Some time ago, choreographer Anne Bluethenthal invited a group of Jewish and Palestinian Americans to come together to relate their experiences, sorrows, and hopes through their art, even while local Jewish and Arab communities grew increasingly polarized due to the escalating Middle East conflict. At the center of the resultant work is a piece by Anne Bluethenthal Dancers created around the image of two mothers from opposite religions, meeting at a holy place where they mourn the deaths of their sons. A Middle Eastern music ensemble, comprised of Arab musicians and headed by Susanna Goldenstein, will perform live accompaniment. There will also be a collaboration between Vocolot, a local group that specializes in Israeli musical pieces, and Israeli choreographer and singer Miri Hunter Haruach; choreographer Elias Khoury, a Palestinian who was born in East Jerusalem and is now a United States citizen currently choreographing for the Westwinds International Folk Ensemble, will contribute traditional Palestinian folks dances. "Tears of Rock" will be performed during the Days of Awe, a time of reflection, repentance, and the revisioning of the Jewish life that falls between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. It is my deepest hope that Bluethenthal's company, which has long been noted for its ability to convey the unifying spirit of humanity through dance, will foster some sense of understanding in its audience tonight and that there will be no more abhorrent and misguided attacks on Americans of Middle Eastern descent in San Francisco. "Tears of Rock" will be performed Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 20-23, at Dance Mission Theater (3316 24th St. at Mission) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-17; call 273-4633.
Unlike what the name implies, there is nothing glamorous about Rock Opera. There's also nothing terribly musical about Rock Opera, although music does play a key role in the independent film, which includes appearances by Nashville Pussy, FuckEmos, and a number of other Austin groups. Rock Opera -- the creation of Austin-born musician-cum-director Bob Ray, Richard Linklater's much-lauded hometown heir -- is a surprisingly candid glance at the corruption, stupidity, and decadence of arty white-trash folks. In the opening scene, Toe (played with exceptional deftness by real-life musician Jerry Don Clark) is hanging out at the house of his drug dealer, a repellent slob of a man who is constrained by an electronic leash for the sex crime of masturbating in front of a little girl and a laundromat dryer. While pissing into an authentically filthy toilet in an authentically filthy bathroom, Toe hatches one plot to buy his friend's guitar from a pawnshop (essentially stealing it) and another plot to take over his dealer's pot trade. But Toe is a loser, and it quickly becomes apparent that there's nothing like a sure thing in his version of Texas. As if proof were needed, Toe immediately drops his cash in the toilet after urinating.
Between scamming his way to a Nashville Pussy gig, selling his marijuana dregs to desperate friends for overblown prices, and jump-starting his crumbling Toyota pickup, Toe demonstrates his persistent inability to turn down drugs in any form, whether it be pot, cocaine, beer, Nyquil, or animal tranquilizers. Eventually, the tranqs land him in hot water, when he wakes up in the bushes and realizes he's missing the entire wad of cash intended for his dealer's dealer (played with disturbing conviction by Paul Wright). To make up for the loss, Toe is sent to pick up a shipment of cocaine, an errand that ends in much bloodshed and a truly suspenseful chase scene. The disconcerting and often terribly funny thing about Rock Opera is how real it seems and how familiar the characters are -- from their casual, relentless vulgarity to their energetic attempts to not work to their unseemly drug trips (with little budget, Bob Ray has re- created a nitrous trip that puts the entire crew of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to shame). As the Crack Pipes sing on the Rock Opera soundtrack, "To make it in this world, you have to learn how to steal from your neighbor/ How to hustle from the next man/ You got to learn how to lie and cheat to make it in this world." Currently, Bob Ray and Jerry Don Clark are touring the country in an RV showing Rock Opera and peddling videotapes, CDs, and special Texas-size Rock Opera rolling papers. Rock Opera will be shown on Saturday, Sept. 22, at 9:30 p.m. at the Werepad (2430 Third St. at 22nd Street). Tickets are $7; call 824-7334. The film will also screen on Sunday, Sept. 23, at the Parkway Theater in Oakland (1834 Park at Lake Merritt) at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5; call (510) 814-2400.