Stage

Dirty duo

Sign of the lean times? Misanthropes reign at Berkeley Rep and Cutting Ball
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In what maybe can only be considered a sign of the times, bad attitudes abound in two lean productions on either side of the Bay this week. The first comes courtesy of Dostoevsky, badass of 19th-century Russian literature, whose rascal Raskolnikov (an excellent Tyler Pierce) stalks feverishly across Berkeley Rep's Thrust Stage in a bracingly focused new adaptation of Crime and Punishment by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus. Read more »

"Old Times" and "The Homecoming"

Two Harold Pinter domestic dramas, if so prosaic a term can apply to the psychological warfare underway in them
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PREVIEW Don't get too cozy at home this weekend. Two Harold Pinter domestic dramas (if so prosaic a term can apply to the psychological warfare underway in them) are opening, and each ranks among his most stingingly taut, darkly hilarious, and downright creepy works. So take a pause for Pinter, the late and great, and unsettle the nest a bit — beginning with TheatreFIRST's offering of Old Times, an eerie 1971 three-hander (featuring a rare opportunity to see the excellent L. Peter Callender on something other than the largest of local stages). Read more »

Project agora's "With (& Without) Words"

A dance may be performed in silence and a song without dance
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PREVIEW In 2006 Kara Davis and Bliss Kohlmyer Dowman founded project agora as an umbrella organization under which they could present their own choreography. Strong and experienced performers — Davis with Kunst-Stoff and Janice Garret and Dancers; Kohlmyer Dowman with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company and Robert Moses' Kin — the two got to the point where realizing other choreographers' dances became less attractive and creating their own work grew more compelling.

For With (& Without) Words, Davis went solo. Read more »

Jerome Bel's "Pichet Klunchun and Myself"

Far outside the parameters of what dance audiences might expect, Bel is anything but anti-dance
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PREVIEW In Europe, French dancer-choreographer Jerome Bel's work has earned him the nickname of the "pope of anti-dance." While it's true that Bel has a tendency toward pontificating on contemporary performance theories, and his work — minimalist in terms of movement, maximalist in terms of embracing the ordinary human body — stays far outside the parameters of what dance audiences might expect, he is anything but anti-dance.

He lives and breathes dance — the relationship between performer and choreographer, the persona and the person, the meaning and Read more »

A cold one

Little heat, plenty of miscasting mar NCTC's Tennessee in the Summer
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Tennessee Williams was notoriously afraid of going insane — the fate of his sister Rose, a presence haunting several of his greatest plays — and in the latter half of his career, the great American dramatist wrestled mightily with a slump in his fortunes, depression, and addictions to pills and alcohol. Read more »

Spirited

Black Choregraphers Festival takes off
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For its opening weekend, the fifth Black Choreographers Festival: Here and Now relocated to Laney College in Oakland, once a focal point for local dance in the 1990s. The suggestion that Laney's lovely theater — the best in the East Bay — might once again become available to outside dance presenters is wonderful to contemplate.

With six works, three of them world premieres, producers Laura Elaine Ellis and Kendra Kimbrough Barnes hit the spot on opening night. Read more »

"A Modern World: Latino Perspectives"

Hispanic dancers make their voices heard
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PREVIEW Walk the streets of San Francisco and look at the map of California, and you'll notice so many roads and towns with Spanish names that you'll be struck by the fact that we often take their presence for granted. Little wonder, since the Spanish, Mexicans, and other Latinos have played a major part in the Bay Area longer than many other demographic groups. Likewise Hispanic writers, painters, musicians, and dramatists have slowly but surely become part of our cultural ecology. Read more »

It's a living?

Mixed emotions, no news in the respectful Betrayed
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REVIEW Amid worsening violence between their respective Sunni and Shia communities, even old friends Adnan (Bobak Cyrus Bakhtiari) and Laith (Amir Sharafeh) are prone to argue along sectarian lines. But these squabbles are more than offset by a dire mutual predicament: as Iraqi translators working for the U.S. occupation in Baghdad, Adnan and Laith live as persons "in between," precariously balanced between glib and suspicion-prone American employer and outraged fellow citizen alike. Read more »

Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes

A time-tripping escapade across three centuries of culture and cruelty
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PREVIEW What lengths will you go to for your art? If you're a castrato it's probably a sore point. For Mexico's internationally renowned experimental theater company, Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes (Certain Inhabitants Theatre), it's the beginning of a lush and lively investigation into the complexities and contradictions of cultural power and refinement. Read more »

Gloves on

Leslie Seiters keeps in close contact with the mundane and magical
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PREVIEW Leslie Seiters entered college as a visual artist — and left it as a choreographer. Or at least that's what her MFA diploma from Ohio State University says. Seiters prefers to call herself a director. "I am allergic to 'choreography,'<0x2009>" she says from her home in San Diego. "When something looks 'choreographed,' it turns me off."

Seiters, who lived and worked in the Bay Area between 2002 and 2007, has nothing against the craft of choreography, of course. In fact, her own works are exquisitely crafted. Read more »