Stage

The territory of The Forest War

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Three years ago playwright-director Mark Jackson and the Shotgun Players teamed up to present The Death of Meyerhold, Jackson's devilishly imaginative and ambitious distillation of the revolutionary life, work, and world of Russian theater innovator Vsevolod Meyerhold. Read more »

Deep water, hard rock

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In a house overlooking the San Francisco Bay, a young painter named Amy (Dena Martinez) hosts a seeming vagabond, Palo (Johnny Moreno), through one long grief-filled night. She's in numb, guilt-stricken mourning for her husband, a purportedly shallow man who, out of his emotional depth, stepped off his sailboat, into the ocean. Palo, for his part, is convinced he knows Amy as Lila, the woman he once loved, abused, and has been searching for up the long coast from Mexico. Read more »

THE BOURNE IDENTITY

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Well, Tim Burton it isn't. Since Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands is inspired by Burton's delightful but dark 1990 film, a comparison seems fair enough. Right off the top, Bourne's dance musical has neither the gentleness nor the creepy underbelly of the filmed adaptation of Caroline Thompson's gothic story. It's coarser, more cartoonish, and fits too smoothly into the conventions of the Broadway musical.
And yet there is a lot to be said for what Bourne has done. Most important, he has made the parable his own. He tells his version of the old story clearly and with a light touch. Read more »

Plays of the year

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You may not have noticed, but an unprecedented theatrical experiment was launched nationwide last week. Its San Francisco segment unfolded the night of Nov. Read more »

One nation under dog

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In Suzan-Lori Parks's The America Play, the setting is a vast dirt hole — what the piece calls "an exact replica of the Great Hole of History." You could say it's still the operative landscape in her 2002 Pulitzer Prize–winning play, Topdog/Underdog, which also takes as a central motif The America Play's image of a black man dressed as an arcade Abraham Lincoln (there for patrons to shoot in a continual reenactment of the assassination in Ford's Theatre). Read more »

Static shock

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REVIEW When it premiered in New York two years ago, Sam Shepard's latest play was timed to influence the outcome of the presidential election — an enticingly bold agenda. Of course, if you want to influence elections, as everybody understands by now, you need to be more than bold. You need to be Diebold. And anyway, what politician worries about what's on an Off-Broadway stage? As political theater goes, Hugo Chávez calling George W. Read more »

Deconstructing Destruction

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"The shattering of paradise" is how Kali Yuga director Ellen Sebastian Chang refers to the 2002 bombing in Bali in which 202 people from 22 nations died. A series of attacks in 2005 killed 23 more. A world indeed had crashed, not only for the Balinese people but for the music and dance lovers who have made pilgrimages to that magical isle where art is integrated into the texture of daily life.
Gamelan Sekar Jaya was particularly hard-hit. With both Balinese and American members, the El Cerrito–based music and dance group has had an ongoing, close relationship with Balinese culture. Read more »

40-year-old teens

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American Conservatory Theater, the Magic Theatre, and Marin Theatre Company all turn 40 this year. Accordingly, these three regionally and nationally preeminent Bay Area companies are rolling out ambitious celebratory seasons. Read more »

Weather channeling

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Dancer-choreographer David Dorfman is a poet of the ordinary. He digs below the commonplace and lets us see what's underneath. Early in his career, with Out of Season, he paired football players with highly trained dancers. Ten years ago he invited his ensemble's family members to join in performances of Familiar Movements. Both pieces revealed fresh ideas about dance, community, and beauty. Read more »

Fringe on top

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There's a crisp fall edge to the heady pee-asma of the Tenderloin as huddled, roaming packs of theater scavengers move hourly among the tolerant local traffic — two unmistakable signs of the SF Fringe Festival. Read more »