Billing itself as "a festival of contemporary performance," the Berkeley Edge Fest embraces the true colors of West Coast creative music in all its motley iconoclasm. From classical orchestrations to gamelan works to electro-acoustic improvisations, this year's four-day celebration presents a range of innovative pieces by major composers and improvisers like Terry Riley, John Adams, Ingram Marshall, David Wessel, George Lewis, and the late Lou Harrison, all of whom have been affiliated with leading local academic institutions at some point in their respective careers.
Contrary to the stereotype of conservatory fussiness, the Edge Fest's featured artists epitomize the adventuresome spirit for which the Bay Area is world-renowned. Distinguished avant-garde saxophonist Steve Lacy, for example, appears Saturday in a rare pairing with trombonist Lewis and electronics manipulator Wessel for what promises to be the event's most riveting -- and potentially hair-raising -- performance, though it's being politely pitched as "an evening of jazz, improvisation, and electronic inventiveness." One of the '60s pioneers of the notion of a pure music that soars beyond genre constraints, Lacy long ago predicted that this once-novel concept would become a "permanent revolution." Exploring worlds of sound combinations that challenge listeners to toss their preconceptions and deal with each musical work on its own terms, the participants in the Edge Fest bear witness to the fact that Lacy's prophecy has come to pass. The Berkeley Edge Fest takes place at Hertz Hall, Bancroft & College, UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $22 per show; call (510) 642-9988 or check www.calperfs.berkeley.edu for a complete schedule.
-- Sam PrestianniIt's a She-Thing
It's a man's world, right? Not if you're Mama Gena (aka Regena Thomashauer), a "pleasure expert" so skilled in the power of female persuasion that she's opened her own business -- Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts -- to teach ladies the key to self-empowerment. Mama Gena has had enough of men who hate women and the women who love them. In her new relationship manual, Mama Gena's Owner's and Operator's Guide to Men, she instructs female readers how to "train" their partners and shares a shocking revelation -- that males live to serve the opposite sex. Say amen to that at 7:30 p.m. at Books Inc., 2251 Chestnut (at Scott). Admission is free; call 931-3633 or visit www.booksinc.net.
-- Lisa HomThe Shermanator
Alexie rides again
Sherman Alexie held the World Heavyweight Champion Poet title from 1998 to 2001. He's the only person to do so four times in a row -- but now, giving the rest of the world a chance, Alexie has retired from competitive poetry. He's even auctioned off his satin robe with "The Shermanator" embroidered across the back. The point is, Alexie is back to writing short stories, touring with a new collection of 11 of them called Ten Little Indians.
Seattle's literary pinup boy is unjustly not famous for saying things like "My only purpose is to teach children to rebel against authority figures." He's better known for his many brilliant novels, stories, and poems, as well as his critically acclaimed movies, Smoke Signals and The Business of Fancydancing. Heckle him at your own risk at 7 p.m. at the Park Branch Library, 1833 Page (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit www.fallsapart.com.
-- Hiya SwanhuyserHush Hush
Who needs words?
Silence is golden, especially during Kinetic Theory Experimental Theatre's new play, Silent Movie. The mimed production uses stylized movement, physical comedy, dance, and acrobatics to re-create the time before talkies ruled the silver screen. Lampooning horror movies from that era, the show tells a classic tale of good versus evil, in which a cute-as-pie young couple battles a big, bad guy -- the sinister Dr. Baron Von Malfaiteur.
The troupe isn't against using sounds to get its message across. In fact, Silent Moviefeatures an original score. "We do speak onstage," explains the company's founder and director, Stephanie Abrams. "We just choose to use a language that many have forgotten about." Performances start at 8 p.m. at Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy, S.F. Admission is $10-25; call 289-6808.
-- Lisa HomButoh Your Lip
inkBoattheater group's new "absurdist Butoh play," Heaven's Radio, features Shinichi Momo Koga as a trickster, an original soundtrack by local freaky art-rockers, and a blaring, disembodied commentator. The plot concerns a woman dreaming of death as she listens to a radio whose music and static speak directly to her. Around her, alienated characters search for meaning in a bleak world. Contact-improv fans will appreciate inkBoat's action-theater style. This Samuel Beckett—inspired scenario opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through June 15) at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St., S.F. Admission is $15-20; call 515-1274 or visit www.inkboat.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser