We've been hearing the dirty word "Guantánamo" for so long now that one wonders how the United States-led torture fiasco situated in the Cuban bay has yet to be relegated to a discomfiting, if distant, past. In an effort to shed some more light on the human faces stuck in the post-9/11 prison project, journalists Victoria Brittain and Gillian Slovo wrote a docudrama, Guantánamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom. Commissioned by England's Tricycle Theater, the play is composed of prisoner interviews, letters, and other primary source material. Featuring lawyers, politicians, and Donald Rumsfeld as characters, Guantánamo looks at the experiences of four British detainees suddenly forced to live in confined cells with no rights, visitors, or proper health care. The work now comes to San Francisco after successful runs in both London and New York, featuring a phenomenal cast of film, TV, and stage veterans. In New York, Tim Robbins and Bishop Desmond Tutu made cameos; word has it that local celebs may follow suit. Previews begin March 23 (performances continue through April 17) at 8 p.m. at the Brava Theater Center, 2789 24th Street (at York), S.F. Tickets are $20-65; call 647-2822 or visit www.brava.org.
Get off the mike, Mike!
She's known as the "Angela Davis of hip hop," and a lady doesn't get such a title for nothing -- especially not in Oakland. But Bay Area super-talent Medusa is intelligent, powerful, and radical enough to earn her nickname. She's worked with filmmaker Cheryl Dunye, shared stages with Erykah Badu, and proven herself a take-no-prisoners MC. With influences like Gil Scott-Heron and Meshell Ndegeocello, her flowing style brings funk and soul into the staccato rhythms of traditional rap. Medusa is just one of the women taking the mike tonight at Lip: An All-Grrrl MC Battle -- though admittedly, she's the most hotly anticipated performer. Sis Nau-T keeps things moving as master of ceremonies; DJs Olga T and Jamin spin hip hop, R&B, dancehall, and more between the live rhyming sets; and some upstart youngsters will undoubtedly try to steal the star's limelight. Lip speaks at 10 at Club Anton, 428 Third St. (at Broadway), Oakland. Admission is $10-12; call (510) 463-0165.
Twist the Knife
Cutesy Japanese megapop duo Shonen Knife hits the city tonight, celebrating the reissue on Oglio Records of its four previously released CDs. A lot of the material has never been released in the U.S. before, and we predict that fans will get Knifemania all over again listening to the raw older stuff. Perhaps most famous for counting Kurt Cobain among their fans, these ladies play sugarcoated, hyperactive, singalong, three-chord rock; they may not be famous for it, but they can count us as admirers, too. The Forty Fives and the Gore Gore Girls open at 9 at Slim's, 333 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $16-18; call 255-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com.
Sex, Pipes, and Videotape
Multimedia artist Gary Hill has taken the unholy union of the naked body and video and made it high art. His installations include Cut Pipe, which features a voice recording whispering sensual phrases, and now the Southern California native's thought-provoking works are on view at "Image, Body, Text: Selected Works by Gary Hill." The exhibit runs through May 30 at SFMOMA, 151 Third St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $6-10; call 357-4000 or visit www.sfmoma.org.
-- Jane Tunks