Robert Avila

Misery over mistletoe

Shotgun Players mount Tom Waits' 'Woyzeck' for the holidays

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London diary

Cruising to the end of story, and Forced Entertainment's 'The Coming Storm'
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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER Tom Cruise, clad in military drag, descended last week by RAF helicopter into Trafalgar Square in what is best described as forced entertainment but was in fact a time-wasting scene from his upcoming blockbuster All You Need Is Kill. Not quite simultaneously but with considerably more stealth, I advanced into South London's Battersea area, in a completely uncoordinated foray, to see the latest from famed Sheffield-based pomo theater artists Forced Entertainment.Read more »

GOLDIES 2012: PianoFight

A multi-faceted, multi-armed organization of sketch comedy, original drama, new play festivals, and comedy-horror-ballet about ducks

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GOLDIES A PianoFight show can be almost as striking for its audience as for what the company puts onstage, even if few audiences will upstage a machine that blows ducks out of people's butts, per Duck Lake. PianoFight crowds are conspicuously not your typical theatergoers — they're closer to the boisterous women in office attire I noticed at the now-defunct Off-Market Theater, PianoFight's old haunt, who had smuggled in a bottle of Chardonnay and were picnicking in a back row like it was Baker Beach. Read more »

GOLDIES 2012: Mica Sigourney

Drag-rooted performance works that question the egotism of the artist and the role of the audience

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GOLDIES Regular appearances are not Mica Sigourney's thing. True, most Friday nights you'll find alt-persona VivvyAnne ForeverMORE! at the Stud hosting Some Thing, the boisterously resourceful drag cavalcade (formerly Tiara Sensation) started two years ago with drag mother Glamamore and dj down-E. Even there, though, you couldn't call VivvyAnne's appearance regular: one night it's ersatz Dior, another it's lipstick, hobo beard, and a jock strap.Read more »

Next!

Experimental choreographer Melinda Ring on metamorphoses and process as performance in Mouse Auditions

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER/DANCE A bobcat sat in the grass beside the main building at Headlands Center for the Arts one quiet morning last week. He (I say he because he's "bob") took no notice of me but instead nonchalantly lifted a hind leg over his shoulder and took a short tongue-bath. I was told he'd been seen hanging around a lot over the last few days, closer than usual, clearly trying to pass himself off as an ordinary housecat. Or looking for field mice. Whatever he was up to, he seemed relaxed and in no hurry.Read more »

Intimate company

Cutting Ball's Ghost Sonata stalks the stage as the opening gambit of its Strindberg Cycle

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Dog eat dog

Times change (but maybe not so much) in beautifully staged, Pulitzer-winning 'Topdog/Underdog'

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Gimme shelter

Negotiating crisis and 'Turbulence' at Portland, Ore.'s TBA Festival

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arts@sfbg.com

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 »

Insider/Outsider art: Paul Festa's 'Tie It Into My Hand' at ODC Fri/21-Sat/22

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In a way, his first film, the experimental documentary Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006), did for Paul Festa what years of classical musical training and fiction writing never yet had: it put him squarely before the eyes and ears of the world as a serious artist. Ironically, he'd never trained as a filmmaker. He was following a musical muse, to be sure, but down an unfamiliar path.

Asking how we listen — why we listen — to music, Apparition gathered an eclectic assortment of interview-subjects (friends, drag queens, his Juilliard mentor Albert Fuller, even his old college prof, renowned critic-scholar Harold Bloom), had them strap on headphones, and then describe their reactions to Olivier Messiaen's Apparition de l'église éternelle, the composer's unrelentingly intense 1932 piece for organ. It was a simple notion that produced complex, and completely absorbing, results.

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Life boat

Sheila Callaghan and foolsFURY set an existential course over shallow waters in 'Port Out, Starboard Home'

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THEATER "No one is stupid on a cruise."

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 »