Stage

Conflicted dictator

'The Madness of the Elephant' uses music and dance to chart Guinea's political history

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DANCE "Next door," you are told in the packed Senegalese restaurant in the heart of the Mission. "Back there," you hear, as a hand points in a very dark, very empty bar you enter through an unmarked door. What's "back there"? It's a large space, perhaps formerly used for storage, lit by blinking Christmas tree lights and two blinding spots. You wonder what a former African dictator would have thought about a celebration of his life being created in such circumstances. Read more »

The Performant: Our selves

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The body does not lie -- Anne Sexton

So often in the arts it seems like we spend an inordinate amount of time focused on how art engages our minds as opposed to our bodies, as if body were a mere vessel whose primary function was to shelter and nourish the brain. In fairness, this is how we treat our bodies in a non-artistic settings too, at best a cumbersome weight which anchors us to the physical world, at worst, a burden we long someday to be free of. Read more »

The Performant: Playing in the Sandbox

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SF Playhouse’s Sandbox Series puts play back into playwriting

It’s getting harder each year to determine when exactly the “off-season” is in terms of things to do in the City, considering that this past, random weekend in February alone saw collisions of three major festivals -- SF Sketchfest, SF Indie Fest, and SF Beer Week -- on top of all the usual openings and closings and goings on. In fact, it’s been so hectic (albeit muy divertido) that the Performant is going to break protocol and look ahead to an event lingering just on the horizon, to ensure it doesn’t get lost in the onslaught of events to come.

Founded in 2010, SF Playhouse’s Sandbox Series is a play series (beginning Feb. 27) that inhabits a region somewhere between staged reading and full production -- offering new plays a full run and technical support, without breaking the bank on design and promotion.

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Missing person

'Se Llama Cristina' offers a sentimental story beneath a gritty exterior

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER A filthy, forlorn world emerges in surreal half-light at the outset of Magic Theater's premiere of Se Llama Cristina, the new play by celebrated San Francisco–based playwright Octavio Solis. But almost as quickly, its initially intriguing outlines begin to look artificial, becoming the bloated lines of caricature more than a poetical evocation of real life, as the sentiment at the heart of this sometimes forceful but finally thin and frustrating play steadily takes over.Read more »

Cosmo club: Scenes from the 'Sex in the City' takeover at Rebel

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"I've never been to a drag show," said my friend Cailey last week. "WHAT?!" I shouted.

She had to be kidding me. Attending a drag show belongs in the top 10 things everyone has to do when they move to SF. I got on it and found the next available performance we could get our butts to, which just happened to be the twice-weekly Heklina, Lady Bear, Trixxie Carr, and D'Arcy Drollinger show of Sex and the City.Read more »

Festival of festivals

Some highlights from New York's APAP-pourri

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER The chill air had no snow in it. Instead, a particularly nasty outbreak of influenza whipped through the city, leaving a fine coating of mucus on the ground. Still, New York City looked beautiful as the various performing arts festivals that cluster around the annual meeting of APAP (the Association of Performing Arts Presenters) all revved up for a fat two weeks of shows this January.Read more »

Harmon's way

Dan Harmon charts his own course through the comedy universe

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER Dan Harmon, performing at this year's SF Sketchfest, is on the phone, talking about therapy. He's explaining his belief that a person can find a mental illness for anything they can name, with some fetishistic examples. "There are people out there who like to be walked on," the creator and former show runner of NBC's Community says. "There's people who like to eat human fecal matter. There's people who want to have sex with kites."Read more »

All kinds of work and one play

SF Sketchfest's yearly gamut of comedy formats includes a remounting of 1998's off-off-color hit, 'SEX a.k.a. Wieners and Boobs'

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The Performant: Manic pixies

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'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' and 'The Witch House' roil with fantastickal energies

It was only a matter of time before the familiar genre of the comic book movie migrated to the stage. But don’t expect any muscle-bound jocks in colorful spandex roaming the aisles of A.C.T.’s intimate mid-Market venue, The Costume Shop. Not only is the titular “Manic Pixie Dream Girl,” of their current production not a superhero with mutant powers bestowed upon her by a quirk of DNA or gamma rays, but in a twist, the comic book involved actually originates from the play -- not the other way around.

The play centers mainly around a youthfully shiftless, struggling painter Tallman (Joshua Roberts), whose dire straits and afternoon drinking habits lead to a chance encounter with one of cinematic fiction’s most enduring tropes, the Nathan Rabin-dubbed MPDG Lilly (Lyndsy Kail), a woman who “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventure.”

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The Performant: Books and beats

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Starting the New Year off right with Clown Foolery and Los Rakas

It’s a Friday night and the Booksmith is full of clowns. Seriously, it’s like a clown convention in here. Fully half the oddience are off-duty clowns, and the rest of us just kind of look like we should be. We’ve gathered together for the monthly clown jam/variety show Literary Clown Foolery, the first of the year, appropriately themed New Year’s Resolutions.

True, the free beer and cheese puffs at the door seem to run slightly counter to the kinds of resolutions that get a lot of attention around this time of year. But they are the perfect accompaniment to loosening up any natural inhibitions one might otherwise feel when seated within spitting distance of a whole passel of unpredictable clowns, so no one’s complaining.

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