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Culture, Stage Two Houses of Usher at SF Opera

Two Houses of Usher at SF Opera

Sometimes, says opera singer Jason Bridges, it's nice to do something a little different than the usual "boy meets girl" story. For instance, a "devastated brother with an ailing sister in a decaying castle" story can be a nice change…
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Culture, Stage Gasps in Five Places

Gasps in Five Places

Playwright, actor, and novelist Ayad Akhtar says everything he writes is an homage to a high school English teacher who changed his life. Because of her, he immersed himself in the European modernists she loved, so much so that he…
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Culture, Stage Her Dresses Stop Traffic

Her Dresses Stop Traffic

"I don't like the word 'rescue,'" Regina Evans tells me as we sip tea in her sun-drenched Oakland storefront, lined with lacy vintage dresses and old LIFE magazine photos of African-American model Beverly Johnson. Regina's Door, located at 352 17th…
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Culture, Stage ¡Azúcar!: Images of Cuba's Economic Crisis

¡Azúcar!: Images of Cuba's Economic Crisis

After the U.S.S.R. collapsed, Cuba, having relied heavily on Soviet imports and exports, went into an economic crisis. Though Cubans suffered from food and petroleum shortages, adaptation by artists, writers, and musicians resulted in a cultural boom. "The Light in…
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Culture, Stage War Dance: Lenora Lee's Fire of Freedom

War Dance: Lenora Lee's Fire of Freedom

Dancer and choreographer Lenora Lee doesn't shy away from intense, controversial issues. Her multimedia pieces use text, film, music, martial arts, and dance to take on cerebral subjects such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and human trafficking. It was while…
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Culture, Stage You Got It, Dude

You Got It, Dude

Whatever happened to predictability: the milkman, the paperboy, the evening TV? Everywhere you look, everywhere you go there's a heart — a hand to hold onto. Bob Saget's disassociated side smile, the mystery of never quite knowing which Olsen twin…
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Culture, Stage Barbary Host: UCB at Outside Lands

Barbary Host: UCB at Outside Lands

A three-day music festival can be a grind. There's the sun (or conspicuous lack thereof), endless treks between stages, and lots of standing behind bros in feathered headdresses. Luckily for Outside Lands attendees, there's a respite from the grind in…
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Culture, Stage Chatting With Anna Deavere Smith

Chatting With Anna Deavere Smith

Playwright, actor, and educator Anna Deavere Smith isn't volunteering to be a modern day Atlas. After hoisting the world of America's school-to-prison pipeline onto her shoulders during a two-and-a-half-year play development, Smith cleaves the unwieldy orb into two halves like…
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Culture, Stage Chatting With Amy Schumer

Chatting With Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer hasn't slept around since college. "I would say sophomore year, I got the numbers up," says the Inside Amy Schumer star, who makes her major motion picture debut in Trainwreck, the new romantic comedy directed by powerhouse Judd…
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Culture, Stage Eddie Izzard Has Opinions

Eddie Izzard Has Opinions

Every now and then, you'll hear a casual reference to Eddie Izzard's 1999 recording of Dress To Kill from San Francisco's Orpheum Theater. ("Cake or death?") It's a performance that won Izzard an Emmy and a long-standing invitation to return…
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Culture, Stage Chewing the Fourth Wall

Chewing the Fourth Wall

Loosen your belts. While Berkeley Rep's One Man, Two Guvnors won't bust your sides, the West Coast premiere of this play based on an 18th-century classic will keep you laughing on three levels for 2.65 hours. When was the last…
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Culture, Stage Passes and Fails: Tarell McCraney's Heads of Passes, Now at Berkeley Rep, Watches a Family Implode

Passes and Fails: Tarell McCraney's Heads of Passes, Now at Berkeley Rep, Watches a Family Implode

He's not on the cast list, but the Devil is everywhere in Tarell McCraney's cyclonic Heads of Passes. At the very least, an evil spirit runs rampant, fouling faith's proverbial waters in the two-act play directed by Tina Landau of…
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Culture, Stage Auditioning for Beach Blanket Babylon

Auditioning for Beach Blanket Babylon

"You want pre-show music, Kenny?" Pink's "Get the Party Started" fills Club Fugazi, where dozens of eager comics, hams, and thespians are waiting on a Saturday afternoon to audition for Beach Blanket Babylon, arguably San Francisco's premiere theatrical institution. The…
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Culture, Stage Talley Ho!: Lanford Wilson's Talley Trilogy in Its Entirety

Talley Ho!: Lanford Wilson's Talley Trilogy in Its Entirety

There's plenty to admire in the Aurora's presentation of the Talley Trilogy, a three-play homage to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson. Foremost is Artistic Director Tom Ross's three-tiered nod to a single artist's work in one season. It's a rare…
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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 Church and State of Deception: Keep an eye on the pious guy

Church and State of Deception: Keep an eye on the pious guy

Poison is a person in Berkeley Repertory Theatre's stylish revival of Molière's classic 1664 satirical comedy, Tartuffe. Tartuffe arrives onstage like a silvery-snake-cum-Paris-fashion-model as director Dominique Serrand sculpts a sleek and brilliantly lit, costumed, and designed rendition. Cast with an…
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Culture, Stage The Madness of King Lear: Puppets, Acclaimed Clown Tackling Shakespeare Tale in Two Productions

The Madness of King Lear: Puppets, Acclaimed Clown Tackling Shakespeare Tale in Two Productions

When it comes to playing King Lear, renowned actor Geoff Hoyle isn't exactly straight out of central casting, as he freely admits. "I know no one's going to cast me," he says. "I'm this diminutive 5'6", 130-pound guy" — not…
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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 Getting Even: The Shotgun Players Have an Entire Season of Plays Written By Women

Getting Even: The Shotgun Players Have an Entire Season of Plays Written By Women

Hindsight will show whether or not Shotgun Players' 2015 "she-season" is cake or conquest. Announcing six mainstage and six staged readings all written by female playwrights for its 24th season, Shotgun is either offering a delicious, one-year treat, or making…
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