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Friday, October 2, 2015

Meeting the Ladies of AsiaSF: Transcendent Ep. 1 Recap

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 2:36 PM


“Me and my girlfriends work at a crazy cabaret club called AsiaSF where we dance and do our own thing.”

The premiere episode of Fuse’s Transcendent, a docu-series following five of the performers from San Francisco’s only transgender cabaret, aired this week. It’s short and rather to the point, introducing Nya, Xristina, Bambiana, Bionka, and L.A., a recent hire who’s just at the start of her transition, with lots of jump cuts around town. L.A. is introduced during a performance montage as a plucked-from-the-audience eagerness spreads across her face, quickly establishing herself as the show's heart.

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Architecture and Design Films at YBCA

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 2:30 PM

  • First Run Features

If all architecture is shelter, what is it that we’re really trying to keep safe? The soul of civilization? That does seem vulnerable, and precious, in Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ second annual, monthlong Architecture & Design Films Showcase.

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THIS WEEKEND: Go See Mariinsky Ballet's Cinderella at UC Berkeley

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 1:30 PM

  • Vladimir Baranovsky

Splendid visuals, polished dancing, lush orchestration and a 1930s-style torque on Charles Perrault’s 17th century fairy tale lifted Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra’s West Coast premiere of Cinderella to contemporary spectacle.

The production commissioned and premiered by the centuries-old Mariinsky in 2002 arrived Thursday night at CAL Performances’ Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley looking anything but dated.

Bolshoi Ballet-trained Alexei Ratmansky’s sleek choreography and the marvels of Prokofiev’s score handled boldly by the orchestra and deftly by conductor Gavriel Heine, added luster to the production’s glamour. But surprisingly, opening night was a time of magic rising largely from less-often celebrated onstage collaborators.

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Kathleen Neal Cleaver Remembers Her Time with the Black Panthers

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 11:30 AM

Kathleen Neal Cleaver, Communications Secretary, Black Panther Party, Oakland, 1968. - COURTESY OF JEFFREY BLANKFORT
  • Courtesy of Jeffrey Blankfort
  • Kathleen Neal Cleaver, Communications Secretary, Black Panther Party, Oakland, 1968.

When Kathleen Neal was recruited to join the Black Panther Party in 1967, it was political and personal for the college student. On one hand she wanted to spread consciousness about black oppression and exploitation. On the other she was madly in love with party member Eldridge Cleaver, and he needed her to help save founding member Huey Newton from the death penalty. It's this humanity underneath the black berets and at the heart of the black leather trench coats that award-winning documentarian Stanley Nelson aimed to capture in The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. This comprehensive, well-balanced documentary chronicles the history of the revolutionary organization from its formation in Oakland in 1966 to its tragic implosion. SF Weekly spoke to Kathleen Neal Cleaver, today a faculty member of the Emory University School of Law, who also holds an appointment at Yale University’s African American Studies Department, about the film, which opens Oct. 2, finding love amid the turmoil, and the Panthers' legacy.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sukkah City and Hester Street: Nice Jewish Films on Disc

Posted By on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 4:00 PM

  • First Run Releasing
  • DVD Box Cover

First Run Releasing's low key documentary Sukkah City is a sometimes fascinating look at the holiday of Sukkah, one of two low-key holidays which immediately follow the Jewish High Holy Days. Sukkah (the film) is a remembrance of the 40 years Jews spent wandering in the desert after God led Moses in freeing the Jewish people from slavery in Ancient Egypt. Sukkah (the holiday) is now underway and concludes with the Simchat Torah celebration on Oct. 4 and 5, a commemoration of the day the Jews acceptance of the Torah from God.

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Puppeteer and S.F. Native Basil Twist on His MacArthur Genius Grant

Posted By on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 1:00 PM

From Arias With a Twist - BASILTWIST.COM
  • From Arias With a Twist

Avant-garde puppeteer, theatrical designer, all-around wizard of elaborate and daring stagecraft, and San Francisco native Basil Twist was among the 24 2015 MacArthur Fellows, recipients of the so-called genius grants given out by that nonprofit you hear on KQED all the time.

Twist lives in New York, and is in the “final throes of getting a show up. It’s completely brutal, so I don’t have a lot of time to talk.” (But he agreed to chat: “I’m taking San Francisco calls because they mean a lot to me.”)

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The Write Stuff: Tomas Moniz on Not Forgetting How Powerful We Are

Posted By on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 8:00 AM

The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

  • Heidi Yount

Tomas Moniz is the founder, editor, and writer for the award winning zine, book and magazine: Rad Dad. His novella Bellies and Buffalos is a tender, chaotic road trip about friendship, family and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. He is co-founder and co-host of the rambunctious monthly reading series, Saturday Night Special. He’s been making zines since the late nineties, and his most current zine addition / subtraction is available, but you have to write him a postcard: PO Box 3555, Berkeley CA 94703. He promises to write back.

When people ask what do you do, you tell them…?

I usually say, I try to do less and be more. I think we all tend to do too much, stress too much, obsess too much. But I know it's a common question that I often ask others myself so I respond by sharing my excitement that I have a humbling, satisfying, exhausting job at a community college teaching basics skills writing classes. I get to talk about writing, encourage people to trust their own voices, share their stories, think critically about who they are and what they believe. Which, of course, reminds me to do the same…

What's your biggest struggle — work or otherwise?

Trusting that what I write is worth the work. Knowing that I should enjoy and appreciate the process of creating and doing rather than the product and its reception or success, but too often I find myself distracted by rejection or desiring approval. In fact, it's that struggle that silences me, that makes me avoid writing. In some ways, this is applicable to so many aspects of life: Take relationships. I remind myself daily to enjoy people for who they are, cherish messy, complex relationships, revel in the moments rather than focusing on what they will bring you later, what they might mean. Capitalism has really messed us all up.

If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?

Let's collaborate. Seriously! Write me: PO BOX 3555 Berkeley CA 94703. We learn by doing. Especially when we do things together.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Uncharted, an Ideas Festival in Berkeley, Is Like the Best Dinner Party Ever

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 2:30 PM

Slate correspondent Jamelle Bouie - COURTESY OF UNCHARTED
  • Courtesy of Uncharted
  • Slate correspondent Jamelle Bouie

For Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas, co-founder Tracey Taylor, the two-day event is a little like a chemistry experiment — bringing together lots of different people and ideas and seeing how they all react together.

Here in the Bay Area, people are always chatting about the issues of the day,” she said. “This is like the best dinner party you could have with people who actually know what they’re talking about.”

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Andrew Garfield's got 99 problems but an eviction ain't one

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 2:15 PM

99 Homes, starring [left to right] Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon, opens Oct. 2. - COURTESY OF BROAD GREEN PICTURES
  • Courtesy of Broad Green Pictures
  • 99 Homes, starring [left to right] Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon, opens Oct. 2.

Andrew Garfield may have made a mint starring in The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but the always-smartly-dressed 32-year-old actor seemed ashamed of his financial success, when he spoke to SF Weekly last month from a posh Nob Hill hotel.  

"I feel my own separateness from people happening more and more, a growing impossibility to be authentically intimate with other people, which I believe has so many causes — these things being one of them," he said, gesticulating around him to suggest all the trappings of wealth. "The American Dream is a major factor. It creates unworthiness and undeservedness for the majority of humanity in this Western society, which values power, greed, money and trampling on your brother to get where you think you'll feel better."

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Michelle Haner's Translation of The Unheard of World Opens at EXIT Theatre

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 2:00 PM

The Unheard of World. Brian Livingston, Debórah Eliezer, Paul Collins pictured. - ROBBIE SWEENY
  • Robbie Sweeny
  • The Unheard of World. Brian Livingston, Debórah Eliezer, Paul Collins pictured.

Anyone who’s seen a foolsFURY production knows that the actors in the edgy, risk-taking ensemble dive into their work, often literally.
They’re not the only ones.

Like an actor digging into a role, a translator of a play must “go to their gut,” according to foolsFURY member Michelle Haner. “I think a translator must feel, “This is my play to translate. I get and really like this writer – and think it vital for this work to reach a wider audience, now.”

Haner brings that urgent, subterranean approach to translating and directing the physically fearless theater company’s North American premiere of The Unheard of World, by French playwright Fabrice Melquiot. Overseeing the company's French Plays Project and applying her eclectic background (which includes immersion in a French middle school in Paris at age 14, and spending most of her 20s in France), Haner says she’s fascinated by the nuances, tempos, and expressions of the play’s original language.

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