An evening spent in the presence of the Naked Empire Bouffon Company is always an unsettling experience. It can be difficult sometimes to assess who is actually performing for whom, as bouffons are wickedly adept at reading individuals and pulling them however briefly into the spotlight not as props, but as human beings with something to hide. Read more »
That distance makes the heart grow fonder does go a long way in explaining the recent resurgence of hair metal. Somehow despite all better judgment, a spangled veil of wistful nostalgia has fluttered over that particular genre of music you probably loathed when you had to listen to it blaring non-stop from every corporate rock station in the nation [or while guys in eyeliner and leopard tights were beating you up in high school for being a flannel-wearing, Smiths-loving faggot -ED.].
But nowadays stone-washed denim is the new sepia-tone, and don’t think the canny producers of the touring, glam-rock “jukebox musical” Rock of Ages don’t know it. Any show where scantily-clad beauties hand out custom-made lighters at the door (ok, little flashlights) to hold up at the appropriate moments, that is to say every five minutes, is staged quite emphatically to push your most embarrassingly sentimental buttons. But it’s such an eagerly goofy emphasis that you can’t really resent the blatant manipulation. You’ll probably even wind up singing along.
“Life is like a Boa,” the random stranger at the bus station (Nicole Hammersla) announces to the sweetly bemused young man (Ray Hobbs) she has marked as her test subject. Cleverly referencing both the reptile and the Bay One Acts festival -- through March 26 at Boxcar Theater -- in which she is performing, Hammersla goes on to demonstrate the action of being constricted by a giant snake, first on herself, and then on Hobbs. It’s a reference that perhaps doesn’t stand up to close examination, but for a moment at least you go with it. Life is like a snake sometimes, and sometimes a play. Sometimes coiled around you, smothering, dangerous, and sometimes unfolding swiftly before you, like a message pulled from an unexpected bottle washed to shore.
Cirque Noveau and Carletta Sue Kay blaze and seduce
Even though nothing I saw over the weekend had anything remotely to do with Mardi Gras (Sunday’s Motown Parade in the Fillmore, was on the radar, but I melt in the rain), subtle little visuals kept it very much on my mind. In fact, as I type this, it nags me that I’m missing out on another Rosenmontag, Rose Monday, which is being celebrated all across Germany, a blowout which rivals the best Carnival celebrations from around the world, packed with parades, costumed revelry, and oceans of bier. I’m trying to compensate with a Rammstein CD and a 21st Amendment IPA, but really, it isn’t the same. Let “next year in Cologne” be the rallying cry! There are so many ways to dream.
Despite there not being any roses in my Montag, rose red colored my weekend. First found swirling in the startling tsunami of stage blood spilled by Impact Theatre in their Russian-mafia-meets-Romeo-and-Juliet adaptation, it also glowed wickedly, stretched across the muscled torsos of the performers of Cirque Noveau, in a production that closed last weekend entitled Devil Fish.
Appear and disappear at Noise Pop with Nobunny and Battlehooch
There’s a pop-up explosion going on out there, and it’s insidiously cornering the market on all our fun. It’s become well nigh impossible to stumble down the street without coming across a pop-up "gallery boutique ramen restaurant poodle salon performance space" and even more impossible to not want to avail oneself immediately of its fleeting charms. It’s the precarious ephemerality of pop-up ventures that makes them so enticing—the knowledge that at any moment the ability to tap into this particular experience will be gone forever. Granted, if you examine any particular moment in time closely, you’ll come to a similar conclusion, but sometimes it’s best to just go with the spontaneous flow, even if it’s a little bit manufactured.
TechShop San Francisco gets busy, Writers With Drinks gets drunk
Just when it felt like San Francisco could not possibly Do It Itself more than it already has, Jim Newton’s TechShop moved to town. Now it will be almost impossible not to succumb to the temptation of learning welding, soldering, molding, screen-printing, and quilting -- not to mention CAD (computer aided design), CAM (computer aided machining), 3D modeling, laser-cutting and etching, and so much more. Whee!
Of all the theatre companies in the Bay Area currently operating, the most specifically focused may well be our premiere (or rather only) amateur Francophone company Le Theatre Platypus. Though the Goethe-Institut sometimes hosts touring productions, such as Bridge Marklund’s “Faust in the Box” which will play in the Institut auditorium March 3 and The Mission Cultural Center hosts occasional Spanish-language plays such as Dolores Prida’s “Coser y Cantar” (playing March 17-19), dedicated multi-lingual local troupes are unfortunately scarce. This makes going to see a Platypus play more than just a night out, but a bona-fide cultural immersion experience.
STAGE/PUPPETRY It's been more than 10 years since Brooklyn-based Kevin Augustine brought his life-sized puppets and existential worldview to the Bay Area, and during that time he's not been idle. Augustine's last full-length show, 2008's Bride, a charged exploration of theism, garnered much critical acclaim as well as an UNIMA-USA Citation of Excellence in Puppetry — the profession's highest honor.Read more »
Thomas John’s “The Lady on the Wall,” and the Slave Robots of Carl Pisaturo
A few years ago, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I saw Dov Weinstein’s imitable Tiny Ninja Theatre enact “Macbeth” on a dollhouse-sized stage, which one viewed through cheap plastic binoculars from a distance of about ten feet. It will always remain one of my favorite versions of that particular play. Weinstein’s ability to perform as a literal cast of hundreds and run his own tech without fumbling his lines nor cues put many much larger (and taller!) companies to shame, and though the intention was quite obviously to amuse, Weinstein and his tiny plastic ninja cast still managed to convey the nuances of a more serious artistry. Thomas John’s puppet noir “The Lady on the Wall,” which played at the Garage last weekend, displayed the same perfect balance of dorky and deliberate, featuring an unlikely cast of, not ninjas, but eggs.
What are the barest fundamentals of theatre once you remove it from “the” theatre? This is one of the questions site-specific performances are always confronted with, and the answer is not immediately clear. Does “theatre” require a script? (Then what is improv?) Does it require actors? (Then what is Spalding Gray?) Does it require a moral? (Then what is Ubu Roi?) Perhaps, like obscenity, it is immediately known when seen, but otherwise elusively indefinable. What does seem to be certain, particularly in light of the latest wave of productions set in non-traditional venues, is that performing in an actual theatre space is definitely not a requirement for creating an actual theatre piece.