Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

San Diego's Top Weekend Arts Events: Cirque, August Wilson And Ukuleles

A photo from Cirque du Soleil's Volta.
Matt Beard
A photo from Cirque du Soleil's Volta.
San Diego's Top Weekend Arts Events: Cirque, August Wilson And Ukuleles
GUEST: Nina Garin, editor/producer, KPBS/Arts Calendar Subscribe to the Midday Edition podcast on iTunes, Google Play or your favorite podcatcher.

Speaker 1: 00:00 This week has an eclectic mix of arts from a Ukulele jam with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain to Cirque du Soleil Street inspired acrobatics plus a festival dedicated to the playwright. August Wilson. Joining me is KPBS arts calendar editor, Nina Garren. Hi Nina. Hello. So let's start with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Tell us about them. Think of like an orchestra only instead of violin and viola. That's all Ukuleles. These are eight musicians from Great Britain and they all thing and play everything from Tchaikovsky, the talking heads. And why is it unique to have an all Ukulele orchestra? The UKULELE is considered like a very basic instrument. You think of it like on an island. Many people like their first experience with a stringed instrument is a Ukulele. But in this orchestra everyone has a different size Ukulele. And so the sound is surprisingly varied. Interesting. So will the music at their concert be familiar? Yes, they do. Otis Redding, they do David Bowie, your Eurythmics, even ACPC. And then for people who like classical music, you can still get your Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. Okay. It sounds like something you got to hear. So let's listen to this clip. This is the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain for forming psycho killer by the talking heads Speaker 2: 01:24 [inaudible]. Speaker 1: 01:41 And so the only way to really truly experience this is for everyone to jump in. So I understand there's an audience participation element to this show. There is, and that's a really fun thing about these shows. They encourage the audience to bring Ukuleles and play along. And for this show they're teaching you how to play that song 500 miles. And if you go on the La Jolla music society website, there's a video that teaches you how to do it and sheet music. And if you can't play, they also want you to sing along. The UKULELE. Orchestra of Great Britain performs tonight at the Balbo a theater also this weekend and trepid theater and the San Diego Central Library or putting on a festival celebrating the playwright August Wilson. Can you tell us more about him? August Wilson is sometimes referred to as America's Shakespeare. He's known for a set of 10 plays, call the American Century Cycle, which one? Speaker 1: 02:34 Two pilots or prize for drama. So each play is set in a different decade and depicts the African American experience throughout the 20th century. So then what will happen at this event? The event opens with monologues performed by students of the Chila Vista Bay Front Charter High School. They are students of the esteemed local actress, Linda Libby. Then there's a panel called women on August Wilson, stage of legacy for today with scholar Theresa Ford and theater artists, Aleisha Turner Somberg and then it closes with a staged reading of fences. And you mentioned the festival opens with monologues and we have a clip of a student from bay front charter high school performing from the piano lesson. Let's take a listen what you don't want for you to share. Speaker 1: 03:26 So why put on in August Wilson Festival now San Diego, it was actually recently selected as an official regional city in the 2020 national August Wilson Monologue competition and what that is, it's a national program aimed to help high school students express themselves through theater and San Diego is now involved in it. The August Wilson Festival happens Saturday at the San Diego Central Library. Finally, Cirque du Solei returns with a new show called Volta. Tell us about it. This is a show inspired by the culture of street sports and it's performed as a big top show, which is under a tent to kind of give it more of that street sports kind of vibe. Interesting. So then what does it show about street sports look like through the eyes of Cirque de Solei? Well, along with their trademark acrobatics, um, they're going to add BMX. They have double Dutch jump ropes, Park core movements, rollerskates, all of that. And also they're amazing athletic ability. Sounds both entertaining and suspenseful a what about the costume? The costumes are actually binds all the, he designs for Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and pink. And so what he's done with this is infuse the costumes with bright colors and bold patterns. Kind of like an late eighties early nineties look. And it just all ties together. I love it. We have some music from Volta. Here's what it sounds like. Speaker 2: 04:48 [inaudible] Speaker 1: 05:05 very nice in these shows. Always seem to have a message. Is there one for Volta? Of course. Um, this one is about embracing our differences in a time where social media and technology isolates us and they always have kind of like that narrative. And that's the narrative that we'll be running through the show. And this is a big top show. So what does that mean? So it's like a circus and it's the first time in seven years, that's Cirque de Solei has returned with like a circus type show. And also Volta is six 41st original production, so they know what they're doing. Volta Opens April 4th and continues through April 28th at the del Mar fairgrounds. For more weekend events, be sure to check Nina Garren KPBS arts editor. Thank you for joining us. Thanks. Have a great weekend.

This weekend offers an eclectic mix of arts, from a jam with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain to Cirque du Soleil’s street-inspired acrobatics. Plus, there's a festival dedicated to the playwright August Wilson.

Cirque du Soleil's Volta

Theater, Dance

Cirque du Soleil returns with Volta, a big-top production that celebrates the culture of street sports.

The mesmerizing Cirque acrobatics blend with jump ropes, roller skates, parkour movements and more. Even the costumes are street-inspired; designed by Zaldy, they're infused with bright colors and bold patterns to complete the visual story.

Every show has a message and this one is about embracing our differences in a time when social media isolates us. Volta is Cirque du Soleils’s 41st original production and it will be performed at the Del Mar Fairgrounds through April.

Details: 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 4:30 and 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 1:30 and 5 p.m. Sundays. Through April 28. Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar. $54 to $235; find tickets to Volta.

A 2019 promotional poster for the August Wilson Festival.
Intrepid Theatre
A 2019 promotional poster for the August Wilson Festival.

August Wilson Festival


August Wilson is considered one of America’s best playwrights, and this weekend there will be a festival to celebrate his words and legacy.

Wilson wrote a series of 10 plays, each set in a different decade, exploring the African-American experience in the 20th Century. Intrepid Theatre and the San Diego Central Library present an all-day event featuring student monologues, panel discussions and a staged reading of “Fences.”

This festival was created because next year San Diego will participate in the 2020 National August Wilson Monologue Competition.

Details: 12 to 6 p.m. Saturday. San Diego Central Library, 330 Park Blvd., downtown. Free; find festival details.

A promotional photo of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.
La Jolla Music Society
A promotional photo of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain


When you think of ukuleles, perhaps you imagine island music and gentle breezes. But that’s not exactly the style of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

La Jolla Music Society brings back this popular ukulele ensemble to perform its trademark blend of classical, rock and pop music — think Bach to Nirvana. The ukuleles are all different sizes, creating a lush and unexpectedly varied sound.

Something unique about these concerts is that audience participation is encouraged. Here’s a video tutorial where you can learn to play a song for the play-along portion of the show.

Details: 8 p.m., Friday. Balboa Theatre, 868 4th Ave., downtown. $25 to $75; find tickets to Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

San Diego's Top Weekend Arts Events: Cirque, August Wilson And Ukuleles