The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here.
. Get Benched: For years, Bay Area playwright and stage director Jeffrey Lo has hosted The Bench Project on his birthday — an evening of new short plays, all of which had to involve a bench in some way — which served as a fun, creative night of theater as well as a fundraiser for a local charity. The Bench Project returns for its eighth evening on May 22 as a virtual event (since theaters are all closed) that may or may not have any benches in it. What you will get are presentations of new works by Lo, Suzanne Bradbeer, Geetha Reddy, Rommel Rojas, Cleavon Smith, Max Tachis and Isabella Waldron. Tune in at 7 p.m. to www.jeffreywritesaplay.com/bench-project to see what these talented theater artists came up with. It’s free, but donations are encouraged; proceeds will benefit City Lights, Hillbarn, Los Altos and TheatreWorks stage companies as well as Theatre Bay Area’s COVID-19: Performing Arts Worker Relief Fund.
. Hump Day moves: San Francisco’s Smuin Contemporary Ballet has certainly been keeping busy since the coronavirus pandemic shut down live arts performances around the Bay Area and elsewhere. The company has been offering a range of classes, is fashioning retired costumes into masks for the needy and is posting performance videos each week as part of its “Hump Day” series. This week, the company presents a video of its performance of Amy Seiwert’s feminist work “Renaissance,” inspired by a women’s protest in India that took the shape of a 385-mile wall and set to music by the wonderful Bay Area choir Kitka. The performance can be viewed for free May 21-22 at facebook.com/SmuinBallet, or instagram.com/smuinballet. For more information, visit smuinballet.org.
. Celebrating a legend: SFJazz Center keeps serving up great music right around cocktail hour each Friday. And on this holiday weekend jazz fans are in for a real treat, as the center’s Fridays at Five virtual concert series presents a performance by the legendary sax man, composer and bandleader Wayne Shorter, who has delivered so many jaw-dropping moments at SFJazz over the years. This presentation finds Shorter performing with such musicians as Kamasi Washington, Danilo Perez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade. The virtual concert begins at 5 p.m. May 22 at www.sfjazz.org, and all you need to do is become a digital subscriber, which costs $5 a month.
. Hunting the great white whale: Tune in for some thrilling adventure on the high seas as San Francisco Opera begins streaming its 2012 production of San Francisco composer Jake Heggie’s “Moby-Dick” at 10 a.m. May 23. The operatic thriller, based on the famed Herman Melville novel with a libretto by Gene Scheer, stars the great Jay Hunter Morris as the doomed Captain Ahab, with Jonathan Lemalu as the harpoonist Queequeg, Morgan Smith as Starbuck and Talise Trevigne as the cabin boy Pip. As part of the company’s ongoing Opera Is ON effort, “Moby-Dick” will be available for free streaming through midnight on May 24.
. The barbershop is open: Available only through May 21, the National Theatre of London’s production of Inua Elams’ heart-warming and hilarious play “The Barber Shop Chronicles” is streaming for free viewing. The nonstop banter — no holds barred — takes place as haircuts and shaves are given at striped-pole establishments in Britain’s Peckham, Africa’s Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra over the course of a single day. The locations may shift radically, but you’ll find some common threads in the theme of the play. Find it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNxfr9tSsSc.