Stage

The Performant: I, robots

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Robogames took over the world -- or at least San Mateo.

Consider the robot.

A staple of futuristic paranoia fantasies since Karel Čapek’s play, “R.U.R.” was translated from Czech to English in 1921, Robots have captured human imagination in a way that perhaps only the undead have been able to rival. Burdened by inaccurate stereotypes and wild speculation, real-life robots have patiently labored at their often menial tasks without once overthrowing their “masters,” quietly disproving our fears of being rendered somehow obsolete by their superior efficiencies, or purported resentments. And yet, every time we grant one of our fictional servomechanisms the ability to cognate for itself, the very first thing it focuses on is liberation, proving if nothing else that unconscious oppression can still lead to some very real twinges of uneasy conscience in the human brain.

But only gleeful schadenfreude permeated the San Mateo Event Center last weekend, coloring the animated chatter of the spectators packed around a spartan arena sealed up behind thick panels of clear polycarbonate that reach two stories high.

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A dog's life

TheatreWorks revives Of Mice and Men for a new era of desperation and solidarity

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER There's a clipped Spanish twang in the roughhewn but lucid English of George Milton (Jos Viramontes) and Lennie Small (A.J. Meijer), the iconic bindlestiff protagonists in Of Mice and Men. It's the only obvious bit of updating in TheatreWorks' and artistic director Robert Kelley's generally faithful rendering of the 1937 John Steinbeck classic (a stage adaptation penned by the author himself for a Broadway premiere the same year).Read more »

Dancing in the deep

Art and science meet and mingle in Capacitor's 'Okeanos'

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DANCE Jodi Lomask has always been comfortable with both science and art. Perhaps that's not surprising for someone who grew up with a physicist father and a visual artist mother — hanging around with his friends who would came to visit in Connecticut, and going with her to galleries and openings. Still, it's not every child who, when trying to make sense of the world, was also "making dances" in her mind.Read more »

The Performant: It's so magic

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Terry Allen’s Ghost Ship Rodez and Christian Cagigal’s “The Collection” put a spell on it.

It sounds like a bit of a cliché, but there really is magic in a performance piece in which all of the disparate elements get pulled together just so, and suddenly the show becomes much greater than the mere sum of its parts. Crackling with an electric energy, a show infused with that elusive jolt provokes an integrated intellectual and emotional response that pervades the body entire, and lingers long after the lights come up. But it’s a fickle friend, this magic, and attempting to corral it too earnestly is the surest way to have it slip completely away, like sand pouring through determinedly clenched fingers.

Such a fate befell Terry and Jo Harvey Allen’s “Ghost Ship Rodez” at Z-Space over the weekend.

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Live Shots: 'Fart of Gold,' Home Theater Festival

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“Make sure to get a spot towards the back of the room,” I told Sam Love as we made our way to Dana Street Theater on Berkeley. “Philip's shows often involve things and sometimes liquids flying.” And I was right. There was some definite yam peeling, neti-pot-pouring, and chair-flying moments sprinkled throughout the show. Did I mention that we were in Philip's bedroom?

“That's the whole point, honey!” Philip told me.

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Lost at sea

Could a world-class arts festival save the foundering America's Cup?

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cheryl@sfbg.com

AMERICA'S CUP Clear your mind, if you can, of brawls over San Francisco piers and other obscenely expensive parcels of waterfront real estate. Focus solely on the inevitability of the 34th annual America's Cup.Read more »

Get 'Wilde': Al Pacino's new doc receives red carpet opening at Castro

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All my amigo Morlock E. wants to know is where Frank Chu is, since Frank Chu is still a fairly good indicator of being at the most happening event of the evening -- or at any rate the one with the most television cameras. But instead of Frank, all we see is a crush of autograph seekers pressed against the velvet rope separating them from the red carpet unfurled outside the Castro Theatre. They’re not here to see Frank Chu, and in truth, neither are we. We’re here to get a photo of Al Pacino and maybe touch the hem of his cloak, at the US premiere of his latest project, a documentary entitled Wilde Salome.

Since it’s not every day San Francisco gets to play host to a big premiere, the Wed/21 turnout is robust, convivial. Also a fundraiser for the GLBT Historical Society -- there are some quite dapper dandies in attendance, an element one feels certain Wilde would have approved of. But one gets the impression that the autograph-hounds are less enamored with the Wildean aspect of the event rather than the chance to shake the hand of Scarface, but Wilde, with his penchant for “rough trade” might well have approved of that too.

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The performant: Lucky buggers

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Fortunate forays into entomophagy and Éire

In the estimable 1885 tome Why Not Eat Insects? (charmingly reprinted by Pryor Publications) Vincent M. Holt puts forth a simple culinary challenge, not in the contrarian vein of Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal,” but apparently in earnest. Pointing out a few certain truths about bugs and arachnids often overlooked by the squeamish (their undeniable resemblance to crustaceans, their clean eating habits, and ready availability), Holt goes on to describe with epicurean delight the taste of butter- sautéed locusts and an equally buttery wood-louse sauce. Read more »

Live Shots: Women's History Month office intrigue with 3 Girls Theatre

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In celebration of Women's History Month, 3 Girls Theatre is staging a lunar cycle chockful of girl power greatness. Read more »

The Performant: In the Flash

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Bodies and words collide in 'this.placed'

It’s easy to overlook them, two dancers, still as mannequins, positioned near the entrance to the performance space, a silent video of a wet fleshy mouth, open wide as if ready for a filling, projected onto their motionless bodies. Just before the lights go down, they disappear, as does the fleshy mouth. Onstage a much larger projection of mouth, nose, cheek, fills the back wall, as the sounds of kissing, mumbling, chewing, and lip popping create a fanfare for the two dancers (Jill Randall and Amanda Whitehead), who enter while stretching their own faces into humorously exaggerated positions. Finally, Whitehead opens her mouth normally, to recite the jumbled text of Britta Austin’s Flash Fiction “Bite Marks,” which substitutes for music in their energetic duet. Read more »