Numero Umo Picture Hermann Hesse dangling from a trapeze and you'll get some sense of the Umo Ensemble's Caravan of Dreams, a tribute to the human hunger for enlightenment, inspired by Siddhartha, Hesse's account of the life of the Buddha. The Vashon Island, Wash.-based movement theater company created a cast of sacred clown-type characters who traipse down the spirit path trying to discover what it's all about, accompanied by guest artist Ela Lamblin's rhythmic chanting and singing and odd instruments like the 6-foot-high "stamenphone," a metal contraption hung from the ceiling and bowed like a violin. Umo fans who caught the ensemble's last local production, El Dorado, already know about the troupe's acrobatic movement and circuslike aesthetic. The show begins at 8 p.m. (and continues through Sunday) at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida (at 17th Street), S.F. Admission is $12.50-16.50; call 621-7797.
Warm, Fuzzy Migdalia Cruz, whose play Miriam's Flowers debuted at Intersection for the Arts back in '92, returns to the scene with Fur, her modern revision of Beauty and the Beast. In Cruz's raunchy love triangle, Michael is obsessed with the hirsute circus sideshow freak Citrona, who has eyes for Nena, who is in love with Michael. Sexual tension, the quest for love, and the search for a sense of self unfold on the dusty outskirts of L.A., in an isolated desert shop where Michael keeps Citrona caged in the basement. Carlos and Victor Cartagena and Herbert Siguenza have created paintings especially for the show that will be exhibited in the lobby. Campo Santo, who specialize in Latino work, stage Fur, which previews at 8 p.m. (and continues through Oct. 27) at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th Street), S.F. Admission is $9-12; call 626-3311.
Art Attack Even if you don't visit all of the 600 artists opening their work spaces to the public during Open Studios month, try visiting at least a few, for voyeurism's sake: Open Studios offers some idea of how many artists there are in the city, what they're doing, and where they're doing it. It also provides novice and expert collectors the opportunity to purchase art without having to foot the gallery commission, and to ask the artists all kinds of prying questions about their work, like "What is this?" Studios in the Richmond, the Sunset, North Beach, the Marina, Russian Hill, Pacific Heights, the Haight, Western Addition, and Hayes Valley open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, followed by studio openings in all other parts of the city for the following three weekends. Meanwhile, a group show featuring one work by each participating artist opens with a reception at 6 p.m. tonight at Somar Gallery, 934 Brannan (at Ninth Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 861-9838 for a list of stores carrying studio maps for the weekend tours.
Dead Again Death, like the Inquisition, is frequently unexpected, and in the case of the Mexican Museum's "El Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead" exhibit, it's early, even. The Day of the Dead doesn't officially fall until Nov. 2, but this collection of ceramics, sculptures, photos, prints, drawings, and paintings by Mexican and Chicano artists opens a month before, giving viewers enough time to mull over the ideological clash the exhibit demonstrates between Mesoamerican indigenous cultures that considered death an inseparable part of life, and the idea introduced by Spanish colonials that death was something to be avoided at all costs. Highlights include Spanish colonial and Aztec revival art, a traditional altar by Herminia Albarran and a modern one by Terese Bravo. The exhibit opens with a reception at 6 p.m. at the Mexican Museum, Fort Mason Center, Building D, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free-$3; call 441-0404.
It's a Hit Momix created the performance piece Baseball five years ago, after the San Francisco Giants commissioned the company to open their new spring training park in Scottsdale, Ariz. Now that the Giants have entered the pennant race and ballpark culture is fresh in the local consciousness, Momix returns with the comic full-length work. Director Moses Pendleton, formerly of the elastic-limbed modern dance company Pilobolus, uses props, slide projections, classic soul, and athletic, acrobatic modern dance in his version of the game, as dancing beer cans do the cancan to James Brown's "I Feel Good," and an oversized catcher's mitt writhes in anticipation of the action. The show begins at 8 p.m. at the Marin Center, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Admission is $18-28; all 472-3500.
Crime Spree Like Jack Vincennes, the cop who acts as technical adviser to the TV police show Badge of Honor in James Ellroy's novel L.A. Confidential, Ellroy has recently found himself in the Hollywood spotlight, as writer/director Curtis Hanson's excellent adaptation of Ellroy's crime noir story continues to win critical and popular acclaim. Ellroy returns to the City of Angels in his memoir My Dark Places, a real-life crime story about the unsolved murder of his own mother when he was 10, and his search for her killer decades later. Ellroy will address audience questions on these and other novels including American Tabloid and White Jazz when he reads from My Dark Places at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Diesel, a Bookstore (5433 College, Oakland, 510/653-9965), and 7:30 p.m. Saturday night at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books (Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness, S.F., 441-6670). Admission to both readings is free.
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