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San Diego Weekend Arts Events: Virtual Ballet, Drive-Thru Art, Cedrice, Women In Film And A Refugee Play

Actor Jessica John performs in the Roustabouts Theatre Co.'s virtual producti...

Credit: Daren Scott

Above: Actor Jessica John performs in the Roustabouts Theatre Co.'s virtual production of "No Way Back," streaming on demand Nov. 14 through Dec. 13, 2020.

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This weekend's top arts events include offerings from City Ballet, the Women's Museum of California, Roustabouts Theatre Co., Mesa College Art Gallery, and a Gill Sotu-curated showcase.

Aired: November 13, 2020 | Transcript

To a creative industry already struggling, this week's not surprising purple tier news for the county of San Diego will feel like a major hit for some (especially those museums that took a big chance to reopen this summer), but more of the same for others like performing artists, dancers, theater companies and more.

I often think back to something artist Michelle Montjoy told me in an interview in late March. With her never-to-be-immersed-in immersive fiber exhibition hanging at Lux Art Institute, Montjoy had more optimism than she owed anyone: "This is what we do as artists, we learn to pivot all the time because you know, shit happens and we're creative and we try to just problem solve," Montjoy said, and it still feels relevant.

This weekend in the arts in San Diego you'll find plenty of innovative manifestations of that problem-solving Montjoy spoke of — drive-thru visual art, virtual ballet, on-demand film festivals and more.

Roustabouts Theatre Co: 'No Way Back'


This powerful new full-length play from a local playwright started as a short piece of creative nonfiction from the local San Diego Memoir showcase and featured in the anthology, "Shaking the Tree." It's by writer and childhood refugee Mahshid Fashandi Hager. Roustabouts heard the piece and approached her to write a full play.

The story follows her harrowing experience as a 10-year-old in Iran, trying to escape with her family. It's a fully produced and staged one-woman play, featuring Jessica John. John is pretty incredible in this role — her performance is like an almost hypnotic memory, with John summoning the voices of the other characters around her in a way that the 10-year-old child would remember them. Her performance adds a lot of depth and insight to an already powerful story.

Details: The Roustabout's production of "No Way Back" streams on demand, Saturday through Dec. 13. $25.

Women's Film Festival


Presented by the Women's Museum of California, their annual film festival is virtual this year. Find 22 films to screen on demand throughout the weekend, all centering on the platform of women filmmakers and storytellers.

I'm looking forward to "The Fight," about the work of modern civil rights lawyers. If you're like me and recently watched "On the Basis of Sex" after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, this is a really incredible documentary follow-up. And following the screening of "The Fight," there's a pre-recorded conversation with Kerry Washington and five of the ACLU lawyers that are featured.

Don't miss: "Corazón de Mezquite (Mezquite's Heart)," about an indigenous Yoreme girl's quest to play the harp, and the feature-length doc "Ms. Diagnosed," about women in the medical system. There's also a free panel about women in the film industry on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

Details: The Women's Film Festival runs tonight through Sunday. Online. $12 for "The Flight," and $25 for a festival pass.

Mesa College Art Gallery Drive-Thru Exhibition

Visual art

With museums closing again due to new purple tier restrictions, Mesa College Art Gallery has a way to show an exceptional group art exhibition COVID-style: a drive-thru. Featuring 35 new works, in large-scale banner format, hung from the fence along Parking Lot 1 on the Mesa College campus. Featuring artists like Bhavna Mehta, Sheena Rae Dowling, Michelle Montjoy, Lourans Mikhail and more. You can check out an audio tour as you browse the works too.

You can read my feature on this exhibition, as well as Mesa College's museum studies program here.

Details: The Mesa College Art Gallery's drive-thru exhibition is open to the public today through Dec. 9, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Note: the campus will be closed Thanksgiving week.

Photo by Julia Dixon Evans

Works of art on large banners grace a parking lot at San Diego Mesa College, opening November 13, 2020. In the foreground is Bhavna Mehta's "Animated Couple (2020)."

City Ballet: 'Moving Forward'


This weekend's program from The City Ballet of San Diego kicks off a completely retooled vision of the performance season. In "Moving Forward," there are four ballets featured, with a mix of styles, with immersive camera work that get you up close with the dancers and the stage in a way that kind of transcends being in a traditional, seated audience.

There are some traditional pieces — a rendition of "Gottschalk Tarantelle," Edvard Grieg’s "Holberg Pas de Deux," and then two new world premieres by the company's resident choreographers. Elizabeth Wistrich takes a beautiful Brahms piano concerto and sets the choreography in the 1960s. And I'm pretty excited for "The Fates," which is new work by Geoff Gonzalez with music by Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky, exploring this story of the three fates. Some really traditional and historically steeped components, but the settings and cinematography really seem to push the boundaries of ballet.

You can view the trailer here:

Details: City Ballet's "Moving Forward" screens on demand today through Nov. 29. $29.

'Be About It'

Music, Poetry, Comedy, Performing arts

So on Saturday, performer Gill Sotu and the Jacob's Center for Neighborhood Innovation paired seven local artists with seven local nonprofits for "Be About It," to create custom performances about that particular nonprofit — organizations like Outdoor Outreach and Muslim Community Services. The event features many great local acts, like Maraya Performing Arts, Sotu himself, Rebecca Jade, poet Bridget Gray, comedian Kree Rushing and more, including San Diego's recent reality star Cedrice — who starred in NBC's "The Voice."

You can listen to Cedrice's latest release, "Room to Grow," here. And tune in Saturday morning to catch these great pairings.

Details: "Be About It" streams Saturday at 10 a.m. via Facebook Live or Instagram Live. Free.

Photo credit: Nico Ricoy

Performer Gill Sotu is set to host a virtual showcase, "Be About It," Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020.

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Julia Dixon Evans
Arts Calendar Editor and Producer

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI write the weekly KPBS Arts newsletter and edit and produce the KPBS Arts calendar. I am interested in getting San Diegans engaged with the diversity of art and culture made by the creative people who live here.

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