Robert Avila

Way out East

A dose of American Realness amid the NYC festival season

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THEATER The shows have been as varied and changeable as the weather this January in New York City, where the annual conference of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) acts as catalyst for, by now, no less than four new-work festivals in the realms of theater, dance, and contemporary performance.

Near the beginning of the month, it got cold enough at night to make your nose hairs chime like little Christmas tree bells. "Every time you sneeze," a friend explained to me, "a whole shitload of angels get their wings."Read more »

Current events

Mugwumpin's Future Motive Power play at SF's Old Mint unearths the buried passions of Nikola Tesla

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All will be revealed!

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The art of storytelling took a hit the day Johannes Gutenberg began fucking around with moveable type (on or around Tuesday, 1450), but stoking a good story by firelight or halogen lamp hangs on as a cultural desideratum in places like Ireland or San Francisco. Arline Klatte and Beth Lisick figured that out a long time ago, of course, with their Porchlight series (nine years running and going strong). But "Previously Secret Information" has lately proved there is plenty more storytelling worth accommodating in this chatty town.
 
Produced by stalwart stand-up comic Joe Klocek and impresarios Bruce Pachtman and Ty Mckenzie, "PSI" slants toward the comic and happens on the odd Sunday at Stage Werx Theatre — including this Sun/11, oddly enough. The new installment features well-known pop music critic Joel Selvin, with consummate insider dish about Bill Graham back in the day; the Dursts (political satirist Will and partner in comedy Debi), recounting an understandably bizarre White House wedding they attended (I’m guessing probably not in the Bush years); and Sammy Obeid, a former UC Berkeley honor roll student turned stand-up comic (it must have been one of those funny majors), relating the story of how a teetotaler gets a DUI.

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Astral projections

Performer Erin Markey brings her "home movies" to San Francisco

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Homeland insecurity

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER The immigrant experience has some familiar familial dynamics across the board. Parents, for instance, can easily discover their Americanized children becoming embarrassed by the older generation's "foreign" ways. Un-hip parents are the bane of any child's existence, but dad walking around the mall in a gallibaya doesn't make it any easier (as hip as that may sound to you or me). Allegiances potentially strain much further, however, when the immigrant story gets entwined with a little narrative called the "war on terror."Read more »

GOLDIES 2011: Philip Huang

"The room — you're in it. You're aliiiive!"

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GOLDIES An air of perspiration-inducing mystery attends an appearance by Philip Huang. Something in the playfully relaxed mien of this queer performance artist just whispers loose cannon. A notable short story writer who reinvented himself a few years ago with help from artist friend Khalil Sullivan, Huang now crops up in a variety of contexts — including a steadily expanding parade of YouTube high jinks — but is inclined to épater le bourgeois whatever the occasion. And when fired up he's got an edge like a rotary saw.Read more »

Homemade shaman

Dutch performance-maker Robert Steijn debuts in the Bay Area
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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER A rare event for rare times: Robert Steijn comes to San Francisco. The visit — which included a workshop Oct. 31-Nov. 2, and comes courtesy of THEOFFCENTER, Zero Performance, and Jorge Rodolfo De Hoyos — marks the first Bay Area show by this somewhat unexpected but internationally acclaimed figure in contemporary dance-performance.Read more »

It came from Spacey

A trans-Atlantic cast lands a rowdy Richard III in San Francisco

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER A single black armchair center stage and one big fat "Now" projected on the back wall signal our anticipation pretty neatly — of a famous opening line, of the famous actor about to utter it, and in the feeling that it is something more than a history play unfolding here, at this moment, in a city and country thoroughly and unprecedentedly "occupied" with political matters. A big, pungent production of Richard III? Yes, now sounds about right.Read more »

Awake and singing

The Jewish Theatre launches its final season with a resonant new play about the Group Theatre

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER The company members onstage had started out just a couple of hours ago in literal harmony, joined in song. Now everyone appears spent, heated, and confused. They wonder what has happened to them. They wonder if they've lost their way; if their extraordinary effort and success over recent years has been worth anything. It's a moment of truth, fraught with personal and collective drama, overshadowed by desperate and tumultuous times. The Group Theatre, arguably the most influential theater in American history, is about to disband.Read more »

Lesson plan

Dark Porch Theatre explores familial foreignness in Tutor

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