New Years Eve Guide

Nirmala Nataraj

SF Station Writer

Nirmala Nataraj's Articles
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By Nirmala Nataraj (Sep 23, 2014)
Jane Siberry isn't what you'd call a conventional jazz singer, but just as easily as the greats, she can twirl a note like a spiral of smoke and drawl with buttery smoothness over any given utterance. Alternating between crone-like knowing and fey puerility, Siberry sings about things like: children separated from their mothers, capricious lovers, foreboding mysteries on abandoned farms and poets lost in landscapes of gossamer beauty. She's reminiscent of Kate Bush but more unhurried, more playful and full of wide-eyed possibility. More »
The Breeders play The Fillmore
By Nirmala Nataraj (Sep 23, 2014)
The nine-year delay marking the period between The Breeders' pop-perfect album Last Splash and the drug-induced mishaps that put the band on hiatus should really be no surprise. After a perpetually mobile cast of characters and a few barely sustainable on-again, off-again gigs, The Breeders - fronted by twin sisters Kim and Kelley - are more or less back on the road. More »
Work in Progress: Objects for People -- Snapshots
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jun 03, 2014)
Conceptual Wave artist Haim Steinbach can really be described as a curator or ethnographer more so than a craftsman. But in an era in which appropriation still remains the dominant form of expression, perhaps there's no real distinction between the act of discovery and the act of creation. In the Matrix 217 exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum, "Work in Progress: Objects for People -- Snapshots," Steinbach both meets and upends all Duchampian expectations of his work. More »
Intention to Fail
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jun 03, 2014)
Celebrated film and video artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila is a master at depicting the kinds of oppressive horror and despair that can only be unearthed from domestic matters. Ahtila depicts women who are imbricated in a web of phobias, fears, and dysfunctions. In a series of cinematic episodes entitled Intention to Fail, currently on display through September 5 at the Berkeley Art Museum, Ahtila reimagines conventions of film and video by removing her characters from traditional narrative and exploring insanity through multiple perspectives. More »
A Multicultural, Multilingual Feat
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jul 25, 2013)
The South Asian production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” that is currently enjoying a run at the Curran Theatre seethes with the mischief and irrepressible sensuality that the Bard perhaps originally intended. This gorgeously hybridized, ingeniously rendered production is Shakespeare as you’ve never seen him before -- unloosed of the priggish, perfectly enunciated Queen’s English that tends to preclude any iota of visceral beauty and theatrical velocity. More »
More Body, Less Vagina
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jun 12, 2013)
Five years ago, the word "vagina" kaboomed itself out of stagey whispers and into the very heart of the American milieu. With that, Eve Ensler went from being a theater nobody to a feminist playwright with global clout. Sometimes candid, sometimes tongue in cheek, and always extraordinary, Ensler's [i]Vagina Monologues[/i] had a snowball effect being performed in more than 30 countries and translated into 28 languages. Now, after her infamous musings have accrued a gaggle of vagina aficionados and achieved a critical mass of performers (college drama classes and Hollywood debutantes alike), Ensler has turned her gaze to an area above... More »
A Brilliant Meditation
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jun 12, 2013)
Playwright Jane Anderson’s “The Quality of Life", currently at the American Conservatory Theater, is a brilliant meditation on a morass of issues: love, loss, grief, Red State v. Blue State, spiritual transcendence, and the possibility of shared understanding in times of crisis. Given all the issues that snake through the story with the mathematical complexity of a Moebius strip, Anderson, who also directs, displays tremendous skill in weaving her plot points together with seamless ease and opting for relatable, believable characters rather than a grand metanarrative about the human condition. More »
From Parody to Powerhouse Performance
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jun 12, 2013)
John Ford’s “’Tis Pity She’s a Whore", is one of the most gruesome morality plays in Jacobean literature. With its turgid sensationalism, brusquely candid treatment of incest, and unrelenting presentation of the bilious clash between church and state, there are obvious congruencies with Shakespeare, but this tragedy foregoes Bard-like suggestiveness for categorical bawdiness. More »
If You've Got It, Flaunt It
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jun 12, 2013)
Russian dramatist Nikolai Gogol's short story "The Overcoat" is a cautionary tale of mystical and fantastic proportions, centered on the dreary life of a low-class man. In keeping with the naturalist oeuvre of his literary counterparts, Gogol infused the tale with Dickensian details of the quotidian -- minutiae that served his leitmotif of toilsome monotony and culture-specific oppression. More »
Shockingly Appropriate
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jun 12, 2013)
Shockworthy theatre is somewhat outmoded. Since the ancient Greeks produced high dramas and low comedies chronicling the prurient histories of gods and heroes -- adultery, orgies, and incest have been stock motifs in the [i]mises en scene[/i] of a proper stage. In much the same way, Edward Albee's Tony-Award winning play, "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?: Notes Toward a Definition of Tragedy", takes its cue from the blatantly carnal urges of classical theater. More »
Nirmala Nataraj's Articles
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