Robert Avila

Goldies 2014 Lifetime Achievement: Sara Shelton Mann

An iconoclast who has performed to great acclaim and inspired others for decades

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GOLDIES In 1979, Sara Shelton Mann — the farm girl from the wilds of Tennessee who ended up studying with such greats as Alwin Nikolais, Erick Hawkins, and Merce Cunningham — moved to San Francisco. Earthquake country. And did she ever shake up the place. With Contraband, the collective of performers she directed until 1996, she reconfigured what the dancing body can be. Their aim, she has said, was to "make bold live theater with an aggressive, lyric physicality."Read more »

Goldies 2014 Performance: SALTA

Unique performance group driven by collaboration and a creative sense of place

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GOLDIES Creating a space for experimental contemporary dance and performance in Oakland, outside of the usual channels and roadblock$, has been an instigating, galvanizing mission for SALTA. The collective — a sharp and motivated group of seven women, all Oakland-based choreographers and dancers under 30 — has made a scene, built an audience, developed a network, enlarged an ethic, and opened up horizons in a beleaguered arts ecosystem.

They also know how to party.Read more »

A feast for the nonsenses

Cutting Ball Theater's Ubu Roi frolics in kitchen sink surrealism

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi is probably better known for its riotous Parisian opening (back in 1896) than for the play itself. The profanity it leveled against the city's crème de la crème, beginning with its famous opening incantation, "Merdre!" — not exactly a word but dirty-sounding enough to precipitate a violent revolt long before the final curtain — broke open the doors of the WC on so-called polite society. As it turned out, no one was really keen or able to close them again.Read more »

Expose yourself to art

Deborah Cullinan and Marc Bamuthi Joseph talk creative ecosystems and Young Jean Lee's 'Untitled Feminist Show'

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In light and shadow

Spiritual redemption and hard truths mingle in the West Coast premiere of 'Poro Oyna'

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER Last week's performance of the shadow play Poro Oyna: The Myth of the Aynu, at Fort Mason's Southside Theater, began with a blessing in disguise.Read more »

Art-ic blast

Dispatches from live performance in frigid New York

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER New York early last week was as cold as Muazzez. True, I've never been to Muazzez, but a reputable source called that asteroid "so cold it is a frozen bull roar," which sounds about right.

"They lied to me about the reality of things here on Muazzez," began said source, a nondescript speaker seated at a bare wood desk. "About the foundations of these, their basis, their fundament, the profound bottom of things."

There's a glass of water on the desk, some loose paper.Read more »

Hole Lotta Love: Saturday night at SOMArts!

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A pit under the floor becomes a wellspring for 100 performances over six hours at SOMArts this Saturday night
 
There’s a hole under the gallery floor at SOMArts. And art abhors a vacuum.

This century-old sand casting pit rests under a trap door, a leftover of the 17,000-square-foot venue’s industrial past. But this weekend the hatch is lifted and the hole becomes a generative site of time-based art making. Six hours will see more than 150 local artists delivering two-minute performances “for the hole” in a mini-marathon like no other.

Read more »

One of us

Emotional monstrosities animate 'Edward Gant's Amazing Feats of Loneliness'

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER Take away their unconventional looks and odd talents, and the eponymous carnival performers of Freaks — Tod Browning's classic carnie horror movie — were not so unusual. Ordinary folks, for the most part, with ordinary problems and everyday virtues. The title secretly pointed to the monstrous souls of their "normal-looking" but heartless colleagues, corrupt to the point of betrayal and murder.Read more »

Bravo!

THE YEAR IN THEATER: Highlights from 2013, on and off the boards

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arts@sfbg.com

YEAR IN THEATER Before the holiday season crushes us in its tinsel-glinted maw and poops us out into 2014, it's time to cast a backward glance and ponder 2013's best moments in theater and performance.

Most satisfyingly enigmatic flights Getting lost can be a good thing. It can concentrate the attention, heighten the senses, activate the imagination, leave room for reflection — and leave something to talk about afterward. This is as true for a visit to the theater as it is for a walk around town.Read more »

Band practice

Reading by moonlight with Nicole Kidman Is Fucking Gorgeous

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER We meet above the waterfall in Yerba Buena Gardens. It's cold, getting dark. Everyone seems relieved to get inside the YBCA theater next door. We'll talk here for the next hour, standing around a worktable with a gold lamé circle spread over it, before the band heads downstairs to a windowless rehearsal space in the deep well of the building.Read more »