Freebie of the week: Theatrical productions don’t come much more efficiently titled than Free Shakespeare in the Park. That’s the name of San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s annual summer shindig, which, indeed, serves up a free and first-rate performance of a Shakespeare play at Bay Area parks and amphitheaters.
This year’s production is “Cymbeline,” one of the Bard’s lesser known but most compelling works. The involved storyline follows the titular king who’s dealing with a lot of issues. He’s still crushed by the loss of two sons who were kidnapped 20 years ago; his daughter has gotten married behind his back and his wife, for a variety of reasons, wants him dead. And that’s just the beginning. Shakespeare supposedly wrote “Cymbeline” late in his career and many Bard aficionados consider it one of his best, if not most complicated, works.
S.F. Shakespeare Fest is presenting “Cymbeline,” directed by Maryssa Wanlass, weekends at Cupertino’s Memorial Park through Aug. 6; Redwood City’s Red Morton Park Aug. 12-27; San Francisco’s McLaren Park Sept. 2-10; and the Bruns Amphitheatre in Orinda Sept. 16-24. Go to sfshakes.org for more information.
Chasing Amy: Amy Seiwert was the subject of some big news in the Bay Area dance world this week, but she’s probably not one who takes her eye off the ball when things get a little hectic. Which is good, because she’s got a busy weekend ahead.
As for this weekend, Amy Seiwert and her company, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, is bringing back its popular Sketch performance series for its 13th rendition. Sketch 13: Lucky features four world premieres. One is by Seiwert herself (she is a stunningly prolific dancemaker). The rest are by Natasha Adorlee, a former artistic fellow at Imagery whose works blend contemporary dance, ballet and martial arts; award-winning Canadian choreographer Hélène Simoneau; and acclaimed choreographer Trey McIntyre, whose works have been frequently performed in the Bay Area.
The news is that she was named artistic director in waiting at Smuin Contemporary Ballet. That will go into effect in 2024 when the beloved company’s current AD, Celia Fushille, steps down after having memorably led the company since the sudden 2007 passing of founder Michael Smuin.
Sketch 13 performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at ODC Theatre, 3153 17th St., San Francisco. Tickets are $13-$65; go to www.asimagery.org.
Images from an unlikely source: The 13 photographers whose works are featured in a recently opened Walnut Creek exhibit are nationally recognized artists praised for their technical prowess, resourcefulness and for producing images like no one else. They’re also blind.
“Sight Unseen: International Photography by Blind Artists,” a touring exhibit now at the Bedford Gallery in the Lesher Center for the Arts, not only boasts eye-popping and spectacular images, it explores the nature of what “seeing” really is and the broad spectrum of stimuli that go into the art of taking pictures. Henry Butler, for example, is also a talented musician and, as, as promoters put it, “uses audio cues to capture the vibrant street life and characters in his hometown of New Orleans.” To him, music and photography are simply different manifestations of the same restless creative spirit.
Many artists in the show lost their vision through accident or tragedy and rely somewhat on the memory of their sight to fuel their work. Evgen Baycar and Pete Eckert often shoot at night to facilitate the act of creating what they “see” in their minds. Some works incorporate Braille so they can be experienced by people who are blind as well.
“Sight Unseen,” an exhibit where the artistic process is as celebrated as the works on display, runs through Sept. 17 at the Bedford, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Admission is pay what you can. More information is at www.bedfordgallery.org.
A mariachi opera: It’s 13 years old, but it couldn’t be more relevant today. “Cruzar,” fully “Cruzar la Cara de la Luna,” or “To Cross the Face of the Moon” is the poetic title of the 2010 opera by the late Jose “Pepe” Martinez that originally premiered at Houston Grand Opera and is now the second offering of West Edge Opera’s Festival 2023.
Baritone Efrain Solis sings the role of Laurentino, a Mexican immigrant whose story we follow over the course of 50 difficult years, and mezzo-soprano Kelly Guerra is his wife, Renata. The bilingual production gets an assist from conductor Sixto Montesinos and his 10-member Mariachi Azteca band. Directed by Karina Gutierrez, “Cruzar” has two performances to go.
At 8 p.m. Friday and Aug. 5 in the Scottish Rite Center at 1547 Lakeside Drive in Oakland. You can find tickets, $10-$140, at westedgeopera.org.
The original Indie: Harrison Ford at 80 was deep into his fifth incarnation as the whipcracking, wisecracking adventurer-archeologist Indiana Jones when he was filming the current hit “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” which uses high-tech tricks to transform him into the dashing young man he used to be. But you can catch him again in his very first outing, as the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Constantine Kitsopoulos plays the iconic John Williams score live to a showing of the 1981 Steven Spielberg film “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” winner of four Academy Awards.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and 2 p.m. Sunday in Davies Hall in San Francisco and on an outdoor screen at the Frost Amphitheater on the Stanford University campus at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $50-$182 at Davies and $15-$95 at the Frost; access them at sfsymphony.org.