Theater

The Performant: Sometimes a great notion

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TAP Light Production’s “The Ballad of Michele Myers” goes for the jugular

The genre of the spoof slasher storyline is one always ripe for mining come Halloween season, and this year in the absence of The Primitive Screwheads annual offering, Raya Light and Todd Pickering stepped up to fill the void with their collaborative “The Ballad of Michele Myers.” A cheeky blend of high camp and low blows mixed into a frothy, bloody cocktail of makeovers and machetes, “Ballad” satiates that unique craving for slutty Nancy Reagan costumes, updated Aretha Franklin covers, and buckets of stage blood. Plus it gives trans-folk a misunderstood serial killer to call their very own. You’ve come a long way, baby!

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Dog eat dog

Times change (but maybe not so much) in beautifully staged, Pulitzer-winning 'Topdog/Underdog'

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Michele Myers is coming ... to slay (slightly NSFW!)

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Our favorite pretty psychopath, Michele Myers, is back and cruising the bushes (for blood) as she brings a her hilarious horror musical to SF, Oct. 19-31. It's a mashup of Halloween and other horror flick faves -- plus "The Facts of Life"! What the hell could be scarier than that? Don't go into the closet, Tootie! Here's Michele in action -- and we've also fgot the official trailer for the show below. Hi-scarious.

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Gimme shelter

Negotiating crisis and 'Turbulence' at Portland, Ore.'s TBA Festival

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER The word "challenging" gets thrown around a lot in the art world. Everyone wants to be considered challenging. So much so, it starts to sound like a byword for its opposite. A plea to "like" on Facebook. That sort of thing. In truth, few pieces of theater, dance, or performance actually live up to the meaning of this over-used phrase by unsettling basic assumptions about our relation to the work itself and its social and institutional contexts.Read more »

Politics, love, and photography: ‘Time Stands Still’ in Mountain View

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Some people need to take photos to snap their chaotic perspective into focus. This is the theme of the 2009 Tony-nominated play Time Stands Still, which just enjoyed a successful run (ending Sept. 16) at TheaterWorks in Mountain View. I saw both the TheatreWorks version and the play on Broadway, and as a comparison, I found that this production kept the set and acting to high standards.

Two journalists, a couple, return from Iraq after documenting the affects of the American occupation. The woman photojournalist, Sarah Goodwin, was badly injured from a roadside bomb while on the job. This occurred when her partner, James Dodd, had already returned to New York City after witnessing an incident of especially traumatizing civilian deaths.

Although the play shows us the aftermath of their time documenting civilian casualties, their trauma is tangible. The play sparks many philosophical debates as you watch the couples personal lives, as they struggle to regain steadier footing back on home soil.

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Insider/Outsider art: Paul Festa's 'Tie It Into My Hand' at ODC Fri/21-Sat/22

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In a way, his first film, the experimental documentary Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006), did for Paul Festa what years of classical musical training and fiction writing never yet had: it put him squarely before the eyes and ears of the world as a serious artist. Ironically, he'd never trained as a filmmaker. He was following a musical muse, to be sure, but down an unfamiliar path.

Asking how we listen — why we listen — to music, Apparition gathered an eclectic assortment of interview-subjects (friends, drag queens, his Juilliard mentor Albert Fuller, even his old college prof, renowned critic-scholar Harold Bloom), had them strap on headphones, and then describe their reactions to Olivier Messiaen's Apparition de l'église éternelle, the composer's unrelentingly intense 1932 piece for organ. It was a simple notion that produced complex, and completely absorbing, results.

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Life boat

Sheila Callaghan and foolsFURY set an existential course over shallow waters in 'Port Out, Starboard Home'

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THEATER "No one is stupid on a cruise."

Now that's a line that puts the dumb in wisdom, which is the point. For no one can be stupid where everyone is by definition stupid. And that, in turn, might become the basis for a transformation of some kind.Read more »

The Performant: Further

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You’re either on the bus, or you're off the bus at Popcorn Anti-Theater’s Fringe Festival revival

As lovers of art, adventure, and reckless shenanigans might recall, the monthly Popcorn Anti-Theater bus shows last rolled about eight years ago, and while plenty of other groups have used buses as vehicles to drive a performance since, none have managed it with the same regularity and broadness of scope.

The aggressively anything-goes vibe of Popcorn events of yore combined theatrics, live music, dance, poetry, gibberish, urban exploration, and plenty of oddience participation into a series of unpredictable occurrences. Since the shows were pulled together by different collaborators each month, it wasn’t always necessarily “good” art (a specious qualifier at best), but it was almost always good fun, so when I hear that Popcorn is making a rare appearance at the San Francisco Fringe Festival, I immediately resolve to check it out.

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More than ink

Mission gangs and tattoos are the stuff of a dynamic experiment in theater activism, as Paul S. Flores' Placas moves from page to stage

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER In 2009, Paul S. Flores was at work on his new play, Placas: The Most Dangerous Tattoo, in consultation with Alex Sanchez, founder of Homies Unidos, when a call came from Denver that brought everything to a standstill.Read more »

The Performant: A late summer night’s dream

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All Ashland’s a stage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

It’s 100 degrees in Ashland, Oregon, which makes the prospect of sitting in an air-conditioned theater an appealing one, even if it weren’t at the justifiably renowned Oregon Shakespe are Festival. An Ashland institution since 1935, the OSF has grown from a humble weekend-long affair to a nine-month-long theatrical juggernaut, and although it's mid-week in August, all three venues are packed with festival-goers.Read more »