If Sesame Street grew up, went to college, worried about paying rent, and knew how to access online porn, it would look a lot like Avenue Q. Monsters, puppets, and people share a disintegrating apartment building in Manhattan, as well as a charming tendency to burst into harmonious song about racism and whose life sucks the most.
Labeled an irreverent smash hit when it opened on Broadway in 2003, Avenue Q probably feels more subversive to tourists from Omaha than anyone living in the Bay Area.
San Franciscans know how controversial real estate can be. Especially when you toss race relations into the bidding process. Transmuting the events of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun into a fresh new tale, Clybourne Park starts in 1959 when a white couple sells their home to a black family. Fifty years later, the same house is being sold by a black family in what is now a predominantly black neighborhood. Humans are cyclical creatures, and the hilarious and squirm-inducing debate seems alarmingly familiar half a century later.
Last year I discovered choreographer Joe Goode for the first time. His company's performance of Traveling Light rocked my world. Heavy, humorous, and deep with meaning, his works offer food for thought as his dancers play perfectly off one another onstage. This month, he's back with a new project featuring two local performance groups: Ledoh and AXIS Dance Company.
Sporting a pig snout and coke bottle Dr. Magoo glasses, theater artist Cynthia Hopkins plays the accordion and sings poignantly about loss and mortality on micro- and macrocosmic levels. An intergalactic space epic marked by immersive videoscapes, song, and text, The Success of Failure blends silver spacesuit-clad sci-fi and the random happenstance of the universe (if the dinosaurs hadn't been wiped out, we would be breathing through gills right now) with the deeply personal - addiction, the loss of her mother, and her dying father.
How's this for a cool gig? ODC is throwing a housewarming party to celebrate its brand-spanking-new community performance space in the Mission. But unlike most housewarmings, you'll be the one getting the gift.
Haven't yet had the chance to witness Joe Goode's masterful choreography? Always been dying to see a skit by Killing My Lobster? Secretly want to get in on the madness of a Youth Speaks poetry slam? Curious about playwright/director Mark Jackson's work and Lily Kharrazi's world music? This Saturday is your chance to tap into the arts for free.
Starting today, you may notice some unusual activity occurring on Market Street. Don't mistake it for the usual cast of crazies known for loitering and creating ruckus of all sorts on the sidewalk. These people aren't homeless and begging for money, but rather make up a troupe of characters telling the story of eight prominent African Americans who lived and worked near Market Street during the mid-19th century.
Loose of limb and baggy of pants, Bill Irwin charges through Scapin, hitting on a young woman (by admiring her trunk), stuffing his cruel master in a sack, and disguising himself as a red suited ACT patron and crawling through box seats to elude said master's heavy hand with the walking stick of doom.
In the days of constantly streaming Twitter and Facebook, it’s amazing anything stays relevant for a month, much less decades. But Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress - the first African-American woman to win an Obie award - remains an insightful exploration of racial inequality, even half a century later.
The world is your stage, or so the saying goes. Starting today, this cliche can become your reality with London-based experimental theater company Rotozaza. A performance piece for two, Etiquette can be played out between strangers or friends across a table at Samovar Tea Lounge in Yerba Buena Gardens. Turning the idea of audience participation on its head, Silvia Mercuriali and Anthony Hampton—the masterminds behind this offbeat experience—provide headphones which dictate instructions to layman-come-actor.
Christian Cagigal is a dark little conjurer with a thoughtful view on evil and an experiential one-man show threaded with gothic whimsy. “It won’t be the feel-good show of the year,” he says. But if you let down your defenses, Cagigal promises to give you magic.
He’s also hatching good-natured plots to steal your soul, so be sure to keep that shit close. (I stuffed mine in an empty wine glass and shoved it under the seat. Seemed to work.)