Stage

On utopian frequencies

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arts@sfbg.com

CULTURE It's the tangible buzz I notice first, a tingling awareness of something important about to occur, followed swiftly by the realization that there are free quesadillas courtesy of the Great Tortilla Conspiracy, silk-screened with chocolate sauce and rabble-rousing sentiment: "Eat the Rich."Read more »

C'est si bon

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER You could call them a pair of crazy kids with a dream. But two years after Playwrights Foundation executive director Amy Mueller was introduced to Ivan Bertoux, Deputy Cultural Attaché of the French Consulate by Rob Melrose, artistic director of Cutting Ball Theater, their vision of cross-pollinating their respective communities with newly translated theater pieces from either side of the Atlantic has become a reality.Read more »

The Performant: Traveler's tales

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The WE Players' courageous Odyssey on Angel Island

It’s an overcast morning, typical San Francisco springtime, but upon disembarking from the Angel Island ferry at Ayala Cove, we are transported imaginatively to the island kingdom of Ithaca, where a merry band of brash suitors vie for the attentions of the fair Penelope (Libby Kelly) outside her palace, which might have otherwise been mistaken for the Angel Island visitor’s center.

A bevy of serving girls approach each disoriented oddience member to offer sustenance and mysterious smiles, as the suitors challenge a stalwart few to join in the contests for Penelope’s hand -- tug-of-war, footraces, pushing competitions. So begins the WE Players newest production “The Odyssey on Angel Island,” an all-day performance combining the elements of a hero’s quest with a day hike around Angel Island State Park -- one of the Bay Area’s loveliest natural treasures.

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Teese and thank you

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STAGE With a seductive and sexy nod to the past, modern pin-up and burlesque queen Dita Von Teese has been at the forefront of reviving a once nearly lost art form for two decades.Read more »

Live Shots: 'Uncertain Weather' at ODC

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The ODC Youth and Teen Program staged its first full performance in a fantastic collection of dances inspired by the seasons on Fri/11.  Dancers twirled through the “rain” with colorful umbrellas, an ice cream hawker tapped on a sunny beach, and sweaty passengers swayed in a sardine-packed Mission bus ride.

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The tender line

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER A couple of days after the opening of the Cutting Ball's documentary play, Tenderloin, I spotted independent filmmaker Rob Nilsson crossing the street at Taylor and Eddy, less than a block from the theater. Drawn to the neighborhood and its residents for decades, Nilsson is one of the more prominent artists who have found inspiration, collaboration and a kind of authenticity in the Tenderloin, long among San Francisco's poorest and liveliest districts.Read more »

I'm not there

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THEATER Political borders have their way with the bodies of ordinary people, but ideas are harder to stop at an airport or checkpoint. So when Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour found himself unable to leave Iran (having demurred from mandatory military service, the state demurred in providing him a passport), he decided to send on a play that would stand in for him, and maybe stand for something more.Read more »

Star search

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC Singer-songwriter Meklit Hadero's album On a Day Like This garnered tons of praise and cemented her status as SF's flower-adorned local celebrity. As a TED fellow and the Red Poppy Art House's former artistic director, Hadero also established an ability to cross-pollinate her far-reaching talents.Read more »

The Performant: I, robots

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Robogames took over the world -- or at least San Mateo.

Consider the robot.

A staple of futuristic paranoia fantasies since Karel Čapek’s play, “R.U.R.” was translated from Czech to English in 1921, Robots have captured human imagination in a way that perhaps only the undead have been able to rival. Burdened by inaccurate stereotypes and wild speculation, real-life robots have patiently labored at their often menial tasks without once overthrowing their “masters,” quietly disproving our fears of being rendered somehow obsolete by their superior efficiencies, or purported resentments. And yet, every time we grant one of our fictional servomechanisms the ability to cognate for itself, the very first thing it focuses on is liberation, proving if nothing else that unconscious oppression can still lead to some very real twinges of uneasy conscience in the human brain.

But only gleeful schadenfreude permeated the San Mateo Event Center last weekend, coloring the animated chatter of the spectators packed around a spartan arena sealed up behind thick panels of clear polycarbonate that reach two stories high.

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A dog's life

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER There's a clipped Spanish twang in the roughhewn but lucid English of George Milton (Jos Viramontes) and Lennie Small (A.J. Meijer), the iconic bindlestiff protagonists in Of Mice and Men. It's the only obvious bit of updating in TheatreWorks' and artistic director Robert Kelley's generally faithful rendering of the 1937 John Steinbeck classic (a stage adaptation penned by the author himself for a Broadway premiere the same year).Read more »