By Carley Stavis
Arts Editor

“The Laramie Project”

On the night of Oct. 6, 1998, Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, was beaten and left to die in a hate crime that shed new light on what it meant to be gay in America. Honoring the 10-year anniversary of Matthew’s death, Santa Cruz-based theater company Pisces Moon Productions will put on its third reprisal of “The Laramie Project,” a play based on the events leading up to, and the repercussions following, Shepard’s death. The play uses only nine actors to tell the stories of more than 80 different people, from the judge who tried the young men suspected of committing the crime, to a bartender who saw the events occur, to Shepard’s best friend. Performances will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Actors’ Theatre on Center Street, Oct. 3 through 19, with a special honorary candlelight processional and vigil following the Oct. 12 performance. Tickets can be purchased online at piscesmoon.org.

“Mi Casa Es Tu Casa”

Celebrating local Latino art and culture, the Pajaro Valley Arts Council and Gallery will hold its 15th annual “Mi Casa Es Tu Casa” art exhibit. The exhibit officially opens Oct. 13 and lasts through the quarter until Dec. 7. Purposefully placing the exhibit at the end of each year so that it will fall during Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), the gallery urges locals to participate in its candlelight processional from the Watsonville Plaza to the gallery in honor of the Mexican holiday on Nov. 1. A public reception will then take place at the ending point for artists offering their wares to celebrate the holiday. The gallery, located on Sudden Street in Watsonville, is open Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

Planet Cruz Comedy Hour with Richard Stockton

One month remains until election day, and with that in mind comes the Planet Cruz Comedy Hour at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center on Oct. 3, starting at 8 p.m., which promises to pack a pungent political punch. One of the night’s headliners is Aundre the Wonder Woman, known for her slick, slicing political commentary, backed up by self-proclaimed “environmedian” Clark Taylor. Normally heard talking to the public about more serious subjects, the Santa Cruz Police Department’s spokesperson Zach Friend will present the “Stupidest Criminal of the Month” award. Additionally, the first public interview with a real, live banana slug will be on display. The Kuumbwa Jazz center urges students and residents alike to come out and enjoy a night of comedy that embraces the weirdness that embodies Santa Cruz. Tickets to the program, available at Streetlight Records and Gateways Books, cost $18 in advance and $23 at the door. The entirety of the night will also be broadcast on KUSP Radio, 88.9 FM, and on SCTV, both accessible for free.

Pacific Rim Film Festival

Now in its 20th year bringing international full-length films and documentaries to the Santa Cruz community, this year’s Pacific Rim Film Festival on Oct. 17 through 22 will feature 17 films and shorts from some of the Pacific Rim’s unique cinematic visionaries, including films from Japan, Thailand and China. Standouts among them include “La Corona,” an Oscar-nominated documentary about a prison beauty pageant in Bogotá, Columbia. Filmmaker Sasha Friedlander, a Santa Cruz native, will present her film, “Dancing into Bali,” which explores the lives of three of Friedlander’s fellow dancers. Friedlander, a dancer herself, will attend the screening of her film and give a live performance. Screenings will be held at the Del Mar, Rio and UCSC theaters as well as at Cabrillo College’s Watsonville Center. Admission is free, and a schedule of events can be found online at pacrimfilmfestival.org.