Theater

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 »

Earthquake relief, one year later: "Shinsai: Theaters for Japan"

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On March 11, 2011, hot on the heels (so to speak) of a devastating 9.0 earthquake and resultant tsunami, the world’s largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl made Fukushima, Japan a household name. And just like previous mega-disasters such as the Sumatran tsunami of 2004, and the 2010 quake in Haiti, Japan’s unexpected and devastating crisis drew attention and support from across the globe.

One year later, with an estimated 300,000 people still homeless from the combined natural and unnatural disasters that shook the Fukushima prefecture, it appears that the crisis is far from being over. Inspired by an impromptu fundraising effort spearheaded by New York-based, Japanese-born actor James Yaegashi, a unique memorial will take place Sun/11 in theaters across the United States.

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The Performant: Rep flow

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Boxcar Theatre gets hardcore with Sam Shepard

Every year it feels like it’ll be impossible for the ever-inventive Boxcar Theatre company to top their last season, and somehow each year they pull it off. After launching an ultra-ambitious repertory program of four Sam Shepard plays, to be performed in two separate locations over the course of the next two-and-a-half months, artistic director Nick A. Olivero -- who isn’t just producing the festival, but also directing “Fool For Love,” and co-starring in “True West” -- still made time for an internet interview about “Sam Shep in Rep.”

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The Performant: Strangelove

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“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.

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The Performant: Strangers in a strange land

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Dan Carbone and Kitka resculpt old terrain

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. 

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Too much in the son

A theater director wrestles history and Hamlet in Ghost Light, and this time it's personal

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The Performant: World on fire

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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.

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