The Dub Factor Through 23 years, a half-dozen labels, and three lead singers, Jamaica's Black Uhuru have done their part to keep reggae on the international radar with huge hits like "Solidarity" and lesser-known gems like "The Great Train Robbery," a wonderfully spooky anthem with Middle Eastern musical overtones. Rhythm-section aces Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare anchored a number of Black Uhuru records, including The Dub Factor and Brutal. Original singer Don Carlos rejoins Black Uhuru as they make a live recording of their San Francisco show for the Maritime's label 2B1. The North American Bush Band and Zulu Spear open and DJs will be spinning reggae discs between sets at the show, which begins at 9 p.m. at the Maritime Hall, 450 Harrison (at First Street), S.F. Admission is $15-18; call 974-0634.
Social Discourse The party never ends at Word for Word's Fourth Anniversary Festival, where the company introduces Virginia's Woolf's "party consciousness" concept -- that people create temporary minisocieties at social functions -- with a production of three short stories from Woolf's full-length work Mrs. Dalloway's Party, about various unpleasant configurations at a '20s drawing-room gathering. A dinner party takes an ugly turn in Act 2 when the company (with the Latina Theater Lab) stages the "Floor Show" chapter from Julia Alvarez's novel How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. In this memorable episode, a Dominican girl adjusting to her family's relocation to the States silently commiserates with the bitter flamenco dancers in a restaurant cabaret show, while at the same time watching the drunken wife of their American host make a play for her father. Word for Word's policy of staging literary works verbatim nicely illustrates how language may be used to disguise the seething resentments and abject misery that festive occasions can foster. The show begins at 8:30 p.m. (and runs through Aug. 31) at the Magic Theater, Building D, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $13-15; call 441-8822.
The Sound and the Fury Celtic, Roman, Iberian, and Moorish influences assert themselves in Cuadros de Espana/Portraits of Spain in Music and Dance, a flamenco performance by America's oldest Spanish dance company, Theater Flamenco. With Bay Area musical ensemble Conjunto Nuevo Mundo, which performs "Songs of Court and Countryside: Music for Voices and Instruments From Iberia and Iberoamerica" on strings, horns, and a variety of percussion instruments, choreographers Jose Galvan and Miguel Santos unveil three premiere pieces: Solea por Bulerias, the tradition-steeped Aire Gitano/Gypsy Airs, and A Clavo ... A Clavo, a dance set to a martinete rhythm and based on a blacksmith's working song. As the dancers knock out the intricate rhythmic footwork, the musicians evoke the form's nomadic history with a 15th-century Sephardic processional chant, a ballad on the fall of Moorish Granada, a musical prayer to Our Lady of Guadelupe, and the choral triptych Flor de Chanar. The show begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday) at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $19-23; call 392-4400.
Revenge of the Nerds Engineers get to bask in the glory usually reserved for monster-truck drivers and professional wrestlers at the fourth annual Robot Wars, where radio-controlled mechanical contraptions in four different weight categories are pitted against one another and fought to the death. Winners must dodge automated obstacles and attacks from their opponents in order to come out on top. Teams of engineers, software and game designers, parents and kids, and college students have entered over 80 robots in this year's contest, and last year's champions, LaMachine and Biohazard, return to defend their titles. The latest Robot Wars will also feature legged entries and autonomous robots (which aren't radio-controlled). Mystery Science Theater 3000 creator Joel Hodgson, NPR Tech Nation host Moira Gunn, and Mac inventor Jef Raskin serve as judges at the event, which begins at 1 p.m. (also 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday) in Fort Mason Center, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $5-30; call 453-6305.
Boys' Life There's hardly a better setting for sexual tension than a New England boys school in the early '50s, as demonstrated by Robert Anderson's drama Tea & Sympathy. Director Mimi McGurl has just upped the ante by staging Tea with a mostly dyke cast and the occasional drag queen. McGurl, a Stanford theater doctoral candidate whose directorial credits include George Bernard Shaw's The Dark Lady of the Sonnets and David Harrison's FTM: A Transsexual Journey From Female to Male, tweaks Anderson's exploration of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality by using the piece as a basis for commentary on '90s gender identity. The show begins at 8 p.m. (and runs through Aug. 30) at Luna Sea, 2940 16th St. (at Capp), S.F. Admission is $8-12; call 863-2989.
Fair Play Displacement is beginning to seem like a recurring theme this year for the city's Filipino community. Just after the events commemorating the 20th anniversary of the I-Hotel evictions, the fourth annual Pistahan Outdoor Fair and Pearl of the Orient Parade acknowledge former Filipino residents of the Yerba Buena Center area who were pushed out during the neighborhood's development. Six Filipino artists illustrate their experiences and those of the manongs who were among the first Filipinos to resettle in the States at the interactive installation "Walk in My Shoes"; the fair's other highlights include lectures and demonstrations on cultural arts, live folk music and dance performances, food, and themed activity areas like the Children's Art Playland and the Community History Booth; also, recording and film star Sharon Cuneta performs in concert at 8 p.m. tonight at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (99 Grove). This year's parade anticipates 1998's centennial celebration of the Philippines' Declaration of Independence with the theme "Eve of Freedom." The fair runs at 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (also Sunday) in Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission & Third Street, S.F. Admission is free; call 436-9711. The parade begins Sunday at noon at Market & Embarcadero, then travels down Market to Fourth Street.