I’ll admit it: the reason I initially came to UCSB may not have been its blossoming, burgeoning bevy of arts and culture events. I was skeptical and fairly unaware of the intellectual, artistic and generally badass events our school has to offer.
However, UCSB Arts & Lectures continues to impress. This fall A&L’s new season is hitting the ground running with Elvis Costello at the Granada Theater on Sept. 30. If being back at school and studying in your dingy triple dorm is making you feel a little blue, a night of dressing up and seeing English rock ’n’ roll legend Costello at the beautiful Granada may be a refreshing break.
On Oct. 1, the “Kirk Douglas on Film” series begins. In an effort to thank the Douglas family for its support of UCSB and to give students an opportunity to view films like Spartacus with Pollock Theater’s state-of-the-art, high resolution digital projection system, A&L is dedicating an entire series of screenings to this Hollywood legend. It begins with a double feature – “Champion” (Douglas’ breakthrough role as a brooding boxer) and “Ace in the Hole” – and will continue with seven more screenings until Nov. 14.
Now this is where things start getting really good: A&L events take a thoroughly hip, modern, feminist turn starting with a discussion from the pithy, witty political talk show host and LGBTQ hero Rachel Maddow on Oct. 7. Maddow is as sharp as she is reclusive, so catch this rare opportunity to see her make a live appearance.
On Oct. 9, Campbell Hall hosts musician Rufus Wainwright. The legendary singer-songwriter has a new video featuring Helena Bonham Carter and a new single produced by none other than Mark Ronson – the master of kinda sexy, kinda scary, definitely catchy retro tunes. Self-explanatory awesome show. Get tickets early.
Mid-October layers two totally innovative and groundbreaking women one after the other, first with a performance by St. Vincent and David Byrne at the Arlington Theater. St. Vincent got together with Talking Heads frontman Byrne to create one of the most enviable experimental pop-rock compilations in history: Love This Giant, which dropped this September.
Writer and satirist Fran Lebowitz is as cool as her name. Forty years after she was expelled from high school and hired to write for Interview by Andy Warhol, she comes to Campbell Hall Oct. 12 to drop some New York knowledge.
Soon after comes more humor courtesy of some of the stars of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” who continue to tour in the form of “Whose Live Anyway?” The guys will be ready to take audience suggestions and perform live skits and improvisational songs to your utmost merriment, so come prepared on Oct. 16.
It may take a team of improv comics to get an audience rolling with laughter, but it takes only one performer to get the audience reverently watching. Legendary performance artist Laurie Anderson will grace Campbell Hall’s stage on Oct. 23 with her new show “Dirtday!”, which has been lauded by the Boston Globe and the New Yorker as a stunning multimedia experience.
Kissing the warm, late fall weather goodbye in an appropriately festive fashion, A&L booked Brazilian pop and dance sensation Gilberto Gil to play at Campbell Hall on Oct. 26. The show is a part of UCSB’s conscious effort to showcase more international acts, and thus is a perfect chance to have a Friday evening that’s both culturally enriching and, well, conducive to dancing the night away.
On Nov. 4, Mike Burbiglia, Comedy Central staple and star of the recent film produced by Ira Glass (of This American Life/NPR fame), Sleepwalk With Me, takes his one-man show, “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend,” to Campbell Hall. Told with honesty, wit, and a dose of self-deprecation, Burbiglia creates a narrative theatrical piece dealing with the woes of romance through his own horrifically funny memoirs.
The end-of-the-quarter events tread a tad deeper and darker as, well, winter is coming … ooh, what are you going to do while you wait for Game of Thrones to start back up? Go see one of the most famous stories of royal family strife, of course! Shakespeare’s Globe Theater returns to Campbell Hall’s stage with Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet. Last year, the troupe had great success with its uproarious performance of Comedy of Errors, so check out how they fare venturing into heavier intrigues (murder, treachery, suicide, ghosts, insanity and potential Oedipus complexes) on Nov. 8 and 9.
Taking a 180-degree-turn in British theater, the Nov. 17 event gets real weird, real quick with Eddie Izzard’s Python-esque brand of British comedy, giving us something to laugh about in the midst of midterms.
Charles Bradley and the Menahan Street Band make a nice cap to the month with the group’s Santa Barbara debut on Nov. 28. After 48 years of relative obscurity, Bradley’s soulful blues scored a spot in Rolling Stone’s 2011 list of top albums.
This fall’s lineup of events definitely makes my list of top A&L seasons. But don’t trust my opinion alone – the fact is, there are a ton of upcoming events, lectures and performances that I didn’t have space to mention, many of which will more than likely cater to your ever-so specific, university-educated tastes and preferences. So check out what Arts & Lectures has to offer this quarter for yourself at www.artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu.