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San Diego weekend arts events: 'The Pleasure Trials,' Festival of Books, Khalid Alkaaby and more

Suthe Mani is shown on stage in an undated production photo of Moxie Theatre's "The Pleasure Trials." Sharon Taylor accompanies on cello (at left).
Courtesy of Daren Scott
Suthe Mani is shown on stage in an undated production photo of Moxie Theatre's "The Pleasure Trials." Sharon Taylor accompanies on cello (at left).

'The Pleasure Trials' at Moxie Theatre

Playwright Sarah Saltwick's 2022 play "The Pleasure Trials" chronicles a fictional pharmaceutical company's clinical trials for a new drug touted to enhance the female libido. The trials are popular, and the play follows the fallout from the elevated hopes for the drug's success.

In her director's note, Marti Gobel writes, "'The Pleasure Trials' begs the question: Is female sexual desire a necessary component of true happiness? The fact that every woman is entirely unique leads me to conclude that every woman's answer to this question must also be unique."

Directed by Gobel for Moxie Theatre, the play features Sarah Alida LeClair as Dr. Rachel Milan, Suthe Mani as Callie Young, and Andréa Agosto as Anne-Zora. The play is accompanied by San Diego-based cellist Sharon Taylor.

Details: On stage through Sept. 11, 2022. Shows are 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m on Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Moxie Theatre, 6663 El Cajon Blvd., College Area/Rolando. $25.

Khalid Alkaaby: 'The Path of Light'

Visual art
Baghdad-born abstract artist Khalid Alkaaby fled Iraq in 2005, immigrating to San Diego. In a new solo exhibition at Sparks Gallery, Alkaaby is using light as a way of expressing the transformation and phases of emotions and other fleeting things like memories.

Khalid Alkaaby / Sparks Gallery
"Awakening" by Khalid Alkaaby is part of the artist's solo exhibition at Sparks Gallery, on view through Oct. 2, 2022.

His work deftly encapsulates both a moody darkness and vivid, shimmery lightness, marking either transitions between or the coexistence of negative emotions and fear with hope and positivity.

Details: On view through Oct. 2, 2022. Gallery hours are noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Sparks Gallery, 530 6th Ave., downtown. Free.

San Diego Union-Tribune Festival of Books

The sixth annual festival returns to an in-person event, this time at University of San Diego. It's a packed program, with dozens of panels featuring locals and visiting authors. We've been featuring authors on KPBS Midday Edition the last two weeks, so be sure to listen to those: New interviews with Madhushree Ghosh, Alana Quintana Albertson, Jesse Leon and more. Plus, we revisited past interviews with Lizz Huerta, Christopher Carter and Pam Fong. Other highlights: Adam Schiff, Megan Giddings, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Daniel López-Pérez, Sarina Dahlan, Chris Baron, Ron Salisbury, Rae Armantrout, Rudy Francisco, Kazim Ali, and (wow) David Duchovny.

The event kicks off at 10 a.m. on the Shiley Theatre main stage with a presentation of the 2022 One Book, One San Diego selection by new KPBS general manager Deanna Mackey. Immediately following that, at 10:45 a.m., I'll be moderating a panel on the same stage with critically acclaimed romance novelists Rebecca Serle, Alana Quintana Albertson and Taylor Hahn.

Advance registration is recommended but not required (2019's festival saw many panels sell out). You can reserve a spot for any of the panels in advance by purchasing a ticket — some events have a $5 ticket price while others are donation-based. However, each panel will have a free standby line.

A 2017 photo from The San Diego Festival of Books.
Courtesy of SD Festival of Books
A 2017 photo from The San Diego Festival of Books.

In addition to panels and readings, eight independent bookstores are taking over the lawn for all your shopping and book signing needs, and there's an entertainment stage, children's courtyard and plenty more to do outside.

Details: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022. University of San Diego, 5998 Alcala Park, Linda Vista. Free.

SummerFest: 'Synergy: The Planets'

Music, Dance, Theater
There's just one full weekend left of the La Jolla Music Society's SummerFest, which wraps up Friday, Aug. 26. This weekend has four performances of one show: a collaboration between chamber group The Knights and Dance Heginbotham for a special chamber arrangement of Gustav Holst's iconic masterpiece, "The Planets." Most of us know these pieces mostly as large orchestral works.

Courtesy of La Jolla Music Society
Chamber ensemble The Knights are shown in an undated photo.

Choreography accompanies each of the seven movements to represent seven planets: "Mars, the Bringer of War," "Venus, the Bringer of Peace," "Mercury, the Winged Messenger," the popular and recognizable "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity," "Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age," "Uranus, the Magician," and "Neptune, the Mystic."

Details: 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20; 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022. The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, 7600 Fay Ave., La Jolla. $78.

Francis Blume, Lauren Leigh, Lindsay White at the Casbah

Local singer-songwriter Francis Blume's sound is nostalgia incarnate — his voice a swirl of Roy Orbison and fellow nostalgia-rocker Orville Peck. Blume will headline a solid line-up of locals at the Casbah this Sunday.

Lauren Leigh, who won the 2022 San Diego Music Award for Best Pop Song for "Trust Fall," and Linsday White will round out the show.

Details: 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022. The Casbah, 2501 Kettner Blvd., midtown/Little Italy. $10.

'Turning Tides' at BFree Studio

Visual Art
TWA, or "Time for Women Artists" is a collective of 12 women who've worked and exhibited art together for the past six years, including a powerful exhibition last year at Oceanside Museum of Art.

Gail Titus / BFree Studio
"Gravitational Forces," a painting by Gail Titus, is shown in this undated image. The piece is on view at BFree Studio Aug. 19 through Sept. 3, 2022.

This year's summer show is "Turning Tides," featuring a broad range of mediums, styles and interpretations of the theme. The 12 artists are: Maite Benito Agahnia, Bronze Crosby, Theresa Vandenberg Donche, Lori Mitchell, Alison Haley Paul, Gail Titus, Manuelita Brown, Susan Darnall, Julia C R Gray, Gillian Moss, Christine Schwimmer and Brenda York. It's an impressive list of names, and I'm looking forward to seeing, after exhibiting together for more than a handful of years, whether individual artist contributions echo any of the others.

Details: Opens Friday, Aug. 19 through Sept. 3, 2022. An opening reception is 5-8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20, and gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. BFree Studio, 7857 Girard Ave., La Jolla. Free.

More visual art: Not technically the weekend, but a new exhibition, "The Weight of Color, the Shape of Light" opens on Monday at noon at the Mesa College Art Gallery, featuring the work of Kaori Fukuyama, Christian Garcia-Olivo and Melissa Walter. The opening reception is Aug. 25 from 4-7 p.m., and gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and noon to 7 p.m. on Thursday.  

For more arts events, or to sign up for my weekly KPBS/Arts newsletter, visit the KPBS/Arts Calendar.

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