The Performant: Child’s play

Kristy Keefer's revamped Nutcracker says hey! to updated gender roles

The Mission gets a lot of ink these days for being a nexus of youthful, responsibility-free hipsterdom -- but despite the skinny jeans and thick mustaches, the neighborhood still retains a surprisingly family-friendly vibe. For one, it's still rife with community arts spaces, so it's a good place for kids to get involved creatively: from Loco Bloco percussion classes, to brass band and capoeira courses at the Mission Cultural Center and Precita Eyes' lessons in mural installation.

Thanks in large part to the winter holidays, December is a great time to explore the youth arts scene as next wave performers strengthen their stage chops and strut their stuff and this last weekend played host to some of the best and brightest of these stage openings.

First up: the Community Music Center held their annual La Posarela at the Victoria Theatre. The production was a combination of Mexico's traditional December plays, the posadas and pastorelas, which are both Catholic theatrical rites meant to re-enact the story of the birth of the baby Jesus. CMC's starred members of its various classes and groups, including its children’s chorus, Latin vocal workshop, Coro del Pueblo, and Mission District young musicians programs.

In the flower of their youthitude: Revolutionary Nutcracker Sweetie plays Brava

Other youth openings included the Marsh Youth Theatre's relaunch of its now-perennial Siddhartha: The Bright Path and Krissy Keefer’s revamped Revolutionary Nutcracker Sweetie, which took the stage at the Brava Theater Center and was adapted for Dance Brigade’s various youth dance programs: beginning ballet was represented, as was hip-hop, belly dance, and taiko drumming.

A note on this last show: there’s something strangely inspiring about watching a group of determined girls wallop the heck out of a sturdy row of giant drums, fight off the annoying machinations of a pack of devious rats, overcome racial innuendo and classism, and dress up as jellyfish all in one production -- and though pop culture references abounded throughout the production (party guests included Lady Gaga and the Jersey Shore kids), the delicate snowflake core of The Nutcracker did not melt under their onslaught. 

Like Waters for (hot) chocolate: the infamous film knave plays a holiday show at the Roxie. Photo by David Magnusson

But of course the Mission would not be the Mission if there weren't holiday treats for big kids too, and John Waters’ appearance at the Roxie Theatre's 101st anniversary fundraiser was definitely one of those. After waxing rhapsodic about the possibility of receiving sticks and stones curated by artists such as Richard Serra, pulp fiction bookstore KAYO Books, and Alvin and the Chipmunks, he moved on to sharing his holiday wishlist of big ideas. This included opening a movie theater with gay and straight water fountains just to watch the fur fly, hosting an abortion film festival, going on a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” USO Tour with Beth Ditto, Pee Wee Herman, and Iggy Pop, and having a nervous breakdown onstage.

As it was, no-one had a nervous breakdown at all -- but here's hoping at the very least Waters’ less comedic desire to see the Roxie thrive for another 101 years will be fulfilled.

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