Theater

A queerness in Harlem, finely revived

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Visual alchemy, fabulous feminist story-telling, and something deemed “hyper-literate busking” abound at 2012’s Queer Rebels of the Harlem Renaissance fesitval, three nights of art and performance (Thu/28-Sat/30) by 21 LGBTQ African Americans.

Part of the 15th National Queer Arts Festival, Queer Rebels of the Harlem Renaissance continues the legacy of the droves of artists, performers, and activists who questioned stale societal standards in a myriad ways during the heyday of the New York City neighborhood's 1920s and 30s creative blossoming: from sensual lyrics of Bessie Smith to the pointed poetics of Langston Hughes, the artists of the Harlem Renaissance continue to testify to the assertion that social causes are rarely separate and constantly progressing.

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Female trouble

In Berkeley, 'Salomania' and 'Emotional Creature' take on the war on women

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER We've come a long way, baby, but why does it feel like women's equality is a legal concept that still troubles the status quo? This past year has proven that the erosion of women's rights remains a powerful political agenda across the country, with state bans on certain forms of abortion, the redefinition of rape, and the blocking of the Paycheck Fairness Act.Read more »

Compassion and fervor in Berkeley Rep’s 'Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men'

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"I want them to look at me, to look me in the eyes," states Dael Orlandersmith, using a British accent to portray one of at least ten different characters she plays in her tour de force solo show Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men, at Berkeley Rep through June 23.
 
After 90 minutes, the audience was definitely squirming in its seats. Orlandersmith tackles a barrage of characters, each of whom related in some degree to the subjects of mental, physical, and sexual abuse of boys and men. But despite the challenging material, I do not think many viewers would have wanted the play to be any shorter. ("There was hope in it," I heard an audience member say as we walked out of the theater.)

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'Wanted Man': resurrecting Johnny Cash's San Quentin concert

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What did it mean for Johnny Cash to “Walk the Line”? At First Person Singular's one night only (May 28) performance of Wanted Man: Johnny Cash at San Quentin at Berkeley's Ashby Stage, star Josh Pollock argued that we can all relate to the fine line that Cash walked his entire life.
 
He was never jailed for his drinking or drug problems, but as he performed at San Quentin prison — recorded for his now-classic 1969 album At San Quentin, the follow-up to 1968's At Folsom Prison — he is said to have looked out at the inmates and thought how close he had been, so many days and nights, to tipping over a precarious edge. June Carter, God, and his guitar kept him on the right side of the law (rock 'n' roll fun fact: he was arrested, once, for picking flowers).

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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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I'm not there

Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour marks his Bay Area debut — by proxy — in White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at SFIAF

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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 »

The Performant: It's so magic

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Terry Allen’s Ghost Ship Rodez and Christian Cagigal’s “The Collection” put a spell on it.

It sounds like a bit of a cliché, but there really is magic in a performance piece in which all of the disparate elements get pulled together just so, and suddenly the show becomes much greater than the mere sum of its parts. Crackling with an electric energy, a show infused with that elusive jolt provokes an integrated intellectual and emotional response that pervades the body entire, and lingers long after the lights come up. But it’s a fickle friend, this magic, and attempting to corral it too earnestly is the surest way to have it slip completely away, like sand pouring through determinedly clenched fingers.

Such a fate befell Terry and Jo Harvey Allen’s “Ghost Ship Rodez” at Z-Space over the weekend.

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Lost at sea

Could a world-class arts festival save the foundering America's Cup?

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cheryl@sfbg.com

AMERICA'S CUP Clear your mind, if you can, of brawls over San Francisco piers and other obscenely expensive parcels of waterfront real estate. Focus solely on the inevitability of the 34th annual America's Cup.Read more »

Get 'Wilde': Al Pacino's new doc receives red carpet opening at Castro

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All my amigo Morlock E. wants to know is where Frank Chu is, since Frank Chu is still a fairly good indicator of being at the most happening event of the evening -- or at any rate the one with the most television cameras. But instead of Frank, all we see is a crush of autograph seekers pressed against the velvet rope separating them from the red carpet unfurled outside the Castro Theatre. They’re not here to see Frank Chu, and in truth, neither are we. We’re here to get a photo of Al Pacino and maybe touch the hem of his cloak, at the US premiere of his latest project, a documentary entitled Wilde Salome.

Since it’s not every day San Francisco gets to play host to a big premiere, the Wed/21 turnout is robust, convivial. Also a fundraiser for the GLBT Historical Society -- there are some quite dapper dandies in attendance, an element one feels certain Wilde would have approved of. But one gets the impression that the autograph-hounds are less enamored with the Wildean aspect of the event rather than the chance to shake the hand of Scarface, but Wilde, with his penchant for “rough trade” might well have approved of that too.

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Live Shots: Women's History Month office intrigue with 3 Girls Theatre

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In celebration of Women's History Month, 3 Girls Theatre is staging a lunar cycle chockful of girl power greatness. Read more »