Robert Avila

Pennies from heaven

Kirk Read's Southern gay evangelical fantasy pays off
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Growing up gay in a military family of evangelical Christians in the Reagan-era South sounds like a tight squeeze for anyone. But as Kirk Read affirms, however claustrophobic one's environment, there's always room for a good fantasy. Besides, Read likes tight squeezes. Read more »

Between two worlds and then some

Ishi: The Last of the Yahi traces history real and imagined
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There have been books, documentaries, feature films, and more than one play about Ishi, the last "wild" California Indian who emerged from the hills of northern California in 1911 and became friend and subject of renowned Berkeley anthropologist Alfred Kroeber and his colleagues. Read more »

Campaign pain?

SF Mime Troupe takes no election-year guff in Red State
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November's presidential election already looms on the horizon like a herpes outbreak, promising nothing so much as a painful, shame-filled denouement to a drunken and ill-conceived flirtation with someone you thought you knew. So it's refreshing that the San Francisco Mime Troupe's seasonal offering of free, rabble-rousing political theater is an election-year special in which the opposing candidates from the two monopolizing parties are conspicuously absent. Read more »

Beyond belief

The Queer issue: The Busy World Is Hushed questions love, family, and faith
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THE QUEER ISSUE Aurora Theater takes on — reportedly — its first gay-themed work with a West Coast premiere of Keith Bunin's almost-too-smart The Busy World Is Hushed, a play that ultimately has as much to do with questions of Christian faith and the mixed blessing/burden of family as with sexual orientation. Read more »

"Chop Shop"

Everyday drama on the harried, often undocumented margins of immigrant life
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REVIEW Ramin Bahrani's first feature, Man Push Cart (2005) — about a struggling Pakistani service worker selling coffee and bagels from a midtown Manhattan pushcart — signaled the arrival of a genuine talent for atmospheric and absorbing realist drama, and an unpreachy champion of America's disregarded immigrant working-class. Read more »

Blood in, blood out

Can incest and vengeance right an upside-down world?
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In John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, when Parma's bright and talented Giovanni (Michael Hayden) confesses to Friar Bonaventura (Steven Anthony Jones) his passion for his equally exceptional sister, Annabella (René Augesen), the friar is quick to understand the stakes, declaring, "We have need to pray." He advises Giovanni to turn from so unnatural a desire to repentance and sorrow. Read more »

Facing the music

Trap Door explores moral agency in the Iraq occupation
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Mini video-enhanced chamber operas seem to be the flavor of the month, at least in a certain stretch of the Mission District. Only three weeks ago, Bay Area composer Erling Wold's solo opera Mordake began its world premiere run at Shotwell Studios (as part of the San Francisco International Arts Festival) with inimitable tenor John Duykers in the part of the titular medical mystery and suicide — a pampered Victorian gentleman with the seemingly sentient face of his sisterly "evil twin" pasted to the back of his head. Read more »

Mixed doubles

Yves Jacques talks Robert Lepage and The Andersen Project
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A new work by Robert Lepage is always a major event. In theater, the Quebecois director, actor, and filmmaker stands with the likes of Robert Wilson or Peter Sellars at the pinnacle of theatrical invention and global acclaim. Little wonder that, like Wilson and Sellars, Lepage has found opera a logical outlet for his extraordinary capacities and grand, all-encompassing visions. Read more »

Sweet "Dreams"

Best of Broadway stages Shakespeare by way of South Asia
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Words, words, words. You've probably noticed how Shakespeare's plays are full of them. They skip or loll on the tongue; they tickle or bemuse the ear. Sometimes, and not just for the uninitiated or casually acquainted, they come across with more music than meaning. Read more »

Fig-headed

Theatre de la Jeune Lune's audacious Figaro shakes up a classic
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It's 1792 and the Terror reigns in Paris, the euphoric overthrow of the old regime in the name of universal brotherhood having given way to a fiesta of bloodletting and fear. Hiding out from the revolutionary mob, just a stone's throw from the Bastille, a weathered aristocrat, Count Almaviva (Dominique Serrand), and his reluctantly loyal and much put-upon servant Fig (Steven Epp) carp and cavil and niggle at each other, poking old wounds and replaying the past. Read more »