For its opening weekend, the fifth Black Choreographers Festival: Here and Now relocated to Laney College in Oakland, once a focal point for local dance in the 1990s. The suggestion that Laney's lovely theater the best in the East Bay might once again become available to outside dance presenters is wonderful to contemplate.
With six works, three of them world premieres, producers Laura Elaine Ellis and Kendra Kimbrough Barnes hit the spot on opening night. Read more »
PREVIEW Walk the streets of San Francisco and look at the map of California, and you'll notice so many roads and towns with Spanish names that you'll be struck by the fact that we often take their presence for granted. Little wonder, since the Spanish, Mexicans, and other Latinos have played a major part in the Bay Area longer than many other demographic groups. Likewise Hispanic writers, painters, musicians, and dramatists have slowly but surely become part of our cultural ecology. Read more »
REVIEW Amid worsening violence between their respective Sunni and Shia communities, even old friends Adnan (Bobak Cyrus Bakhtiari) and Laith (Amir Sharafeh) are prone to argue along sectarian lines. But these squabbles are more than offset by a dire mutual predicament: as Iraqi translators working for the U.S. occupation in Baghdad, Adnan and Laith live as persons "in between," precariously balanced between glib and suspicion-prone American employer and outraged fellow citizen alike. Read more »
PREVIEW What lengths will you go to for your art? If you're a castrato it's probably a sore point. For Mexico's internationally renowned experimental theater company, Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes (Certain Inhabitants Theatre), it's the beginning of a lush and lively investigation into the complexities and contradictions of cultural power and refinement. Read more »
PREVIEW Leslie Seiters entered college as a visual artist and left it as a choreographer. Or at least that's what her MFA diploma from Ohio State University says. Seiters prefers to call herself a director. "I am allergic to 'choreography,'<0x2009>" she says from her home in San Diego. "When something looks 'choreographed,' it turns me off."
Seiters, who lived and worked in the Bay Area between 2002 and 2007, has nothing against the craft of choreography, of course. In fact, her own works are exquisitely crafted. Read more »
REVIEW In the late 1990s, Mary Alice Fry, artistic director of the now defunct Venue 9, found a hole. She has been filling them ever since.
The January performance calendars at her theater and many other local small venues, she noticed, were empty. At the same time her curatorial experience had shown that women artists still had a harder time getting noticed than their male counterparts. Read more »
REVIEW So I used to live, for a couple of years, around the corner from the Atlas Café in the Mission District. You may know the place. It's nice. I probably went there more than I should have. I certainly don't want to think how much money I sank there. The beetloaf sandwich is excellent. The point is, one day I saw Peter Sinn Nachtrieb there. He's the local playwright with the budding national reputation ever since his very sharp and funny Hunter Gatherers took off a couple of years ago. Very nice guy, too. Read more »
PREVIEW Last year's audacious staged reading of the complete Tom Stoppard trilogy The Coast of Utopia saw the Shotgun Players expanding their already broad horizons to encompass a rarely performed heavyweight piece exploring the roots of Russian radicalism. Read more »
PREVIEW One of the most exciting and unusual theatrical events of 2008 came from a small San Franciscospawned, now Brooklyn-based company: the curiously named Banana Bag and Bodice. It almost sounds unexpected, but in fact BBB, which retains close ties to the Bay Area, has been doing shrewd, highly imaginative, often startlingly designed songplays their preferred term with practically no budget for about a decade. Read more »
REVIEW Standup comic W. Kamau Bell has reopened his frank, funny, and genuinely thoughtful one-man show at SF Playhouse, and it's worth catching if you haven't yet (I took in a recent performance at the Climate).
Subtitled "Ending Racism in About an Hour," Bell's reflections on the recent election and Proposition 8, among other race-inflected personal and political matters still closer to home, are topical, to say the least, and run considerably deeper than the usual one-liners or simplistic oppositions of much race-based comedy. Read more »