Breaking Ground Tower of Power's Abel Sanchez and Josh Jones, of the Josh Jones Latin Jazz Quartet, contribute original music as theater ensemble Campo Santo stages the world premiere of Jorge Ignacio Cortinas' first play, Maleta Mulata. The Cuban-American poet-turned-playwright addresses dueling cultural heritages in this piece, which he sets in Miami in the '80s, and tells through a mixture of Spanglish, song, and poetry. When sisters Olga and Marina aren't battling over the Castro revolution and their family's relocation from Cuba to Florida, Olga is raising her children alone following the failure of her marriage, while Marina is yearning for her lost lover, a mulatto Cuban musician. Olga's daughter Caridad finds herself torn between her allegiance to both women and both worlds. Maleta Mulata previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through April 26) at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th Street), S.F. Admission is $9-14; call 626-3311.
Pictures of You For Carol Leigh, it all started with fur; for Tony Labat, it was the vibrating bed. The 12 local performance artists whose work appears in "Grand Auto: A Night of Video Screenings" had to begin somewhere, and these two spun pieces from an item that inspired them. Leigh, aka Scarlot Harlot, created a documentary with cartoonish elements about her family history in Mother's Mink, while Labat and the bed appear in Room Service. This 20-year survey of performance-based video also includes Cory McAbee's Billy Nayer, an animated micromusical about the local musician, which played Sundance and PBS; Blue Lady, Karla Milosevich's rendering of a woman in a blue dress having a physical and mental breakdown; and a range of comic, weird, and thought-provoking pieces by Cliff Hengst, Paul Kos, Anne McGuire, and others. The screening begins at 8 p.m. at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom (at Ninth Street), S.F. Admission is $4-6; call 626-5416.
Road Warrior The critics loved it when storyteller Mark Kenward adapted Moby Dick as a solo show and took it on the road. Now, his load at least one harpoon lighter, Kenward embarks on another solo outing in Riding From Normal, an autobiographical, mostly comic collection of stories about his state-hopping journey from college football player in Normal, Ill., to his arrival as actor/storyteller in San Francisco. ("I always knew if things didn't work out where I was, there was always San Francisco," Kenward says.) Beginning with a humiliating story about the abysmal failure of his band the Thin Mints, Kenward creates a number of voices and a few different characters throughout the evening. He retold Moby Dick with a collection of characters and sound effects, but this story is told almost exclusively from his perspective; it previews at 8:30 p.m. (and runs through May 9) at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd Street), S.F. Admission is $8-16; call 826-5750.
A Happy Clamor Etta James meets Nubian composer Hamza El Din and Glass Orchestra founder Miguel Frasconi at Lines Contemporary Ballet, as choreographer Alonzo King leads his troupe through brave new musical and terpsichorean terrain. Dancers romp through the comic bits and linger through the wistful phrases in Suite Etta, which debuted last fall. El Din's work for the oud (or three-stringed lute) marks the rare intersection of ballet and Arabic music, but King's elegant and intelligent modern ballets have already proven a good vehicle for musical experimentation (for more on Lines and King, see the cover story, Page 14). The show begins at 8 p.m. (and runs through April 19) at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $12-27.50; call 978-2787.
A Young Man's Fancy Until someone cuts the lights, the glow-in-the-dark trompe l'oeil baroque landscapes of Brian Storts' installation "Metamorphosen3" will be essentially invisible. Three years ago, Storts created a grassy miniature landscape populated by crazed battery-operated animals, bouncing balls, and snapping rat traps; now, in honor of Four Walls' third anniversary, Storts has returned to install a slightly less chaotic interactive indoor garden. Viewers will stroll down walking paths through the exhibit, pausing for a view from the love seat or an airborne perspective from the swing. Craft-store miniature people, the kind used by railroad hobbyists and architects, give Storts' suite of diorama paintings a sense of scale, while real flora and music boxes situated below the paintings are meant to evoke seasonal textures and a nostalgia for the sweetness of spring. The show opens with a reception at 7 p.m. (and is up through May 9) at Four Walls, 3160 16th St. (at Albion), S.F. Admission is free; call 626-8515.
A Hot Rumba Number Enough Cuban performers have slipped past U.S.-Cuban politics to visit the Bay Area that local fans of the island's culture may have begun to feel a little smug about seeing music and dance from the source so often. That said, a visit from Los Munequitos de Matanzas is still a pretty big deal -- these 14 musicians and dancers are widely considered Cuba's best, and they're staying the weekend to do a new full-length show, Kalenda, a master class, and a post-show concert. Kalenda showcases African and Afro-Cuban folklore and ritual with percussion, song, and dances with origins in the African slave ships that sailed to the Americas. Beginning with a Nigerian ritual dance for Elegœa, the Yoruban god of the crossroads, and wending through the folkloric cultures of Dahomey, Benin, Zaire, and Angola, the company traverses a vast expanse of religious practices and rhythms. The second half of the show is dedicated to three varieties of rumba: yambœ, played on wooden boxes; columbia, a rural rumba enlivened by the wielding of machetes and knives; and guaguancó, an urban rumba stressing the sexual tension between male and female dancers. The show begins at 8 p.m. at the Calvin Simmons Theater, 10 Tenth St. (at Oak), Oakland. Admission is $21-25; call 392-4400. The post-concert party with local Afro-Cuban dance band Conjunto Cespedes begins tonight at 10:30 p.m. at La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck, Berkeley. Admission is $10; call (510) 849-2568 for information on this and the master class, to be held Friday.