Comedy, fantasy, ashes, gases — all rise up. Children’s opera, theater, and political commentary come together in triumphant lavender celebration Thursday night, as the Berkeley Repertory Theater follows its regular 7:30 p.m. performance of Brundibár with night/OUT, a free party for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. First come the plays. The brilliant Tony Kushner (Angels in America) has teamed up with renowned illustrator Maurice Sendak to create an original adaptation of Brundibár, the opera that was performed 55 times by children in the Nazi “model” concentration camp, Terezín. Set to music by Hans Krása and performed by members of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra), the original productions were intended to fool the Red Cross, which didn’t stick around to witness the annihilation of most of the cast. Brundibár comes paired with Kushner and Sendak’s adaptation of Comedy on the Bridge, an absurdist commentary on war. Also written in Czechoslovakia in the ’30s, the work features music by the great Bohuslav Martinu. Directed by Tony Taccone, who codirected the world premiere of Angels in America, the stellar evening is slated to open in New York in April 2006.
Kushner and Sendak’s offerings of survival and triumph present the perfect opportunity for night/OUT, Berkeley Rep’s post-performance LGBT celebrations held thrice each season. The theater’s group services coordinator, Emily Fleisher, says night/OUT began in 2001. Since then, through a grassroots word-of-mouth campaign, the evenings have drawn up to 250 attendees.
Before the show, the Roda Theater will look like business as usual. When the plays conclude, however, the audience will discover Club Roda’s upper lobby graced by a disco ball, streamers, the sounds of a DJ, and all the lighting magic Berkeley Rep’s tech staff can muster. “The evening is hardly another seedy singles event,” Fleisher enthuses. Attendees include lots of long-time followers who come in couples and mix with a younger singles crowd. Expect lots of room to dance and talk while feasting on donated food, wine, and beer until near-midnight. Tickets: 510-647-2949 or BerkeleyRep.org — Jason Victor Serinus
Google Karen Williams and you get about 15.5 million hits — an artist who fashions clay dolls, a US Court of Appeals judge, a Realtor in upstate New York, an attorney in the Pacific Northwest, an Australian kickboxer (!) — and a lesbian comic. The latter started doing stand-up while living in Berkeley in the ’80s, but her credits go far beyond jokes that start with “So, these two dykes walk into City Hall …” Founder of Cleveland’s HaHA Institute, she’s been a TV host, taught stand-up seminars, and appeared in documentaries. Boy, will her arms be tired after she flies in from Cleveland to host La Lesbian Comedy and DJ Dance Night at La Peña, Saturday at 9 p.m. $10 advance, $15 door. For more info, visit www.lapena.org — Eric K. Arnold
Sound and Vision
Fill my eyes with that double vision/No disguise from that double vision. You guessed it, folks. When it gets through to you, it’s always new to you, and Double Vision will surely get the best of you this Saturday, when the multimedia performance group presents an evening of audiovisual anarchy at the appropriately named Mad Horse Loft, 2200 Adeline St. (at 22nd St.), Oakland. Promising to “fill in the void between neuron and neurosis,” DV combines dance, music, video, and installation in one interactive Cuisinart sure to scramble your DNA “by experimenting with different methods of collaboration” that break down the parallels between algorithms and rhythms. 7:30 p.m., $5-$10. Double-Vision.biz — Eric K. Arnold
Since 2003, the Oakland-based Academy of Hawaiian Arts has become one of the leading forces of Hawaiian cultural education in the region. Under the direction of Kumu Hula Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu , the AHA has offered extensive programs in hula dancing — recently branching out into guitar and ukulele instruction — for both adults and keiki (kids). AHA is serious about its mana, booking the Makaha Sons, among the most popular Hawaiian artists of the past thirty years, as headliners for a festival of Hawaiian culture, Saturday (7 p.m.) at Chabot College, 25555 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward. Info: Ahahula.com or 510-635-2160. — Eric K. Arnold