Stage

London diary

Cruising to the end of story, and Forced Entertainment's 'The Coming Storm'
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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER Tom Cruise, clad in military drag, descended last week by RAF helicopter into Trafalgar Square in what is best described as forced entertainment but was in fact a time-wasting scene from his upcoming blockbuster All You Need Is Kill. Not quite simultaneously but with considerably more stealth, I advanced into South London's Battersea area, in a completely uncoordinated foray, to see the latest from famed Sheffield-based pomo theater artists Forced Entertainment.Read more »

The Performant: Strindberg sans helium

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A singular marathon

Preparing for a marathon of theatre is similar to preparing for any other kind. Of paramount importance: lots of rest, good hydration, comfortable layers.

This year’s test of my theatre-going tenacity, clocking in at 11.5 hours, came courtesy of the ever-ambitious Cutting Ball Theater, who, with translator Paul Walsh, have been preparing for this event for years: the production of a five-play cycle of August Strindberg’s “chamber plays,” written in the last years of his life. After a year-long series of staged readings, and creation of an archival website, the Strindberg cycle debuted in repertory on October 12, including four all-day marathons of the entire cycle of which I attended the first (the last will play this Sunday, November 18). 

Here's the play-by-play:

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GOLDIES 2012: PianoFight

A multi-faceted, multi-armed organization of sketch comedy, original drama, new play festivals, and comedy-horror-ballet about ducks

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GOLDIES A PianoFight show can be almost as striking for its audience as for what the company puts onstage, even if few audiences will upstage a machine that blows ducks out of people's butts, per Duck Lake. PianoFight crowds are conspicuously not your typical theatergoers — they're closer to the boisterous women in office attire I noticed at the now-defunct Off-Market Theater, PianoFight's old haunt, who had smuggled in a bottle of Chardonnay and were picnicking in a back row like it was Baker Beach. Read more »

GOLDIES 2012: Joe Landini and the Garage

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GOLDIES Choreographer, impresario, and arts advocate Joe Landini likes to say yes. "It's my philosophy to start that way," the founder and artistic director of the Garage — San Francisco's most hoppin' performance venue — explains. "If you say no to something, the conversation is closed. There is nowhere to go."Read more »

GOLDIES 2012: Mica Sigourney

Drag-rooted performance works that question the egotism of the artist and the role of the audience

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GOLDIES Regular appearances are not Mica Sigourney's thing. True, most Friday nights you'll find alt-persona VivvyAnne ForeverMORE! at the Stud hosting Some Thing, the boisterously resourceful drag cavalcade (formerly Tiara Sensation) started two years ago with drag mother Glamamore and dj down-E. Even there, though, you couldn't call VivvyAnne's appearance regular: one night it's ersatz Dior, another it's lipstick, hobo beard, and a jock strap.Read more »

GOLDIES 2012: Anna Ishida

A a chameleon-like quality and versatile vocals that make her so compelling to watch on stage.

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GOLDIES One of the very first things you'll notice about Anna Ishida, onstage and off, is an aura of self-possession that simultaneously grounds her and yet sets her ever-so-subtly apart in a crowd. But she also has a chameleon-like quality, a way of blending seamlessly into her surroundings, whether it's a 49-seat black box theater on Natoma Street, or the hip buzz of Farley's East in Oakland, where we meet over coffee and sandwiches.Read more »

The Performant: Paris is learning

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Adventures in 'pataphysics

Well, pschitt! Although Alfred Jarry -- schoolboy playwright, raconteur, and progenitor of 'pataphysics, “the science of imaginary solutions” -- died 105 years ago of decidedly prosaic malady tuberculosis, his outré influence lives on. Adopted and championed by generations of outsider artists, avant-garde writers, and revolutionary thinkers, the self-styled “Pere Ubu” gave artistic anarchy a nexus during his lifetime, an iconic figurehead after.

Last weekend, the four-day Carnivàle Pataphysique, part commemoration and part investigation, gave amateur pataphysicians, situationists, and conceptual artists a free zone to mingle, to expound, and to congeal, over lectures, concerts, puppet shows, and other unique performative opportunities in and around the practically imaginary stronghold of “North Beach,” a land where strip clubs and surrealists collide.

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The Performant: Sometimes a great notion

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TAP Light Production’s “The Ballad of Michele Myers” goes for the jugular

The genre of the spoof slasher storyline is one always ripe for mining come Halloween season, and this year in the absence of The Primitive Screwheads annual offering, Raya Light and Todd Pickering stepped up to fill the void with their collaborative “The Ballad of Michele Myers.” A cheeky blend of high camp and low blows mixed into a frothy, bloody cocktail of makeovers and machetes, “Ballad” satiates that unique craving for slutty Nancy Reagan costumes, updated Aretha Franklin covers, and buckets of stage blood. Plus it gives trans-folk a misunderstood serial killer to call their very own. You’ve come a long way, baby!

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The Performant: Surrealistic mellow

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Doing the Lobster Quadrille at The Mad Hatter’s Ball

A singular bit of whimsy, Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland may be one of the only childhood fantasias to be embraced equally by linguists, logicians, and users of psychedelic drugs. The setting of an unlikely hero’s quest undertaken by a pedantically logic-bound child, Wonderland’s curiously ordered chaos seems designed specifically to undermine any rote adherence to convention, even to those of storytelling.

In fact, one of the defining qualities of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass is that exactly none of the characters, including the protagonist, are particularly sympathetic, and Wonderland itself, unlike Oz, say, doesn’t have a lot to recommend it as a vacation spot save the prevalence of the aforementioned psychedelics. But as a cultural touchstone, Wonderland has proven to have some serious staying power, and continues to baffle and inspire children and adults who remember what it is to be a child, alike.

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Keep digging

Muscle memory takes center stage at flawed 'Spaceholder Festival'

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arts@sfbg.com

DANCE Once you have learned to ride a bike or tie your shoes, your body will recall the movements and their sequential logic for the rest of your life. It's called muscle memory and dancers are fantastic at it.Read more »