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Catch the Wave 

Wednesday, Apr 7 1999
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Exploding puppet theater? Seen it. Wheelchair ballroom dancing? Been done. Drag queen country singers? Mary, please. In fact, name any kind of theatrical hybrid, and there's a good chance that someone in San Francisco has already tried it, or at least thought of it. East-West collaborations like the New Tsunami Fusion Fest can thrive in a city like this, and jaded viewers can actually hope to find something original.

The festival's inaugural program (April 7), for example, offers a FilipiNOH: The troubled families and angry ghosts of Jose Rizal's landmark Filipino novel Nole Me Tangere (Do Not Touch) inspire two Japanese-styled theatrical works. Sisa is steeped in classical noh drama, a dreamlike style informed by folk themes and imbued with deliberate movement, symbolism, and poetic verse; the accompanying kyogen comedy Bright and Gifted features traditional Filipino characters, including a lame Spaniard who passes himself off as a doctor and the dona who marries him. Both are masked plays and will be accompanied by live Filipino music.

Moshe Cohen gives us a little something different in Mister YooWho (April 10), mixing European clowning with Yiddish absurdist humor and Japanese butoh dance -- in this broad comedy, Cohen examines the world inside and outside his suitcase. The Tuju Taksu Masked Dance Theater, wearing Indonesian masks and costumes, dips into the Western dance canon (April 16), while the Tenderloin-based choreographer Pearl Ubungen considers Filipina domestic workers in Hong Kong in A.K.A. Bamboo Girl (April 18). And finally, Ramon Abad upholds San Francisco's reputation as America's puppetry revival capital with The Tico Tico Puppet Theater Show, a family comedy combining masks and mime with puppetry and indigenous Filipino music (April 17).

Sisa and Bright and Gifted begin Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida (at 17th Street), S.F. The festival continues through April 18 at Artaud and Noh Space (17th Street & Mariposa, S.F.). Admission to each show is $13-18; call 621-7797 for schedule information. (

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Heather Wisner

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