Prophet for Profit Because people continue to be duped by religious chicanery, there will always be an audience for Moliere's 17th-century satire Tartuffe. Deemed an offense to religion and banned by Louis XIV when it premiered at Versailles, it became the playwright's most popular and enduring work. Director Charles Randolph-Wright (who staged last season's Insurrection: Holding History at ACT and brings back some of its cast members for this production) is one of many directors to put Moliere's mockery of religious hypocrites and blind faith in a modern context. This version, its language intact from Richard Wilbur's classic translation, unfolds in 1950s-era Durham, N.C., where Tartuffe is a charismatic Bible-thumper who cons a well-off black family (Randolph-Wright posits that Durham's long-standing black upper class, isolated from both black and white communities at large, might be more susceptible to an outsider's charms). The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through July 18) at the Geary Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $14-55; call 749-2228.
Hit the Ceiling Project Bandaloop will be privately filming an IMAX movie in Yosemite this summer, 2,500 feet up on El Capitan, so its performance in the Mission this weekend ought to be a cakewalk by comparison. The company's 10 cross-trained rock climbers and dancers specialize in what director Amelia Rudolph calls "vertical dances," a gravity-defying aerial blend of climbing and modern dance techniques performed in rigging at dizzying heights. Besides an earlier pass on El Capitan for Sierra Dances, Bandaloop has been spotted on the outside walls of the city's Main Library, where it performed the mesmerizing Peregrine Dreams. The company's new work, Luminescent Flights and Flaring Shadows, is built on the same fluid, wide-ranging motion and thrilling disregard for conventional boundaries; it opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Sunday) at Dance Mission, 3316 24th St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $12-15; call (510) 654-4728, ext. 2.
Urban Bloom From the noisy and overcrowded vantage point of Highway 101, Melting Point's "Garden de Vivre" should seem especially strange and inviting. Photographer Jocelyn Konarski will project images of exotic flora onto the 100-foot silo tower of the building, which used to be the Hamms Brewery and now houses the gallery along with a machine shop. The vividly colored images, inspired by Konarski's recent trip to Bali, will light up the outdoor sculpture garden, glinting off dangling patinaed flowers, a water fountain, and Tammy Bickel's kinetic steel Venus' flytrap. Inside the gallery, Tyrome Tripoli's large blown-glass and metal pods will hang from the ceiling, dripping scented oils, and Lumin will play ethno-ambient drum 'n' bass with Middle Eastern live instruments. The exhibit opens with a reception at 6 p.m. (and runs through Oct. 18) at Melting Point Art and Design Gallery, 1340 Bryant (at Division), S.F. Admission is free; call 861-0580.
Yeeeeaahh! Oof! That's the sound of the 1999 X Games, an international extreme sports competition held on specially constructed courses around the city for the next week. All the events, which are free and open to the viewing public, should afford some choice "Ooh, that had to hurt" moments, as predominantly young athletes, many still in their teens and many of them Californians, vie for gold. Four hundred or so contenders will be testing their strength and agility in relatively new sports like skateboarding, in-line skating, stunt bike riding, sport climbing, snowboarding, and freestyle motocross. Inspirational stories we can expect to hear from ESPN, which sponsors and will broadcast the annual games, include that of pro snowboarder Barrett Christy, who broke her tailbone the first time she ever hit the slopes. The games begin at 10 a.m. (and run through July 3) at Piers 30-32 on the Embarcadero, Point Lobos & the Great Highway, and Treasure Island, S.F. Admission is free; call 392-9830. Also, see the X Games program after Page 56.
Super Confusing If you can get past the headachey high-pitched noodling of the first track, there's fun to be had with Super ae, the latest from Japan's Boredoms, who sloughed off their punk skins and began experimenting with electronics. Soak in the cresting and crashing waves of guitar noise à la Sonic Youth on the hypnotic "Super Going"; be bowled over by funk breaks gone dirgy on "Super Are You"; or lose your mind to the electrified, jazz-laced outer-space opus "Super Good," which (maybe due to a careless Japanese-to-English translation) credits "synthesizer, bongo, handcrap." Songs average 10 minutes each, but the very patient, not to mention the heavily sedated, will find their reward when Hovercraft opens for the Boredoms at 9 p.m. tonight and Saturday at Slim's, 333 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $15-16; call 522-0333.
Take the E Train Though more and more cash-strapped dance companies are doing without it, live music was key to the Savage Jazz Dance Company's latest venture, "An Ellington Celebration." Some of the Duke's most lustrous creations -- "The Swingers Jump," "Sophisticated Lady," and "C Jam Blues" among them -- inspired choreographer Reginald Ray-Savage's ebullient new dances, which deserve better than canned jazz. In honor of what would have been Ellington's 100th birthday, Savage, a former Dunham dancer, collaborated with jazz composer Marcus Shelby, whose seven-member ensemble accompanies the performances. The show begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday) at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $14-18; call 441-FMTS.