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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 Visions of Madness: Unsentimental Magic From Berkeley Rep and Shotgun Players

Visions of Madness: Unsentimental Magic From Berkeley Rep and Shotgun Players

The Bay Area has long been in love with Kneehigh, the theater company imported from Cornwall, England, by ACT for Brief Encounter in 2009 and by Berkeley Rep for The Wild Bride in 2011. Both shows used lavish theatricality —…
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Culture, Stage "Woyzeck": Socioeconomic Theory, the Musical

"Woyzeck": Socioeconomic Theory, the Musical

Written in 1836-7, Woyzeck occupies a fascinating place in theater history. German playwright Georg Büchner died at the age of 23, before completing it. Though its story is clear — Woyzeck, a troubled soldier, kills his girlfriend, Marie, when he…
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Culture, Stage Revisionist History: Two Second Acts of John Wilkes Booth

Revisionist History: Two Second Acts of John Wilkes Booth

When Galen Murphy-Hoffman enters the stage in Shotgun's production of Assassins, you recognize his character immediately. The ashen complexion, the mustache, the frock coat, the fixed, ghostly stare: a portrait straight out of a history textbook. But in this Stephen…
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Culture, Stage The Beasts Take Berkeley: Animal-Sized Desires Roar in Two New Plays

The Beasts Take Berkeley: Animal-Sized Desires Roar in Two New Plays

When you descend the steps of La Val's Subterranean for Impact Theatre's latest show, you aren't just entering a small black box theater in the basement of a UC Berkeley pizza joint. You're diving into "the mysteries of the dark…
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Calendar, Night&Day Mother Tongue

Mother Tongue

In Precious Little, which premieres tonight at Shotgun Players, veteran actress Nancy Carlin plays three characters, two of them called “The Baby” and “The Ape.” Madeleine George’s play is deeply concerned with, as she has said, “the limits but also…
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Culture, Stage "God's Plot": Shotgun Theatre Finds Truth at the Birth of the American Stage

"God's Plot": Shotgun Theatre Finds Truth at the Birth of the American Stage

History has preserved no copy of the script of Ye Bare and Ye Cubb, the first play written and performed in America by English colonists, but thanks to recent scholarship by Marin Shakespeare Company's Joel Eis we know that the…
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Culture, Stage "Care of Trees": Reimagining an Ancient Myth as Modern-Day Tragedy

"Care of Trees": Reimagining an Ancient Myth as Modern-Day Tragedy

As told in Ovid's Metamorphoses, the story of Daphne can seem a little puzzling to the modern reader. In broad outline, it goes like this: Daphne, a nymph, spurns the advance of the god Apollo. (Maybe I'm irredeemably shallow, but…
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Culture, Stage "Beardo": Delightfully Bizarre Retelling of Rasputin

"Beardo": Delightfully Bizarre Retelling of Rasputin

The collapse of imperial Russia may be associated with a lot of unpleasant things, including the slaughter of the Russian army at Tannenberg and the assassination of a clueless autocrat in the presence of his doomed family. It is not,…
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