Performance

The Performant: Let ‘em eat cake

|
(2)

While the Performant is off hugging trees in Oregon, please enjoy this series of interviews with the curators of three innovative performance spaces

There’s nothing about the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in North Berkeley that particularly speaks of abstract performance, but that element of the unexpected is possibly what makes it the perfect venue for Karen Penley’s fledgling performance series, Retard. Inhabited by out-of-the-box, outré performers such as Dan Carbone, Edna Barron, Herb Heinz, and Catherine Debon, Retard is a low-key, all-inclusive, no-judgment sort of event where the weird get a chance to shine, and everybody gets to eat cake. After an evening spent nibbling clafoutis and ducking clowns, I caught up with Karen via the magic of the Interwebs to pick her brain about her brave new experimental showcase. Read more »

Oh no they didn't! Hilarious horror stories at Mortified

|
(6)

Why is it that I like myself most when looking back on my years as a college freshman, drunkenly spooning peanut butter into my mouth amid the squalor of my dirty kitchen? Why is it that I appreciate a boyfriend most when I see his elementary school photos and realize he used to look like a well-fed lizard in glasses?

I'm going to wager that it isn't my own affinity for the less-than-socially acceptable and is actually a testament to the fact that humans often love that which is most, well, human. And humanity has the tendency to do some painfully embarrassing stuff.
 
This is the concept that drives Mortified, a collection of short readings and performances of the sometimes brilliant, sometimes artistic, sometimes sad, and always humiliating personal musings its performers created as children and teens. The brainchild of creators and producers Dave Nadelberg and Neil Katcher, Mortified has a constantly changing cast, mainly consisting of adults who have, fortunately, left most of their adolescent angst behind — but still have plenty of stories to tell about it.

Read more »

The Performant: Storming the Bastille

|
(0)

How fortunate for lovers of patriotic display, that just as the last of the illegal Fourth of July fireworks have been shot off, the 14th should roll around, giving us all another excuse to celebrate liberty, equality and fraternity en français. Of course Bastille Day, France’s Fête Nationale, is much less the spectacle in Californi-ay than along the Champs Elysees, but you’ll still find the Francophones of (don’t-call-it) Frisco decked out in their own brand of red-white-and-blue sipping Bordeaux and nibbling on quiche, if not rioting in the streets.

Read more »

The economies of desire

Artistic director Tessa Wills on the wide-ranging, boundary-busting This Is What I Want performance festival

|
(0)

THEATER Since 2010, This Is What I Want has hitched its program to the National Queer Arts Festival to explore the artistic and social ground between intimacy and performance. Privileging the immediate, even confused elaborations of desire over the canny or slickly theorized, TIWIW (produced by THEOFFCENTER in association with SOMArts, the Center for Sex and Culture, and the Queer Cultural Center) challenges adept, professional performance makers to risk forgoing the usual control or cohesion in the hope of finding new avenues for creation and participation.Read more »

No more fast food: Slow Sex Symposium proposes a love beyond capitalism

|
(0)

After a hectic Pride weekend, it’s about time to slow down. A Sat/30 performance-workshop (part of this week's stellar This Is What I Want performance art fest -- read Guardian theater critic Robert Avila's enlightening interview with artistic director Tessa Wills here) should fit the bill nicely. Introducing “Slow Sex Symposia” and its curator, internationally-acclaimed writer and dancer Doran George. George is planning an afternoon exploration into alternative sexual practices, lifestyles, and unique relationships. Slow sex is a term the artist coined to serve as counterpoint to today’s fast-paced, commercialized notions of sex. Last week, George and I spoke about what it was like to work with a blockbuster lineup of artist, “the economics of queer desire,” and a childhood solo of  “Yankee Doodle.” Read more »

'Wanted Man': resurrecting Johnny Cash's San Quentin concert

|
(1)

What did it mean for Johnny Cash to “Walk the Line”? At First Person Singular's one night only (May 28) performance of Wanted Man: Johnny Cash at San Quentin at Berkeley's Ashby Stage, star Josh Pollock argued that we can all relate to the fine line that Cash walked his entire life.
 
He was never jailed for his drinking or drug problems, but as he performed at San Quentin prison — recorded for his now-classic 1969 album At San Quentin, the follow-up to 1968's At Folsom Prison — he is said to have looked out at the inmates and thought how close he had been, so many days and nights, to tipping over a precarious edge. June Carter, God, and his guitar kept him on the right side of the law (rock 'n' roll fun fact: he was arrested, once, for picking flowers).

Read more »

Pre-boarding call: Jorge De Hoyos’s “Departing Things”

|
(0)

In the last few years, Los Angeles–born and San Francisco–based dancer-choreographer Jorge De Hoyos has worked with Sara Shelton Mann and Meg Stuart, traveled with Keith Hennessy’s Turbulence project, performed in Laura Arrington’s supersized SQUART marathon at Headlands Center for the Arts, and much, much more — including projects by Christine Bonansea, Sommer Ulrickson, Erika Chong Shuch Performance Project, Jesse Hewit/Strong Behavior, Pearl Marill/Pump Dance Theater, Naked Empire Bouffon Company, and Jenny McAllister. You may also have been one of the 25 or so lucky souls who traipsed after him in Golden Gate Park when he and Macklin Kowal went about in delirious Euro-drag for Bonjour le matin.

Read more »

"Cat Lady" unites pick-up artists and elastic waistband pants

|
(0)

“Women my age are disappearing. My Facebook friends are no longer my friends, their toddlers are my friends.”

This sulk comes courtesy of a Kristina Wong character: a single, child-free woman in her late 20s, the titular Cat Lady in Wong's show (performed last weekend at ODC Theater). With a glint in her eye, Wong tells the story of adopting Oliver the cat from a cat lady, who emerged from her cat lady-ness by getting married and having children. Wong, in a red blouse dress, kneepads, and white sneakers, maintains that as a solo theater artist her plays are her children, and she is doing important work ending suicide, depression, and racism with theater, the subject matter of these shows.

With a direct and devious style, Wong immediately has the audience in stitches during an opening monologue, in which she rocks a baby doll and fantasizes about the string connecting her to her soul mate that gets shorter and shorter until they are so close. She’s not the only lonely one. Feline costar Oliver, played by the grand Miss Barbie-Q in a black crushed velvet jumpsuit, also aches for affection, having been abandoned by his previous owner. Sequences of Wong chasing a laser pointer light, along with theater improvisation games and dance interludes, keep the talk of loneliness light and surreal, with a fugue here and a quartet of dancing elastic waistband pants there. Read more »