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Culture, The Exhibitionist Thrillpeddlers' <i>The Untamed Stage</i> at the Hypnodrome: Life Is a Cabaret

Thrillpeddlers' The Untamed Stage at the Hypnodrome: Life Is a Cabaret

In 1972 Bob Fosse's classic film Cabaret celebrated the decadence of Weimar era Berlin while also noting the gathering storm which was looming just over the horizon. The Weimar Era was a wondrous time between the World Wars when Berlin…
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Culture, The Exhibitionist Shocktoberfest 15: Halloween Every Weekend

Shocktoberfest 15: Halloween Every Weekend

Thrillpeddlers is back with their annual Shocktoberfest. This is the 15th edition of the scary, funny, and popular festival which harkens back to those wonderful spook shows that filled theaters during the 19th century. Shocktoberfest 15 has been dubbed The…
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Culture, The Exhibitionist Copulation Pantomime: Thrillpeddlers Thrill Once Again with <em>Marat/Sade</em>

Copulation Pantomime: Thrillpeddlers Thrill Once Again with Marat/Sade

Marat/Sade might seem like an unusual choice for the Thrillpeddlers. Could a theater troupe devoted to tawdry musical revues and glow-in-the-dark spook shows really pull off Peter Weiss's heady, multilayered play about French Revolutionaries, the new ruling class, and…
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Culture, Stage "Hot Greeks": Thrillpeddlers and Cockettes Revive Drag Pleasures

"Hot Greeks": Thrillpeddlers and Cockettes Revive Drag Pleasures

A few years ago, the Thrillpeddlers, San Francisco's theater of the gaudy, gory, and grotesque, embarked on a collaboration that could hardly have been more successful: teaming up with the surviving members of the Cockettes, the gender-bending troupe whose weekly…
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Calendar, Night&Day History Gets Bent

History Gets Bent

Thrillpeddlers continues its revival of original Cockettes musicals with the more-than-suggestively titled Hot Greeks. Scrumbly Koldewyn, an original member of the Cockettes, San Francisco’s gender-bending theater troupe of the late 1960s and early ’70s, joins artistic director Russell Blackwood to…
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Culture, Stage "Shocktoberfest 12": Mostly Awe in Thrillpeddlers' Latest

"Shocktoberfest 12": Mostly Awe in Thrillpeddlers' Latest

It can be hard to tell some Bay Area theater companies apart. They produce similar repertoires, they cast the same actors, and they use New York to define the terms of their success. ("One of our premieres shipped to Off-Broadway!")…
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Culture, Stagecap

"Shocktoberfest!! 2010: Kiss of Blood": Show Preview

The Thrillpeddlers are quintessential San Francisco: a bunch of freaks performing freaky shows. They emulate, celebrate, and reinterpret the Parisian shock and horror theater of the Grand Guignol with elaborate set pieces and lush, exotic costuming. Like San Francisco itself,…
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Culture, Stagecap

Theater Review: "Hot Greeks" at the Hypnodrome

To complement their wildly successful (and deservedly so) run of Pearls over Shanghai (running through August), Russell Blackwood and his merrily debaucherous Thrillpeddlers are simultaneously putting on the only other scripted Cockettes musical, Hot Greeks. It's a loose interpretation of…
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Calendar, Night&Day Theater of the Horrific

Theater of the Horrific

By now you should know all about grand guignol, thanks to the efforts of the Thrillpeddlers theater troupe (if not, think shock theater directed by Quentin Tarantino and a bucket of blood). In 19th-century Paris, ladies used to faint during…
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Culture, Stage Hatchet Job

Hatchet Job

Titus Andronicus is a terrible play. So terrible, in fact, that some commentators have suggested that the creative force behind Hamlet and King Lear never penned the drama at all, or that if Shakespeare was indeed responsible for the gruesome…
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Culture, Encore Our critics weigh in on local theater

Our critics weigh in on local theater

Cabaret. John Kander and Fred Ebb's 1966 musical hit possesses the two main ingredients of a best-seller: sex and violence. Cabaret follows the adventures of Clifford Bradshaw, a young American writer who pitches up penniless in Weimar Berlin and…
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Culture, Stage We Like the Night Life

We Like the Night Life

In the middle of Shotgun Players' Cabaret, the audience gets to sing along with one of the numbers from John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Joe Masteroff's beloved musical. The production is so engrossing and the melody of this particular song…
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Calendar, Night&Day Fright Night

Fright Night

In 1920s Grand Guignol productions, audience members entered theaters stealthily, much as you would the Lusty Lady, and were sent atwitter by "shock plays" awash in blood, inventive killings, and ribald humor, sometimes clutching one another inappropriately as they were…
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Culture, Stage

"Blood Bucket Ballyhoo"

"Blood Bucket Ballyhoo," a triptych of Grand Guignol shorts adapted for schlock-horror impresarios Thrillpeddlers by Rob Keefe and Eddie Muller, explores the twilight zone of 19th-century French taste with the help of some of the most elaborate props you're ever…
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Culture, Stage Shock and Yawn

Shock and Yawn

The quaint Gothic horror plays classified as Grand Guignol started as ripped-from-the-headlines realism: Paris' Théâtre du Grand Guignol specialized in true-crime stories of prostitutes, murderers, and madmen. Yes, things moved on to necrophiliacs and spattered blood as soon as possible,…
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Calendar, Night&Day Shocker


While some old-fashioned turn-ons no longer electrify -- when's the last time you were bowled over by a player piano? -- some retro pastimes have retained their charm. Take homemade ice cream. Ferris wheels. And the melodramatic live theater known…
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Culture, Stage

Strangers in Paradox

Shocktoberfest!! director Russell Blackwood gives a nicely ghoulish, Grand Guignol treatment to this otherwise tedious post-Tarantino farce by Kate Bornstein. Strangers in Paradox tells the story of a transsexual named Angel moldering in an asylum who can magically dream or…
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Culture, Stage


"I think we're the first theater company to put on this play, ever," says Daniel Zilber, introducing Thrillpeddlers' production of a one-act called A Visit to Mrs. Birch. He insists the script is about 100 years old, but it plays…
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Culture, Stage Medea,  the Opera

Medea, the Opera

The Shotgun Players' new production of Medea takes place in the huge, decaying UC Theatre, on a round stage built in front of the spot where the movie screen used to hang. An antique organ sits across from a wall…
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Culture, Stage

Stage Capsules

In Rob Becker's world there are two kinds of people: women and men. They have "different languages, different customs, and different histories." Men hunt; women gather. Men negotiate; women cooperate. These pop psychology clichés are presented as insightful truths: Men…
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