Arts & Events

Around and About Theater

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 02:23:00 PM

Around & About Theater: 'Rumi x 7' in Oakland; Beckett's 'Endgame' & 'Watt': Dublin's Gate Theatre in Berkeley; Virago's 'Shoot O'Malley Twice' at Stagewerx 

—Translations of the medieval Persian poet and Sufi figure Jalaluddin Rumi have rivaled the record of Edward Fitzgerald's translation of 'The Ruba'iyat of Omar Khayyam' as the most popular book of poetry published in English. Rumi's longest poem, 'The Masnavi,' is told in great part by stories, illustrating what spiritual points he wanted to get across with secular folkloric color, often wry humor. 

Golden Thread Productions—whose annual ReOrient festival of one act plays on the Middle East has been produceded in Berkeley—has joined forces with the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California in Oakland to stage seven of Rumi's tales, like "The Elephant in the Dark" and "The Grammarian and the Boatman," in modern theatrical styles featuring clown and Commedia shtick by Hafiz Karmali, a splendid director, as the first in a series of programs he'll direct over the coming three years, entitled Islam 101—this Friday night at 7:30, Saturday at 3:30 and 7:30, at the Center, near the Main Library in downtown Oakland, staged in the sumptuous ceremonial hall of this old Masonic building, all in Moorish Revival style, just over a century old. 1433 Madison at 14th—kitty-corner from the Main Library—downtown Oakland. $10-$20. 832-7600;; (There's also an exhibit of Rumi-related artwork at the Cultural Center.) 

—Cal Performances is presenting "the other Dublin theater" besides the Abbey, the venerable Gate Theatre, founded in 1928 as purveyor of European modern drama while the Abbey presented an Irish repertory. Orson Welles, James Mason and Michael Gambon all cut their teeth as actors on the Gate's stage. In the '90s, the Gate presented the first-ever complete retrospective onstage of Samuel Beckett's plays, and also gave Harold Pinter's dramatic work its first comprehensive retrospective. 

The Gate will play Beckett's greatest stage work, 'Endgame,' preferred by the author to his 'Waiting for Godot,' and a staging of passages from his early novel 'Watt,' both featuring famed, acclaimed Beckett interpreter Barry McGovern. 'Endgame' (directed by Alan Stanford) plays at 8 on Friday and Saturday, and at 3 on Sunday; 'Watt' (directed by Tom Creed) plays at 2 on Saturday, 8 on Sunday. (Thursday's show featuring both productions is sold out.) Zellerbach Playhouse, behind Zellerbach Auditorium on the UC Berkeley campus. $32.50-$65. Box office open 12-5 weekdays, 1-5 weekends, & an hour before shows. 642-9988; 

—"A child's game, played by dissolute adults" is how Bay Area playwright Jon Brooks' ('Better Than Hitler,' 'Catcher in the Rye Cancelled,' 'The Opposite of Romance') new play 'Shoot O'Malley Twice'—premiered by Alameda's Virago Theatre Company at Stagewerx 433 in San Francisco's Mission District—has been described ... What starts out with the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers and ends up with "predestination, alternative realities, race relations, Robert Moses, quantum mechanics, besides baseball," is acted out in a sleazy hotel room by characters like psychic Billy Future and the Savannah Kid. Directed by Angela Dant. Thursdays through Saturdays at 8, through November 26. 433 Valencia, between 15th & 16th, San Francisco (not, as per a previous listing, on Sutter Street). $15-$25. 832-7600;—