The Performant

The Performant: We want the airwaves

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Aeriel Art Soars at Theatre Artaud and Teatro Zinzanni

Do you dream of the day when you finally learn how to fly? For aerielists, that future is now, and that dream an everyday reality. It’s a career choice not for the faint of heart -- right up there, I’d say, with driving a fire truck or sailing around the world on a catamaran made of plastic bottles. But I imagine the psychic rewards to be tremendous. Life on the edge. Teasing gravity, tempting fate. To soar—perchance to jetstream.

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The Performant: Cheers for fears

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Scoping out "After Dark" at the Exploratorium and a Mark Growden singalong

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.” –H.P. Lovecraft

Bolshephobia is the fear of Bolsheviks. Sesquipedalophobia is the fear of long words, which does rather beg the question, how do people with that particular fear express it without using the eight-syllable word that defines it? At this month’s After Dark event at the Exploratorium, fear was the theme explored, and confronting one’s fears directly, in the spirit of scientific inquiry, strongly encouraged.

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The Performant: Rite of autumn

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It might have been unannounced, but there’s a ritual aspect to all this the Giants-Halloween-Dia de los Muertos mayhem all the same. And like any great autumnal rite, the cathartic frenzy implies a greater narrative -- one last big harvest before the little death of winter, the rebirth of spring. How appropriate to the season then, was the Ragged Wing production “Persephone’s Roots” a site-specific re-imagining of the Persephone myth at Berkeley’s Cordornices Park. Read more »

The Performant: Extreme Theatre Sports at “The Great Game” Marathon

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This weekend, despite the rain, I attended a marathon. Fortunately for my running shoes, it was a marathon of theatre indoors at the Berkeley Rep -- an epic play cycle of 19 vignettes set in Afghanistan, entitled “The Great Game”. Ever been to a theater marathon? Like any test of physical endurance, it’s not for the faint of heart. You have to prepare for it. Hydrate well. Wear comfortable clothing. And above all, pack plenty of snacks.

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The Performant: The accidental tourist

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Intrepid travelers always get a bit of a bee in their bonnet when you mistake them for tourists, but tourism doesn’t have to be a dirty word. All it really means is the act of traveling for recreational purposes and as such, can be applied to even the smallest of pleasurable jaunts. Saturday morning, I went on a tour—replete with guides, maps, wristbands, a short jaunt by MUNI train, and a chaos (as opposed to a gaggle or a horde) of dancers. Yes, it was the 7th annual San Francisco Trolley Dances, and this year’s chosen line was the N-Judah. Read more »

The Performant: The fortress of solitude and "Hamlet" on Alcatraz

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I notice them first on the ferry, two young men in suspenders and ties deep in conversation. One wears a beanie and designer sunglasses. Nothing special. The view of the approaching island etched against the uncharacteristically clear sky is more enticing. But when they burst onto the main deck amidst the passengers, and speak loudly of their journey to Elsinore, it’s clear that the play’s the thing. To be precise, the We Players' experiential performance-thing of "Hamlet" now being staged on Alcatraz.

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The Performant: Dies Arses have it

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Local Arts: Arse Elektronika weekend and arses up at Dodgyfest III

Couldn’t make it out to the “Oscars of computer art” at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria? Me neither, but thanks to Viennese techno-prankster collective monochrom, I could stay in San Francisco and experience a slightly more warped version at the 4th annual Arse Elektronika instead. An exploration of sex, tech, and space -- inner and outer -- Friday evening’s lineup of lectures and presentations turned the Center for Sex and Culture into a grown-up game of show-and-tell.

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The Performant: Singing the Body Eclectic

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Local Arts: “Bodies in Space(s)” and Project Bandaloop float beneath and soar above

Because words so often fail in the realm of the everyday, it’s not surprising that some performers prefer to eschew them altogether, crafting their manifestoes with the indelible inks of pure action. Of course just as the written or spoken word can be misinterpreted, the language of the body can also be misunderstood.

How, for example, to interpret the Mad Maxian figure duct-taped to the pillar in front of Madrone Art Bar with his eyes wrapped shut with cord and a tiny television under his arm (Daniel Blomquist)? Or the spectacle of watching another get wrapped up in strips of calligraphied bandages and papier-mâché (Justin Hoover)? Sure, you could read a florid artist’s statement about the impetus behind such actions, but those often only underscore the inadequacy of words to convey the immediate. Allowing oneself to be simply drawn in should be a surrender more frequently employed when confronted with the emphatically unfamiliar.

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The Performant: Site (-specificity) for sore hearts

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Under the benevolent neon rainbow of Twin Peaks Tavern, a bearded man with a battered trunk strolls up and addresses a group of people seated at café tables in the little plaza tucked beside the F-Market turnaround at Castro and 17’th. It’s the sort of thing that happens a lot in San Francisco, the difference in this case being that the figure is none other than Walt Whitman (robustly channeled by No Nude Men’s Ryan Hayes), and the assembled crowd a diverse group of Fringe Festival patrons,

Castro habitués, and curious bystanders sucked in by the moment. Average of build yet bold of purpose, this is not the “Old Father Graybeard” of Allen Ginsberg’s “A Supermarket in California”—but rather a younger, lustier Whitman, who perambulates easily about the crowd and speaks desire to the bustle of passerby and impatient streetcars.

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The Performant: What, me Fringe?

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Unfortunately for me, I’ll be unable to attend a whole plethora of sure-to-be-intriguing shows this weekend such as Right Brain Performancelab’s "The Elephant in the Room," The 11th Hour Ensemble’s "Alice," and The Offcenter’s “Waiting for Godot." But fortunately for me, it’s because I will be holed-up in the booth of the newest addition to the Exit Theatreplex -- The Studio -- where I’ve been running lights for a whole plethora of shows ranging from confessional monologues to sketch comedy to a whacked-out whodunit set in Super-Duper Mega-Marine Coaster World. Is that a bowl of free pretzels in my hand? It must be Fringe Festival season again in San Francisco.

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