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.
Fun for Meddling Kids Animator Iwao Takamoto, the Hanna-Barbera creative designer who brought the world its first talking and crime-solving Great Dane, describes his career and signs artwork at "An Afternoon of Scooby-Doo." The septuagenarian Takamoto, a Disney veteran who worked on Lady and the Tramp and 101 Dalmatians, joined Hanna-Barbera in 1960, and went on to design The Jetsons, The Flintstones, and Jonny Quest. The event begins at 1 p.m. at the Suspended Animation Gallery, 260 Stockton, S.F. Admission is free; call 433-7787.
World Clique Leaders and intellectuals from all points globally converge locally at the second State of the World Forum. Former Congresswoman Bella Abzug, scientist Jane Goodall, and Professor Betty Friedan join leaders from several countries at the forum's first presentation, "Beyond Beijing: Women in Leadership." Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Israeli Defense Minister Shimon Peres, and Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide follow with the discussion "Challenges to Democracy in Times of Turbulence." Talks begin at 9:15 a.m. at the Masonic Auditorium, 1111 California, S.F. Admission is $20-40; call 392-4400. Goodall also speaks at 9:30 and 11 a.m. (when a blessing of the animals takes place) at Grace Cathedral's Gresham Hall, 1100 California, S.F. Admission is free; call 749-6360. Aristide speaks as well at 7:30 p.m. at King Middle School, 1781 Rose, North Berkeley. Admission is $12-15; call (510) 848-6767, ext. 612. And Dr. Gottfried Wagner, a conference guest, also speaks on "Beyond Wagner and Hitler: Confronting German and Personal History After the Holocaust" at 7 p.m. Monday at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is $5-15; call 751-6040.
Castles in the Sand Teams of blueprint-waving, bucket-wielding architecture firms storm the beach and raise sand-castle-making standards at the Leap Sand Castle Classic. Twenty-five teams will try to beat the clock and thwart the elements while they construct dream homes from sand and beach detritus; public schools and arts education programs benefit. The competition begins at 11 a.m. at Aquatic Park, Jefferson & Polk, S.F. Admission is free although $1-5 donations are suggested; call 861-1899.
Sisters 'N' Arms From Australia to Zimbabwe, the YWCA Week Without Violence aims to educate communities worldwide about violence-related issues like gun accessibility and conflict resolution. The San Francisco YWCA offers its own week of events, beginning with a public conference outside City Hall. The mayor, Supervisors Leslie Katz and Michael Yaki, and YWCA representatives will address local violent crime statistics and introduce the Silent March Against Gun Violence, a collection of victims' shoes with notes inside describing the personal effects of gun violence, and the Silent Witness Campaign, in which life-size plywood figures will represent women murdered by a partner. Schedules of events taking place around town will be available at the conference, which begins at 9:30 a.m. at 401 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is free; call 775-6502, ext. 306.
Driving for Dollars What will get people to stop driving alone to work? Lavish gifts? If that's what it takes, RIDES for Bay Area Commuters is ready to put out. The group encourages commuters to help clear the air and the roads by sharing rides, and offers services matching up car and bicycle owners with like-minded commuters. Given recent major construction on local thoroughfares, California Rideshare Week, a 10-year-old statewide tradition, has taken on a whole new significance. Under this year's theme, "Commute for Loot," car- and van-pooling, public transit-using, and bicycle-riding workers who fill out pledge forms become eligible for prizes ranging from a $3,000 gift certificate from AAA Travel to two free tickets on United Airlines, as well as new mountain bikes and cell phones. The event runs through Friday; call (800) 775-POOL for forms and ride-sharing information.
Fast Forward The Third Annual Jewish Video Competition, themed "Community History" and curated by the Judah L. Magnes Museum, offers an abbreviated global tour of Jewish culture, from the story of the oldest synagogue in Mississippi in The Natchez Jewish Experience, to the post-Communist lives of Prague's Jewish women in Mimo (Beyond), to South Philadelphia's original immigrant community in Echoes From a Ghost Minvan. The program, which also features The Land Was Theirs: Jewish Farmers and Their Communities and The Temple, airs at 9 p.m. on Cable Channel 52.
Monk Fest There's modern art and then there's ancient art, the kind with centuries-old roots. The Drepung Loseling Monastery, established in 1416, was Tibet's largest spiritual institution, until the Communist Chinese invasion in 1959, after which many monks relocated to India. Nine Buddhist lamas from the monastery's re-established sacred-arts training program will perform in "The Mystical Arts of Tibet: Sacred Music Sacred Dance for World Healing." Distinguishing features include the masked and costumed dances of the Skeleton Lords and the Black Hat Masters, traditional instruments like the 10-foot-long dunchen trumpet, and multiphonic songs, in which chantmasters intone three notes at once, creating a complex chord. The show begins at 8 p.m. (a pre-concert talk is held at 7 p.m.) at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is $14-26; call (510) 642-9988. The monks will also construct a mandala sand painting the previous Wednesday through Sunday at the University Art Museum, 2625 Durant, Berkeley. Admission to the museum is free-$6; call (510) 642-0808.