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Shockingly Appropriate
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jun 30, 2005)
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 mises en scene 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
Restoring Novelty to the Prequel
By Nirmala Nataraj (May 27, 2005)
Face it -- most prequels are, by definition, passé. Case in point: the glossy histrionics of the "Star Wars " "episodes," which are surprisingly tedious in comparison to their technologically impaired predecessors. Wrestling with a tried and true formula is a risky venture, and most of the folks who do so usually end up regurgitating pallid, albeit beefed-up versions of the original rather than stuff that makes us stir in our seats with interest. Not so with director Jeffrey Hartgraves' production of "StarCrossed", a clever piece penned by award-winning playwright Sharyn Shipley. More
Bridging Cultures and Genres
By Nirmala Nataraj (May 19, 2005)
Despite the surfeit of festivals in San Francisco, rarely do we see events that culminate in cross-disciplinary celebrations of disparate art forms like music, dance, film, and theatre. The 2005 San Francisco International Arts Festival, which runs May 18-June 5, invites artists from around the world to cross-pollinate their genres in collaborative projects that push audiences' understanding of culture, humanity, and artistic excellence. With a dizzying array of exhibits, performances, workshops, panels, and lectures, the International Arts Festival covers impressive ground, distilling provocative themes in a panoply of art forms. More
The Creating of a Modern Day Prophet
By John Blagtas (Apr 22, 2005)
What first stirred my curiosity about the musical, was my love for <i>The Beatles'</i> music. That why probably 75% of the people were there. Our mutual love for the songs. More
Knowledge Through Movement
By Nirmala Nataraj (Apr 22, 2005)
It figures that the most intriguing destination in the Caribbean is the only one that you can’t easily plan a visit to. Cuba, the land of the rumba, aromatic cigars, and Afro-mythic folklore, has long held the fascination of foreigners eager for a taste of Caribbean splendor, particularly since we’ve been indoctrinated with the idea of its being forbidden fruit. But despite the archetypal visions of vintage cars and Communist propaganda, few people truly realize the impact Cuba has made on the international community, particularly with respect to its vibrant tradition of dance throughout the centuries. More
TAGs, Twinkies, and Cultural Baggage
By Clifton Lemon (Apr 1, 2005)
The characters in "F.O.P., Fresh Off the Plane", a new play by local playwright, director and producer Sean Lim, now being presented at the Magic Theater in Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, make us ask ourselves where we're from (really), as they struggle to come up with their own answers to this question. "F.O.P." is a provocative, tight, funny, and well-paced play in two acts that exposes the internal conflicts inherent in being Asian American today. More
A Hurried, Flimsy Affair
By Reyhan Harmanci (Mar 25, 2005)
"Evita", first staged in 1980 and currently at the Curran Theater, did not age well. The orchestral swells sound like synthesizers; the breathless songs about glamour and stardom must have resonated a lot more when Madonna was actually living as a material girl, not eight years after she played "Evita" in the movie version. The flimsy staging, with a screen showing black and white stills hanging over the performers, as if reminding the audience that the actors bear an extremely superficial resemblance to the historical figures, doesn't add any weight to the affair. More
For A New Asian American Outlook, Head Under The Rainbow
By Roseanne Pereira (Mar 3, 2005)
"Under the Rainbow" written and directed by the renowned Philip Kan Gotanda hits us from multiple angles. Presented by the Asian American Theater Company, the two one-act plays take typical racial identity issues and reframe them in interesting and novel ways. More
Ragged Wing Ensemble Soars
By Emma Cott (Feb 4, 2005)
The aptly named Eighth Street Studios in Berkeley is a performance venue that has none of the frills of a theater; the warehouses of West Berkeley are no theater district. The entrance to the space, a cargo loading dock, opens into a lobby with the yawning emptiness of a high school gymnasium. As I paid the set designer at the folding table for my ticket to see Jean Claude Van Itallie's 'The Serpent', I felt more like I was attending a 9th-grade dance than a professional performance. More
Not Necessarily with the Quintessential Happy Ending, But Done with Heart
By Reyhan Harmanci (Jan 20, 2005)
As anyone who has seen or read "Angels in America" can tell you, Tony Kushner doesn't shy away from ugly juxtapositions, elaborate set pieces, loose ends, intersecting story lines, parallel story lines, biting humor, and moments of shattering revelation, voiced by people who speak the overwrought dialogue so effective on stage. Kushner composes complicated plays and has no problem giving the audience unhappy endings. More
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