Rogue Warrior If the court of Louis the XIV had been less inclined to take a joke, French playwright Moliere's barbs at religious hypocrisy and social convention could have cost him his job, or worse. But with the patronage of the Palais Royal, Moliere created an extensive and enduring body of French comedies, including Tartuffe, which is said to have made Louis laugh, even though its mockery of the church made him nervous. Moliere thumbs his nose at authority yet again in Scapin, the Cheat, the comic tale of a scheming servant who not only lies, cheats, and steals to help his master, but savors his own cunning in the process. The California Shakespeare Festival will stage Othello, As You Like It, and Richard III later on, but it opens its 25th season with Scapin, which, like some of the Bard's works, traffics in physical comedy and was intended to keep the groundlings happy. The show previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through July 26) at the Bruns Memorial Amphitheater, Siesta Valley, Gateway exit off Highway 24, Orinda. Admission is $10-35; call (510) 548-9666.
A Lover and a Fighter Inspired by the wild life of artist-activist Tina Modotti, contemporary Italian composer Andrea Centazzo has created the multimedia opera Tina to tell her story. There's plenty to tell, and Centazzo would be hard pressed to make it dull: Modotti, an Italian expatriate, was a one-time San Francisco actress and Hollywood silent-film star whose photography career began under the tutelage of Edward Weston. Marriage to the poet Robo Richey brought Modotti to Mexico, where she slipped into an artistic social set that included John Dos Passos and Frida Kahlo. Modotti threw herself into love affairs and communism, which lent her photos an increasingly reportorial edge until her political activity got her kicked out of Mexico. From there she moved on to Berlin and Moscow, to less photography and more politics, including work throughout Europe as a secret emissary for the Red Aid and as a logistical chief for the Spanish Civil War. Mexican actress Lumi Cavazos, memorable in the film version of Like Water for Chocolate as Tita, the sister who pours her passions into cooking, narrates the opera, which begins at 8 p.m. at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is $25; call 392-4400.
The Politics of Dancing The Ethnic Dance Festival could show the U.N. a thing or two about the art of throwing people from different cultures into one room. Although these dancers and musicians live in Northern California, the 30 companies participating in the festival represent more than two dozen nationalities, and yet each year the concert proceeds without the bickering characteristic of political institutions. The 2-1/2-week festival, now in its 20th year, is split into three thematic programs: The first of these, "Planet Dance," features the Barbary Coast Cloggers, who show off their nimble Appalachian footwork alongside the barefoot, feather headdress-wearing Mexican Teocalli dancers and the henna-decorated Indian dancers of Anuradha Prabhashanker. The festival continues over the next two weekends with "Old Rivers, New Streams" (West African, Scottish, Bulgarian, Hawaiian) and "Border Crossings" (Haitian, Moroccan, Indonesian, Spanish, Irish). "Planet Dance" begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday 2 and 8 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m.) at the Palace of Fine Arts, Bay & Lyon, S.F. Admission is $15-25; call 392-4400.
Get Your Phil The Philippines extracted itself from Spanish rule 100 years ago this year, but the influences of Spain, the U.S., China, and Mexico on Filipino culture are bound to reveal themselves at Fiesta Filipina, a two-day party held in the midst of a citywide centennial celebration. Among the biggest attractions at the festival are Tommy Boy artist Jocelyn Enriquez, a San Francisco native whose electronica-flavored pop songs are sung in English and Tagalog, and singers Joliva Magdangal and Marvin Agustin, who are flying in from the Philippines. Latin-jazz percussionist Pete Escovedo and salsa band Conjunto Cespedes will perform and Jorge Santana is putting together a Latin rock band with local musicians. A "jeepney," a modern adaptation of the WWII-era American jeep, will be shown at an auto show, and Southeast Asian and Latin dishes will be served at the food pavilion. The fiesta begins at 10 a.m. (also Sunday) at Civic Center Plaza, Larkin & McAllister, S.F. Admission is free-$5; call 438-9933. Filipino history further unfolds with "Unfinished Mission: The American Journey of Filipino WWII Veterans," a photography exhibit by Rick Rocamora at the Veterans Building (401 Van Ness at McAllister, S.F. Free; 252-2568) and "At Home and Abroad: 20 Contemporary Filipino Artists" at the Asian Art Museum (Golden Gate Park, S.F. Free-$7; 379-8801). For more information on local events, call 665-5763.
Son of the Beach Beat poet Jack Micheline died rather unceremoniously on a BART train earlier this year, but his work, contained in 20-odd volumes of poetry, lives on at the North Beach Festival's poetry stage, which makes reference to his death-in-transit with the theme "The Beat Rolls On." Like every other street fair in the city, the North Beach Festival will be jammed with food booths and art of questionable merit, but the poetry stage, the only one of its kind among all the city's fairs, offers a little local color with an homage to the North Beach beat scene. Jazz poet Ruth Weiss teams up with the Marcus Shelby Trio, and poet/performer Don Paul is accompanied by saxophonist Glenn Spearman; chapbooks and other poetry paraphernalia will be sold. The fair's other distinguishing characteristics include "L'Infiorata," a block-long re-creation of famous art, done in flower petals by two teams of Italian artists, and the blessing of the animals by Franciscan monks from the Shrine of St. Francis. The festival begins at 10 a.m. (also Sunday) on the 1200-1500 blocks of Grant, the 500 block of Green, the 1500 block of Stockton, and in Washington Square Park, S.F. Admission is free; call 989-2220.
Soap Stars Ship a few copies of Unscrubbed: Live From the Laundromat II back home and tell 'em that in San Francisco, even laundry night's more fun. This compilation CD features cuts from 25 local bands who've played the Brain Wash Laundromat's Monday-night music series (curated by Ian Brennan) over the last year. It's the second CD the series has spawned, and some of the musicians, including MK Ultra and Joaquina, are return guests. The selection is broad, ranging from the twangy warmth of the Kuntry Kunts' "Verna Lee" to Beth Lisick's "Devil's Vacation," a spoken-word piece that barely pauses for breath in telling its tale of San Diego frat boys and a hapless flight attendant. The enthusiastic barking dog that greets Barbara Manning, Ralph Carney, and the Brain Wash Symphony Orchestra adds to the homespun appeal. Twenty-three of the bands will play five stages at Unscrubbed, the biggest unsigned local music showcase of the year. On each of the stages, celebrities will spin a "Wheel of Fortune" with the names of bands on it to determine the order of band appearances (celebrities hadn't been confirmed by press time, but the possibilities included both Mayors Brown). The show begins at 9 p.m. at the Transmission/Paradise, 11th Street & Folsom, S.F. Admission is $10; call 861-6906. The Brain Wash series runs at 9 p.m. on Mondays at the laundromat, 1122 Folsom (at Seventh Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 861-3663.
Stem to Stern The most important thing to know about free summer concert series the Stern Grove Festival is not who's performing, although this year's lineup includes a Father's Day show with the San Francisco Boys and Girls Choruses (June 21), a post-July Fourth show with New Orleans' Preservation Hall Jazz Band (July 5), and the San Francisco Symphony (July 26). It doesn't hurt to know that the concert series also includes dance performances by companies from the Ethnic Dance Festival (Aug. 2) and the San Francisco Ballet (Aug. 9). No, the most important thing people who've never been to the Grove should know is that this wooded clearing, scenic as it is, just isn't big enough to seat all the people who tend to show up for free concerts. With that in mind, those who want to really see a show, without sliding down the hill or fighting with low-hanging branches, should consider bringing a picnic and arriving around two hours before concert time. The series opens with "Island Spice," a program featuring Havana dance band Bamboleo, Cuban percussionist Orestes Vilató, and Rebeca Mauleon & Round Trip at 2 p.m. at Stern Grove, 19th Avenue & Sloat, S.F. Admission is free; call 252-6252.
Your Ticket to Paradise Like dozens of Southern writers, author Ellen Gilchrist has steadily stripped away the sunny, genteel facade of the South to reveal a darker, swampier, more dangerous place. In her short story "There's a Garden of Eden," a fading and disillusioned former belle kills time in her bedroom, lolling on a quilt patched together from her old furs, until the lure of a romantic liaison on the eve of an impending flood spurs her into action. Local theater company Word for Word, which stages classic and modern fiction and prides itself on maintaining the integrity of an author's language, performs "There's a Garden of Eden" at "A Night in Eden," a benefit for its fifth anniversary festival. Gilchrist's story plays in tandem with "A Passion in Eden," a coming-of-age tale written by Joanne Greenberg, the author of I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. Gilchrist and Greenberg will attend and conduct a discussion after the show, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $35 (an additional $25 for the reception with the writers); call 441-3687.
Tumbling Tumbleweeds Calexico's haunting Black Light album travels the dusty, bumpy road of desert noir, following a kid who flees his job at a run-down hotel to hook up with a traveling Mexican circus. That's the premise, anyway, but listeners won't hear it in a straightforward narrative; this is a mostly instrumental release, and the band (comprised of former Friends of Dean Martinez and, before that, Big Sand members) leaves its cues in the music. Listen carefully and the story unfolds through the lonely sound of pedal steel and slide guitar, the pairing of cello with maracas in "Fake Fur," and the train whistle in "Minas de Cobre (For Better Metal)." Blues slides into jazz and erupts into mariachi music, broken by melancholy waltzy interludes and the sound of shattering glass. Calexico opens for Australia's electric jazz-fueled instrumental trio Dirty Three at 8 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $10; call 885-0750.