DANCE On the opening night of its eighth year, the three-weekend "Black Choreographers Festival: Here and Now" deserved its name. The quality of the choreography and the confident performances more than confirmed that BCF is a celebration of excellent contemporary African American choreography. Four out of the five works starred as fine world premieres by local artists. They were stylistically about as diverse as you would want, but this was an evening to rejoice. The Feb. 10 audience at Oakland's Laney College more than agreed.Read more »
“City of Lost Souls” at ATA, and “Awkward Dinner Party” at the EXIT Theatre, subverted the Valentine spirit.
Talk about a hot mess. The florid, fluid, City of Lost Souls (1983), Rosa von Praunheim’s seldom-screened, "transgendered ex-pat food-fight sex-circus musical extravaganza" begins with a motley cast of unapologetic misfits sweeping up a trashed-out Berlin burger joint, the “Hamburger Königin” (Burger Queen). Shimmying on the counter, falling out of her lingerie, punk rock’s first transwoman cult darling, Jayne County, belts out “The Burger Queen Blues” while her fellow wage slaves, Loretta (Lorraine Muthke), Gary (Gary Miller), and Joaquin (Joaquin La Habana) gyrate suggestively across the linoleum until the boss-lady, Angie Stardust (as herself), a regal, “old school” transsexual wrapped in an enormous fur coat, curtails their goofy antics with a whistle and megaphone.
In stern German she orders them back to work—preparing for the next round of abusive food fights, which characterize the “service” at her uniquely unappetizing restaurant. A Theatre of the Ridiculous-style foray into the secret lives of gender outlaw ex-pats in flirty, dirty Berlin, “Lost Souls” isn’t your typical romance—but it’s a love story all the same.
The Phenomenauts and Alley Cat Books shoot for the moon.
Trapped in a world they didn’t create, the spacecraft-garage band known to us as The Phenomenauts must surely come from a more evolved time and place, as evidenced by the spiffiness of their natty uniforms -- and the electric jolt of their stage shows. As refinement and heroism (the band motto is “Science and Honor”) are qualities in tragically short supply among your run-of-the-mill rock groups, bands which contain both are bound to stand out, with or without the additions of attention-grabbing technical flourishes such as pinpoint lasers, billows of stage fog, and the custom-built Streamerator 2000, which shoots festive streamers of toilet paper out onto the frenetic crowd. Speaking of frenetic, I love a band that can make San Franciscans dance as if possessed by dervishes with hyperkinesis. For that feat alone, they deserve an intergalactic medal for courage in the face of cosmic indifference.
THEATER It's a rare thing, really too rare, to find an audience eagerly erupting into political discussions between acts of a play. But that's what Little Brother inspires, and in an unaffected way, without pretension or unwelcome goading. It's too cool, confident, and contemporary for that. Read more »
From the dark corner of the stage throbs the low rhythm of a skin-clad, Celtic-style drum and the strum of acoustic guitar, while in the light a man clad in a white dress shirt sways in hypnotic time, eyes shut tight, arms flung wide. “Sleeping, sleeping,” he croons softly, “I’m only sleeping.” Still swaying, he begins to tell the tale from the beginning, about a little baby boy whose “brain is knitting itself in an unusual way.”
You’d be forgiven for thinking in this first moment that the man is speaking of his own infancy, after all, brains don’t come knit much more unusually than that of East Bay-based avant-gardian Dan Carbone. But the infant’s name is not Dan’s, and though his brief and tragic backstory reverberates through much of the rest of the play, the infant soon yields the spotlight to his younger brother, the creator of the piece, “Father Panic,” which made its stage debut at the Garage on Friday.
Showcasing the boldly imaginative and innovative talents of the artisans at the Jim Henson Company, the 1982 fantasy film The Dark Crystal broke new ground when it came to visual special effects and believable creature creations.Read more »
DANCE Randee Paufve's voice is quiet. But once you have heard her speak through her dances, you are unlikely to forget the strength of what she has to say. Her craft is impressive, her topics are many-layered, and the resulting choreography is pared down to its essence. Sometimes, I have even wished for a little more looseness just so I could catch my breath.Read more »
The fact that it's raining makes it an unexpectedly perfect night to attend the San Francisco Tape Music Festival. The water rushing through pipes and sweeping across the rooftop of the ODC Theatre adds an extra layer of ambience to the cacophonic tones emitting from a modest bank of speakers, squatting on the stage like forbidding monoliths. The here-and-now intrusion of the rainfall ties even the most outré compositions of the evening together in an entirely unanticipated manner, from the oldest (dated 1857) to those created this still-young year by members of the current incarnation of the San Francisco Tape Music Collective and sfSound.
The Crucible’s “Machine: A Fire Opera” puts a blowtorch on it
First off let’s just all admit that fire is freaking cool. Or, rather, hot. And fire art? That’s about as hot as it gets. ‘Cause it’s art, see, but it’s also fire, and fire is awesome. Unless it’s busy burning down your apartment, then maybe not so much. But we are talking abut fire art right now, and if it’s fire art you want, then the first place you’re going to want to go is West Oakland’s Crucible, one of the most intriguing arts studios in the Bay Area.