Pixel Vision

The Performant: Fringe Dwellers

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It’s hard to believe, but the 32nd annual Edmonton Fringe is already over and touring companies like Naked Empire Bouffon are packing their bags to move on to the next festival, while artists who have finished their runs head for home — whether that’s Australia, the UK, or just North of the High Level Bridge. As at every Fringe, my goal has been to see just as many shows as I can, and in between stage-managing Naked Empire’s run and feverishly making deadlines, I saw 35, which ranged in content and execution from the merely mundane to the inarguably sublime. Here’s a roundup of my personal favorites and companies I recommend watching out for should they make over to San Francisco.

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The robot apocalypse, Mr. Darcy, outlaws, and revolutionaries: new movies!

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Let's Boo-Boo! Edgar Wright's latest bromance-in-genre-clothing, The World's End, opens today, and it's a riot. Elsewhere, there's a rom-com about Jane Austen obsessives, Hollywood's latest supernatural-teen fantasy, and an indie horror flick critic Dennis Harvey calls "a very bloody good ride." (Check out those reviews below).

Longer features this week include my interview with director David Lowery about his neo-Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints, and Harvey's take on artist-couple doc Cutie and the Boxer. Read more »

Sublime nonsense: extended interview with Wet the Hippo's John Gilkey

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Note: this is an extended version of an interview that appears in this week's paper.
 
The sets are gone, and the costumes, and that giant blue-and-yellow tent. Master clown and performance maker John Gilkey has ended his fourth stint with Cirque du Soleil since 1996. But if the wiry, often wild-haired Gilkey and his Muppet-like mug are no strangers to the big time, they move just as ferociously through a bare stage in a small venue wearing not much more than, these days, a bushy beard.
 
It’s been three years since Gilkey last performed in San Francisco — flanked by comedians Alec Jones-Trujillo and Donny Divanian, the deadpan naïfs of his avant-comedy trio, We Are Nudes. Just as the very funny yet vaguely unnerving, off-center style of Nudes occupied some indeterminate territory between sketch comedy and Dadaist destruction, Gilkey’s latest venture — the Los Angeles–based eight-member improvisational ensemble known as Wet the Hippo — takes its audience beyond the usual endpoints of improv.

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The Performant: Surrender to Dorothy

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San Francisco’s invasion of Canada has begun

On my first day in Alberta, Canada I am greeted by gracious Edmontonians bearing platters of smoked meats, a local tradition perhaps, and upon joining my reconnaissance troop, the small but mighty Naked Empire Bouffon Company, who I’m stage-managing for their one-month Fringe Festival tour, we head down to the 32nd Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival headquarters to discover what we can about the territory. The Edmonton Fringe is the second largest in the world after Edinburgh (the original), attracting over a half-million people to the festival site, and hosting over 200 performing companies over the course of 11 days. Mixed in with the vast throng of performers from around the world, a small regiment of infiltrators from the Bay Area have scattered themselves throughout the festival grounds and venues, a quiet invasion of quirky monologists and seasoned storytellers.

And Naked Empire of course, whose confrontational buffooning offers an entirely different definition of Fringe theatre. Read more »

Celebrating food (and the food biz) at La Cocina's Food and Entrepreneurship Conference

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La Cocina — known for its ability to break down cultural barriers through food and for aiding low-income food entrepreneurs in their journey to sustainability — drew many fresh faces to its fourth annual Food and Entrepreneurship Conference Sun/18. The conference wrapped up a busy weekend for the organization, which also hosted the fifth annual San Francisco Street Food Festival Sat/17.

The all-day conference, held at SOMArts Cultural Center, was a mixing bowl of talented women cooks, curious food-business pioneers, new volunteers, and delicious food. Needless to say, the atmosphere was buzzing.

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Never enough hours in the weekend to see all these NEW MOVIES

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Quite a few openings this week, although it seems like 10-plus new movies is becoming the norm these days. (At least there's no big film festival to distract you from the regular ol' cinema at the moment.) In the spirit of efficiency I did a combo-platter review of sci-fi chiller Europa Report; Johnnie To's latest, Drug War; Tenebre, a 1982 Dario Argento giallo that's screening at the Roxie tonight; and doc Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector, which plays the Balboa. Also at length, Dennis Harvey takes a look at Shirley Clarke's freshly restored 1967 doc Portrait of Jason, also screening at the Roxie.

Ain't enough for you? Read on for Kick-Ass 2, Jobs, and more on the week's fresh crop of flicks.

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Final Burning Man ticket sale brings total to 61,000 sold for $23 mil

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With the final official Burning Man ticket sale going off without a hitch yesterday, Bay Area burners are now in mad preparation mode, with DPW setup crews arriving on the playa this week, early art crews heading out next week, and everyone else anxiously awaiting the official start of the annual Nevada desert bacchanal in 27 days.Read more »

VIDEO: Videogame killer robot GLaDOS sings for same-sex marriage proposal at GaymerX convention

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The GaymerX convention in San Francisco's Japantown this past weekend was a historic first, an LGBT video game convention at a time when mega-blockbuster games mainly feature hyper-masculine hetero-heroes, and few representations of homosexuality exist.

But the GaymerX was more than just a milestone for LGBT gamers, it was a milestone for one couple's marriage.Read more »

The Performant: The Stiltwalkers Union

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In an iconic sequence from Winsor McCay’s eccentrically beautiful Little Nemo in Slumberland, Nemo’s bed sprouts elongated legs and strolls through the city as Nemo and his cantankerous friend Flip cling to the bedsheets and try not to fall out. Whenever I see performers on stilts, the exaggerated limbs of that unexpectedly animated furniture are one of the first things that spring to my mind, their death-defying acrobatics furthering the resemblance to an unnerving dream sequence.

Tapping into both the whimsical and the deeply unsettling nature of stiltwalking as art form, San Francisco’s Carpetbag Brigade and Nemcatacoa Teatro from Colombia performed their unique brand of physical theater in tandem over the weekend, along with Tucson, AZ’s VerboBala and Hojarasca Andina from Colombia, as part of their transcontinental “Bi-Cultural Road Show."

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Buuuurrrrp! Comedy Central's "Drunk History" stumbles through San Francisco

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Calling all boozehounds! Tomorrow night, Comedy Central's popular Drunk History series takes on the great, liquid courage-infused city of San Francisco.

Host Derek Waters — a veteran guest of the San Francisco International Film Festival, with this past year's "Inside the Drunken Mind of Derek Waters" and 2010's "A Drunken Evening with Derek Waters" (sense the theme?) — guides this weekly stumble through history, which features sloshed, slurring storytellers narrating re-enactments of great (or not-so-great) moments in time. Read more »