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Arts & Culture

San Diego weekend arts events: A singing devil, books and Black theater

Alberto Arvelo / Courtesy of the San Diego Symphony
A still from filmmaker Alberto Arvelo's film that will accompany the San Diego Symphony's May 26-27, 2023 performances of Venezuelan composer Antonio Estévez's "Cantata Criolla."

Sarina Dahlan: 'Preset' book launch / AANHPI Celebration

La Mesa author Sarina Dahlan's second book, "Preset," is a prequel to her debut science fiction novel, "Reset."

Both books center on The Four Cities, a cluster of futuristic dystopian, self-sustaining civilizations. In "Reset," citizens' memories are wiped every four years as a way of preserving peace.

David Dann
Author Sarina Dahlan is shown with her book, "Preset" in an undated photo.

Dahlan's newest book, "Preset," takes place two hundred years prior to the plot of "Reset," exploring the origins of the world in "Reset." The books touch on topics that seem unsettlingly current, too — like bodily autonomy, the climate, artificial intelligence and war.

For Dahlan, living through some of the characteristics of her fictional dystopian world is inherent to being a speculative science fiction writer.

"We borrow a lot from what's happening in the world today, and in doing so, we hope to explore all of these issues in small bites, and also kind of take it and understand what it really means to stand in this particular moment in time and to see it from both sides," Dahlan said.

"Preset" follows a married couple: Eli, the de-facto leader of The Four Cities, and Eleanor, his estranged wife who leaves to join the Resistance. Years after a global war destroyed much of humanity, Eli is laser-focused on finding a way to save and propagate — and ultimately control — what's left of the population.


"There's a saying that in every utopia, it's somebody's dystopia," Dahlan said.

Listen to the full interview with Dahlan here.

Details: 1 p.m. Saturday, May 27. UC San Diego Bookstore, 9500 Gilman Dr., UCSD. Free.

Black Arts Festival: The Old Globe + San Diego Black Artist Collective

This four-day festival features performances, music, theater and visual art from artists from the San Diego Black Artist Collective. It kicks off with an art exhibit, performances of "Black Lady Showcase" and "A Black Man's Song" and an opening night party at the Globe.

Throughout this weekend, there'll be several readings of new works of theater, "Barbeque," and the Black Voices Black Writers works. Check out the schedule here.

The festival is part of a trio of collaborations with The Old Globe this summer. Watch for The Frontera Project and the Jewish Arts Festival in the coming months.

Details: 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 25-28. The Old Globe, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park. $25.

Singing With The Devil: Payare and 'Cantata Criolla'

Music, Film
To close out their 2022-2023 season, the San Diego Symphony will perform works by two Venezuelan composers, Evencio Castellanos and Antonio Estévez along with new video art to accompany the music.

Filmmaker Alberto Arvelo created a black and white short film to accompany Estévez's "Cantata Criolla," a piece of joropo-style music for orchestra, chorus and two solos that was based on Venezeulan folklore — and a poem by Arvelo's grandfather, Alberto Arvelo Torrealba. In the story, a man, Florentino, and the devil, volley back and forth in a singing contest, with two soloists, tenor Aquiles Machado and baritone Gustavo Castillo embodying those roles.

Additional pieces include Gabriel Fauré's "Suite from Pelléas et Mélisande," and Paul Dukas' "La Péri, Poème Dansé (Dance Poem in One Scene)," with additional video and visual works by Amelia Kosminsky. The San Diego Master Chorale also performs.

Details: 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 26 and Saturday, May 27. The Shell, 222 Marina Park Way, downtown. $25-$108.

'Head Over Heels'

What do the '80s band The Go-Go's and 16th century Chivalric literature have in common? Diversionary Theatre's upcoming production of "Head Over Heels," penned by Jeff Whitty ("Avenue Q"), might offer one answer.

The cast of Diversionary Theatre's "Head Over Heels" is shown in an undated photo.

This is a "jukebox musical," so instead of original songs performed by the characters to advance the plot, existing, popular music is used. In this case, it's music by the '80s band The Go-Go's. The story effectively follows a royal family as they attempt to counteract an ominous prophesy — with some intrigue, jealousy and scandal along the way.

Andréa Agosto
Part of the set for Diversionary Theatre's production of "Head Over Heels" is shown in an undated rehearsal photo.

Details: Previews begin May 25. This weekend's shows are 7 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday. On stage through June 18. Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd., University Heights. $25-$60.

Poetry and Contrabass Activation of Wendell Kling: 'A Coruscating Sanctuary'

Visual art, Poetry, Music
The Athenaeum's main gallery has been transformed into a room full of light and color with Wendell Kling's new exhibit, featuring colorful papercut works installed on the windows, and as sculptures using projected lights. To "activate" the works even more, the Athenaeum has invited poets and musicians to participate and perform in the space. This Saturday afternoon, poet Jerome Rothenberg and poet and contrabassist Mark Dresser will add sound and language to Kling's color, shapes and light.

Lile Kvantaliani
Athenaeum Music & Arts Library
Part of Wendell Kling's exhibition "A Coruscating Sanctuary" is shown in an undated photo.

I love Rothenberg's 1999 poem, "I Will Not Save the World," with its vivid sense of surrender. You can read more of Rothenberg's works through the Poetry Foundation here.

Dresser is an accomplished, Grammy-nominated bass player, and he teaches at UC San Diego.

Details: 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 27. Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall St., La Jolla. Free.

Adam Deutsch and Manuel Paul López

Books, Poetry
More poetry! San Diego-based poets and educators Adam Deutsch and Manuel Paul López will read and discuss their works together on Friday at The Book Catapult.

The book cover is shown for San Diego poet Manuel Paul López's "Nerve Curriculum," published Jan. 15, 2023.

Deutsch's new collection, "Every Transmission," is a jam-packed book of his mini tapestries of daily existence, insightful and inciting. (An obvious favorite here is a poem in the middle of the book called "Public Radio." "In the nearest-by of foreign countries, / a reporter knows how we sweat attention / when we hear the language of ingredients, the spell of culinary vernacular— / edible bulbs, meaty pepper rinds, and queso.")

López co-facilitates the Southeast San Diego community writers' workshop Reclaiming Our Stories, which has published several anthologies of work since 2016, co-edited by López. López's latest collection is "Nerve Curriculum." His work is powerfully voiced and intensely rooted in the region, and his poetry plays with prose and form. You can check out a few of his poems at The Rumpus here, or in this recent KCET Artbound animation here.

Details: 7 p.m. on Friday, May 26. The Book Catapult, 3010-B Juniper St., South Park. Free.

North Park Music Fest

Dozens of Southern California bands will take over the North Park Mini Park (and the nearby streets: North Park Way, Granada Ave. and 29th St.). It's a two-day, outdoor festival with an optional, add-on Friday preview night with special staggered performances at Queen Bees and Seven Grand.

Saturday's headliners are Mr. Tube & the Flying Objects, a project of Pall Jenkins (The Black Heart Procession and Three Mile Pilot). Sunday features El Ten Eleven. Other performers to watch for are LA-based punk rocker Kate Clover, Dead Feather Moon, Shelbi Bennett, Young Lions Jazz Conservatory and Coral Bells. Scroll down on the festival page here for the set times.

Low Volts, Sutton James, Tulengua and Fistfights with Wolves will perform on Friday.

A vendor market will house food vendors, cocktails, craft beer and mocktails, plus a visual art collaboration with ArtReach featuring local artists' vinyl record art up for sale. Preview the pieces here.

Details: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 27 and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday May 28. North Park Mini Park, 3812 29th St., North Park. Advance ticket prizes are: $45 single day passes; $60 two-day passes. $10 for Friday preview night. All ages.

For more arts events, to submit your own event, or to sign up for my weekly KPBS/Arts newsletter, visit the KPBS/Arts Calendar

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