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Lolita Roadtrip at San Jose Stage

Warning: this play might make you wish your conversation was wittier and your brain was bigger. You may also vow to pick up Lolita again and actually read it this time.

San Francisco playwright Trevor Allen is a master of blending disparate stories into a seamless whole that sticks with you, possibly because the pieces are still falling into place days later. (There was a lot of "Oh, wait, NOW I get it" at breakfast the next morning.) Julia is a Nabokov scholar who comes packed with neuroses and dark secrets. She picks up the hitchhiking young hustler Danny and together they retrace Nabokov's 1941 journey from New York to Stanford.

Avenue Q at the Orpheum

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.

Clybourne Park at ACT

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.

Local Performance Groups Combine Forces with Gush

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.

The Success of Failure

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.

JumpstART: A Free Day of Dance, Theater, and Performance at ODC Theater

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.

Art Goes Live on Market Street

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.

Scapin: Bill Irwin Barrels Through Moliere at ACT

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.

Race Relations in Black and White: 'Trouble in Mind' at the Aurora Theatre

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.

Written during the Civil Rights movement, this play-within-a-play follows a cast of black and white actors mounting a script about anti-lynching (by a white dude, naturally) on Broadway, a premise which opens the proverbial stage door to all manner of cultural side-stepping and socially mandated diffidence. Early in the play, an older black actor advises a younger one to “Laugh, laugh at everything they say.” Where “they” are white people in general, and white theater people in particular.

Etiquette Comes Alive at Yerba Buena

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. 

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