Nirmala Nataraj

SF Station Writer

Nirmala Nataraj's Articles
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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 »
The Legacy of Feminism
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jun 05, 2012)
The question of what it means to be a woman might summon a few immediately stereotypical ideas (bras, lipstick, painful visits to the waxing salon), but at least in this generation, it’s becoming increasingly rare to find femaleness aligned with stalwart pronouncements of power or that dreaded “f” word: feminism. More »
Margaret Jenkins Dance Company
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jun 05, 2012)
It's 7pm in the East Gardens of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The fog is ineluctably rolling in, and the cluster of people all around are wrapping their coats more tightly around their bodies, impatiently awaiting the spectacle promised by a mélange of synthesizers deftly mimicking nature's aural arrangements. Finally, a procession of 15 dancers robed in shades of sand and silver stroll slowly to center stage, taking their positions around individual plots of grass and cement. Vivid tableaux of leisurely movement follow -- ones that vaguely resemble tai chi, yoga, and other ancient salutations to the elements. More »
High and Low Culture
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jun 05, 2012)
There are few artists in the world who have utilized the darkly comical potential of digital and performance art like Austrian-born Erwin Wurm. In his latest exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, "I Love My Time, I Don't Like My Time," a chronological range of Wurm's artistic output adorns the gallery in a zany display of the creative potential of time, mass, and material form. Wurm's exhibit includes experimental performance, photography, video installation, and text. More »
Skateboards, Slang, and Symbols
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jun 05, 2012)
Propounding the DIY ethic and jabbering about street cred are, by now, cliches, but something about the persistent vogue of skating culture makes me feel like a downright luddite. Beautiful Losers, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, is a celebration of skateboard memorabilia and contemporary art inspired by skateboard culture. In the 1990s, a group of American artists barely out of their teens redefined youth subculture by connecting the dots between skateboarding, graffiti, street fashion, and music... More »
Nirmala Nataraj's Articles
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