The Performant: Games people play


Ask any gamer, or specialist in pedagogy, and they'll say the same thing: games are as important to human development as any the rest of our skill-building activities. There’s evidence of game-playing in almost every culture dating all the way back to ancient Sumeria and Egypt. They also offer an entrance point into other cultures, whether by playing a familiar game like chess and seeing how it translates in an unfamiliar environment, or by learning a game representative of a particular place — Xiangqi (Chinese chess), say, or Ghanaian Oware.
But while some games have been around for literally thousands of years, other games seem to drop off the radar almost as quickly as they appear. What essential component gives games like Go, hide-and-go-seek, poker, Monopoly, and Super Mario Brothers such staying power over some of their, perhaps best forgotten peers? This is a question the game designers of San Francisco’s annual Come Out and Play Festival must ask themselves each year, as they present their latest inventions in the hopes of capturing the imaginations, and just maybe the funds, to bring their games to the public at large.

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The Performant: Let ‘em eat cake


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 »

The Performant: Storming the Bastille


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.

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