by Barbara Ockel
The Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre underwent a major transformation last summer with the rediscovery of the original floor from 1888 under layers of linoleum, asbestos, plywood and black tar glue. A grant provided by the Save America’s Treasures program of the National Park Service, originally facilitated by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi in 2005, was finally put to good use. The restored auditorium floor not only looks great, it also has turned the previously acoustically dead space into a concert hall with superb sound. The proscenium arch around the historic stage was cleaned, cracked plaster and chipped wood patched and finally the repaired areas painstakingly in-painted by an experienced restoration team.
While all this restoration work was going on last summer, the yard adjoining Third Street was turned into a food education garden complete with live chickens for the Dare to Dream arts program. More than 300 children participated in 20 different arts classes: dancing, modeling and acting, painting, playing music, writing poetry, photography and movie making, gardening and cooking. The program continues now with about 170 after-school and pre-school kids ages 3-18 participating. The program is open to other after-school groups as well as individual kids in Bayview. A special toddler-parent music class takes place every Thursday at 11 a.m. and provides musical fun to the youngest kids and their caregivers.
Adults also have several fun activities to choose from, starting with line dancing and yoga on Mondays, Mary Booker’s Actors Workshop Tuesdays and Wednesdays and the popular Friday Night Jive, a dance hall event, every first Friday. The February event will feature a soul food potluck dinner; please bring a side dish or dessert and dance the night away!
The Bayview Opera House will celebrate Black History Month with several free events. Local filmmaker Kevin Epps’ popular movie “Straight Outta Hunters Point,” followed by panel discussions with the filmmaker present, will kick off the celebrations on Feb. 13. This is an annual event hosted by the Osiris Coalition called The State of Black San Francisco. The panels are titled “Economic Equity in the New San Francisco” and “Organizing for the Future.”
The following weekend is for music lovers with blues guitarist Patricia Wilder and her trio, trumpeter Lester Carnegie’s jazz ensemble, and the Providence Baptist Church Mass Choir singing gospel and spirituals. Also featured will be Mary Booker’s actors’ workshop with excerpts from the play “A Little Piece of God” and several speeches relevant to Black History.
The last weekend will feature another movie night with Kevin Epps and a contemporary jazz concert by the Unidentified Flying Quartet plus special guests. An art exhibit will complement the performances.
Last but not least, on the last Sunday of the month NASA comes to the Bayview with their interactive science fair, which should be fun for kids of all ages.
Please see the SF Bay View Calendar of Events as well as the Bayview Opera House website, www.bvoh.org, for more details on Black History Month events. And please keep in mind that your generous donations help us continue to put on free events for the community. Please go to www.bvoh.org and donate online or call us!
Barbara Ockel, interim managing director of the Bayview Opera House, 4705 Third St., San Francisco, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.