Go Play The cast of characters in this year's Emerging Playwrights Festival includes a Noel Cowardish society couple swapping martini-sodden confessions (in Sean Owens' Climax), and a woman whose plan to live in self-imposed exile, with just her phone and the Internet for company, is foiled by the arrival of the grocery delivery man (in Katherine Koppett's Don't Get Around Much Anymore). The festival features seven 10-minute plays, ranging stylistically from Greek tragedy to farce, culled from nearly 200 submissions to PlayGround's "Monday Night PlayLab," a monthly series in which emerging playwrights craft short works around a common theme. Established writers and directors like the Magic Theater's Benny Sato Ambush helped choose which plays got full stagings, and some writers are return guests. The show begins at 8 p.m. (and runs through June 27) at A Traveling Jewish Theater, 470 Florida (at 17th Street), S.F. Admission is "pay-what-you-can" on Thursdays and Fridays, $20-25 other nights; call 399-1809.
A Bug in Your Ear As with Telephone, the game in which an original phrase becomes mangled after multiple repetitions, one worker's simple request -- that he not be transferred to St. Louis -- generates a huge misunderstanding involving informants, slush funds, and assassins in The Bug. Richard Strand's timely satire of corporate ineptitude and runaway technology (which, coincidentally, debuted on the 17th floor of PG&E headquarters), centers on Jericho Systems employee Dennis Post, who discovers in the course of seeking a supervisor's advice that he doesn't have a supervisor, suggesting a bug in the system. The show, a favorite of the late arts booster Genevieve Hustead, will be the first to play Z Space once it's renamed the Genevieve Gallery for the Visual and Performing Arts in a public ceremony at 9:30 p.m. Saturday. The show previews tonight at 8 p.m. (and runs through July 18) at Z Space Studio Theater, 1360 Mission (at 10th Street), S.F. Admission is $13-15; call 437-6775.
Chock-a-Block Put your head in the hands of Victoria Vain and you'll walk away from the Hayes Valley Visual Block Party transformed. The Seattle stylist will be giving Asphalt gallery guests what she calls "Guerrilla Hair," an instant hairdo that an on-site photographer will capture for posterity. Each gallery, cafe, and boutique in the area has planned some kind of art event for the neighborhood bash, be it an exhibit of Tinhorn Press prints or a Taxco jewelry display. The party begins at 7 p.m. in Hayes Valley, from Laguna to Franklin and Grove to Oak, S.F. Admission is free; call 626-5196. A similar theme threads through the Arty Farty Block Party on Valencia, where vintage clothing shops Retrofit and Schauplatz offer fashion shows (at 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., respectively), and CityArt inaugurates its bimonthly Art Walk among local galleries. The party begins at 7 p.m. along Valencia between 19th and 20th streets, S.F. Admission is free; call 970-9900.
June Jam News of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas slaves a good two years after the document was signed, but when the word finally did arrive, on June 19, 1865, you can bet there was a great big party. The Juneteenth celebration that began in Texas eventually migrated west and will be celebrated in this city with cowboy tricks, a greased pig contest, and bareback riding at the Invitational Black Rodeo (2:30 p.m. today at Bercut Field, Golden Gate Park; $5-12). Additional festivities include the first annual Melvin Van Peebles Maverick Award film festival (11 a.m. Friday and Saturday at the AMC Kabuki Theater, 1881 Post; free-$20), a Juneteenth Parade (10 a.m. Saturday at Fell & Masonic; free); a festival with carnival games, music, and food (10 a.m. Saturday-Sunday at Kimball Park, Geary & Steiner; free), and a free gospel concert with Bobby Jones (6 p.m. Sunday at the Fillmore, 1805 Geary). Call 346-2634 for more information on all events.
You Mock Me! Most comics slated to play the Mock Festival of Comedy regularly ply their trade outside the club circuit, in drafty little storefront theaters and neighborhood pubs. Theirs is funny business infused with DIY energy and a local edge: Take Holy City Zoo alumna Bridgette Schwartz, whose inspired "Late-Night Live" series at Josie's paired people like SFPD Officer Bob Geary (and his ventriloquist dummy Brendan O'Smarty) with ex-hooker Margo St. James to discuss current events. Or former Associates member Bill Bernat, who joined Schwartz in skewering the corporate crowd with Financial District Sideshow. Bernat's new sketch comedy group Right-On Insane Asylum plays the five-night festival's opening gala along with fellow sketch groups the Fresh Robots, Please Leave the Bronx, and Liz White's Morton Science Players. Saturday's "Variety Night" guests include satirist Reannie Roads and Edinburgh Castle Lo-Fi Comedy host Harmon Leon. The following weekend promises "Improv Night" with interactive improv games from the East Bay Improvisers (June 25), "New and All-Star Comics" with Schwartz and Joe Klocek (June 26; additional 10 p.m. show), and "All-Women's Night" with Aundre the Wonderwoman (June 27; note 7 p.m. show). All shows begin at 8:30 p.m. (unless otherwise noted) at the Marsh's Mock Cafe, 1074 Valencia (at 22nd Street), S.F. Admission is $5-10; call 826-5750.
Surround Sound The electro-acoustic collective Aural Fixation kicks off the Lab's midsummer night performance series "Sound and Vision" with the experimental AV show "Sonic Voyagers: Women at the Helm." This all-female crew of singers, sound engineers, producers, musicians, and filmmakers tickles your neurotransmitters with a blend of live instrumentation, MIDI, vocals, prerecorded mixes, video, and film projection broadcast in a specially designed quadraphonic environment. It's the first of four challenging productions: After this one, look for Radiosonde/Scott Arford, Death Squad, and Test (image montage and acts of self-mutilation, June 25); the "Midsummer Grit" benefit with the Cyberbuss gang and the Space Cowgirls (June 26); and the Knittles' rock opera Helen: The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships (July 2). "Sonic" begins at 9:30 p.m. at the Lab, 2948 16th St. (at Capp), S.F. Admission is $7-10; call 864-8855.
It Hadda Be You There are echoes of Jimmy Scott's experience in the story of boogie-woogie pianist and torch singer Hadda Brooks. Like Scott, a jazz singer whose career saw its share of heartbreak and professional obscurity before a new generation of singers publicly rediscovered him, Brooks, who serenaded Bogart in The Lonely Place four decades ago, was hauled out of retirement in her senior years and is now wowing hip kids at the Viper Room. And like Scott, who recently put out an album of standards and covers from the youthful likes of Sinead O'Connor, Brooks has released the new double CD I've Got News for You, which finds contributions from Bessie Smith -- the sly "Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl" -- as well as the Geraldine Fibbers' Carla Bozulich. The octogenarian Brooks brings a lifetime of lost love and hard work into her music, which is raucous one minute and utterly lovely the next. She performs at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. at Biscuits & Blues, 401 Mason (at Geary), S.F. Admission is $15; call 292-BLUE.
Sprinkle System Real Astrology columnist Rob Brezsny, fetish diva Midori, Fat Chance BellyDance, and porn star Nina Hartley will demonstrate their special talents at the "Annie Sprinkle Fire Show," a benefit for the Post-Porn Modernist author and performance artist who lost her houseboat and her pets in a fire while she was showing her cervix to the folks in Washington state. Partygoers can bid on goods at a silent auction or play carnival games between theater acts at the event, which begins at 3 p.m. at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $20; call 392-4400.
Garden Parties Berlin's Inchtabokatables will be interrupting today's lunch with a musical mishmash of electronic-medieval-punk music for strings; tomorrow it's Filipino kulintang music, followed on Wednesday by classical Indian music and dance, and so on. Thank your local consulates, which host Spirit of Music: International Music Week this Monday through Friday at 12:30 p.m. at Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission & Third Street, S.F. Admission is free; call 978-ARTS. Later tonight, Yerba Buena's Forum hosts the National Ensemble Theater Festival, where A Traveling Jewish Theater represents the city among groups including the Bloomsburg Theater Ensemble in Patchworks: Life and Legends of the Coal Towns and the Irondale Ensemble Project in You Can't Win: Memoirs of an Outlaw in the American West. The show starts at 6 p.m. (also Tuesday) and admission is $15-30; call 399-1809.
Full Monty Someone was bound to adapt "I Shot the Sheriff" as a jazz ballad sooner or later, and that someone turned out to be Kingston-born pianist Monty Alexander. In fact, Alexander extends the jazz treatment to Marley standards "No Woman No Cry" and even "Jammin'" with his Telarc tribute record Stir It Up: The Music of Bob Marley. Though revolutionary roots music as supper-club fare has major cringe potential, Alexander's tenure with Jimmy Cliff and an ear for the reggae and calypso idioms of his native Jamaica are points in his favor. Stir It Up is actually kind of a musical homecoming for Alexander, whose storied jazz career included playing time with Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Rollins, as well as contributions to the Charlie Parker biopic Bird. Alexander plays at 8 and 10 p.m. (also Tuesday through Thursday) at Yoshi's, 510 Embarcadero, Oakland. Admission is $18; call (510) 238-9200.
Zydeco a Go-Go An unwritten local law somewhere dictates that summer solstice rituals must include Goddess invocations, incense offerings, and grit in the eyes at an Ocean Beach bonfire, but laws were meant to broken. Spend the longest day of the year tucking into a bowl of jambalaya on the patio or whirling around a spacious dance floor at Cafe Cocomo's "Summer Solstice Dance Party." Gourmet Cajun and Indian dishes will be served, and Dana DiSimone will be giving partnered dance lessons. After that, Tom Rigney & Flambeau play live to celebrate their new CD, Red Boots and Rice, a collection of swampy zydeco tracks, Celtic reels, and Cajun two-steppers shot through with Gypsy melodies. The party begins at 8 p.m. at Cafe Cocomo, 650 Indiana (at Mariposa), S.F. Admission is $8; call 641-4858.