Nicole Gluckstern

The Performant: Jingle Balls

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Decking the halls with "The Oddman Family Christwanzaakah Spectacular" and "Balls to Balzac"

How many more ways are there to teach the true meaning of Christmas-Solstice-Chanukah-Kwanzaa now that Jim Carrey has been both the Grinch and Scrooge, dreidels come in rainbow colors, and Kwanzaa candles are available in soy wax? Well, you could start by teaching your children that everyday is like a holiday, and that the spirit of giving can permeate the entire year. That’s what the Oddmans do. And look at how multi-talented their precious little tykes are turning out. They sing, they dance, they play music, they translate the songs in ASL -- some without the average number of limbs usually sported by working musicians (besides Rick Allen, that is). All the Oddman family wants is to spread a little multi-cultural holiday cheer around. In Hollywood. Right now. SHOW ME THE MONEY.

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'Infinite City' maps out inexhaustible SF

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In the introduction to her thrilling new book, Rebecca Solnit provides the best explanation for why Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas (University of California Press) can only be referred to as a San Francisco atlas, not the San Francisco atlas. “Every place is if not infinite then practically inexhaustible … any single map can depict only an arbitrary selection of the facts on its two-dimensional surface…” Read more »

The Performant: Beats and Beuys - is anything sacred?

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Melting the masters with Oddball Films and Keith Hennessey

In a scene from the hilariously boffo short film Pull My Daisy an unruly gang of beatniks (Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, and Gregory Corso) grill their pal’s invited guest, “The Bishop” (Richard Bellamy) about the relative holiness of the world around them, from baseball to cockroaches to the male organ. Is this-and-that holy, is such-and-such holy? they slur via Jack Kerouac’s partially-improvised narration. Their good-natured interrogation is doubtlessly modeled on Ginsberg’s “Footnote to Howl”—that affirmative litany asserting the holiness of cocks, typewriters, and “the bop apocalypse”. Throughout, their commitment to proving the divine in the human gives their tactless party-crashing a metaphysical justification and an almost wide-eyed innocence.

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The Performant: We want the airwaves

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Aeriel Art Soars at Theatre Artaud and Teatro Zinzanni

Do you dream of the day when you finally learn how to fly? For aerielists, that future is now, and that dream an everyday reality. It’s a career choice not for the faint of heart -- right up there, I’d say, with driving a fire truck or sailing around the world on a catamaran made of plastic bottles. But I imagine the psychic rewards to be tremendous. Life on the edge. Teasing gravity, tempting fate. To soar—perchance to jetstream.

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The Performant: Cheers for fears

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Scoping out "After Dark" at the Exploratorium and a Mark Growden singalong

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.” –H.P. Lovecraft

Bolshephobia is the fear of Bolsheviks. Sesquipedalophobia is the fear of long words, which does rather beg the question, how do people with that particular fear express it without using the eight-syllable word that defines it? At this month’s After Dark event at the Exploratorium, fear was the theme explored, and confronting one’s fears directly, in the spirit of scientific inquiry, strongly encouraged.

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The Performant: Rite of autumn

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It might have been unannounced, but there’s a ritual aspect to all this the Giants-Halloween-Dia de los Muertos mayhem all the same. And like any great autumnal rite, the cathartic frenzy implies a greater narrative -- one last big harvest before the little death of winter, the rebirth of spring. How appropriate to the season then, was the Ragged Wing production “Persephone’s Roots” a site-specific re-imagining of the Persephone myth at Berkeley’s Cordornices Park. Read more »

The Performant: Extreme Theatre Sports at “The Great Game” Marathon

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This weekend, despite the rain, I attended a marathon. Fortunately for my running shoes, it was a marathon of theatre indoors at the Berkeley Rep -- an epic play cycle of 19 vignettes set in Afghanistan, entitled “The Great Game”. Ever been to a theater marathon? Like any test of physical endurance, it’s not for the faint of heart. You have to prepare for it. Hydrate well. Wear comfortable clothing. And above all, pack plenty of snacks.

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The Performant: The accidental tourist

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Intrepid travelers always get a bit of a bee in their bonnet when you mistake them for tourists, but tourism doesn’t have to be a dirty word. All it really means is the act of traveling for recreational purposes and as such, can be applied to even the smallest of pleasurable jaunts. Saturday morning, I went on a tour—replete with guides, maps, wristbands, a short jaunt by MUNI train, and a chaos (as opposed to a gaggle or a horde) of dancers. Yes, it was the 7th annual San Francisco Trolley Dances, and this year’s chosen line was the N-Judah. Read more »

Docs and robbers

Berlin and Beyond enters the fall festival fray

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The Performant: The fortress of solitude and "Hamlet" on Alcatraz

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I notice them first on the ferry, two young men in suspenders and ties deep in conversation. One wears a beanie and designer sunglasses. Nothing special. The view of the approaching island etched against the uncharacteristically clear sky is more enticing. But when they burst onto the main deck amidst the passengers, and speak loudly of their journey to Elsinore, it’s clear that the play’s the thing. To be precise, the We Players' experiential performance-thing of "Hamlet" now being staged on Alcatraz.

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