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Lily Janiak 

Culture, Stage The Art of Undermining Your Friends

The Art of Undermining Your Friends

The menace in Idris Goodwin's Blackademics, a West Coast premiere by Crowded Fire Theater, begins even before the play starts. Mikiko Uesugi's set design is a slate- and medium-wood-colored box that's eerily empty but for an assortment of wooden cutting…
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Culture, Stage XX-Rated Theater: Philippines-Set Hedda Gabler Required Female Perspective

XX-Rated Theater: Philippines-Set Hedda Gabler Required Female Perspective

Bay Area theater suffers from gender disparity at every level of the game: whose scripts get produced and which kinds of stories get told, which actors get union contracts, who gets promoted to leadership positions — and who gets to…
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Culture, Stage Challenge Accepted: Bay Area Theaters Take Big Risks That Pay Off.

Challenge Accepted: Bay Area Theaters Take Big Risks That Pay Off.

American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco's flagship theater company, isn't exactly known as a purveyor of risky new plays. When it's not doing its annual A Christmas Carol or socially retrograde duds like Napoli!, it's producing myths and Brits. The company's…
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Culture, Stage All in the Family: An Unusually Close-Knit Group of Performers Takes on one of the Great Greek Classics

All in the Family: An Unusually Close-Knit Group of Performers Takes on one of the Great Greek Classics

Sophocles's Antigone, one of the first and greatest Western tragedies ever written, is often thought of as a grand clash of moral imperatives. The daughter of Oedipus — yes, that Oedipus — defies the law of man (specifically, her uncle,…
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Culture, Stage Sexuality Deferred: American Playwrights Retread the Same Story About Repressed Women Breaking Free. It's Time for Another Narrative.

Sexuality Deferred: American Playwrights Retread the Same Story About Repressed Women Breaking Free. It's Time for Another Narrative.

At the end of The Cable Car Nymphomaniac, a world premiere and the inaugural production of FOGG Theatre, and Late: A Cowboy Song, which was written in 2003 and is now playing at Custom Made Theatre Company, you might feel…
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Culture, Stage Blank Space: Ragged Wing Ensemble Explores the Meaning of "Home" in Its New  Oakland Studio

Blank Space: Ragged Wing Ensemble Explores the Meaning of "Home" in Its New Oakland Studio

It's not hard to understand why Ragged Wing Ensemble chose "Homing" as its 2015 season theme. After almost 10 years of nomadism, the company opened its own space, the Flight Deck, last June in a former warehouse two blocks from…
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News, Feature Winter Arts: Theater

Winter Arts: Theater

Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical Fans of the Cockettes, San Francisco's gender-twisting drag group from the '70s, have long rejoiced in the Thrillpeddlers, who've resuscitated shows such as Hot Greeks and Pearls Over Shanghai. Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester…
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Culture, Stage All the Feels: Two Plays That Are Sentimental But Not Saccharine

All the Feels: Two Plays That Are Sentimental But Not Saccharine

As director Susannah Martin points out in the program for Shotgun Players' production of Our Town, many theatergoers dismiss Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1938 drama as "a quaint piece of sentimental claptrap." Even when it's not getting butchered by high…
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Culture, Stage Theater of the Hive Mind: The One-Minute Play Festival Illuminates the City with Many Small, Bright Visions

Theater of the Hive Mind: The One-Minute Play Festival Illuminates the City with Many Small, Bright Visions

It'd be hard to imagine a mode of theater more seemingly apt for our newsfeed-dominated age than the San Francisco One-Minute Play Festival, a two-night event, now in its fifth year, that features more than 80 one-minute plays by more…
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Culture, Stage Divide and Conquer: Two of the Bay Area's Most Exciting Small Theater Companies Throw Genres in a Blender

Divide and Conquer: Two of the Bay Area's Most Exciting Small Theater Companies Throw Genres in a Blender

In Bigger Than a Breadbox Theatre Co.'s production of Federico Garcia Lorca's Blood Wedding, written in 1932, director Ariel Craft establishes one of the tragedy's most important forces within moments of the first scene. The bridegroom (Justin Gillman) has asked…
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Culture, Stage Political Animals: You May Recognize a Few Politicos You Know in <i>The Totalitarians</i>.

Political Animals: You May Recognize a Few Politicos You Know in The Totalitarians.

Upon first encountering Penny, the funniest of many funny characters in Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's The Totalitarians, you might be tempted to write off the Nebraska candidate for office as a conservative stereotype. But don't be fooled. Underneath hair described as…
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Culture, Stage The Grand Reprise: Fall Theater Is Off to an Exceptional Start with Two Astonishing Returns

The Grand Reprise: Fall Theater Is Off to an Exceptional Start with Two Astonishing Returns

When San Francisco Playhouse created its Sandbox Series in 2009, the idea was to develop risky and, in some cases, unpolished plays through rehearsals, workshops, and a bare-bones production, thereby making those plays ready for the main stage season. Five…
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Culture, Stage Break Out: A New Version of an Old Comedic Formula Isn't Quite Laugh-Worthy

Break Out: A New Version of an Old Comedic Formula Isn't Quite Laugh-Worthy

By all counts, Terminator Too: Judgment Play should succeed. Created in 2012, the show, produced by Thomas Blake of Point Break Live! fame, follows the strict formula of that runaway success: The shows are live re-enactments of cheesy 1991 action…
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Culture, Stage Marriage Customs: Crowded Fire's New Play Looks to an Italian Fabulist for a Story of Nostalgia and the Search for Love

Marriage Customs: Crowded Fire's New Play Looks to an Italian Fabulist for a Story of Nostalgia and the Search for Love

Crowded Fire Theater artistic director Marissa Wolf knew she wanted to produce her company's coming show, The Late Wedding, before she had even finished rehearsing her last show with the company, The Hundred Flowers Project. "We were sitting in tech…
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Culture, Art Fall Arts 2014: Theater: History Bears Repeating as Local Stages Revisit Shakespeare, Smash Hits, and Other Traditions

Fall Arts 2014: Theater: History Bears Repeating as Local Stages Revisit Shakespeare, Smash Hits, and Other Traditions

Theater is always an escape: The lights go down, you turn off your cellphone, and you dive into another world. Below are a few theatrical destinations you'll want to get lost in this fall. Ideation This thriller was so successful…
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Culture, Stage This Fantastic Equality: Aurora Theatre's "Rapture, Blister, Burn" Poses the Feminist Questions Everyone's Still Afraid to Ask

This Fantastic Equality: Aurora Theatre's "Rapture, Blister, Burn" Poses the Feminist Questions Everyone's Still Afraid to Ask

It's hard to find a play about feminism that would be controversial in Berkeley, California. But Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo, which this week begins previews at the Aurora Theatre Company, might just qualify. The play follows Catherine (Marilee…
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Culture, Stage Swapping, Surfing: For Comedic Theater, the Exit Is Still the Place to Be

Swapping, Surfing: For Comedic Theater, the Exit Is Still the Place to Be

Stuart Bousel's play, Everybody Here ... Says Hello!, might sound like an insubstantial, dishy comedy — it's about a bisexual drag performer-qua-aspiring actor with a boyfriend and a girlfriend — but it excels by that benchmark and much more challenging…
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Culture, Stage Glum Blue Glow: Two Shows Where Screens Take Center Stage But Leave Audience Batteries Low

Glum Blue Glow: Two Shows Where Screens Take Center Stage But Leave Audience Batteries Low

The lead-up to Speechless suggests the show will skewer one of the great workplace traditions of our time: the PowerPoint presentation. "There are 350 PowerPoint presentations given every second around the world. But none quite like this," reads the promotional…
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Culture, Stage Toe-to-Toe: A Small Dancer Swallows a Heavyweight Champ Whole

Toe-to-Toe: A Small Dancer Swallows a Heavyweight Champ Whole

In Tough, dance artist Chris Black's portrayal of John L. Sullivan isn't exactly straight out of central casting. She's 9 inches shorter than the swaggering, loutish turn-of-the-century heavyweight boxing champ was, and about half his weight; Black's waist is the…
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Culture, Stage Sketchy: A New Show from a Veteran Performer Doesn't Quite Capture the Full Picture

Sketchy: A New Show from a Veteran Performer Doesn't Quite Capture the Full Picture

In Each and Every Thing, his new solo show at the Marsh, Dan Hoyle lodges complaints that most of us, save the most zealous techies, can't help but share. Digital connections, he laments, thwart real, meaningful ones in myriad ways:…
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