Get on the Bus Pulitzer Prize-winning author Eudora Welty parodies small-town small-mindedness in her short story “Lily Daw and the Three Ladies,” in which three Southern dowagers try to ship a slow-witted young girl off to a Mississippi mental institute to prevent her from marrying. In “The Halfway Diner,” author/filmmaker John Sayles (known for The Secret of Roan Inish and his multiple short stories) lays out the tensions and connections among a busload of wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and girlfriends bound for the state prison where their menfolk are locked up. Word for Word, the theatrical company that stages short works verbatim, offers original productions of both stories at its fifth-anniversary festival. The show previews at 8:30 p.m. (and runs through Aug. 16) at the Magic Theater, Building D, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $18; call 441-3687.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Frisco Hippie Folk Emos! Getting kicked out of a club is a rock 'n' roll badge of honor for some bands, but with the exception of Austin's Fuckemos, most don't name themselves after the experience. The four-piece Fuckemos began as a trio called Warthog 2001, until singer/drummer Rockstar Russell exchanged drunken words one night with employees of a punk dive called Emos and was forcibly removed. He went home and painted “Fuck Emos” on his bass drum and the band was rechristened; Emos didn't take it personally and actually invited them back to play the club. The Fuckemos (who suggest alternate spellings like Frisco Hippie Folk Emos to publications that can't print the f-word) hooked up with former fellow Texan Frank Kozik, the local rock poster artist and Man's Ruin record label guru, to rerelease their first three albums and release a new 10-inch/CD combination on his label. Fans of vintage Butthole Surfers should feel at home with the group's warped and heavy rock noise, which they tweak with trombone and keyboards. They'll headline a rafter-shaking lineup that also includes Ain't, Magnolia Thunderfinger, and Count Dante & the Black Dragon Fighting Society. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. at the Paradise Lounge, 11th Street & Folsom, S.F. Admission is $5; call 861-6906.
The Great Beyond Berkeley's Blake Street Hawkeyes, the '70s theater group that helped launch the careers of performers like Whoopi Goldberg, George Coates, and Shimmer playwright John O'Keefe, was also a jumping-off point for founding member Bob Ernst, who honed his improvisational technique there. He and longtime collaborator Ruth Zaporah, the improv veteran with whom he's worked for the last 20 years, have created Beyond Begin, a dance-theater show that features a different musical guest each week. Bassist/percussionist Norman Rutherford, of the late performance group Contraband, is the first week's guest — he'll be woven into the physical theater antics and narrative text that Ernst and Zaporah create on the spot (the three will agree on a general progression before the show). SoVoSo singer Rhiannon, former Sun Ra jazz cellist Kash Killion, and drummer Barbara Borden join the duo in subsequent weeks. The show begins at 8:30 p.m. (and continues Fridays and Saturdays through Aug. 22) at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd Street), S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 826-5750.
My Kingdom for a Lawn Chair! If Ian McKellen can reframe Shakespeare's epic drama Richard III against the internal strife of Nazi-era England, the Shotgun Players can surely manage fight scenes in a '90s-era outdoor parking lot. In the time-honored tradition of putting Shakespeare into contemporary contexts, the Shotgun Players will stage free performances of Richard in two Berkeley parking lots throughout August and early September, with the idea that treachery, gore, and grief are more keenly felt on hard concrete than soft green grass or comfy theater seats. Costumer Christine Cilley outfits the cast of 10 in scruffy biker togs, and the players do battle with weapons ranging from battle axes to modified shotguns against a post-apocalyptic backdrop. Director Patrick Dooley taps the long fascination audiences have had with the rolling cadences that malevolence inspires, and the nightmares that haunt Shakespeare's schemers and dreamers long after the conclusion of “Grim-visaged War.” The show opens with a benefit performance at 7 p.m. at King Middle School, Rose & Grant, Berkeley. Admission is $15, which includes a post-show barbecue, but all future performances are free; call (510) 271-8090 for a complete schedule.
Kilroy Was Here The art of personalizing every available open space and surface with imagery, otherwise known as customizing, links the artists exhibiting at “Acme Custom II,” a group show of what participants cheerfully describe as lowbrow art: tattoos, customized cars and bikes, graffiti, rock posters, and performance. Tricked-out hot rods emblazoned with portraits of curvy B-movie gals (like the work of L.A.'s Von Franco) will be parked at the opening reception for the show alongside a customized hearse from Vinnie's Funeral and Pizza Delivery in Oakland. Japanese painter Norio “The Sugi-Saku” Sugimoto leaves his mark by pinstriping toilet seats and mailboxes, while illustrator Mark Ryden combines surrealism with kitsch to create beautiful but frightening portraits of icons like the pious, wide-eyed blonde Saint Barbie. Meanwhile, ringmaster Chicken John will put performers from his very customized Circus Redickuless through their paces. Clothing-designing party planners the Space Cowgirls host the reception, which is expected to attract a crowd of living, breathing customized works of art, beginning at 7:30 p.m. (the show is up through Aug. 9) at Somar Gallery, 934 Brannan (at Ninth Street), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 777-ACME.
The Road to Hell Exciting and scary things have happened to singer Gillian Welch between the release of her debut album Revival and its follow-up, Hell Among the Yearlings: After Revival garnered a Grammy nomination for best contemporary folk album, Welch (a Southern California native who cites R.E.M. and the Velvet Underground among her early folk and bluegrass influences) played the Grand Ole Opry. Emmylou Harris covered her song “Orphan Girl” and Tim and Mollie O'Brien got the nod for best bluegrass song of the year for Welch's “Wichita.” Welch herself learned to write songs on the banjo and was invited to sing a Carter Family song with her idol, Ralph Stanley of the legendary bluegrass duo the Stanley Brothers, for his album Clinch Mountain Country. Defying the Steve Martin adage that you can't play sad songs on a banjo, Welch, her songwriting partner Dave Rawlings, and producer T Bone Burnett have crafted a darker album than her first, imbued with haunting acoustic melodies and populated by memorable characters like a woman who kills a would-be rapist in the album's lead track. Welch plays with Rawlings at 8 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $14-15; call 885-0750.
Umm, Umm, Good Actor Omar Sharif narrates Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt, a documentary about the legendary Middle Eastern songstress whose music continues to enjoy regular airplay in her country, although she's been dead for over 20 years. Fans describe the role Kulthum's music has played in their lives and sing their favorite songs on camera as director Michael Goldman explores her life and her wide-ranging impact on culture and politics within the Arab world, giving Western viewers a window into Egyptian history as he goes. Kulthum, born to a peasant family at the turn of the century, rose to fame with performances in movie musicals and on concert stages, where she sang traditional Arab music and original songs supporting Egypt's new republic in the early '50s. She further endeared herself to her countrymen after Egypt's loss during the Six-Day War of 1967, when she toured Arab countries and donated proceeds from her performances to Egypt's government. The movie screens at 2, 3:45, 5:30, and 9:15 p.m. (also Monday and Tuesday at 7:30 and 9:15 p.m.) at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is $3-6; call 668-8999.
I Spy Maybe DreamStackers and Genesius Theater are staging a joint production of Private Eyes and maybe they aren't. After all, playwright Steven Dietz based his comic play-within-a-play on the idea that audiences today are bombarded with so much information from so many sources that they don't know what to believe anymore. Dietz takes that idea to the dramatic outer limits, blurring the distinction between fiction and reality so effectively that viewers must become detectives in search of clues. In the play, a man's wife (who is an actress) is having an affair with a director; in real life, the actor who plays the man isn't sure whether his wife (who plays the actress/wife) really is having an affair with the play's director or is just rehearsing her part. With the arrival of a detective who may actually be a writer, the man and the audience alike begin to wonder if they're going crazy — enter the show's psychiatrist. Private Eyes previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through Sept. 5) at the Actors Theater, 533 Sutter (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $20; call 675-4796.
Blink and You'll Miss It Queen Elizabeth. Cigarette obsession. The South of France. A thunderstorm. Witch doctors. Rocket launches. Satire. Madness. In honor of viewers with brief attention spans, the Outdoor Cinema's film program “Short 'n' Bittersweet: 22 Haunting and Humorous Short Films From Canyon Cinema's Vault 1935-1990” offers works about all this and more, films that may be over faster than you can say the title of the program itself or read this entire sentence out loud. Kenneth Anger, Les Blank, George Kuchar, and Barbara Hammer are among the filmmakers whose works will be screened at the show, which begins at 8:30 p.m. at El Rio, 3158 Mission (at Precita), S.F. Admission is $5; call 282-3325.
Plum Role The late John Barrymore, regarded as one of the finest Richard IIIs ever to have trod the boards, left behind a formidable legacy: the silver-screen classic Grand Hotel (with brother Lionel), a granddaughter whose boozy fame threatened to eclipse his own, and a modern interpretation of Shakespeare's characters that influenced successive generations of actors. Since the family hasn't done much to maintain the legacy — Cinderella is the closest the now-dry Drew has been to a period costume — it's up to actors like Christopher Plummer. Casting Plummer as the star of Barrymore makes sense, actually, since he, too, is known for his roles in cinematic classics like The Sound of Music and Shakespeare productions dating back to the mid-'50s Statford Festival. In William Luce's show, Plummer plays an alcohol-ravaged but still witty Barrymore attempting to re-create his Richard III performance and looking back on his sometimes illustrious, sometimes scandalous career. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Sept. 6) at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is $25-60; call 776-1999.