SHOOT ‘EM UP   Shotgun Players have been bringing cutting-edge, gripping theater to Berkeley for 20 years and now, right in time for the election season, the group is putting on Assassins by Stephen Sondheim.  The musical showcases America’s nine presidential killers and explores their reasons for taking aim at the country’s elected leaders. “Their guns and justifications (set to music!) are just the balm for an election season that’s already set to explode,” reads the show’s description. The show opens at 8 pm Friday Oct. 5 at the intimate Ashby Stage and runs through Oct. 28.

RENAISSANCE GUY  Cory Doctorow has a lot of biographical definitions. He is the co-editor of Boing Boing, a science fiction novelist, blogger, technology activist, and contributor to The Guardian, New York Times, Wired, and elsewhere. Most of all, he is a literary maverick, publishing his books traditionally through Tor and offering them up for free on the Internet through Creative Commons licensing. His books have been wildly popular, nominated for numerous awards and translated into dozens of languages. Doctorow is coming to Books, Inc on Fourth Street Friday Oct. 5 at 7 pm to read from his new young adult novel Pirate Cinema, a story of “mash-up guerrillas who declare war on the entertainment industry.”

SOUL OF A PEOPLE   In Soul Calling: A Photographic Journey Through the Hmong Diaspora, Joel Pickford has created an unforgettable photographic portrait of a people, displaced by war, finding their footing in a new land. From photographs of the newly arrived to those who are slightly Americanized (to the extent of even suffering from gang violence), to those who have reached new heights — one is a tenure-track university professor — Pickford explores how the Hmong adapt their customs to a new land. Pickford’s publisher, Berkeley’s Heyday Books, calls In Soul Calling “the first photographic book on the Hmong culture ever published.” Pickford will be discussing his book and showing photos Sat. Oct. 6 from 2 to 3:45 pm at the Central Library, 2090 Kittredge Ave. The event is co-sponsored by Eastwind Books and Bantaey Srei.

SPIN A TALE   Dastangoi is the once-thriving art of Urdu storytelling in North India which came to an end with the death of the last great practitioner in 1928. Dastans were epics tales which were recited or read aloud and featured adventure, magic and warfare. They have recently regained popularity through the efforts of Mahmood Farooqui, a historian, filmmaker, cultural critic, and performance artist. Farooqui will perform a modern twist of this traditional art form Saturday  Oct. 6 from 6 to 8 p at The Great Hall in the Bancroft Hotel, 2680 Bancroft Avenue. Sponsored by the Berkeley Urdu Initiative.

FROM SCISSORS AND PAPER, MAGIC   In the days before photography, from around 1790 to 1840, people would preserve images of their loved ones by having an artist cut out a silhouette of his or her profile. The popularity of  silhouettes plummeted once it was easier to take a snapshot. Now Karl Johnson of Cut Arts has resurrected this long-ago art form. Using just his eye, a pair of scissors, and some paper, Johnson takes only a few minutes to create amazing likenesses. He will be at Mr. Mopps’ Sunday Oct. 5 from 10 am to 5 pm. Each silhouette costs $25 (they can also be made from photographs) and reservations are necessary. Watch this video to get a sense of Johnson’s work.

Don’t forget other weekend happenings previously covered by Berkeleyside:

Kim Nalley: Masterly singer has focus on jazz’s roots
Walker: Absurdist classic steeped in grime, grit and blood

Also, check out the recently launched Berkeleyside Radio, which presents music from many bands that will be playing around town in the next two weeks. You can stream it, too. Produced by Deli Radio.

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To find out about more events in Berkeley and nearby, visit Berkeleyside’s Events Calendar. We also encourage you to submit your own events.

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...