System Failure Experimental English performance sextet Forced Entertainment is relying on our familiarity with electronic-age overload, cultural alienation, and terrorism for the local success of Club of No Regrets, an uneasy theatrical liaison of all three. In her search for an identity, principal character Helen X. loses her cool and begins taking people hostage, forcing them to re-enact scenes involving TV dialogue, text, props, and situations taken out of context. When the scenes are rearranged and replayed, a disjointed new language reveals the hazards of too much information. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through May 31) at the SOMAR Theater, 934 Brannan, S.F. Admission is $12-18; call 346-6456. (The group speaks about their work in "A Decade of Forced Entertainment" Monday May 26 at 7:30 p.m. at SOMAR. Admission is free-$7; call 346-6456.)
Gaga for Gizmos Would-be Edisons will be emerging from their basements for a public show of whatchamacallits and thingamajigs at Invention: Future Products Pavilion, an offshoot of the adjoining Small Business Fair. The California Invention Center presents 60 new patented local inventions, including fish lures festooned with holograms; a self-stirring cook pot; flavor-enhanced moist towelettes doubling as toothbrushes and tongue scrapers; adjustable picture-hangers; and some kind of culinary appliance ominously tagged the Roast Master. El Sobrante first-graders contribute to the science-fair feel when they present aids for the disabled, the nature of which remain cloaked in secrecy. The exhibit begins at 11 a.m. (also Thursday) at Moscone Center, 747 Howard, S.F. Admission is $10; call 546-1997.
Khan, Man Benevolent Mongolian land lord Kubilai Khan and his wife Chabui oversaw an Eastern Empire, developing trade, exploration, science, arts, and law in their time, and making them overachievers worthy of an epic production like In Xanadu, a ShadowLight Productions piece told through shadow puppetry, masked actors, and dancers, film, and original live music composed by Miguel Frasconi. The title comes from the Coleridge poem ; the story from Morris Rossabi's book, Khubilai Khan: His Life and Times. The show, which has been invited to this summer's Spoleto Festival, opens locally at 8 p.m. (and runs through May 25) at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is $15-18; call 392-4400. (Backstage visits are open to families Friday-Saturday after matinee performances).
Gunning for Peace The Zooman in Charles Fuller's Obie Award-winning drama Zooman and the Sign is the remorseless gangbanger whose bullet misses its target and fatally wounds a 12-year-old girl. The sign refers to the placard her father places in the window of the grief-stricken family's home after her death, indicting the community for failing to come forward with information on the killer. The theater company, which revived the 1980 production in the wake of Tupac Shakur's and Notorious B.I.G.'s violent deaths has scheduled post-performance discussions where viewers, particularly kids, are asked to relate their own brushes with gangs and violence and talk about methods of prevention. The show opens with a preview (and runs through June 15) at the Lorraine Hansberry Theater, 620 Sutter, S.F. Admission $15-20; call 474-8800.
Nader off the Radar One of the big "aha!" moments in Ralph Nader Is Missing! comes from the realization that all the kidnapping suspects look strangely familiar because they're all played by the same guy: Rush Limbaugh in Night School playwright Charlie Varon, who also wrote this satirical thriller. A band of young attorneys (Marin and SF Shakespeare companies alumni Bobby Weinapple, Stacy Ross, and Carl Magruder) are visited by a mutually psychic vision of Nader's disappearance -- their mad search for the former presidential candidate is interrupted by a parade of odd characters. The show, directed by Stanley Williams, opens at 8:30 p.m. with a preview (and runs through June 29) at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia, S.F. Admission is $12-18; call 826-5750.
Lip Lock The couple making out in the RV might be a man and a woman, two men, or two women, but they will be smearing lipstick all over themselves regardless, and anyone can spy on them while they do it. Voyeurism is a two-way avenue in SOON 3's Smackers, an interactive performance that emphasizes issues of privacy and sexual politics by setting up camp between a row of strip joints and a venerable Catholic church (and in a neighborhood where the socialite kiss still thrives). The locally based company, whose last work audiences may remember from the human-sized bunnies pacing in outdoor cages, continues its long tradition of "performance landscape" pieces as viewers happen upon performers, drawn by their silhouettes on the window shades and the close-ups of their faces on the video monitors. Eventually, the watching becomes part of the show. Performances begin at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (through June 7) at Washington Square Park, S.F. Admission is free; call 558-8575.
Lilias, Yoga, and You A pony-tailed Cincinnati housewife wearing a leotard and tights stood America on its head back in the early '70s, when PBS began airing the program Lilias, Yoga, and You (making that other PBS standby, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, seem manic by comparison). Lilias Folan is a 60-year-old granny now, but that hasn't prevented her from recently completing her "Thirty Years of Yoga World Tour." Posturing obviously has its benefits. Folan speaks at "Yoga, Mind, and Spirit: The Yoga Journal Conference," where she and other yoga enthusiasts like Dr. Dean Ornish and Judith Lasater will lecture and give workshops on various styles of yoga; the event also includes a Saturday night dance concert with Jai Uttal and the Pagan Love Orchestra. The conference begins at 9:30 a.m. (and runs through Monday) at the Sheraton Palace Hotel, 2 New Montgomery, S.F. Admission is $25-395; call (800) 587-9065.
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