Robert Avila

Independence/Movement: extended interview with Oakland's SALTA dance collective

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Note: this is an extended version of an article in this week's Guardian.

The crowd outside the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library in Oakland was hopping. Fidgeting, really. Almost imperceptibly at first, while above it a bulging moon hung in the temperate June sky, just itching to go super as it would the following night. But soon enough bodies were bouncing and flailing, until finally the scrum of dancers packed shoulder-to-front-to-back on the sidewalk morphed their collective way through the front door.

We followed the dancers (choreographed by Abby Crain) inside, swept along by their momentum, and were deposited around the perimeter of the main reading room like dust mice by a strong breeze. On that same floor, a few hours later, choreographer Ronja Ver would be sending her supine audience into dreamland with a couple of Finnish lullabies. Before that, a bowl of liquid nitrogen would send a delicate fog creeping over its wooden surface as the spectators (temporarily wrapped in reflective emergency blankets) braced themselves for a performance by Daniel Stadulis that was part science experiment, part detailed meditation on the fragility of the body.

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What's hot in Siberia

'Hamlet, 'Hey, Slavs!' and other high points along the trail of a Russian theater excursion

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER Emerald green rooftops and gold domes enliven the skyline of Omsk, a provincial city and former Soviet industrial hub of roughly one million people, located at the intersection of two Siberian rivers: the wide, island-populated Irtysh and the smaller, swifter Om. The latter gave its name to the town, which grew from a fort established at the meeting point of the rivers in 1716, back when this was the disputed frontier of the expanding Russian empire.Read more »

Power plays

Theatre Rhinoceros presents the Bay Area premiere of Caryl Churchill's 'Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?'

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Addressing the unspeakable

'Pageantry' highlights the reality between the lines

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arts@sfbg.com

DANCE Liz Tenuto and Justin Morrison — two dancer-choreographers who've made up for their limited time in the Bay Area by being highly, polymorphously productive — share a bill at CounterPULSE this weekend. Tenuto will show a work for three dancers in two parts, the first of which premiered at ODC Theater last December under the title The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn (featuring the trio of Esmeralda Kundanis-Grow, Elizabeth McSurdy, and Rebecca Siegel). Morrison performs in the debut of his new solo work, entitled Weapon.Read more »

Tour of duty

Black Watch shows, tells about young men drawn to war

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Take it all off

Brava Theater introduces banned Pakistani political satire 'Burqavaganza' to an American audience

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River phoenix

Campo Santo resurrects its own in Richard Montoya's 'The River'

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Class act

Thomas Bradshaw's 'The Bereaved' sends-up the breakdown of the American middle-class

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Words, words, words permeate a couple of unconventional theater options this weekend

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The scattered letters piled on the floor are alternately a lover, a tormentor, a terrible reminder, a set of mysterious directives, and a bed for restless dreaming for Ophelia — or rather, one of her three incarnations — as French company Carte Blanche presents its roaming, site-specific riff on Shakespeare’s sad heroine, with inspiration drawn from Arthur Rimbaud’s famous elegy.
 
But despite all those missives from a certain gloomy prince, the piece makes much use of silence too, as the audience mills around the Firehouse at Fort Mason Center, watching the agitated actions of three young heroines in various rooms before being led outside for a journey to other environs.

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Good grief

Julie Marie Myatt recasts 1970s nostalgia for our own bleak times in 'The Happy Ones'

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER "Oh, this stupid war. I don't know who to blame anymore, do you?"

So asks aging American divorcée Mary-Ellen (Marcia Pizzo), in 1975 Southern California, of Vietnamese war refugee Bao (Jomar Tagatac), who has lost his entire family back home. It's a fraught question that, maybe fittingly, receives no answer. But it's made all the more complicated and troubling in the Magic Theatre production of Julie Marie Myatt's 2009 comedy-drama, The Happy Ones.Read more »