THEATER The word "challenging" gets thrown around a lot in the art world. Everyone wants to be considered challenging. So much so, it starts to sound like a byword for its opposite. A plea to "like" on Facebook. That sort of thing. In truth, few pieces of theater, dance, or performance actually live up to the meaning of this over-used phrase by unsettling basic assumptions about our relation to the work itself and its social and institutional contexts.Read more »
Placas: The Most Dangerous Tattoo explores the numerology of loyalty
“What’s in a number,” asks the man onstage, a former gang elder undergoing a laser tattoo-removal procedure. He is middle-aged, weary-looking, and sports a huge number one emblazoned down one forearm. Americans believe in being number one. A three down the other, reference to the holy trinity. Taken together, the number thirteen—a denotation of his gang affiliation. Numerous other tattoos covering his arms, chest, back, even his neck. Read more »
Now that's a line that puts the dumb in wisdom, which is the point. For no one can be stupid where everyone is by definition stupid. And that, in turn, might become the basis for a transformation of some kind.Read more »
You’re either on the bus, or you're off the bus at Popcorn Anti-Theater’s Fringe Festival revival
As lovers of art, adventure, and reckless shenanigans might recall, the monthly Popcorn Anti-Theater bus shows last rolled about eight years ago, and while plenty of other groups have used buses as vehicles to drive a performance since, none have managed it with the same regularity and broadness of scope.
The aggressively anything-goes vibe of Popcorn events of yore combined theatrics, live music, dance, poetry, gibberish, urban exploration, and plenty of oddience participation into a series of unpredictable occurrences. Since the shows were pulled together by different collaborators each month, it wasn’t always necessarily “good” art (a specious qualifier at best), but it was almost always good fun, so when I hear that Popcorn is making a rare appearance at the San Francisco Fringe Festival, I immediately resolve to check it out.
There’re a lot of ways to while away 72 hours in Portland, Oregon, so I shrewdly place myself in the hands of a capable buddy who knows the ropes and we embark on a whirlwind bicycling tour of the five quadrants, from Sellwood to St Johns (yes, there are five quadrants, not four, go figure). We don’t really have a focus, and you could easily spend 72 hours just crawling from coffeeshop to bookstore to food cart to brewpub. While there’s plenty of all of the above on our itinerary, the theme that soon reveals itself during our pedal-powered perambulations is Portland’s obvious fervor for the DIY life, extending even to their entertainment options. Here’re a few of my favorite examples.
THEATER In 2009, Paul S. Flores was at work on his new play, Placas: The Most Dangerous Tattoo, in consultation with Alex Sanchez, founder of Homies Unidos, when a call came from Denver that brought everything to a standstill.Read more »
FALL ARTS Gemma Paintin and James Stenhouse were obsessed with Americana long before the two Bristol-based performance makers (known collectively as Action Hero) ever set their cowboy boots in the United States. In fact, they'd performed their site-specific first piece, a barroom exploration of the Western (called simply A Western) for years before lobbing it into the belly of the beast, where it appeared as part of Austin, Texas' Fusebox Festival in 2010.Read more »
While the Performant is off hugging trees in Oregon, please enjoy this series of interviews with the curators of three innovative performance spaces.
After five years of making the address 975 Howard synonymous with emergent dance, queer, and fringe artists, Joe Landini has packed up The Garage and relocated it further down SOMA way. Now tucked in an industrial zone next to an automotive repair shop, The Garage’s new location at 715 Bryant might lack the allure of being a hidden gem on ramshackle Howard Street, but has the distinct advantage of having fewer neighbors to annoy, a consideration no low-budget performance space can afford to completely ignore. Particularly one as active and prolific as The Garage—which has hosted over 1000 performances for some 50,000 people during its five-year tenure.
“We are awful neighbors!” Landini admits when I swing by to check out the new digs.
To celebrate the incredibly engaging Cindy Sherman retrospective at the SF MOMA (through October 8), we asked four of San Francisco's premier drag performance artists to re-enact four of Sherman's iconic portraits. It's all about looking twice -- or in Sherman's case, four or five times -- and we wanted to see how many layers of gaze her work could hold.