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San Diego Weekend Arts Events: Oral Storytelling At The Old Globe, Italian Film Festival And A Virtual Goth Night

Actor, storyteller and teaching artist Bibi Mama performs on stage at the You...

Credit: Courtesy Bibi Mama

Above: Actor, storyteller and teaching artist Bibi Mama performs on stage at the Young Playwrights' Theatre Festival in an undated photograph. Mama joins The Old Globe's "Word Up!" program this Friday.

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Our arts and culture picks for the weekend ahead feature an oral tradition workshop, innovative digital theater, the launch party for the San Diego Italian Film Festival, a new protest photography exhibition, a livestreamed goth night from the Casbah and songwriter Amenta Abioto.

Aired: September 25, 2020 | Transcript

If you're feeling stuck in an infinite loop of pandemic days and pandemic weekends, peppered only with the slight irregularity found by checking the news for the daily doom, you're not alone. And it is hard to make space for art, culture or any sort of escape when the world seems endlessly dire — believe me, I know. I also know that it's essential. If you can, set aside a little time to sample some of this weekend's enchanting, soothing or maybe even empowering San Diego art offerings.

My picks this weekend include some vibrant local film festivals, learning about the West African Yoruba oral storytelling tradition, puppetry, street activism photography and the virtual goth night of your dreams — doom optional.

'Word Up!': Oral Traditions with Bibi Mama

Theater, poetry, literature

Tune in Friday night for a virtual event that's part showcase, part master class and part community hang sesh. Word Up! is one of The Old Globe's arts engagement offerings and has been offered regularly throughout the pandemic. This week, they're bringing in Beninese-American theatrical teaching artist Bibi Mama to dig into oral tradition through storytelling.

Details: Friday at 6 p.m. Virtual livestream via the Old Globe's website or YouTube. Free.

More theater: Check out KPBS' Beth Accomando's preview of Animal Cracker Conspiracy's mesmerizing "The Society of Wonder," the latest offering in La Jolla Playhouse's Digital WOW series. It's a series of short films featuring puppets, masterminded by artists Bridget Rountree and Iain Gunn, with soundscapes by Margaret Noble.

San Diego Italian Film Festival 'FeStivale 2020' Launch Party

Film

The San Diego Italian Film Festival launches their "feStivale 2020" program this weekend. The theme of this year's program is activism, and they're hosting a launch party on Sunday morning. Some of the festival film directors will join in from Italy, and you can also watch sneak previews before the festival kicks off in October. There'll be performances of Morricone film scores interpreted by San Diego's Marc and Landon Akiyama — the musicians will also screen the animated short film they scored, "Brush," which is delightful. The launch party will offer Italian food and (omg) gelato delivery.

Details: Sunday at 11 a.m. Virtual. $15 for members and $20 general admission.

More film: As the San Diego Latino Film Festival comes to a close this weekend, there are still plenty of films to check out. Don't miss: "Birth Wars." This powerful documentary explores the clash between doctors and midwives in Mexico, and screens Saturday afternoon from 1:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Photo credit: Johnny Nguyen

Work from photographer Johnny Nguyen's new exhibition, "Normalize Radical" will be on display at Hill Street Country Club beginning Saturday.

'Normalize Radical' Exhibition at Hill Street Country Club

Visual art, photography

The Hill Street Country Club opens a new show this weekend, a retrospective of photographer Johnny Nguyen: "Normalize Radical." It chronicles the decade Nguyen spent photographing protests and street activism movements in San Diego, beginning with the Occupy movement and leading up to this summer's protests against police brutality and racial injustice. Nguyen, who was shot by rubber bullets during the May protests in La Mesa, has used his photojournalistic style to help tell the stories of the people and causes at the center of street activism. You can read my feature on the exhibition and interview with Nguyen here.

Hill Street is tackling the art opening with masked, COVID-safe style, offering two full days of socially distanced, small group "receptions" this weekend. The exhibition will also be available to view (and shop) online.

Details: Saturday and Sunday from 1-7 p.m. and by appointment. Free.

'Black Friday': Goth, Dark '80s and Post Punk Dance Party at the Casbah (via Twitch)

Music

Photo credit: The Passengers / Album art by Martin Morales

Album art for The Passengers' self-titled EP released in 2017. The band will play a livestreamed set from the emtpy Casbah on Friday.

San Diego has a legendary crop of goth nights, but without the lure of that dimly lit dance floor and a chance to wear more eyeliner than you've ever before dared, virtual goth night versions have a lot to measure up to.

The Casbah might just be up to the task. Combining DJ sets with a live band performing from the empty venue, Friday's event promises to be a more robust version of their relatively brief livestreamed shows. DJs Vaughn Avakian and Camilla Robina will spin the goth jams and locals The Passengers will perform a set of their ultra-dark, post-punk music. The band just released a brand new track on a compilation by Southern California-based Volar Records that benefits trans housing relief. The song is called "Until the World Falls Apart," and you can listen here. Ah, timely.

So tune in to Twitch, dim the lights and go ahead, wear your best goth makeup.

Details: Friday at 8:30 p.m. Livestreamed from the Casbah via Twitch.

More music: Time is meaningless so I'm including Monday in this weekend's events. Don't miss Amenta Abioto's livestream set. The show is a benefit for Hill Street Country Club's artist support stipend program, on Monday at 6:30 p.m. via Hill Street's Instagram Live. Portland-based Amenta Abioto is a singer, songwriter, producer and performance artist. Her work is mystical and raw, drawing on jazz, gospel, African instrumental music plus theatrical and storytelling elements in her solo, loop-based performances — check out "Awake" here.

For more arts events, or to sign up for the KPBS/Arts newsletter, go here.

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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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