Cynthia Hopkins brings success/failure to YBCA

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"The Success of Failure" photo by Paula Court

A rare flying object has been spotted this weekend at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, namely Cynthia Hopkins, as intergalactic space pilot Ruom Yes Noremac, a post-human “Druoc” in a floppy silver space suit hovering high above the stage of the Novellus Theatre. She’s returning from the far distant future to, what?, “save the earth, of course.”

The Success of Failure (Or, the Failure of Success), making its Bay Area premiere tonight and tomorrow, makes up part three of the wildly inventive Accidental Trilogy developed by New York–based artist-musician Hopkins and company Accinosco. I caught it last night, and while a full review will have to wait until next week, I can say that the sight of her twirling there before a sprawling spacescape projected across an enormous screen — in a comical operetta musing on “the pros and cons of evolution,” above a stage aglow and twinkling with arch sci-fi phantasmagoria, and in an all-pervading atmosphere of nostalgia and regret — seemed indeed to defy a certain gravity through the power of deft spectacle and ethereal song.

The real high-wire act, however, lays ahead, in the second half of the piece, after the conclusion of the wacky and yearning sci-fi bedtime story narrated from a billion years hence by a silvery flashing orb to her smaller, highly inquisitive offspring. Now the stage empties itself of all pretense and everything but the barest of effects, leaving just the 38-year-old artist, Cynthia Hopkins, and her story. Surrounded by a clutter of musical instruments and backed by a hand-drawn star-chart of personal crisis and loss, Hopkins here manages a feat of confessional theater characterized by uncommon, at times unnerving frankness and poise, as we watch the planetary grief and trepidation resolve into a hauntingly brazen concern with saving herself.

This is a close encounter you want to have.

THE SUCCESS OF FAILURE (OR, THE FAILURE OF SUCCESS)
Fri/19-Sat/20, 8 p.m., $25
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Novellus Theater, 700 Howard, SF
(415) 978-2787
www.ybca.org

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