Performance

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 »

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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Come see me tonight: The stars of the ASKEW Festival talk sex

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We probably have Madison Young to thank that the festival is happening at all – the creator of wandering alt-sex gallery Femina Potens curated ASKEW, this weekend (Thu/13-Sat/15)'s YBCA smorgasbord of sexual politics, personalities, and pleasure points as expressed through film and performance.

So who better, we thought, to tell you why you need to lace up your thigh high latex and view ASKEW? And thinking even bigger, who better than the women-artists Young has assembled for three nights of screenings, their themes centering on sensuality, identity, and social justice? Read on for the voices of a sex worker documentarian, a MILF, and an activist examining BDSM and race. Read more »

The Performant: Let ‘em eat cake

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While the Performant is off hugging trees in Oregon, please enjoy this series of interviews with the curators of three innovative performance spaces

There’s nothing about the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in North Berkeley that particularly speaks of abstract performance, but that element of the unexpected is possibly what makes it the perfect venue for Karen Penley’s fledgling performance series, Retard. Inhabited by out-of-the-box, outré performers such as Dan Carbone, Edna Barron, Herb Heinz, and Catherine Debon, Retard is a low-key, all-inclusive, no-judgment sort of event where the weird get a chance to shine, and everybody gets to eat cake. After an evening spent nibbling clafoutis and ducking clowns, I caught up with Karen via the magic of the Interwebs to pick her brain about her brave new experimental showcase. Read more »

Oh no they didn't! Hilarious horror stories at Mortified

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Why is it that I like myself most when looking back on my years as a college freshman, drunkenly spooning peanut butter into my mouth amid the squalor of my dirty kitchen? Why is it that I appreciate a boyfriend most when I see his elementary school photos and realize he used to look like a well-fed lizard in glasses?

I'm going to wager that it isn't my own affinity for the less-than-socially acceptable and is actually a testament to the fact that humans often love that which is most, well, human. And humanity has the tendency to do some painfully embarrassing stuff.
 
This is the concept that drives Mortified, a collection of short readings and performances of the sometimes brilliant, sometimes artistic, sometimes sad, and always humiliating personal musings its performers created as children and teens. The brainchild of creators and producers Dave Nadelberg and Neil Katcher, Mortified has a constantly changing cast, mainly consisting of adults who have, fortunately, left most of their adolescent angst behind — but still have plenty of stories to tell about it.

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The Performant: Storming the Bastille

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How fortunate for lovers of patriotic display, that just as the last of the illegal Fourth of July fireworks have been shot off, the 14th should roll around, giving us all another excuse to celebrate liberty, equality and fraternity en français. Of course Bastille Day, France’s Fête Nationale, is much less the spectacle in Californi-ay than along the Champs Elysees, but you’ll still find the Francophones of (don’t-call-it) Frisco decked out in their own brand of red-white-and-blue sipping Bordeaux and nibbling on quiche, if not rioting in the streets.

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The economies of desire

Artistic director Tessa Wills on the wide-ranging, boundary-busting This Is What I Want performance festival

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THEATER Since 2010, This Is What I Want has hitched its program to the National Queer Arts Festival to explore the artistic and social ground between intimacy and performance. Privileging the immediate, even confused elaborations of desire over the canny or slickly theorized, TIWIW (produced by THEOFFCENTER in association with SOMArts, the Center for Sex and Culture, and the Queer Cultural Center) challenges adept, professional performance makers to risk forgoing the usual control or cohesion in the hope of finding new avenues for creation and participation.Read more »

No more fast food: Slow Sex Symposium proposes a love beyond capitalism

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After a hectic Pride weekend, it’s about time to slow down. A Sat/30 performance-workshop (part of this week's stellar This Is What I Want performance art fest -- read Guardian theater critic Robert Avila's enlightening interview with artistic director Tessa Wills here) should fit the bill nicely. Introducing “Slow Sex Symposia” and its curator, internationally-acclaimed writer and dancer Doran George. George is planning an afternoon exploration into alternative sexual practices, lifestyles, and unique relationships. Slow sex is a term the artist coined to serve as counterpoint to today’s fast-paced, commercialized notions of sex. Last week, George and I spoke about what it was like to work with a blockbuster lineup of artist, “the economics of queer desire,” and a childhood solo of  “Yankee Doodle.” Read more »

'Wanted Man': resurrecting Johnny Cash's San Quentin concert

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What did it mean for Johnny Cash to “Walk the Line”? At First Person Singular's one night only (May 28) performance of Wanted Man: Johnny Cash at San Quentin at Berkeley's Ashby Stage, star Josh Pollock argued that we can all relate to the fine line that Cash walked his entire life.
 
He was never jailed for his drinking or drug problems, but as he performed at San Quentin prison — recorded for his now-classic 1969 album At San Quentin, the follow-up to 1968's At Folsom Prison — he is said to have looked out at the inmates and thought how close he had been, so many days and nights, to tipping over a precarious edge. June Carter, God, and his guitar kept him on the right side of the law (rock 'n' roll fun fact: he was arrested, once, for picking flowers).

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