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Arts & Culture

San Diego weekend arts events: Scrooge, Scrabble and sound art

An actor is dressed as the ghost of Jacob Marley in a stage play production of A Christmas Carol. He's wearing white and gray, with frilly sleeves, and is bound by oversized chains. He has long gray hair and a pained expression on his face.
Karli Cadel
Cygnet Theatre
Actor David McBean is shown on stage in Cygnet Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol" in an undated photo.

Top picks

'A Christmas Carol'

Cygnet Theater's adaptation of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" returns with cofounder and artistic director Sean Murray in the Scrooge role. Murray said he's drawn to the play by the depth and complexity of Scrooge, beyond the "Bah Humbug."

"People focus on his anti-Christmas stance, and his resistance to being included in society and culture. He really has isolated himself, and when we get to explore the different events in his life that helped shape that view, you learn that he's actually — he's hiding a lot of pain in himself by putting up a very thick facade of resistance," Murray said.

Sean Murray is shown in an undated photo as Ebenezer Scrooge in Cygnet Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol."
Karli Cadel
Cygnet Theatre
Sean Murray is shown in an undated photo as Ebenezer Scrooge in Cygnet Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol."

Cygnet Theatre began their "A Christmas Carol" journey over a decade ago with a 1940s radio play adaptation, complete with live sound effect artists on stage — which has been folded into this traditional, musical production. The current play also uses puppets for most of the child characters which lends playfulness, as well as an extra dose of darkness at times.


For more arts events or to submit your own, visit the KPBS/Arts Calendar. If you want more time to plan, get the KPBS/Arts newsletter in your inbox every Thursday to see event picks for the weeks ahead.

The comedy, Murray says, is a way to draw in the audience, and engage not just their imagination but their feeling of involvement in the story. "Humor is a great way to disarm people," he said. The sharp wit, seamless music and masterful performance of Cygnet's case add an approachable, enduring spin on this classic story of empathy, redemption and transformation.

Details: "A Christmas Carol." Performances most Tuesdays through Sundays through Dec. 30. Cygnet Theatre, 4040 Twiggs St., Old Town. $39-$73.

Miki Vale and Parker Edison are shown playing Scrabble and drinking coffee on an outdoor patio.
Laura Zee
Miki Vale and Parker Edison are shown in an undated photo.

Letters for a Cause

Literature, Music
Our KPBS podcast host Parker Edison will join hip-hop artist Miki Vale in a philanthropic Scrabble match — with the prize purse going to the winner's choice of local causes. The event will include performances from Ric Scales, DJ Root, Vale and more, plus a photography exhibit.

Details: "Letters for a Cause." 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17. The Mental Bar, 6325 Imperial Ave., Encanto. Free.

Gallery visitors peruse Margaret Noble's "Convenience Atrocities" postcards, shown in an undated photo at The Front Arte & Cultura gallery in San Ysidro.
Courtesy of Margaret Noble
Gallery visitors peruse Margaret Noble's "Convenience Atrocities" postcards, shown in an undated photo at The Front Arte & Cultura gallery in San Ysidro.


Visual art, Sound art
The multimedia works in this incredible and inquisitive group exhibit include a series of live cams from habitats around the world, a rack of postcards identifying tiny shames or guilty pleasures, sound installations and much more. The featured artists are San Diego's Margaret Noble, Mexico's Jaime Lobato and the international art collective Interspecifics. The postcards, Noble's "Convenience Atrocities," are delightful while also a bit unsettling and inculpating.

Catch a virtual artist talk with the artists this Thursday at 6 p.m.

Details: "Theorema." On view through Jan. 20, 2024. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The Front Arte & Cultura, 147 West San Ysidro Blvd., San Ysidro.

Every Day Vanilla
Studio Luniste
Studio Luniste
The cast of "Every Day Vanilla" are shown in an undated photo.

Every Day Vanilla

This self-produced play from San Diego writer-actor Lani Gobaleza and director Earl Paus follows Frankie Robles, a 17-year-old Filipina American writer who just wants to get out of "vanilla" San Diego. The play spans a decade as Frankie — with the help of her loved ones — tries to understand and come to terms with her hometown.

Details: "Every Day Vanilla." On stage Dec. 14-29. This weekend's showtimes are 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2 p.m Sunday. Moxie Theatre (independently produced), 6663 El Cajon Blvd., Rolando. $19-$75.

'Noel Noel'

Music, Theater
This annual holiday performance features guest conductor Christopher Dragon, the San Diego Symphony, San Diego Master Chorale and San Diego Children's Choir, along with a theatrical cast and elaborate, large-scale projections on the "shell." The story follows the seasonal adventures of the character Noel. Bundle up for the outdoor performances. Lawn seats are selling fast.

Details: "Noel Noel." 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15; 5 p.m. Saturday Dec. 16 and Sunday Dec. 17. The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, 222 Marina Park Way, downtown. $32+.

Live music picks

Thursday: Sego, Community Pool and Blair Gun at Casbah (indie/electronic); Coastal Wolves, Jonny Tarr and Davis at Soda Bar (indie); EVILTHXTS at Brick by Brick (hip-hop/electronic).

Friday: Queens of the Stone Age and Spiritualized at Viejas Arena (rock); Crave Holiday Rave at Quartyard (dance/EDM).

Saturday: TV Girl at SOMA (pop); Cattle Decapitation at Observatory (metal); The Kids, Tommy and the Commies and SANDS at Corazon del Barrio (rock); The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble at Winston's Beach Club (funk); Equanimous, Activation and Cam Steen at Music Box (electronic); Rey Wolf at Black Cat Bar (rock/avant-garde).

Sunday: Cheyenne Benton, Russ Blvd. and Samer Bakri at Soda Bar (indie/pop); Jeff Rosenstock, Georgia Maq and Small Crush at Observatory (punk/rock); Jesse Ray Smith, Jeff Berkley and Calen Lucas at Casbah (singer/songwriter/folk); Anuhea at Belly Up (singer/songwriter); SeeYouSpaceCowboy at Che Cafe (hardcore).

More arts and culture events

Music and more

50/50 Hip-Hop After Dark
To celebrate both the 50th anniversary of hip-hop and the Fleet Science Center, this event showcases the scientific foundations of the rhymes and rhythms of the hip-hop genre. DJs will spin sets, and poets will perform — including Gill Sotu, Natasha Hooper and Rudy Francisco. 6-10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15. Fleet Science Center, 1875 El Prado, Balboa Park. $15-$25.

Salty Series: Karlheinz Stockhausen's 'Inori'
This 1973-74 composition, performed by San Diego performance artist and percussionist Christopher Clarino, is an ambitious and physically demanding piece of music. It uses recorded playback and a soloist, though the soloist does not play an instrument but instead follows a series of gestures, movements and mimes to suggest prayer or meditation. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15. Bread and Salt, 1955 Julian Ave., Logan Heights. $10 or pay what you can.

Carol Along with the Balboa Park Carillon 
If you've been at Balboa Park at any point during the day, you've likely heard the Ona Mae Lowe carillon, a musical instrument that's somewhere between bells and piano. This carillon has been nestled at the top of the California Tower since 1946. Saturday afternoon, the Ramona Community Singers and Tremble Clefs San Diego will lead visitors in a singalong of Christmas carols and holiday tunes, all accompanied by the carillon. Lyric sheets will be provided. 12:30-1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16. The Old Globe courtyard, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park. Free.

ISC Record Fair x Japonesia Holiday Market
In Sheep's Clothing, a Los Angeles-based record shop, is co-hosting this music-centered holiday market at Quartyard featuring multiple record vendors (including Folk Arts Rare Records) and Japanese gifts and apparel. Sushi, miso soup, matcha and beer will be on-hand for purchase from LA and San Diego vendors. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17. Quartyard, 1301 Market St., East Village. Free (RSVP recommended).

Artwork for "The Last Group Show" is shown during the installation process at Bread and Salt in an undated photo.
Michael James Armstrong
Artwork for "The Last Group Show" is shown during the installation process at Bread and Salt in an undated photo.

Visual art

"The Last Group Show" Closing Day
It's your last chance to see hundreds and hundreds of works of art in one go — from the 550 artists participating in "The Last Group Show" at Bread and Salt. Spanning multiple rooms, the walls (and floors) are filled to the brim with art works, video and sculpture, reading like a who's who (and who's to come) in San Diego's art scene. On view through Dec. 16. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Bread and Salt, 1955 Julian Ave., Logan Heights. Free.

Books and more

"Shloyml Boyml and his lucky Dreydl"
Author, musician, artist and ethnographer Yale Strom will read from his book "Shloyml Boyml and His Lucky Dreydl" in both English and Yiddish, and will perform Hanukkah music. Food will be served for in-person guests. The event will also be broadcast on Zoom. 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14. Yiddishland California (or virtual), 1128 Wall St., La Jolla. $18-$25.

Digital Lizards of Doom
The creators of Papercutz' Digital Lizards of Doom comic series, Gabriel Valentin, Ernie Najera and Margo Prodan, will celebrate the release of the debut book in the series with a reading, music performance and coloring activities. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17. Verbatim Books, 3793 30th St., North Park. Free.


Maraya Performing Arts Winter Arts Festival 
This festival and performance from Maraya Performing Arts will feature dance showcases from their youth academy as well as a theatrical dance production, "Bayanihan." Filipino food will also be on hand, as well as a blood drive. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17. Wilson Middle School, 3733 El Cajon Blvd., City Heights. $35-$55.