Experimental work is given free reign at Cutting Ball's theater festival - making it a major creative luxury in a world where artistry doesn't always outrank minor considerations like budget. Or the understandable desire for ticket sales, when the known often outsells the unknown. Cutting Ball's annual festival offers artists a chance to test boundaries and audiences a chance to participate in the creative process. Here are the highlights of the five staged readings in this year's festival:
Drama as therapy, stylish theatrical fluff, sincere expression of love for our fair city—all are playwright-proclaimed possibilities here. A world premiere about San Francisco, The Edenites tells the stories of over-sexed trust fund babies, sci-fi geeks, bisexual socialites, famous writers, exes and new parents, and the world’s smartest roommate—stories that may sound alarmingly like your real life. (Depending on how many gay man dramas and debutantes your real life contains.)
Impact knows black comedy. So does local playwright Steve Yockey. Thus, a marriage is made in dark humor heaven.
Yockey is gaining some serious traction in the Bay Area and his fourth world premiere is currently playing at Impact. Disassembly tells the tale of Evan, an accident-prone man who beats his previous record of disturbing injuries by getting himself stabbed in the shoulder. As he heals, his apartment is invaded by his sister, his fiancee, a bitter neighbor with a troubling assortment of stuffed cats, and an influx of random visitors. Desdemona Chiang directs the convergence of treacherous secrets as Evan’s apartment becomes a hotbed of lies and disaster and, apparently, a whole mess of plush felines.
Who doesn't love the crazy blue dudes who jump around onstage and spray paint everywhere? The Smurf-hued bald men return to San Francisco this month to beat drums and walls and anything else that might conceivably produce a rhythm as they barrel through a high-energy show with no speech but plenty of music and physical comedy.
Bask in the presence of Hugh Jackman - also known as Wolverine, People’s Sexiest Man Alive, and award winning...everything. Who wouldn’t want to loll respectfully in the presence of all that? Especially as he’s serenading you with a voice that kills on Broadway - though many of us would be perfectly happy to listen to him read aloud from the phone book.
Possibly best known for his role in X-Men, Jackman has also starred opposite Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrmann’s epic Australia and Rachel Weisz in The Fountain. He was served up as the object of somewhat irrational hatred on Scrubs and of gay man adoration on Will and Grace.
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.
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.