, 2625 Durant, Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5.50; call (510) 642-5249.