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Culture Lust Weekend: ‘Aurélia’s Oratario,’ Seeing Beauty, And Some Ukulele

Above: Aurélia Thierrée delivers a dose of the surreal in "Aurélia's Oratorio."

I am embarrassed to admit this. While many of you will be out and about this weekend, hopefully making use of our suggestions, I will likely be holed up in front of my television watching "The Tudors" on Showtime. The fourth and final season begins in early April so all past seasons are currently On Demand and I've become slightly obsessed. Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas More...they all sucked me in with their court intrigue and wanton affairs. So this weekend, I'll be rolling 16th-century style, but that shouldn't keep you from enjoying the following.

THEATER

The granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin and offspring of Jean-Baptiste Thierrée and Victoria Thierrée Chaplin, whose Cirque Imaginaire and Cirque Invisible were inspiration for another famous Cirque (Du Soliel), performer Aurélia Thierrée’s on-stage roots will come full circle this weekend as she takes the stage in the wondrous “Aurélia’s Oratorio” at the La Jolla Playhouse. Half magic show, half mind-and-body bending feat, Thierrée collaborated with her mother, Victoria, for the performance, which involves puppetry, contortionism and more set to a score of chamber music and gypsy jazz. Growing up in the circus has never seemed so cool.

Another fantastic voyage, this time into the inner workings of the psyche, will take place at the New Village Arts Theatre this weekend as they debut the “The Man Who.” The play was inspired by Oliver Sacks’ best-selling “The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat,” a collection of neurological case studies, and features a series of fables that offer insight into that most phenomenal paradox – the human brain.

Acclaimed actor Brian Bevell is back from the Midwest (for 6 nights only) to reprise his role as "The Traveler" in the Compass Theatre’s production of Wallace Shawn's “The Fever.” The back story: Bevell’s take on the harrowing political commentary/one-man show was a critic’s delight and made the U-T’s list of top 10 shows of 1999, so snap up tickets for this weekend before he heads home.

ART

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but for those who craft a career out of capturing it, it just may lie in the lens. The MoPA's latest exhibit, "Seeing Beauty," explores photography's past and present love affair with the aesthetically pleasing, including works by luminaries like Mary Ellen Mark, Minor White, Bill Brandt, and more.

Hints of Escondido artist Dave Ghilarducci’s former career as a rocket engineer show up in his latest work, which will be on display this Friday at Sushi Performance and Visual Art. Entitled “Circle of Complication,” Ghilarducci’s kinetic sculpture takes its inspiration from the old Spirograph toys, creating large-scale drawings that seem random, thereby capturing the nature of spontaneous child's play. However, the drawings are actually created using a program designed to produce the random etchings. Swing by Sushi this Friday and Saturday for his opening reception.

Mesa College’s league of leading art professors will display their work this weekend in a faculty show at the college gallery. You may recognize names like Brian Dick, Barbara Sexton, and Wendell King, all of whom teach at Mesa but exhibit regularly in San Diego. The faculty show, which features wacky animation, frenetic photographs, math-inspired canvasses, landscapes and more, opens on Thursday.

BOOKS

When she’s not writing, award-winning novelist Margaret Erhart spends much of her time trekking through the craggy terrain of the Grand Canyon as a hiking guide, and it was precisely that history-laden desert landscape which inspired her new book, “The Butterflies of Grand Canyon.” The tale follows the fictional Jane Merkell, a 1950’s housewife new to Flagstaff, AZ, while paralleling a murder mystery starring real-life historical botanists Elzada Clover and Lois Jotter Cutte (who were among the first women to make it down the Canyon). Visit Warwick’s this Tuesday to pick up your copy of the novel and have it signed by Erhart.

Stephen Graham, the professor of Cities and Society at Newcastle University’s Global Urban Research Unit, knows a thing or two about the tumultuous relationship behind the mechanics of the metropolis - he’s written four books on the subject already, while his fifth, “Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism” debuts this March. Ask him about it live at UCSD tonight as he discusses his latest project as part of UCSD's ongoing series, Public Culture in the Visual Sphere.

MUSIC

In the mood for some au courant ukulele? (Yes, we said au courant). Head to The Belly Up this Monday to catch ukulele maestro Jake Shimabukuro strum a mix of jazz, blues, folk and more on some strings that aren’t so status-quo. Opening is internationally renowned Hawaiian “Slack Rocker” Makana, who’s been touted as one of the top three guitarists in America by Guitar Player Magazine.

Meanwhile on Monday, hit up The Casbah for a modern mélange of folk, starring critically acclaimed up-and-comers April Smith & The Great Picture Show and indie darling Langhorne Slim (real name: Sean Scolnick). Smith claims the Andrews Sisters, Tom Waits and juke joints as inspiration, while Slim’s blend of brooding vocals and bluesy banjo echo a Demolition-era Ryan Adams.

Amass some good karma while enjoying the Spanish guitar at USD’s “Benefit Concert for Haiti: Music for Life” this coming Tuesday, featuring international award-winner Pablo Sáinz Villegas. All proceeds will directly benefit Partners in Help, a global nonprofit that’s worked in Haiti for over 20 years.

More border-spanning beats are on offer at Dizzy’s this Saturday with a performance from Beyond the Pale, a Jewish-Balkan Twang quintet hailing from Toronto (!). American cocktail pianists, Yiddish klezmer, and Balkan folk composers all had a hand in cultivating the band’s unique sound, which, needless to say, involves an accordion (along with some killer bass, violin, mandolin, and clarinet).

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