Bloomin' Thespian Claire Bloom has been in Charlie Chaplin's Limelight, and was an accomplice to Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors. But the longtime film and television actress has trod the boards, too, as Hamlet's Ophelia, A Streetcar Named Desire's Blanche DuBois, and A Doll's House's Nora, to whom she makes reference in her recent book Leaving a Doll's House. Director Joy Carlin will interview Bloom tonight, followed tomorrow with Women in Mind, Bloom's one-woman musical melodrama, which combines text by the likes of Colette and Virginia Woolf with the music of Lee Hoiby, Ned Rorem, and Robin Holloway; she'll be accompanied by pianist Brian Zeger. The lecture begins at 8 p.m. (the performance begins Thursday at 8 p.m.) in the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $16 each; call 392-4400.
Biggs Time While many artists will never see their work sharing wall space with that of their creative influences, local cartoonist Brian Biggs is about to enjoy the privilege. The creator of comic books Frederick & Eloise and Dear Julia studied art in Paris, where he discovered French cartoonist Enki Bilal. Bilal's pen and ink drawings open at the Cartoon Art Museum a week after the exhibit "Bay Area Spotlight: Brian Biggs" begins. The darkly comic visions of artist Edward Gorey and filmmakers Jim Jarmusch and the Coen brothers also haunt Biggs' work, which includes contributions to the horror anthology Death Rattle. The exhibit opens at 11 a.m. (and is up through May 18) at the Cartoon Art Museum, 814 Mission, S.F. Admission is free-$4; call CAR-TOON.
Dervishly Clever Anyone who remembers spinning around in circles until they fell over or passed out will be awed by the Mevlevi, or whirling dervishes of Turkey. Unlike dizzy kids, the dervishes have more than amusement on their minds: The whirling is a 700-year-old Islamic spiritual exercise. Accompanied by a chorus and traditional flutes, strings, and percussion played by an ensemble of Turkish classical musicians, the dancers, clad in long white skirts and conical camel-skin hats, are transported into a devotional trance through slow, rhythmic spirals and quicker, more energetic spinning. Dr. Kabir Helminski, a translator of poet/Mevlevi founder Jalaluddin Rumi, introduces the troupe. The show begins at 8 p.m. at the Marin Center, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Admission is $22-25; call 472-3500.
Pill's Pop Birth control pioneer Dr. Carl Djerassi, a commanding presence in the Bay Area's scientific community, won the 1973 National Medal of Science and 15 honorary doctorates for creating the first commercial oral contraceptive. Djerassi, a professor of chemistry at Stanford, is a prolific author with poetry, essays, short stories, novels, and 1,200 scientific papers to his credit. He'll mine two areas of personal interest for his lecture "Why Does Science-in-Fiction Provide Answers to Questions Such as 'Where Is the Pill for Men?' " at 7 p.m., followed by a book-signing, at the Mechanics' Institute Library, 57 Post, S.F. Admission is $5-10; call 421-1750.
Snow Job Mikhail Bulgakov's novels were discovered in America before many of his Soviet comrades ever got the chance to read him. Though he was known in his own country as a playwright, much of his work, including the hilarious church- and state-skewering novel The Master & Margarita, was banned from publication or performance there until the mid-'60s. The Actors Theater stages Black Snow, a farce about an egomaniacal theater company's ruination of an impoverished playwright's work, adapted from Bulgakov's 1936 novel A Theatrical Romance. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through March 15) at the Actors Theater, 533 Sutter, S.F. Admission is $16-18; call 296-9179.
Everybody Say Hay Believing in fairies is simply not enough: Keith Hennessy, Carol Queen, Joan Jett-Blakk, Sparrow 13 LaughingWand, and various others have joined forces for "Queer Nights," a group show of radical queer performance and spoken word benefiting Eric Slade's documentary on Harry Hay, a founder of the Mattachine Society and the Radical Faeries. The 84-year-old gay activist will speak about his work, which sowed the seeds of gay civil rights as far back as 1950. The show begins at 8 p.m. (also on Saturday) at 848 Community Space, 848 Divisadero, S.F. Admission is $10-25; call 863-2609.
The Greater Good Black History Month is ushered in at a gala benefit with the African and African-American Performing Arts Coalition. This performance showcase runs the gamut, from calypso dance with Celisse Johnson, Brazilian dance by the Aisha Aku Company, and Haitian dance and drumming by Le Petit Croix to African drumming by Malonga Casquelourd, hip-hop dance with Housin' Authority, solo theater by Shakiri, and modern dance by Robert Moses' Kin. The show, which features different lineups each day, begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.) at ODC Performance Gallery, 3153 17th St., S.F. Admission is $12.50-25; call 863-9834 for schedule information.
Cabinet Maker As a former adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton, David Gergen may not be the ideal candidate for the editor-at-large position he now holds at U.S. News & World Report, but he's certainly qualified to speak on "Politics of American Leadership," which he does at 4:45 p.m. at the World Affairs Council, 312 Sutter, S.F. Admission is $7-17; call 982-2541.