Art Is

2 October 2014 in Heather, Theater, Writing

You could park a big ol’ Cadillac inside Grandma’s walk-in pantry. To a child, the great windowless room stocked with jams and sauces and pickles and puddings was nothing less than a theater. The rows of metal shelving parsed the space into my very own backstage, wings, proscenium, and house. And on a shelf at the back, below the neatly indexed cake mixes, rested a simple cardboard box— the costume box. The pantry became an escape from chores—from pulling weeds, picking green beans, and hanging laundry on the line. Grandma, perhaps knowing the futility of wringing work out of a girl on Christmas or spring break, would allow me to spend hours playing dress-up. I made tiaras out of tinfoil
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Memories Above the Seat

7 February 2013 in Music, Theater

I attended West Edge Opera’s Poppea this past weekend and was reminded how much I enjoy the little companies, the ones that reside in the cracks between the Bay Area’s more venerable institutions. In a small theater (Poppea was presented at El Cerrito High School’s Performing Arts Theater) I can sit in the cheapest seats (a comparable row at War Memorial would command a premiere price) and feel an immediate connection to the performers onstage. The company, in turn, can articulate character, style, setting, and ensemble in ways that might be lost in a three-tiered grande opera house. Granted, this production of Poppea was pared down in terms of both the script and the cast (seven singers, two acts, and
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The Black Glove, Op. 5

27 October 2012 in Theater

August Strindberg’s The Black Glove (at the Exit on Taylor through November 11) is like a two-year-old who, taken to the park for a playdate, proceeds to throw a tantrum, pick some wildflowers, lose a shoe, kiss the new girl, and get stung by a bee, all within an hour of arriving. In other words, it’s a difficult child. Verse, fantasy, and self-reflective monologues coexist in ways that amuse, surprise, tire, and sometimes test your patience. The production feels, at times, “lost and found, lost again, and found again,” (scene 4). With an “innocent kidnapping” at its core, the work is a study of the lives of people who reside in an apartment building, as well as their reflections on
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The Ghost Sonata, Op. 3

15 October 2012 in Theater

On a whim, I decided to go see Cutting Ball Theater’s production of August Strindberg’s The Ghost Sonata, one of five chamber plays in repertory at the Exit Theater on Taylor. The venue is the tiniest of spaces (60 to 70 seats), which made for one of the most engaging, up close, and intimate performance experiences I’ve had in a long time. (Two days prior, I was perched away far away in the balcony at San Francisco Opera.) At the Exit, the size of the venue supports Strindberg’s style so well: there is an abbreviated quality to his storytelling, and though the characters do not lack emotional intensity, they seem sketched as if in outline with a dark pencil. There is
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