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Weekend Preview: Baja Wine Festival, 'God Of Carnage,' SummerFest And More

"God of Carnage" at The Old Globe. (from left) Erika Rolfsrud as Veronica Novak, Caitlin Muelder as Annette Raleigh, T. Ryder Smith as Alan Raleigh and Lucas Caleb Rooney as Michael Novak.
Henry DiRocco
"God of Carnage" at The Old Globe. (from left) Erika Rolfsrud as Veronica Novak, Caitlin Muelder as Annette Raleigh, T. Ryder Smith as Alan Raleigh and Lucas Caleb Rooney as Michael Novak.
Your cultural to-do list for the weekend.
GUESTSDavid Coddon, theater critic at San Diego CityBeat. Maya Kroth, editor of WHERE San Diego and Performances San Diego.

CAVANAUGH: This weekend, there's a good reason to visit Baja, even if you don't normally go. And a good reason to head up to the Del Mar racetrack. David Coddon is theatre critic at San Diego City beat. Welcome. CODDON: Thank you, Maureen. CAVANAUGH: Maya Kroth is here, editor of Where San Diego, and performances San Diego. HILBURN: So lovely to be back. Thanks. CAVANAUGH: The fiesta de la vendimia is this weekend. KROTH: That is Spanish for harvest festival. It's a big, 3-week-long party in the Guadalupe valley, where they have close to 50 wineries now. Anything from small, mom and pop operations, to big, huge commercial operations that make 90% of the wine in all of Mexico. So for three week, they're just getting together, having parties, wine dinner, celebrating all that's good about the food and wine of that region. CAVANAUGH: Now, how do you find out where these locations are? Is this a website? KROTH: There is a website. There's a couple of different websites. One has all the information in Spanish, then there's a similar one that has it translated. But it's easy to find if you just go down there. All the wineries are clustered closely together around 2 nearby parallel well-maintained roads. So they kind of have this wine route that's easy to just show up and nose your way around and find something cool. CAVANAUGH: Besides the partying aspect, the eating and the drinking, what else is going on? KROTH: What more do you need, man! [ LAUGHTER ] KROTH: There's so much weird stuff that has nothing to do with wine. There's a bull fight always. There's circus performances, there's a big street party in Ensenada. Art shows, things like that. One of the headline events is a paella contest. They have close to 100 different teams competing with their own paella recipe, and it's the closing event of the festival and one of the favorites. CAVANAUGH: Is there anything in particular you're looking forward to? KROTH: Yeah, I think there's a couple of really interesting dinners that look good to me. One of them is happening at las nubbes, and it's going to feature the food probably the most famous chef in the area right now. He was profiled by the New Yorker recently. He's going to be cooking down there. And the paella festival sounds like a good time as well. CAVANAUGH: Okay. We move to theatre now. God of Carnage opens at The Old Globe tonight. CODDON: It doesn't sound like a comedy, does it? It opened on Broadway two years ago, it was a Tony-winner. It's about two couples in Brooklyn whose children were I think 11 years old get into a fight on a playground. And one of them is injured. And the couples meet in one of their apartments to talk it over and settle their differences in a very civilized manner, but it doesn't stay civilized for very long. CAVANAUGH: Wasn't this recently made into a film? CODDON: It was! And a very underrated film. It starred the women, I remember, were Kate kinslet, this one of them, and the other actress was Jodie Foster. And John C. Riley, who is a marvelous character actor was one of the husbands in the film KROTH: And Kristoff waltz. CODDON: That's a great cast, right? CAVANAUGH: Directed by Roman palavingy. You say this is a comedy. We're watching four people argue? [ LAUGHTER ] CODDON: Yes, yes. They start out not arguing, Maureen. They start out being very, as I said, civil to each other. But a lot of dark things come to the surface fairly quickly in this play. And it's the darkness that gives it -- distinguishes this word, and keeps it from being a sort of drawing room comedy. And has an edge to it. And theatre goers who attend Coddon enjoy watching the evolution of this darkness that falls over the theatre. CAVANAUGH: Devolution, maybe. CODDON: Better word! CAVANAUGH: Tell us about the director. CODDON: Richard Sear is very well known in San Diego. He's the head of the actors' training program at USD, which feeds actors to the Globe. He has directed many notable productions at the Globe. Who's afraid of Virginia wolf, and da. Three of the four actors that I referred to are graduates of the MFA program. If you go to the website, you can see what it's like to come back to the Globe. CAVANAUGH: We're back to the summer salon seer. Of what's going on this Friday? KROTH: This is the San Diego museum of art's foray into hipness. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes! KROTH: So every Friday in the summertime, they're having some events where people are getting together to rub elbows and talk about ideas. And this summer, as you probably covered, the emphasis is on how we know the things that we know. They're looking at advertising, propaganda, and this Friday in particular, they're going to do an interesting performance by Andrew din witty. He's going to be reenacting a 1971 sermon by Jimmy swagert, the famous preacher. And that speech was an attack on pop culture and show business. Putting it in this context, it's supposed to reveal the irony in the fact that Jimmy swagert himself was kind of a creature of show business. So it sounds like it's going to be interesting. And then meanwhile they're going to have some sound artists that are mixing several other Jimmy swagert records in the galleries on the spot, doing the sound installation. CAVANAUGH: You're right. You reminded me. He was like a musician, right? A singer or something, right? KROTH: Like. He was related to Jerry Lee Lewis. CAVANAUGH: That sounds fascinating. Can you tell us a little bit of the kind of crowds that these summer salons draw? KROTH: Anybody who's interested in arts and culture in San Diego. But you have visiting poets and lecturers and performers who are actually doing the performances, and then just high-minded folk that are interested in doing something a little bit beyond the beach. So it's a nice crowd. For me, for folks who like to have their brain cells stimulated a bit, that is a really nice event. CAVANAUGH: Are there any art-making activities? KROTH: There are. There's going to be hands-on record art activity where they're going to be making jewelry out of broken up vinyl records. Which sort of ties into their whole exploration of mass media and music and culture. So it's really interesting. CAVANAUGH: David, Summer Fest kicks off this weekend. CODDON: After Comicon I think summer fest is probably San Diego's signature cultural event of a very different stripe. It actually merges the beach and high-mindedness. Summer fest is in its 26th year. It brings together artists from the classical idiom, of course, but as the years have gone on, the music director in his desire to push the envelope has brought in artists from other idioms as well like jazz, and this year even comedy, in an effort to broaden summer fest and stretch it out a little. CAVANAUGH: What's amazing. What is the comedy aspect? CODDON: There is a duo called Igudesman and Joo. One performs, and the other performs antics. Go online, and you'll find a lot of videos of them. If you remember anybody in our audience who's old enough to remember Victor Borge. CAVANAUGH: They do if they watch KPBS TV! CODDON: He's on on the weekend, I know that. Oh, I just dated myself. This is kind of in that tradition, but times two for the 21st century. This is a full-blown ortoryio, and something that summer fest has never done before. Because it requires elaborate staging, they partnered with La Jolla Playhouse to use the theatre up there to present this. There's all kinds of water effects and lighting effects, and it's rightly called by Christopher Beach the La Jolla music society's director the most ambitious project that summer fest has ever embarked on. CAVANAUGH: Well, I want to tell everybody the La Jolla music society summer fest runs through August 24th at various locations. Maya, it's time to go to the racetrack. What's on this weekend? KROTH: The other thing that San Diegans are crazy about, craft beer! They're having a big beer fest up there at the Del Mar race track. Some of the best local breweries Coddon be on hand pouring samples of I think 50 different kinds of beer. Good ones too. Ballast point, lost abbey, stone, pizza port. CAVANAUGH: What are we going to eat with the beer? KROTH: Chilli! What else! It's a great Saturday to be up at the track. They have a lot of teams that are competing for a $2,000 you purse, and they're all hoping to advance to the world championships of chilli. So if you're just a track goer, like us, you could wander through and try free samples of all the different chillies that the various teams are preparing, plus salsa as well. CAVANAUGH: Oh, my. And then there's also a concert, right? KROTH: Yes. Oh, the band is Cake, and this is one of my favorites because I'm a total '90s baby from Northern California. Everybody remembers them from the early '90s, that Sacramento band that got famous off that song, the distance. And they're still around, still making records twenty years later. They put one out last year that went to the top of the charts. So still relevant! CAVANAUGH: Now for something completely different! Classic Shakespeare. A comedy at The New Village Arts theatre. Much ado about nothing. This particular play is produced quite often. Why do you think that is? CODDON: You know, part of me doesn't know because it kind of is much ado about nothing. But that's the charm of a lot of Shakespeare's comedies. Let's face it. This is the story of mistaken identity and masks and two lovers who are feuding, and I think that it's been called a merry war is a good way of expressing what this is about. And that he made a lovely movie out of it years ago with Emma Thompson. CAVANAUGH: I do remember that. CODDON: It's a beloved play. CAVANAUGH: Is there anything that we should look at in this particular staging? CODDON: Well, absolutely. It's free Shakespeare in the park, which New Village Arts has been doing for about a dozen years. And what they're doing is they're going to -- as a lot of people do with Shakespeare, putting it in a different setting. This production is going to be set in Carlsbad in 1945. [ LAUGHTER ] CODDON: I don't know quite what that was like. But we'll find out. And they're doing it at a park up in Carlsbad. They're doing it at Pacific ridge school up there. So it's outside. CAVANAUGH: This Friday through August 12th at the park at Pacific ridge school in Carlsbad. It was fun! Thank you. KROTH: Thanks Maureen. CODDON: Thank you.

This weekend boasts a wide array of options — from Carlsbad to Baja — for your eyes, ears and bellies to enjoy.

Harvest season is upon us, which means it's time to sample the fruits of wine-growers' labors. This weekend, Baja's Guadalupe Valley will be in full swing during the annual Fiestas de la Vendimia, or harvest festival, which runs Saturday through August 19 at various locations in Baja California. Sample the region's wine and food and attend workshops and concerts at various locations during the two-week fest (view a full schedule of events).

The Old Globe presents the San Diego premiere of the Tony Award-winning play “God of Carnage,” a "savage comedy" about two sets of parents who meet to discuss and settle a playground fight between their children. Last year, the play was adapted into a film, directed by Roman Polanski. The play opens Friday and runs through September 2 at The Old Globe in Balboa Park.


San Diego Museum of Art's ongoing weekly Summer Salon Series is on a roll. Last week, the museum was open for 36 straight hours, bringing live artist performances, live bands, interactive art-making activities and more to the galleries. This week's event features a one-night-only performance by nationally recognized performer Andrew Dinwiddie, who will re-enact a 1971 sermon by Southern evangelist preacher Jimmy Swaggart (cousin of legendary rock 'n' roller Jerry Lee Lewis), based on an out-of-print vinyl recording.

La Jolla Music Society’s annual SummerFest kicks off this weekend (opening night is Friday). The chamber music festival features over 70 world class artists and ensembles performing concerts at various locations. One of the program's highlights is this Saturday, “Tan Dun's Water Passion," which will create a "water-instruments orchestra" at La Jolla Playhouse's Mandell Weiss Theatre. SummerFest runs through August 24 (view full schedule).

For those who don’t like to play the ponies, there is much more on offer at the Del Mar Racetrack this Saturday. Sip cold brews at Del Mar Beer Fest and grab some free chili and salsa samples at the Chili Cookoff. While your stomachs settle, enjoy an afternoon concert by '90s alt-rockers Cake.

Summer and Shakespeare go hand in hand. New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad presents the Bard's classic comedy “Much Ado About Nothing," which opens Friday. The free, outdoor production runs through August 12 at the Park at Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad.