Robert Avila

Harmonic canons

Schick Machine hits the right notes, while Lady Grey is upstaged

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THEATER A gorgeous clutter of instruments fills the stage at Z Space/Theater Artaud this week, and audiences, after an eye- and earful of Schick Machine, are invited to go up and play them, too. A musical background is unnecessary: Nothing on stage likely resembles anything you grew up practicing, and anyway all that's called for is a little rhythm. The show itself gives you a healthy dose, amid a wonderfully designed, gently madcap, almost cosmological musing on the nature and origins of rhythm as well as our yearning embrace of it (and vice versa).Read more »

Mother courage

Lynn Nottage's Ruined finds life amid atrocity in the Congo

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arts@sfbg.com

STAGE As outrage mounts at the vicious repression of civilians in Libya, Lynn Nottage's 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined reminds us of the ongoing crimes against humanity — in particular the strategic use of sexual violence against women — carried out routinely for years in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The devastating civil war that began there in 1998 continues today as one of the most destructive on the planet, having taken well more than 5 million lives.Read more »

The shakes

Sharp and entertaining, Collapse pulls back from the brink of subversion

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THEATER When your free-form sister (Amy Resnick) arrives from Los Angeles with a yoga mat, but without a job, a place to go, a return ticket, or a care in the world—except for an unopened package some guy named Bulldog asked her to hand off when she got to Minneapolis — it's unsettling. What's even shakier, though, is such a visit combined with a marriage teetering on the brink, a job or two in the balance, and a worldwide economic depression. It's then that foundations critically loosen, supports buckle, things suddenly fall apart. Read more »

Two's a crowd?

Comical and existential, The Companion Piece explores life and love as a vaudeville act

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The Companion Piece is a charmingly inventive new work of devised theater conceived by actor Beth Wilmurt and directed by Mark Jackson for Z Space. It unfolds as a series of arch "meta" vaudevillian routines by a frustrated long-time duo (played with uncommon chemistry and comedic finesse by Wilmurt and Christopher Kuckenbaker).Read more »

'Too Much' -- and more

A one-off "queer marathon" turns into a second annual 10-hour event

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER/DANCE/PERFORMANCE Too much of a good thing can be a good thing. That became clear to artist/curators Julie Phelps and Keith Hennessy last year with the unexpected success of "Too Much!," a no-holds-barred marathon of contemporary queer performance originally conceived as a cheeky 20th anniversary celebration of Hennessy's lauded yet uncompromising career as performer, choreographer, and activist.Read more »

Curtain calls

YEAR IN THEATER: This was a year of magical keeping-it-realism on Bay Area stages

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Classic 'Rock'

Daniel Heath and Ken Flagg combine restorations in the glorious Man of Rock

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arts@sfbg,com

THEATER Only the barbarity of these dark dumb days could make someone nostalgic for the Reagan era. A simpler time? Not for most — hairstylists maybe least of all. But in The Man of Rock, New Jersey in 1986 appears mercifully devoid of economic mayhem, quasi-fascist politics, or the doom-shrouded future they portend, which is probably why this lively new music-blasted comedy can rock so well. Heavy metal, yes; heavy going, no.Read more »

The Noir in the War on Christmas: Noël Noir @ YBCA

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You have probably heard that the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery recently ejected from its premises David Wojnarowicz’s video installation, A Fire in My Belly. The work was part of the museum’s “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” reported to be the first major museum exhibition addressing gay and lesbian identity in the arts. Read more »

Heavenly landing

Cynthia Hopkins traverses time and space — and the extremes of success and failure — to reach the sublime

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER A rare sighting the weekend of Nov. 18-20 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts: Cynthia Hopkins, as intergalactic space pilot Ruom Yes Noremac, a post-human "Druoc" in a floppy silver space suit hovering high above the stage of the Novellus Theatre, returning from the far distant future ... to do what? "Save the earth, of course."Read more »

Cynthia Hopkins brings success/failure to YBCA

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A rare flying object has been spotted this weekend at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, namely Cynthia Hopkins, as intergalactic space pilot Ruom Yes Noremac, a post-human “Druoc” in a floppy silver space suit hovering high above the stage of the Novellus Theatre. She’s returning from the far distant future to, what?, “save the earth, of course.”

The Success of Failure (Or, the Failure of Success), making its Bay Area premiere tonight and tomorrow, makes up part three of the wildly inventive Accidental Trilogy developed by New York–based artist-musician Hopkins and company Accinosco. I caught it last night, and while a full review will have to wait until next week, I can say that the sight of her twirling there before a sprawling spacescape projected across an enormous screen — in a comical operetta musing on “the pros and cons of evolution,” above a stage aglow and twinkling with arch sci-fi phantasmagoria, and in an all-pervading atmosphere of nostalgia and regret — seemed indeed to defy a certain gravity through the power of deft spectacle and ethereal song.

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