Stage

Way out East

A dose of American Realness amid the NYC festival season

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THEATER The shows have been as varied and changeable as the weather this January in New York City, where the annual conference of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) acts as catalyst for, by now, no less than four new-work festivals in the realms of theater, dance, and contemporary performance.

Near the beginning of the month, it got cold enough at night to make your nose hairs chime like little Christmas tree bells. "Every time you sneeze," a friend explained to me, "a whole shitload of angels get their wings."Read more »

The Performant: Power to the people

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Mugwumpin’s deconstructive history of Tesla electrifies

It is one day and 69 years after prolific inventor and notable oddball Nikola Tesla died of a heart attack, yet in the raw, unfurnished basement of the Old Mint, he stands quite alive before a contingent of captive theatre-goers, explaining his views on solitude.

“Be alone. That is the secret of invention,” he assures us, smiling in the manner of a man who knows he is about to be disagreed with. He has a lot of opportunities to display that same tight-lipped countenance throughout Mugwumpin’s “Future Motive Power,” as being disagreed with is one of the most recurring themes of Tesla’s biography. A man of compulsive and erratic habits and stubbornly-held views on the future impact of his own inventions, Tesla’s indomitable personality could be as hard to fathom as his scientific contributions were impossible to discredit. Channeled by Mugwumpin artistic director Christopher W. White, he alternates -- in a manner akin to his most famous electrical system -- between comedic mania and tragic inflexibility, as the patterns of his life entwine literally and figuratively with those of his dearest-held principles and hard-won triumphs. Read more »

Live Shots: New Fire at Brava Theatre

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Stirring together a mix of contemporary theater and actual traditional ceremonies, New Fire (which opened last night and runs through Jan. 29) is a play that gives its audience insight into the beautiful world of Indigenous American culture. Read more »

Thriller

The spirit of Michael Jackson returns with Cirque du Soleil

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emilysavage@sfbg.com

MUSIC There are so many extravagant things you could say about the late King of Pop, our holy father of stage theatrics and sequined gloves, Michael Jackson. The moon-walking man, the storied myth, the embattled legend.Read more »

Current events

Mugwumpin's Future Motive Power play at SF's Old Mint unearths the buried passions of Nikola Tesla

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The Performant: The Great Leap Forward

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A year on the city's wilder side, and looking ahead to more fine times

End-of-the-year roundups are all well and good, allowing us the opportunity to celebrate one last time the innovations of the past. But I’ve always preferred to look ahead into the future, so in that spirit here’s a shortlist of some of my fave Performant coverage from 2011 of ongoing and perennial events that you can still look forward to checking out in 2012—and beyond!

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The Performant: Tripp hop nation

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Going balls out for Berlin-style ping-pong with American Tripps

The only thing lacking is a haze of cigarette smoke curling over the lone ping-pong table bogarting the cosy dance floor of Project One. A polite jostle of players, perhaps 25 strong, rings the table, shoulder to shoulder. Each one clutches a paddle in one hand, and, more than a few, a drink in the other. The game is “Berlin-style” ping-pong (also known as rundlauf)—a participatory style of play in which every participant gets a turn serving or receiving as the circle shuffles one spot at a time, counter-clockwise around the crowded table.

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Curtain calls

YEAR IN THEATER 2011: Memorable food fights, biggest dicks, inscrutable triumvirates, George Clooney jumps ... It's the return of the Upstage/Downstage Awards

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arts@sfbg.com

YEAR IN THEATER With a grateful nod to former colleague Brad Rosenstein, we re-inaugurate a system of accolades and nah-ccolades celebrating some memorable highs and lows of the rapidly closing year in theater and performance.

 

Most Memorable Food Fight

A Three Little Dumplings AdventureRead more »

The Performant: Tradition! Tradition!

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Golden Girls, Kung Pao Kosher, Merry Forking Christmas ... the holidays are coming whether you like it or not.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the holidays just keep on coming around. And unless you plan on hibernating the entire month of December away, sooner or later someone is going to force you into an ugly sweater and drag you to some seasonal entertainment designed to fill you with goodwill towards all humankind -- or some such optimistic twaddle. Even so, there’s certainly no reason you have to subject yourself to endless renditions of Tchaikovsky’s famous suite or stale Bing Crosby carols in order to fulfill your holiday spirit quota. Alternatives abound here in Babylon-by-the-Bay, and you’re sure to stumble across a few that speak to your own imitable tastes.

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Live Shots: 'Yes Sweet Can' at Dance Mission Theater

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Sweet Can Productions puts on a gonzo circus show, but with a focus on quotidien, real-world concerns. For its upcoming “Yes Sweet Can” show, running for over two weeks at Dance Mission Theater, the performance is inspired by everyday chores -- and actually makes them seem like fun.

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