Six dollars an hour once seemed like good money. In fact, for some of us (depending on generation) it was great money: enough to see a rock show on Saturday, hit the mall on Sunday, and even save up for that expensive, kick-ass six-string. But there's a whole class of $6-an-hour workers out there who aren't kids (though many of them have kids). How do they get by?
In 1998, cultural critic Barbara Ehrenreich went undercover among working-class Americans to learn personally what life is like for minimum wagers. She waited tables, cleaned toilets, attended to the elderly, served as a Wal-Mart sales clerk, and quickly learned firsthand of the detrimental impact the welfare reforms of the late 1990s had on the working poor. Her best-selling book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, recounts her often shocking, sometimes humorous, but always illuminating experiences. San Francisco Mime Troupe alumna Joan Holden adapted the title into a stage show, Nickel and Dimed, which opens tonight at 8 (and continues through Nov. 9) at the Brava Theater Center, 2789 24th St. (at York), S.F. Tickets are $14-32; call 647-2822 or visit www.brava.org.
-- Karen Macklin
Yerba Muy Buena
Happy anniversary, darling
The sound of children. These words conjure a number of images, and for Miya Masaoka -- a prominent local musician who plays the harplike Japanese koto -- it's a sound of inspiration. She dreamed up her latest work, While I was walking, I heard a sound ..., after she heard 500 children's voices at an outdoor performance in India.
A world premiere, Masaoka's piece was created for Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' 10th-anniversary Wattis Artist-in-Residence show this weekend, "Command Performance." While I was walking utilizes 100 vocalists from the S.F. Choral Society to create a "surround sound" system throughout the theater, while the Sound Color Ensemble sings from the balcony. Masaoka's work, along with performances by Youth Speaks, Lines Ballet, Brian Freeman, and exKronos Quartet member Joan Jeanrenaud, kicks off the months-long anniversary bash at 8 p.m. at YBCA, 700 Howard (at Third Street), S.F. Tickets are $18-25; call 978-2787 or visit www.yerbabuenaarts.org.
-- Karen Macklin
Are You Sleeping?
Theater of the intense
Pig Iron Theatre Company is known in its native Philadelphia for high-quality experimental work, and that's no easy feat: Experimental arts are notoriously difficult to perform well, and are often mocked by fools.
Here, the ensemble presents Shut Eye, a contemplation of sleep and sleeplessness co-created by the late physical-theater giant Joseph Chaikin. Using original songs, live music, and the collective's signature intense physicality, Pig Iron enacts vignettes and dances that consider the question "Who is asleep and who is awake?" Performances begin at 8 p.m. nightly (with an additional 2 p.m. show on Saturday) at the Project Artaud Theater, 450 Florida (at Mariposa), S.F. Admission is $15-20; call 626-3663 or visit www.pigiron.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
A bleak outlook is all goths really have in common. How else to explain the wide range of music in this subculture? Astral and Trespassers William, tonight's "Death Rock Booty Call" bands, are Joy Division/Cocteau Twins types, playing the moody, ethereal stuff that makes you dream. "DRBC" starts at 10 p.m. at the Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk (at Post), S.F. Admission is $6; call 923-0923 or visit www.hemlocktavern.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser