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Friday, July 22, 2016

The Struggles of Homeless Women Vets, in Low Hanging Fruit

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 2:00 PM

Homeless vets Cory (Heather Gordon), Yolanda (Cat Brooks) and Maya (Livia Demarchi) are living out the worst years of their lives in Low Hanging Fruit. - COURTESY OF 3 GIRLS THEATRE
  • Courtesy of 3 Girls Theatre
  • Homeless vets Cory (Heather Gordon), Yolanda (Cat Brooks) and Maya (Livia Demarchi) are living out the worst years of their lives in Low Hanging Fruit.

A chopper hovers over Cory's encampment, in one of Low Hanging Fruit's most moving moments. The army vet who was awarded a Purple Heart following two tours of Iraq, a sliced throat and a suicide bombing that killed 19 of her fellow soldiers points her middle finger up at the sky and yells "Motherfuckers!' before ducking to the ground in utter terror. She rocks back and forth till the noise above subsides.

Cory is no longer on enemy soil and her foe is no longer an opposing army. Today she is living with three other traumatized vets of the War on Terror — aspiring poet Maya (Livia Demarchi), embittered knitter and alcoholic Alice (Cheri Lynne VandenHeuvel) and crack-addicted prostitute Yolanda (expertly played by standout actress Cat Brooks) — in a little tent city on Los Angeles' notorious Skid Row. Her opponents are poverty, pimps, drug addiction and PTSD. In other words, sometimes a helicopter is just a helicopter.

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Monstress at A.C.T. Shines a Light on Filipino San Francisco

Posted By on Fri, Oct 9, 2015 at 8:00 AM

The Squid Mother of Cebu (Melody Butiu) grabs a hold of Melissa Locsin in Presenting...the Monstress!, a one-act play by Sean San Jose adapted from Monstress, Lysley Tenorio's collection of short stories. - KEVIN BERNE
  • Kevin Berne
  • The Squid Mother of Cebu (Melody Butiu) grabs a hold of Melissa Locsin in Presenting...the Monstress!, a one-act play by Sean San Jose adapted from Monstress, Lysley Tenorio's collection of short stories.

Spliced cultures, deep-seated longings, and unmet dreams join Remember the I-Hotel to Presenting…the Monstress!, two one-act plays that together comprise Monstress, the show currently gracing the stage of the American Conservatory Theater’s recently-opened Strand Theater. Adapted from San Francisco writer Lysley Tenorio’s short story collection of the same name, Monstress offers windows into unknown and unexpected aspects of contemporary Filipino American life.

Monstress
was conceived out of A.C.T.’s San Francisco Stories initiative, which promotes the production of Bay Area tales. Tenorio’s stories first caught the attention of A.C.T. artistic director Carey Perloff in 2012. At Perloff’s invitation, local playwrights Philip Kan Gotanda and Sean San José selected and adapted two divergent stories that — as luck would have it — could share an eight-member cast and a single set.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Best Night You'll Ever Have In Hell: Shotgun Players' Eurydice

Posted By on Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Megan Trout as Eurydice and Kenny Toll as Orpheus. - PAK HAN
  • Pak Han
  • Megan Trout as Eurydice and Kenny Toll as Orpheus.

“Dazzling” and “smoldering” are the best words to describe Shotgun Players' multi-layered Eurydice — a play based on one simple turn of a man’s head.

Confounding, comic, cacophonous, and constructed by master engineers playwright Sarah Ruhl, director Erika Chong Shuch and set designer Sean Riley, the women-led take on the ancient tale of Orpheus and Eurydice is anything but cautious.

From the first sprint and flying leap Eurydice (a fiercely fantastic Megan Trout) takes into Orpheus (Kenny Toll, radiating a near-perfect blend of teenage sexuality and aloofness) in the opening scene, traditions tumble.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Feminism Through the Centuries at Shotgun Players' Top Girls

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Leontyne Mbele-Mbong as Pope Joan, Kendra Lee Oberhauser* as Marlene, Aily Roper as Waitress, Karen Offereins as Lady Nijo, Danielle Cain as Isabella Bird, and Rosie Hallett as Dull Gret. - PAK HAN
  • Pak Han
  • Leontyne Mbele-Mbong as Pope Joan, Kendra Lee Oberhauser* as Marlene, Aily Roper as Waitress, Karen Offereins as Lady Nijo, Danielle Cain as Isabella Bird, and Rosie Hallett as Dull Gret.

Feminism’s bald beauty and bare badness are the main acts in Shotgun Players' straight-shooting rendition of playwright Caryl Churchill's Top Girls. Shorn of pretense and directed by Delia MacDougall with the precision and deft hand people expect of a brain surgeon, Churchill’s classic feminist play with its sharp cast of seven women addresses gender, power, sex, and the shackles women in male-dominated societies have worn and revolted against for centuries.

Written in 1982, Top Girls immediately messes with chronology: managing, throughout three acts divided by two intermissions, to feel like both a throwback and — woe is us — tomorrow’s headline news.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Plastic Fantastic: Amazing 3-D Printed Art at Compound Gallery

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 12:00 PM

NATHANIEL WILLIAMS
  • Nathaniel Williams

The Compound Gallery
in Oakland is housed in what looks to be a whitewashed Spanish Mission. The interior is warm with natural light that streams in from skylights, open doorways, and high-placed windows. The inside walls, too, are white, and the combined effect of whiteness and sunshine highlights the colorful artwork on display and the bodies commingling and wandering around.

The space is large — 12,000 square feet — and unexpectedly comforting. Artist studios (in various phases of disarray and production) line the back half of the building in what might have once been stables for horses. Park benches abut a bubbling cement fountain, a placement that inspired one woman to concentrate on her knitting. Sturdy, papier-mâché globes and moons hang from the rafters. Bric-a-brac oddities populate every corner, in cabinets and cubbyholes.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

You Have Only One More Weekend to Laugh at '50s Computers in The Desk Set

Posted By on Mon, Jul 20, 2015 at 12:00 PM

JAY YAMADA
  • Jay Yamada

The best reason to produce a revival of the 1950s comedy The Desk Set today may also be its biggest weakness. The script speaks directly, even presciently, to our fears about automation, job security, and artificial intelligence, from the context of people who had barely begun to actually live out these fears. It’s both highly relevant and completely anachronistic.

Produced at the Exit Theatre under Stuart Bousel’s expert directing, The Desk Set — which is best known for its movie version starring Tracy and Hepburn — is about a corporate research department facing obsolescence as the company invests in a new “electric brain” to do their the librarians’ jobs.

One can only imagine how different watching this was for people who hadn’t even imagined the Star Trek computer yet than it is for a post-Millennial public that has actually seen Greek choruses of Google engineers asking, “Why do we need librarians anymore?” When Tracy and Hepburn filmed, no actual librarians had been laid off.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

WrestleMania Weekend in Review

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 12:13 PM

Seth Rollins in his Sunday best after hijacking the WWE title. - DON FERIA/AP IMAGES FOR WWE
  • Don Feria/AP Images for WWE
  • Seth Rollins in his Sunday best after hijacking the WWE title.

Since the beginning of civilization, people have gathered to tell stories. Whether it was around a campfire, in a theater, or on the silver screen, stories of larger-than-life characters have always captivated the (perhaps) overly creative minds of Homo sapiens. The medium in which these stories are presented changes with time, but the themes tend to remain the same (e.g. good vs. evil, David vs. Goliath, coming of age). But whatever your preference of medium or theme, it’s clear that as a species we are suckers for a good story.

Which is why it’s even more impressive that despite wide-spread criticism of lackluster storyline building, and a stadium that contained some empty seats, the superstars of WrestleMania 31 put on a spectacle that truly lived up to the title of “the show of shows.”

Some fans in attendance were casual, others were children, and still others sported neck tattoos of their favorite star’s logo (Yea, I saw you with the Jeff Hardy tat). But no matter their level of devotion, if they came to see the story of WrestleMania 31, they left with a smile. I’m not sure who came up with that “money can’t buy happiness” saying, but if they stood at the gates of Levi’s Stadium on Sunday and saw fans shell out a record-breaking $12.6 million, they might be forced to reconsider some of their beliefs.

SF Weekly was at a variety of wrestling events throughout the weekend. Here are some quick reviews and analysis of each.

WrestleMania 31 High Spots:

Rhonda Rousey and The Rock:

East Bay boy Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (HAYWARD, represent), squaring off with Triple H (an abbreviation of the character's full name, Hunter Hearst Helmsley). - DON FERIA/AP IMAGES FOR WWE
  • Don Feria/AP Images for WWE
  • East Bay boy Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (HAYWARD, represent), squaring off with Triple H (an abbreviation of the character's full name, Hunter Hearst Helmsley).

UFC Champion Rhonda Rousey made a surprise appearance, jumping the guardrail (with some encouragement from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) to face off against HHH and Stephanie McMahon. After a war of words, she gave HHH a judo throw and Stephanie a standing armlock.

UFC fighter Ronda Rousey makes a surprise appearance at WrestleMania 31 on Sunday. - DON FERIA/AP IMAGES FOR WWE
  • Don Feria/AP Images for WWE
  • UFC fighter Ronda Rousey makes a surprise appearance at WrestleMania 31 on Sunday.


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Friday, March 20, 2015

"Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed": An Easy-Going Road Movie From the Birthplace of "Strawberry Fields Forever"

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 12:12 PM

a706b71267904cd57c87f1edde93dda3.jpg
“Strawberry Fields Forever” is the Beatles’ masterpiece, and the time and place in which John Lennon wrote it provide the setting of David Trueba’s pleasant Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed. It’s 1966 in Almería, Spain, where schoolteacher Antonio (Javier Cámara) instructs his students in English via Lennon’s “Help!”

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"Seymour: An Introduction": Ethan Hawke's Doc Resembles Low-Key Linklater

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 12:06 PM

sb.jpg
Ethan Hawke’s documentary Seymour: An Introduction is a loving portrait of a lovely man. Seymour Bernstein is an elderly but spry New Yorker who turned his back on a career as a professional pianist at the age of 50 to instead become a piano teacher, spiritual adviser and all-around 88-key Buddha.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Gonzo Erotica: Fight Club Author Chuck Palahniuk Talks About Sex and Death in His New Novel

Posted By on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 2:04 PM


Chuck Palahniuk, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, reading and Q&A at the DNA Lounge, 375 Eleventh St., S.F. $34; www.dnalounge.com
  • Chuck Palahniuk, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, reading and Q&A at the DNA Lounge, 375 Eleventh St., S.F. $34; www.dnalounge.com
Rather than take recent advice delivered by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk, to ease the reader into it a piece of writing, coaxing them with laughter before bombarding them with the graphic underbelly, let's jump right into it.

In his upcoming novel Beautiful You, a 200-year-old sex witch pleases herself with her dead mother's finger. A flaming dildo kills someone at the alter when it's rocketed through a stained-glass church window, launched by a thousand angry husbands at Yankee Stadium. Sex toys are crafted from human bones.

Why yes, Palahniuk's new book has plenty of sex and death.

Beautiful You tells the story of a nobody law-student Penny Harrigan who falls into a sexual relationship with Cornelius Linus Maxwell, or "Climax-well," the billionaire founder of a tech company. Maxwell dresses her in lavish designer brands, gives her national attention in tabloids, and showers her with a trust fund. But there's a catch: whenever he takes her into the bedroom, meticulously scrawling observations into his notebook as he brings Penny to orgasm, he's also testing his a new line of mind-control sex toys called Beautiful You. The billionaire has an evil plan, and it's up to Penny to stop him by seeking the guidance of Maxwell's mentor, an ages-old sex witch who lives in a cave atop Mount Everest. The witch, Baba Gray-Beard, has pubic hair that drags along the ground as she walks, but Penny must please her in order to learn her ways and fight the brain-numbing sex powers that Climax-well manipulates for world domination.

Beautiful You will make you wonder whether Palahniuk has gone too far, all while contemplating the state of human sexuality. Could someone really use archaic sex practices to control the women of the industrialized world, and therefore the national economy? Probably not, but that's beside the point.

SF Weekly spoke with Palahniuk about the new novel, a generation of men with arousal addiction, his new genre called 'Gonzo Erotica' and the upcoming Fight Club graphic novel.

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