Robert Avila

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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Not new, but renewing

Stage: Aurora Theatre offers a terrific revival of an Albee classic

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER New plays are usually big selling points for theaters, and they have a certain pizzazz for audiences too, but their power to renew interest in theater is a different matter. The best play seen on a local stage so far this season is not a new play, as it happens, but an old one, with a big name attached and a Pulitzer in tow. But Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance (1966) reminds you why people go to the theater in the first place.Read more »

Still weird after all these years

SF Fringe Fest turns 20

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THEATER Here's a preliminary accounting from the San Francisco Fringe Festival, which remarkably turns the big two-oh this year. (There's a nifty 2012 wall calendar to mark the occasion available somewhere in the Exit Theatre complex, traditional nerve center for the lottery-based festival started by Exit stalwarts Christina Augello and Richard Livingston.)Read more »

It's people!

Big Art Group's secret ingredient is revealed as The People descends on Z Space

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Spontaneous Victorian combustion: “Jane Austen Unscripted” returns to the Bay Area

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More signs of gentrification in the Bay Area, this time sanguine, as Los Angeles-based Impro Theatre’s acclaimed show, Jane Austen Unscripted, returns starting tonight (Wed/7) for gigs at 142 Throckmorton Theatre (Mill Valley) and BATS’ Bayfront Theater (SF). If you saw Jane Austen Unscripted in one of its two previous local engagements over the last few years, you already know the group sports some of the quickest wits in the Western canon. Jane Austen Unscripted is directed by BATS cofounder Dan O’Connor and comedian-writer Paul Rogan and features an amazing cast of improvisers, fully capable of creating a full-length play in the style of Jane Austen spontaneously each night, with a theme suggested by the audience. Improv fans, Austen fans, ceiling fans: this stuff is hot. A funnier, sharper assemblage of off-the-cuff maestros is hard to come by, especially in cuffs like these.

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Grinning and bearing it

Exit, Pursued by a Bear goes all Wild Kingdom on domestic matters

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THEATER A sweet, normally placid Southern working-class wifey named Nan Carter (Erin Gilley) — no relation to Jimmy, but oh how for some reason she wishes! — takes revenge on her abusive husband Kyle (Patrick Jones) with the help of two close friends, a roll of duct tape, a fresh deer carcass, and a working knowledge of the dramatic arts in Crowded Fire's world premiere of playwright Lauren Gunderson's light but witty comedy.Read more »

For the fall of it

FALL ARTS PREVIEW: Autumn's most intriguing theatrical events

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arts@sfbg.com

FALL ARTS Puppets, fanciful forms of democracy, and disfigured villains are leitmotifs beyond the Beltway this season, as the following theater and performance highlights suggest.Read more »

Familiar but strange

Reviving Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts

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