Nicole Gluckstern

The Performant: Dumpster Dive

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“Elite Waste” dumpster home makes its San Francisco Fringe Festival debut

There aren’t usually too many compelling reasons to hang out on the first block of Eddy Street, unless the exquisite aroma of urine, pigeon shit, corner store fried chicken, and tour bus exhaust appeals. But during the San Francisco Fringe Festival, now in its 20th year, there’s always a bit of a horde milling around the entrance of the EXIT Theatre-plex: patrons waiting to see shows, performers handing out postcards to the undecided or hauling heavy trunks of props up the sidewalk. 

This year the crowds have been larger than ever, thanks to the public unveiling of a unique, experiential performance-space: a customized luxury living dumpster home parked outside the front door of the theatre for all to enjoy. Read more »

Tucson terrors Bob Log III and Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout play the Hemlock Tavern

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In a land farther away in attitude than in miles (Tucson, Ariz.), there resides a surprisingly large cadre of talented music-makers with a collective sensibility perhaps best described as skewed. The Pork Torta, Al Foul, Al Perry, Giant Sand, the list goes on and on. Read more »

The Performant: Space cadets

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Cosmic San Francisco mainstays Audium and Planet Booty shoot us to the moon.

Some only-in-San-Francisco adventures are subtler than others -- they're you-have-to-know-they’re-there treasures, unencumbered by a surfeit of fanfare or weight of fickle expectation.

Audium, a continually-morphing collaboration in sound design between composer Stan Shaff and electronics “architect” Douglas McEachern, definitely counts as one of these.

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The Performant New York Edition: Too Much Rain Makes the Baby Go Soggy

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Neo-Futurists and “Ostalgia” weather the storm

No performance in New York was quite as impactful as the front row seats we had for Hurricane Irene, as subdued as she was in comparison to her North Carolina appearance, and with the MTA not running and theatres large and small shuttering their windows and barring their doors, mostly everyone just stayed home and watched the lightning instead. Good thing I’d gone to see New York’s “only open-run Off-Off-Broadway show”, the Neo-Futurists’ “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind,” and the “Ostalgia” exhibit the night before, or this week’s installment would be a total washout.

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Muslim and proud (and hilarious)

Zahra Noorbakhsh takes on the NY International Fringe Festival, parental disapproval, and religious tradition

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THEATER Onstage, a woman and her father battle over modern sensibilities versus religious tradition. The father leads with a left jab and the mantra "in the Koran, in the Koran, in the Koran," which the daughter counters with a roundhouse punch and "third-wave feminism." Both characters are being played by Zahra Noorbakhsh, a feisty, spirited, thoroughly modern woman — and a Muslim, an important part of her identity she's not about to let anyone forget. Read more »

The Performant New York Edition: Fringe 101, an essential lexicon

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Well, the 16-day New York International Fringe Festival has just wrapped up, and frankly it’s all a bit of a blur. Figuring out to watch next as the festival wound down was a delicate task as fraught with mystery as when it began. Was it worthwhile to attend “A” if it meant losing the opportunity to see “B” altogether? Wasn’t that one show about scuba-diving sewer rats supposed to be off the hook? Did the show about demonic possession in Uruguay already close? Which critic reviews or citizen commentary could be trusted? Which program blurbs can be relied upon to really reveal the truth about their show?

It’s times like these when an official program guide lexicon would come in handy, so that Fringers might have an easier time determining what they’ll truly be in for when they had over their fistful of coin and storm the theatre gates.

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The Performant New York Edition: Forever Fringe

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I’ve been flying all week and boy are my arms tired! But at last I’ve landed, soft in the lap of Brooklyn, from where I’ve been commuting to the 15th annual New York Fringe Festival (say that five times fast). 

Perhaps the largest multi-arts festival in the US, the New York Fringe hosts close to 1200 performances from 194 companies, spread out in 18 venues all over the Lower East Side. Fringers pack the sidewalks and the black box venues from Bleecker Street to the Bowery -- just minutes away from Broadway, but light years apart in terms of budget, content, daring. Read more »

The Performant: Cello rock!

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Rasputina at the Great American Music Hall

Somewhere at the intersection of the society for creative anachronism and the Wave Gotik Treffen resides the cello-driven, chamber-rock trio Rasputina. Founded by multi-instrumentalist Melora Creager in 1992, the band has long straddled the line between whimsy and steel, with songs that range in topic from giants to vampires, orphans to infidels, E equals MC squared to 1816, “the year without a summer.” 

Decked out in corsets, ruffles, and turn-of-the-last-century fantasywear, fronted by a woman who often speaks with a faux European-High Elvish accent, Rasputina is positioned as far as possible from the center of the pop music arcana without falling completely out of the deck. Eschewing categorization, the band floats effortlessly above petty pigeon-holing, embraced by steampunk creativists, glamour Goths, strings buffs, and plain old folk alike. Read more »

The Performant: Serf's Up!

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The Weill Project and Will Kaufman’s Woody Guthrie sing out.

“A pamphlet, no matter how good, is never read more than once, but a song is learned by heart and repeated over and over.” –Joe Hill

As this year’s annual LaborFest draws to an end, and the organized labor movement is facing an uncertain future as exemplified by the recent Republican victory in Wisconsin regarding collective bargaining, and the disappointing conclusion to the Mott’s strike of 2010, it does the socialist spirit good to soothe the savage breast with music created with an ulterior motive. Political convictions as entertainment have had their misses, but it’s the hits we remember more, whether “learned by heart,” or not.

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The Performant: Super Freaks

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Thunderbird Theatre and Foul Play serve it up weird
 
Like swallows returning to Capistrano, there are certain annual events you can count on to lift the spirits and brighten an otherwise soggy outlook. One such anticipated delight is Thunderbird Theatre’s yearly production of an ensemble-created original comedy. Mavens of the shameless spoof, the fabulous T-birds have sent-up pulp detective fiction, lucha libre wrestling, pirate intrigues, Citizen Kane, Conan the Barbarian, vampire romance, and creepy office politics in variously hysterical ways, and a summer pilgrimage to their shows is always effort well-rewarded.

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