The Killing Fields Central African policy and human rights experts and producer Andrea Torrice take some of the abstraction out of genocide with a screening of Torrice's half-hour documentary Forsaken Cries: The Story of Rwanda and a panel discussion on issues raised in the film and the current political climate in the region. Actor Danny Glover narrates the film, which factors in political and social events preceding the swift and brutal 1994 Hutu massacre of tribal rivals the Tutsis, leaving nearly 1 million people dead after just three months, and leading the U.N. to make the first official declaration of genocide since World War II. Former ABC News and PBS producer Torrice, whose documentary credits include Bad Chemistry, an award-winning look at the controversy surrounding environmental illnesses, combines rare historical footage of Rwanda's Belgian colonial period with interviews of survivors and testimony from human rights experts including Alison des Forges and Adotei Akwei in the film, which screens at 6 p.m. in Koret Auditorium, New Main Library, 100 Larkin (at Market), S.F. Admission is free; call 552-FILM.
Monster Fun Naguales -- people, creatures, and spirits that can change form -- play a big part in the folk art exhibit "Fantastic Creatures: Demons, Dragons, Mermaids, and Monsters," which presents naguales as benevolent guardians or spiteful figures, in keeping with the various beliefs on the essence of their nature. The terra-cotta animal-headed fertility figures and naguales of Teodora Blanco from Oaxaca, Mexico, lean more to the pre-Hispanic beliefs also represented in this show by zoomorphic figures and functional pieces like lizard, bird, serpent, and jaguar whistles. Candelario Medrano's naguales, which take the shapes of devils, fish, and lions, reflect the work of Medrano's adoptive father, Julio Acero, a famous toy-maker from Jalisco whose lion banks are included in the show. Alebrijes, the papier-máche figures that sprung from such artistic traditions as the firecracker-laced Judas effigies burned before Easter, will be shown alongside the naguales that inspired their creation. Polychromed ceramic mermaids and a mermaid body mask from Guerrero complete the exhibit, which opens at noon (and is up through March 29, 1998) at the Mexican Museum, Building D, Fort Mason, Bay & Laguna, S.F. Admission is free-$3; call 441-0404.
If You're Going to San Francisco ... The supes ought to warrant at least a song or two in the new musical satire show by Capitol Steps, who leave Beltway politics behind for a while in favor of Bay Area civic intrigue. Original Steps cast member and Burlingame native Bill Strauss should be a help when it comes to picking topics, although the five-actor troupe typically chooses material from the day's headlines. What began as entertainment for the 1981 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Christmas party evolved into a full-scale theatrical show and musical endeavor; the troupe has produced 17 albums, including A Whole Newt World and the Clinton-themed Return to Center. This show previews at 8 p.m. (and has an open-ended run) at Theater on the Square, 450 Post (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $20-35; call 433-9500.
Summertime, and the Livin' Is Easy Entertainment dresses down this season, as musicians take to the streets, Shakespeare plays the park, and series like "Summerfest/Dance '97" line up emerging new contemporary dance talent in high-flying, quickstepping concert with veteran performers. The opening week's first program (tonight and tomorrow night) finds former Margie Jenkins dancer Annie Rosenthal in Move One Face, with original music by Gabriel Rowland, along with pieces by Wild Goose Chase's Mercy Sidbury, Dimensions' Laura Elaine Ellis, and Mary Reid, who pokes fun at well-meaning but misguided attempts to control chaos. Dorothy Parker's quick wit and a collage of hits from the '30s and '40s bounce off one another in the Nesting Dolls' Shiny Gun, which plays with work by Sommer Ulrickson and Torque, among others, in Program 2 (Saturday and Sunday). The series continues with pieces by Ark III Dance, Underbelly Theater-Dance Beast, and others. Performances begin at 8:30 p.m. at Brady Street Dance Center, 60 Brady (at Market), S.F. Admission is $10-12; call 646-0661.
Spock It to Me A parody of Star Trek might seem redundant to some folks, but in certain pockets of our universe, people are collecting and displaying commemorative Star Trek plates, planning their outfits for this summer's local Star Trek convention, and talking tribbles in densely packed chat rooms. It's die-hards like these who will get the most mileage out of Start Trekkin', an improvised parody of old and new versions of the show as well as offshoots like Babylon 5 (that is, if they're not complaining amongst themselves about minor factual inaccuracies). Eleventh Hour Productions stages the show, which boldly goes where William Shatner once admonished Trekkers to stop going in a now-legendary SNL skit. Even people who've only seen one episode (and who hasn't seen at least one?) are invited to keep on Trekkin'. Performances begin at 10:30 p.m. (and run Friday nights through Aug. 1) at the Bayfront Theater, Building B, Fort Mason, Bay & Laguna, S.F. Admission is $6; call 431-5092.
Real Wild Ones XuXa, a Brazilian porn star-cum-children's show hostess, inspires the Latina Theater Lab's comedy XIXI Xtra Special Xtravaganza, while the travails of waitressing inform Steve Hunter's Weight on Hand & Foot in the first program of five in the cabaret series "Wild Men/Wild Women," where wild is obviously a matter of degree. Happy-footed hoofer Wayne Doba, who nearly stole the show at the Ethnic Dance Festival's recent "It's the Feet" program, highlights the second, men-only segment. From the women-only nights: Strangefruit offers The Burglars Dream, the tale of a cat burglar who breaks into the home of a blind murderess, and Huckabay McAllister Dance performs an eerie coming-of-age piece involving debutantes and a flaming birthday cake. This collection of dance, theater, spoken word, comedy, and performance opens tonight with a gala benefit reception and entertainment by STEAMROLLER, Nesting Dolls, Alternate Currents, and others at 8 p.m. at the ODC Performance Gallery, 3153 17th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $15-25; call 863-9834 for a complete schedule of events.
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