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Fall Fun For Everyone in Berkeley

Cal Performances

Sept 25 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

CK Ladzepko West African Music and Dance'

You might think a “free-for-all” is just a chaotic brawl, but Cal Performances’ Fall Free for All redefines it as a day of joyous celebration of the arts, including 25 performances where the audience is encouraged to join in, with everything free to any and all.

The event is the brainchild of Cal Performances’ Director Matías Tarnopolsky. “It’s our way of welcoming the entire community to Cal Performances, a big, open embrace to anyone to enjoy the wonderful performing arts,” he remarks. “It’s a chance to explore, enjoy, and discover the breadth and quality of our offerings and to show how easily accessible they are.”

The Fall Free for All made its debut last year. It was more successful than the organizers had even hoped for: It opened at 10 a.m. and half an hour later lines stretched around Zellerbach Hall. This year, they’re building on that, with more performers and additional performance stages. There’s no age limit; on paper, some events may seem geared to specific age groups, but in reality everyone is welcome everywhere. Children can delight in the magic of more “sophisticated” performances while adults can rediscover the fun of clowns and marionettes.

Jane Lynch ... or is it Sue Sylvester

There really is something for everyone in venues on and around the UC Berkeley campus. Musical offerings range from classical to folk songs, and from the Balkans to Afro-Latin music. You can watch an improv face-off, discover a variety of area dance troupes, enjoy theatrical presentations, laugh at the aforementioned clowns and marionettes, or listen to Jane Lynch, Glee’s hilariously evil Sue Sylvester, read from her new book, Happy Accidents. Performance venues include Zellerbach Hall, Hertz Hall, Wheeler Auditorium, and Pauley Ballroom, as well as Lower Sproul Plaza, the Faculty Glade, and even the Eucalyptus Grove. Meanwhile, many of the UC Berkeley student musical ensembles, including the Cal Band, will be performing al fresco around the campus.

If you attended last year, you’ll be pleased to know that one favorite, Melanie DeMore, will repeat her community sing, in which she teaches the basics of Gullah stick-pounding. The instrument petting zoo also returns, where you can try out that instrument you always secretly wanted to play. This year, it’s located in Stephen’s Lounge next to the Pauley Ballroom.

Fratello Marionettes

Beyond the performances, there are other perks, too. Balloons and signs will mark the short walk from the downtown Berkeley BART station to the campus, while tweets will update parking availability. There are great
deals on tickets for upcoming concerts at Cal Performances (RSVP on Facebook and you’re eligible for 25 percent off a pair of tickets of your choice).

You can meet with artists at Lower Sproul Plaza, where you’ll also find food vendors and tables. A free photo booth will let you document your presence. And if you just can’t wait to tell people about your experiences, there will be a Twitter café.

Tarnopolsky urges everyone to come, and bring friends. “It will be an extraordinary day,” he promises. To truly capture the spirit of the day, though, seeing is believing. To see what the day will be like, click on the video below. Tarnopolsky promises this year will be even better.

Marianne Lipanovich is a writer and editor based in Redwood City. A gardening expert, she is a lifelong music lover, having learned to read music before she learned to read.