Stage

The Performant: Science, Honor, Psychogeography

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The Phenomenauts and Alley Cat Books shoot for the moon.

Trapped in a world they didn’t create, the spacecraft-garage band known to us as The Phenomenauts must surely come from a more evolved time and place, as evidenced by the spiffiness of their natty uniforms -- and the electric jolt of their stage shows. As refinement and heroism (the band motto is “Science and Honor”) are qualities in tragically short supply among your run-of-the-mill rock groups, bands which contain both are bound to stand out, with or without the additions of attention-grabbing technical flourishes such as pinpoint lasers, billows of stage fog, and the custom-built Streamerator 2000, which shoots festive streamers of toilet paper out onto the frenetic crowd. Speaking of frenetic, I love a band that can make San Franciscans dance as if possessed by dervishes with hyperkinesis. For that feat alone, they deserve an intergalactic medal for courage in the face of cosmic indifference.

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Right about now

Custom Made Theatre's Little Brother adapts Cory Doctorow's SF-based teen terrorism tale -- and it's probably the most exciting thing on stage right now

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THEATER It's a rare thing, really too rare, to find an audience eagerly erupting into political discussions between acts of a play. But that's what Little Brother inspires, and in an unaffected way, without pretension or unwelcome goading. It's too cool, confident, and contemporary for that. Read more »

The Performant: Strangers in a strange land

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Dan Carbone and Kitka resculpt old terrain

From the dark corner of the stage throbs the low rhythm of a skin-clad, Celtic-style drum and the strum of acoustic guitar, while in the light a man clad in a white dress shirt sways in hypnotic time, eyes shut tight, arms flung wide. “Sleeping, sleeping,” he croons softly, “I’m only sleeping.” Still swaying, he begins to tell the tale from the beginning, about a little baby boy whose “brain is knitting itself in an unusual way.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking in this first moment that the man is speaking of his own infancy, after all, brains don’t come knit much more unusually than that of East Bay-based avant-gardian Dan Carbone. But the infant’s name is not Dan’s, and though his brief and tragic backstory reverberates through much of the rest of the play, the infant soon yields the spotlight to his younger brother, the creator of the piece, “Father Panic,” which made its stage debut at the Garage on Friday. 

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Cheers, puppeteers!

Gelfling classic The Dark Crystal is 30 years old -- join the celebration at Castro Theatre, but watch out for Skeksis

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Showcasing the boldly imaginative and innovative talents of the artisans at the Jim Henson Company, the 1982 fantasy film The Dark Crystal broke new ground when it came to visual special effects and believable creature creations.Read more »

First Lady blues

Paufve Dance reinterprets history in standout So I Married Abraham Lincoln

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arts@sfbg.com

DANCE Randee Paufve's voice is quiet. But once you have heard her speak through her dances, you are unlikely to forget the strength of what she has to say. Her craft is impressive, her topics are many-layered, and the resulting choreography is pared down to its essence. Sometimes, I have even wished for a little more looseness just so I could catch my breath.Read more »

The Performant: Discord fever

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San Francisco Tape Music Festival unwinds at ODC

The fact that it's raining makes it an unexpectedly perfect night to attend the San Francisco Tape Music Festival. The water rushing through pipes and sweeping across the rooftop of the ODC Theatre adds an extra layer of ambience to the cacophonic tones emitting from a modest bank of speakers, squatting on the stage like forbidding monoliths. The here-and-now intrusion of the rainfall ties even the most outré compositions of the evening together in an entirely unanticipated manner, from the oldest (dated 1857) to those created this still-young year by members of the current incarnation of the San Francisco Tape Music Collective and sfSound.

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Too much in the son

A theater director wrestles history and Hamlet in Ghost Light, and this time it's personal

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The Performant: World on fire

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The Crucible’s “Machine: A Fire Opera” puts a blowtorch on it

First off let’s just all admit that fire is freaking cool. Or, rather, hot. And fire art? That’s about as hot as it gets. ‘Cause it’s art, see, but it’s also fire, and fire is awesome. Unless it’s busy burning down your apartment, then maybe not so much. But we are talking abut fire art right now, and if it’s fire art you want, then the first place you’re going to want to go is West Oakland’s Crucible, one of the most intriguing arts studios in the Bay Area.

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Higher and higher

SF Sketchfest wrings wet, hot laughs out of winter

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TRASH Rejected by audiences. Panned by critics. Beloved by a loyal cadre of alternative comedy fans.

Wet Hot American Summer may not have found success when it premiered in 2001, but the offbeat comedy has since become — like so many underrated flops — a cult classic.Read more »

A Bay Area kind of stand-up: Frankie Quinones of For the People Comedy

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Common knowledge states that if you're serious about becoming a stand-up comedian on the West Coast, you move to Los Angeles. But Frankie Quinones created the diversity of For the People Comedy here in San Francisco and despite his rising star on the stand-up scene, he's sticking around for the moment.

Maybe that's because Carmelita lives here. “She's taken on a whole thing of her own, her own career,” says the Ventura County native of his sassed-up, club-going Latina sexpot. “Carmelita's got her own list of things to do in 2012.” You can check out Quinones -- and possibly Carmelita or his popular "Cholo Whisperer" skit -- at the next For the People event at Cobb's on Thu/19. 

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