Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble
Brainchild of celebrated cellist Yo Yo Ma, the Silk Road Ensemble was inspired by the winding trail connecting the East and the West back when a plodding cart was your only access to other cultures. (Provided you were willing to sit behind a mule for hundreds of miles.) Cultural crossover is a lot more convenient these days, and listening to Yo Yo Ma and his cadre of renowned musicians play a global repertoire is a lot more fun than flicking twigs at the ears of a poor, maligned mule.
April 7. Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave. Tickets are $45-125 at (415) 392-2545.
If you like the cello - especially when it has nothing to do with composers who’ve been dead for 300 years - check out Cello Madness Congress. Reconvening this weekend for the first time in two years, this roving tribe of experimental musicians hits Eth-Noh-Tec theater to play their funky brand of classical hip hop. Think vocal percussion twisted with a sound that jumps from stately to ethereal to circus fanfare.
Ten million people have already seen Quidam, so if your show schedule requires hipster street cred, you're about twenty-five years late. Cirque du Soleil hasn't been underground since it performed on the streets of Quebec in 1984. But if people flying through the air in various death-defying ways trump any big name disdain you may harbor, prepare to be amazed.
Like neglected small fries everywhere, young Zoe concocts an imaginary world to escape boredom and distant parents. But instead of purple unicorns or vampires in body glitter (or whatever standard 12-year-old fare happens to be this year), Zoe’s imaginary world features daredevil acrobats, suspiciously boneless contortionists, and catharsis for the soul.
Suspended from the ceiling by hoops and glorified silk scarves, the gravity-mocking aerial artists are impressive and rather scary, even as you realize they're probably really good at not falling. Also featured is the award-winning banquine act (an Italian acrobatic tradition from the Middle Ages) with agile acrobats flipping as one and forming human pyramids. Trapeze, Chinese yo-yos, German wheel, and even jump ropes make an appearance, all set to live music.
Lady Grey is a theatrical snake charmer, mesmerizing the audience with deftly woven tales of lost love, how people hide from each other, and the trauma that can be inflicted by elementary school show-and-tell. Alternating between confiding in and cursing the audience, Lady Grey jumps lightly through mysterious/revealing narratives. Lady Grey (in ever lower light) is one of Will Eno’s three short plays making their local premiere at Cutting Ball.
Intermission is a super meta mirror, where the audience watches another audience as they wait for the second act to begin. Mr. Theatre Comes Home Different lives out the seven ages of man, with references that span theatrical history from Shakespeare to Stoppard.
After turning people away at the door, Impact Theatre extends its sold-out run of Romeo and Juliet through Saturday. If you want to see stellar indie theater where wolfing down pizza and beer during the show is allowed, even encouraged (try doing that at the Curran), head to Berkeley to see young romance turn into a bloodbath.
Experimental Playwright Young Jean Lee's 'Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven' Comes to Thick House
Playwright Young Jean Lee's scathing wordplay has earned her a cult following in the downtown New York arts scene, but none of her plays have been produced here - until Crowded Fire and Asian American Theater Company got their collective mitts on Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven. Now Lee's oft-praised ode to race relations - complete with dancing and violent pummeling - is set to leach the life blood from the tender, seeping hearts of local liberals.
If Quentin Tarantino sent four Korean women on a whacked-out odyssey designed to make the audience choke and squirm, it might look something like Songs of the Dragons. But when it comes to eviscerating conventional stereotypes with perverse humor and a delightfully stubborn refusal to sugarcoat, Lee is in her own class.
Paul Taylor was one of the legendary tribunal that invented modern dance as we know it. (He's also the only one still alive, much less kicking out choreography.) Creator of some of the most innovative dance over the past half century, Paul Taylor’s avant garde sensibility sent confused audiences racing for the theater doors in the 1950s. Luckily for both his ego and modern dance, he's since been lauded around the world for his powerful ability to set the best and worst of humanity to movement. Shifting from sunny to disturbing to motion for the sheer joy of it, Paul Taylor’s visionary pieces reflect the world through his lucid and often humorous eye.
If you’re under 35, lived in the Bay Area, and your parents were culturally inclined, you probably grew up watching ODC dancers spring across the stage. (Yes, I'm talking about me here. Hello, Velveteen Rabbit.) One of the most highly respected dance institutions around, ODC is known for intricate choreography, impressive athleticism, and a knack for portraying the full range of human emotion. And now the company is turning 40.
Purim is a long and glorious tradition. Celebrated with drinking. Lots and lots of drinking. Also, berating the prunes and poppy seeds that inexplicably crop up in otherwise edible cookies. Award-winning comedy group Killing My Lobster tackles this Jewish holiday of joy and hangovers in The Whole Megillah.
Among the deftly ridiculous scenarios: a music video expressing the festering hatred certain members of the Jewish faith feel toward hamantaschen (the aforementioned prune cookies), Apple’s latest contribution to technology and hipster credit card debt (called the iJew), and a retelling of The Book of Esther - if Esther and her cohorts had a propensity for dressing in drag.
We all ponder our mortality at some point, whether as a precociously grim child or while staring into the abyss of an unwise ski slope or when our jowls sag toward our knees in a cruel gravitational conspiracy. But few of us are as entertaining as master performer Geoff Hoyle when we do.
Trained by Marcel Marceau’s teacher in Paris, Hoyle’s comic physicality has been legendary in the Bay Area since his days with the Pickle Family Circus. He’s performed in Paris, London, Berlin, England, and on Broadway as the original Zazu in The Lion King.
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