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Muslim Culture Unveiled at Brava Theater Center

One of the top subjects labeled “Misunderstood by Americans” is Muslim culture. Even less understood is the role of women in that culture. Using the voices of five Muslim women in the western world post-9/11, playwright Rohina Malik peels away the layers of contention in her one-woman show going up at Brava this month.  

Stage Werx Theatre's "All Atheists Are Muslim" A Compelling Look at Cultural Divides in Danville, CA

Zahra is moving in with a man. Something that would be perfectly acceptable to her Muslim parents, as long as he isn’t white, an atheist, or her boyfriend. When they learn he’s all of these things, consequences bombard Zahra with all the subtlety of irate heat-seeking missiles. 

Why We Have a Body at The Magic

Claire Chafee explores metaphors of sexual and genetic identity in her surreal comedy about a complex family of women. Lili is a lesbian P.I. who makes her living stalking men who stash their wedding rings in their wallets and hit the bars. Her sister Mary is a drifter who channels Joan of Arc while robbing convenience stores. Their mother, the indefatigable Eleanor, is an anthropologist who claims the lesbian brain is divided into three sections - memory, lust, and hammering doubt. 

Impact Theatre's Of Dice and Men

Impact Theatre brings Dungeons and Dragons to life - however, there will be fewer dragons and more incisive commentary about adulthood and the adults who play Dungeons and Dragons. It's also possible that the only basement present will be the one you're sitting in. (Impact's theater is under a pizza parlor.) 

'Exit, Pursued by a Bear' at Boxcar Playhouse

Nan Carter’s husband is a jerk. One who probably deserves a far more vehement descriptor than the one used for the Corolla driver who cut you off yesterday. Inspired by a single stage direction in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, Nan upends her life - and possibly saves it - by giving her abusive husband a crash course in Being a Decent Human. A sharp, funny revenge tale by award-winning playwright Lauren Gunderson, Exit, Pursued by a Bear boasts an audacious heroine, a house cat in peril, and plot twists that will make you want to stand up and cheer for both heroine and cat. 

Matrimonial Strife in Candida

Since George Bernard Shaw is one of the playwriting greats - and the only person ever awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature and an Oscar - you have to assume that his cocktail conversation would either veer toward fascinating or insufferable. Since we have no way of knowing for sure (he's been dead awhile, making a chat over brandy unlikely), check out Candida instead, getting the Cal Shakes treatment this month. 

The Final Scene at Thick House

Sonoma playwright Gene Abravaya spent four years working on the set of As The World Turns, one of the most famous soap operas of all time. Which means he knows whereof he speaks in the comically supercharged melodrama of his new play The Final Scene

Well-preserved soap maven Gretchen Manning is about to become the sacrificial lamb to improve ratings on The Promising Dawn, the show she’s starred in for eighteen years. But, as one might expect, she doesn’t want to relinquish her role.

Let Me Down Easy at Berkeley Rep

Written and acted by the incomparable Anna Deavere Smith, Let Me Down Easy is an exquisite show about the human body - the feats it can endure and the ways it breaks down. 

If you’re prone to inhaling episodes of The West Wing, you probably recognize Smith, but she’s also a big darn theater deal. An unparalleled performer, Obie award-winner, and finalist for the Pulitzer, Smith trained locally, receiving her MFA at American Conservatory Theatre and working with Berkeley Rep in the early days. 

The Nature Line at Sleepwalker's Theater

Haunted by the apocalypse since his early twenties, playwright JC Lee's poetic visions of the end of the world as we know it form the landscape for his three-play cycle, now in its final installment at Sleepwalker’s Theater. "If this is what post-apocalyptic life looks like, I don’t think I’ll mind so much when everything goes to hell," says theater critic Chad Jones. 

In The Nature Line, Aya is on the hunt for her lost children, a journey that carries her past pavement reclaimed by forest and vine-choked vending machines until she reaches the wall at the edge of the world. Fond of using whimsy to make sense of chaos, Lee's characters are forced to create their own safety in luminous inner worlds, even as they try to save what's left. 

Peaches En Regalia: From Frank Zappa to Local Theater

Named after a track on Frank Zappa’s 1969 Hot Rats album, Peaches en Regalia was the brainchild of Berkeley playwright Steve Lyons, who began writing the comedy because he wanted to see actors boogey on stage to his favorite childhood song. After he attached a one-act to his lightning bolt of theatrical inspiration, it was performed in San Francisco, New York, LA, London, and Edinburgh. 

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