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.
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.”
“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.
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.
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.
THEATER The shows have been as varied and changeable as the weather this January in New York City, where the annual conference of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) acts as catalyst for, by now, no less than four new-work festivals in the realms of theater, dance, and contemporary performance.
Near the beginning of the month, it got cold enough at night to make your nose hairs chime like little Christmas tree bells. "Every time you sneeze," a friend explained to me, "a whole shitload of angels get their wings."Read more »
Stirring together a mix of contemporary theater and actual traditional ceremonies, New Fire (which opened last night and runs through Jan. 29) is a play that gives its audience insight into the beautiful world of Indigenous American culture. Read more »
A year on the city's wilder side, and looking ahead to more fine times
End-of-the-year roundups are all well and good, allowing us the opportunity to celebrate one last time the innovations of the past. But I’ve always preferred to look ahead into the future, so in that spirit here’s a shortlist of some of my fave Performant coverage from 2011 of ongoing and perennial events that you can still look forward to checking out in 2012—and beyond!
Golden Girls, Kung Pao Kosher, Merry Forking Christmas ... the holidays are coming whether you like it or not.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the holidays just keep on coming around. And unless you plan on hibernating the entire month of December away, sooner or later someone is going to force you into an ugly sweater and drag you to some seasonal entertainment designed to fill you with goodwill towards all humankind -- or some such optimistic twaddle. Even so, there’s certainly no reason you have to subject yourself to endless renditions of Tchaikovsky’s famous suite or stale Bing Crosby carols in order to fulfill your holiday spirit quota. Alternatives abound here in Babylon-by-the-Bay, and you’re sure to stumble across a few that speak to your own imitable tastes.