Robert Avila

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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Broadway cabaret with Pascal and Rapp!

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The Fairmont Hotel’s storied Venetian Room, a.k.a. the San Francisco club where Tony Bennett first left his heart, has recently re-opened its doors to live music, courtesy of Marilyn Levinson’s Bay Area Cabaret series. Chita Rivera wowed them earlier this month, and this weekend Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp do their thing, some of which you may have caught last year when they appeared in the touring revival of Rent at the Curran, in the roles they originated of Mark and Roger.

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East Bay studs

Machismo? It's complicated in David Cale's Palomino and Impact's The Play About the Naked Guy

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Kieran McGrath, a carefree 32-year-old Irishman living in New York City, would like to be a writer someday. In the meantime, he has a temporary job subbing for a friend as a carriage driver in Central Park. Its fortuitous, because the material for his first book will conveniently climb into the back of his palomino-drawn carriage in the form of an upscale pimp named Marsha and the series of rich and lonely Manhattan women she represents.Read more »

GOLDIES 2010: Christopher Kuckenbaker

Bringing graceful work and alternately intense and quirky looks to the stage

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In September, the San Francisco Fringe Festival offered patrons an off-Beat gem, The Burroughs and Kookie Show. A deftly performed blend of homage and intimate psychic excavation, the play imagines William S. Burroughs (actor-playwright Christopher Kuckenbaker) as talk show host, opposite a deadpan, laconic musician named Loubis the Pubis (Louis Libert), and a missing cohost, "Kookie," symbolized in absentia by a small, empty chair. Tonight's guest? An unsuspecting actor named Chris Baker (Christopher Kuckenbaker again). Read more »

GOLDIES 2010: Jesse Hewit/Strong Behavior

A unique artist and part of a tight-knit, bold, savvy, young, and mostly queer milieu

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Most shows start with a request to turn off your cell phones. Tell Them That You Saw Me begins with an implicit request to leave your virtual mind outside. As the lights come up in this latest work from Jesse Hewit/Strong Behavior (which premiered after a residency at CounterPULSE in August), five utterly gobsmacked women, sprawled in enervated postures on floor and furniture, stare back at the audience for a very long time. Read more »

Different walls

Habibi adds an enigmatic viewpoint to a growing chorus of Palestinian voices

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arts@sfbg.com

Palestinian perspectives are in. You know it when a major filmmaker like Julian Schnabel makes a big-budget film like Miral, based on the book by Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal (which recently screened at the Mill Valley Film Festival in advance of a general release next year).Read more »

Inside Iran: journalist Houshang Asadi reads in Berkeley tonight

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Iran's authoritarian regime still gets away with locking up artists and intellectuals for their opinions. (The renowned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi spent three months in prison this year for speaking his mind in public.) The contours of this system of political persecution come to the fore in the most personal and riveting of terms as longtime Iranian dissident, journalist, and author Houshang Asadi talks about (and reads from) his new memoir, Letters to My Torturer: Love, Revolution, and Imprisonment in Iran, in conversation with journalist and author Jonathan Curiel (Al’ America: Travels Through America’s Arab and Islamic Roots) at Berkeley Arts and Letters. The event is co-sponsored by the National Iranian American Council, Amnesty International, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley.

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Empire strikes back

Mark Jackson adapts Schiller's Mary Stuart for the post-9/11 generation

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Expansive roles

The Brothers Size gets apt Magic, while the play's the thing in Etiquette

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"Red" bayou

Marin Theatre enlivens the first entry in Tarell Alvin McCraney's Brother/Sister trilogy

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STAGE The young woman has something wrong with her; a chorus of women tell us so. They're neighbors in the same particular, yet nebulous, time/place: a housing project in a nameless small town in the Louisiana bayou, some time in the "distant present." As if floating on water, the young woman, an African American teen named Oya (Lakisha May), lies prone on a dais at the center of an otherwise bare stage as they speak of her. Read more »