Rabbit’s Run

Tonight begins nearly a month of thought-provoking performance works from around the world in the San Francisco International Art Festival. The ambition is grand — to establish a forum for the imaginative and a destination for the inquisitive, much like Edinburgh or Avignon. In an attempt to deepen cross-cultural admiration, organizers seek collaborators and artists who might not otherwise set foot on American shores. Of course, in some cases, it takes more than a warm welcome. An ideal example is Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour, who refused to serve his country’s armed forces and as a result can never receive a passport. His play, White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, requires no director, no set, and only one new, unrehearsed actor for each performance. Additional characters are drawn, seemingly at random, from the audience and instructed in their roles as Rabbits who, following a rich Iranian tradition of staged metaphor and political critique, embody the experience of Soleimanpour’s generation. While Rabbit has been much-lauded at other festivals, including Edinburgh’s Fringe, it seems a custom fit for this festival. Straddling a queasy line between Disney and Orwell, the script skillfully raises the specter of Soleimanpour, while playing with our sense of mutual responsibility. Fifteen different actors open the script for the first time, starting tonight with Josh Kornbluth (8 p.m. at the International Festival Lounge). Others include Velina Brown, Paul S. Flores, Rhodessa Jones, and Charlie Varon. The festival continues with various theater, dance, and music acts such as Cuba’s Raices Profundas, Russia’s Liquid Theatre, and the AXIS Dance Company, a U.S. troupe that employs dancers with disabilities.
May 4-20, 2012

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