This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, June 4, 2003
Keith Phillips' new play, Snapshots From the World Croquet Championship of 1959, looks at life during the post-McCarthy, Cold War era, a time when the Red Scare and the threat of nuclear disaster encouraged folks to be as apathetic as possible. At first, a family's vacation to a summer home seems like a typical domestic gathering: Single mom Amanda busies herself with gardening; her son Michael -- being a miserable teenager -- mopes in his room; and everyone else anxiously awaits the annual croquet tournament. But when Michael's estranged father Parnell enters the picture, disaster ensues. Phillips, one of the co-founders of Actors Theatre, wrote this play to investigate family ties and the actions that either sunder them or make them stronger. Suffice it to say, the drama raises some apt issues, questioning whether morals and values have changed with the times. Previews start tonight at 8; the show runs through June 28 at the Actors Theatre, 533 Sutter (at Powell), S.F. Admission is $5-20; call 296-9179.

Thursday, June 5, 2003
Thanks to recent press, we're well aware that New Yorkers think they pay more attention to fashion than San Franciscans do. While that may be true, it's not as if our wardrobes consist only of polar fleece and chinos; some of our closets are stocked with inflatable costumes and Bucky Swisher's "Skin" dresses, a collection of gowns printed with the wearer's full body portrait. The creators of such garments are more concerned with clothing as self-expression than with what Gwynnie and her pals are wearing. Artist $teven Ra$pa, for example, sees apparel as a form of communication, installation, political protest, and theater. To that end, he's organized "F(ash)-UN!,"an evening of haute couture in which visual artists design clothes, fashion designers make art, and the audience takes turns on the catwalk. There'll also be plenty of entertainment, courtesy of over-the-top local personalities such as Ouchy the Clown, the Extra Action Marching Band, and Pink Man. Eat your heart out, Big Apple. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. at Ten 15 Folsom, 1015 Folsom (at Seventh Street), S.F. Admission is $5-15; call 431-1200.

Friday, June 6, 2003
Getting an early start on the Gay Pride celebrations that will be in full swing later this month, "Dyke Night" busts out with two evenings of performances highlighting lesbian culture. Bay Area Grand Slam champ Meliza Bañales and victoria mcnichol kelly do their spoken-word thing, Toni Pope and friends provide music, and Copperwimmin (tonight) and Kristi Martel (Saturday) perform a cappella. One of the most intriguing acts is Jade Blue Eclipse, whose acrobatic hand-balancing aims to transcend everyday, run-of-the-mill contortionism. Organizer Tara Brandel's extreme gender-bending, in excerpts from her new show Love Dance, is followed by all-lady trip-hoppers Kayatrip. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. at 848 Community Space, 848 Divisadero (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 922-2385 or visit www.848.com.

Saturday, June 7, 2003
Multiculturalism is one thing, but this is almost ridiculous. The San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival boasts troupes representing styles from -- no exaggeration -- all over the world. Cambodian court dances, nuevo flamenco, South Indian Bharatanatyam, you name it. Relax: There's no square dancing. But there are the Barbary Coast Cloggers, an all-male outfit of precision cloggers. They are, we have it on good authority, a festival favorite. And the organizers should know, since they've been putting on this massive, extravagant celebration of diversity for 25 years now. Today at 2 and 8 p.m., Oakland youngsters the African Queens join festival newcomers Vladimir Riazanstev & the Neva Russian Dance Ensemble, Bay Area beloveds Yaelisa & Caminos Flamencos, and many others at the Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon (at Lundeen), S.F. Admission is $22-36; call 392-4400 or visit www.ethnicdancefestival.org.

Sunday, June 8, 2003
Unless you're a polyglot, chances are you may not have heard of the Center for Art in Translation, the small SOMA establishment where literary interpreters go to hash out the intricacies of their craft. (Word for word or figurative, that is the question!) The center's continued low profile is really a darn shame, since the organization has been promoting world literature and language arts by means of its well-respected journal, Two Lines, every year for the last decade. "Parties," the latest edition, includes original and previously unpublished translations of work by Pablo Picasso, Jacques Brel, and many others. It launches today, celebrating the periodical's 10th anniversary with a benefit and multicultural shindig. West Coast Live radio personality Sedge Thompson plays host while DJs Cheb i Sabbah and Soulsalaam spin world dance music starting at 6 p.m. at Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market (at Sanchez), S.F. Admission is $15-30; call 512-8812 or visit www.catranslation.org.

Monday, June 9, 2003
You don't have to be a feminist to be a fan of Margaret Atwood, but it doesn't hurt. The celebrated author of such lauded novels as The Blind Assassin, The Handmaid's Tale, and Alias Grace, Atwood is loved for creating kick-ass female heroines who are both good and evil, nice and not-so-nice. In short, they're the real deal. In Oryx and Crake, however, Atwood narrates her vision of a dystopian future from a male perspective. The main character, Snowman, is literally the last man on Earth, the sole human survivor of an unexplained biological disaster. Envisioning a world of genetically modified creatures -- pigoons and wolvogs, among them -- and technological calamities, Atwood's latest imagines the consequences of what would happen "... if we continue down the road we're already on," as she explains in an essay for the Book-of-the-Month Club/Bookspan. "As with The Handmaid's Tale, it invents nothing we haven't already invented or started to invent." Atwood speaks at 8 p.m. at the Unitarian Church, 1187 Franklin (at Geary), S.F. Admission is $18; call 392-4400.

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