“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.
The art of storytelling took a hit the day Johannes Gutenberg began fucking around with moveable type (on or around Tuesday, 1450), but stoking a good story by firelight or halogen lamp hangs on as a cultural desideratum in places like Ireland or San Francisco. Arline Klatte and Beth Lisick figured that out a long time ago, of course, with their Porchlight series (nine years running and going strong). But "Previously Secret Information" has lately proved there is plenty more storytelling worth accommodating in this chatty town.
Produced by stalwart stand-up comic Joe Klocek and impresarios Bruce Pachtman and Ty Mckenzie, "PSI" slants toward the comic and happens on the odd Sunday at Stage Werx Theatre — including this Sun/11, oddly enough. The new installment features well-known pop music critic Joel Selvin, with consummate insider dish about Bill Graham back in the day; the Dursts (political satirist Will and partner in comedy Debi), recounting an understandably bizarre White House wedding they attended (I’m guessing probably not in the Bush years); and Sammy Obeid, a former UC Berkeley honor roll student turned stand-up comic (it must have been one of those funny majors), relating the story of how a teetotaler gets a DUI.
It was 1986, the year of Top Gun, Dallas, "Hands Across America," and "Papa Don't Preach." In San Francisco, a comedy troupe called Fratelli Bologna joined forces with Seattle Theatresports' Rebecca Stockley, and the rest was history. Bay Area Theatresports, now known as BATS Improv, marks its 25th anniversary this year with a special show Sat/12 — a one-off celebration smack-dab in the company's already-packed calendar of weekly shows. How does an arts organization stay so energetic after 25 years? Could a certain flair for improv have something to do with it? I spoke with BATS artistic director Kasey Klemm to get the scoop.
San Francisco Bay Guardian: What's your history with the company?
Kasey Klemm: I started taking classes at BATS when I was 17, back in 1997. I've been with the organization ever since. I just became artistic director in April of this year. I'm just at the beginning of my three-year term.