A Promising Arts Season

Hamilton doesn’t have to be the hottest ticket in town. The season is full of enriching cultural events in the East Bay.


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You may not be able to obtain tickets to Hamilton when it lands in San Francisco, but don’t let that bother you too much. Turn that desire for cultural engagement toward the East Bay, where the 2016 fall arts season is full of promise.

This issue contains worthy recommendations and previews to a few dozen upcoming art shows, dance performances, film events, literary happenings, musical offerings, and eagerly anticipated theater. The coverage starts in “A Primer for the Arts Season,” which casts a wide net from San Francisco to Walnut Creek. Think of it as a handy directory to help you decide now, with your calendar at the ready, on what you ought to be buying tickets for. Or use it as a means to nudge yourself toward investigating how the Bay Area’s numerous symphonies and choirs, theater troupes and opera companies, art galleries and museums, film houses and writing salons are getting their programming underway.

This issue’s arts coverage also touches on visual art by highlighting the remarkable, often-temporary creations of four teams of Burning Man artists, including a veteran Berkeleyite Burner, an Alameda husband-and-wife team, an Oakland father-son duo, and a trio of close friends. They, along with volunteers, were working in their studios at press time on their interactive sculptures—a giant, climb-insideable squid; a towering bear made of pennies; an enormous Victrola, and a bevy of catawampus lighthouses. But they took time out from their commissions to talk about what drives and inspires them to do such big art.

Finally, the recently released mockumentary Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping offered a perfect chance for touching base with Jorma Taccone, one of the geniuses behind The Lonely Island comedy troupe. The trio traces its friendship back to Berkeley’s Willard Junior High, where they goofed around being comedians. The antics have paid off with writing and performance gigs from Saturday Night Live to the big screen and beyond. What’s next? See for yourself, starting on with “Making a Mockery of Things.”

Published online on Sept. 1, 2016 at 8 a.m.

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