Roux the Day In Samantha King's new drama Roux, 14-year-old Lyda leaves behind her mother, her newborn child, Cody, her abusive cousin Bingo (Cody's father), and her home in Louisiana for New York City after winning the state's annual jambalaya contest. All hell breaks loose 21 years later when Lyda, now a celebrated food critic, returns to judge the contest and finds that her long-lost daughter is one of the contestants. Central Works Theater Ensemble, whose "joint-stock method" of drama development involved choosing and researching the topic "women who kill" through various media, previews Roux at 8 p.m. (it plays through Sept. 14) at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant (west of Telegraph), Berkeley. Admission is free tonight, then $10-12 for the rest of the run; call (510) 558-1381. Coincidentally, the Berkeley Farmer's Market offers its own taste of Louisiana with a Cajun Festival, where guests can douse the flames generated by the hot-sauce tastings and the dishes of gumbo and jambalaya with cold microbrews. Pattie Whitehurst will be offering Cajun dance lessons, and Motor Dude Zydeco, the California Cajun Orchestra, Zydeco Flames, and the Lariats will play live. The festival begins at 10 a.m. Saturday in Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, MLK & Center, Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 548-3333.
Alone Together Afro Solo Festival performer Norman Gee questions what it means to be black in his performance piece The White Zone (for Loading and Unloading of Passengers Only), as he considers that any African-American could be the relative he's waiting for at the airport curb. While Gee and his fellow solo performers do their thing onstage, panelists at the three-day festival hash out issues of art and its relation to ethnic identity, emotional strength, and cultural survival at the Afro Solo symposium "Our Daily Bread: The Role of Art in Contemporary African-American Culture," moderated by Stanford theater professor Dr. Harry Elam Jr. Blues crooner Charles Brown, best known for his hit "Merry Christmas, Baby," and jazz singer Faye Carol, accompanied by piano-prodigy daughter Kito Gamble, will perform at the festival at 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday at the First Congregational Church (432 Post). The festival, which begins at 8 p.m. tonight with dance and spoken-word performances by Nena St. Louis, Kevin Ware, and others, opens at ODC Performance Theater, and continues there at 8 p.m. Friday with Pomo Afro Homos member Brian Freeman and others, and concludes at 3 p.m. Sunday with Gee and Lonnie Ford. The free symposium is held at 2 p.m. Saturday at ODC, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission for the rest of the festival is $12-20; call 621-7797.
Family Affair At 26, British playwright Sarah Kane has become intimately familiar with controversy: Her play Blasted was blasted in the British tabloid press by conservatives and called "a disgusting piece of filth" by the Daily Mail itself, while admirers like playwright Harold Pinter rallied to her defense. With Phaedra's Love, Kane once again immerses herself in controversy worthy of tabloids and talk shows by recasting the Greek myth of Phaedra, a woman whose passion for her stepson, Hippolytus, tears her family apart. In Kane's '90s version, Hippolytus is a channel-surfing, monkey-spanking sex fiend, and the tragedy's carnage takes center stage. Smart Mouth Theater, which premiered Stupid Kids, is the presenter of this U.S. premiere; it opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Sept. 7) at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th Street), S.F. Admission is $7-15; call 626-3311.
In a Galaxy Without Makeup By now, most people know that Mark Hamill is doing comic books, Carrie Fisher is writing screenplays, and Harrison Ford is playing heads of state. But what about the other Star Wars stars? The very tall, very hairy former hospital orderly who played Chewbacca, Peter Mayhew, will describe his experiences making Star Wars, and his life thereafter, at the Star Wars 20th Anniversary Celebration, where he will be joined by Hamill (Luke), David Prowse (Darth Vader), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), and several other actors from the Stars Wars films and related sci-fi vehicles like Star Trek and Xena; George Lucas is not scheduled to attend. An auction, trivia and costume contests (natch), and live sets by Neil Norman & His Cosmic Orchestra, which play themes from Star Wars and The X-Files, are also slated for the celebration, which begins at noon (and runs through Aug. 24) at the Concourse Exhibition Center, 620 Seventh St. (at Brannan), S.F. Admission is $15-275; call (610) 454-1197.
I'll Be Your Wench for the Evening A bizarre confluence of Dungeons & Dragons fans, heavy-metal enthusiasts, college lit majors, and aimless Deadheads makes up most of the crowd and some of the players at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire (an offshoot of the Society for Creative Anachronism), which celebrates its 31st year of Elizabethan-styled revelry at this year's country fair. Stoners will go for the big, greasy turkey drumsticks and the amusing spectacle of the "Sturdy Beggars Mud Show"; fantasy devotees will be taking in the "Knights of the Sable Dragon" and the "Deadly Games Human Chess," and nostalgic types will gravitate toward the Celtic dancing and the costumed revelers of the "Queen's Royal Pageant." Grumpy purists who loathe forced bawdiness and crappy Olde English accents might as well stay home and read Henry IV. The event begins at 10 a.m. (also Sunday, through Oct. 5) at Black Point, Novato, Marin County. Admission is $7.50-17.50; call (800) 52-FAIRE.