If behind every great man is a great woman, it stands to reason that behind one of the world's greatest male surrealists was a very odd gal. The life of Salvador Dali is the subject of local playwright Dan Carbone's latest foray onto the stage, An Impersonation of Angels or the Enigma of Desire (Impressions of the Life of Salvador Dali), which appears to focus not only on the artist, but also on his wife, Gala, a powerful, not altogether sympathetic character. Many other influences on the mustachioed painter appear as well -- teachers, friends, fishwives -- but critics seem captivated by this little-known woman. A reworking of Carbone's Salvador Dali Talks to the Animals (which won awards at the Exit Theatre's Absurdist Series in 2000), the play is in the capable hands of Kaliyuga Arts. Notably, the role of Gala is reprised by Erica Blue, who was lauded for her portrayal of the lobster-wearing spouse.
Impersonation opens tonight at 8 (and continues through March 13) at the Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor (at Ellis), S.F. Admission is $10-20; call 431-8423 or visit www.kaliyuga.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Much like the finances of a paycheck-to-paycheck wage slave, emotional security is a fragile state. Even when we're happily content with our careers and relationships, it only takes a small disaster to send our dominoes tumbling. At least, that's what protagonist Margo discovers in Popping the Cherry, local playwright (and SF Weekly contributor) Karen Macklin's "urban drama," now in the midst of its world premiere. Set in economically stressed 2001 Manhattan, Cherry opens on a self-satisfied Margo counting her blessings -- good job, her own New York City apartment, and a promising affair with an older female co-worker. But when Margo discovers that her mother has cancer and her despairing, shifty little sister Lucy shows up seeking comfort and a place to stay, our heroine swiftly learns that her ideal life is far more brittle than she thought. Delve into the disrupted lives starting at 8 p.m. Thursday (the show continues through March 7) at the Actors Theatre San Francisco, 533 Sutter (at Powell), S.F. Admission is $5-20; call 296-9179 or visit www.actorstheatresf.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
Old-time music invades S.F.
Blame T-Bone Burnett. It was his whimsical soundtrack for 1999's O Brother, Where Art Thou? that brought together old and new bluegrass ballads and made listening to retro roots music not just acceptable but cool. Future fans who found themselves entranced with George Clooney's lip-sync extravaganza tuned their ears to a whole new (yet old) genre. Collectively, they bought more than 6 million copies of the soundtrack. These may be the newbies, but countless devotees have known the greatness of this authentic American music for ages.
For the past five years the San Francisco Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival has been celebrating this exquisite style, and this year's schedule features the sweet serenading of bluegrass artists up close and personal in our city's coffeehouses, music stores, and more traditional venues (like the Great American Music Hall and 12 Galaxies). Musical groups brandishing fiddles, banjos, and mandolins come from as near as down the street and as far as North Carolina and Alaska. Highlights include the Del McCoury Band from Nashville, a regular at the Grand Ole Opry; Colorado's Stetson-sportin' Open Road; and the Papermill Creek Rounders, featuring David Nelson of the Grateful Dead spinoff New Riders of the Purple Sage. For those who like their old-timey experiences a bit more interactive, you can take your partner and do-si-do at a real live square dance or also brush up on those banjo, fiddle, and clogging skills at festival workshops. Embrace them American roots starting Friday (and continuing through Feb. 29) at various S.F. venues. Admission is free-$24; visit www.sfbluegrass.org for a complete schedule of performances and locations.
-- Sunny Andersen
Like so many other good things, the love affair between writers Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West began at the dinner table. A flirtation turned into a crush; the crush became a passionate 20-year relationship. Peek into the pair's private lives with Vita & Virginia, which transforms their ardent correspondence into a romantic play starring Jen Grimes and Carolyn Cox, starting at 8 tonight (and continuing through March 13) at Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), S.F. Admission is $15-25; call 861-5079 or visit www.therhino.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
Art History Month
To commemorate Black History Month, head for the "Black History Celebration Concert." Local musicians cover the classics from Bessie Smith to Nat King Cole; live readings highlight Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and others; and film clips show greats like Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. Part 1 is tonight; Part 2 is Feb. 25. Both begin at 9 at Jazz at Pearl's, 256 Columbus, S.F. Admission is $10; call 291-8255.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser